On meeting old friends and how it isn’t always good to go back!

I’m trying to commit to writing a post a fortnight. This one is now a day overdue but hey! Life happens I guess. On the plus side I have been making good progress with my latest WIP. (‘Work in progress’ for those who aren’t blessed with automatic understanding of writerly shortcuts)

Anyway to get to the point I was in York the other day and had time to kill so I dropped into Oxfam book shop to browse.

York minster, England, UK

York minster, England, UK

The very first bookcase I looked at held ‘vintage’ books. Aside from feeling a bit put out that books from my childhood should now be vintage those packed shelves brought back the memory of my own collection with the intensity of a gut punch. I was instantly full of excitement and anticipation at seeing those rows of brightly coloured, hardback spines but also a feeling of sadness.

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There’s something about rows of hardbacks like this that really presses my buttons. What about you?

 

I’ve always collected books and I started when I was four when my mum took me to buy my first ‘grown-up’ book which was The Wishing Chair, by Enid Blyton.

My books were kept on a bookcase in my bedroom (which I shared) and I used to regularly take them all off the shelves to count them, like a miser counting his hoard. I wrote the number of each book in the top right hand corner of the front page and declared my ownership by writing my name in each one too. Sacrilege I know but at the time they were my property and I wanted that ownership marked so that it was beyond contention.

I loved that collection. In a constantly growing family those books were some of the rare things that were solely mine  and, as none of my siblings liked to read as much as I did, I had no competition when it came to books and I didn’t have to share them.

Shortly after I turned eleven and when my collection was about 18 books short of reaching 200, we were forced to emigrate and I had to leave most of them behind. As any bibliophile can understand, it broke my heart. I loved those books. They weren’t just my possessions, and my escape but they were part of me. Part of who I was.

So when I saw the bookshelf in Oxfam I experienced a kaleidoscope of feelings: coming home, finding a part of myself, being reunited with old friends.

I bought two books, Mr Pinkwhistle by E. Blyton and Adventure Stories also by Ms Blyton.

 

And I sat down and skim read them.

Adventure stories was still a great book. Cousins uncovering spies and doing their heroic bit was wonderful. Sadly though Mr Pinkwhistle was no longer the same seen through the eyes of the adult me. Society has moved on so much, I have moved on20160810_134210 and I have to say I found it downright sinister. Totally icky in fact.

The only things that brought back some of the childish joy for me were the wonderful illustrations. So simple and gentle and full of movement, there’s a wonderful freshness and innocence to them that still resonates with me. I remember what a temptation they were for us and how many of them were coloured in with crayons.

So those books were rather like being at a party and bumping into old, old friends. Some you still have much in common with and you pick up where you left off but others…it can only be a joy when you can say goodbye.

Nowadays I have a new bookcase, several in fact, choc full of books that give me just as much joy and that are mine, all mine but I’ll still go into that Oxfam and browse those ‘vintage’ books. You never know, among those old, old friends I might  chance on the odd, consistent diamond.

What about you? Do you have memories of old books? What did your childhood books mean to you? Did you have favourites?

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Author Interview- Rachael Thomas

Squeee! I’m so excited to be hosting author Rachael Thomas on my blog. Rachael writes M&B Presents,  my favourite line and it’s awesome to have her here to find out morRachael Thomase about her and her writing.

Q: Are you a morning lark or a night owl?

A: Definitely a lark. I like to start the day by writing and trying to achieve my word count. That way, whatever else the day throws at me, I’ve done my writing. Of course it doesn’t always work that way!

Q: Your handbag: organized or disorganized?

A: Organized. I like handbags with internal pockets or sections as I like to know everything is in its place. There’s nothing worse than rummaging around in your back in the pouring rain looking for car keys or trying to find a ringing mobile phone.

Q: What do you like to snack on when you’re writing – crisps, popcorn, biscuits, jellybeans? Or maybe you like healthy snacks – fruit, yogurt, nuts, raisins?

A: On the whole, I’m a healthy snacker. I’m partial to dates and cashew nuts and usually have both with a cup of coffee mid-morning. That said, I do enjoy a bar of chocolate!

Q: Describe your favorite heroine? (This doesn’t have to be one of yours.)

A: My favorite modern day heroine is Bridget Jones. She’s so relatable and I love the films and can’t wait for the next installment in her life.

My favorite classic heroine is Elizabeth Bennet and not just because she gets the delectable Mr Darcy.

Q: When did you start writing and why?

A: When I was about nine years old, a teacher read out a short story I’d written as a
n example of how it should be done. That was the moment when I found something I was good at and set my sights on being a writer when I grew up.

Q: How did you come to write  your genre of choice?

A: I’d dabbled with writing historical romance about twenty years ago, but then life took over and writing was put aside. About ten years ago, I came back to it and we were lucky to have Liz Fielding as a guest at my local writing group and it was then I decided that Mills and Boon was where my heart lay. So as an avid reader I embarked on the mission to become a published author of Mills and Boon.

Q: Are you a planner or a pantser, or maybe a little of both?

A: A little of both. I have certain points in the story where I know certain events which need to take place and then I write my way towards it and see what happens along the way.

Q: When crafting the story do you go from beginning to end, or do you jump around writing the scenes that are pushing themselves forward in your brain?

A: I usually work from the beginning to the end, although if scenes pop up in my mind, demanding immediate attention, I will make notes on them.

Q: Which holiday celebrations do you like to incorporate into your stories and why?

A: I recently incorporated New Year’s Eve into a book – New Year at the Boss’s Bidding. I had so much fun writing it and amazingly as I wrote snowy scenes it was actually snowing outside my window.Route de campagne en hiver derrire une ferme

 

 

 

 

 

Q: What are you working on now? Would you like to share anything about it?

A: I am working on an exciting trilogy with two other authors which is great fun. So look out for Antonio and Sadie’s story next summer!

Q: Do you have a new book coming out soon? Tell us about it.

A: My next book out in September 2016 is To Blackmail a Di Sione and is book three in The Billionaire’s Legacy, an eight part miniseries. Each book can be read alone or as part of the series.

Rachael’s bio: I’ve always loved reading romance and am thrilled to now be a Presents author. I live and work on a farm in Wales, a far cry from the glamour of a Presents story, but that makes slipping into my characters’ world all the more appealing. When I’m not writing or working on the farm I enjoy photography and visiting historic castles and grand houses.

To connect with Rachael:

Rachael’s website

Rachael’s facebook page

Twitter: @rachaeldthomas

Next release – To Blackmail a Di Sione

 

BLURB:

“When you’ve finished making offers for the bracelet, I have a proposition for you.” 

Billionaire Liev Dragunov has spent a lifetime plotting revenge against those responsible for his family’s ruin. Finally he has the way: Bianca Di Sione.To Blackmail a Di Sione

She’s denied their obvious attraction and coolly rebuffs every request to work for him—until he finds her weakness: a diamond bracelet she desperately needs!

Bianca must become his fake fiancée if she wants her trinket! But the taste of revenge isn’t as sweet as desire, and Liev discovers that she is innocent in more ways than one…

Book 3 of The Billionaire’s Legacy

thank you note

 

 

 

 

Thanks for being on my blog, Rachael. I’m really looking forward to reading To Blackmail A Di Sione

Rachael: Thanks for having me here today!

The Butterfly

Last weekend I was at the RNA Conference and I was privileged to attend a talk by Catherine Fox. She has a wonderful wry humour and held us all spellbound. But what really inspired me about her is that she’s putting her writing out there free on her blog in  weekly installments. You can see her blog here: Catherine’s blog

Now I don’t have her talent, discipline or ability to write every week without serious preparation and editing and I don’t currently have a story that I could do that with- or the inspiration for one as I’m a bit emotionally depleted. I’m also a slow writer so I’m not even going to go there.

However I am inspired by the idea of putting my writing out there and not being miserly with it. I have some of it sitting round in files in virtual space and I don’t have the time or energy to try placing it in competitions etc. So I’m going to dust off stuff that I’m happy with but that doesn’t have a home and I’m going to put it out there. Some of it will be romance. Some of it won’t be.

Whatever it is I hope you get some pleasure out of it.

So here is a piece of flash fiction please remember that copyright is mine.

The Butterfly Monarch Butterflies flying in Michoacan, Mexico

He traced the path it took, as it fluttered and wavered, its yellow and brown wings gilded in the harsh sunlight that streaked across the floor of his cell. A bible fell unnoticed to the floor, its delicate, unread pages creasing in the dust as he rose to his feet.

The butterfly danced and danced, just beyond his reach as he leapt clumsily about the tiny space, his child mind unable to coordinate his adult body. The butterfly evaded his fingers, remaining just beyond his grasp and he laughed at the game.

‘Jim boy,’ the sheriff’s voice was gruff but not unkind. ‘Come on son, it’s time.’

Jim watched the butterfly meander through the bars as they bound his hands behind his back.

‘Murderer!’

‘Devil’s spawn.’

The words passed over him their concepts too much for him to understand and he lost interest, unaware he approached the scaffold, his eyes searching the sky above their heads.

The noose around his neck and still he searched the sky his eyes finally focusing on a growing glimmer of gold.

The door opened and, in the sudden rush and snap, the sky filled with butterflies.

 

Author Interview-Angela Wren

AEWBlackWhite

Today I’d like to welcome author Angela Wren. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing Angela.

 

What is your favourite season and why?

I love all the seasons.  They each have their own magic and their own colours.  If I had to choose only one it would have to be a snow covered winter.  I love winter because it means Christmas is around the corner and Christmas, to me, is always about being at home.  I once had to spend Christmas away from home and it was so miserable that I’ve never repeated the experience.  I love the snow too and I’m a great builder of snowmen.  I think it was the winter of 2010 that I had enough snow in my garden for a whole family of snowmen.  I called them Mr and Mrs Snow and Little Snow.

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Cevennes- winter

Do you listen to music when you’re writing or do you prefer silence?

No I don’t.  I can’t listen to music when I’m writing because the words have their own rhythm and to have a different one plaguing my ears is too confusing.  I think all language has its own natural rhythm and I like to let that flow freely as I write.  This is especially so when I’m editing as that’s usually when I find the lumps in the rhythm of the words from a previous draft.

 

What food is your naughty indulgence?

Chocolate, of course!  I thought that was every girl’s naughty indulgence.  And I take my indulgence in every possible form, (cake, mousse, cheesecake, biscuit, chocolate per se), colour and flavour.

 

What’s your favourite part of writing?

There isn’t really a bit I don’t especially like.  The planning at the outset is necessary and can be a bit tedious at times, but I write through my characters.  So in my head there is a constant conversation going on as I write and my characters do sometimes do totally unexpected things – which can be a bit scary!  I love putting words on the page, always have and it doesn’t matter whether these are business words for strategy documents, for example, or ordinary words for fiction.  The action of choosing those precise words, putting them together in that specific order is really great fun as far as I’m concerned.  And in fiction, you can make anything happen – and I think that is awesome.

 

How did you come to write your genre of choice?

By accident.  My first story was a romance and I thought that was the genre I wanted to, and would be best at, writing.  That first story has now been shredded!  My second story also went along the romance theme but I peopled my fictional village with such fascinating secondary characters that, when I finished it, I realised that I could do so much more with it if I changed the focus of the novel.  My third story, Messandrierre, I knew from the outset would be a dark tale.  There is still a romantic thread running through it but the primary plot is the one surrounding the disappearances of the tourists and the investigation to catch the killer.  And it was a discussion at a three-day workshop last April that clarified my thinking for me.  Why, I asked myself, am I here on a crime writing workshop and yet believe I write romance?  I wasn’t the only person there asking that question either!  After the workshop I revised my story and submitted it and now it is published.

 

What are you working on now and what can you tell us about it?

I’m working on the second Jacques Forêt book, entitled Merle.  This is a story about long-plotted revenge, and there is a murder too and Jacques has to find the killer.  I’m also working on an anthology of unusual fairy tales, which I plan to self-publish.  I’ve seen an early sketch for the artwork for the cover, which is fabulous.  The stories are well on the way to being complete, so ‘Tall Told Tales’ will be available later in the year.

 

Author Bio

Having followed a career in Project and Business Change Management, I now work as an Actor and Director at a local theatre.  I’ve been writing, in a serious way, since 2010.  My work in project management has always involved drafting, so writing, in its various forms, has been a significant feature throughout my adult life.

 

I particularly enjoy the challenge of plotting and planning different genres of work.  My short stories vary between contemporary romance, memoir, mystery and historical.  I also write comic flash-fiction and have drafted two one-act plays that have been recorded for local radio.  The majority of my stories are set in France where I like to spend as much time as possible each year.

Novel Blurb

CoverArt

Sacrificing his job in investigation following an incident in Paris, Jacques Forêt has only a matter of weeks to solve a series of mysterious disappearances as a Gendarme in the rural French village of Messandrierre.

 

But, as the number of missing persons rises, his difficult and hectoring boss puts obstacles in his way. Steely and determined, Jacques won’t give up and, when a new Investigating Magistrate is appointed, he becomes the go-to local policeman for all the work on the case.

 

Will he find the perpetrators before his lover, Beth, becomes a victim?

 

Messandrierre – the first in a new crime series featuring investigator, Jacques Forêt.

 

Universal link : Amazon

 

Website : www.angelawren.co.uk

Blog : www.jamesetmoi.blogspot.com

Facebook : Angela Wren

Goodreads : Angela Wren

Thank you for taking the time to speak to us Angela. I wish you every success with your book and your upcoming collection.

 

January Monthly Medley

I’ve been enjoying rooting through my keeper shelf prior to packing it up to move to my new home. Although I give my keeper shelf books regular airings it’s still nice to go through them one-by-one and fondle them and browse through all the best bits. So here are my keeper shelf recommendations for January.

A totMoonspinners_smallal classic, Moonspinners by Mary Stewart is a winner. First of all she captures the atmosphere and the countryside of Greece so well, that you could almost be there. I love the characters, the suspense- in general everything. Her stories are also full of nostalgia for me because they were among some of the early romances I read when I was about 14 and living in Greece.

My next recommendation is Slightly Tempted by Mary Balogh. Although this is number six in the Bedwyn series, it stands alone quite comfortably.Slightly_tempted_small

The classic sort of story where the hero sets out to seduce the heroine for revenge is soon flipped when the heroine sets out to punish the hero for his behaviour. She does it so well that I never get tired of reading their story.

My next recommendation is for those of you interested in writing romance is Katekate walker_small Walker’s 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance. For anyone setting out to write romance it’s a valuable head start that I wish had been about when I started writing. It would have saved me a lot of grief.

 

Finally I bring you Warprize, the first in a fantasy trilogy by Elizabeth Vaughan. Her excellent writing frames a story that is primarily about a clash between two cultures when a princess is given as tribute to a Warlord. I loved the characters and the plot but what really blows me away is the detailed and realistic world she creates. Awesome!warprize small

December Monthly Medley

Merry Christmas. Grating card. Holiday post card templateSo there’s still time if you’re wondering what to buy the romance reader in your life. Alternatively you might wish to investigate these books yourself if you have any lovely vouchers to spend.

So this month these are the four choices (in no particular order) off my keeper shelf:

First of all here’s a romance that I couldn’t let go. Wife for a Week has kept its place on my Keeper shelf because it is a little out of the ordinary in terms of the plot (even though it looks as though it’s going to be pretty standard).

Book 1

Don’t be taken in by its cover. This book is out of the ordinary and very good.

I found this book funny, quirky and different. The dialogue was sparky and the characters great and I certainly never saw the twist coming. A definite must have.

Next you might want to consider Agnes and the Hitman. Another book with sharp dialogue and a light quirkiness, it’s populated with incredible characters and a heroine who has anger management problems and yet still manages to get you rooting for her.

2015-10-27 11.43.08Think Jennifer Cruisie’s usual style elevated to a higher level with Bob Mayer’s input. Think murder, mayhem, weddings, sabotage, hitmen, mafia and flamingos. Brilliant.

So that’s two lighthearted reads to keep you busy.

Now for something a bit more serious. The Madness of Lord Ian MacKenzie is an exceptionally detailed historical romance by Jennifer Ashley.

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The hero has some form of Autism and is lovable and beautifully drawn and the heroine a lovely match for him. Throw in some intrigue and wonderful supporting characters and this is a winner.

My final choice is a paranormal called Archangel’s Consort. This whole series has me intrigued and addicted. This is a gritty romance with wonderful erotic scenes and a strong heroine who can hold her own against the Archangel. The author has built an excellent world and wonderful supporting characters that will keep you coming back for more.

If you do read any of these I’d love to know if you enjoyed them.

Book 4

 

 

 

 

 

Book 4.jpg

November’s Monthly Monday Medley

November’s Monthly Monday Medley

So for the next couple of months on the first Monday of every month  I shall be posting a medley of four books that are either:

a) off my keeper shelf

b) interesting or useful

c) current reads

I’m not writing reviews- these are quite simply recommendations. This is about me wanting to share a read that I enjoyed or found noteworthy for some reason.

The books will be predominantly romance but not entirely. They will be predominantly fiction but not always. I haven’t linked these but they should be easy enough to find on Amazon. Have you read any of them? What did you think of them?

So, in no particular order:

The_House_of_Memories

The House of Memories:  Although I don’t really read much that isn’t clearly genre romance I occasionally pick up something different. This is one of those books. I wept all the way through. It’s a beautiful book, with a HEA (happy ever after) and I can thoroughly recommend it.

Ultimate_Weapon

Ultimate Weapon: Gritty romance with a kick ass heroine who makes jewellery for women that contains secret weapons. A hero who can match her as an equal and scorching sex- need I say more?

What I did for a Duke:This book has quick, bright dialogue, funny parts to it but also a poignancy. It’s a relationship between an older man and a woman quite a few years his junior and although when it starts out you think it’s going to be a typical revenge seduction, that is quickly scotched because the heroine is too clever. Lovely lovely book.What_I_did_for_a_Duke

Exotic_AffairsExotic Affairs: A collection of Michelle Reid’s stories. They are all originally published by Mills and Boon. Anyway you’ll see more of her books in my monthly Monday medleys.  She is my favourite Mills and Boon writer. Ever.

Enjoy!