GUEST POST – ISABELLA MAY

Today, I am joined by fellow Crooked Cat Author Isabella May.  I thoroughly enjoyed Isabella’s first two books, Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar and I am very much looking forward to hearing all about her next novel. Who wouldn’t be tempted by this gorgeous cover?

COSTA DEL CHURROS

Muchas gracias for hosting me on your blog today to talk about my brand new novel with Crooked Cat Books! COSTA DEL CHURROS will launch on September 19th and is another romantic comedy which fuses all things foodie, travel and spirituality. I’m keeping my fingers (and paws!) crossed that it’ll have as good a reception as its predecessors…

Why write about Spain?
My first two books, Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar centred much of their activity around the quirky and mystical town of Glastonbury, UK.  But in actual fact I live in Spain nowadays and much as I relished the opportunity to write about the place where I spent my childhood through to late twenties, it was high time for a change of scene – as well as to prove to myself that I am not a One Trick Pony. Or should that be Cat?

Is Costa del Churros based on a fictional or real part of Spain?
Yes, Costa del Churros refers to the Costa del Sol, here in the gigantic province of Andalusia, where I live. I have traveled all over the country, but nowhere seems to make, eat or embrace churros (fried donut strips, often eaten dipped in a thick, velvety chocolate sauce and/or sprinkled liberally with sugar) with the aplomb of the people in this region. The churros play a central role throughout the book, used as a code word that brings four – very different – women together for flamenco lessons with their highly exuberant teacher, Carmen.

Here’s the blurb:

The rain in Spain doesn’t mainly fall on the plain…

Brits abroad Belinda, Julia, Laura and Georgina need more than the sweetness of churros with chocolate dipping sauce to save them from their unsavoury states of affairs.

Cue Carmen Maria Abril de la Fuente Ferrera, the town’s flamboyant flamenco teacher! But can she really be the answer to their prayers?

One thing’s for sure: the Costa del Sol will never be the same again.

Are these four women based on people you know?
Not per se!
But Belinda, Julia, Laura and Georgina are definitely a beautiful fusion of some of the kaleidoscopically colourful characters I have met here over the past seven years. I wanted to paint a truthful picture of expat life in Spain (and quite possibly this will extend to other areas of The Mediterranean too). It’s all too easy to assume that a life in the sun is all soaking up its rays, sand, sea and sangria, but in actual fact, we take ourselves wherever we go! There’s absolutely no running away from your problems when you are home from home, be they romantic, financial, self-esteem based, or all of the above. Often, as soon as the novelty of the new lifestyle wears off, those issues are only exacerbated…
I thought it would make for an interesting (and comical) read to throw four women from four completely different backgrounds together, to add a little magic (a la Carmen) and to watch the fireworks – from a very safe distance.

Tell us a bit about Carmen Maria Abril de la Fuente Ferrera…
Well, she was a joy to write.
And I think all of us could do with a Carmen in our lives. Not only is she a talented flamenco teacher, but she has watched the way Franco’s repression of the female has gnawed away at her mother, and at the lives of countless women around her. So Carmen’s mission is one of empowerment. And she’s particularly passionate about encouraging women to have their cake and eat it. Truly, I’d love for nothing more than to click my fingers and magic her up every time I witness a female friend or family member declare in a café/restaurant/gelateria ‘Oh! I really shouldn’t indulge… I’ll start the diet again next week!’
For Carmen is the antidote to any and all of that prescribed female behaviour, an advocate for positive body image on beaches and sun-loungers the length of the coast. She’s a breath of fresh air injecting a much-needed confidence boost to all four of the main characters in the story.

If your tummy has started to rumble… here’s that all important Universal Amazon buying link:

mybook.to/costadelchurros

You can find out about Isabella May’s other books, and follow her quirky cake and cocktail posts at these places:

www.isabellamayauthor.com

Twitter – @IsabellaMayBks

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/IsabellaMayAuthor/

Instagram – @isabella_may_author

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. Having grown up on Glastonbury’s ley lines however, she’s unable to completely shake off her spiritual inner child, and is a Law of Attraction fanatic.

Cake, cocktail, and travel obsessed, she also loves nothing more than to (quietly) break life’s ‘rules’.

Costa del Churros is her third novel.

 

 

Comfort Reads – Guest Author Sue Barnard

Today I am joined by fellow Crooked Cat Author Sue Barnard to talk about her favourite ‘comfort reads’ – and it’s an eclectic selection!  If like me you are a bit of a Wuthering Heights fan ( confession time – I prefer the Kate Bush song to the novel), you might be interested in Sue’s latest book Heathcliff, a Wuthering Heights spin-off,  published on 30 July 2018 – Emily Brontë’s 200th birthday (and Kate’s 60th). Take it away Sue!

 

That Devil Called Love, by Lynda Chater

I first read this book when I was in my mid-forties and was starting to feel depressed about getting old – and I can truthfully say that it changed my entire outlook on life. It’s a modern re-working of the Faust legend, told with great perception and humour, in which the heroine finds out the hard way that youth, beauty, wealth and fame don’t necessarily hold the key to lasting happiness. It’s a valuable lesson to everyone, and such an ingenious concept that I’ve often wished I’d thought of the idea myself.

 

The Little Prince (Le Petit Prince), by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

This is an unusual choice, as one does not normally fall in love with one’s A-Level set books. But I studied this for A-Level French and have adored it ever since.  Although ostensibly a children’s book, it can be read on any number of levels, and contains a very powerful message: “On ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” (It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.) I love this book so much that I have multiple copies in different languages. That’s how crazy I am…

 

The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey

This fictional detective story considers a real-life cold case: Who might have killed the Princes in the Tower? A thorough and well-constructed investigation which comes to a surprising but very plausible conclusion, and it certainly changed my original perception of King Richard III.

 

 

The Richard Stilgoe Letters, by Richard Stilgoe

Whenever I need a fix of surreal humour, I reach for this book: a collection of short pieces written about characters who are all anagrams of the author’s own name, and all the names are astonishingly appropriate for the people concerned.  For example, there is a charismatic weatherman called OSRIC THIRDGALE, a fantasy writer called ERIC D GHOSTLAIR (whose epic trilogy GHIRIDOR CASTLE is a cult classic), and the sometime president of France, Germany and Ireland: GISCARD O’HITLER. The writing is pure genius, and the book definitely deserves a wider audience.

 

The Blue Door Theatre Series, by Pamela Brown

I was first introduced to these lovely stories when I was in my final year at primary school. They tell of a group of young people who form their own theatre company, and they first kindled my longstanding love of the theatre. There are five books in the series: The Swish of the Curtain (1941), Maddy Alone (1945), Golden Pavements (1947), Blue Door Venture (1949) and Maddy Again (1956), all set in a fictional town in southern England. They seem a little dated now, but that is part of their charm.  It’s sometimes good to escape from twenty-first-century traumas and revisit an era when things were a little more innocent and a lot less complicated.

 

About Sue by Sue

Sue Barnard is a British novelist, editor and award-winning poet whose family background is far stranger than any work of fiction. She would write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her. Sue was born in North Wales but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. She speaks French like a Belgian, German like a schoolgirl, and Italian and Portuguese like an Englishwoman abroad.

Her mind is so warped that she has appeared on BBC TV’s Only Connect quiz show, and she has also compiled questions for BBC Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as “professionally weird.” The label has stuck.

Sue joined the editorial team of Crooked Cat Publishing in 2013. Her first novel, The Ghostly Father (a new take on the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet) was officially released on St Valentine’s Day 2014.  Since then she has produced four more novels: Nice Girls Don’t (2014), The Unkindest Cut of All (2015), Never on Saturday (2017) and Heathcliff (a Wuthering Heights spin-off story about Heathcliff’s missing years, published on 30 July 2018, to coincide with the bicentenary of the birth of Emily Brontë).

Sue now lives in Cheshire with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.  You can find her on Facebook, Twitter (@AuthorSusanB), Amazon, or follow her blog here.

Author and Editor at Crooked Cat Books and Ocelot Press
Blog   Facebook   G+   Twitter   Instagram   Amazon  Goodreads  RNA

 

Thanks to Sue for taking part – anyone else have fond memories of school text books?

 

Guest Post by Jane Bwye

This week fellow author Jane Bwye joins me to discuss her favourite ‘comfort reads’.

 

Thank you for having me, Rosie.

I don’t know if I’d call them “comfort reads”, and I’ve had to think a bit before making my final choices, based roughly on the number of times I can sort-of remember reading them. The truth is, it’s several years since I’ve opened the pages of any of them. But your invitation has reminded me.

I am an utter romantic at heart, and although I’ve never been to Russia, Boris Pasternak’s Doctor Zhivago has been my favourite read for as long as I can remember. As a sixteen-year-old, I read it a few times, then in 1965 I saw the film, and because in this rare case the film is every bit as good as the book, I now think of both, when re-visiting either. And that haunting music never fails to stir my soul.

 

You definitely cannot class Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty as a comfort read. I first read it way back before my teens and could never resist the temptation to repeat the exquisite torture again and again, barely able to see the words on the page through my tears. I have always been crazy about horses, which doesn’t help. I picked it up again about six years ago, as I’d come to live in Sussex where the book is set. To my shame, even in later life, the tears spoiled the pages and I was devastated that it could still affect me so much.

 

My mother introduced me to Nevil Shute at an early age, and Australia has been part of my dreams ever since. When I came across The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCulloch, I was in seventh heaven. I remember first reading it from cover to cover twice through without a pause, and a copy still graces my book shelves, ready for whenever I feel like a bit of self-indulgence.

 

 

I discovered Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese at a mature age. This classic story of twins, hardship and professionalism set against the exotic background of Ethiopia is surely a must-read for all reflective souls. Beautifully written, full of philosophy and ageless, it has made a deep impression on me, and I keep telling myself to read his other books…

 

 

There’s one more book, which I just cannot leave out. Enduring Love by Ian McEwan. I am not blessed with a good memory for stories, and whenever I pick it out, remembering the totally satisfying and tingly feelings it gives me, it is as if I’m reading it again for the very first time.

 

 

I could go on and on – I’m finding more and more good books and have forgotten hundreds, which leaves the way open for me to read them again and have pleasant surprises. I don’t want to bore you, and I must show you my African novels, which were inspired by the “Tribe” books by Nicholas Monserrat. However, that’s another story…

 

 

…And on 15th August 2018 I’ll be launching something entirely different. A Guide to starting your own business. Even authors need to show some business acumen these days.

https://bookgoodies.com/a/B00352B44Q

If you pre-order from Amazon now, you’ll get the special price of £/$.99!

 

 

 

Jane Bwye lived for 55 years in Kenya. She has been an intermittent free-lance journalist most of her life and has written several books. Her large family, scattered over three continents, are a good excuse for her to indulge in travelling. A former teacher, and owner of several small businesses, she works as a business mentor for small business start-ups.

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Jane-Bwye/e/B00BOK0NN4/

Website: http://janebwye.com/

Comfort Reading – Miriam Drori

I recently wrote about my favourite ‘comfort reads’.   In today’s guest slot, fellow Crooked Cat author Miriam Drori gives her take on the same subject.

Since becoming a Crooked Cat author, I have expanded the scope of books I read, enjoying many different types of novels. These days, it would be easier to say which genres I don’t read – mostly science fiction, porn, poetry.

But most of the books I read aren’t comfort reads. They’re not what I need to take me out of something that’s making me unhappy.

In my youth, when I often struggled with life, I didn’t know about comfort reading. I wish I had; it would have helped. But it was only in June, 2010 that I discovered reading as an escape.

Something happened at that time. I can’t even remember exactly what it was. Where I live, bad things happen quite often. What I read about this episode on social media, from people who lived far away and couldn’t really know what was going on, upset me a lot. I’ve probably read similar comments since then, but have become more immune to them.

In order to escape from comments I took too personally, I decided to turn my computer off for fifty-five hours, or at least that’s how long my separation from the world outside my country turned out to be. It would be much harder to cut myself off from the Internet these days, now that I have a smart phone and am expected to be available online at all times. But back to then. What did I do instead? Apart from completing various chores, I sat in the garden and read.

The book I read was one that I’d just won in a competition: Kwaito Love by Lauri Kubuitsile. It’s a romance, the first of this genre that I ever read. I can do no better than to quote from my review of the time, https://miriamdrori.com/2010/06/07/a-well-timed-book/.

“It’s set in South Africa, and describes a world where traditional food includes vetkoek or makwinya – depending on the language being spoken, where women of twenty-four are too young to marry, where family ties are very strong and where the worst problems are caused by misunderstandings.

“No doubt the last item in my list is not always true of this place, but in the world described in this story, that’s all there is. And that’s what drew me to this beautiful, well-written story: its ability to distract my mind from all my worries and transport me to a world where the love between two people is the only thing that really matters.”

Since then I’ve read many romances. I’ve even written one, Neither Here Nor There, although the background of its heroine predetermines more plot depth than in most romances. And next time I need an escape from the trials of real life, I’ll hope I have a romance at hand to fill the gap.

***

Miriam Drori is the author of the romance Neither Here Nor There, the historical novella The Women Friends: Selina co-written with Emma Rose Millar and the non-fiction Social Anxiety Revealed.

Miriam can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, Wattpad and on her website/blog and social anxiety blog.

 

Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey

Today on my blog it’s a first – a guest post! I am delighted to welcome fellow author Jennifer C Wilson to talk about her new book in the historical Kindred Spirits series.

In the Kindred Spirits series, we meet the ghosts of historical characters, in a range of contemporary settings. Have you ever wondered what Richard III and Anne Boleyn might have in common, what Mary, Queen of Scots is getting up to now, or what happens when the visitors leave some of the most popular attractions in the country? Well, here’s your chance!

In the third of the Kindred Spirits series, we visit Westminster Abbey, and I hope you enjoy meeting a new community of ghosts. Mind, with modern travel so easy these days, a few faces we’ve already encountered might just show up too…

About Kindred Spirits: Westminster Abbey

On hallowed ground…

With over three thousand burials and memorials, including seventeen monarchs, life for the ghostly community of Westminster Abbey was never going to be a quiet one. Add in some fiery Tudor tempers, and several centuries-old feuds, and things can only go one way: chaotic.

Against the backdrop of England’s most important church, though, it isn’t all tempers and tantrums. Poets’ Corner hosts poetry battles and writing workshops, and close friendships form across the ages.

With the arrival of Mary Queen of Scots, however, battle ensues. Will Queens Mary I and Elizabeth I ever find their common ground, and lasting peace?

The bestselling Kindred Spirits series continues within the ancient walls of Westminster Abbey.

Praise for the Kindred Spirits series

“A light hearted, humorous, and at times tender read which you’ll enjoy whether you like history or not.”

“This light-hearted, imaginative read is a new take on historical fiction but make no mistake, this is not only a fun read but an educational tool.”

“A brilliantly unique idea from a distinctive new voice in fiction.”

About Jennifer

Jennifer is a marine biologist by training, who developed an equal passion for history whilst stalking Mary, Queen of Scots of childhood holidays (she since moved on to Richard III). She completed her BSc and MSc at the University of Hull, and has worked as a marine environmental consultant since graduating.

Enrolling on an adult education workshop on her return to the north-east reignited Jennifer’s pastime of creative writing, and she has been filling notebooks ever since. In 2014, Jennifer won the Story Tyne short story competition, and also continues to work on developing her poetic voice, reading at a number of events, and with several pieces available online. Her Kindred Spirits novels are published by Crooked Cat Books and available via Amazon, along with her self-published timeslip novella, The Last Plantagenet? She can be found online at her blog, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.