Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Neil Grimmett

JJ is delighted to be welcoming Neil today

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Neil Grimmett has had over eighty five short stories published. In the UK by among others: London Magazine, Stand, Panurge, Iron, Ambit, Postscripts Magazine, Pretext etc. Australia, Quadrant, South Africa, New Contrast. Plus stories in the leading journals of Singapore, India, France, Canada, and the USA, where he has appeared in Fiction, The Yale Review, DoubleTake, The southern Humanities Review, Green Mountains Review, Descant, The Southern Review, West Branch and Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. He has appeared online in Blackbird, Plum Ruby Review, Tatlin’s Tower, Web Del Sol, In Posse Review, m.a.g., Word Riot, Blue Moon Review, 3AM, Gangway, Eclectica, The Cortland Review, Segue, The Dublin Quarterly , Ducts, Sugar Mule, Mysterical E, Thuglit and over thirty others. His stories have also appeared in the anthologies: ENGLAND CALLING, BOOK OF VOICES and Italy’s ISBN’s Top International Stories. He has made the storySouth Million Writers Notable Short Story list for the last three years. In addition, he has won the Write On poetry award, 7 Oppenheim John Downes Awards, 5 major British Arts Council Awards, a Royal Society of Authors award and was just awarded a major grant from the Royal Literary Fund.  He has been signed over the last ten years by twelve of the leading literary agents in both the UK and USA. His current agent is Jon Elek at United Agents .

THE HOARD, Neil’s next novel is about to come out on Kindle.

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Welcome Neil,

What was the idea/inspiration for The Threshing Circle?

 The murder of a young English woman who had fallen in love with a Greek Resistance hero and was betrayed to the occupying Germans.

If you could choose to be one of your characters in your book which would you be? and why?

Barba Yiorgos, because he is a complicated, reluctant hero who eventually makes good.

Please tell us about the characters in your book

Kirsty: feisty divorcee who tries to rescue a kidnapped couple. Barba Yiorgos, her reluctant and devious (at first) accomplice. Nikos and his sons: band and evil to the core. And the Cretans with their special take on life.

Was there anything about your protagonist that surprised you?

My characters always end up surprising me. That is how I know when they are alive!

What scene did you most enjoy writing? Why?

The tunnel to the prison. I loved the smell, memory and tension.

What scene was the hardest to write? Why?

The end. Can’t say as it is a spoiler.

Who would you cast in the role of your characters if your book were optioned for a movie?

Several reviewers have said Sean Connery for Barba Yiorgos and he would be perfect if still young enough to try! Julianne Moore for Kirsty.

If you could have given your characters one piece of advice before the opening pages of the book, what would it be … 

Kirsty, run; Barba Yiorgos, stay hidden; Eleni and Patrick don’t come to Crete. But then there wouldn’t have been a book!

Did you do any research for your book?  What resources did you use?

Orthodox Academy of Crete; Chania Museum and several interviews with Resistance fighters and about everyone who I met during six years on Crete!

What inspired you to write?

Like Faulkner said every time I sit down to write, I am inspired! But also, the short story that came out in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and the fascination with the story I felt.

Do you have a most creative time of day?

Morning before anything or anyone gets in the way!

Who designs your book covers?

Damon Za  for the Kindles and a painter, Louise Yeandle, for my early literary novel, The Bestowing Sun.

How do your characters come into existence?  Do they have a bio?

They grow hair by hair, tooth by tooth until flesh covers bone and they begin to move off the slab  by that spark of life I’ve managed to generate.

What are you working on now?

A new novel about to come out called, THE HOARD. And 300 pages into a supernatural thriller.

Do you have a favourite book? Why?  What is it about that book?

Too many; but recently read again Polar Star by Martin Crutz Smith and was amazed that a writer could take a different culture, place it in an almost alien environment and make it totally credible and so surreal at the same time. Great writing. But so many. Comfort book: Brideshead Revisited.

Do you think movie adaptations do books justice?  Do you have a favourite?

Yes and no. Loved Shutter Island and Mystic River nearly as much as the books. Thought Life of Pi better than the book. Thought Blood Works destroyed a good novel.

What are you reading now? Opinion?

Gone Girl; contrivance but an original one. Dr Sleep; brilliant as King often is.

Are there any tips you could share with self-published writers that have worked well for you or was there something difficult you overcame?  How?

At the moment this is new to me after having had top literary agents for the last decade, but something I have been told many times already by Amazon’s top reviewers is: (a) most of the query letters are so badly written they don’t bother to ask to see the book; and (b) most self-published novels are so bad, they are refusing to read them all! So, just because you can self-publish, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are ready to be read. Work, work and work some more. And remember what King said: To write is human; to edit divine.

What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?

My literary credits; the prizes and the recent reviews for THE THRESHING CIRCLE. Plus meeting other writers.

What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far?

14 major literary agents signing me; and all the publishers not quite willing to take a risk.

 Finally Neil, what tips do you have for other aspiring writers?

Keep writing; keep reading. Don’t lose the fact it is about the story and your vision. And do not try to write for the market.

Thank you for sharing with us today Neil.

Wishing you success with all your writing projects.

The Threshing CircleD (4)A young couple arrive on Crete and start prying into the execution of a beautiful English woman during the German occupation sixty years before. They enter a labyrinth of betrayals, murder, greed and vendettas, old and new. Then they disappear.

A feisty Scottish lady and an irascible, Zorba-like Greek, form a reluctant allegiance in a desperate attempt to save them. Each has a very different motive for their actions. Their search will take them to hidden rituals and remote gatherings, famous monasteries and villages abandoned after years of vendettas. To the remote island of Gavdos and to a place ‘even the gods do not know exists’.

All the time they are being stalked by the sons of a man who seeks to complete the crimes of his father and sate his own greed. His sons are more animal than human and have been raised in the mountains for the sole purpose of fulfilling his brutal will.

The mystery of Crete runs deep and the novel explores some of the myths and magic while not shying away from its violent history.

By the end choices will have to be made; if such things are possible on a island where many Cretans still believe, ‘The Cycle of Blood’ can never stop flowing.

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Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview with Michelle Read ~ Long Lost

JJ is welcoming local author Michelle Read to the blog today.  

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Michelle grew up in a small town in South Wales but moved to Dorset in her early teens, and is where she has lived for the past 22 years. In her spare time she enjoys visiting stately homes, castles, museums, archaeology sites, food festivals, reading copious amounts of books, and chatting on Facebook and Twitter. She works as a full time administrator but still manages to fit researching and writing novels around her busy day.

To find out more about Michelle and The Centuries of Love Trilogy please go to:

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Twitter @chelle52

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Hi Michelle, welcome to JJ!

What was the idea/inspiration for Long Lost?

I was researching my family tree when the idea of time travel to the nineteenth century came to me. Reading and finding out about my ancestors really inspired me. I also became interested in everything to do with Jane Austen and fell in love with her world. I also love Pride and Prejudice and wanted to write my own love story based on that concept.

If you could choose to be one of your characters in your novel, which would you be? and why?

I would love to be my main character, Emily, because I’d love to go back in time. I love British history so I’d love to be able to witness it all first hand. I’d also love to meet a real gentleman as they seem few and far between these days!

Did you do any research for Long Lost?  What resources did you use? 

I love history anyway so doing research for my book was no chore. I visited many stately homes and museums. As I live in Dorset, on the border of Hampshire, I’m surrounded by nature and the countryside, so I often wander through the countryside to immerse myself in nineteenth century England. I also visited Jane Austen’s house and tomb for inspiration. I bought so many books on the nineteenth century and did lots of online research.

What inspired you to write?

My first book, Long Lost, was the first thing I wrote, other than silly plays when I was a child. I first started writing to banish feelings of melancholy but I soon caught the writing bug which developed into something more than a hobby. It became my passion, my reason for being.

Are you a panster or a plotter?

I usually have a vague idea of the plot but the story usually develops as I’m going along. Sometimes what I had planned for the story in the beginning will turn out very differently by the end. I don’t write in sequence either, I prefer to wait for the story to come to me, no matter what order that is. Sometimes it could be the middle and end that gets written first and beginning can be the last.

Long Lost is part of a trilogy.  What is in the future?

Long Lost is the first part of The Centuries of Love Trilogy. I am currently editing part two, which is called Long Last, while part three, Long Love, has been written and waiting patiently for its edit. I explore more of the nineteenth century whilst adding more characters and twists to the story.

What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?

I love losing myself in a fantasy, forgetting all my troubles and immersing myself in a make believe world with the possibilities of them coming true.

What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far?

Imposing self-inflicted deadlines is what I hate the most. But if I don’t set them then my book will never get anywhere. I prefer to go with the flow and not be rushed as I’m quite a laid back person, but eventually there comes a time when I really need to knuckle down.

Which authors have influenced your writing?

I’m not sure if my writing is influenced by any one person as I have so many favourite authors, though I doubt my writing style is anything like theirs. Marian Keyes, Freya North, Lisa Jewell and Jane Green have always been my staple book diet over the years.

Finally Michelle, what tips do you have for other aspiring writers?

Enjoy the process. Don’t get too bogged down with rules, grammar etc, it will all come together at the end as you learn your way through writing your novel. Listen to your heart and not other peoples’ opinions; you know what’s best for you and your writing.

Thank you for being my guest today 🙂

Wishing you success with all your writing projects Michelle.

Long Lost E-Book CoverSometimes the past can be your future

Emily Case is a lonely woman. No family, few friends, job she hates and is single. Life is one long struggle for her.

Then one morning she wakes up two hundred years in the past and her whole world is turned upside down, as she is faced with a new era she knows nothing about. However, she soon finds that she likes her new lifestyle, and the people in it.

On meeting William Chester, owner of The Westfield estate, she quickly falls for him, until she is threatened by a rival for his affections.

But when she realises this life is all she’s ever wanted she is torn away from it and back to her life two hundred years into the future.

Not willing to accept that the twenty-first-century is where her destiny lies she endeavours to seek out the truth of the life she led in the nineteenth-century.

What will she discover on her journey? Was it reality or all just a dream?

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Jera’s Jamboree : Guest author Julie Ryan ~ Sophia’s Secret

Julie Ryan visits JJ today to talk about her writing journey.

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Julie was born and brought up in a mining village near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. She graduated with a BA (hons) in French Language and Literature from Hull University. Since then she has lived and worked as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language in France, Greece, Poland and Thailand. She now lives in rural Gloucestershire with her husband, son and a dippy cat with half a tail.  She is so passionate about books that her collection is now threatening to outgrow her house, much to her husband’s annoyance!

“Jenna’s Journey” is her début novel set in Greece, a country to which she has a strong attachment.

Twitter – @julieryan18

Facebook – http://www.facebook.com/julieryanauthor

Blog  www.allthingsbookie.com

Jenna’s Journey Amazon

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Welcome Julie!

My writing Journey

One of the first questions most people ask me is ‘ How did ‘Jenna’s Journey’, my first novel, come about?  The second question is  ‘ How long did it take to write?

The inspiration came from the time I spent in Greece as an English teacher in the 1980s. I fell in love with the country, the people, the culture and the beautiful landscape. I didn’t know then that it would be a love affair that would stay with me all my life. Somehow Greece seemed to suck me in and refused to let me go.

As a child I loved writing stories and fancied myself as a second Enid Blyton. Strangely enough, I didn’t write much as an adult, just a few short stories for my own amusement. It wasn’t until thirty years after my sojourn in Greece that a chance encounter with a fellow author led to me dusting off a short story and turning it into ‘Jenna’s journey.’ My lovely friend, Linn B Halton convinced me that I had a novel in me and her own determination served as my inspiration. As I looked out of the window on a cold snowy morning, I started to wonder what my life would have been like if I’d stayed in Greece. That was the starting point for the parallel stories that make up the first book in the Greek Island Mystery series.

I still find it hard to believe that from one short story has evolved a series of books all set on the same Greek Island yet featuring different characters. Of course, some of the characters from the first book get a mention later on as once I’d written it, they just wouldn’t leave me alone! It’s only a few months, back in September 2013, that I self-published ‘Jenna’s Journey’. At the time I thought I’d achieved my goal and could sit back. I hadn’t counted on the pull of writing though as I found I just couldn’t walk away. It took me about 18 months to write the first book although I like to say it had a gestation period of 30 years. It has been such a steep learning curve but I must have gained some knowledge in crafting the Art as the second book, ‘Sophia’s Secret’ only took about eight months. At this rate I’m counting on the third book only taking about six months!! So far it’s just a germ of an idea, provisionally called ‘Pandora’s Prophecy’ but anyone who knows me will be aware that it could change dramatically between now and publication. So far it’s looking very different from the predecessors although it’s still set in my beloved Greece.

All it can take is that one chance meeting 🙂

Thank you for sharing your inspiration Julie.

Sophia's secret

Kat has never understood why she was sent at the age of seven from Greece to live in England with her Aunt Tigi. When she receives an email from her grandmother, the first contact in over twenty years, informing her of her mother’s death, she knows this could be her last chance to find out the truth. Little by little she finds out the shocking facts as her grandmother opens her heart.  It seems everyone has a secret to tell, not only her grandmother, as Manoli, her school friend, also harbours a guilty secret. Then there’s a twenty year old mystery to solve as well as a murder and what happened to the missing Church treasure?

Sophia’s Secret is going on tour!

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Date Tour Host
14th July Books, Reviews, Etc
14th July Brook Cottage Books
15th July Georgina Troy
15th July A Novel Review
16th July Crooks on Books
17th July Chicklit Club Connect
18th July DizzyC’s Little Book Blog
18th July @jaustenrulesok
18th July M’s Bookshelf

Giveaway is UK Ecopy of Sophia’s Secret plus an Amazon Gift Card £5 and US ecopies of Jenna’s Journey and Sophie’s Secret.

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We hope you’ll enjoy the interview, guest post and reviews.

Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview with Joanne Phillips ~ Cupid’s Way

JJ is delighted to be welcoming Joanne Phillips today.

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Joanne Phillips lives in rural Shropshire with her husband and young daughter. She’s the author of romantic comedies Can’t Live Without and The Family Trap, and the Flora Lively series of contemporary mysteries. Can’t Live Without was an Amazon top 20 bestseller in 2012 and her books regularly appear on category bestseller lists. Before becoming a writer, Joanne had jobs as diverse as hairdresser, air hostess and librarian, but now divides her time between writing and finding creative ways to avoid housework. She’s a fan of super-dark chocolate, iced coffee and Masterchef. Visit http://www.joannephillips.co.uk to say hello.

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/joannephillipsauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/joannegphillips

Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Joanne-Phillips/e/B0083UEG86/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2862086.Joanne_Phillips

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Hi Joanna,

Welcome!

What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?

Cupid’s Way is the name of a Victorian terrace which is up for demolition to make room for a new development. The inspiration came from a street in Milton Keynes which had been saved from the Development Corporation 20+ years ago and turned into a co-operative.  The street was as colourful as you could get, with cute window boxes and brightly painted front doors, and housed a real mix of characters. Cupid’s Way – and its heroine, Evie Stone – arrived in my head and off I went!

Did you do any research for your book?  What resources did you use?

I had to do quite a lot of research for Cupid’s Way – more than I usually have to. I needed to research planning laws and permissions, and also the location – Bristol – in detail. I didn’t actually go to Bristol at all during my writing process, which probably sounds terrible! But Google Street View is so helpful, and I have lots of friends who know the area really well. As I said above, I had a strong inspiration for the street itself, so my field trip took me to Spencer Street in Milton Keynes to take photos of the original. There’s also a Roman angle to one part of Cupid’s Way, and for this research I used the Bristol City Council’s archive website.

Do you have a most creative time of day?

My most creative time is generally whenever I get a good chunk of time to work. It can take a while to get into a piece of writing, so I don’t do so well with little snippets of time. That said, during the summer holidays when my daughter is at home, I have to take my opportunities wherever I can!

Do you have a theme for your book covers?  Who designs them?

Cupid’s Way is quite different than my previous romantic comedy covers, which were photo-based, whereas this is a lot lighter and brighter. All my covers are designed by Chris Howard, who is brilliant to work with. I think Cupid’s Way and The Family Trap are my favourite covers to date. (I love the cover of Cupid’s Way – it is really uplifting!).

I really have to love a cover to get behind the book – I feel so sorry for some traditionally published authors who have covers foisted upon them that they really don’t like.

Are you a panster or a plotter?

I am a plotter through and through! I tend to write the first three chapters off the cuff, and often re-write them over and over from different perspectives or in, say, present or past tense, until I find which style works for the topic and characters. Then I stop and begin to make a plan. I plan out every scene in detail, and often this plan will be a quarter of the length of the finished novel! But from this I can then be free to write creatively without worrying about plot. Of course, if something isn’t working I just go back to the plan and redo it.

If your book is part of a series, what is in the future?

You know, until this week I had not intended Cupid’s Way to be in any way a series, but then I started thinking: Wouldn’t it be cool to go back to the street and find out more about the other characters? So, right now I’m thinking that Cupid’s Way and its residents will be back in future books, either in full-length novel form or in short stories and novellas.

What is your WIP?

My current WIP is another romantic comedy called You Are Here, due for release in the autumn (or possibly Christmas). It’s about a woman who suddenly decides to leave her husband and go in search of her teenage love. It’s a bit darker than Cupid’s Way, but still a lot of fun.

Being a writer can be lonely.  Do you have a support network?

I’m a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, and I find their network of support really helpful. It was great to meet up with them at London Book Fair this year, and the Facebook forum is a great source of advice and support. I’m also studying for a Masters in Creative Writing at the moment, and my group of fellow students have been great to work with.  I meet up with a couple of author friends regularly, and I do think meeting up in the ‘real world’ is important even when these friendships originated online.

Have you done any creative writing/writing courses that you would recommend to others?

As I said above, I’m doing a Masters at Manchester Metropolitan University. It’s a really good course, gaining a deserved reputation as one of the most successful of its type. I’ve also studied with the Open University, and attended many one-off writing courses such as Miranda Dickinson’s Write Foxy! one day workshop earlier this year. I would recommend studying the craft if you want to continue to grow as a writer, but that study can take many forms. If done properly, reading other books is one of the best forms of study!

Thank you for sharing with us today Jo.

Wishing success with all your writing projects.

Cupids Way cover smallWhen Evie Stone’s grandparents enlist her help to save their home in Cupid’s Way, Evie is happy to oblige. On the cusp of her thirties, and still disappointingly single, Evie’s so-called dream job with a firm of architects has been driving her crazy for months. What she needs, even more than a new man, is a challenge.

But saving Cupid’s Way won’t be easy. A perfectly preserved Victorian terrace, surrounded by modern estates and retail parks, the street is a proud oasis of quirky characters, cobbled pathways and communal gardens. Unfortunately, it also sits on prime development land worth millions.

Dynamite Construction have the deal in the bag, and soon the residents of Cupid’s Way will be forced to sell up and ship out – CEO Michael Andrews, charismatic and super-successful, has certainly never let sentimentality get in the way of business. At least, he hadn’t until he met Evie Stone.

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Jera’s Jamboree : Inspiration + Giveaway! KINGS AND QUEENS by Terry Tyler

JJ is delighted to be able to offer this giveaway to blog readers.

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All the passion and suspense of the Tudor court, but set in the present day

Big thanks to Sharon for featuring a giveaway for my latest book on her highly acclaimed blog ~ I realise that a free ebook is no big deal these days, but I don’t do paperbacks yet, I’m afraid!  (I disagree as I’m sure my blog readers will Terry, a free ebook is EXCITING and it is a big deal 🙂 )

KINGS AND QUEENS tells of the life and loves of charismatic Harry Lanchester and spans the years 1971 – 2007.  The story mirrors that of Henry VIII and his six wives ~ I got the idea whilst lounging in bed enjoying The Tudors on Netflix, one day about a year ago.  I’ve always been fascinated by the different personalities of the six wives, and have seen practically all the TV and film dramatisations of the story.  I loved the research ~ I read so many books about the period and watched all the documentaries I could find.

Harry’s realm is his property developing company, Lanchester Estates, while his ‘wives’ are the twentieth century sisters of their historic counterparts: Anne Boleyn is reincarnated as the gorgeous and highly strung Annette Hever (who does ‘lose her head, but not by the executioner’s sword!), and Henry VIII’s fifth wife with the risqué past, Catherine Howard, lives again in 1999 as Keira Howard, a former lap dancer.

The saga is narrated by each of the six women, in turn, interspersed with short chapters from the point of view of Harry’s lifelong friend, Will Brandon (aka the Duke of Suffolk!).

If you know nothing of this period in history, the book can be read just as a contemporary family drama.  Readers with an interest in the Tudors, though, have very much enjoyed picking up on similarities, references and metaphors. For any non-Tudor fanatics who would like a brief look at the life of Henry VIII before reading, there is a link in the front of the Kindle book to a mini-biography on my blog.

If you would like to read reviews by those who’ve already read the book, please click on the link for Amazon UK or Amazon.com

I’m looking forward to Kings and Queens reaching the top of my TBR! I’m intrigued by how Terry has brought those Tudors into the present day.

About the Author

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Terry Tyler has published seven novels and one collection of short stories on Amazon since she discovered Amazon Kindle nearly three years ago; Kings and Queens is her latest, and she is due to start the sequel to this very soon.  Out this month (cross fingers) is a novella called Round and Round, a light summer read about a fortieth birthday, a guardian angel, and parallel lives!  Terry has a blog on which she writes about all sorts of subjects, and another on the UK Arts Directory, which is based around indie publishing.  Both are widely read.

Blog

 Twitter @TerryTyler4

Author Facebook page

Goodreads

Amazon Author page

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Terry is generously offering two ecopies in the giveaway.

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Click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter.

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Happy Reading!

Jera’s Jamboree : Author Jo Lambert is in my hot seat today!

JJ is delighted to welcome Jo Lambert today.

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Born and raised in rural Wiltshire, Jo Lambert grew up with a love of books and a vivid imagination.  As a child she enjoyed creating her own adventure stories similar to Enid Blyton’s Famous Five.  Writing always stayed with her, but college, work and eventually marriage found it kept very much in the background as a hobby.  In 2009 everything changed when she decided to self-publish a novel she had completed. After When Tomorrow Comes, three other books – Love Lies and Promises, The Ghost of You and Me and Between Today and Yesterday followed.  In 2013 she decided to give up full time work to concentrate fully on her writing.  Her fifth novel The Other Side of Morning was accepted by ThornBerry Publishing UK and is now available in e-book form with a paperback version to follow shortly.

Jo is married and lives in a village on the eastern edge of Bath, Somerset with one small grey feline called Mollie. She shares her husband with his ‘other woman’ Bridget – a 48 year old white MG Midget who keeps him occupied while she is busy writing.

Website

Twitter @Jolambertwriter

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Hi Jo, welcome!

Do you have a most creative time of day?

I set my writing time for most afternoons and usually carry out some pre-planning the evening before so I know exactly what I’m going to be doing as soon as I sit in front of the PC.  However, creativity is not something that can be set into a daily timeframe, it’s always there and tends to strike when you least expect it – and not always in the most convenient of places.  Because of this I usually keep a notebook handy to jot down ideas which may come into my head when it’s not convenient to type it up on the PC.  It could be something as simple as reworking a scene from a different character’s viewpoint, or even a few lines of dialogue I think would be useful.  So the answer to the question is no.  Although I do have planned writing time and I guess you could say that’s my creative time of day, generally it’s there all the time – it never really goes away!

Do you have a favourite place you go to for inspiration or a favourite activity?

Bath is surrounded by amazing countryside.  I live on the east side of the city where in five minutes you can be walking along a country lane where the only traffic you are likely to meet are horse riders or dog walkers.  It’s a great place to take myself, away from the house and any distractions. I can work scenes and dialogue out in my head or even use the time to clear my mind of everything and simply enjoy my surroundings.  Music is incredibly important too.  It’s so embedded in my everyday life – at home, in the car, on my iPod and, of course, on the computer where I have playlists set up to accompany my writing.  I create different sets of playlists for each book I write so that the music choice is relevant to what is going on and helps set the right mood for a particular chapter or scene.

Do you have a theme for your book covers?  Who designs them?

Jane Dixon Smith was recommended to me several years ago when I decided to revamp my covers to give my books a ‘branded’ look.  I knew right from the start the most essential thing was to have one of the principal characters on the front of each book.  I also wanted the covers to have strong colour.  Jane came back with some ideas which I liked and the cover for my first novel When Tomorrow Comes followed shortly after.  I was absolutely delighted and have been using her ever since. Jane has been a dream to work with and I would recommend her to anyone looking for a great cover designer – she is absolutely brilliant!

Joanna Lambert

 

 How do your characters come into existence?  Do they have a bio?

When putting together a new novel I start with an idea and work on it to see whether it’s going to take off in any particular direction.   Below are the basic thoughts I put together for my current WIP Summer Moved On:-

Two people from totally different backgrounds meet and against all odds fall in love. Overcoming all the obstacles in their way, it appears they have a long term future together.  Until one night something terrible happens which sees their relationship destroyed.  Both go their separate ways and build new lives. Five years later they meet again and finding their love has never really gone away begin to build a new life together.  However, their happiness is short lived when someone from the past unexpectedly returns – with devastating consequences.

From that very broad outline I make a list of things I need to know:-

  • Where is the setting for this story?
  • Who are these individuals – names/ages?
  • What do they look like?
  • What are their backgrounds?
  • Where do they meet and under what circumstances?
  • Family histories and friends?
  • What was the reason for their split?
  • Did someone or something cause it?
  • How do they meet again?
  • What have they being doing during their five years apart?
  • What is it that threatens their happiness second time around?
  • How does the story conclude?

Once I have all this information I begin fleshing out the story, creating the other characters and writing up all the bios.

Yes, all my characters have bios.  To bring people to life on paper they must feel real. Below is the basic bio I used for Marco D’Alesandro’s character in my current novel The Other Side of Morning:-

  • Black hair, brown eyes, six feet tall
  • 26 years of age
  • Born in Milan
  • Mother died when he was 18 months old
  • Pre-university education in England
  • Speaks English, Italian and German
  • Has a business degree and a Masters in Food Management.
  • Is based in London, running the European restaurant chain for his father’s international hotel and leisure group.
  • Is successful, taking the D’Alesandro’s flagship restaurant San Raffaello’s from basic Italian bistro to Michelin three star eatery -one of the best dining experiences in the UK’s capital.
  • Is a team player, often turning up at San Raffaello’s and working alongside his staff.
  • Is hard working and committed, aware of his future role as head of D’Alesandro Hotels and Leisure.
  • Has great respect for his father and stepmother and has a very close bond with his half-sister Felica.
  • Is quietly confident and has immense charm
  • Oh and of course he’s great in bed!

So you can see from the above I not only know how the character looks, but the kind of person he will be.  Once the bios are complete I can begin to write as I will have all my characters in my head.  Writing is like having your own film company.  You create the story, cast the characters, choose the setting- and that’s the easy part.  Because from there you take on the director’s role getting inside the heads of all those people and trying to make them work the way you want them to within that story. Quite a challenge sometimes!

Thank you for your in-depth responses Jo!

Wishing you success with all your writing projects.

TheOtherSideOfMorning CoverCharlotte Kendrick’s ill-fated relationship with rock star Christian Rosetti still haunts her. The new man in her life, handsome, rich Italian restaurateur Marco D’Alesandro, is everything she wants. But when beautiful heiress Rossana Caravello arrives to spend time with his family as their house guest she wonders whether history is about to repeat itself. Marco insists he loves her and that he has no interest in their guest, but how can Charlotte believe him when everything about his behaviour around Rossana indicates he is lying? Giving him the benefit of the doubt, Charlotte wonders whether his ruthless stepmother Thérèse may be involved, and decides to find out more about the young heiress. However, far from putting her mind at rest, what she discovers leaves her feeling more unsettled than ever about her future with Marco…

From rural West Somerset to the glorious rolling landscape of Tuscany and the Italian lakes THE OTHER SIDE OF MORNING is a story of love, betrayal, deception and ultimate sacrifice.

|  Amazon Paperback  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Goodreads  |

Jera’s Jamboree review : The Reflections of Queen Snow White by David Meredith

Cover1cFormat: Kindle Edition

File Size: 4074 KB

Print Length: 155 pages

ASIN: B00FLF4JAG

 

What happens when “happily ever after” has come and gone?

On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven’s wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven’s fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White’s own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing:

The king is dead.

The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.

It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what “happily ever after” really means?

Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

Amazon Kindle  |  Goodreads  |

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Beginning with Snow in the throne room who is bereft and in mourning (not even interested in the upcoming wedding of her daughter) through to her discovery of the mirror and subsequent flashbacks, Meredith has written a tale that is dark and compelling.

True to the format of fairy tales, The Reflections of Queen Snow White contain a lesson to learn and a problem to solve which is common to universal experiences.

The mirror reflects the ‘inner’ Snow.  She has to come to terms with her loneliness and remember her strengths.  The flashbacks deal with abandonment and the depravations Snow experienced.  They are all quite dark in nature. This is not a tale for young readers (Snow and Charming’s wedding night comes to mind) just in case my blog readers think fairy tale equates with those light and fluffy stories we have come to expect today.  It is written in the style of the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales (check out National Geographic original 1914 versions).

The writing flows and is beautiful.  I loved the figurative language, for example:

“The world spread out beneath them in helpless submission …”

I was intrigued how Meredith would portray a well-known character from fairy tale after the sparkle had gone.  He has remained true to the original tale (loved that one of the dwarves was still alive and a part of her life!). His exploration of how to deal with grief when the HEA is over (which was inspired by the passing of family members – see my interview from January) has been beautifully executed.

I recommend The Reflections of Queen Snow White for adult readers who are not afraid to look below the surface and confront fears.

Buy it and spread the word

Buy it and spread the word

I would like to thank the author for providing an ecopy in exchange for an honest review.

Author’s website

Facebook

Twitter @DMeredith2013

Jera’s Jamboree review : The Room Beyond by Stephanie Elmas

room beyondFormat: Kindle Edition

File Size: 667 KB

ASIN: B00FJ433QK

 

When Serena begins a new life working for the Hartreve family at 36 Marguerite Avenue she falls in love, not just with its eccentric and alluring inhabitants and their world, but with the house itself. Number 36 is a beautiful Victorian London mansion that has remained in the family for generations. Serena feels that by being here she has escaped the ghosts of her own sad childhood and found a true home, but she soon discovers that behind its gleaming surfaces Marguerite Avenue is plagued by secrets and mystery. Why does such a beautiful tranquil street seem sometimes to shimmer with menace? Is everyone in the family quite who they appear to be? And just what is it that the family is trying to hide from her?

The Room Beyond is a thriller that delves beneath the romance and grandeur of a London house and finds a family haunted by the legacy of past wrongdoings. As the suspense grows and the fog thickens, will Serena be able to give up all that she has come to love? Will she ever escape?

|  Amazon Kindle  |  Goodreads  |

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I have to be honest right from the beginning and say that this story got right beneath my skin.  When I wasn’t reading I was thinking about it and as with all stories that affect me in this way, I dreamt about it too.

Beginning with Serena as she is applying for the nanny job to 4 year old Beth, the atmosphere is perfect.  Arabella, the wife of the Hartreve legacy, is described so that from her actions and expressions we get a real feel for her character.  Actually, this is true for all the characters.  As we get to know the family, it becomes clear that not is all as it seems.  Serena is able to see things she shouldn’t and this casts an eerie quality to life in the house. During Christmas at the family estate, I enjoyed the whole time they stayed there. It was full of intrigue and finding out new things that tied the timelines together.

1892 – Miranda and Tristan’s marriage is shown to be exactly what it is and from the moment neighbour Lucinda Eden attends their dinner party, life changes for them all. Without giving any spoilers, the scenes witnessed during this timeline felt so real – delving into the ‘shadows’ so dark and deep.  In the beginning, Miranda is shown as weak but not only do we find out why, later on she shows her strength. I loved the conversation she had with her sister in the park.

The plot is well paced and in each timeline, we know just enough to try to work out where the plot is taking us.  I enjoyed Elmas’ writing style.  She creates atmosphere with great effect so that I felt the darkness myself.

As I’ve said, the characters are fabulous in each timeline.  The character who intrigued me the most is Victorian East End mystic/hypnotist Walter Balanchine. Walter has an effect on both timelines.  At first I thought he was a sinister character but changed my mind when we see him with Miranda on the Hartreve estate.  I notice that Elmas’ next novel centres around this enigmatic character and I can’t wait to read about his story!

Even though The Room Beyond is a ‘dark’ read – a horror story – there are moments of love … even if they are not what they seem.  I loved the intrigue, the mystery, the history, the horror and the legacy.  What an amazing read!

Buy it but be loathe to share your copy ... it's a keeper!

Buy it but be loathe to share your copy … it’s a keeper!

I would like to thank the author for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Author Links

Website

Twitter @StephanieElmas

Facebook

 

Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview David Meredith

I’m delighted to be welcoming David Meredith to Jera’s Jamboree today.

David Meredith is an emerging Indy Author and veteran educator based in the Nashville area. Before returning to the US two years ago he spent nearly a decade on and off between 1999 and 2010 teaching English in Northern Japan.

Author Links

Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/DavidMeredithWriting

Website:

http://davidmeredithwriting.com/

Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18780192-the-reflections-of-queen-snow-white?ac=1

Rising Shadow Reviews:

http://www.risingshadow.net/library?action=book&book_id=44449

Twitter:

@DMeredith2013

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Hi David,

Please summarise The Reflections of Queen Snow White in 20 words or less.

About self-reflection, grief, and learning to pick up the pieces and move on when the “happily ever after” ends.

What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?

Back in 2006 when I originally wrote the source short story, in the space of about three or four months, both of my grandfathers died unexpectedly. During the same period, my wife also lost a grandmother and a grandfather, so there were a lot of funerals going on over a very short amount of time. Now funerals, by their very nature lead to a certain introspection about one’s own mortality, but particularly with the sudden passing of both grandfathers and, as a consequence, how hard my grandmothers took their deaths, it led me to wonder on their behalf – “So… What now?” 

They both had wonderful, loving relationships – many long, happy years together (over 60). In the case of my maternal grandmother and grandfather, they had never loved anyone else, having married straight out of high school. There was no question in my mind, nor indeed anyone who knew them, that theirs had most certainly been a real-life “happily ever after”. Now it was over. It made me wonder, “When your life has been so closely tied up with and centered upon one other person for so long, how do you pick up the pieces and move on?” That was the original kernel of the idea for The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

If you could choose to be one of your characters in your book which would you be? Why?

For this particular work, it’s a bit of a difficult question, since at its base it is really sort of a character study of an elderly and grieving Snow White. The story is almost exclusively from her perspective. Having said that, I suppose the member of the supporting cast that stands out to me most is really The Mirror, which is the vehicle Snow White employs to sort through her get her through her emotional journey. I’m not sure I’d want to be The Mirror though. He spent an awful lot of long boring years just hanging on the wall of a storage room!  🙂

What inspired you to write?

I’ve always had a little bit of the “writing bug” I guess. As far back as elementary school I was writing little stories on notebook paper and binding them with marker-illustrated shirt-boards. I wrote a lot of crappy fan-fic in High School. I think I have always considered myself a writer, but an author… Now that’s a different story. I actually did not feel comfortable characterizing myself an author until very recently – shortly after the release of this book actually. There was so much weight to the term.

When I think of the word “author” I have visions of Poe and Emerson or even Steven King or Tom Clancy. It frankly felt a little pompous to insinuate that I belonged among their mighty literary company, which is what I felt like the word “author” implied. However, once I really began promoting my work in earnest, once I had the ISBN number and the web site and reviews coming in and requests going out on a daily basis, I really started to feel like my writing had suddenly ceased to be a hobby and instead was now a vocation and priority of mine. That’s when I really began to feel like an author.

Who designed your book cover?

My only common expectation is that I want them to look good. After all, you can’t judge a book by its cover, but most people do. For The Reflections of Queen Snow White, the artwork was done by Matt Hughs, an artist operating out of the Atlanta Area and the cover design by Sean Marmon, working out of Takasaki, Japan.

How do your characters come into existence?  Do they have a bio?

In general, yes my characters have a bio or back story that I use as a reference, although I rarely write it into the actual text. I might reveal bits here and there, but I tend to think that throwing in a two page back story every time you introduce a new character REALLY slows down the pacing of the story.

As far as The Reflections of Queen Snow White is concerned though, I think most people already know her bio and that is honestly a big reason I chose her as the main character in the first place. I understand upon initial examination, she might seem a little bit vanilla as a choice. After all, she is probably the first faerie tale princess that comes to our minds when we think of the faerie tale genre. She’s been nearly exploited and merchandised to death by the Disney Company. There have already been almost innumerable retellings and riffs on her story in modern media – TV, movies, other novels, short stories, and even an old Rammstein music video. Who doesn’t know Snow White?

However, I also felt like this intimate familiarity we all have with her actually works perfectly in helping the reader connect with her older self in The Reflections of Queen Snow White. To me, it felt rather like catching up with an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in years and years. Just like those friends from grade school or university, I still care about her.

Are there any self-publishing tips you could share with new writers that have worked well for you or was there something difficult you overcame?

The biggest hurdle for any self-published author is getting noticed. Technology is such today that anyone CAN self-publish although not everyone should. It is very easy for your work to get lost in the flood or for people to still be skeptical of your work’s quality, independent of the work itself but rather just because it was self-published. I think the single best thing I have done is requesting reviews from book blogs. It has been a lot of work. I’ve literally sent hundreds of review request e-mail with about an 8-10% positive response rate, but the positive reviews I’ve gotten so far have really helped with sales, exposure, and building an author platform that I can tap into with other, future works as well.

What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?

Having other people read and enjoy my work. I’m not making a lot of money doing this yet. Maybe I never will, but when a new Five-Star Review on Amazon or Goodreads pops up, it feels really, REALLY good! I was probably the most pleased with the Five-Star Review Medal that The Reflections of Snow White won from Reader’s Favorites and the 5-Star review it got from the Seattle PI newspaper. Small successes like those make all of the effort worthwhile.

What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far?

I must admit to enjoying the process by and large, but doing all of this promotion myself is VERY time consuming. It is seriously cutting into my actual writing time. That part is frustrating. It’s a bit of a catch 22. If you don’t spend a lot of time promoting your work, no one will ever see it, but if you don’t write you stagnate as an author and can’t get anything new produced to promote. Then once you include work and family in the picture as well, it is extremley hard to juggle everything.

What tips do you have for new writers?

First, middle and last, mind your craft. Always seek to improve. If your work isn’t good. If it’s loaded with typos, grammar errors and plot holes, if your story is convoluted and characters shallow, nothing else you do will matter. Share your writing with people you trust not to just stroke your ego. Accept criticism graciously and be doubly critical of yourself. Sadly, being a competent writer does not guarantee success. However, it IS a mandatory first step.

Thank you for sharing with us today David.  Congratulations on the awards and the five star review in the newspaper.  Wishing you success with this and all your writing projects.

Cover1cWhat happens when “happily ever after” has come and gone?

On the eve of her only daughter, Princess Raven’s wedding, an aging Snow White finds it impossible to share in the joyous spirit of the occasion. The ceremony itself promises to be the most glamorous social event of the decade. Snow White’s castle has been meticulously scrubbed, polished and opulently decorated for the celebration. It is already nearly bursting with jubilant guests and merry well-wishers. Prince Edel, Raven’s fiancé, is a fine man from a neighboring kingdom and Snow White’s own domain is prosperous and at peace. Things could not be better, in fact, except for one thing:

The king is dead.

The queen has been in a moribund state of hopeless depression for over a year with no end in sight. It is only when, in a fit of bitter despair, she seeks solitude in the vastness of her own sprawling castle and climbs a long disused and forgotten tower stair that she comes face to face with herself in the very same magic mirror used by her stepmother of old.

It promises her respite in its shimmering depths, but can Snow White trust a device that was so precious to a woman who sought to cause her such irreparable harm? Can she confront the demons of her own difficult past to discover a better future for herself and her family? And finally, can she release her soul-crushing grief and suffocating loneliness to once again discover what “happily ever after” really means?

Only time will tell as she wrestles with her past and is forced to confront The Reflections of Queen Snow White.

Available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Reflections-Queen-Snow-White-ebook/dp/B00FLF4JAG/

Would you like to review The Reflections of Queen Snow White?

Complete the form below and JJ will share with David Meredith

Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Elizabeth McKenna

I’m delighted to be welcoming Elizabeth McKenna to Jera’s Jamboree today.

Elizabeth McKenna works as a full-time technical writer/editor for a large software company. Though her love of books reaches back to her childhood, she had never read romance novels until one Christmas when her sister gave her the latest bestseller by Nora Roberts. She was hooked from page one (actually, she admits it was the first love scene). She had always wanted to write fiction, so when a psychic told her she would write a book, she felt obligated to give it a try. She combined her love of history, romance and a happy ending to write her debut novel Cera’s Place. Her short story, The Gypsy Casts a Spell, is available for free on her website http://elizabethmckenna.com/. She hopes you will enjoy her latest novel, Venice in the Moonlight, as much as others have enjoyed her previous works.

Elizabeth lives in Wisconsin with her understanding husband, two beautiful daughters, and sassy Labrador. When she isn’t writing, working, or being a mom, she’s sleeping.

Twitter @ElizaMcKenna

Facebook Author Page

Cera’s Place Facebook Page

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Hi Elizabeth,

Please summarise Venice in the Moonlight in 20 words or less. 

A young widow discovers her father’s murderer is related to her lover and must decide between vengeance, forgiveness and love.

If you could choose to be one of your characters in your books which would you be? and why?

I would be Cera in my first novel. She’s a strong and feisty woman who gets to love a rugged cowboy/soldier type of a guy. I had Viggo Mortensen’s character in Lord of the Rings in my head while I wrote it. Yummy…

Did you do any research for your book?  What resources did you use? 

I have done extensive research for both of my books (Cera’s Place and Venice in the Moonlight). Usually, it is info off of the internet (historical sites, etc). I study maps of the setting and old photos or paintings. For my latest novel, I read Casanova’s memoirs and the book A Venetian Affair by Andrea Di Robilant. I also use an etymology dictionary to ensure I use words available during the time period.

Did you travel to any places?

So far, I have picked settings that I have traveled to and found romantic. I think it helped inspire me

Are you a panster or a plotter?

For my first book, Cera’s Place, I was a pantser. I just wrote and let the characters lead me. Before I wrote my second novel, Venice in the Moonlight, I studied story structure and plotted almost everything out. I liked that method better. I still changed things around – added and subtracted scenes – but I always knew where the building blocks needed to be.

Are there any tips you could share with new writers that have worked well for you? 

I think having multiple people who aren’t close friends/relatives critique your novel is essential. Professional editing is the key to growing and improving as a writer. I consider the editors that I’ve used worth every penny. I learned so much from them. I am a technical writer/editor during the day and I know you cannot edit your own work.

Have you done any creative writing/writing courses that you would recommend to others?

I learned a lot about story structure from the book Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. The author also has a blog www.storyfix.com.

What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?

The best part has definitely been connecting with readers and writers around the world. Sometimes, I get so caught up in the horrible things happening in the news, but then someone I’ve never met in person will do something nice for me and it will restore my faith in people.

I agree with you Elizabeth … about the news AND how others we’ve never met can enrich our lives!

Thank you for sharing with us today.

Venice-in-the-Moonlight-EbookCOVERA Story of Vengeance, Forgiveness, and Love

Considered useless by his cold-hearted father, Nico Foscari, eldest son of one of the founding families in Venice, hides his pain behind gambling, drinking and womanizing.

After her husband’s untimely demise, Marietta Gatti returns to her hometown of Venice in hopes of starting a new life and finding the happiness that was missing in her forced marriage.

When Fate throws them together, friendship begins to grow into love until Marietta learns a Foscari family secret that may have cost her father his life. Now, she must choose between vengeance, forgiveness, and love.

Elizabeth McKenna’s latest novel takes you back to eighteenth century Carnival, where lovers meet discreetly, and masks make everyone equal.

Venice in the Moonlight Ebook: $.99 (US) at Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Venice in the Moonlight Paperback: $6.99 (US) at CreateSpace and Amazon

Cera’s Place E-book: $.99 (US) at AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwordsAppleKoboSony and Diesel.

Cera’s Place Paperback: $10.99 (US) at CreateSpaceAmazon and Infibeam.com.

The Gypsy Casts a Spell (short story): Available for free