Friday, 29 November 2013

In November...

... I read:

 
Click to read review (when available)
The Obituary Writer by Lauren St John
Leopard's Prey by Christine Feehan
Pack Up Your Troubles by Pam Weaver
 
 
 
... released my free festive short story, A Beginner's Guide To Christmas
 
... chose my Book of the Month and Cover Star
 
... created my Festive Reading List and a Free Festive Reads list
 
... hosted a giveaway of Evie Hunter's The Pleasures of Autumn
 
 
... and had guest posts from Jac Wright, E. Bell, Cathy Bramley and Trish
 

http://www.jenniferjoycewrites.co.uk/2013/11/release-day-beginners-guide-to-christmas.html


Thursday, 28 November 2013

Book of the Month - November

 
I've read some fantastic books since starting this blog and I'd like to give some of them a bit more recognition. So I've decided to add a new feature to the blog and give a special mention to one outstanding book each month. Feel free to add your thoughts of the chosen book in the comments below or even recommend an outstanding book of your own.


November

 
Rosie Hopkins is looking forward to Christmas in the little Derbyshire village of Lipton buried under a thick blanket of snow. Her sweetshop is festooned with striped candy canes large tempting piles of Turkish Delight crinkling selection boxes and happy sticky children. She's going to be spending it with her boyfriend Stephen and her family flying in from Australia. She can't wait.

But when a tragedy strikes at the heart of their little community all of Rosie's plans for the future seem to be blown apart. Can she build a life in Lipton? And is what's best for the sweetshop also what's best for Rosie?
 
 
I'd been looking forward to reading Christmas at Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop as soon as I saw the gorgeous festive cover - and I wasn't disappointed by the story inside. The book is filled with fantastic characters and drama around every corner. The little village of Lipton, which is quickly filling with snow, is the perfect location for a festive read and I enjoyed every single page.
 
 
Click here to see all 'Books of the Month'

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Festive Guest Post: Trish


Christmas In Canada by Trish

(tishylou.wordpress.com) @tishylou

 
I was born and raised in St Catharines, Ontario, Canada. It was a relatively small town and we lived on the outskirts. We didn't have a lot of neighbours and there weren't many other children around for my younger brother and I to play with. I grew up with 2 of my cousins as my best friends. Aunts and Uncles, grandparents and cousins were always around us. My Mum loved Christmas! I think it was her favourite time of year, just like me. We used to get a big tree, decorate it in tinsel and icicles. Mum always liked to have a colour scheme for the tree. Some years it was pink and grey, sometimes red and gold or blue and silver. No matter what the theme was, there were always a few keepsake ornaments that went on the tree. To this day, I still have most of them. We always had the same angel on the top of the tree and Mum made us crochet stockings to hang up.

Every year, we baked cookies and cakes together. We'd make butter tarts, cherry cakes, fruit cake cookies, gumdrop cookies and tons of other tasty treats. My Aunt used to have (and still does, I think) our annual “cookie day” where we'd all gather with the goodies we'd made at home and then we'd divide them up between the family. We'd also bake sugar cookies and all the kids would spend hours decorating them with sugar icing and sprinkles. It was the BEST thing ever!! We'd eat lunch together and Aunty Wendy's house was always cosy so pretty with candles and lights everywhere. It's the part of Christmas I miss most since moving over here...

Christmas Eve was normally a quiet night in watching cartoons. My favourites were and still are A Charlie Brown Christmas, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Christmas Eve on Sesame Street and Garfields' Family Christmas. We'd pig out on cakes and cookies and hot chocolates and then when it was bed time, we'd leave a plate of cookies, a glass of milk and a shot of Canadian Crown whiskey for Santa, along with some carrots for the reindeer. Mum always put the turkey in the oven before bed. When we woke up in the morning (to the smell of turkey) we'd find our stockings stuffed full of toys, books, crayons and sweets and we'd take them back to our rooms until Mum and Dad woke up. We'd then all have a glass of eggnog while Mum made hot cross buns and we'd sit down to open presents. We usually got one big gift each or something really big between us. One year my brother and I got a brand new Commodore 64 computer system, which was the coolest thing ever!! After presents were opened and we'd tidied up a little, Mum would get on with cooking the huge dinner and we'd all watch Christmas movies while playing with our new toys. Grandma and Grandpa would come and we'd settle in, all cosy to eat and play until bedtime.

On Boxing Day, we'd go to Aunty Wendy's again after breakfast and enjoy the huge buffet spread and some lovely Christmas music and family time. All the cousins, Aunts, Uncles, grandparents... Everyone in one house with loads of good food (I'm sensing a theme here...) and yet more gifts to open. 

I don't have a favourite Christmas memory, they were all great. My parents worked so hard all year to make it special for us. And now that we live so far away from family and my Mum has passed away, Christmas has lost it's magic for me. I bake a little, but it isn't the same. I don't have any grandparents to see and my brother is back in Canada now. So it's me, Dad and my OH. We try to make an effort, but it can be so painful sometimes and feels like a chore. We'll see what this year holds, but the memories of lovely family times will always be with me during the holidays.
 

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

A Gift To Remember by Melissa Hill

 
 
Darcy Archer lives for books. She's the manager of a New York bookstore and loves nothing more than curling up and escaping into a book and even dreams of her favourite book heroes. Her aunt, glamorous events manager, Katharine, worries that Darcy is spending too much time holed up in her apartment with a book. Nothing exciting ever happens to Darcy. Until one disastrous morning when Darcy knocks over a man while riding to work on her bike.
 
Darcy is horrified by the accident and feels guilty. So when the man's dog is accidentally left behind at the scene while he rushed to hospital, Darcy feels responsible for it. As well as the dog, a husky named Bailey, there is also a beautifully wrapped package left behind and Darcy vows to reunite the dog and gift with their owner.
 
Darcy tracks down the man - a handsome and successful businessman named Aidan Harris - and from there she embarks on a journey of discovering who he is and just what is in that mysterious package.
 
I thought A Gift To Remember was a little slow to begin with and while the writing was engaging and well-written, it did take a little while to get going for me. However, once it did, I was pulled into Darcy's mission to find out more about Aidan Harris and I think I wanted to find out who he was just as much as she did! I was fully immersed in the story and the mystery of Aidan and the package and thoroughly enjoyed the book.
 
Darcy is a great character, if a little stubborn at times, and I thought she put great effort into her mission. I absolutely loved her world of New York and books and could understand her completely. My favourite character in the book was Darcy's friend and co-worker, Joshua, who is fun as well as kind and loyal. And Bailey is quite a lovable character too!
 
I thought A Gift To Remember was a fantastic festive book in a gorgeous setting and with a host of fantastic characters. The story is a perfect blend of intrigue and romance and I'd definitely recommend it.

Monday, 25 November 2013

Free Festive Reads

I love a festive read. And what's even better than a festive read? A FREE festive read!

I've done the donkey work and compiled a list of free Christmassy ebooks for us all to enjoy. It's been so tiring, I need a sit down on the sofa with a mince pie (or two) and a marathan of festive films.

Please note, the books were free at the time of posting but please check before downloading. Now enjoy!

 
I'm going to be cheeky and start with my own free festive read,
 
A Beginner's Guide To Christmas.

Ruth usually spends Christmas curled up on her parents’ sofa, watching feel-good movies whilst being fed festive food and drink until she can no longer move. But Ruth’s perfect Christmas is shattered when her mum receives a DIY-induced injury and Ruth is forced to take over the preparations.

Shopping. Cooking. A house full of hyped-up kids.
Christmas may no longer be the most wonderful time of the year.
Download here
 
Miracle At The Museum of Broken Hearts by Talli Roland

Does every relationship deserve a second chance?

When chief romantic Rose Delaney scores her dream job at London's quirkiest new attraction, The Museum of Broken Hearts, she thinks she's got it made. Sure, it's a little depressing dealing with relics of failed relationships each day, but Rose is determined not to let it break her 'love conquers all' spirit. After discovering the museum's handsome curator is nursing a broken heart of his own, Rose steps in to fix it.

Can Rose bring about a happy ending before it's too late, or are some relationships beyond saving?


Download here

A Very Game On Christmas by Kyra Lennon

“A Very Game On Christmas” follows on directly from “Blindsided,” and is a short, bonus story which takes place at Bree Collinson’s 21st birthday party, three days before Christmas. Similar to “A Beginner’s Introduction to Game On,” the story is told from different characters’ points of view.

Find out how the Westberg Warriors handle Radleigh and Leah’s return to Los Angeles, how Freya and Will are adjusting to their new relationship, and take a sneaky glimpse into the lives of the other characters introduced in “Game On.”

Please note: “A Very Game On Christmas” could be considered Game On 2.5 to clarify the order the books should be read. It is not a full length novel, merely a way to gently ease readers toward Game On 3. It is not essential to read this book to understand the next, it’s just a bit of light-hearted Christmas fun!
      

Download here

The Christmas Bake Off by Abby Clements  

With Christmas just around the corner, the residents of Skipley village are gearing up for the annual bake off, and tensions are high.

Winning means a lot to everyone involved – talented cake-shop owner Katie dreams of baking stardom, Rachel wants to prove she's more than a stay-at-home mum, and John hopes his culinary skills will impress the woman he loves.

But when the judges discover that some cakes have been tampered with, the villagers' loyalties are called into question - whose ambition would stretch to sabotage, and why?

Download here

 
A Christmas Wish by Carole Matthews
Last year, Hannah's Christmas was full of love, happiness and romance. Things couldn't be more different this Christmas. Broken-hearted and lonely, Hannah wishes she could be happy and in love again but she is struggling to find even a glimmer of her old festive spirit. Luckily for her, there's some Christmas magic in the air . . .


Available 9th December. Pre-order/Download here

 
Six Geese-A-Laying by Sophie Kinsella

In Six Geese a-Laying, Christmas is approaching, and Ginny is looking forward to the birth of her first baby. It's a pity her partner Dan is so useless, and she has to keep reminding him where he's going wrong. Luckily she's enrolled into the most exclusive antenatal class going - all the highest achieving, smartest mothers-to-be aspire to be taught by the legendary Petal Harmon. Like the other five women in the class, Ginny already knows exactly what she wants, and how she's going to handle motherhood.

But when they turn up for the final class it isn't quite what they expect. As Ginny discovers what parenthood is really going to be like, she begins to realize the things that really matter...

Download here
 

The Snow Globe by Kristin Harmel
 
Christmas Eve, 1942, Paris. A boy stands beneath the statue of Liberte in the Jardin du Luxembourg, awash in a flurry of snowflakes, on the eve of his sixteenth birthday. Time is running out – the curfew means he needs to get home, this is a dangerous time to be on the streets. But then he catches sight of a young girl called Rose, and his fate is sealed...
 

Download here

In A New York Minute by Eleanor Moran

Amy is on a film set in New York, trying very hard to wrap the advertisement she's filming in time to catch the last flight home for Christmas. But the actors are squabbling, the star of the piece, a cat, won't play ball and, truthfully, Amy's heart isn't in it anyway – she'd escaped to the Big Apple to try to forget her broken heart. But as snow begins to fall on Christmas Eve, someone on set with Amy makes her realise fairytales really do happen in New York.

Download here
 
 The Perfect Treat by various authors

Heart-warming short stories for cold winter nights…

Featuring short stories from Sunday Times bestselling authors Miranda Dickinson and Claudia Carroll and highly anticipated debuts from Mhairi McFarlane and Liz Trenow, this collection is the ultimate treat.

Each short story is followed up by exclusive extracts of each of the authors upcoming titles.

Love, Loss and Coffee Cake: Through tears, heartbreak and the undying hope of love, a tale of a pair of star-crossed lovers.

It’s A Wonderful Life: A comedy that proves you should be very careful what you wish for.

Driving Home For Christmas: A touching tale about a newlyweds desperate to spend their first Christmas alone.

Breaking The Spell: A moving story about the power of hope and love.

The Twelve Lies of Christmas: A hilarious feature that offers up the truth about the festive season.


Download here

Friday, 22 November 2013

Giveaway Winner: The Pleasures of Autumn by Evie Hunter


Thank you to everyone who entered or tweeted about the competition. Rafflecopter has randomly selected a winner, who is:

Catriona P

I hope you enjoy your prize, Catriona!

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Blog Tour: A Cinderella Christmas

 
Today I am delighted to be taking part in the A Cinderella Christmas blog tour, with a festive chat with the author, Holly Kingston.


Can you tell us about your book?
Love to! I’m sooo excited about this book as it’s been huge amounts of fun to write! A Cinderella Christmas is all about Lucy Tilley. She’s a shy dancer who’s been given the worst role in the Christmas pantomime. And not only is she mortified about having to shake her booty in an enormous foam cow costume, she has to do it in front of the guy she’s madly loopy for, the sexy TV star Ryan Aspall. Add in a diva of a Cinderella, some “interesting” theatre performances, the best Christmas party in town, and the career opportunity of a lifetime and...well nothing goes to plan does it?! And let’s just say someone is keeping a few secrets, and Lucy isn’t very good at keeping them!

What was your inspiration for A Cinderella Christmas?
I normally start with a simple concept and then it mushrooms from there. This book started with a cow! I was thinking of unusual jobs that people do over Christmas period, and the back of a panto cow topped my list of ridiculosity (I know that’s not a word, but it should be). I’d completely forgotten that I used to dance in pantomimes myself when I was younger. The human mind is a peculiar thing. My sub conscious clearly isn’t very “sub”. But those theatre memories certainly helped when I started writing the story.

What do you love most about the festive season?
The food! I even get excited about the sprouts! And I love the whole extended run up. The anticipation, the Christmas markets, the chocolate advent calendar, the Christmas parties, the mulled wine, the open fires, the snowflakes, the sense of good will, the snugly jumper with a picture of a reindeer on the front, hang on do I need to restrict my word count on this one...?

Do you have any Christmas traditions?
Santa always leaves a sock outside the bedroom door stuffed with goodies, although apparently Santa hasn’t heard of inflation. It’s been five pound coins at the bottom of that sock for years now. I need to have a word with him about quantitative easing and its effect on the economy.

What is your favourite Christmas song?
I love the old school classics. Bing Crosby’s White Christmas pops up in A Cinderella Christmas. And I love Eartha Kitt’s Santa Baby. Now there’s a woman who knew how to write a Christmas list!

And favourite Christmas film?
Can I have In Bruge please? Is that Christmassy enough? How about if we wrap Colin Farrell in a bow? Love that film, great casting! Did I mention Colin Farrell is in it?

What would you like to find under your Christmas tree this year?
I’ve wanted a puppy since I was about five! But I have two cats and I think they’d be mighty peeved off if I were to upset the ecosystem of our house! To be fair I’d settle for Colin Farrell in that bow. But I have a boyfriend who might be peeved off...uh oh, I’m going to end up with a Toblerone again aren’t I?!

Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
I’m writing my second full length novel. It’s about a girl who...oh goo... I can’t go into too much detail it’s not finished yet and sometimes my characters have a life of their own! I can’t wait to finish it. It’s funny. Well I think it’s funny, but then I’m highly biased and easily pleased!! I just need to keep writing books till one gets made into a film. Just so I can cast Colin Farrell in it, or Benedict Cumberbatch, or Gerard Butler, or Clooney, or Gosling, or...any suggestions let me know!


MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


You can find out more about Holly and her book on her website, Twitter and Facebook and A Cinderella Christmas is available on Amazon here

 

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Guest Post: Cathy Bramley

My leading man

We authors talk a lot about our leading men, our favourite book boyfriends and which drop-dead gorgeous actor we had to Google fifty times when we were ‘developing characters’. But what about the real heroes? The ones who have to listen to us moan about how tricky our plot is, about how we only managed a measly five hundred words all morning? So, pin back your lugholes, I want to tell you a story….

20:00 December 29th 1989

‘We won’t go mad. Just a few drinks. We need to save ourselves for New Year’s Eve.’

My friends and I nodded earnestly at each other. It was Friday night, we had all driven up to Nottingham after work for New Year, our first reunion after graduating we were tired and really needed to be sensible…

02:00 December 30th 1989

‘Any man!’ I cried, hands on hips. ‘I can give any man a fireman’s lift.’

Well… I was twenty-two, no one is sensible when they’re twenty-two. I was out with my friends. I had been earning money since September. Three months’ worth of wages and I was RICH! And apparently very strong.

We were having the best night ever (except for Ange who had had too much to drink and had left the pub at 10pm, gone home via the Indian takeaway, bought a chicken madras and eaten it off the ironing board?!)

I was tipsy and in Pieces. Pieces being THE student nightclub in the 80s

‘Go on then!’ A young man with the physique of a rugby player smirked at his mates. I pushed my sleeves up, put my head down and charged at him. As soon as his body weight touched my shoulder I crumpled like a coke can. Undeterred, I jumped up to my feet, muttered ‘idiot,’ rubbed my hands together and shouted ‘Next!’

There were no takers, which was probably a good thing. I spotted a man grinning at me, leaning against one of the pillars. What struck me most at the time was not his wavy hair, his grey blue eyes or his lovely smile, it was the fact that he was wearing a denim shirt, an Arran jumper and a tweed blazer. Somebody must have told him Pieces was a bit of a cattle market; all that was missing was a wax jacket and wellies.

‘I bet I can give you a fireman’s lift.’

‘I’m sure you can but-’


Too late. Before he could say Aberdeen Angus, I’d hefted him over my shoulder and was swinging him round like the proverbial cat.

He was really light! So light that I thought I must be very strong indeed and proceeded to do a lap round the dance floor to prove it.

The reason for the lightness, I was to find out later, was that he had recently undergone life-saving surgery at the eleventh hour for peritonitis, after appendicitis had finally been diagnosed on the day of an ambulance strike and he had to be taken to hospital by the army and then got forgotten about due to a massive pile up on the M1 with several life and death patients and by the time they got round to him he was very poorly indeed.

Had I have known this, I might not have bounced his lower abdomen on my shoulder until he begged to be released.

I was still face to face with his backside when the DJ played ‘You saw the whole of the moon,’ by The Waterboys. I lowered him to the ground and forced him to dance with me. He must have really liked me, (God knows why) because I know now that he hates dancing.

He offered to buy me a drink. I chose water, which cheered him up no end.

The lights came on and my friends were pulling their coats on. I liked this Tony Bramley. He was good fun. I started to panic that I’d go back to London and never see him again.

‘Shall we go for a walk through town?’ I asked.

He shifted awkwardly and looked at his watch. ‘Er…’

What’s the matter?’ I narrowed my eyes and folded my arms. He’d got a girlfriend, I knew it, the two-timing, scheming cheating…

‘It’s just that my mum’ll have put my electric blanket on.’

After the longest coldest walk around Nottingham during which we pointed out to each other all our favourite places, I kissed him goodnight and sent him off in the frosty night air to find a taxi. (He didn’t get home until five am and his bed was like an oven.) I opened the cubby hole where I was supposed to be sleeping. It stank of curried farts and I held my breath as I wriggled into my sleeping bag. Ange lifted her head and mumbled sleepily, ‘Did you meet anyone?’

‘Yes,’ I said closing my eyes, a smile on my face. ‘And I think I’m going to marry him.’

The Beginning (not the end)



About Cathy

After four years of flinging herself round the dancefloors of Nottingham's nightspots, Cathy somehow managed to get an honours degree in business.

She then plunged herself into the corporate world of marketing, working on high-powered projects such as testing the firing range of SuperSoaker water guns and perfecting the weeing action of Tiny Tears. After making it onto Timmy Mallet's Christmas card list, she realised it was time to move on and so in 1995 set up her own marketing agency.

She lives in an idyllic Nottinghamshire village with her husband, two daughters and a dog called Pearl. She shares her time between her marketing agency, writing and taxiing the girls endlessly from one activity to the next.

Cathy is a fan of Masterchef, strong coffee, chocolate brazils and Marian Keyes books. She is addicted to her Kindle and has an irrational fear of bananas.

Conditional Love is Cathy’s debut novel. It’s a romantic comedy about a thirty-something procrastinator who dreams of having the perfect man in the perfect home, but doesn’t seem to be in the driving seat of her own life. After her boyfriend dumps her on Valentine’s Day and she inherits the estate of a stranger with a condition in the will, she is forced to face up to her future and reassess her past.

Cathy Bramley can be found at:


Cathy Bramley on Amazon
Twitter @cathybramley
Blog
www.cathybramleyauthor.com
Facebook www.facebook.com/CathyBramleyAuthor
http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7181993.Cathy_Bramley
 

 

 

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Calling Mrs Christmas by Carole Matthews

 
 
Cassie Smith hasn't had the best year. After being made redundant, she has struggled over the past few months to find a new job. With increasing debts and Christmas looming, Cassie is starting to panic when she cooks up an idea for a new business venture. Cassie has always loved Christmas so she decides to put her passion to good use and offer a range of festive services, from sourcing and wrapping gifts to writing cards and decorating trees.
 
Prison officer and Cassie's partner, Jim is supportive when she suggests starting up her own festive business but his encouragement begins to wane when Cassie takes on millionaire Carter Randall as a client. Not only does handsome Carter want Cassie to organise a trip of a lifetime for him and his two children, he wants Cassie to accompany them.
 
Calling Mrs Christmas is my first festive read of the season and I wasn't disappointed. Cassie is stuck in a bit of a rut but inspiration soon strikes and she sets up her business, Calling Mrs Christmas! It's a lot of hard work but Cassie has support from both Jim and her sister, Gaby. As a huge fan of Christmas, I loved the idea of a business specifically aimed at the festive period. Cassie gets to relive the magic of decorating trees over and over again and there is an abundance of mince pies and cupcakes.
 
While Cassie's business starts to take off, it does take its toll on Jim. Jim is a lovely, supportive man and he does his best to help Cassie even when his own workload is getting him down. Jim is reliable and hardworking but he is also human so I could understand him being put out when Cassie flies off to Lapland with another man. Some of my favourite scenes take place with Jim and two of the young offenders who he takes under his wing and I loved the bond the two boys formed.
 
Another favourite part of the book was the trip to Lapland, which sounds amazing. I'm not always a fan of snow but Carole Matthews makes the trip sound so beautiful and magical and it was an absolute joy to read.

Monday, 18 November 2013

Festive Reading List 2013

 
 
Christmas is always a fabulous time for book lovers as we're treated to gorgeous festive reads. Over the next few weeks, I'll be counting down to Christmas with this selection of books:
 
Click to see review
 
 
Which festive reads are on your list?

Friday, 15 November 2013

A Chat With Jac Wright

Can you tell us about your book?
The Reckless Engineer is the first in a series of literary suspense and mystery fiction featuring a courageous and adventurous electrical engineer, Jeremy Aiden Stone.

In this first story in the series I look at the troubles that a guy (Jack Connor) can get into whose character fault is that he is weak in love. There are four strong and very different women who pull him in different directions and the story is woven around the intense conflict arising from this situation. At the onset of our tale one of them, Michelle Williams, has turned up dead and Jack has been arrested for the murder. He puts his one call from police custody to Jeremy, now living in London, who brings the top London attorney, Harry Stavers, down to Portsmouth to handle his former best friend’s defence.

While Harry handles the criminal defence in a fast developing murder trial, Jeremy blends in with Jack’s family and friends - Jack’s wife and her powerful family, his ex-wife and children from his first marriage, and his colleagues and managers at work – and covertly investigates them to find out who the real killer is, and if his friend is in fact innocent like he claims.


What was your inspiration for The Reckless Engineer?
I set out to write a series for this one. The first thing I knew was that my series lead was going to be a highly skilled electrical engineer like me. Actually he is more the person I should like to be; he lives the life I want and I live it through him. When I was a child there were several TV series my dad and I loved to watch from our favourite seats in the living room: MacGyver, Mission Impossible, Perry Mason, and Tales of the Unexpected based on Roald Dahl’s adult suspense fiction. At one time I used to read Roald Dahl and Earl Staney Gardner like I was possessed. My series lead, Jeremy Stone, is adventurous, versatile, and resourceful like MacGyver. He is a highly skilled and brilliant engineer like Barney in Mission Impossible. He is courageous and strategically inclined like Jim in Mission Impossible.

The second thing I knew was the setting. I wanted to base my story primarily in Portsmouth, the beautiful seaside birth town of Charles Dickens. My mother loves Charles Dickens and she used to read his works to me even before I could read. She had this massive rack of books in the attic on which various classics, including the major works or Dickens were stacked among piles of Reader’s Digests. Portsmouth is beautiful and I wanted to capture its beauty, charm, its industries, hotels, beaches, hospital etc. in the story.

What has been your greatest experience since publishing your book?
The best experience has been reader feedback to my short story, The Closet, and feedback now beginning to come to me on The Reckless Engineer. There is nothing like hearing from my readers. One of my readers wrote to me after reading The Closet, saying that she is dyslexic and sometimes finds it hard to follow full-length novels; that she loved The Closet and wanted me to continue writing really good short fiction like that. It almost brought tears to my eyes that one of my stories could have helped her.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Read the classics as a child. Read and study Drama because it helps in dramatic scene creation. Also read and study poetry because it helps you create strong imagery and appealing prose in your narrative.

Do not let what you read on the Internet or other writers’ work drown out your inner voice too much because you end up creating something that is cliché or formulaic. Quiet your mind and listen to your inner voice that will create something unique to you.


What was the first book you ever bought yourself?
They were two Agatha Christie books, though I cannot remember which ones. I was in my early teens when my mother started giving me pocket money and I bought 2 Agatha Christie’s books while on holiday. A cruise-ship with a section full of books had come to the port where we were on holiday and my mother took us on a tour around it where I bought the two Agatha Christies.

What was the last book you read?
I just finished reading J. K. Rowling’s new mystery, The Cuckoo’s Calling. She creates superb characters though the main protagonist, Cormoran Strike, is a little cliché. She brings her characters to life with very descriptive prose which I like. My favourite is Guy Somé with his filthy mouth and I love that scene with Strike’s encounter with Rochelle, again for the description of Rochelle’s character.

I have just started on this year’s Booker Prize winner, The Luminaries, by the Kiwi writer Eleanor Catton. It is described as a gripping literary mystery which sounds right up my street. I loved “A Town Like Alice” set in Australia; so I am really expecting to like this one.


Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
I have Buy, Sell, Murder (The Reckless Engineer #2) and The Bank Job (Summerset Tales #2) half written. I hope to publish both in 2014. 

I have started the fifth, In Plain Sight, with just the plot and the main characters designed and only the first chapter written. I have a hunch that In Plain Sight is going to be my favourite.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

A Chat With Evie Hunter... Plus a Giveaway!

Today I'm pleased to be taking part in Evie Hunter's 'Pleasure Party', with an interview and a giveaway.

 

Can you tell us about your new book?
Caroline: Our new book is called The Pleasures of Autumn and we had so much fun writing this one. Autumn is about Sinead O’Sullivan, an uptight museum curator who is trying to put her (naughty) past behind her. Things go horribly wrong when the Fire of Autumn - a dazzling ruby with a history of violence and treachery – is stolen from her jewel collection at the museum.

Poor Sinead is top of the suspect list.
Just when she thinks her life can’t possibly get any worse, investigator Niall Moore is hired to stop her fleeing and to find the jewel.

After that, it’s mayhem, danger and lots of sizzling encounters between two people who are drawn together, despite the fact that they don’t trust each other.


Eileen: The Pleasures of Autumn is the story of Sinead, stuffy museum curator
by day, sexy burlesque dancer by night, and what happens when she is accused of stealing the most valuable jewel in the world. The sparks fly when hot investigator Niall Moore is on her case and determined to find her secrets. But Sinead has weapons of her own, just as well considering the bad guy who is on her tail.


What was your inspiration for The Pleasures of Autumn?
Caroline: There was a story in a local newspaper here in Dublin, about students doing all sorts of things to put themselves through college. We wondered what happened afterwards. What if someone discovered your secret past? How far would you go to stop them?

Eileen: Caroline had a vision of a stuffy heroine who did something sexy at night, and so Sinead was born. But this story was different from previous ones, in that the plot had to be a lot more intricate and precise. It was more like writing a thriller than a straight romance.

What has been your greatest experience of being a published writer?
Caroline: That’s a difficult one. When The Pleasures of Winter was first published, Eileen and I used to send each other photographs of our book on the shelves of bookshops and libraries. Sad very sad. lol


Doing our first book signing was another highlight.

But seeing your books translated into different language – Winter has been translated into Italian and the Japanese edition is due out in November – now that was really special.


Eileen: Seeing a woman on the train reading my book. She had no idea why I kept grinning every time she turned the page.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Caroline: Go to classes to learn your craft

Find a good writers group where you can receive constructive criticism

Learn to live with bad reviews

Write every day – you can’t edit nothing.

Writing is re-writing.

Don’t give up on your dream


Eileen: Write every day. Write even when you don' t feel like it, and keep writing when you think you are writing rubbish. And read. Read outside your genre as well as in it.

What was the first book you ever bought yourself?
Caroline: My home is full of books and it’s difficult to remember what the first one was. I joined the local library when I was seven years old and pretty much read my way through it. Also, my uncle ran a bookstore so he was another source of reading goodies. Mmmm this is beginning to sound like an addiction.

The first book I received as a gift – and which I still have today – is Art Treasures of the World by Eleanor C. Munro. It’s a massive, glossy, coffee table book.

It was utterly unsuitable for a child, but I loved it to bits and still do.
 

Eileen: I think it was one of Enid Blyton's Secret Seven books. Followed by all of the Famous Five, Malory Towers and St Claires.

What was the last book you read?
Caroline: I usually have a number of books on the go at the same time. I dip in and out of them, savouring them like a big box of chocolates.

Currently on my bedside table or on my kindle is Dracula by Bram Stoker. Translatlantic by Colum McCann and Monsoon Traders, the Maritime World of the East India Company by Bowen, McAleer and Blyth.


Eileen: I'm reading Transatlantic by Colum McCann at the moment. Love the structure of it.

Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
Caroline: Well, this was supposed to be a secret, but there is a season in the Pleasures series which hasn’t been covered yet….

Watch the bookshelves next Spring. Hint hint



Penguin are kindly providing a copy of The Pleasures of Autumn and the best bit is, the giveaway is open internationally. To enter, fill in the rafflecopter below and leave a 'pick me' comment. The winner will be announced on the blog on Friday 22nd November. Good luck!

 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Guest Post: E. Bell

Ever explore the evils of social media? It can trigger bad memories…….like being bullied.
Listina Bello has been on a perpetual search for happiness ever since she graduated from high school ten years ago.
Being lost and suppressing these memories has been her mission, but is resulting instead in a spiral downward.
Legal assistant by day and partier by night, Listina thinks she is functioning perfectly fine. She drinks a bottle of Pinot every night, but still manages to keep her dead-end job, her Manhattan apartment, and her social life. Unfortunately, she could not be more wrong.

With a bottle of wine as her companion, Listina trolls Facebook one night, finally landing on a photo she thought she blocked. As she stares at the old yearbook picture of the smiling girls who relentlessly bullied her back in high school, she suddenly realizes she has been suppressing her emotions for years and hiding behind a myriad of distractions, hoping to numb, or even kill, her feelings altogether. With no other way out but up, Listina relies on old diary entries to dig deep inside herself, return mentally to her seemingly perfect hometown, and finally face her harsh label, relive the taunts, and experience the heartache all over again.

In this poignant novel, a young woman torn between her past and her future must finally shake the identity she was unfairly given in order to begin to find her own.


 


It can be purchased in PDF, Mobi, and Epub format at the following sites:


http://www.amazon.com/Living-Dog-Years-Reflection-ebook/dp/B00BCEYP8Q/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1381759148&sr=1-1&keywords=living+in+dog+years
 http://bookstore.bookcountry.com/AdvancedSearch/Default.aspx?SearchTerm=living+in+dog+years

https://play.google.com/store/books/details/E_Bell_Living_in_Dog_Years?id=vtDIFNBmEgUC

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/living-in-dog-years

http://www.scribd.com/doc/124301021/Living-in-Dog-Years

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Reindeer Parade 2013

Every year, I look forward to the reindeer parade in town (probably more so than the kids). This year, the weather wasn't on our side, with it chucking it down and even thunder and lightning. Still, the (soggy) parade went ahead and, looking on the bright side, those who turned up to watch didn't struggle to find a position at the front of the barriers!
 

Monday, 11 November 2013

Release Day: A Beginner's Guide To Christmas

My Christmas short story, A Beginner's Guide To Christmas is now 'out there'. It's available for free on Smashwords (Amazon won't let me put it up for free *glares at Amazon*). You can download a copy here.
 
 


Ruth usually spends Christmas curled up on her parents’ sofa, watching feel-good movies whilst being fed festive food and drink until she can no longer move. But Ruth’s perfect Christmas is shattered when her mum receives a DIY-induced injury and Ruth is forced to take over the preparations.

Shopping. Cooking. A house full of hyped-up kids.

Christmas may no longer be the most wonderful time of the year.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Blog Tour: The Husband's Secret

Today I'm pleased to be taking part in the blog tour of The Husband's Secret. First of all I have my review of The Husband's Secret and then the author Liane Moriarty will be sharing a character study of Cecelia, one of the main characters from the book.

 



Mum of three Cecelia is intrigued when she finds a letter from her husband in the attic. The letter says it should only be opened upon her husband’s death. Cecelia knows she shouldn’t open the letter but she can’t resist. Inside is a shocking secret that could destroy her family.

I couldn’t wait to read The Husband’s Secret as the blurb is so captivating. What could be in that letter and how will it affect Cecelia and her family? I did find the beginning of the book a little slow but after a few chapters, I was hooked. As well as Cecelia, we get to know Rachel, a grandmother who is still grieving and struggling to come to terms with the death of her daughter, who died as a teenager over twenty years ago. Finally, there is Tess, who is devastated when her husband admits to having an affair. The three women don’t seem to be connected to begin with but we learn how their lives are woven together.

I don’t want to give away any spoilers about the secret within the letter as it is such a driving force of the book, which gripped me and kept me turning the pages. I thought the book was a well written and enjoyable read.




Celia – Character Study

Cecilia is the quintessential “superwoman.” She’s a mother of three young daughters, president of the P&F (your PTA) and she also runs a successful Tupperware business. She has never faced a problem that couldn’t be solved by rolling up her sleeves and working her way through a checklist. I loved the idea of putting a very black-and-white character like this in a situation where there simply was no obvious solution. Poor Cecilia faces a moral quandary with no easy answers. She has always considered herself a “good person,” but for the first time in her life her moral compass spins out of control when she finds her “goodness” has limits.




Friday, 8 November 2013

Wanted: Festive Guest Posts


Are you an author of a festive book - either traditionally published or self-published? Or are you a book blogger who loves to read festive books? Maybe you're just a massive fan of Christmas! If so, would you like to guest post on my little blog?

I have guest posts every Wednesday from authors and book bloggers and thought I'd throw a bit of tinsel at them in the run up to Christmas. Possible topics could be:

  • Your festive book
  • Top Ten Christmas books/films/songs
  • Your favourite Christmas book/film/song
  • Family Christmas traditions
  • Your town at Christmas
  • Your Christmas crafts or baking
Or make up your own Christmassy topic! Don't forget to add any links and images to you, your social media and book (if applicable) that you'd like to include.

If you're interested in a festive guest post spot, please email me at jenniferjoycewrites@gmail.com

If I'm going to use your post, I will email you with a date of when it will go up on the blog. Please make a note of it so you can let your friends and followers know when the time comes and you can also answer any comments that may be left for you.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me at the above address.
 
***Please note, non-book promotional posts and editorials and those looking to advertise on behalf of other companies will not be accepted. I am not looking to make a profit, I'm only interested in spreading some festive joy***

Thursday, 7 November 2013

The Flavours of Love by Dorothy Koomson

 
 
Eighteen months ago, Saffron Mackleroy's life was shattered when her husband Joel was murdered. Saffron has tried her hardest to cope with losing the man she loved but juggling her full-time job with a demanding boss with taking care of her children has been difficult and Saffron has seemingly been going through the motions of life without really feeling anything.
 
But Saffron is going to have to fight through the fog of grief when her fourteen-year-old daughter Phoebe makes a shocking confession. Saffron finds herself drifting further and further apart from her teenage daughter and she has yet more problems to deal with when Joel's killer - who was never found - starts to write to Saffron.
 
I've become a big fan of Dorothy Koomson's writing and The Flavours of Love is another reminder of why I love her books so much. The writing is beautiful, weaving poignancy and tension throughout to keep me turning the pages to find out both what happened in the past and how Joel was killed and what will happen next as the family's secrets begin to seep out.
 
I really liked the character of Saffron and connected with her immediately. She's an ordinary woman whose life has taken an unexpected and horrific turn and she has to somehow keep everything together for the sake of her children, Phoebe and Zane. It is such a lonely and confusing time for Saffron and I felt for her as she struggled with her loss and the new challenges life throws at her. The letters from Joel's killer also creates suspense and an increasing sense of urgency that drew me even further into the story.
 
Saffron doesn't always have the support she needs, with both her own mother and Joel's parents being distant and negative towards her but she does have Joel's best friend Fynn to lean on. He has been invaluable over the past eighteen months but there are times when Saffron doesn't know who she can trust, not even those closest to her. She also has Joel's Aunty Betty, who I loved. I thought Aunt Betty was a wonderful character who could be wild and out of control and teenage-like in some ways but also loving and wise.
 
The Flavours of Love had me hooked from beginning to end and I was sad to leave such wonderful characters behind when I finished it.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Guest Post: Jac Wright

How I Get Over The Writer's Block
 
I write in spells. At times I might write a dozen hours a day for over a week, and then I might not write anything again for several weeks. Sometimes I might write for a few hours a day for weeks. I find I cannot force myself to write when I feel the block. If I do, the writing comes out contrived and not feeling right. Inspiration to come to me again naturally. I just have to leave the manuscript and do something else until words and idea start to flow again.

I hit the dreaded block several times during the course of writing
The Reckless Engineer.

I do a couple of things when I hit the Writer's Block. The first thing I try is setting the manuscript aside and reading a good book. I hit a very difficult spot just before the scene in Chapter 15 of
The Reckless Engineer. I felt that the part of chapter 15 I had written was dull and was slowing down the pace of the plot. Try as I might I could not think of a way to maneuver the plot to pick up the pace again. At this point I decided to put the writing aside and read a book. I read two Agatha Christie books, At Bertram’s Hotel and Cards on the Table, at this point. Then, when I returned to my writing about a week later, I decided it was time to bring the character Jack Connor home. I had kept him in custody until that point. I then deleted the part of that chapter I had previously written and started writing in this new direction. Everything came easily to me after that insight into how I should progress the plot which had to occur to me in a moment of inspiration in its own time.

I reached a second nasty block when I needed to write the scenes with Jeremy at a Portsmouth seaside hotel, The Royal Atlantic. This time I knew the plot, but the prose was not coming out right. I had moved out of Portsmouth by then, but I decided to take three days off and check into The Royal Beach Hotel in Southsea, Portsmouth to see if I could get the words flowing again. I did the same again, volunteering at a back-stage to help a friend at the Gielgud theatre, to write the scene set in the London West End.

I do not write while I am at the scene. I just immerse myself in the environment and absorb the people, the sense of the surroundings, the sounds, and the views. I would interact with the people and I might take some photographs. I come out of the scene and do something entirely different for about a week, letting the ideas and images work their magic at the back of my mind. Then when I sit down to write again the words just flow naturally.


These two techniques – reading good book or two and immersing myself in the scenery I want to write about – have always helped me out of brief spells of the Writer's Block. They have never failed to get me writing again.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Happy Bonfire Night!

 
 
We've already been to a bonfire and firework display at the weekend (and got drenched!) so we'll be staying at home tonight and watching fireworks from the back garden. I might have to buy some ginger cake (I don't like parkin) and have it with warm custard. Yum.
 
Are you doing/have done anything for bonfire night?
 

Monday, 4 November 2013

Festive Cover Stars: Christmas At Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop by Jenny Colgan

 
This year I decided to start a Book Of The Month feature to give a special mention to the wonderful books I have read. So I thought why not celebrate wonderful book covers too?
They say don't judge a book by its cover but we all do, right?

Feel free to add your thoughts on the covers or even suggest your own 'cover stars'.
 
Christmas At Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop

 
I love Christmas books and their gorgeous covers so I was very excited when I received Christmas At Rosie Hopkins' Sweet Shop. The cover is so pretty with a traditional red background and with details highlighted with shiny gold. I love white silhouette features and the whole feel of the cover makes me (almost) wish for snow so I could snuggle up under a blanket with the book, a mug of hot chocolate and a tin of Roses on the side. It truly is a gorgeous cover and I can't wait to read the book.
 
 
Click here to see all Cover Stars