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  1. My Friday Reads this week is Frozen Minds by Cheryl Rees-Price. It is the second book in the DI Winter Meadows Mystery series. Great title - and just look at the cover!

     

    Frozen Minds cover

     

     Blurb 

    When a man is found murdered at Bethesda House, a home for adults with learning difficulties, local people start to accuse the home's residents of being behind the killing. The victim was a manager at the home, and seemingly a respectable and well-liked family man. DI Winter Meadows knows there's more to the case than meets the eye at first, though. As he and his team investigate, Meadows discovers a culture of fear at the home - and some very unscrupulous dealings going on between the staff. Does the answer to the case lie in the relationships between the staff and the residents - or is there something even more sinister afoot?

    It sounds intriguing doesn't it? Want to read more? Here are the links to download the book, and also The Silent Quarry, the first book in the series.

    Frozen Minds

    The Silent Quarry

     

    Meet Cheryl

     

     Cheryl by Rasa Mombeini (5)

    Bio

    Cheryl Rees-Price was born in Cardiff and moved as a young child to a small ex-mining village on the edge of the Black Mountains, South Wales, where she still lives with her husband, daughters and two cats.  After leaving school she worked as a legal clerk for several years before leaving to raise her two daughters.

    Cheryl returned to education, studying philosophy, sociology and accountancy whilst working as a part time book keeper. She now works as a finance director for a company that delivers project management and accounting services.

     In her spare time Cheryl indulges in her passion for writing, the success of writing plays for local performances gave her the confidence to write her first novel. Her other hobbies include walking and gardening which free her mind to develop plots and create colourful characters.

     I asked Cheryl to tell us more about herself

    Have you always wanted to be a writer?

    I’ve been asked this question on a few occasions and I squirm when I have to answer “no”.  It’s not the answer that’s expected! I left school without a clue what I wanted to do and stumbled into a job as a legal clerk. I enjoyed reading, especially Stephen King and James Herbert, quite often scaring myself under the duvet. I worked, studied and raised a family before I realised that I would really love to write a book. So with no training or idea what I was doing I picked up a pen and started my first novel. I learnt a few lessons along the way and I am still learning. My only regret is that I didn’t start writing sooner.

    Has any author inspired you?

    There are a great number of authors that I could say are inspiring. Writers such as Tolkien and C.S. Lewis open a world of imagination where you can immerse yourself in another realm, fall in love with unforgettable character and care about their fate. These are stories that stay with you.

    I can’t say that one particular author inspired me to write. If anything I was perturbed, I thought I could never write as well or come up with ideas and plots to equal authors such as Agatha Christie, Linwood Barclay or R. D. Wingfield.  I think fear and self-doubt are a writer’s greatest enemy and sometimes we just have to take the plunge.

     What do you like writing the most?

    I like writing crime. I started with a supernatural mystery which was my first experiment with writing along with some poetry. I quickly moved to writing crime and found that I enjoyed the challenge of plotting and getting into the mind of both the protagonist and antagonist. The research can be fascinating and sometimes a little gruesome!

    Do you have a special place for writing?

    I always hand write the first draft which means I can write anywhere. Usually on the sofa with a cup of tea. When it comes to transferring my draft to computer I work in the kitchen. Here I’m close to the kettle and biscuit tin.

    Are you a panster or a plotter?

    I would like to say I’m a plotter. I spend months working on my plot and characters before writing the first draft. I end up with a file of character profiles, backstories, research notes and chapter outlines. When I begin on the first draft is where the problems start. The characters come to life, take over and all my planning goes out the window. At this stage I go with the flow and see where the story leads me.

    What are you writing at the moment?

    I’ve just completed the third book in the Winter Meadows series. It’s been great to be back with the team of familiar characters as well as creating a few new faces.

    What inspired you to write this book?

    The inspiration for this book came from a conversation with a relative. She was having a tough time in work, particularly with her boss.  To cheer her up I suggested I make him a character in my book. He ended up becoming the victim!

    What time of the day do you write best?

    Late afternoon and evening I find I’m at my most creative. This is possibly the worse time to write. My house is usually chaotic with everyone home from school and work. Quite often friends and family call around. I’ve become skilled at blocking out background noise.

    What are your hobbies?

    I love walking. I’m fortunate to live in an area which provides me with an abundance of hiking opportunities. There are always hidden waterfalls to find or mountains to climb. I find it clears my mind. It also provideds some interesting locations for my books.

    Author Links

    Website

    Facebook

    Twitter

     

     Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your book, Cheryl. Lots of luck with it.

  2. I'm delighted to welcome romantic novelist, Maggie Cammiss, on my blog today, to tell us all about her writing journey and her latest release, Breaking News.

     

    Maggie Cammiss1

     About Maggie

    It might be a cliché, but writing about what you know certainly worked for Maggie. Seventeen years spent in the hectic environment of a 24-hour rolling news channel provided her with masses of background material and so far, she has completed two novels set in a television newsroom. Her debut novel, No News is Good News was published by Accent Press in December 2014 and Breaking News by new imprint Octavo Books in August 2016. Recently married to her long-term partner, she was thrilled to be able to put author in the ‘profession’ column of her new marriage certificate. They now live in Norfolk where Maggie can often be found walking on the beach, mulling over subplots for her next novel. 

    I asked Maggie to tell us a bit more about herself

    How did you get started writing?
    This is a long time ago now, but I always enjoyed writing essays in English lessons at school. It was much later, when I began discarding reading material because I didn’t like the writing (or maybe I was just too impatient!), that I began to experiment with characters and stories myself. My first piece of published writing was a short memoir about my experiences working in a liquorice factory in Pontefract, Yorkshire, in the late 1960s.

    Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?
    I once did a parachute jump – and not one of those tandem jumps harnessed to an instructor, either. A solo jump - possibly the scariest thing I’ve ever done.

    What’s your top writing tip for new writers?
    That’s easy: don’t do what I did and waste so much time dithering. Stop procrastinating, just sit down and do it. Oh, and read, read, read. I’m constantly surprised by the prospective writers I meet who hardly read at all. How else will you learn?

    Author Links

    Website
    Facebook: 
    Twitter: 

    Maggie's book 

      

    breaking news 1 updated centred

    Blurb

    Television producer Sara Cassidy has her life all mapped out. She loves her job making weekly feature programmes for TV news channel UK24, and is looking forward to furthering her ambitions in the media. She is devastated when her fiancé makes a shattering confession but she hardly has time to come to terms with the betrayal when her closest friend is involved in a freak accident and Sara’s world is turned upside down once again.

    As Sara struggles to maintain a professional perspective she finds solace in a new interest and a blossoming romance. But she has to be careful who she trusts in the cut-throat world of television news. Just as she is finding her feet again the career that means so much reveals its murkier side.

    When she finds herself at the other end of the camera lens, Sara discovers that in the struggle for ratings, loyalty is in short supply.

    Sounds exciting, doesn't it? Read all about it here:

    Amazon

    Thanks for dropping by to talk to us, Maggie. Lots of luck with your new book!

  3. My Friday Reads this week is The Magic of Ramblings by fellow Accent Press author, Kate Field. RNA member Kate, writes contemporary women’s fiction, mainly set in her favourite county of Lancashire, where she lives with her husband, daughter and hyperactive kitten. The Magic of Ramblings is her debut novel.

     

    Ramblingscover

    Blurb

    Running away can be the answer if you run to the right place…

    When Cassie accepts a job as companion to an old lady in a remote Lancashire village, she hopes for a quiet life where she can forget herself, her past and most especially men. The last thing she wants is to be drawn into saving a community that seems determined to take her to its heart – and to resuscitate hers… 

    Frances has lived a reclusive life at Ramblings, a Victorian Gothic mansion, for over thirty years and now Barney is hiding away there, forging a new life after his medical career ended in scandal. He doesn’t trust the mysterious woman who comes to live with his rich aunt, especially when she starts to steal Frances’ affection – and maybe his own too

    Extract

    As soon as she saw the advert, in one of the magazines she was paid to dust, not read, Cassie knew it had been written for her.

    ‘WANTED: Female live-in companion for independent lady in isolated Lancashire village.

    Own room provided. Must not chatter. References required.’

    Isolation and silence – underlined silence. It was perfect.

    Carrying the magazine to the study, careful not to crease any pages, Cassie found a scrap of paper and copied out the advert. Her pen hovered over the final two words. References?

    How was she going to manage that? Then her gaze landed on the computer, and the letter-headed notepaper lying beside it. No one would notice one missing sheet. The password for the computer was taped on the inside of the desk drawer: she hadn’t cleaned here three times a week for the last three months without finding that out. It would take barely five minutes to conjure something suitable. And surely her boss at the cleaning company, who had employed her without references and without questioning why she had no ID in the name she’d given him, wouldn’t scruple to give her a reference in any name she wanted?

    Her conscience protested, but conscience was one of the many luxuries that Cassie could no longer afford. Her fingers trembling, she switched on the laptop and typed out a letter, recommending herself as an employee in terms she hoped were too good to refuse. She had to get this job. It was time to move on.

    Want to read more? Buy the book here:

    Amazon

     

    Meet Kate

    KateFieldauthorphoto

     

    I asked Kate to tell us more about herself

    Have you always wanted to be a writer?

    I’ve always made up stories. At primary school, we had those old-fashioned wooden desks where the lid opens to provide room for books, and my friends and I used the space to create homes and adventures for Munch Bunch pencil tops. Does anyone else remember those?!

    I hoped that one day I would be a published writer, but never actually believed it would happen. Books have brought me huge pleasure over the years, and I used to tell myself that if one person read a book that I’d written and enjoyed it, it would make all the effort worthwhile. I’ve grown greedy with old age. I’d quite like more than one person to enjoy The Magic of Ramblings now!

    Has any author inspired you? 

    My first two books were Regency romances, inspired by devouring Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer novels through my teenage years.  This was in the long ago days before internet access made research easy, and when I thought that writing formal speech and throwing in a reference to a barouche  and a pelisse were all it took to bring the period alive!

    Regencies weren't as popular then as they are now, and I was advised to try writing contemporary romance instead. I’d never read contemporary romance at the time, and so went to the library and picked up one book by Katie Fforde and one by Trisha Ashley. That day completely changed my reading and writing habits! I’ve been a huge fan of the genre and those authors ever since.

    Are you a pantster or a plotter?

    I’m definitely a pantster, and that works for me, although it does mean that I sometimes finish a chapter and grind to a halt as I have no idea what is going to happen in the next one! I usually find that an idea pops up in a day or two.

    What do you like writing most?

    So far I’ve only tried writing novels that have a romance at their heart. I’d like to try a time slip one day, if I can overcome my aversion to planning!

    Do you have a special place for writing?

    No, I write the first draft with pen and paper, and so can normally be found slumped on a sofa or chair somewhere  with my notebook on my knee.

    I am fussy about what pen I use, though: the ink needs to flow smoothly, and when it starts to run out I have to change it. I used to use only blue ink but the last three books have been written in black – I wonder if there’s some significance in that!

    Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real life incidents?

    It hasn't been so far, but the characters in the book I wrote last year did visit Cornwall and New York, both places that I travelled to that year! The Magic of Ramblings actually inspired me: in the book, Cassie starts a community library at Ramblings, and after writing about that I volunteered to help at the community library in my village hall. Based on that experience, I should be writing gritty thrillers as they are the most popular books by far!

    What are you writing at the moment?

     I’m trying to write another book based around Ramblings, but I’m easily distracted and am also mulling over what to write next. I can't choose between two ideas!

    What inspired you to write this book?

    When I’m thinking about a book I usually start with the heroine, but this time it was all about the hero, Barney. He has been in my head for a long time, waiting for his story to be told. One of his main virtues is that he’s caring – he simply can't help himself – and much of the story was built around that. While I was writing the first draft, it took a long time to be convinced that Cassie was good enough for him. I was probably about half way through before I thought ‘yes, she’ll do’!

    I think the idea of Cassie coming to work as a companion to Frances probably came from my love of Regency romance. The stories where the seemingly meek companion wins the heart of the handsome Duke are possibly my favourite after the ‘marriage of convenience’ plot. Perhaps I should try one of those next! Now that’s three ideas to choose between...

    What time of the day do you write best?

    I have to fit writing around a day job and family life so I don't have the luxury of choosing a particular time of day to write. I think I’m probably more productive in the morning, or after a glass of wine!

    What advice would you give to other writers?

    Make contact with other writers. I think that’s the single thing that's made the most difference to me. Being able to share the ups and downs with people who understand is invaluable.

    Great advice, Kate. A writer's life can be a solitary one so it's important to get support. 

    Author Links

    Twitter: @katehaswords

    Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KateFieldAuthor/

     

     Thanks for dropping by, Kate. Wishing you lots of success with your book.

  4. I'm interviewing historical/romance novelist and dog lover, Lizzie Lane today. Lizzie's latest book, War Orphans, published tomorrow by Ebury Press, is a warm and uplifting saga about a little girl and a puppy's friendship during the blitz.

     

    IMG_1611

    Author Bio

    Lizzie Lane was born and brought up in one of the toughest areas of Bristol, the eldest of three siblings who were all born before her parents got round to marrying. Her mother, who had endured both the depression and war years, was a natural born story teller, and it's from her telling of actual experiences of the tumultuous first half of the twentieth century, that Lizzie gets her inspiration. 

    Lizzie put both cities and rat race behind her in 2012 and moved onto a boat, preferring to lead the simple life where she can write and watch the sun go down without interruption. 

    That sounds idyllic, Lizzie.

    I asked Lizzie to tell us a bit more about herself

    How did you get started writing?

    Basically I was broke and writing is not really a proper job, at least my mother wouldn’t have thought so and to some extent we are formed by our parents. I really believed that everybody was stuffed with stories and that it was quite normal to write plays and try and persuade the tough kids in the street to act a part. It wasn’t until my back was against the wall and there was no other way out that I began writing. That was back in 1993. I was published about fourteen months later. Different genres and different names since then, but about fifty novels published to date.

    Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?

    Whilst writing my socks off with a view to getting published, I answered an ad in the paper for people to write instructions for flat packed kitchens of the Made For Idiots variety. Don’t blame me if you got that unit upside down. I’m far better at writing fiction!

     What’s your top writing tip for new writers?

    There are two. One is to TELL the story, just as if you were telling it to a friend sitting on the other side of the table. Don’t think grammar or getting the dots and dashes in the right places. Get the story down.

    My second tip really is the old adage, write what you know. Some of the things you know are quite surprising, but it’s just that you’ve forgotten you knew them in the first place and that they do have some relevance. That’s how WAR ORPHANS came to be. My editor asked if I knew anything about dogs. I bred them, showed them, trained them and loved them. It had never occurred to me before to write a story around them. So I did.

    Great advice!

     Lizzie's Book

    Lizzie Lane has had a long association with our canine friends, which began with a puppy she named Rusty, a pedigree Irish Red Setter. Encouraged to show him, she went on to get more and more involved in the canine world acquiring more Irish Setters, including one who became a British champion and one Swiss. Besides showing and breeding dogs, she ran dog training classes and even presided as a dog show judge. After the Irish Setters there were German Shepherds, the darling Rudy and later Romeo, both rescue dogs and a delight to own. It’s from this background and knowing dogs so well that she is now including them in her books.

     

    war orphans cover

     

    Blurb

    If at all possible, send or take your household animals into the country in advance of an emergency. If you cannot place them in the care of neighbours, it really is kindest to have them destroyed."

    Joanna Ryan’s father has gone off to war, leaving her in the care of her step-mother, a woman more concerned with having a good time than being any sort of parent to her.

    But then she finds a puppy, left for dead, and Joanna’s becomes determined to save him, sharing her meagre rations with him. But, in a time of war, pets are only seen as an unnecesary burden and she is forced to hide her new friend, Harry from her step-mother and the authorities. With bombs falling over Bristol and with the prospect of evacuation on the horizon can they stay together and keep each other safe?


    Read more at https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1111014/war-orphans/#WuCuffQVxhite4RA.99

    Buy Links

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/War-Orphans-Lizzie-Lane/dp/1785033204

    https://www.penguin.co.uk/authors/lizzie-lane/1071361/

     Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your new book, Lizzie. It sounds a fabulous read.

  5. My Friday Read this week, The Particular Charm of Miss Jane Austen, was co-authored by dynamic duo Ada Bright and Cass Grafton is set in the historic city of Bath.

     

    ebookcover

    Blurb

    Rose Wallace, Bath resident and avid Jane Austen fan, is looking forward to the annual Jane Austen Festival hosted by the city.

    Her anticipation isn’t just for the events she will enjoy, though. Also attending this year will be one of her best friends, an American called Morgan, and this will be the first time in their 7-year online friendship they will meet in person! To add a further frisson of excitement, it’s the one time a year she gets to see her secret crush, an eminent archaeologist who often comes to the Festival to deliver a presentation.

    What Rose doesn’t know is that one person attending the Festival has a stronger connection to it than anyone else; someone who will turn Rose’s orderly life upside down by sharing an astonishing secret with her, after which the entire legacy of Jane Austen’s work fades into oblivion.

    With the happy melody of her life in tatters, Rose has to face up to a new one; a life devoid of her favourite books, characters, her beloved job and home and even some of her friends.

    With the support of a displaced two hundred year old author and a charmed necklace, can Rose help to bring back some of the most beloved stories of all time and turn her own life around in the process?

    Read an excerpt from the book here:

    Excerpts from Chapters Nine and Twelve

    Links to Buy

    Amazon.co.uk (paperback and ebook)

    Amazon.com (paperback and ebook) 

    Barnes & Noble (paperback) 

    Barnes & Noble Nook Store (eBook)

    Kobo (eBook)

     iBook Store (eBook)

    Smashwords (all eBook formats, including Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iStore, PDF and more)

     

    Meet the Authors

    Ada Bright                           Cass Grafton

    Author Bios

    Cass Grafton is an author and explorer who loves travel, words, and wine. She is a British ex-pat living in Switzerland with her patient and lovely husband. 

     Ada Bright is an author, wife, mother, friend and all around lover of stories.  She grew up in Southern California, where she maintains a fun household and yearns for rain once in awhile. 

     I asked Ava and Cass to tell us more about themselves

    Have you always wanted to be a writer?

    Ada: I definitely have always written. There was not really an option for me not to write, but as far as publishing something, that desire has been more of a recent thing. I think that so many of the contemporary authors that I loved to read growing up have slowed down or stopped writing and I'd rather write what I want to read than struggle to find someone who fits as well with my sensibilities!

    Cass: Yes, definitely; I still have all the scribbled opening chapters of stories started from every phase of my life, including some appalling attempts done when babysitting as a teenager! I spent too many years, sadly, using the excuse of not having enough time, something I really regret with hindsight. I never dreamed of being published! If Ada and I hadn’t met on a Forum all those years ago and become friends, I don’t think I’d have ever completed a story, either!

    Has any author inspired you?

    Cass: I had two early influences: Enid Blyton as a child and Jane Austen as a teen. I read voraciously when young, completely lost in the stories and oblivious to anything going on around me - much to the annoyance of my elder sister! When I discovered Austen at the age of 15, I was completely smitten and couldn’t get enough of her. I even tried a few times to start writing a story (set in the 1940s) with her ‘tone’ and style - it fizzled out like all my stories did back then, but I still have that as well!

    What do you like writing the most?

    Ada: I love writing conversation - even better if it's snappy.  While I like the poetry of description and innermost thoughts, I find writing things like this much less invigorating.

    Cass: I enjoy it all! I can’t seem to help myself with the description. I find story telling very visual, and I fall into the trap (which Ada rescues me from) of describing things in the same way, so that the reader understands the character’s movements, placement in a scene etc. Sometimes it works really well; quite often it’s totally superfluous! I do love dialogue though, and in this new book, we had a lot of fun with it, especially with our leading ladies. Rose, our British character, was easy for me to write, but Morgan, who’s American, was just beyond me most of the time. Thankfully, Ada was there to take control of her! As for Jane Austen herself... well, she was a challenge, but we got there! Having the contrast of two distinct nationalities plus a character who needed to speak and behave with language and mannerisms befitting the era she came from made for an interesting mix!

    Are you a pantster or plotter?

    Ada: One of the fabulous advantages about co-writing is that we are both. Cass plots everything beautifully and stays true to that outline from beginning to end. When things don't quite want to get written true to their order that is where my flying by the seat of my pants really pays off. I can literally tangent off into space from any point in the story and Cass, once again with that nose to plot, has an innate sense of which tangent to hang onto and which to send back up into the atmosphere. Without Cass's plotting we wouldn't have finished because the plot would have taken so many detours we would have been hopelessly lost. Without my ‘pantstering’ we wouldn’t have finished because we would have gotten stuck on a minor plot point that both of us knew needed changing but neither of us had the instinct to decide in which way it should be changed!

    Cass: I find this funny! Ada clearly thinks I was more in control of the plot than I felt! I’m normally a mix of both, if you can be one! I generally have a rough idea of a plot, but only the beginning, and then I proceed to fly by the seat of my pants once I start. Because this was a co-write (we’d written together before, but not a novel), the plot did need more structure and the plotting we did at the beginning was crucial to keeping us both on track.

    It sounds like you make a great team!

    Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real life incidents?

    Ada: Our writing is very much inspired by real life events and the personalities of the people that we know. We have been storing up examples of the funny differences between us for years, knowing that we wanted our friendship to be the inspiration for a book friendship someday. We were careful to make our characters different enough from us that we could write them objectively, but our friends and family definitely noticed some consistencies between our characters and our reality.

    What inspired you to write this book?

    Cass: There were a couple of things. We’d spent many years talking about writing a book together. We’d even made a start once, about 8 years ago, but it fell by the wayside when we both had things crop up in our lives that took up all of our attention. The main inspiration was friendship and, more particularly, our own friendship. I think Ada would agree with me that it’s become one of the most important of our lives. We wanted to write about friends who meant a lot to each other!

    The second thing arose two years ago. I stayed in a holiday apartment in the house in Bath that was once home to Jane Austen for a few years in the early 19th century. A couple of things happened during my stay that set off my imagination and, having discussed them with Ada, we found we had our story and Jane Austen was the key!

    What time of day do you write best?

    Ada: Once again, the idea that opposites attract worked in our favor in this way. I am a night owl where Cass works best in the early morning. Because of our 9-hour time difference, we had a couple of hours where both of our relative times were our best times, and it was those times that we would meet if needed over FaceTime.  If we didn't need to meet, we would simply virtually hand over what we had worked on while the other person slept.  

     Author Links

    Our Blog, Tabby Cow 

    Facebook 

    Ada – https://www.facebook.com/missyadabright

    Cass – https://www.facebook.com/cassie.grafton

    Twitter

    Ada – @missyadabright

    Cass – @CassGrafton

     

     Thanks for dropping by, both of you, to tell us about your intriguing book. Lots of luck with it!