What Next?

Trouble on the Tide has been out in the big wide world for a month and I’m pleased to say the book has been a resounding success. And by success I’m not measuring myself by any Sunday Times bestseller list rankings (I wish), but my own far more realistic criteria for self-asessment, ie came up with a plot, wrote it down, refined and edited it into a manuscript of 84,000 words, uploaded it as an ebook to Amazon Kindle, and launched it. Anything post launch is a very welcome bonus – and that includes enough sales to put a smile on my face and some wonderful 5* reviews (like the one below) that have been a fantastic boost to a fragile ego.

It’s also good to see an upturn in sales/page reads from the first two books in the series – the knock on effect and proof that the writing a series is the right way to accrue a readership.  There’s part of me that thinks I should continue with Eliza Kane Investigates Books Four, Five and Six, rather than take the planned break but that epic romantic historical saga is getting impatient…

The characters are starting to talk to me. I’ve had Eliza Kane in my head for the last three years and to be honest, she’s still there yapping on about a potential Christmas special. Now I need to switch her off and tune into a seventeen year old in 1942 who is currently called Kathleen, or Kat to her friends, and who is itching to relate her heart-wrenching story of love, loss, war and peace.

I like the idea of shutting myself away and creating something new from scratch, but slightly daunted by the constraints of writing a novel inspired by true events. As a relative newbie to the world of historical research, I can see how very easy it is to fall into the trap of disappearing down irrelevant rabbit holes. My last trip to the library resulted in the borrowing of four books, three pertinent to my cause, and another called Bloody Brilliant Women by the journalist Cathy Newman which for some bizarre reason was in the World War II reference section. Its bright yellow cover attracted my attention amongst the grim military greys. What has this book to do with war, I asked myself. The answer is nothing – it had clearly been mis-filed. Bloody Brilliant Women is useless as far as my research goes, but it is a fascinating trawl through the last two centuries highlighting the work of unsung pioneering females who have made valuable contributions to society. This book should be on the school curriculum, and as you can guess, like the worst kind of textbooks, the other three highly relevant WWII books have been shoved aside, unread.

But I’m not working to any deadlines, and my Kat is going to be a bloody brilliant woman who has some very tough choices to make. And if I’m going to be a bloody brilliant author, I should stop procrastinating and get on with writing her story down. In my defence, I’m not just procrastinating, I have been otherwise occupied. For some bizarre reason, to counter-balance the high-level of anxiety caused by some stressy other life stuff going on at the moment, I decided it would be relaxing to make a new hall curtain and matching Roman blind. (I’ve made curtains before, but a Roman blind! What was I thinking??)

Anyway, for those of you who like the feel and smell of a paperback the good news is that copies of Trouble on the Tide should be available by September. Meanwhile, I highly recommend Bloody Brilliant Women by Cathy Newman as an exceptionally good read. I also have a top tip for anyone thinking of embarking on the creation of fiddly soft furnishings. Don’t.

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Book Chat with Judith Mortimore

This week I’m delighted to welcome science fiction writer Judith Mortimore to my blog. We’re keeping our feet very firmly on planet earth for our chat as Judith has invited me to her beautiful garden in Gloucestershire.

Hi Judith. What’s your latest book called and what is it about?

‘The Canopus Conundrum’ – due out this month – is book two of the Uncharted series, light space adventures with romance.  Colonel Kovis and Prefect Gloriana must solve a mystery and a crime, but their biggest challenge may be finding out each other’s secrets.  I know a lot of romance readers avoid science fiction, but mine is ‘cozy’ and I promise there are no lengthy descriptions of machinery!

The book sounds amazing – and very original! Where do you do your writing?

I am fortunate to have an office with plenty of space, although to be honest a lot of it is taken up by embroidery paraphenalia.  I really need to finish some projects!

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block, and if you do, what’s your cure?

When I did my PhD a few years ago, I lost my fiction writing ability completely.  I got it back by doing ‘Nanowrimo’ several years running until I found my stride again.  I asked myself what I wanted to write – the answer was SF, and romance, so that’s what I’ve been writing and since I made that decision I haven’t had a problem with writer’s block!

What inspired you to first put pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard, and start writing novels?

I was the sort of child who made their dolls enact stories, so I guess I was ‘writing’ before I could even write.  I spent most of my teens and twenties writing fan fiction, and only in later years have turned my hand to creating my own worlds.  I read a lot, too.

How many unfinished novels have you got on your laptop/in your notebooks?

Far too many!  Although ‘Leaving Meridiana’ (book one in the series) is the only one published so far, I have written seven books in that series with more planned, two stand-alones (one of which will probably have a sequel, if I ever have time) … and then there’s the massive fantasy novel that should probably be published as a two-parter!

You sound like a very busy person! How do you come up with names for your characters?

They tell me their names!  I did start the SF series by picking the names of obscure stars, but now I just jot down names I come across that sound futuristic and appeal.  If I really can’t come up with anything, I use an online name creator (there are a number of them).

I think characters do pick their own names. I know it’s taken me several false starts to find names that are the perfect fit.

If you could pick one character from your books to meet in real life, who would it be and why?

Captain Asterion – because he’d show me around his space cruiser, and I’d really love to see it!  Mind you, that’s cheating a bit, since many of the other characters from my novels would be around!

I wouldn’t mind being shown round that space cruiser too! Many thanks to Judith for taking part.

Author Bio

J A Mortimore writes space opera/fantasy with romance.  She started writing fiction at a young age and has never stopped.  She wrote fanfiction for many years in a number of fandoms in the days when publishing involved stencils and a duplicator.  She has been active in science fiction and media circles for longer than she cares to think about.  She is retired and lives in Gloucestershire, UK with two friends, a number of cats, and far too many books and half-finished manuscripts.

Whilst her longer fiction tends to involve romances, she admits to being at the mercy of her protagonists, so how their relationship develops is different from couple to couple.

She is currently a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors and the British Science Fiction Association.

Judith is currently offering a free copy of the novella which introduces her Unchartered series to readers who sign up to her newsletter, (but you can unsubscribe after you get the novella). LINK: subscribepage.io/HtlH0s

Is someone out to destroy Bendos Platform?  What Flight Lieutenant Zaran overheard could mean nothing – or it could mean everyone on Bendos platform is at risk, including his mother.  When nobody but fun-loving Professor Phaedra will take him seriously, he must race against time to find out the truth before it’s too late.

Buying Links

Leaving Meridiana https://www.amazon.co.uk/Leaving-Meridiana-Uncharted-Book-1-ebook/dp/B0BZ9R61YC/

The Canapus Conundrum https://www.amazon.co.uk/Canopus-Conundrum-Uncharted-Book-ebook/dp/B0C7RZ9HQY/

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Book Chat with Liv Thomas

This week I’m delighted to welcome author Liv Thomas to my blog. Liv, who writes under the pen name of Isabella Connor, hails from the same part of the south coast of England as me, but we’ve travelled to one her favourite places for our chat, the beautiful little village of Adare in Limerick, Ireland, where we’re enjoying a cuppa in the sunshine and sampling the local freshly baked scones.

Firstly Liv, tell me about your latest WIP.

The working title is ‘An Irish Dawn’ and is a follow up to Beneath an Irish Sky. The main plot follows Luke and Kate as parents, and also sees Luke confront some of the characters in the first book who gave him a hard time (understatement).  It’s mainly about Luke and Kate, following a specific incident, but I can’t say anymore! Let’s just say it’s about ‘rediscovery’.

It’s easy to see why Liv is inspired by the beautiful Limerick countryside

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block, and if you do, what’s your cure? 

I do suffer from writer’s block, generally as soon as I’m in front of the laptop!  However, when I’m walking over to the supermarket or wherever, I have the most amazing ideas and everything falls into place.  Of course, when I get home I’ve forgotten it all…  When WB does strike, I like to keep the momentum going so will often continue with dialogue in script form, then return when inspiration strikes to fill out the narrative with description etc. At times, I try really hard to cast myself as the reader and not the writer, and think about what I’d be hoping to read next in the story.  It works sometimes!

What inspired you to first put pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard, and start writing novels? 

I read books from a very early age and they inspired me to put pen to paper, also from an early age. 

I was definitely inspired by Enid Blyton but I read other writers too…I would read my favourite books more than once, Little Women, What Katy Did, Heidi amongst others. I loved creating my own characters and my own scenarios – even though initially, i.e. before I was ten, a lot of it was probably plagiarism…

I was exactly the same. I loved Enid Blyton as a child and definitely made up my own stories based entirely on other authors’ works!

How many unfinished novels have you got on your laptop/in your notebooks? 

At least three. Sometimes you stall and if another idea pops up at the same time it takes preference.

How do you come up with names for your characters?  

Well, believe it or not, the characters in Beneath an Irish Sky chose their own names. It really was quite bizarre, but most of them didn’t need thinking about and it was almost like we knew them as people already, and their names just ‘tripped off the tongue’.  For those characters who weren’t as familiar to us, we used the usual methods like looking at name lists.  I found Facebook useful too – I’d choose someone who was the age of the character and look through their Friends. Bit cheeky maybe.  

You say “we”…tell me more

Beneath an Irish Sky was the first novel I had published, written in collaboration with Val Olteanu. Val lives in Canada and we wrote the entire novel using email and phone calls. We’ve never actually met.  

That’s amazing! I can’t imagine writing a novel with anyone else, let alone someone I’ve never actually met. You must be totally intune!

Now for the moral dilemma….Hollywood comes calling and you’re offered big bucks for film rights to one of your books, but you have absolutely NO SAY in how it’s adapted. Would you sign on the dotted line? 

That’s a difficult one.  I’d probably hold out for as long as possible because if they wanted it that badly they’d surely be flexible. If it came down to a choice between ‘no say’ or ‘no movie’ I honestly don’t know. Part of me would definitely be very protective and I wouldn’t want to sign it over to someone who would dramatically change things – but in reality, it would be silly not to consider it.  However, I’m looking at that from the point of view of someone who isn’t a best-selling author – if I was, I think I’d ask to see what plans they had for my baby, and if I didn’t like those plans, I’d say no.

I think I’m with you on that one!

In a dystopian future you’re only allowed to keep one book from all the books on the shelves in your house. Which one would you choose? 

Am I allowed to keep my own?  Because I would definitely keep the one that started it all, Beneath an Irish Sky. I’d want to keep that to remind me of the good times before freedom fell! If not, it would probably be the Lord of the Rings trilogy, or does that count as three?

You’re allowed to keep your own!

Liv with her lovely mum

About Liv

I was born in the South of England and have never lived anywhere else, though my heart is firmly in Ireland.  I worked for the NHS in various clerical/admin positions, including a hectic six years in the Emergency Department. Before that, I was a secretary for a Trade Union area representative. I love music and my tastes are pretty diverse – Nathan Carter, Matt Cardle, Bryan Adams to name a few. My idea of heaven would be the Irish countryside in a cosy cottage full of Westies and a room just for books. 

 

Beneath an Irish Sky

Jack Stewart is a wealthy businessman; Luke Kiernan is a Traveller who has grown up with violence and rejection. When Jack married Annie Kiernan, it was the most exciting thing to happen in the affluent village of Baronsmere since the baker too put much yeast in the bread mixture, and it was a match which was never given the approval of Jack’s ruthless father and snobbish mother neither of whom sympathised when Annie disappeared a year after the marriage.  Following a road accident in Dublin some twenty years later, Jack is asked to go to Dublin to identify his wife’s body, and whilst there, he learns he has a son he never knew about. When the injured Luke is taken back to Cheshire by his father, he harbours a desire to punish those who made his mother suffer. Two very different worlds collide and there are shocking secrets and lies from the past that make sure life will never be the same again, either for Jack or Luke. It seems that the past might be too painful to allow them to find some common ground and build a relationship, but when love enters both their lives just when they need it, will their hearts soften?  Or will Luke’s violent uncles make life even more difficult, because Luke left Ireland with something they want.

Many thanks to Liv for taking part.

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LAUNCH DAY NERVES

It’s the eve of the BIG DAY. Launching a book is like giving birth. You conceive a brilliant idea, watch it develop over several months and then comes a mighty puff, puff, whoosh (I can’t remember the exact breathing technique as it’s many years since I actually physically gave birth) and suddenly your book baby is out there in the big wide world and you’re filled with anxiety and trepidation. Now everyone can see this wonderful thing you have been nurturing inside you. Will they love it as much as you do? Will they “get it” and appreciate how much time, effort, blood sweat and tears you’ve put into those 80,000 words?

I’ve said it many times, I write because I enjoy the process and I’ve read enough books in my time to know that what I write is just as good as a lot of other stuff out there on the market. Therefore I publish my stories because I think other people might enjoy them too. It’s still a nerve-racking process.

There have been times over the last twelve months when I could have easily given up. The first draft of Trouble on the Tide was finished when I broke my arm in November 2022, but the final chapters had been rushed because I was determined to type The End before I set off on my fateful holiday.  I couldn’t type for weeks. Luckily I edit as I go along (against all the advice of writing gurus) and that did mean 80% of the manuscript was pretty tidy. However, a sojourn off social media and away from my keyboard did leave me thinking…do I actually need this writing/publishing malarky in my life?

It really was only because I’d promised my small band of lovely loyal readers that there would be a third Eliza Kane book that I eventually, one-handedly to start with, polished off the final quarter of the manuscript and continued along the publishing route. I don’t like letting people down, and I’d set out to wrap up the series on a high note. I couldn’t leave the job unfinished.

I’ve said before this story was a joy (despite the physical pain!) to write.  Flashbacks are set in August 1981 and as a 1980s girl, I’ve always wanted to set a book in that era.  Without a doubt, the 1980s were the best decade ever for music, and while some of the fashions might have been a bit dodgy, when you’re a teen you go with the flow!

Just like some of the characters in this book, I too took a holiday to the Isle of Wight in the summer of 1981 with a group of friends, and I would like to categorically reassure those friends (and yes we are still in touch) that this novel is NOT based on anything that happened during that holiday (although I haven’t totally dismissed the idea of one day writing some sort of psychological thriller about four teens stranded in the middle of nowhere after a night out who see a light on in an isolated cottage and knock on the door…)

I have everything crossed readers will enjoy Eliza’s third adventure. I’m old and wise enough to know this book won’t go flying off the shelves, it will be more of a gentle slide, but I’m okay with that. I’ve achieved what I set out to do, and if I can spread a little joy and happiness in the process, that’s all the better! I’d like to thank everyone who has followed my writing journey over the last five years, and read and reviewed my books.

The ebook of Trouble on the Tide is currently available on Amazon Kindle for just 99p/99c. Paperback copies will be available later in the year.

Buying Link https://www.amazon.co.uk/Trouble-Tide-Eliza-Kane-Investigates-ebook/dp/B0C6B33VXT/

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Book Chat with Charlie Cochrane

This week’s Book Chat guest is author Charlie Cochrane. Charlie lives near me in Hampshire and since we first met at a Romantic Novelists Association southern branch lunch a few years ago, we discovered we had many things in common, including a mutual admiration for a wonderful Greek dentist called Nikos… But today we’re talking books not dentistry. Charlie has chosen TeaCups Cafe in Romsey as the location for our get-together.

Hi Charlie, and thanks for inviting me to Romsey. I’m loving the eclectic crockery collection on show here at TeaCups! Tell me what your latest book is called and what’s it about?

The Deadliest Fall. It’s a romantic mystery, set in 1947 (partly in and around a thinly disguised Stockbridge, Hampshire.) Leslie Cadmore’s tormented about whether the death of an acquaintance in a wartime training accident was really murder and whether his ex-lover, Patrick, was the killer. Leslie ends up teaming with the ex to establish the truth. Oh, and he’s got a dog, who threatens to steal the story.

What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most?

Discovering what happens in the narrative. I’m a total pantser and rarely know where a story will go—or ‘whodunnit’—when I start writing something new. It may sound odd but when I’m crafting a novel, I feel like I’m listening to the story being acted on the radio, and as I’m hearing it unfold, I’m adapting it for the page.

I’m a complete pantser too and enjoy watching my characters dictate the plotlines. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block, and if you do, what’s your cure?

I don’t think I’ve ever suffered a total block but there have been times when I’ve been right, royally stuck. I’ve got two contrasting solutions. One is to go and do something else completely: either short term, like a mindless, physical task (cleaning the kitchen floor works well) or, in the longer term, working on another project. That’s to let my subconscious mind have a shot at solving the plot point I’m wrestling with and which my conscious brain can’t solve. The other method is to write through the problem. It doesn’t matter if I produce a load of drivel that eventually gets deleted, somehow the process jogs my writing  muscle memory and a decent bit of prose emerges.

Mundane tasks also work for me, it’s amazing how quickly inspiration strikes when I pick up an iron…

How do you come up with names for your characters?

For surnames, I usually scroll through the BBC Sport site, looking at rugby or cricket teams, until I find the right fit for my character. In terms of a given name, I start with the era, which is how I came up with Leslie for one of my leads in The Deadliest Fall—a suitably mid twentieth century name. Otherwise, I try to find something that’s convincing for the character and setting but not stereotypical. 

If you could pick one character from your books to meet in real life, who would it be and why?

You don’t half ask a girl some tricky questions. My first thought was Jonty Stewart—who’s one of my Cambridge Fellows Edwardian amateur detectives—because he’s handsome, got an impish sense of humour and could tell me all sorts of amusing stories about his other half, Orlando Coppersmith. Then I had second thoughts and decided I’d half more fun if I met Jonty’s mother. We could have hours of fun discussing our offspring and swopping tips on successfully raising a brood.

Orlando Coppersmith – now that is a great name!

Imagine if Hollywood comes calling and you’re offered big bucks for film rights to one of your books, but you have absolutely NO SAY in how it’s adapted. Would you sign on the dotted line?

Absolutely not. Seriously, if they wanted to tinker with my plots and characters and I had no right to argue my point, I’d have to send them packing. I’m sure I can hear the blessed Dame Agatha Christie spinning like a top in her grave over the travesties of adaptations her books have undergone and if one of mine suffered the same I’d be mortified.

Charlie, you’re my first guest to turn down the megabucks, although I agree this one would be a moral dilemma for me too. Our books and characters are very precious!

Final question – in a dystopian future you’re only allowed to keep one book from all the books on the shelves in your house. Which one would you choose?

Oh. Oh! Could I have “Death at the President’s Lodging” on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and “The Charioteer” on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, please? I’ll forego books on Sundays as recompense.

Why those two? The sheer majesty of the writing. Mary Renault can say more in one or two words than most writers can on a whole page and Michael Innes can’t half produce a devious murder plot. I regularly reread both books so they’d be such a comfort.

I think that’s cheating Charlie, but I’ll let it go! Many thanks for taking part.

The Deadliest Fall Blurb

Some truths can’t be left buried.

The second world war may be over, but for Leslie Cadmore the scars remain. His beloved dog died, there’s a rift between him and his lover Patrick, and his father inexplicably abandoned the family for life in a monastery. Fate’s been cruel.

A chance meeting with Patrick’s sister stirs old memories, and Leslie starts to dig into both his father’s motives and long-unanswered questions around the death of Fergus Jackson. The worst of a group of disreputable pre-war friends, Fergus was a manipulative rake who allegedly fell on his own knife in a training accident. An accident for which Patrick was apparently the only witness.

Leslie’s persuaded to meet Patrick again, and the pair easily fall back into their old dynamic. They uncover connection after surprising connection between their hedonistic old friends and not only Fergus’s murder, but Mr. Cadmore’s abrupt departure. As their investigation deepens, Leslie and Patrick’s bond deepens too. But no reconciliation can occur until Leslie knows for sure that his erstwhile lover wasn’t Fergus’s killer.

Pre-order link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0C5W5VB4Y/

About Charlie

Because Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do anything grown up, she writes cosy mysteries. These include the Edwardian era Cambridge Fellows series, the contemporary Lindenshaw Mysteries and her 1950s Alasdair and Toby series where two actors play Holmes and Watson both onscreen and off.

Charlie is a member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Mystery People and International Thriller Writers Inc, and has regularly appeared at literary festivals, reader conventions and author conferences.

Links: Website: http://www.charliecochrane.co.uk

FB: https://www.facebook.com/charlie.cochrane.18

Twitter: https://twitter.com/charliecochrane

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Book Chat with Linda Corbett

This week I’m delighted to welcome author Linda Corbett onto my blog. Linda has chosen the historic West Horsley Place in Surrey as the venue for our book chat, which some readers might recognise as Button House from the TV series Ghosts. Situated half way between Guildford and Leatherhead, West Horsley was owned by the Duchess of Roxburghe for many years. On her death in 2014, she left it to her great-nephew, TV presenter Bamber Gascoigne. It was hearing about this inheritance that gave Linda the inspiration for her latest novel.

Hi Linda, and welcome to my blog.

Thank you for the invitation, it’s lovely to be here!

What’s your latest book called and what is it about?

My latest book, What Would Jane Austen Do? will be published on 16th June. The story begins on the day journalist and Jane Austen fan, Maddy Shaw, loses her job as the love and relationship expert for UpClose magazine, and then discovers she’s inherited an idyllic country house from a long-lost relation. But all is not quite as straightforward as she first thought…

Where do you do your writing?

I’d like to say I have a writing desk in front of a window overlooking some fabulously scenic view, as that sounds far more interesting. The truth is I write everything on my laptop from the comfort of my sofa. Probably better though, as there are fewer distractions!

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block, and if you do, what’s your cure?

There was a period during the drafting stage where I did get a bit stuck, and started to doubt what I was writing. There is lots of advice online about the importance of keeping a regular writing routine, not letting yourself getting distracted (impossible when you have guinea pigs!) or giving yourself time off to do other things. What works best for me is chatting with my writing buddies who understand both the thrill and the difficulties of writing a book, and I always come away feeling inspired.

What inspired you to first put pen to paper, or fingers to the keyboard, and start writing novels?

Many years ago I wrote a piece for a disability magazine about the humorous aspects of life with a complex disability. It was only intended to be a one-off, but they asked me to write something else, and that turned into a regular column. When the magazine folded ten years later, I felt inspired to try writing a novel. Eight years, five attempted novels and 221 rejections later, I achieved that dream with Love You From A-Z.

How do you come up with names for your characters?

I love picking names! I have a notebook where I jot down writing ideas, and I have created a section for interesting names. I add to it when I come across a great name, whether that’s from programme credits off the telly or just something I’ve read in a magazine. I have learned to include an additional step though; in my previous book, Love You From A-Z, my heroine was originally called Jenna Oakley. One day I randomly googled it and found someone by that name who’d recently pleaded guilty to first degree murder. My heroine swiftly became Jenna Oakhurst, and I now google all my character names, just to be on the safe side.

Hollywood comes calling and you’re offered big bucks for film rights to one of your books, but you have absolutely NO SAY in how it’s adapted. Do you sign on the dotted line?

Where’s the pen?! I’ve learnt throughout the publishing process that you have to be flexible and open to change, especially during the development edit stage. Titles can alter, characters and whole chapters can get culled, so I’d be prepared for Hollywood wanting to make their own changes. I can’t deny that the money would come in handy too – Foxy the guinea pig has run up a few vet bills recently!

In a dystopian future you’re only allowed to keep one book from all the books on the shelves in your house. Which one would you choose?

I’d need something calm and comforting to look at, so I’d choose my copy of A Guinea Pig Pride & Prejudice. Whilst not attaining the literary standards of Ms Austen’s original version, it has the advantage of some exceptionally cute pictures.

Nutmeg, one of Linda’s gorgeous guinea pigs with his copy of Pride and Prejudice!
Linda with Foxy, another of her guinea pigs!

About Linda Corbett

Linda Corbett lives in Surrey with her husband and three permanently hungry guinea pigs. She is proud to be a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and was the recipient of the Katie Fforde Bursary in 2020. Linda is a member and former Treasurer of Shine Surrey – a volunteer-led charity that supports individuals and families living with spina bifida and/or hydrocephalus. For many years she also wrote a regular column for Link, a disability magazine, illustrating the humorous aspects of life with a complex disability, and she is a passionate advocate of disability representation in fiction. When not writing, Linda can be found papercrafting, gardening, or cuddling guinea pigs. What Would Jane Austen Do? is her second published novel.

Social Media Links

https://www.facebook.com/lindacorbettauthor

https://www.twitter.com/lcorbettauthor

https://www.instagram.com/lindacorbettauthor

Book Blurb

It’s a truth often acknowledged that when a journalist and Jane Austen fan girl ends up living near cynical but handsome crime writer, romantic sparks will fly!

When Maddy Shaw is told her Dear Jane column has been cancelled, she has no choice but to look outside of London’s rental market. That is until she’s left an idyllic country home by the black sheep of the family, long-not-so-lost Cousin Nigel. But… she has also inherited the position of chair of the committee for the annual village literary festival, and she has to put up with bestselling crime author – and romance sceptic – Cameron Massey as her new neighbour. When Maddy challenges Cameron to write romantic fiction, which he claims is so easy to do, sparks fly both on and off the page…

mybook.to/WhatWouldJaneAustenDo

Many thanks to Linda for taking part, and if you’re fond of guinea pigs check out her debut novel Love You from A-Z (it features a piggy rescue centre!)

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Here Comes Trouble…

It’s news you’ve all been waiting for – Trouble on the Tide is now available to pre-order on Amazon Kindle. Official launch date is 27 June.

The third instalment in my Eliza Kane series features several new characters, including Eliza’s dad Ian who makes a surprising return to the Isle of Wight after a thirty-year absence.

Trouble on the Tide was an absolute blast to write – and that’s the joy of self-publishing. I can keep my books exactly as I want them. I’ve promoted this series as a “cosy mystery” because the market demands books fit into neat little pigeon holes, but as anyone who has read the first two books will know, there is so much more going on in Eliza Kane’s life than simply solving mysteries.

I’ve just finished reading Nevil Shute’s Requiem for a Wren as part of my research for my new writing project. First published in 1955 Nevil Shute’s style is probably considered old-fashioned in today’s commercially driven market, but the bottom line is he’s a born story-teller – anyone who can keep me engrossed in a novel about ammunition supplies to machine gun boats has to have something special. Reading this book reinforced why it’s so important for me to write an engaging and original story.

In Trouble on the Tide, I’m hoping I can capture readers’ imaginations with a mystery involving a forged piece of artwork and a body in a boat. Add into the mix a dubious celebrity antiques expert, the return of an errant father and of course, Eliza’s love-life and I’ve hopefully created another entertaining slice of Isle of Wight life.

I’ve woven topical threads into the story. The dead body belongs to a chef. I think we’ve all become more foodie and gastronomically aware in recent years and my chef is a prominent figure in Isle of Wight society, famous for championing local produce. Likewise those daytime TV experts are never off our on our screens, but are these experts as knowledgeable as they first seem? What really goes on when the cameras stops rolling (I’ll admit I’ve used my very vivid imagination here!) Women’s sports are also finally receiving far more media coverage and Eliza is determined to promote her new golfing for girls initiative. She also faces dilemmas in her relationship with single-parent Charlie Harper.  She has some big decisions to make.

Family is a major theme running through this novel, especially the father-daughter relationship. Mr T has been a brilliant dad to our two daughters. They are both well-established in their careers, have their own homes and steady partners, but he still gets phone calls about flashing lights on car dashboards and household appliances that don’t work, despite the fact both our girls live 200 miles away.   

Eliza hasn’t had a Mr T in her life, and I felt she deserved the chance to have one, or at least the chance to get to know her father better.  However, I must stress Mr T is nothing like Ian Kane and the two men have absolutely nothing in common – apart from the fact that 1981 was a special year for them both.  Why’s that? I hear you ask. Well, 1981 was the year Mr T first met me, but if you want to find out why 1981 was so significant for Ian Kane, you’ll have to buy the book!

Trouble on the Tide Blurb

When Isle of Wight restaurant owner Stewie Beech is found dead in a dinghy abandoned in picturesque Newtown Creek, the police conclude he died of a heart attack. But just days before his death Stewie discovered he’d been the victim of a serious case of art fraud, and his grieving widow Pilar is convinced the two events are related.

Forty years ago Stewie Beech and Eliza Kane’s dad Ian were best friends. When Ian returns to the Island after a thirty-year absence to attend Stewie’s funeral, he promises Pilar he will seek out the swindlers who conned her husband and bring them to justice.

A freak accident lands Ian on Eliza’s doorstep and she is roped in to help out. Eliza isn’t used to having family around and father and daughter soon clash, and not just with their conflicting theories about the mysterious circumstances leading up to Stewie’s death. Eliza is committed to promoting her new golfing for girls initiative, and has a love-life to sort out. She wants to solve the case and send her dad swiftly back to his native Yorkshire. But with few clues to go, Ian Kane is in no rush to go home, and it soon becomes clear he harbours secrets of his own…

The Kindle version of Trouble on the Tide launches on 27 June. You can pre-order your copy here. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0C6B33VXT/ A paperback version will be available later in the summer.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures of the area around Newtown Creek where much of the book is set – these were taken on our hike around the Isle of Wight in 2021 when I first discovered this rather remote corner of the island, and the idea for this novel was born!

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Book Chat with Rosie Dean

This week I’m meeting up with writer Rosie Dean. Rosie lives in one of my favourite places, the Isle of Wight, but for our author chat we’ve hopped over to one of her favourite places, sunny Andalucia, and a sea-front cafe, where we’re sat under a parasol, sharing our love of writing, and observing potential new characters wander by…

Hi Rosie and welcome to my blog.

What’s your latest WIP called and what is it about? 

The working title is Zoe’s Other Life.  Zoe, on the cusp of a new life seriously screws up when she does something totally out of character – but which ultimately leads to a more fulfilling life.
 

What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most? 

When a scene is playing out in my head and my fingers are almost falling over themselves to type it into the manuscript. A little while later, I have two or three thousand words I’m really pleased with. I LOVE it when that happens.  

Where do you do your writing? 

I have no fixed abode for my writing. I write best in a café or on a park bench somewhere – even if there’s noise going on around me, I can zone out and write. I’m also really productive if I go on a writing retreat – a delicious indulgence.

The trouble with writing at home is that, for one as ill-disciplined as myself, gardening, laundry, baking and other distractions peck at my head.  

That’s interesting, for me it would be the other way round. I’d be far too distracted writing anywhere but my office at home!

How many unfinished novels have you got on your laptop/in your notebooks? 
 Five – three of which are Young Adult novels.  

How do you come up with names for your characters?
Sometimes I hear a name which immediately suggests a character type to me, and squirrel it away for future use.  

I try to have characters whose names begin with different letters; I find books are confusing if several characters’ names begin with the same letter. I think it’s important for each individual to have a distinctive name. I search the internet for baby names popular during the imagined birth year of the character, so as not to pick one that would be anachronistic.  

If you could pick one character from your books to meet in real life, who would it be and why? 

Ooh, tricky…Some of my secondary characters – especially the eccentric women – really appeal to me. In Millie’s Game Plan, I loved writing Vonnie Marshal, who had seen better days but still fancied herself as a glamour model. Then there’s Carla Spielman in Toni’s Blind Date, a middle-aged American health and fitness guru. I’ve always had a soft spot for sassy older women, who don’t give a fig what other people think. We could learn a lot from them! 

Hollywood comes calling and you’re offered big bucks for film rights to one of your books, but you have absolutely NO SAY in how it’s adapted. Do you sign on the dotted line? 

Call me shallow but…hell, yeah!

About Rosie Dean

I’ve been writing stories and plays since I was big enough to type. After studying ceramic design and gaining a ‘degree in crockery’ as the man in my life calls it, I became an Art & Pottery teacher. Seven years later, I moved into corporate world, writing training courses and marketing copy until the lure of being a full-time writer became irresistible.  

My passion is to write entertaining love stories that can make a reader chuckle, laugh out loud or, occasionally, feel a lump in the throat. Most of all, I love developing the characters who inhabit my stories – eccentricities and screwball scenarios pop up in all my work. Some of these characters have four legs – because animals offer an interesting counterpoint to human dramas. 

I live on the Isle of Wight, and can see the sea from my writing den. 

Website/blog www.rosie-dean.com

Facebook www.facebook.com/RosieDeanWriter

Twitter http://twitter.com/RosieDeanAuthor  

Goodreads www.goodreads.com/RosieDean

Amazon (Author Page) http://www.amazon.com/Rosie-Dean/e/B00GML9CU0

Many thanks to Rosie for inviting me over to Andalucia!

Out of My Comfort Zone

I’ve written before about how my writing journey has forced me out of my “comfort zone” when it comes to social media/marketing. Shy wallflowers like me are not great at self-promotion; I’ve had to force myself every step of the way.  The actual writing has always been the soft squidgy part of the process.  That’s what I’m good at, sitting at my laptop and playing with my characters, manipulating them to do my bidding.

Writing my Isle of Wight mysteries has been the literary equivalent of putting on a pair of well-worn slippers. It’s been a joy, a delightful escape which has kept me occupied for the best part of the last three years, and I do feel a little sad it’s come to an end (although never say never because I’ve had an idea for a possible future Christmas special for Eliza and Charlie…).

But now I’m casting those slippers aside to put on a pair of super-high stilettoes, the type of shoes you buy and wear only once because they pinch and rub, cause blisters and broken ankles…

My next project requires RESEARCH on a large scale and it’s anything but comfortable. Each Eliza Kane mystery has involved a limited amount of research – I knew nothing about the Isle of Wight’s aviation industry until I started writing A Crisis at Clifftops, even less about golf, but it was very much a case of looking things up as a I went along, and also with the knowledge that most readers probably knew even less about these things than I did.

But now I’ve got to man-up! My WIP (work in progress) – which is still very much at the in my head stage – is a major epic, a historical saga very different to anything I’ve written before. It is based on real events that took place during the Second World War,  and I need to stick to the facts. Not only that, but the relatives of the central characters are still alive and kicking, and have very kindly allowed me to re-tell the family history. I have to do them and their ancestors justice. I want the background/setting for this story to be as accurate as it can be, even though I have a licence to embellish the plot.

Fortunately my local library has several shelves of local history books. My reading list is growing. There’s also the internet research and YouTube videos…

The setting for the story is the local to me in the New Forest, in particular the villages on the western banks of Southampton Water. These days this side of Southampton Water is dominated by the enormous oil refinery at Fawley, but the refinery wasn’t constructed until the 1950s. Before then, the western banks of the water were flanked by open fields and farmland.   

Any descriptions of the local landscape I include in this new novel, when I finally get round to putting my fingers to the keyboard, are going to vary a lot from what a visitor to this area sees today. It’s not as if I can go for a walk and experience the same sights and sounds as my 1940s heroine. If you think a stroll in through the trees in the Forest might help, think again. Most of the New Forest was out of bounds for the entire duration of the War, requisitioned by the military for top secret training camps, dummy bombing raids and hastily constructed aerodromes. (Research paying off already!)

The War itself is very central to the story. I’ve read a handful of novels set during that time, I know about ration books and air-raids, black-outs, the Home Guard, digging for Victory, etc, but now I need more detailed knowledge. What music did my heroine dance to? There must have been more choice than Glen Miller and the Andrews Sisters. What was she wearing? Probably something she made or altered herself. What was her favourite tipple? A watered down beer – how delicious! There’s a lot of information out there, but filtering out the bits I need will take time.

In addition, I need to adopt a new “serious” voice. This isn’t a frivolous story, and although I’m sure humour will creep into certain scenes, I have to make sure it’s appropriate for the setting and the time. My characters will have fun, but they also have some huge choices and heart-wrenching decisions to make. I can’t trivialise that.

I’ll keep you updated on my progress but I’m in this for the long haul. It will be a learning curve, and a challenge, but I’m determined to give it a go. I don’t have a title, and the three central characters have already undergone several name changes before they’ve even been cast onto paper (I’m not using their real names but coming up with new ones that suit them is proving a bit trickier than I thought). I’ll get there. Some parts of the story are set in stone, others have some wriggle room.

On a lighter note, and talking of things that wriggle….Ed the cat has been a great hindrance during the proof-reading of Trouble on the Tide, but we’re still on target for ebook launch at the end of June. Paperbacks will follow later in the year. Cover reveal coming soon!

Book Chat with Carol Thomas

Today I’m in the historic market town of Arundel in West Sussex, having a chat with author Carol Thomas. Arundel provided the inspiration for Carol’s novel, A Summer of Second Chances, and I can see why she was inspired to write with this view from her office! Not only can you glimpse the town’s medieval castle across the rooftops, but it also looks like someone has kidnapped my cat Ed….

Hello Rosie, 

Thank you for having me on your blog.

You’re very welcome Carol. Tell me about your latest WIP.

My current WIP is far from finished but has the working title New Beginnings (or Christmas) at The Mistletoe Tearoom. It is about a single mother of two who starts over and finds love at Christmas after an unexpected encounter.

What part of the writing process do you enjoy the most?

I enjoy it when the ideas and words flow. It is the best feeling when your fingers can’t type quickly enough to get your ideas down. I enjoy it when I know where my story is going, and I am excitedly writing towards a certain point.

How many unfinished novels have you got on your laptop/in your notebooks?

A quick count suggests nine. It is a bit of an estimate as some merge into others as I take threads and weave them into new stories as my ideas develop.

That’s exactly what I do too! How do you come up with names for your characters? 

First, I look at pictures of people, celebrities typically, who fit the description of my character. Then, I try names out to see if they suit them. Once I have a name, I do a few checks to ensure it is appropriate: was it around in the year of the character’s birth? Do people with the same name have similar attributes to my character? And, are there any famous or infamous people with the same name?

If you could pick one character from your books to meet in real life, who would it be and why?

I would love to meet Flo, a secondary character in my novel A Summer of Second Chances, who volunteers in the charity shop at the heart of the story. She is a lot of fun and a little bit mischievous. I’d enjoy spending time with her. Having worked in a charity shop myself, I know we would have a good chat about some of the more obscure donations received – such as those Flo accidentally displays that she shouldn’t.

Charity shops are Aladdin Caves – I can see that working in one could provide no end of inspiration!

Now, just imagine Hollywood comes calling, and you’re offered big bucks for film rights to one of your books, but you have absolutely NO SAY in how it’s adapted. Would you sign on the dotted line?

Oh, that’s a good question. I think I probably would for two reasons:

Practically, the money would be fabulous. My second eldest daughter is off to university soon, and I have two younger children yet to follow. Also, my husband talks about the cost-of-living crisis daily; it would be wonderful not to hear that for a bit.

I love to watch films at the cinema, and I think I’d like to trust the process and see how that goes. Being published, I know how hard it can be to accept titles, covers and edits that aren’t what you originally had in mind, but I have also seen that they can improve and add to the story. Trusting someone with the right cinematic vision may be beneficial.

In a dystopian future, you’re only allowed to keep one book from all the books on the shelves in your house. Which one would you choose?

I wish I had a book called How to Survive in a Dystopian Future, but I don’t. So, I’d choose my Ladybird Book of Five Little Kittens because my mum, who sadly passed away in 2021, read it to me as a child. I wasn’t a big book lover when I was young – so different to how I am now – but I remember the enjoyment of my mum reading it to me and my love of that story.

That’s a lovely memory to share. Thank you Carol.

Here’s a little more about A Summer of Second Chances

A heart-warming romance full of love, friendship and four legged friends!

Does first love deserve a second chance?

Ava Flynn sometimes feels like the clothes donated to her charity shop have seen more life than her, but ‘maximum dedication for a minimal wage’ is what it takes to keep her mother’s beloved wildlife charity, All Critters Great and Small, running especially in the village of Dapplebury, where business is certainly not booming.

But when Ava’s first love, Henry Bramlington, returns to the village, suddenly life becomes a little too eventful. Henry escaped Dapplebury many years before, but now he has the power to make or break the village he left behind All Critters Great and Small included. Can Ava trust the boy who ran away to give both her and her charity a second chance?

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Published by: Choc Lit

Buying Link:

Amazon: http://getbook.at/SOSCAmazon

Other books by Carol Thomas

Maybe Baby: http://getbook.at/MBAmazon

The Purrfect Pet Sitter: http://getbook.at/TPPSAmazon

Crazy Over You: http://getbook.at/COYAmazon

Author Bio:

Carol Thomas lives on the south coast of England with her husband and four children. She has been a primary school teacher for over twenty years and has a passion for reading, writing and people watching. Whenever the opportunity arises, Carol can be found loitering in local cafes drinking too much tea and working on her next book.

Carol writes contemporary romance novels, with relatable heroines whose stories are layered with emotion, sprinkled with laughter and topped with irresistible male leads.

Website and Social Media Links:

http://carol-thomas.co.uk

http://carol-thomas.co.uk/blog

http://facebook.com/carolthomasauthor

http://twitter.com/carol_thomas2

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/carol_thomas2/

https://www.instagram.com/carol_thomas2/

For anyone who is worried about Ed, I’m happy to report that he’s safely home in the garden!