Friday, 30 October 2015

Short Story: The Ghost of Halloween Past

 
 
 
Molly had never felt so ridiculous. Or perhaps she had; what about the time her best friend revealed Molly’s crush on Carl Brown and he’d laughed in their faces? Or the time she’d accidentally flashed her knickers at a bus full of pensioners on their way to a crown green bowling competition? Or – well, you get the picture. Molly had been humiliated in the past, but that didn’t take away the pain of the image facing her in the mirror.

‘You look fabulous, I promise.’ Molly’s best friend joined her at the mirror, leaning towards the pane and attacking a smudge of green lipstick with a damp fingertip.

‘You know I haven’t trusted a word you’ve said since the Carl Brown incident.’ Molly pulled at the high neckline of her costume but there wasn’t much give in the fabric. So not only did she look like a complete knobhead, she had the added of bonus of being slowly strangled at the same time.

‘That was years ago.’ Rose pouted at herself in the mirror, shifting her head from left to right in search of any more imperfections. ‘We were ten!’

‘Still.’ Molly elbowed Rose out of the way so she could take another unobstructed look at herself in the mirror. A whimper escaped her lips when she caught sight of the full horror before her again. ‘I can’t go to the party like this! I can’t!’

‘Will you relax?’ Taking Molly by the elbow, Rose guided her friend to the bed and sat her down. ‘It’s a party. It’s supposed to be fun.’

‘That’s easy for you to say. Look at you.’ Molly waved a hand in the general direction of Rose, unable to look directly at her friend in her sexy witch costume. Rose was clad in a tight, black dress that barely reached her thighs, black and green striped stockings and cute, heeled ankle boots. Her shoulders were covered by a black cape adorned with twinkling green sequins while a matching hat perched on her head at a jaunty angle.

‘And look at me!’ Molly jumped to her feet and jabbed an accusing finger at the mirror. ‘I’m a sodding lobster!

Rose pressed her green lips together and dropped her gaze to the toes of her boots, examining a non-existent scuff. ‘You look fine. Honestly.’ She coughed to disguise a giggle. ‘Besides, it’s your own fault for leaving your costume until the last minute. Was there really nothing better?’

See, this was why Molly didn’t a trust a word that came out of her best friend’s mouth. It had started when Rose had assured Molly that Carl Brown absolutely fancied her but was too shy to ask her to be his girlfriend and it had continued right up until Rose had claimed Molly looked fabulous in her lobster costume. Because she didn’t look fabulous. She didn’t even look fine. She looked like a lobster, pure and simple.

‘Do you think I’d have dressed up like this.’ Molly thrust another finger towards the mirror. ‘If I’d had a choice? This was it.’

There was only one fancy dress shop in Woodgate, which had turned out to be a popular choice for the hordes of local students attending Halloween parties that evening. Molly had dashed to the shop far too late after work and was left with the choice of the lobster costume or a carrier bag.

Molly would have opted for carrier bag if it had fit.

‘It really does look ok.’ Rose had changed her tune from fabulous, which she’d claimed only minutes earlier. By the time the party started, Molly would be passable at best. ‘It’s cute.’

Molly observed her image in the mirror. It was not cute. The lobster costume consisted of a red, heavily padded onesie with an oversized hood that fell over Molly’s eyebrows, almost blocking her view. Huge, padded eyes had been stitched onto the hood while two long red tentacle-like strips dangled to her chin.

‘The red face paint may be overkill though,’ Rose mused.

‘You think?’ Molly flopped back down onto the bed. She couldn’t go to the party, not like this.

‘If you hurry up, you’ll have time to wash it off.’

‘That won’t solve the problem of the ridiculous costume,’ Molly said but she took herself off to the bathroom anyway. She returned ten minutes later, her face not only red from vigorous scrubbing but from the stubborn face paint that refused to budge more than a couple of shades. Now Molly’s face was a patchwork of red and pink.

Marvellous.

‘It won’t come off.’

‘I gathered that.’ Rose didn’t even bother to hide her smirk. ‘What are you going to do?’

‘Nothing.’ Molly struggled to reach the costume’s zip at the back. ‘I’m going to take this damn thing off and I’m going to get into my pyjamas and forget all about the stupid party.’

‘You can’t miss the party.’ Rose grabbed Molly’s scrabbling hands and hitched the zip back up. ‘It’s your party. And your guests will be arriving any minute now.’

Yet another reason not to trust a word that wafted out of her best friend’s mouth. A Halloween party was a fantastic idea, she’d claimed when Molly suggested it. Why not make it a fancy dress party?

Rose somehow coaxed Molly out of her bedroom. They’d tried to salvage Molly’s face by applying more red face paint (Molly had to concede that it had looked better all one colour) but there hadn’t been enough left over for full coverage and they’d merely ended up adding another shade of red to the rosy palette. But, as Rose continued to point out, it was too late to cancel the party. Molly would just have to suck it up and get out there.

Molly’s flat had been transformed into a ghoulish wonderland with flickering black candles lining the mantelpiece and giving off an eerie glow. Cobwebs – of the shop-bought variety and not through lack of cleaning – adorned every surface while rubbery spiders and snakes peeked out of crevices. A cauldron in the kitchen contained green punch and the table was full of macabre treats; sandwiches and wraps shaped like witches fingers, mummified mini rolls and pumpkin-themed cupcakes. Molly had put a lot of time, thought and effort into the Halloween party – if only a tiny fraction had been spent on her costume.

‘Shall I put the music on?’ Rose slotted her iphone into the docking station. Rose’s contribution to the party – apart from adding some glamour and further enhancing Molly’s humiliation – had been to put together a playlist of haunting tunes and party hits.

‘I suppose we have to have music,’ Molly mumbled. Despite the weeks of planning, she’d lost all enthusiasm for the party. ‘Do you think we need the lamps? It’ll look spookier with just the candles.’

‘It’ll look almost pitch black with just the candles.’ Rose turned to Molly and raised an eyebrow, knowing exactly what was going through her friend’s mind. ‘Creating atmosphere is one thing. Causing your guests to fall over and injure themselves is another.’

‘Fine.’ Molly snatched her hand away from the lamp’s switch. Dread swirled in her stomach beneath the padding as the sound of the doorbell – now a witch’s cackle thanks to the Halloween-themed one she’d bought – filled the room. This was it.

‘Oh, by the way,’ Rose called as Molly dragged herself to the door. ‘Sam’s moved back so I invited him to the party. I hope that’s ok?’

Sam was coming to the party? While she looked like a deformed Tellytubby? Could this party get any worse?

Yes, yes it could, as Molly discovered when she opened the door and her boss waltzed into the room.

‘Molly! Look at you!’ Molly’s boss jabbed a finger into the padding on the lobster’s torso. ‘I almost didn’t recognise you in there.’ Molly hadn’t actually invited him to the party (why would she?) but he’d taken it upon himself to turn up after hearing her discussing her plans with the colleagues she had invited. ‘Let me take your photo. It’ll look great on our website. Make us look like the fun firm we are!’

‘No, no thank you.’ Molly pushed her boss’s phone away as he attempted to take a snap. ‘Oh, look. There goes the doorbell again.’ Pushing her boss in the direction of Rose, Molly went to answer the door, hoping it wouldn’t be Sam this time. The last time Molly had seen Rose’s brother had been over a decade ago and she didn’t want their reunion to take place while she looked like an imbecile.

The guests started to pile into the flat, each one – thankfully – not Sam. Molly busied herself, making sure her guests’ glasses were full and the food on the table was replenished. As she chatted away to her friends, family and workmates, she started to forget about the lobster costume and her patchy face. Besides, she wasn’t the only one sporting a bad costume; someone had come as wheelie bin by removing the wheels and the bottom and climbing inside it.

‘Nice costume.’

Molly was in the kitchen, adding more vodka to the green punch, when she heard the voice behind her. She turned to see a ghost leaning against the fridge. Not an actual ghost, obviously. And not a particularly imaginative one either. Whoever was in the costume had simply cut two eye-holes out of a bed sheet and draped it over themselves.

‘Thanks. I was going for total moron.’ Molly struck a pose. ‘Do you think I achieved it?’

The ghost lifted his hands up and shook his head beneath the sheet. ‘Hey, don’t talk to me about bad costumes. At least you haven’t wrecked your bedding.’

Molly knew that voice. It made her face redden further beneath the face paint. ‘Sam?’

The ghost nodded. ‘Afraid so.’

Molly resisted the urge to throw herself into Sam’s ghostly arms and demand to know where he’d been for the past ten years. Because she knew where he’d been, thanks to Rose’s regular updates.

‘Long time no see,’ she said as casually as she could. ‘When did you get back?’

‘Yesterday.’

Yesterday? He’d been here all that time and she hadn’t known? ‘How long are you back for?’

‘To quote a Take That song,’ Sam said and Molly could hear the amusement in his voice. ‘I’m back for good.’

Molly and Rose had been huge fans of Take That. In fact, they’d cried when they’d split up back in the nineties. And Sam had witnessed their tears, which he’d found hilarious.

‘Oh.’ What else could Molly say? She’d been madly in love with her best friend’s brother throughout her teenage years – secretly, due to Rose’s inability to keep her gob shut and because there are rules to be followed with regards to this sort of thing. Of course Molly had flouted these rules when she’d kissed Sam during his farewell party before he left for Canada for a year. A year had passed, then two and three until a decade later saw no return of Sam Jenson.

‘Are you back on your own or…’ Or have you got a girlfriend stashed under that sheet? Perhaps a wife and a couple of kids? Although surely Rose would have mentioned those.

‘I’m on my own.’ Again, there was a hint of amusement in Sam’s voice. ‘Rose tells me you’re single.’

‘Did she?’ Of course she did. The Carl Brown incident was proof of Rose’s indiscretion. ‘I haven’t always been single. Only for a year.’ It was actually closer to two, but Sam didn’t need to know that. As long as he knew she hadn’t been pining for him all these years.

Sam laughed, the sound muffled by the sheet. ‘I didn’t think you’d been saving yourself for me all these years.’

But she had saved herself for Sam. At least for the first couple of years and angry tears sprang to her eyes as she thought about her poor, battered eighteen-year-old heart as it waited for him to return.

‘Hey.’ Sam whipped off the sheet and dashed across the kitchen, stooping to look directly into her eyes. ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t mean anything by it.’

‘It’s ok.’ Molly sidestepped Sam, adding another drop of vodka to the punch – why not? – before screwing the lid back on. ‘It’s just that kiss meant a lot to me. Back then.’

‘It meant a lot to me too.’

‘Did it?’ Because it hadn’t felt that way. ‘Why did you leave then?’

Sam took the bottle out of her hand and placed it on the counter before taking her hands in his. ‘I had no idea you liked me until that night and by then it was too late. I’d been offered the job and signed the contract. I had an apartment waiting for me. And let’s not forget I was a nineteen-year-old lad. We all know teenage lads are stupid.’

‘But ten years.’ Molly snatched her hands away from Sam’s and attempted to fold her arms across her chest. Which was a difficult task with all the padding of her costume.

‘I know. I’m an idiot. But I thought you’d have forgotten about me within a couple of weeks. I had no idea that…’

‘That I was in love with you?’ Molly filled in when Sam seemed unable to finish his sentence.

‘That you felt the same way that I did.’

Sam reached for hands again and this time she didn’t snatch them away. When he kissed her, she forgot all about the flat full of people enjoying her Halloween party just a few steps away. She even managed to forget about the hideous lobster costume and the shocking face paint.

‘What are we going to say to Rose?’ Molly asked, trying not to giggle when she saw the pink tinge around Sam’s mouth.

‘You’re going to say thank you,’ Rose announced from the kitchen doorway.

‘Thank you?’

‘You’re welcome.’ Rose stepped fully into the kitchen and grabbed a cupcake from the table.

‘No, I mean thank you for what?’

Rose scooped a chunk of frosting from the cupcake and popped it into her mouth. ‘For playing Cupid and bringing you two – finally – together.’

‘You knew I liked Sam?’

Rose rolled her eyes. ‘Duh. Of course. It was so obvious.’

‘So why wait all this time?’

Rose scooped another helping of frosting. ‘Because you told me to never ever interfere in your love life ever again after the Carl Brown thing.’

Molly had said words to that effect after the humiliating Carl Brown incident.

‘Then why did you tell me to get my butt back home and tell Molly how I feel?’ Sam asked. Molly was shocked. He’d come back to England for her?

‘Because it’s been ten bloody years, guys!’ Rose threw her hands up in the air. A blob of orange frosting flew across the room and plopped into the green punch. ‘I’ve followed the rules for long enough. Some rules are made for breaking.’

Yes, Molly thought. Some rules were made for breaking. Like hooking up with your best friend’s brother.

‘Thank you, Rose.’

‘You’re welcome. The two of you are clearly made for each other.’ Rose scooped up Sam’s abandoned sheet and tossed it towards her brother. ‘You both have completely crap taste in Halloween costumes.’



If you enjoyed The Ghost of Halloween Past, you can find more of my short stories here
 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Mince Pie Mix-Up: My Dream Cast

Whenever I write a book, I like to dream up a cast of who would play my characters in the film or TV adaptation (hey, it could happen).

So I'd like to share the cast of The Mince Pie Mix-Up:

 

Judy Neil: Keeley Hawes

Calvin Neil: Jonathan Kerrigan

Scott Neil: Rhys Cadman

Charlie Neil: Honor Kneafsey

Abby Frost: Michelle Dockery

Perry: Jason Watkins
 
What do you think?
 
I'd watch that TV program on TV! *sits back and waits for producers to call*
 
 
About The Book
 
 
 ‘I wish I could live your life. I’d happily swap lives with you.’

’Tis the season to be jolly but for Calvin and Judy the usual festive bickering has already begun! Judy’s convinced that her husband has it easy – no glittery wrapping paper, no playground gossip and absolutely no Christmas baking.

Calvin wishes he could trade in his obnoxious boss and dull nine-to-five job to spend more time kicking back with his kids – how hard can Judy’s life really be?

But after a magical mince pie mix-up, one thing’s for certain – by Christmas Day, life for Judy and Calvin will never be the same again. Perhaps the grass isn’t always greener after all…
 
 
The Mince Pie Mix-Up is published on 6th November
 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Book of The Month: October

 

In a remote Cornish cove, on one of the last days of summer, Robyn Swinton is drowning. She is saved - just - by local boy Jago Winters, and it is a moment that will change both of them forever.

Over the next seven years, Robyn and Jago's paths lead them in different directions, to city streets and foreign shores. Will the bond forged that day Jago dragged Robyn in from the sea be strong enough to bring them back to one another, or has life already pulled them too far apart?
 
 
*     *      *      *      *
 
I read The Sea Between Us as part of the Novelicious Book Club and was immediately drawn into the lives of Robyn and Jago as they meet on the secluded Cornish cove. I was hooked by the love story of the pair, eager to see where the twists and turns of their lives would take them - and whether it would take them to the same place.
 
I'd never read a book by Emylia Hall before The Sea Between Us but I'd definitely be interested in reading more.
 
 
My full review of The Sea Between Us will be here on the blog soon.
 

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Novelicious Book Club: The Sea Between Us by Emylia Hall

 
Tonight I'll be taking part in the Novelicious Book Club, where we'll be discussing The Sea Between Us by Emylia Hall.
 
If you've read the book, why not join us? We'll be on Twitter at 8pm, using #NoveliciousBookClub
 
You can find more details here
 
 
About the Book

In a remote Cornish cove, on one of the last days of summer, Robyn Swinton is drowning. She is saved - just - by local boy Jago Winters, and it is a moment that will change both of them forever.

Over the next seven years, Robyn and Jago's paths lead them in different directions, to city streets and foreign shores. Will the bond forged that day Jago dragged Robyn in from the sea be strong enough to bring them back to one another, or has life already pulled them too far apart?

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Cover Reveal: Follow Me by Angela Clarke

 
 

LIKE. SHARE. FOLLOW . . . DIE

The ‘Hashtag Murderer’ posts chilling cryptic clues online, pointing to their next target. Taunting the police. Enthralling the press. Capturing the public’s imagination.

But this is no virtual threat.

As the number of his followers rises, so does the body count.


Eight years ago two young girls did something unforgivable. Now ambitious police officer Nasreen and investigative journalist Freddie are thrown together again in a desperate struggle to catch this cunning, fame-crazed killer. But can they stay one step ahead of him? And can they escape their own past?

Time's running out. Everyone is following the #Murderer. But what if he is following you?

ONLINE, NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM …
 
 
Published 3rd December (ebook) and 31st December (paperback)

Friday, 23 October 2015

Blog Tour: The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Lisa Dickenson

Today I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Lisa Dickenson's The Twelve Dates of Christmas, with a review of the book.

 
Claudia and Seth are in a bit of a rut. They've been together for five years and the romance has taken a serious nose-dive. Wanting to re-ignite their relationship, Claudia sets up a date - their first in a long, long time - at the ballet. But the date doesn't go to plan and Claudia is left with the prospect of spending Christmas alone.
 
But with her best friends Penny and Nick to prop her up, Claudia finds herself experiencing new things as she goes on a series of dates in the run up to Christmas.
 
After reading Lisa Dickenson's You Had Me At Merlot last summer, I was looking forward to reading her festive book and I wasn't disappointed. The Twelve Dates of Christmas is full of fun and festivity, with plenty of snow, gingerbread lattes and mulled wine. Claudia is a fantastic character for a romantic comedy; she's fun and flirty but also a bit flawed. She isn't exactly sure where she wants to end up in life and I liked that she started to discover a bit more about herself as the book progresses.
 
As well as Claudia, there are loads of great characters, from her best friends Penny and Nick to barman Billy and Claudia's dad, who I thought was brilliant. He was caring yet had a wicked side that I loved and he was part of some of my favourite scenes in the book. Then there is Seth, who is a bit of a shit but a great character to throw into the mix. I was constantly waiting for him to get his comeuppance for the way he treated Claudia!
 
I thought the book had such a brilliant premise and I looked forward to seeing where Claudia would end up on her next date. Some of the dates are sweet, others hilarious and some are just plain awful (but while they were a disaster for Claudia, they were funny for the reader). The book has a lovely festive atmosphere that is sometimes missing from Christmas-themed books and I loved Lisa's humorous style of writing. If you're looking for a funny, feel-good festive treat, The Twelve Dates of Christmas could be just for you!
 
 
About The Author
Lisa Dickenson was born in the wrong body. She was definitely meant to be Beyoncé. Despite this hardship, she grew up in Devon attempting to write her own, completely copyright-infringing versions of Sweet Valley High, before giving Wales a go for university, and then London a go for the celeb-spotting potential. She's now back in Devon, living beside the seaside with her husband and forcing cream teas down the mouths of anyone who'll visit. She is sadly still not Beyoncé. The Twelve Dates of Christmas is Lisa's first novel. Follow her on Twitter for all her book news and Beyoncé-related chatter: @LisaWritesStuff



Thursday, 22 October 2015

The Mince Pie Mix-Up: An Introduction To The Neil Family

 
As we're just over two weeks away from the publication of The Mince Pie Mix-Up, I thought I'd introduce you to the stars of the book - the Neil family!


Judy Neil


Judy is a mother of two who works part-time in the village tea room as well baking on the side to earn some extra, well-needed cash. This means she’s often up at the crack of dawn, whipping up batches of mince pies during the festive period.

Judy loves her husband, Neil but she sometimes wishes he would help out more at home – or at least appreciate what she does for the family.
 

 Calvin Neil

Calvin works in marketing for an intolerant boss who has a tendency to yell and swear and offer threats of unemployment. After a hard day at work followed by the rush-hour traffic, Calvin wants nothing more than to sit in his chair with his newspaper.

Calvin loves his wife, Judy but he sometimes wishes she wouldn’t nag quite so much and realise how hard he works to support their family.


 Scott and Charlie Neil


Scott is Calvin and Judy’s oldest child. He loves sport – especially football – and his band.

Charlie is the youngest member of the Neil family. She loves ballet, sweet treats and anything girly.

Both children wish that their dad would spend a bit more time with them. But will they notice when their parents switch places this Christmas?
 
 
About The Book
 
 
 ‘I wish I could live your life. I’d happily swap lives with you.’

’Tis the season to be jolly but for Calvin and Judy the usual festive bickering has already begun! Judy’s convinced that her husband has it easy – no glittery wrapping paper, no playground gossip and absolutely no Christmas baking.

Calvin wishes he could trade in his obnoxious boss and dull nine-to-five job to spend more time kicking back with his kids – how hard can Judy’s life really be?

But after a magical mince pie mix-up, one thing’s for certain – by Christmas Day, life for Judy and Calvin will never be the same again. Perhaps the grass isn’t always greener after all…
 
 
The Mince Pie Mix-Up is published on 6th November
 
 

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Blog Tour: The Years of Loving You by

Today I'm delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Ella Harper's The Years of Loving You, with an extract from the book.

 
‘Sam. I really need to talk to you.’
‘Give me a sec, Molly.’
Sam sounded impatient. He was on the phone to an important client and Molly wanted to give him space. But she had also sat on her news for an entire fortnight and she felt that she needed to finally let it all out. But it was the weekend. And Sam was still working. He was conscientious like that.
Molly sank down on to the sofa. She wasn’t sure how Sam was going to take the news. Sam was a practical guy, but Molly hadn’t really seen how he coped with illness. They hadn’t ever been challenged in this way before. Illness hadn’t featured. But Sam coped with every­thing. He was very capable. Molly relaxed.
Sam finally finished his call. Turning his chair to face her, he gave her his full attention.
‘Sorry. You wanted to talk to me.’
‘Yes.’ Molly took a breath. ‘I’ve had these symptoms for a while now.’
‘Symptoms?
‘Tremors. A few other things.’
‘You haven’t mentioned anything before now.’ Sam frowned.
‘I know.’ Molly immediately felt guilty. She should have mentioned something before, shouldn’t she? If she had, her illness would have been drip-fed as opposed to being a massive bombshell. ‘I . . . I didn’t think anything serious was going on.’
Sam sat forward. ‘It’s serious then?’
‘Ummm . . . yes. It is.’ Molly chewed her lip. ‘I have . . .’ She faltered. She didn’t want to say it out loud. Saying it out loud made it real. And reality was a scary place at the moment.
‘Molly.’ Sam came and sat next to her. ‘What’s going on? What do you have?’
Molly took his hand. ‘I have early-onset Parkinson’s.’
Sam stared at her. ‘What?
Molly said it again.
‘I heard you. I mean how . . . you’re . . . I know you said early onset but Parkinson’s . . . it’s . . .’
‘An old person’s illness, right?’ Molly shook her head. ‘Wrong.’
‘But . . .’ Sam stopped. ‘I just can’t understand it. You’re so healthy! You’re fit, you look after yourself. How could this have happened?’
‘Well, it’s not anything I could have prevented.’ Absurdly, Molly felt the need to defend herself. ‘I do look after myself. It’s just one of those things.’
Sam got to his feet. ‘Well, it’s ridiculous. I mean, it’s awful.’ He began to pace. ‘So. Tell me about it. What does this mean?’
Molly told him about it. A condensed version. A slightly more glamorous effort than it could have been. Which was her way of drip-feeding. Molly strongly felt that immediately blasting Sam with all the details wasn’t the way to go. There was time enough for that.
A few seconds later, Molly felt that her approach was justified.
Sam stopped pacing and sat down suddenly. ‘God, Molly. That’s grim. I mean, grim for you. For us. What a curve ball. Ok.’ His mind was clearly racing. ‘So what do we do about it?’
‘Do?’
‘Yes. There must be some course of action. We need to do something here. There must be drug trials, something we can do to make things better, to get you well again.’
Molly stared at Sam. ‘I mean . . . I’ll never be well again, Sam. Not completely. This is progressive.’
 

Friday, 16 October 2015

Cover Reveal: The Mince Pie Mix-Up

Today I'm thrilled to be able to share the cover for my upcoming release with you. I'd love to hear what you think!

So here it is. Presenting The Mince Pie Mix-Up...
 


‘I wish I could live your life. I’d happily swap lives with you.’

’Tis the season to be jolly but for Calvin and Judy the usual festive bickering has already begun! Judy’s convinced that her husband has it easy – no glittery wrapping paper, no playground gossip and absolutely no Christmas baking.

Calvin wishes he could trade in his obnoxious boss and dull nine-to-five job to spend more time kicking back with his kids – how hard can Judy’s life really be?

But after a magical mince pie mix-up, one thing’s for certain – by Christmas Day, life for Judy and Calvin will never be the same again. Perhaps the grass isn’t always greener after all…
 
 
The Mince Pie Mix-Up will be published on 6th November but it's available to pre-order now here
 

Monday, 12 October 2015

Book News: Book Deal & Christmas Book

 
 
If you've been reading my #AmWriting posts or follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you may know that I've been working on a Christmas book - and I can now tell you a bit more about it!
 
Introducing... The Mince Pie Mix-Up


‘I wish I could live your life. I’d happily swap lives with you.’

’Tis the season to be jolly but for Calvin and Judy the usual festive bickering has already begun! Judy’s convinced that her husband has it easy – no glittery wrapping paper, no playground gossip and absolutely no Christmas baking.

Calvin wishes he could trade in his obnoxious boss and dull nine-to-five job to spend more time kicking back with his kids – how hard can Judy’s life really be?

But after a magical mince pie mix-up, one thing’s for certain – by Christmas Day, life for Judy and Calvin will never be the same again. Perhaps the grass isn’t always greener after all…
 
 
The Mince Pie Mix-Up will released as an ebook on 6th November but you can pre-order a copy from Amazon right now by clicking here or pre-order from Kobo here
 
If you click the links, you may notice some more exciting news. Go on, give it a go (I'll give you a hint: it's next to the publisher info)
 
Yep, that's right - The Mince Pie Mix-Up will be published by Carina UK, who I have signed a two-book deal with - I told you it was Big News!

 
When I started this blog four years ago, I always hoped I'd be able to share a post with news of a publishing deal and now I finally can. I'm so excited to be working with Carina UK and hope that you like The Mince Pie Mix-Up and my 'Carina Book 2'.
 
I don't have a cover for The Mince Pie Mix-Up to share yet, but believe me, when I do I'll be splashing it EVERYWHERE.

Book Crafts: Mini Bookish Pumpkin

 
 
Mini Bookish Pumpkins
 
 
 
As we're in October, I wanted to make something with a Halloween theme for my Book Crafts feature. And what says Halloween more than pumpkins?
 
To make the mini bookish pumpkins, you will need:
 
Page Proof Pages
Orange card
Green card
2 Split pins
Scissors
Double-sided tape (or glue)
Hole punch
Orange Sharpie pens (optional)
 
 
Cut rectangle strips out of your page proof, making sure they're the same size
 
The length and width of the strips determines how your pumpkin will look at the end. I experimented and liked the dinky little pumpkin, which I made used short, wide strips
 
You may have to adjust the number of strips needed, depending on the size of your strips, plus how you want the pumpkin to look - if you want gaps between the strips, use less or if you want a more closed pumpkin, you'll need more strips to fill the gaps. I found that 6 strips were best for the look I wanted
 
If you like, you can edge the strips with colour - I used three different orange shades of Sharpie pens but you can use felt tips (but test they don't make the print run first), ink or pencil crayon
 
 
Using double-sided tape or glue (allow drying time if using glue), stick the strips onto orange card and cut out
 
I experimented using just the page proof paper but it was too flimsy so the card makes the strips sturdier
 
 
Punch holes in each end of the strips and put to one side for the moment
 
 
Draw a set of leaves on a piece of green card and cut out. Punch a hole in the middle
 
Using the same card, cut out a thin strip and curl by winding around a pencil. Stick the twirly strip on the back of the leaf, making sure you don't cover the hole
 
 
Gather the strips and the leaf and thread them onto a split pin, one at each end
 
I found that the split pins I used were too long and had to trim them with scissors. Next time I'd use brads (smaller split pins used for crafts)
 
 
Bend the strips between your fingers and thumb
 
Note: it won't really start to change shape until the next step
 
 
Turn the strips, one at a time to create the rounded shape. This part can be quite fiddly, especially as the card makes the strips thicker and less easy to move, but when I used just the paper, it was really fragile
 
Continue to move the strips around, spacing them evenly until you have a sphere
 
 
Re-twirl the green strip if you need to - and then you're done!
 
 
 
Click here to see all Book Crafts
 

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Cover Reveal: Meet Me In Manhattan by Claudia Carroll

 
In a New York minute, everything can change …

You don’t mess with aspiring journalist Holly Johnson! The man she fell for is not all that he seems – because sometimes dating online doesn’t quite go to plan. She’s decided to fly to the Big Apple to surprise him and to get some answers. And if her plan works she’ll also get the scoop of her career …

But as she steps out of her yellow taxi and the first snowflakes start to fall, it’s Holly who has the surprise of her life.

What should be a dream come true is looking a little like a nightmare. But Holly is determined to get her New York happy ending!
 
 
Meet Me In Manhattan is published on 5th November 2015
 

Friday, 9 October 2015

Cover Reveal: Mistletoe & Mayhem by Catherine Ferguson

 

The new novel from ebook bestseller, Catherine Ferguson. A warm and cosy festive tale you won’t be able to put down.

Lola Plumpton can’t believe her luck.

Christmas is coming and her gorgeous boyfriend, Nathan, has offered up his swanky apartment to host the Plumpton family’s festive celebrations. It looks set to be a Christmas to remember. And it is – but for all the wrong reasons.

 As the 25th December draws closer, Lola unexpectedly finds herself missing some key components:

 1. A job (but who needs one of those anyway, when you’ve got the ultimate family Christmas to prepare for?)

 2. Money (no job equals no money, it turns out.)

 3. A boyfriend (yup, Nathan the hunk has said adios to Lola – and in the *most* embarrassing way possible…)

4. Somewhere to host her fabulous family Christmas (because of course, no Nathan means no des res apartment.)

Lola’s at a loss about what to do. But one way or another, she’s going to make this the best Christmas her family’s ever had…
 
 
Mistletoe & Mayhem is published on 15th October 2015

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Raincoats and Retrievers by Cressida McLaughlin

 
 
Cat Palmer's dog-walking business, Pooch Promenade is really taking off but she's concerned when she discovers her clients from number 6 are having marriage troubles. Juliette and Will, the owners of a pair of golden retrievers, have been bickering in the street and Cat can't help stepping in to help the pair resolve their problems.
 
But Juliette and Will aren't the only ones having relationship problems. Cat and fellow Primrose Terrace resident Mark have been tiptoeing around their feelings, leaving Cat confused about where she stands.
 
Raincoats and Retrievers is the third novella in the Primrose Terrace series and I was looking forward to catching up with Cat, her neighbours and her four-legged clients. I've enjoyed the series so far and I wasn't disappointed with the next instalment. As with the previous parts, Raincoats and Retrievers introduces us to a new set of characters, plus their adorable dogs. Although the book is named after Juliette and Will's dogs, my favourite new furry character was Paddlepuss as he sounded so cute and sweet and I would love to see more of him!
 
Cat can be pretty nosy at times and she can't help herself stepping in to help - often when the help isn't asked for - but I really like her and I think she has a heart of gold and can't stand to see people unhappy. If there is anything she can do to help, she'll willingly do it.
 
I don't want to post any spoilers, but I'm loving the romantic elements to Cat's life, especially in this book. There are some great 'will they, won't they?' moments and I'm hoping it turns out the way I hoped it would from Part 1.
 
Each part has its own individual storyline but there are also threads that run throughout and I'm looking forward to the fourth and final instalment of the series, Tinsel and Terriers to see how it all works out.
 


Sunday, 4 October 2015

Cover Reveal: The Years of Loving You by Ella Harper




From the award-winning author of PIECES OF YOU comes this enthralling love story, guaranteed to make you laugh, cry and dream upon a star…

What if your first love was your only love?

 When Molly is diagnosed with a life changing illness, it feels like her whole world has come crashing down. She hopes the news will make her marriage to Sam stronger. But why does Molly always call best friend Ed in a crisis?

 Ed. The very same Ed that Molly fell in love with at a party when they were teenagers, underneath a star-filled sky. Then life took them in very different directions. They could only ever be friends.

 Suddenly Molly starts to question every decision she’s ever made. What if they could turn back the clock? Back to the very beginning. When the only certainty they shared was each other …
 
 
The Years of Loving You will be released on 15th October (ebook) and
19th November (paperback)


About The Author

As a shy teenager, Ella Harper found a way to escape by learning foreign languages, and imagined she might eventually get a glamorous job speaking French. After completing a BA in French and Russian Studies, she found herself following in her father’s footsteps into banking instead, seduced by the excitement and glamour of that world. But after climbing her way to Assistant Vice President, Ella started idly

 mapping out the beginnings of a novel on an old laptop. When she realised her characters were more real to her than dividends and corporate actions ever could be, she left her job to become a writer. Eight years later, and Ella has published four hugely popular novels under the name Sasha Wagstaff.

Blog Tour: Make A Christmas Wish by Julia Williams

 
Today I'm pleased to be taking part in the blog tour of Julia Williams' Make A Christmas Wish with an extract from the book


Emily
 
Emily never set out to seduce Adam, nor he her. It had been a gradual process: of chats in the changing room before or after swimming; of the occasional drink with the swimming club and making sure she always sought him out; and then eventually of running into him one night when she came home from work. He was frantic. Joe had gone walkabout and Adam had no idea where. Emily auto­matically offered to help, and they tracked him down to a school friend’s house, where Joe was sitting rocking back and forth, saying, ‘Mum wouldn’t talk to me.’ That was Emily’s first glimpse of the hell Adam and Livvy were living in.

‘It’s as much my fault as hers,’ Adam had explained to Emily later. ‘I’ve always tried to support Livvy and Joe, but she seemed to cope so well with Joe when he was little, sometimes I felt she didn’t need me. Joe came first, which was natural, but it seemed that he was all she wanted. Somewhere along the line we stopped communicating, and I don’t think I quite appreciated the toll looking after Joe took on her.’

It wasn’t long after that they had kissed for the first time and from that point onwards, Emily’s relationship with Adam had changed and deepened, and then they were in too deep to get out without hurting people. It wasn’t what either of them had intended.

And then, a year ago, Livvy had died and everything had changed. Adam had been in a state of profound shock and Emily couldn’t help him. She had had to sit on the sidelines wondering whether she’d ever see him again. For a while she’d wondered if that was going to be it; whether the love affair which had made her heart sing would be snuffed out just as surely as Livvy’s life had been.

But a few weeks after Christmas, Adam had started to call her.

‘I’m sorry,’ he said, ‘I’m going mad here. I have to talk to someone. And you’re the only person who understands.’

At first Emily was wary, not sure if Adam even knew what he wanted; not sure if the love she felt for him was reciprocated. She had deliberately avoided going to swim­ming, because seeing him there was just too painful, but one blustery February day she’d taken herself off for a walk down by the river, and suddenly there was Adam, standing before her. The weeks of frustration and anguish melted away and they were in each other’s arms before they knew it.

‘I’m so sorry for not seeing you,’ Adam had said when they went to a bar to sit and chat. ‘I made a mess of every­thing with Livvy, and I really don’t want to make a mess of it with you. I have to think about Joe. You do understand that, don’t you?’

‘Of course I do,’ said Emily. ‘What happened has happened, and we have to deal with that. Let’s just see where this goes.’

It was clear that whatever they had begun just wasn’t going to go away, and so they started things up again. Slowly at first, and gradually. They had a few dates while Joe was at his grandma’s. One Saturday they managed a whole wonderful day in town, visiting the Millennium Wheel, and ending up with a show and a meal, and a night in a hotel. It was like starting all over again, like a proper couple. Emily began to feel that they were on surer ground, that this might settle into something permanent after all, just like she’d always hoped. After a few months, Adam began to invite Emily round to the house for short periods, letting Joe get used to her being there. They’d tried not to rush things for the sake of Joe, who though he barely mentioned Livvy clearly still missed his mum, but he seemed to tolerate Emily, so much so that Adam had recently dared to start asking Emily to stay over occasionally.

If anyone had asked Emily she wouldn’t have chosen it this way. Adam still had a lot to deal with, and she worried about the responsibility of Joe, and how she would cope if she ever became his stepmother properly. Joe was lovely, and she was very fond of him, but frequently felt out of her depth. If she were to be with Adam permanently she’d have to take that on. It was a big ask, but Adam made her happy. And she made him happy. That had to be worth something, didn’t it? If only things didn’t have to be quite so complicated . . .

And then, today, Joe had dropped his casual bombshell. He had looked at her so calmly and said, ‘Will you be my new mother?’ and Emily had felt floored. His old one had found it so difficult it crucified her marriage. She wanted Adam for always, but Joe? How could she possibly be up to the task?
 
 
Make A Christmas Wish is available now