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  1. I'm delighted to host Annemarie Brear on my blog today. Annemarie is an author of historical women's fiction, contemporary romance and several short stories. Also a lover of chocolate, good movies and her family! Her latest book, Where Dragonflies Hover, is published by Choc Lit.

      

     

    AMB

     Brief bio

    Annemarie was born in Australia but is currently living in England. Her passions, apart from writing, are reading, researching, genealogy, roaming historical sites, buying books and gardening.

    About Annemarie

    I asked Annemarie to tell us a bit more about herself:

    Have you always wanted to be a writer?

    Yes, I think I have. I enjoyed writing as a child and would write stories which my mother always thought was very good, but then mothers do that don’t they? :) I did very well in English at school and got the highest in the class on an essay we had to write regarding the movie, Kes. The class had to rewrite the ending of the movie/book and I threw myself into it, even down to researching the roads he’d take to get to the new farm he was moving too. I think it was that essay that started my love of writing. Soon after that, at the tender age of fifteen, I co-wrote a Mills & Boons style story, which I still have somewhere buried in a box. I started writing my first novel, To Gain What’s Lost, aged 25 and it took two years to write.

    Has any author inspired you?

    Yes, many authors have inspired me, mainly Catherine Cookson and Audrey Howard. Those two authors’ books at the time I started writing were the gaol of what I wanted to achieve with my own writing. Reading their books always took me away to another era, with characters I cared for, and that was what I wanted to do within my own stories.

    What do you like writing most?

    I prefer writing historical women’s fiction, but every now and then I will feel the urge to write a contemporary romance. I think it helps my creative process to be able to switch between the two. However, historical will always be my main priority. I write about strong women who go through many ups and downs before getting a happy ending.

    Are you a pantster or a plotter?

    Definitely a pantster. Sometimes I have a little idea of where the story may go, but apart from the era, I usually let the characters dictate the story arc. I find that if I plot out a story beforehand I lose interest and write myself into a wall. Being a pantster allows me to be continually surprised by the turn of events and characters actions.

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

    My story ideas come from everywhere. I am currently into writing books set in the Edwardian era and WWI, so I have so many historical events that I can choose to help inspire me. I find ideas from other books, especially non fiction research books, from movies/documentaries, pictures and paintings, etc. An idea can come to me simply from seeing a country house, or visiting a museum. I think writers are so lucky to be able to use the world around and history to give us inspiration to put a story together to entertain others.

    What are you writing at the moment?

    I’ve just started writing the third book in the Kitty McKenzie series, which will be set in WWI and be about Kitty’s grandchildren as they leave home and face war. But I also have another idea brewing about a shipwreck, so we will see where that one goes.

    What inspired you to write this book?

    I wrote Where Dragonflies Hover, after I read a book about Australian WWI nurses. I was astounded by the hardship they went through to nurse the wounded, but they were not really recognised at the time for the most amazing job they did. WWI was an incredible time for medicine and science. So much was learnt and discovered to benefit us all today and those women didn’t get as much praise as they should have done, in my opinion. So I felt the need to write about one. I brought her story alive in a diary that a modern day character, Lexi finds. I hope I did justice to those brave women.

    What time of the day do you write best?

    I prefer writing in the mornings, but working full time means I need to write wherever and whenever I can.

    What are your hobbies?

    Can visiting country houses and castles be counted as a hobby? LOL I can’t knit or paint, but I love to garden.

    What advice would you give to other writers?

    My advice would be to write the book of your heart. To learn as much as you can about the art of writing. It is a craft and all craftsmen and women practise and practise. So keep at it and keep learning new ways to improve your style. Don’t over tell. Join groups of like-minded writers as writing can be a lonely at times.

    That's good advice, Annemarie. :)

    Author Links 

    Annemarie Brear on the web:

    http://annemariebrear.blogspot.co.uk 

    https://www.facebook.com/annemariebrear 
     Twitter @annemariebrear

    Annemarie's book

     

    WDH

    Blurb:

    Sometimes a glimpse into the past can help make sense of the future …

    Everyone thinks Lexi is crazy when she falls in love with Hollingsworth House – a crumbling old Georgian mansion in Yorkshire – and nobody more so than her husband, Dylan. But there’s something very special about the place, and Lexi can sense it. 

    Whilst exploring the grounds she stumbles across an old diary and, within its pages, she meets Allie – an Australian nurse working in France during the First World War.

    Lexi finally realises her dream of buying Hollingsworth but her obsession with the house leaves her marriage in tatters. In the lonely nights that follow, Allie’s diary becomes Lexi’s companion, comforting her in moments of darkness and pain. And as Lexi reads, the nurse’s scandalous connection to the house is revealed …

    Excerpt

    The late sunshine enveloped the house in a golden glow. Again, it seemed to call to her, begging for attention. A path on the left of the drive looked inviting as it meandered through a small strand of poplars. Lexi grabbed her keys, locked the car and took off to explore again. She had nothing to rush home to now, and if she got caught for trespassing, then so be it.

    The overgrown pathway brought her out on the far side of the grounds near the end of a small lake. She gazed over the water towards the back of the house and noticed a paved terrace area. From there the lawn then sloped down to the water. She’d not been around the back before and fell even more in love with the property. She could imagine the serenity of sipping a cool drink on a hot summer’s day and looking out over the lake.

    Lexi stepped out along the bank. A lone duck swam by, its movement serene on the glassy, dark surface. This side of the lake was in shadow from large pine trees, and she stumbled on fallen pinecones hidden in the long grass. On the opposite side of the water were some small buildings, a garage, fruit trees in early blossom, and an overgrown vegetable patch, complete with a broken, rejected-looking scarecrow.

    She wandered over to a narrow shed on her left and peered through its sole, dirty window. Unable to make out much in the dimness, she walked around to the front and was surprised when she was able to pull the bolt back on the door. Why didn’t people lock things? A covered rowboat took up most of the space inside. She smiled, seeing herself rowing it on the lake. Growing more excited, Lexi edged around it to peer at the workbenches and the odd assortment of tools and useless things one found in abandoned sheds. It was like treasure hunting in an antique shop. She used to love doing that with her grandfather.

    She glanced about and spied a dusty painting leaning against the wall. The scene was of a child and a brown dog. Behind the canvas were more paintings, some framed, some not. Lexi flicked through them. The ones that caught her attention she took out and set aside.

    She looked for somewhere to sit and study the paintings. A small tin trunk wedged under a workbench seemed the only offering. Thinking it empty, she went to tug it out, but it remained fast.

    Using both hands, she heaved it out and was showered in a puff of dust. Squatting down, she inspected the latch that was held tight with a small lock. ‘Why are you locked?’ she murmured. The shed was open to anyone passing by, yet this ugly little chest had a lock on it. The trunk was nothing special, plain and in parts rusted. No ornament or writing hinted at its use.

    Intrigued, she grabbed a hammer from the workbench, but then hesitated. She had no right to open someone else’s property. Lexi closed her eyes momentarily. What was she thinking of breaking into the trunk? What am I doing? Never had she broken the law and here she was guilty of trespassing and breaking and entering! She looked around the rowboat as though expecting someone to jump out and arrest her.

    Something inside urged her on. She knew she couldn’t stop now. Sucking in a deep breath, she bent and hit the lock hard. The ringing sound was loud in the quiet serenity of the garden. The metal dented and with another few solid whacks the lock gave.

    Shivers of excitement tingled along her skin. Gently, she eased up the lid.

    It sounds exciting, doesn't it? Want to read more? You can buy the book here: 

    Amazon USA

    Amazon UK

    Also available in Apple ibooks, etc.

     

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

  2. My Guest Author today is romantic novelist and fellow Accent Press author, April Hardy. April is Writer in Residence at the Dubai World Trade Club. Sounds fascinating, doesn't it?  Lucky, April!

    April blogpicwithpencil final copy! Shrunk

     

    A bit about April

    April Hardy grew up on the outskirts of the New Forest. After leaving drama school, her varied career has included touring pantomimes, children’s theatre and a summer season in Llandudno as a Butlins  red coat. All interspersed with much waitressing and working in hotel kitchens!

    After moving to Greece, she spent many years as a dancer, then choreographer, and did a 7-month stint on a Greek cruise ship before working for a cake designer and then training as a pastry chef in a Swiss hotel school in Athens. Whilst living there, she also helped out at a local animal sanctuary.

    Relocating to the UAE with her husband and their deaf, arthritic cat, she has lived in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, where she is delighted to have found herself so unemployable that she has had plenty of time to devote to writing!

    Sitting Pretty is the first of her New Forest-set novels.

    Author Links

    https://www.facebook.com/april.hardy.399  

    https://www.facebook.com/AprilHardyAuthor  

    https://twitter.com/AprilHardyDubai 

    http://aprilhardywritinginthesand.wordpress.com 

    April Hardy Author page http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B01LWIRC0X

     

    I asked April to tell us more about herself

    Have you always wanted to be a writer?

    I’ve always loved writing, and reading – as a child my nose was invariably stuck in a book and loved making up stories. I came from a theatrical family however, and so I studied drama and went on to theatre school, but the love of books followed me everywhere I went.

     Has any author inspired you?

     Definitely! Trisha Ashley’s ever so slightly quirky characters have always grabbed me by the arm and made me want to be their friends – if I could move to her fictional village of Sticklepond I would! I think it was those novels which influenced me to set my romantic comedies in a triangle of fictional villages in the New Forest.

     What do you like writing most?

    While I love writing romantic comedy, I also get an immense amount of pleasure, plotting dark comedies where wronged women get their own back in unconventional ways – remember Lamb to the Slaughter, that 1979 episode of Tales of the Unexpected, where Mary Maloney hit her husband over the head with a frozen leg of lamb and then cooked it and let the policemen eat it while they discussed the possible murder weapon? – that kind of thing. I hope my husband’s not going to read this!

    Do you have a special place for writing?

    I have a lovely study at home, but it’s so untidy I’ve started closing the door on it! Recently though, I became Writer in Residence at the Dubai World Trade Club, two days a week and that’s a wonderful place to work – elegant rooms, a calm atmosphere, Wi-Fi which works (!) and kindly waiters bringing me pots of Earl Grey!

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

    I grew up on the edge of the New Forest and I’ve been lucky enough to have had a variety of jobs and to have spent much of my adult life in Greece, the Middle East, and Thailand. So the settings of my novels are definitely inspired by places I’ve lived in or visited. I’ve worked in a lot of hotels, and they feature in both Sitting Pretty and my next novel, Kind Hearts & Coriander. There are some hilarious real life incidents which have been slightly rewritten – in an attempt to keep me out of trouble!

    What are you writing at the moment?

    At the moment I’m working on a couple of things – one is a sequel to my début novel, Sitting Pretty. Its working title is Simone Says ... and it takes up Beth’s story a year on from where Sitting Pretty started.

    What inspired you to write this book?

    So many friends have told me how much they enjoyed getting to know Beth and some of the other characters – particularly Talisker, the cat – everyone I’ve speak to wants to spend more time with Talisker, and I had such fun writing him!

    What time of the day do you write best?

    I’ve always been a night time person, and while I’d love to be one of those authors who get up at 6 and write 1000 words before breakfast, that’s never going to be me – it takes my brain too long to wake up! Afternoons are good though – especially if I’ve an endless supply of Earl Grey to keep me going.

    What advice would you give to other writers?

    Read everything you can get your hands on in the genre you are writing in, and go to every course, workshop, talk, conference, author event etc. that you can. You never know who you might meet, or what you might hear that could spark something amazing.

     Great advice, April!

     April's Book

     

    SITTING PRETTY FINAL COVER!

     

    Blurb

    Professional pet-sitter Beth believes her Greek boyfriend, Alex is the one. So when he’s offered a job in Dubai, he and Beth marry so they can move there together. But on the day they’re due to fly to their new life, Alex says their marriage was a mistake and ends it. By phone. Beth is suddenly husbandless and homeless. Distraught, and with her life in turmoil, when her old boss asks a favour she agrees on autopilot, and goes to feed Talisker the cat, whose handsome but dour owner Henry travels one week in three. With nowhere to go and determined not to hear her mother’s “I told you so”, she sleeps on Henry’s sofa. Next day, Beth has her job back and a plan. For the time being, she’ll quietly stay in her clients’ homes until she can convince Alex that this is all a big mistake. She’s pretty sure squatting’s against the law, but if she’s careful, no one need find out … until the mysterious Henry comes home unexpectedly.

    Buy links

    You can buy both the ebook and paperback here:

    Amazon  http://amzn.to/1Ow2T8d

    Thanks for dropping by to tell us about your book, April. Wishing you lots of luck with it.

  3. People often ask me how I became a writer, so I'm sharing this blog post about my writing journey, which I originally wrote for the Accent Press blog back in May, when my first chicklit, 'I do? -or do I?' was published.

    i do

    I never set out to be a  writer but I’ve always loved reading and writing. When, aged eleven, I had my first poem published in the children’s corner of a local newspaper I had no idea that twenty years later I would be writing for a living. It didn’t happen overnight, I got married, had four children, scribbled stories whenever I could and eventually started sending them out. After several rejections I had an article accepted by Jackie magazine and soon I was writing photo stories, articles and short stories for Jackie, Blue Jeans, Patches and Loving.

     Jackie mag

     

    Then I started working for Marvel comics, doing comic strips, text stories, activities and puzzles. I was asked to work for other comic companies too, and before long I was writing for four or five different titles a month.  Most of them were for licensed characters such as Rainbow, Thomas the Tank Engine, Barbie, Sindy, Rosie&Jim. It was hard work and I often worked late into the night but it provided me with a regular income. I was now writing for a living.

     

                         Rainbow mag            popples mag

    Writing activities for the magazines, and making things with my own children, gave me ideas for activity books and I wrote several for Scholastic. I was also approached by publishers to write books about various licensed characters, including Teddy Ruxpin and Henry’s Cat. So at that stage most of my work was commissioned.  When you are writing for a living you’re constantly writing or planning the next book, and then the next, because writing is the way you earn your bread and butter so I was delighted when I was offered more and more commissioned work. I’ve written joke books, plays, activity books, story books – anything that paid the bills! To date I’ve had over 120 children’s books published

     

                 Toothpaste                Foul Play

     

    I kept writing and eventually got some picture books and story books published too. Children’s books, especially for young children, are very short so it wasn’t difficult to write several a year and bring in a steady income. I love writing for children and as I had young children myself, this fitted in perfectly with my life at the time. But I dreamed of writing a long book, one I could lose myself in, like the chicklits or romances I read whenever I could find the time.  However, as I was the family breadwinner it wasn’t financially viable to take a chance on spending months writing a book like this and hoping I’d find a publisher, so I told myself that one day I would do it.

    Then my chance came. My children grew up, I got divorced, had less financial commitments and more time so I decided to follow my dream. I didn’t even know if I would succeed  – the longest book I’d ever written was 20,000 words! I wrote furiously, in between tutoring writing and commissioned work, and eventually completed and found publishers for two romance novel and two YA’s.

    Spurred on by this success, and a happy second marriage, I decided to join the RNA and write a chicklit novel. I already had an idea forming in my mind, about a woman whose wedding plans were being hijacked by her future ‘monster in law’ and then she bumped into her first love again and wondered if she was doing the right thing. So ‘I do?...or do I?’ was born - and at 75,000 words it’s the longest book I’ve ever written.

    To my delight it was snatched up by Accent Press, who contracted me to write two more and have also republished my earlier romance novels, The Millionaire Plan and Never Say Forever, with gorgeous new covers. So finally, I’m writing my dream and I love it! And to think it all started with that little poem when I was eleven!

     

    Three books pic