Thursday, June 22, 2017

Thursday Throwback: The Other Side of The Bridge

This was the first historical timeslip I did, and I really enjoyed researching the setting of Greece in WW2, and in particular the involvement of the British SOE in the Greek Resistance. In present day, newly separated Ava Lancet moves to her grandmother's farmhouse in a small village in the mountains of Greece and discovers the mystery surrounding her grandmother's life... and how her grandmother's courage can teach her to face up to things in her own life.

I'm revisiting it today because it has been refreshed with the older cover, one I've always liked. What do you think? You can buy it here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Wednesday Writing: A Slightly Scary Secret Project

So I have a lot of deadlines. But between them I have been squeezing in a secret writing project (not that secret, really, just something I'm keeping a bit under wraps...!) that I'm excited about because it's the kind of book I really, really like writing--similar in theme and vein to This Fragile Life and When He Fell, if you've read either of those. It's psychological and a bit dark but with a hopeful ending--I hope! I don't have a publisher yet, but I am hoping to find one soon. I've written nearly a third of the book so far. Here is the first paragraph:

The first time I see Jamie I think he is a thug. A threat, which is both sad and strangely laughable, considering what I later became to him. But in that first glimpse of his lowered head and drawn up knees, I prickle and tense instinctively, as if he could hurt me, which of course he did, much later. It was simply that none of it happened the way I thought. The way I wanted.

What do you think? Would you keep reading?

Monday, June 19, 2017

Tuesday Treasure: The Wealthy West

Thanks to Spotify, I have discovered lots of new music to write to, and when I am feeling reflective as well as both sad and hopeful, I like listening to The Wealthy West, the moniker for an indie folk singer named Brandon Kinder.

His music has been used in various indie films and TV commercials, and you can understand why. The song 'Home' is the anthem for my work-in-progress, set in the Yorkshire Dales, a story of a woman's reluctant homecoming to her father's farm. You can listen it to here: Home. It's one of those songs I've liked the first time I listened to it, which is actually rare. It usually takes a couple of listens before I like a song, but from the first I played this one over and over.

Anyway, give it a try if you like a mellow, reflective, and poignant type of song.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Wednesday Writing: My Next Romance

I'm writing a Harlequin Presents right now, which is always a fun break from the more realistic stories I write for other publishers. Harlequin Presents are pure fantasy grounded in real emotion, and I love being able to explore heightened situations plus a whole lot of glamour!

My current Presents is a sheikh romance with a twist--a case of mistaken identity when it comes to the bride. I know some people get worked up about the lack of realism in sheikh romances, especially considering the state of the Middle East today, and in particular women's rights in the Middle East, and I always try to be conscious of that in my sheikh romances, while preserving the kind of fantasy that women relate to, starting back with Rudy Valentino in The Sheik. Here are the opening paragraphs of my current romance:

He came in through the window. Olivia Taylor looked up from the blanket she’d been folding, her mouth dropping open in wordless shock. She was too surprised to be scared. Yet. He was dressed all in black, his body underneath the loose garments tall, lithe, and powerful. A turban covered his hair but beneath it Olivia saw his face, and the determination blazing on those rough-hewn features.
     Her mind buzzed and she drew a breath to scream when he moved swiftly towards her and clapped a hand over her mouth. ‘I won’t hurt you,’ he said in Arabic, his tone brusque and yet also strangely gentle. It took her a moment to make out the words; she’d learned some Arabic living in the Amari household, but not that much. She’d been hired to speak English to the three youngest princesses.

He continued speaking, and her shocked mind struggled to make out the words. ‘That is my solemn vow, and I will never break it. Just do what I say and no harm shall ever come to you, I swear it on my life.’

And in the meantime, you can enjoy one of my sheikh romances that is already out--a duet called Seduced By A Sheikh. You can buy them here.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thursday Throwback: The Christmas Rose

I'm going way back today for my Thursday Throwback--all the way back to the first story I ever wrote, when I was about six or seven. I don't remember the title of the story, or its plot or characters, or pretty much anything. But I do remember the cover, because it has become a bit of a joke in my family. I spent a lot of time on the cover, designed on lined notebook paper with a ballpoint pen. In particular I remember writing at the top 'By the author of The Christmas Rose'. I showed it to my father and he was very impressed by my marketing skills--although the funny thing is, I didn't write a story called The Christmas Rose! I just knew you had that kind of thing at the top of your cover.

My father used to recall that story to say how he knew I'd make it as an author. He was one of the most encouraging people I have ever met, always full of boundless enthusiasm and belief for whatever one of his children was going to undertake. I remember whispering in his ear when I was around ten or so that I was going to write a book and have it published properly in time for Mother's Day. He told me he thought that was a wonderful idea, and I knew he believed it. He had complete confidence in me--although sadly that particular project never came to pass.

Having someone believe in you is a wonderful thing. I credit much of my success to my father, and I'm so glad for his presence in my life. He died nearly eighteen months ago and I still think about him every day. Here is a video of him taken a year before he died, with my youngest daughter.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tuesday Treasure: Guest Post by Tracey Sinclair

I'm so pleased to welcome Tracey Sinclair to my blog, with this fabulous post about female friendships--something I've been thinking about lately, having moved recently and needing to make new friends! You can learn more about Tracey and her books by following the links at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!

Why female friendships are at the heart of my books
If I had to point to an (unexpected) theme in my work, other than a certain Northern attitude and a tendency to swear, it would be that of female friendships. When I look at my books, which span a number of genres – from literary fiction to romantic comedy to paranormal – it’s a common thread, even though it was never intended to be.
My first book, Doll, was about the catastrophic aftermath of losing your closest friend – the protagonist Thea embarks on a self-destructive journey while reeling from grief over her best friend’s death. Having shamelessly plundered my teenage years for material – merrily utilising (and distorting) details of my own life and that of my oldest friend – I revisited the same well for my romantic comedy, Bridesmaid Blues. Well, I figured if my friend wasn’t mad at me the first time, she wouldn’t be the second, either!
The premise for Bridesmaid Blues came straight out of my own life: after a nasty break up with the man I at the time thought was the love of my life (and who was the brother of the boyfriend of a close friend), I ended up being the only bridesmaid at their wedding, where he was the best man. Come on – you can’t not use material like that! The book is a romantic comedy: will the heroine Luce get back together with the man who dumped her and broke her heart? But it’s also about friendships, and how they change. To become the woman she needs to be to find happiness, Luce has to grow out of the wayward little sister role she has fallen into with best friend Jenna, as well as re-evaluate her relationship with her glamorous pal Hali, and turn it into a proper friendship, rather than a form of hero worship – and I enjoyed writing (and reading!) those bits of the book as much as any of the romantic stuff!
Even my paranormal series, Dark Dates, has female friendship at its core. While the plots centre around whatever paranormal threat the heroine Cass has to deal with du jour (with some sexy romance thrown in courtesy of a couple of smokin’ hot heroes), the lynchpin of the series is how she moves from being a loner – and lonely – to building her own Buffy-style ‘Scooby gang’, and developing a real friendship with her colleague Medea and Medea’s fiancée, Katie.
In part I think this is because female friendship is so central to my own life (I do have male friends I love very dearly, of course, but that tends to be a slightly different beast). I’m an only child, so have consciously created a network of friends who are like family to me, and whom I treasure even more now we’re getting older and those friendships have survived the inevitable occasional battering by life’s trials and tribulations. So, my friendships have always loomed large in my life: it makes sense that they would in my work, too.

Tracey Sinclair is an author and freelance editor and writer. Her books include the romcom The Bridesmaid Blues and the Dark Dates/Cassandra Bick series, the latest of which, Angel Falls, is out now.