Categories
Books

Nancy’s New Novels

[Scroll down for my A-Z Challenge theme reveal.]

I’m so pleased to be awarded with another visit from Nancy Jardine, whom I interviewed last month.

She’s back to tell us about not one but two novels of hers that are about to be published.

Take it away, Nancy!

Hello Miriam. It’s lovely to come back so soon to update on my next book launches. First of all, I’d love to say that I’m absolutely delighted with both of my cover designs – each is perfect for their intended market.

Final Nancy Jardine x 488I mentioned during my last visit that I was waiting for my cover design from graphic designer, Neil Saddler, for The Taexali Game, my time travel adventure for middle grade/ early teens. That was revealed recently so I’ve rescheduled its launch to April 2015. I’m so pleased to now be virtually ready to self-publish this adventure novel since it’s been waiting on my writing shelf, in various draft guises, for a long time. Soon my readers will be introduced to the intrepid trio you see on the cover – Aran and the twins, Brian and Fianna. In this first book of the Rubidium Time Travel Series, the adventure takes place in their own Aberdeenshire back yard – except that they are time travelled back to the year AD 210. I hope you can see the Ancient Roman legionaries in the cover design because AD 210 was an era when Roman Emperor Severus and his vile son, Caracalla, invaded northern Britain with multiple legions in a show of Roman strength. My teen protagonists have a set of tasks to fulfil, but how do they work out how to help both the ‘baddies’ and the ‘goodies’ when some of the Celtic chiefs they meet are as foul as Severus and Caracalla? Dicing with death becomes the norm in this Roman/Celtic Britain adventure but my trio need to stay alive! The main reason I’m not self publishing The Taexali Game sooner is… because I’ve another launch to attend first!

MonogamyTwistNancyJardine x360My Crooked Cat edition of Monogamy Twist, my contemporary romantic mystery, is launching on March 27th 2015 and I’m absolutely delighted with the quirky cover design for this, too – created by Laurence Patterson of Crooked Cat. Monogamy Twist is a mystery with historical aspects but very different from my Celtic Roman Britain historical novels. The plot for it is based on a recognisable Dickensian theme – that of the bequest of a decaying stately home. Luke Salieri finds himself the recipient of this strange inheritance – except the house can only be his if he fulfils certain weird and quirky conditions. To eventually become the owner Luke needs a woman to help him but not just anyone will do. Rhia Ashton seems perfect for the job since she’s a family history researcher but Luke finds she has a few conditions of her own before she’ll take him on and find out why Luke has been chosen by Amelia Greywood to receive the house. Compromise is the name of the game in Monogamy Twist. It’s a read that will appeal to those who like a bit of history with a few twists in their mystery, or those who like a good solid story in their romantic reading. I extend a warm welcome to the Facebook Launch Party on the 27th March. Goodies can be won and lots of information on my protagonists will be divulged.

Thank you for the update, Nancy. I was in awe of you before; I’m even more in awe of you now.

Nancy Jardine
Nancy Jardine

Nancy Jardine lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. She currently shares a home with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, 3 year old granddaughter and 1 year old grandson. It’ll continue to be a busy household till late summer of 2015 when the new build home will be completed for the young ’uns on what was Nancy’s former back garden. The loss of that part of the garden won’t be missed since there should now be more writing time available this spring and summer! Childminding is intermittent over the day and any writing time is precious. (If interested in how a new house is built these days, follow my blog posts named ‘Gonna build a house’ )

 All matters historical are a passion; Ancestry research a lovely time-suck. Nancy regularly blogs and loves to have guests visit her blog. Facebooking is a habit she’s trying to keep within reasonable bounds! Any time left in a day is for leisure reading and the occasional historical series on TV.

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Author links:

Nancy’s blog

Nancy’s website

Twitter: @nansjar

Nancy on Facebook

Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Monogamy Twist can be PRE-ORDERED here.

Novels also available from Barnes and Noble; W.H. Smith; Waterstones.com; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other places.

Categories
Books Interviews

Nancy Jardine: A Multi-talented Author

I’m delighted to welcome Nancy Jardine, Scottish author of historical romantic adventures, contemporary mystery thrillers and YA time travel historical adventures. As you’ll see, I’m rather in awe of Nancy and I’m hoping she’s about to provide some useful advice.

Nancy Jardine
Nancy Jardine: author

Nancy, I am amazed and very impressed by all that you manage to do. You have published a number of books in various genres and are working on several more. You post regularly on your blog, thrilling readers with interviews, wonderful scenery and updates about you and your writing. You appear on other blogs in guest posts and interviews. You are active on social media. You do author events. And on top of all that you have babysitting duties. Do you have a secret stash of daily hours that mere mortals like me can’t access? How do you fit everything in?

I don’t feel I do fit everything in. I have ‘things’ I want to achieve in a day but often the domestic side overtakes everything else and the priorities shift. Your readers can read more of my domestic situation in my bio below, so I won’t repeat here. An exciting update would be that…the foundations for the new house were started only yesterday [now a few days ago] and I’m sure you can imagine that there was a lot of celebration in our house after all the red tape issues were finally over. I’m about to begin a BLOG DIARY about ‘My lost back garden’. Anyone interested can follow the progress on my blog – Nancy’s Novels.

Apart from lack of writing time just now, I know that I have too many manuscripts on the go. I want to work on them all – but that is way too fanciful. My writing targeting plans, made in January on my blog, need a lot more effort to be fruitful! The procrastinator’s way (mine) is to do more blogging which makes me feel that I’m still writing – just different writing. I’m weaning myself from Facebook, which is just too enticing sometimes.

Don’t I know it! Can you tell us about the settings of your novels? How important are the locations to the stories? Do you think it’s possible to write about a place you’ve never been to?

Nancy Jardine Award Finalist at The People's Book Prize, 2014
Nancy Jardine: Award Finalist at The People’s Book Prize, 2014

All my settings are carefully chosen for particular reasons that fit with my plots. In Topaz Eyes – my contemporary Award Finalist for The People’s Book Prize 2014 – I used a number of different destinations in the mystery thriller that’s also a treasure hunt with deadly consequences. I’ve been to every place mentioned and I selected them very carefully for use in the novel. When I wrote Topaz Eyes in 2011, it had been some time since I’d visited Vienna and Heidelberg. I used the internet to check that some mentions were still reasonably current. Checking was paramount because the colour of the tram system in Vienna changed in early 2011 from red to yellow. Checking was even more important for Amsterdam, because a place I’d remembered fondly from when I lived there in the early 1980s had been demolished. The Poffertje Stall which sold tiny Dutch pancakes near the centre of Kalverstraat – a main Amsterdam pedestrian street – had gone when I visited in April of 2011. I had a minor panic because I’d included the stall in Topaz Eyes. The manuscript was at first edit stages with Stephanie Patterson of Crooked Cat Publishing but when I got home from my holiday, I emailed and asked to make some changes to the story. Although it wasn’t likely that many readers would have picked up on this, I knew about it and it would have bugged me to leave it. There’s still a scene involving Poffertjes, for a significant reason, but it now fits with contemporary Amsterdam.

Crooked Cat is re-launching two of my other contemporary mysteries – Monogamy Twist and Take Me Now. There are a few locations which feature in these novels that I haven’t been to. I used the internet for information but I also got other handy tips from my daughter, who had visited them during her ‘year-out world trip’ after university. Therefore, I personally believe it’s possible to write about places you’ve not actually been to.

How do you set about writing a historical novel? Do you have the whole story in mind before doing any research, or does the story form itself as you discover details? Do you have any tips for an author planning to explore this genre for the first time?

I think that historical work always needs thorough research. Readers of historical fiction can be very disappointed if they find anachronisms or something that’s just wrong for the era – and I count myself among that readers group. I try very hard to give an accurate portrayal of my chosen era of first century AD Roman Britain in my Celtic Fervour Series of historical romantic adventures, even though historical details for the era are scant and much is gleaned from interpretation of archaeological data. If the epoch is completely new to an author, I’d suggest a good consolidation time of research would be necessary to get a real feel for the times. In my case, my teaching of Celtic/Roman Scotland gave me a great background to feed from. Book 1 of the series evolved from a basic plot and grew and grew. Books 2 and 3 of the Celtic Fervour Series took a lot more research since I knew very little of the Roman military infiltration of Britannia. Once I’d learned about the campaigns of Agricola, Governor of Britannia in AD 78-86, I was able to plot out the movements of my characters. However, I found that using the writings of Tacitus (a Roman historian) was misleading. He is one of the few prime source writings of the era but it’s long been known that his writing is somewhat biased towards a Roman slant, his summation of events not particularly reliable. Tacitus’ dating of events is now seriously flawed by a number of years, according to the latest twenty-first century archaeological findings – recent dendrochronology (wood deposits) findings now dating the construction of Roman forts and fortresses much more accurately. Agricola was credited with making early campaigns into northern Britannia (Scotland) but dendrochronology dating is now putting those first Roman footsteps, in Scotland, back to the times of previous Roman governors, like Cerialis and Frontinus. My tip to an aspiring historical author would be try to keep abreast of recent developments in your chosen era because things can surprise you part way through the writing of a novel and, if you’re like me, you’ll want to make changes for better credibility.

I enjoyed hearing (and seeing) you read from After Whorl: Bran Reborn in this video, although I didn’t understand every word due to the quality of the recording and being unaccustomed to your gorgeous accent. Do you think being a teacher provided good experience for readings and other author events? Was there anything else that prepared you for life as an author?

That’s an interesting question, Miriam. The answer might be perhaps. The funny thing is that during my 25 years of teaching mostly 11-12 year olds, I could stand up in front of them and just get on with whatever I’d planned. The same was not the case when I was in front of adults and my teacher colleagues. For some reason adults made me nervous and doubt myself. I was extremely tense just before my first author talk in 2013, but as it happened the audience was small – I think only about seven people – and I wasn’t nervous once I got started. I’ve not been in front of any more than 15 people so far with author engagements but I’m hoping that a bigger audience won’t make me nervous in the future. At present, I’ve no planned author talks but I’m hoping to arrange some soon for my YA time travel historical novel, The Taexali Game, which I intend to self-publish soon. I’m presently waiting on my cover design and when that’s decided on, I think I’ll be good to start promoting it. However, I’m quite anxious about the self-publishing process – even though I know that thousands of other authors have done it themselves.

What other author events do you take part in? Which events have you found most useful for selling books?

Apart from my author talks at local public libraries, and women’s groups like the Women’s Rural Institute, the only other events I’ve attended have been when selling my books at local craft fairs. My first foray with this ‘public selling’ technique was when a friend agreed that my books are my ‘produce’ and that I could take a stall and sell at our Farmers’ Market in the local county town. These markets happen one Saturday morning every month, under canvas awnings, and are held in almost all weathers. (We are talking north-east Scotland!) At first, I was uneasy about being ‘out there’ and on show as an author. As it happened, I thoroughly enjoyed coming across new people to talk to about my books; potential readers; and people from my teaching past – fellow colleagues and some parents of kids I’d taught. The downside is that wind and rain are NOT good for paperback books or for printed publicity material. After a few of these outside markets, I was very fortunate to be invited to join FOCUS, a local crafters group who have bookings for their Craft Fairs in public Halls across Aberdeenshire, Scotland. (FOCUS means Festival Of Crafts Unique to Scotland.) FOCUS events are all held indoors, so weather isn’t a problem and my table display doesn’t blow away!

Nancy Jardine Celtic Fervour poster
Nancy Jardine: Celtic Fervour poster

Between September and December 2014, I sold a total of 140 of my paperback novels at Craft Fairs and Author Talks. That’s not huge sales compared to some authors, but it was a thrilling start for me. I intend to sell at fairs this coming 2015 season which begins in April. The most exciting thing about selling at Craft Fairs, so far, is that I’ve had a few return customers who liked the first book they’d bought and they then bought more of my work. The only minor drawback to selling at these fairs is that I spend around 7 hours on a Saturday that could potentially be new writing time. Nevertheless, as published authors, we all now know that promotional time must be spent and is a huge time suck!

 Oh yes!

Thank you for inviting me to your blog, Miriam.

Thank you for coming, Nancy, and for your interesting and helpful responses.

***

Nancy Jardine lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland – currently with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, 3 year old granddaughter and almost 1 year old grandson. It’ll continue to be a busy household till late summer when the new build home should appear on the back garden for the young ‘uns. The great thing about that is Nancy now has less of her original garden to tend, and any garden jobs that side of the property will soon be someone else’s! Child minding is intermittent over the day, so writing time is precious – the tendency is for it to be between 9 p.m. and 1a.m.

Her published work to date has been two non-fiction history related projects and six novels. Three of the novels are contemporary mysteries, the others historical romantic adventures set in northern Roman Britain, late first century AD – published by Crooked Cat Publishing. By spring 2015, she’ll have published The Taexali Game, the first of her Rubidium Time Travel series for a Middle Grade/ YA market.

All matters historical are a passion; Ancestry research a lovely time-suck. She regularly blogs; loves to have guests visit her blog; and Facebooking is a habit she’s trying to keep within reasonable bounds! Any time left in a day is for reading, though her TBR list of books on her kindle is now huge.

Find Nancy at: https://www.pinterest.com/nanjar/

http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk   http://nancyjardineauthor.weebly.com/

Twitter: @nansjar Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG

Also at other sites as Nancy Jardine; Goodreads; About Me; Google +…

Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:

US http://amzn.to/RJZzZz   UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nancy-Jardine/e/B005IDBIYG/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Novels also available from Barnes and Noble; W.H. Smith; Waterstones.com; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other places

Categories
Books

Who’s Santa?

Chanuka with the Crooked CatsThe authors of Crooked Cat, publisher of my romance with a difference: Neither Here Nor There, are holding a six-week extravaganza of stories, poems, free giveaways and more, called: CHANUKA WITH THE CROOKED CATS, or something like that!

In honour of this unique event, I am publishing, here on my blog, my Christmas story with a difference. The story clearly takes place in a year that isn’t this year, because this year Chanuka ends on Christmas eve, whereas in the story there is a gap between the end of Chanuka and the beginning of Christmas.

If you want to discuss anything in the story, you’re welcome to do so in the comments below. Please comment promptly because I’m going away in a few days and might not be available to respond.

By the way, while there are about fifty ways of writing Chanuka in Latin letters, there is only one in Hebrew: חנוכה.

Who’s Santa?

Everything I hear and everything I see seems to have something to do with Christmas. On the TV and the radio, and in magazines. Everywhere. They talk about it and sing about it and have pictures about it. I think it’s boring. When I turned on my favourite TV programme – Doctor Who – and found that was all about Christmas, I was so fed up that I actually switched off and even read my library book instead.

At school, we only talk about Christmas a bit of the time. Keith said we must never write Xmas, even though it’s easier to spell. That’s because the X stands for the cross and we don’t believe in that. Keith was also the one who told me I must never look for a rainbow in the sky when it’s raining and sun shining at the same time, because I don’t know the brocha for it. I think that’s a shame because rainbows are pretty and it’s nice to look at them. I’ll have to find out what the brocha is and memorise it. It’s probably something like, “Blessed art thou, O Lord our God, for giving us the rainbow.” I wonder how you say rainbow in Hebrew.

On Tuesday, when Mummy took me home from my piano lesson, it was dark. On the way back from the bus stop, we passed three houses with lots of little flickering lights. I knew what they were. Christmas again.

“Why do people have Christmas trees?” I asked Mummy.

“Oh, it’s part of celebrating Christmas,” she said. “And people put them where others can see them as they go past, just like we put our Chanukah menorah on the window sill for people to see.”

“Why is everyone talking about Christmas?”

“Well, Christmas is a big thing for Christians. It’s their most fun time of the year.”

“What’s our most fun time of the year?”

Mummy had to think about that one. “Maybe Purim.”

“So why doesn’t everyone talk about Purim like they talk about Christmas?”

“Because there are a lot more Christians than Jews. And lots of people celebrate Christmas, even if they don’t believe in it.”

I like to be happy and have fun. So I said, “Why can’t we celebrate Christmas?”

“Because we have our own religion and we’re happy with that.”

“But I want to have fun, too.”

“And you do. At Simchas Torah and Purim. Remember?”

Well, that’s true. I love all the singing and dancing in shul. And I love dressing up on Purim. I suppose what I meant was that I want to have fun now.

The next day, I met my friend, Johnny, in the street. I like Johnny because he’s only six and I’m seven, so I can tell him things. Once, I told him how many more Corn Flakes coupons he needed before he could send away for a football, because he didn’t know how to work it out. And another time, a big boy walked past us and Johnny wanted to know what it said on his shirt. “It said, ‘I came on Laura’,” I told him.

“What does that mean?” he asked.

So I told him. “It means that he made Laura hurry up.”

This time, it was the other way round. Johnny told me something I didn’t know. He said, “I want Santa to bring me a train set. What do you want him to bring you?”

“Santa?” I said. “Who’s that?”

“You know. Father Christmas.”

“Who’s Father Christmas?” It wasn’t that I hadn’t heard of Father Christmas. But I never really took much notice before.

He looked up at me and frowned. “You must know that. Everyone knows that. Father Christmas brings presents to all the children. He lives in a very cold place with lots of snow and ice, and on Christmas Eve he flies in the sky pulled by a reindeer and gives out all the presents.”

I didn’t know there were special deer that came out in the rain, but I didn’t like to say I didn’t know that, either.

Then Johnny said something else. “Father Christmas only gives presents to good children. Maybe you’re not good and you’ll go to that place where there are fires burning all the time.”

It didn’t seem bad to me to have fires burning. Especially if there was ice and snow there. Still, I punched Johnny in the tummy. Not a real punch – just a pretend one. “I’m good,” I said.

We played outside for a while, taking turns to ride my new scooter, which I got for Chanukah. It was while I was running after Johnny that I saw something small and flashy on the pavement. I stopped, picked it up and started to examine it. Johnny soon came back. “Hey! Why did you s…,” he started. Then he spotted my prize and his eyes widened. “My dad’s got one of them. It’s a cigarette lighter.” This business of Johnny telling me things was getting to be a habit I didn’t care for. “Try pressing that button quickly,” he said.

I pressed. Nothing happened. So I pressed again more quickly and a flame sprang up. “Cool.”

“Can I have it?” Johnny asked.

“No. I found it.” I put it into my pocket – after letting go of the button, of course.

 

Afterwards, on my own in my room, I decided to experiment with the lighter. The first thing I tried it on was my counterpane and… well, I decided not to try it out again, although it made a nice smell. I hope Mummy and Daddy don’t notice that pretty hole in the counterpane with the black edge. I wonder if Santa ever burns holes when he lights his fires. Anyway, while I was doing that, I thought about what Johnny had said about Santa giving out presents only to good children and all that. Maybe we were bad because we didn’t have a Christmas tree and that was why Santa didn’t bring me presents.

I was still worrying about it when I went downstairs and saw Daddy sitting on the sofa, reading the newspaper. So I asked him, “Why does Santa bring presents to Johnny and not to me?”

Daddy put the paper down beside him, laid his glasses carefully on the little table and pulled me onto his knee, like he always does when he wants to explain something to me. “Daniel,” he said. “There is no Santa. Santa is someone made up and Christian parents pretend that he brings presents for children. Really, the parents buy the presents.”

I was shocked. “You mean Johnny’s mummy and daddy lied to him?”

“No. It’s not a lie. It’s just a story they tell him, and when he gets older they’ll tell him it’s not true.”

“How do you spell Santa?” Spelling is my thing at the moment, and I bet Johnny doesn’t know how to spell it.

“S-A-N-T-A.”

 

I thought about that in bed. Daddy said it wasn’t a lie, but it did sound like one. I thought Johnny ought to know about it. Then I thought about that game – Scrabble – that my big sister, Rachel, often plays with Mummy and Daddy, and how I wanted to join in and they all told me I’m not ready for it. So, the day before, I asked Rachel how I could get ready for it and she said, “It’s all about making words from a group of letters.”

“How d’you do that?” I asked.

“Well, take the letters of my name: R-A-C-H-E-L.” She took a piece of paper and a pencil from the sideboard drawer and wrote down the letters. “You can make lots of words with those letters. Car, care, race, hear, heal, real, arch, larch and lots more.”

“Now do my name.”

“D-A-N-I-E-L. And, end, lid, line, dine. There’s even a word that uses all the letters: nailed.”

“I don’t like that one,” I said. “I wouldn’t like to be nailed to the wall; it hurts.”

She smiled. “OK, I see another one: denial.”

“What’s that?”

“It’s when you say no to everything.”

“I like that,” I said. “I’m always saying no to Mummy and Daddy.”

So when I was in bed, thinking about Santa, I wondered what the letters S-A-N-T-A could make. But I think I fell asleep without thinking of anything. When I woke up, I knew Santa was bad. I don’t know why – I just knew it. And I decided I had to tell Johnny about him.

 

That day, after school, Johnny came to my house to play with me and Mummy gave us tea. We drank hot chocolate and ate Mummy’s jam doughnuts. I love doughnuts, especially when I bite into a jammy bit and all the jam suddenly spurts out everywhere. I know Mummy thinks I get jam all over my face and hands on purpose, but I don’t. It just comes. Anyway, while we were eating and drinking, Mummy asked Johnny, “What do you want from Father Christmas?”

Johnny said, “A train set.”

I said, “There’s no such thing as Santa.”

Mummy said, “Of course there is.”

I said, “No, there isn’t. Daddy said so.”

Mummy ignored me completely. She turned to Johnny and said, “Don’t listen to him. He’s just being naughty.”

I was hurt. I wasn’t being naughty at all. I was being good and teaching Johnny something he needed to know.

After Johnny left, Mummy called me into the kitchen. I sat on the stool. She sat next to me on the folding chair and I saw the frown that always makes the wrinkles round her eyes show up more.

“Daniel, I’m sorry I had to say you were naughty, today,” she said. “It’s really very good that you teach Johnny things. But there are some things you shouldn’t teach him. If his mummy and daddy want him to believe in Santa now, you shouldn’t tell him he doesn’t exist. Johnny will find that out when he’s older. All right?”

“Yes,” I said.

 

It makes sense, I suppose. It would be confusing for Johnny if everyone told him different things. He wouldn’t know what to believe. So, for now he’ll carry on believing he gets presents from a man who lights fires to keep warm in the snow and ice, and is pulled along by deer that come out in the rain.

All this makes me wonder whether grown-ups have told me any lies. I wonder about the tooth fairy. And about Haman, the wicked man who wanted to kill all the Jews on Purim. There couldn’t really be someone who wants to kill all the Jews, could there?

WhosSantaTo see all the other Crooked Cat stories, poems, giveaways and more, join our Facebook group.

Neither Here Nor There, my romance with a difference, is available from Amazon, Crooked Cat Books, Smashwords and The Book Depository.

Categories
Interviews

Interactive Interview: Sarah Louise Smith

This is the first of a series of author interviews. I decided to hold them interactively rather than sending authors a list of questions. That way, my questions can relate more to previous answers. I hope this will produce some interesting interviews.

My “guineapig” is Sarah Louise Smith whose new novel, Independent Jenny, was published by Crooked Cat Publishing last month.

Sarah Louise SmithHello Sarah and welcome to my blog. Could you start by telling us something about your new book?

Hello Miriam and thank you so much for having me!

Independent Jenny is about a woman who has just found out her husband cheated on her. While she’s trying to process this and figure out whether to forgive him, she finds out her brother-in-law has always had a thing for her. Confused and unsure which brother sh wants, she goes on holiday with her friend Hayley to clear her head… but Hayley has an ulterior motive which leaves Jenny to spend time with her ex-boyfriend; who is now married. It’s about love, lust, relationships, forgiveness and figuring out what you want.

This is the third novel you’ve had published by Crooked Cat. What do you think stands out in your novels? Why did Crooked Cat choose Amy and Zach – your first novel – over the many others it must have rejected?

Wow, that’s an interesting question and only Crooked Cat could tell you the real answer. I think I have quite a clear voice in my novels, they’re all written in the first person and the characters really talk to the reader. I also try to keep them fast-paced, and although there are sad moments, they have a bit of humour and light-heartedness which perhaps made the Cat smile on occasion 😉

I also think humour is important – even in novels that are basically serious or sad.

How important is setting in your novels? Do you have real or fictional settings? (Sorry I haven’t had a chance to read them yet.)

The setting is very important, and I tend to use real places. In my first novel, Amy & Zach, it’s all about a girl who travels from the UK to live in Boston, Massachusetts… in Izzy’s Cold Feet, Izzy goes on a bit of a trip … and as for Independent Jenny, the novel is set in two of my favourite places in the UK: Bath (Jenny’s hometown) which has so much character, I adore it … and the Isle of Skye in Scotland – I went there on holiday last year and found much of my inspiration for the novel while I was there…

I spent a holiday on the Isle of Skye several years ago. It is a beautiful place. I’ve never been to Bath, so I look forward to reading about it.

Do you think it’s possible to set a novel in a place you’ve never been to?

I think that very much depends on how much of that place features in the novel. In all of my books, the places are described quite a lot so I think I would find it tricky to set a novel somewhere I had never been without a lot of Internet research; but that isn’t quite the same as being in that place and soaking up the atmosphere…

How do you create your characters? Are they based on people you know?

My characters are completely fictional although the female lead in each one has some similar traits to myself. For example Jenny has a golden retriever, loves walking and taking photos – as do I! Each time I start a new novel I think about the central characters and what their personality traits might be, so I can (hopefully) give them some depth and make them feel more real.

I like walking, too. Perhaps we could go for a walk together – if the golden retriever doesn’t get too close!

My golden retriever likes to run out ahead if possible 🙂

Have you ever created a character with mental health issues?

No, chick lit is quite light and easy-going so it isn’t something I’ve really considered. My characters usually have emotional issues, but nothing as serious as that. I’ve thought about writing about a character with severe depression, but it doesn’t lend itself so easy to the fun-ness of my genre.

Do you think it’s important for authors to stick to one genre? Have you ever thought of writing in a different genre?

I think it’s different for everyone. But I have tried to build up a readership and brand for myself. If your reader expects a certain style or genre and you change, it may mean that your usual readers are disappointed and new readers are harder to find… I enjoy romantic comedy a lot anyhow so I have no plans to try anything else.

To finish off, what are your plans for the future?

I am currently writing my fourth novel, and hope to finish that very soon. It’s about a girl who has a fling and lies to the man she meets as she thinks she’ll never see him again. But things get serious and then it’s too late to tell him the truth…

Sounds intriguing!

Thank you so much for interviewing me, it’s been a lot of fun 🙂

Thank you for agreeing to be my first interviewee. I wish you lots of success.

Independent Jenny

About Independent Jenny:

“I slept with someone else.”
Those five words changed everything.

After her husband Ross drops a bombshell, Jenny’s emotions go hay-wire. Things are made even more complex when his brother Aiden makes a confession of his own…

A holiday escape with her friend Hayley seems the perfect way to figure out what – and who – she wants. But Hayley has a hidden motive that results in Jenny spending time with her ex-boyfriend Will, who is now married.

Should Jenny forgive Ross? Can she ignore her feelings for romantic Aiden? And why can’t she get Will out of her head?

One thing is for sure: Jenny doesn’t want to be alone. Surely any man is better than no man, right?

 About Sarah Louise Smith:

Sarah Louise Smith lives in Milton Keynes, UK, with her husband, a cute cat and a loopy golden retriever. She has an extremely lovely step-daughter and spends most of her free time writing, reading, cooking, and taking long walks.

She’s the author of three chick-lit novels: Amy & Zach, Izzy’s Cold Feet, and Independent Jenny, all published by Crooked Cat.

Sarah’s website/blog: www.sarahlouisesmith.com

 

You can purchase paperbacks or e-versions from all the usual online book sellers.

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Sarah-Louise-Smith/e/B00AX55ZOI/

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/author/sarahlouisesmith

Follow Sarah on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahSmith16

Find Sarah on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarahlouisesmithauthor

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Books

Meet Emma Silver

I’m delighted to welcome fellow Crooked Cat author, Emma Silver, to my blog today. Emma is the author of Blackbrooke and Blackbrooke II: The Guardian, and her new novel for young adults, Blackbrooke III: King of Queenswill, will be published on 14 October, 2014.

Emma Silver - Blackbrooke III

Emma has something to say on the issue of:

Teenagers and Love

 I still get a lot of raised eyebrows from people I know who decide it might be time to read Blackbrooke.

“Ooh, it’s a bit racy.”

“I wouldn’t let my fifteen year old niece read it. It’s too rude.”

If you’ve not read it, let me put this into context for you…

Liberty Connor is the main character and, by book number three, her virginity is intact.

There’s a bit of kissing, but that’s as far as it goes.

So, what’s the problem?

When probed, these people (and they tend to be older readers, teenagers don’t tend to have an issue with it, funnily enough) explain it makes them uncomfortable that seventeen year olds are having ‘relations’. Yes, that’s the exact word they used.

It’s a tough one. Seventeen is young to be considering romance, but, hold the phone…

It happens!

Writing teenagers is a tricky one. I was seventeen once, and I don’t remember being tucked up in bed, reading Enid Blyton with my Barbie torch.

I’ve never set out to push the boundaries or challenge people’s thinking, I just wanted to be honest. Plus, it’s fiction. These kids live in a town that’s gated off from the rest of the country. Oh, and they share that town with the Crits, who kill people for food.

Quite frankly, I’m a tad peeved people don’t talk about that aspect a little more!

The last person to try and tell me Blackbrooke was Mills & Boon for young adults was greeted with the question: “So, the mythical creatures ripping humans to shreds and scalping kids in broad daylight didn’t bother you?”

That’s different, apparently.

Extreme violence we can handle, and we even happily let our kids be entertained by it. However, present them with a couple over the age of consent sharing a kiss and discussing the possibility of sex and it’s all a bit too much.

I’ve learned to smile through it and shrug hopelessly when I’m questioned about it now.

I also recommend they stay the hell away from Fifty Shades of Grey.

Emma Silver - Blackbrooke III

Thank you for that, Emma.

Blackbrooke III: King of Queens is released 14th October, courtesy of Crooked Cat Publishing.

You can follow Emma on Twitter: @emma_silver or head to her blog: emmasilverauthor.blogspot.com.

Categories
Books

Blog Hop, Stage 3

I’ve travelled south to Milton Keynes and the blog of Sarah Louise Smith, author of Amy and Zach and Izzy’s Cold Feet.

Today, I’m talking about arranged marriage.

Here’s my schedule so far:

18 June Catriona King My Route to Publication
20 June Cathie Dunn The Background to my Novel
22 June Sarah Louise Smith Arranged Marriage
Jeff Gardiner Life-Changing Decisions

For those of you who live in the UK, US and most other countries, the ebook version of my novel, Neither Here Nor There, is on sale for a limited time at Amazon, along with most of the other Crooked Cat Books. There’s even an eye-catching poster.

Crooked Cat Sale, June2014

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Categories
Books

2014 A to Z Challenge: Reflection

2014 Blogging from A to Z: reflection

My fourth A-Z blogging challenge. How did it go?

  • I completed the challenge.
  • I learned things about the lives of authors.
  • I introduced readers to new authors, most of them fairly new to me, as I met them through Crooked Cat Publishing, who are going to publish my novel next month.
  • I read and enjoyed posts by other A-Z bloggers.

But, as always, I was constricted by time. Other activities got in the way.

  • I didn’t write all the posts in advance.
  • I didn’t read enough posts by other bloggers.
  • I didn’t comment enough.

Then, like last year, I went away towards the end of the month. I had a wonderful time, but it wasn’t so good for my A-Z Challenge experience. Maybe next year I’ll do better. And maybe not. I have my priorities. I wouldn’t turn down an opportunity to go away for the sake of blogging, important as it is.

More about Norway next time, I hope.

Categories
Books Bullying

Igboland

I have another visitor, today. Jeff Gardiner has dropped in while on his blog tour. It’s just as well you didn’t arrive in Jerusalem yesterday, Jeff, or you might have found yourself drowning in a sea of black hats!

I’ve just started reading Jeff’s previous novel, Myopia. I was attracted to that one, of course, because the main character is a boy who is bullied.

Igboland cover5

Igboland is a very different sort of novel, as Jeff’s description shows.

Igboland is a novel of passion and conflict set in Nigeria during the late 1960s Biafran War. Lydia is a young English girl, recently married to Clem, a Methodist Missionary. Their first home together as a couple is in the West African bush, thousands of miles away from her beloved family. Lydia and Clem arrive in Nigeria just as civil war breaks out and the extract below is of their first sight of their new home. The novel is inspired by the diaries and photos of my own parents, who lived out in West Africa for six years. They travelled to Nigeria on a ship, The Apapa, and then travelled hundreds of miles on a train into the foreign bushland.

Box 1001 Apapa

Here is an extract from Chapter 2 of Igboland:

***

That evening the train came to a sudden, jerking halt.

‘Here we are, my love,’ Clem said with a nudge. ‘This must be Enugu. Look lively.’

‘Sorry,’ I mumbled. ‘I’m so tired. I don’t feel very well.’

With little sympathy, Clem pulled me up and tucked his arm into mine. We stopped by the door and I wondered why he didn’t open it straight away. Instead, he stepped back and I heard a harsh but muffled voice shout from below us.

‘Why’s there no platform?’ Clem asked aloud. ‘What’s going on?’

I looked out the window and noticed a soldier outside on a raised hillock, waving two hands above his head at us. In one hand he held a gun.

‘Stay behind me,’ Clem ordered.

The soldier was gesticulating for us to exit the train.

Clem opened the train door and stood in front of me with his hands up.

‘Come down from the train!’ the soldier beckoned furiously again; his face impenetrably dark under his peaked cap. I had no idea which side he was on – or even which side might show us the greater sympathy. Thus my ignorance enhanced my fear.

box 1066 Zonkwa station

The soldier came closer, placing his gun in his holster.

‘Quickly. The line ahead has been bombed. Enemy soldiers are patrolling and all ways into the city are blocked.’ His English was excellent; clearly the product of a good education. With there being no platform, the drop down to the floor was considerable. Clem jumped for it but tumbled over and turned his ankle. The soldier reached up and signalled for me to jump onto him. He easily caught me. I wrapped my arms round his neck and my legs round his waist, and then he lowered me gently to the ground.

Behind me, I became aware of the other passengers jumping down, the driver and stewards amongst them. They stood in large groups chattering excitedly amongst themselves.

‘You must turn back. Go back North. Perhaps we could drive you north to a safer place like Jos.’

Clem shook his head. ‘We’re going to Ngkaluku.’

‘This is not a good idea.’

But Clem insisted and nearly came to blows with the soldier.

He asked to see our passports.

‘Mr and Mrs Davie.’ He enunciated each sound very deliberately.

‘Reverend Davie,’ Clem replied pedantically.

When he saw he was getting nowhere with my stubborn husband, the soldier whistled behind him and a group of about a dozen similarly dressed soldiers appeared. They talked to each other in their own tongue. A few of them gave us dirty looks and began to argue amongst themselves. Eventually the first soldier, presumably their leader, returned accompanied by another.

‘Corporal Nwoko here will drive you to your destination and leave you there. Are you sure this is what you want?’

Clem stood firm and the soldier in charge shook his head. He obviously had a more important mission to complete and was keen to get us out of the way. Giving up on us as a lost cause, he went to talk sense into the other passengers.

Corporal Nwoko pulled the limping Clem towards a clump of trees away from the stationary train and I followed behind like a puppy. It occurred to me just then that he might be preparing to shoot us and a rising sense of panic struck me. The relief was palpable when I saw an open-top Jeep parked under a mahogany tree.

‘I will drive you now,’ said Corporal Nwoko, leaping into the driver’s seat and jerking his thumb behind him.

Clem got in the back with me and we sped off down a red dirt track pocked with potholes. The bumps only worsened my headache.

‘You come here at very bad time,’ our driver shouted over his shoulder, ominously.

For the rest of the car journey I phased in and out of the intermittent conversation. I remember very little about the last part of our long and tortuous trek. My only recollections are short flashes of being bumped around, with my head on Clem’s lap; having flushes of being freezing cold and then sweating profusely; the voices of the two men chatting between long silences as I drifted in and out in waves, feeling horribly claustrophobic. A new warmth embraced me as I allowed my entire being to be engulfed by the looming jaws of darkness.

box 1015 Iga village

‘Lydia? We’re here!’

‘What, home?’ I said, filled with happiness.

I was going to see Mum’s dimpled smile and her mischievous eyes; Dad’s strong arms would welcome me back and Oliver would proudly call me his ‘favourite sister’. I even saw Frisky bouncing up on his back paws, tongue out, tail wagging–—

‘Welcome to Ngkaluku.’

The dream crumbled.

My life crashed about me as my head swam in a panic. I wanted to scream and thrash about but my whole body felt drained of all energy. All my limbs were paralysed.

This wasn’t home. Home was thousands of miles away.

Clem helped me out. We stood alone in the West African bush.

Corporal Nwoko revved his engine noisily and turned his vehicle round. On the way past he slowed down and leaned over towards us.

‘We try to warn you,’ he sneered in a chilling tone, before accelerating away.

The sight awaiting us was horrific.

Ngkaluku had been recently bombed.

The devastation shocked us. Bodies and limbs lay piled up. Dead faces stared out with eyes burnt from their sockets. Many of the corpses had been smashed beyond recognition, or possessed gashes of bloodless open flesh exposing rotten innards. Swarms of flies flickered around the heaps. Dogs and other small scavengers made dashes past the children instructed to keep them off. Vultures hopped about sullenly only a short distance away. Grotesque as it was, the sight continued to entice me to look. After a while, I could no longer return the gaze of these death masks. Without a second thought, Clem went to help the locals in their search under debris for further bodies, which were then carried over to a hut now designated a makeshift medical centre. A local doctor had already assembled a team of helpers and was doing what he could with very few resources.

***

Wow – exciting stuff! Thank you for that excerpt, Jeff, and good luck with your new novel.

Igboland is available as a paperback or e-book (Kindle, Epub or PDF) from Amazon US, Amazon UK or Crooked Cat Books.

You can visit Jeff Gardiner at his website or his blog.

Igboland cover6

Categories
Books

I’m an author – I think

In the past, when people asked me what I did, I’d say, “Well, for a long time I was a computer programmer, and then I was a technical writer.” If they looked confused at that – and most did – I’d say, “I wrote manuals explaining how to use software,” and they’d nod, whether they understood or not.

WhatDoYouDo

Then they’d ask, or I’d feel I had to add, “Now I’m at home and I write.” With raised eyebrows they’d ask, “What sort of thing do you write?” and I’d mumble, “Oh, different things.” Then came the inevitable question: “Have you had anything published?” to which I’d mumble, “A couple of short stories in anthologies,” as if they don’t really count – not because I think that’s true, but because they probably do. Their question probably meant, “Have you had a whole book published?”

Suddenly, everything has changed. Now when people ask me what I do, I say, “Ani soferet” – I’m an author. They look at me with wide eyes. “Wow!” And I smile and nod.

But something bothers me about all this. Was it the signing of a contract that turned me into an author? Surely I’ve been an author since I started writing. Why couldn’t I ever say that before?

On the other hand, I suppose I couldn’t say it because I’d have felt I didn’t deserve the “Wow!” that followed.

Anyway, it’s happened now and I’ve taken a big leap and landed in a bed of Cats – Crooked Cats. There is even a catalogue.