Jera’s Jamboree : Characters and Settings ~ Follow a Star by Christine Stovell plus Giveaway

JJ is delighted to be welcoming Christine today.

Find out what surprised Christine about her hero … and carry on reading for a giveaway.

Christine Stovell

Winning a tin of chocolate in a national essay competition at primary school inspired Christine Stovell to become a writer! After graduating from the University of East Anglia, she took various jobs in the public sector writing research papers and policy notes by day and filling up her spare drawers with embryonic novels by night.  Losing her dad to cancer made her realise that if she was ever going to get a novel published she had to put her writing first. Setting off, with her husband, from a sleepy seaside resort on the east coast in a vintage wooden boat to sail halfway round Britain provided the inspiration for her debut novel Turning the Tide and Follow a Star. Turning the Tide was a top 100 Bestseller with Amazon Kindle and spent months in the Top 10 Chart for Adult Contemporary Romance. Christine has also published numerous short stories and articles. Christine lives in Wales. Her novels include: Turning the Tide, Move Over Darling and Follow a Star. She also has a novella published with Choc Lit Lite called Only True in Fairy Tales.


Hello! It’s lovely to be here, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to talk about a book that was a joy to write.

You’re very welcome Christine. 

Follow a Star is set in the present and begins with my heroine, May Starling, running away to sea in a vintage wooden boat bound for Little Spitmarsh, the location for my novel, Turning the Tide.  Little Spitmarsh is a fictitious seaside town, an amalgam of the faded coastal resorts and harbours I visited with my husband when we sailed halfway round Britain, but its inhabitants are very real to me. I missed the place and the people when I left it behind so I couldn’t resist returning to see how some of the familiar characters were doing. That said, you don’t have to have read Turning the Tide to read Follow a Star as both May and the book’s hero, Bill, are completely new characters

My first mental image of May was of her hoofing it down a lonely road with a rucksack slung over her shoulder, but I had no idea what she was running away from until I was a third of the way through the first draft.  I liked May from the start, she’s funny and self-deprecating, but she’s certainly got some baggage and felt that I wanted to give her a hug before the emotional journey ahead.  The biggest surprise to me though was when my hero, Bill, stepped out in front of May and I saw his flame-coloured hair! I never expected to be writing about a red-haired hero, let alone fall for him in such a big way. Sure he can be bit quick to pass judgement at times, but he’s got a lot on his plate worrying about his uncle, who’s very ill, and trying to keep his building business afloat so I think that’s understandable. He works hard, he’s kind, very loyal and has, erm, some attractive hidden assets.

My first-hand experience of the tensions that can arise in the confined space of a small boat, made it the perfect place to put two people who don’t need any further complications in their lives.  By the time May and Bill tie up at Watling’s, the old boatyard in Little Spitmarsh (which gave me another good reason to revisit some favourite characters from Turning the Tide) the heat between them is almost boiling over.  But unfortunately for them, reaching dry land means their troubles have only just begun and they’ve both got some choppy waters to negotiate before they can find safe harbour.  As for me? My second trip to Little Spitmarsh wasn’t the end of the journey either – somehow I just know I’ll be back!

Love the sound of the heat between May and Bill 🙂

Wishing you success with all your writing projects Christine.

FAS AppleSometimes your heart’s the only navigator you need

May Starling’s had enough of her demanding career and even more demanding ex. Responding to a ‘crew-wanted’ ad, she follows her dreams of escape only to find herself at sea with red-haired Bill Blythe.

Bill warns May that close-quartered living can create a boiling pot of emotions, but even May is surprised by the heat building up inside the vintage wooden boat. And when May and Bill tie up at Watling’s Boatyard in Little Spitmarsh, May’s determined to test her new-found feelings on dry land.

But May’s dream of escaping her former life is in danger of being swept away when several unwelcome blasts from the past follow her ashore, all seemingly hell-bent on reminding her it’s never that easy to clear the decks.

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TurningTheTide:Layout 1

All’s fair in love and war? Depends on who’s making the rules. Harry Watling has spent the past five years keeping her father s boat yard afloat, despite its dying clientele. Now all she wants to do is enjoy the peace and quiet of her sleepy backwater. So when property developer Matthew Corrigan wants to turn the boat yard into an upmarket housing complex for his exotic new restaurant, it s like declaring war. And the odds seem to be stacked in Matthew’s favour. He s got the colourful locals on board, his hard-to-please girlfriend is warming to the idea and he has the means to force Harry s hand. Meanwhile, Harry has to fight not just his plans but also her feelings for the man himself. Then a family secret from the past creates heartbreak for Harry, and neither of them is prepared for what happens next …

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Publishers Choc Lit are generously sponsoring a giveway.

One lucky blog reader in the UK could be reading a paperback copy of Follow a Star.

Easy entry via the Rafflecopter link below.

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Jera’s Jamboree : A Debut is a Very Special Thing ~ Kathryn Freeman Guest Post plus #giveaway

JJ is delighted to welcome Kathryn.

Kathryn is sharing with us her feelings about her debut paperback.

Keep reading after the guest post to enter the giveaway!


Kathryn was born in Wallingford, England but has spent most of her life living in a village near Windsor. After studying pharmacy in Brighton she began her working life as a retail pharmacist. She quickly realised that trying to decipher doctors’ handwriting wasn’t for her and left to join the pharmaceutical industry where she spent twenty happy years working in medical communications. In 2011, backed by her family, she left the world of pharmaceutical science to begin life as a self-employed writer, juggling the two disciplines of medical writing and romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero …

With two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to bother buying a card again this year (yes, he does) the romance in her life is all in her head. Then again, her husband’s unstinting support of her career change goes to prove that love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes can come in many disguises.

Kathryn’s novels include: Too Charming and Do Opposites Attract?





Firstly, a big thank you for kindly having me on your blog to discuss my debut paperback, Do Opposites Attract?

A debut book is a very special thing. Now I know why sportsmen are moved to kiss the trophy they win. When I opened a parcel from Choc Lit to find a copy of Do Opposites Attract?, I instinctively went to kiss it. I might not have won a championship, but there was plenty of sweat behind that final book – and buckets of pride on my achievement.

I couldn’t have been more delighted when I saw the cover for the very first time (a huge thank you to the talented Berni Stevens who designs covers for Choc Lit).

My first thought was – it’s pink. I’m a total sucker for all things pink. The walls of my study are pink, my handbag is pink, ninety percent of my wardrobe is pink. Maybe it’s because I live in a male dominated household – or maybe it’s because pink is such a vibrant, happy, romantic colour.

Coming down from my pink high, I took in the fabulous contrast of elegant stilettos and pearls next to clumpy workman boots and a stethoscope. That’s it, I remember thinking. She’s caught the very essence of the book.

DOA_front small

Do Opposites Attract? features Mitch McBride and Brianna Worthington – two people from totally different backgrounds who meet in the harsh and emotionally charged environment of a refugee camp. They couldn’t be more opposite. Think tough versus genteel, rough compared to elegant, gruff and distant as opposed to warm and friendly. Mitch McBride grew up on the wrong side of the tracks but now works as a doctor for a medical charity. It’s a place where his background doesn’t matter – until the patron’s daughter comes to visit, that is. Brianna Worthington with her class, her wealth and her supreme self-confidence, rubs at an unhealed wound. She’s a sharp reminder of the bleakness of his own roots. He’ll do as he’s promised, show her what the charity does, but he’s going to keep his distance. No matter how beautiful she is.

What he doesn’t reckon on though, is Brianna’s determination to get what she wants. Surprisingly, she finds herself wanting Mitch. First she has to prove to him, and herself, that she isn’t a spoilt little rich girl but a strong woman with compassion and purpose. Of course it would help if she didn’t feel so totally out of her depth in the refugee camp. And if for once, just once, she could do something useful instead of getting in the way.

Do Opposites Attract? Well, they do in this story. But will the attraction last? Sorry, I’m not telling 🙂

Thank you so much for having me. If you want to find out more about the story, it’s available on Amazon.

 Wishing you success with Do Opposites Attract? Kathryn and all your writing projects.

DOA_front smallThere’s no such thing as a class divide – until you’re on separate sides.

Brianna Worthington has beauty, privilege and a very healthy trust fund. The only hardship she’s ever witnessed has been on the television. Yet when she’s invited to see how her mother’s charity, Medic SOS, is dealing with the aftermath of a tornado in South America, even Brianna is surprised when she accepts.

Mitch McBride, Chief Medical Officer, doesn’t need the patron’s daughter disrupting his work. He’s from the wrong side of the tracks and has led life on the edge, but he’s not about to risk losing his job for a pretty face.

Poles apart, dynamite together, but can Brianna and Mitch ever bridge the gap separating them?

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Publishers Choc Lit are generously sponsoring  a giveaway.  

One lucky blog reader in the UK could be reading a paperback copy of Do Opposites Attract?

Easy entry via the Rafflecopter link below.

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Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Jules Wake plus excerpt

JJ is delighted to be welcoming Jules Wake today.

Jules Wake_portrait

Writer of fun, contemporary romance. My debut novel Talk To Me published by award winning publisher, Choc Lit, is out now on Kindle and paperback.

From an early age I’ve been an avid reader and started writing when I ran out of books from my favourite authors. In the fantastic digital world we now live in that would never happen.


Twitter @Juleswake

Author Facebook Page


Hi Jules, welcome to JJ!

Hi Sharon

Thank you very much having me on your blog and interviewing me.  I think we share many of the same views on our dear friend Mr Gove! I work in a junior school too … thankfully not as a teacher!

If you had to summarize the book for the readers here …

Talk To Me is the story of Olivia who has been in love with Daniel forever, they’re great friends but one night, inexplicably, he goes off with her flatmate Emily.  In a bid to get over her feelings for Daniel, Olivia goes on speed-date and finds herself in a much worse predicament.  Who is going to rescue her now.

Please tell us about the characters in Talk to Me.

Olivia, the heroine, is a down to earth, sensible, natural leader who gets on well with everyone.  She’s a bit of a golden girl except when it comes to relationships.   Having caught one boyfriend in flagrante delicto, she’s not about to trust anyone with her heart again, unless she’s damn sure they deserve it.  Her moral compass is set due north and she assumes those around are as honest and trustworthy as she is.  Unfortunately she learns the hard way that this isn’t always the case.  She also suffers very badly from car sickness!

Emily, Olivia’s flatmate, is gorgeous, blonde, petite and has a double D chest she’s not afraid to flaunt.  Sadly she’s horribly insecure and if there’s an easy way out, you can guarantee she’ll be first in the queue to take it.  Fiercely jealous of Olivia, she can be an absolute cow sometimes and makes some incredibly rude comments which quite frankly take your breath away.  Typically Olivia puts up with her because she knows Emily came from a very unstable background.

Kate, is possibly my favourite character and deserves a story to herself.  She’s Olivia’s sister, outspoken, bossy, opinionated and wedded to the high life.   Luxury and quality are her mantras in life and she’ll settle for nothing less, even if it doesn’t necessarily make her happy.

Last but absolutely not least is Daniel, loyal, intelligent, warm, caring and a little bit haunted by the aftershocks of his parent’s marriage break-up. An endearing chip in one tooth is all that spoils his perfect all American teeth, a sporting wound that makes him ever so slightly less than perfect.

Was there anything about your protagonist that surprised you?

What surprised me the most was how persistent Olivia and Daniel were?  Once I had them in my head, they wouldn’t let go.

Originally the book was called Dislodging Daniel, he was supposed to be a selfish sod who played cricket constantly and she was supposed to be a bit of doormat who learned how to stand up for herself.

Somehow the two characters took root and did their own thing, which meant the story unfolded very differently.   He turned out to be a really lovely guy, just going out with the wrong girl and she turned out to be a good, solid character who needed to learn to play by other people’s rules to get what she wanted.

What scene did you most enjoy writing? Why?

The speed dating scene was probably my favourite.  Obviously some of the dates are going to be awful, so you can have a huge amount of fun with their characters.  The character of Anthony was based on someone I once saw on University Challenge who was gorgeous to look at but had an utterly loathsome personality.

During the speed date he demonstrates passive rudeness in the extreme and it was great fun writing the dialogue between him and Olivia.  She just keeps putting her foot in it and making things worse and worse.

What scene was the hardest to write? Why?

I think the final scene was the hardest to write, you want to wrap things up in a satisfactory way but where do you stop?  Readers want them to have the happy ever after and see a glimpse of that … how much do you give them and if you don’t give them enough will they feel cheated.   It was also a bit sad saying goodbye to these people whose lives you’ve been totally absorbed in for the last however many months.

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

Olivia would probably be Katherine Hegl because she always comes across as an intelligent actress and I loved her as the wise cracking, Stephanie Plum in the adaption of Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money.

Emilia Fox could play Emily but would have to be much cattier of course.

Kate is a much younger Kristin Scott Thomas, she has that aristocratic decisiveness about her.

Although he’s not actor, now that his rugby and dancing career is over, I’m sure Ben Cohen would be up for playing Daniel.

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

Don’t trust the Tom Cruise look-alike

And why? That would be telling!


A question for readers

Sometimes Emily says some outrageous things, they’re so shocking Olivia and Daniel often can’t quite believe it, so don’t react?

A friend of mine told me that her mother had told her she’d be quite attractive but unfortunately her ears were in the wrong place. What’s the worst thing anyone has said to you?



Although I really didn’t want to travel home with Daniel and Emily, it was the most logical thing to do. Perhaps I could doze off in the back without feeling sick. I knew it was a hopeless wish.

‘But, Daniel …’ said Emily, her voice quavering with the unfairness of it as we left the hotel reception. She wasn’t happy that he’d relegated her to the back seat.

‘If Olivia goes in the back seat we’ll have to stop every few minutes because she’ll feel like throwing up. Believe me, we have history.’

I winced. Did he have to say that? Emily was twitchy enough about our long- standing friendship without being reminded of it at every turn.

‘We’ll be lucky to make it back without at least one stop as it is.’

I felt like the troublesome family dog.

The tree-shaded car park was almost deserted when we got to Daniel’s Audi, most of the wedding guests having already departed.

I climbed into the passenger seat, feeling guilty.

‘Got your two pences?’ asked Daniel in a clipped voice, as he slid into the driver’s seat.

‘No … good idea.’

He beat me to it, producing two shiny copper coins from his wallet before I could open my bag. ‘Here you go. Don’t spend it all at once.’ He handed them over, with the semblance of a smile and started the engine.

I watched as he put the car into gear, his tanned, capable forearm scant inches from my knee and then held onto my breath a second too long as he put his arm across the back of my seat to reverse out of the car park.

I closed my eyes momentarily.

It wasn’t fair. With his tousled blond hair, twinkling blue eyes and that endearing slightly chipped front tooth which showed when he smiled, why did he have to be so damned irresistible.

The first time I met him I’d gone all gooey.

There’d been a card on the Student Union noticeboard: Available – lift share to Maidenhead area. Half petrol costs. It didn’t say people with chronic carsickness need not apply.

When he pulled up in his tiny Mini he had to ask twice if I was Olivia. My tongue had glued itself to the roof of my mouth. Wearing loose, faded jeans and a Diesel T-shirt, he’d unfolded his six-foot frame from the car and given my hand a firm shake. At that point I’d have said yes if he’d asked if I was Edna from Edinburgh.

Him being the perfect gentleman was an added bonus. He stopped three times on that first journey to let me heave up my breakfast.

You’d think I wouldn’t see him for dust after that but no, he kept offering me lifts, cementing a strong friendship. Let’s face it, you cover an awful lot of ground in a three hour car journey and you can’t help but love a guy who brings you a new travel sickness remedy to try each time. We went through wristbands, Joy-Rides, ginger biscuits – which I later discovered are for morning sickness – and mint tea before discovering that, for me, clutching copper coins works best.

TTM_packshot copyOlivia and Daniel certainly aren’t talking the language of love …

Olivia has been in love with Daniel forever but, despite her best efforts, they’ve never been able to get it together. Their relationship has always been a series of mixed messages and misunderstandings and the final straw comes when Daniel mysteriously starts dating her flatmate, Emily. Hurt and confused, Olivia resolves to forget her heartache with a spot of speed dating. After all, what could possibly go wrong?
One crazy stalker later and Olivia’s life is becoming increasingly strange and scary. Can she rely on Daniel to step in when events take a terrifying turn or will their communication breakdown ultimately result in tragedy?

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Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Jane Lovering

I’m delighted to be welcoming Jane to JJ today.

In August 2012 I reviewed Vampire State of Mind (the first book in the series) and the second book, Falling Apart, was published in May.

Jane with award copy

Jane Lovering was born in Devon but, following extradition procedures, now lives in Yorkshire.  She has five children, four cats, two dogs and doesn’t believe in housework so the the bacteria and dust are approaching sentience and now rank among the pets.  Incidentally, she doesn’t believe in ironing either, and the children all learned self-defensive cookery at early ages.  She works in a local school and also teaches creative writing, which are extreme ways of avoiding the washing up.  Jane is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and has a first class honours degree in creative writing.

Jane writes romantic comedies which are often described as ‘quirky’.  One day she’s going to find out what that means.

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

Well I wouldn’t want to be one of the vampires, they’re all so broody and obsessed with doing the Right Thing, except Zan, who’s just obsessed… I think I’d like to be Liam, my heroine’s sidekick in Falling Apart.  He’s sensible and down to earth and in charge of the biscuits, so…yes, given my own fondness for a well-turned HobNob, I think I’d aim to be the bloke with the biscuit tin.

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

Well, apart from eating biscuits, I usually find that I get most inspired when I am as far as possible from any medium on which I can record my fabulously inspired ideas.  Out walking the dogs is one.  I walk along and leave the dogs largely to their own devices (it’s fine, they are mostly well behaved), muttering to myself and practicing dialogue.  It helps that everyone in the village already considers me to be the far side of bonkers.  I also get terrific inspiration in the shower.  These has resulted in me being possibly the fittest and cleanest author you will ever meet.

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

Both the covers for the books in my Vampires of York series have a ‘theme’.  Vampire State of Mind has York Minster all blood red and outlined with ivy; York Minster features in the book as the place where the Dead Run statues chase our heroine, and Falling Apart’s cover has Whitby Abbey in an eye-catching purple with more ivy.  There is a big denouement at Whitby in the book, where the Abbey plays a role, so it’s very apt and also makes a very atmospheric cover!  The covers are designed, as are most of the Choc Lit covers, by the lovely Berni Stevens, who is massively talented and always manages to capture the ‘spirit’ of the book on the cover.

Plus they look great side by side on any bookshelf.

Are you a panster or a plotter?

I am a pantser to a disgusting degree.  In fact (and I shall whisper this, because it distresses some people), I was so pantsy whilst writing Falling Apart, that I actually started it, realised that the story wasn’t working, and deleted 30,000 words.  Then I had to go back to the drawing board and start again.  In some ways this was a good thing, because I’d ‘written myself back in’.  Vampires of York is my first ever attempt at a series and I was having trouble getting my head back into the Alternate York where I’d set the first book.

Also, Falling Apart follows the same cast of characters, and I realised I needed to get back ‘into’ them, which the 30,000 words helped me to do.  After that, I just sort of wrote things, which seemed to work.

I start out with characters, in all my books.  I know the people, and I know roughly what needs to happen, and I usually have an end scene in mind.  The rest is all the work of my subconscious, I just sit back, eat biscuits and look at pictures of kittens, while my subconscious does the hard bits.

 What’s is in the future for the series?

Aha, you are trying to trick me now!  I’ve just confessed to being a ‘pantser’ and now you are trying to get me to admit I have some vague idea of what happens next!  I see your plan!

Actually, I do have some ideas…most of which I will not reveal here because..well, I’m not entirely sure what they are yet, but rest assured, by the time I write the third in the series, I will.  I do know that it involves a national threat, Jess, Zan and a werewolf on the North York Moors, and everybody on the run.  Any more than that and you’ll have to apply to my subconscious.  In writing, it’s very strict about that.

 What is your WIP?

Actually you’ve hit the jackpot here, because there are two.  One is just completed, except for the tweaking, and the other is just started.  The finished one is called I Don’t Want to Talk About It, and is about a woman who is writing a book about grave fashions (that’s the style of gravestones and inscriptions, not the clothes people are buried in) and running away from her editor, and the other is called Crush, where our heroine is an introspective girl who is desperately in love with the man who runs a Historic House.  This one features falconry and tea shops, which are two of my major loves.

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

 I work in a school, where I’m a Science Technician, and, as you can probably imagine, there are quite a lot of people around me most of the time.  Everyone is massively supportive of my writing and anyone who catches me at the photocopier (where, unscientifically, I spend a lot of my time – seriously, you would not believe the amount of photocopying which goes on in schools) asks after the writing.  I work with a lovely team of people who don’t mind me bouncing ideas off them and, in extreme cases, practicing things.  There is a smoke bomb in Hubble Bubble which was trialled quite extensively up in the Science Department… (I remember that smoke bomb in the story!)

Then there’s my local chapter of the RNA, the Yorkshire Terriers, who are tremendous fun, very supportive and a general all round bunch of Good Eggs. Plus we have wonderful arguments about the necessity of man-titty on covers, which I find fabulously encouraging…

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

Oh, far and away it has to be winning the Romantic Novel of the Year with Please Don’t Stop the Music in 2012. My first book with Choc Lit, and, incidentally, a book that got turned down by loads of other publishers – and it won!  I still get little moments of shivery giggles about all that.  Although I fear I did make the most disgraceful speech, so I’m probably never allowed to win anything else ever again.

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

I’m not sure there has been a ‘worst part’ really.  It’s writing, it’s not alligator wrestling or working down a mine – I can do it in my bed, in my pyjamas, with a stack of biscuits to hand, and there’s not many jobs you can say that about, really.  Oh, there are always set backs (see above, re deleted 30,000 words) and bad reviews and a lack of ideas and everything, but compared to working on a trawler off the Dogger bank in February…it’s not so bad.  Although I’ve never worked on a trawler, I imagine it’s not all salty shanties and lying on deck drinking Tizer.  I stand to be corrected, of course.

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

 If you want to write, write.  Don’t imagine it’s your gateway to fame and fortune and TV appearances though, write because you have to, because you can’t not write.  And finish what you write.  The world is full enough of first chapters, and it’s only through actually writing a novel that you find out how characterisation works, and plot arcs and growth and things.  Practice, practice.  And read too, everything you can find, not just in your chosen genre but crime and biographies and sci fi and everything else.  You can read my books too, if you like.  No pressure.

Thanks for being in my hot seat today Jane.

Wishing you success with all your writing projects.

9781781891131In the mean streets of York, the stakes just got higher – and even pointier.

Jessica Grant liaises with Otherworlders for York Council so she knows that falling in love with a vampire takes a leap of faith. But her lover Sil, the City Vampire in charge of Otherworld York, he wouldn’t run out on her, would he? He wouldn’t let his demon get the better of him. Or would he?

Sil knows there’s a reason for his bad haircut, worse clothes and the trail of bleeding humans in his wake. If only he could remember exactly what he did before someone finds him and shoots him on sight.

With her loyalties already questioned for defending zombies, the Otherworlders no one cares about, Jess must choose which side she’s on, either help her lover or turn him in. Human or Other? Whatever she decides, there’s a high price to pay – and someone to lose.

Paperback includes a free digital copy – details within the paperback.

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Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Henriette Gyland

JJ is welcoming Henriette to the blog today

Henriette Gyland_low res colour

Henriette Gyland grew up in Northern Denmark but moved to England after she graduated from the University of Copenhagen. She wrote her first book when she was ten, a tale of two orphan sisters running away to Egypt, fortunately to be adopted by a perfect family they meet on the Orient Express.

Between that first literary exploit and now, she has worked in the Danish civil service, for a travel agent, a consultancy company, in banking, hospital administration, and for a county court before setting herself up as a freelance translator and linguist. Henriette recently began to pursue her writing in earnest winning the New Talent Award in 2011 from the Festival of Romance and a Commended from the Yeovil Literary Prize.

Henriette lives in London.


Twitter @henrigyland


Hi Henri,

Please summarise The Highwayman’s Daughter in 20 words or less.

Hounslow, 1768. When a female thief holds up the carriage of a local nobleman, she gets more than she bargained for.

What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?

I love the actress Kate Beckinsale in her role as vampire slayer in the film “Van Helsing” and wanted to write a historical novel with a heroine who has some of the same gutsiness.

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

I had a lot of help from Hounslow reference library. The novel is set on Hounslow Heath as I imagined it would have looked in 1768, but because most of the Heath is gone now (part of it lies buried underneath the runway of Heathrow airport), I had to use old maps and first-hand accounts written by contemporaries in order to build up a picture of the place.

Do you have a most creative time of day?

The morning between 10am and 1pm is my best time to write. After lunch I tend to do my admin, or translation work (the day job).

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

I like to sit in the garden and write using pencil and paper. It has to be a particular kind of lined paper, with no margin and no holes, and I only use HB pencils. If it’s cold, I wrap a blanket around me or a cardigan.

Which authors have influenced your writing?

Charles Dickens, Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and Nora Roberts, just to mention a few. There is also a little bit of Raymond Chandler in my work, I think.

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

That’s a very difficult question to answer because there are so many good books out there! It’s probably easier for me to narrow it down to a favourite author, and that would be the American sci-fi author Connie Willis. As far as I’m concerned, she strikes gold every time.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on another contemporary romantic suspense novel, which will be my fourth full-length book.

And finally Henri, what tips do you have for other aspiring writers?

No manuscript ever got published from lingering in your bottom drawer. Send it out.

Thanks Henri!

THD_packshot hires copyIs it a crime to steal a heart?

Hounslow, 1768. Jack Blythe, heir to the Earl of Lampton, is a man with great expectations. So when his carriage is held up by a masked woman, brandishing a pistol and dressed as a ‘gentleman’ of the road, he wholly expects to have his purse stolen. And when he senses something strangely familiar about the lovely little bandit, Jack also expects to win his cousin Rupert’s wager by tracking her down first.

But as Jack and the highwaywoman enter into a swashbuckling game of cat and mouse, uncovering an intricate web of fiercely guarded family secrets, the last thing Jack expects to have stolen is his heart.

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Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Angela Britnell

JJ is delighted to welcome Angela today.

Angela_author picture RD

Angela grew up in Cornwall and returns frequently from her new home in Tennessee to visit family and friends. A lifelong love of reading turned into a passion for writing contemporary romance. Her novels are usually set in places she’s visited or lived on her extensive travels.


Twitter @AngelaBritnell



Hi Angela, welcome to JJ

Please summarise Sugar and Spice in 20 words or less.

A celebrity chef and a man disinterested in food could never be the perfect recipe for love – could they?

What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?

I’m borderline obsessed with the Food Network and have my favourite celebrity chefs I watch all the time so the idea grew from there. I wondered if any of them question how far they’ve come from being someone who simply loved to cook. I’d describe ‘Sugar and Spice’ celebrity chef ‘Luscious Lily’ as a red-headed, Southern version of Nigella with a touch of Dolly Parton thrown in for good measure!

What inspired you to write?

I’ve always been a voracious reader and English was my favourite subject in school. I didn’t do any writing after that until around 2000 when I took a series of creative writing evening classes at a nearby recreation centre. I honestly did it to have a break from the testosterone flooding around my house – with a husband and three adorable sons I needed it! The teacher was inspiring and I was soon hooked, starting off with short stories and going from there.


Which authors have influenced your writing?

I read widely and am always drawn to a story that captures my interest from the very beginning with characters I care about. A few of my favourite authors are Joanna Trollope, Kristin Hannah and of course Nora Roberts. For sparkling dialogue though it has to be Jane Austen, you can say so much with a hint of humour and the right words. Although I don’t write mysteries I read a lot in that genre and admire PD James, Ian Rankin and Elizabeth George.

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

Probably my all time favourite book is ‘The Rector’s Wife’ by Joanna Trollope. I’ve reread it many times and had to buy a new copy when I wore the first one out. It’s set in the same kind of a small English village where I grew up and as the title suggests it is the story of a rector’s wife who rails against the constraints of her marriage and her assigned place in village life. It’s wonderfully written and full of great characters that will stay with you long after you finish the story.

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

Discovering a passion for something I never expected to do and get such pleasure from it. I’d also have to include all the wonderful friends I’ve made along the way and the thrill of seeing my name on my first book.

What tips do you have for other aspiring writers?

To find other writers to connect with either in person or online. Study your craft through how-to books, workshops, conferences etc. But the most important thing is never to lose sight of why you got into writing in the first place – for the joy of putting down the story you have inside you.

Finally Angela, what are you working on now?

I’ve just submitted another full length novel to my publisher so have my fingers crossed they’ll love it! The hero of ‘No Accounting for Love’ is the delectable Nathaniel, a straight-laced accountant and oddball of his hippy family. When he meets Daisy, a children’s book illustrator, neither of them should fancy the other but we all know there’s no accounting for love.

Thank you!  Wishing you success in all your writing projects.

S&S_packshot copyThe Way to a Hero’s Heart …

Fiery, workaholic Lily Redman is sure of two things: that she knows good food and that she always gets what she wants. And what she wants more than anything is to make a success of her new American TV show, Celebrity Chef Swap – without the help of her cheating ex-fiancé and producer, Patrick O’Brien. So when she arrives in Cornwall, she’s determined to do just that.

Kenan Rowse is definitely not looking for love. Back from a military stint in Afghanistan and recovering from a messy divorce and an even messier past, the last thing he needs is another complication. So when he lands a temporary job as Luscious Lily’s driver, he’s none too pleased to find that they can’t keep their hands off each other!

But trudging around Cornish farms, knee deep in mud, and meetings with egotistical chefs was never going to be the perfect recipe for love – was it? And Lily could never fall for a man so disinterested in food – could she?

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Jera’s Jamboree : Guest Author Amanda James ~ the importance of those first few lines

I’m delighted to be welcoming Amanda James as part of Choc Lit’s blog tour today.

Mandy RGB Web

Amanda James, has written since she was a child, but has taken it up seriously in the last five years.

Amanda has written many short stories and has four novels currently published. A Stitch in Time was published in April of 2013 by and has met with great success.

The newest, also with Choc Lit are Somewhere Beyond the Sea and Dancing in the Rain (March 2014)

Righteous Exposure is published by Crooked Cat Publishing.

Amanda’s blog –

Twitter – @akjames61

Facebook mandy.james.33


Opening Pages

Thanks very much for having me as a guest on your blog today, Sharon.

I would like to talk about the importance of the first few lines and opening pages of a novel. When you consider the number of books on the shelves and virtual shelves nowadays, writers, and less well known writers in particular, have to make sure that when a reader opens the cover of their book they are compelled to read on. This of course is easier said than done and for me one of the hardest things to get right. The writer of course knows the story, or at least some of it, (I never really know what is going to happen!) but the reader has no clue apart from the blurb. Therefore, to make an impact and create enough interest for the reader to want to know the rest of the story is a little tricky. They have no knowledge of the various characters’ personality, feelings, motives or twists and turns of the plot, because literally nothing has happened yet.

I mainly write within the romantic suspense/mystery genre though my first novel with Choc Lit was A Stitch in Time which is actually time travel.

ASIT_packshot copy

It could be argued that with writing suspense, it is somewhat easier to create a dramatic opening than some genres, but that keeping up the mystery without giving too much away as the story progresses is far from simple. I love a challenge, and that’s one of the reasons I love writing suspense. So, let’s go back to how to make an impact in the opening pages. I have included below those of my new novel Somewhere Beyond the Sea to illustrate what I mean. The opening is just over a page long and is also the first chapter :

I folded my clothes neatly and placed them with the precision of a drill-sergeant on a flat rock by the shore. I positioned the letter in its blue envelope carefully on top and weighed it down with a round white pebble. Standing before the moonlit water, I felt the caress of the breeze like salt kisses over my naked skin.

I began in first person to engender a feeling of ‘being there’ in the reader. The folding of clothes by the shore and the mention of a letter should also ring a few alarm bells in the readers’ head.

I walked a few steps nearer to the sea. Firm sand cushioned my steps and despite my weight, each footfall barely left an imprint. Surf foamed in, tickled my toes and encouraged me further. Out on the island, the glass eye of the lighthouse winked as if it knew my secret, and a gull wheeled above in day-bright moonshine. I spread my arms wide, tilted my head to the dazzling stars and inhaled. I belonged to the universe. I relished the sense of freedom, the oneness with nature.

The reader should now have some kind of picture of the person on the beach. They are overweight, have a secret, and feeling exhilarated. They are genderless however which adds to the mystery. Is the person male or female? The reader might want to check back to see if they have missed any clues.

Ironically I had never felt so alive.

I left a space between the end of the last paragraph to create more impact with the above seven word sentence. The reader should be by now putting two and two together as to what exactly is happening.

Lowering my arms again, I turned to have a last look at the cliff tops. In my mind’s eye, beyond them I could see the Cornish village where I had lived for the past sixteen years. I could see every little street and lane, every little country garden. Most of the buildings were now in darkness of course, apart from the light of a lamp or two.

So now the reader knows the beach is in Cornwall and the person is at least sixteen years old.

There was no light in my mother’s house.

The reader is hopefully wondering why there is no light and what the mother has to do with the situation. Again I left a gap and continue to do so for the rest of the page.

Turning back towards the waves I stepped forward, one, two, three long strides. No hint of hesitation fettered, nor apprehension restrained.

This was it. This was what came next.

The weight of the incoming tide was my only barrier, but even as a breath caught in my throat, I gritted my teeth against the cold and plunged headlong.

I would tire of course … soon. But for now, with adrenaline pumping in my veins, legs and arms powering my body through the waves, for now I was strong, free, and in control of my destiny.

I decided to close the chapter here to maximise the impact and hopefully leave the reader eager to find out what happens next. Does the person drown or not? If yes, why did they take their own life? Who were they? If not, what happens to them next?

Questioning sets up a ‘dialogue’ between writer and reader which I believe is essential. It enables the reader to really engage with the text and helps to engender a satisfying read.  Sometimes these questions aren’t asked in any conscious way but are part of the ‘feeling’ the reader has for a book. I always ask questions when reading suspense in particular, but it happens in all genres, even if it us just to the extent of ‘will they get together or won’t they?’ It is all part of the dialogue. This dialogue is either strong enough to keep you eagerly turning those pages and reading to the end, or to end the conversation early and close the book.

I hope I have managed to do the former 🙂

Thanks very much, Sharon. It has been great fun.

I’m hooked Amanda!  

The best books for me are when my notes are littered with question marks …

SBTS_hirespackshot-smallPaperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Choc Lit (7 April 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1781891206
ISBN-13: 978-1781891209

When love begins with a lie, where will it end?

Doctor Tristan Ainsworth has returned with his family to the idyllic Cornish village close to where he grew up. The past has taught him some hard lessons, but he’ll do anything to make his wife happy – so what’s making her so withdrawn?

Karen Ainsworth daren’t reveal her true feelings, but knows her husband has put up with her moods for too long. A chance to use her extraordinary singing voice may set her free, so why shouldn’t she take it? Surely her past can’t hurt her now?

As a tide of blackmail and betrayal is unleashed to threaten the foundations of their marriage, Karen and Tristan face a difficult question. Is their love strong enough to face the truth when the truth might cost them everything?

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Jera’s Jamboree : Guest author Berni Stevens

JJ is excited to be hosting Berni Stevens on the blog today as part of Choc Lit’s blog tour.


Berni Stevens lives in a 400-year-old cottage with her husband, son, black cat and two goldfish who think they’re piranha. She trained in graphic design, and has worked as a book cover designer for over twenty years.

Her love of paranormal fiction began at school when she first read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and she has been a fan of the fanged ever since.  She is on the committee of The Dracula Society – a literary society for fans of gothic literature – and she designs their quarterly newsletter.

Dance Until Dawn, a paranormal romance, is her debut with Choc Lit.

Berni has several short stories published in various anthologies; romantic, gothic and sometimes just plain fantasy!


Twitter: @circleoflebanon

Follow Will on Twitter: @austen_will


Paranormal Romance

by Berni Stevens

Why write fantasy? Why write paranormal romance? I’m often asked those two questions.

The fantasy question is easy to answer. I’ve loved the genre since I first read Dracula when I was fourteen. The ‘why paranormal romance’ is a little more lengthy to answer. Paranormal romance has been around at least since the early 1990s. Some say the first author to write a successful paranormal series was Laurell K Hamilton with her Anita Blake series, and others insist it was Christine Feehan with her Carpathian series. But I think Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series has been responsible for the ultimate explosion of paranormal romance in books, TV and film. I know I was hooked after the very first episode – Welcome to the Hellmouth – in 1997. The writing is amazing – sharp, witty, scary, poignant and sometimes sad. Something to aspire to then!

Two common denominators linked the first paranormal romance books together, they were all written by American authors, and they were all set in various parts of America. This alone made me want to write a paranormal romance set in the UK.

Bram Stoker brought Dracula to London and Whitby after all, although he didn’t get any romance to speak of. Don’t believe Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, or the latest TV adaptation on Sky Living. Trust me, in Stoker’s book, there is no love triangle, and Mina does not look like Dracula’s long dead wife. There is, however, a touching scene between Dracula and the three vampire sisters, quite early on in the book. One of the women berates the Count for being unable to love. To which he replies quietly, “Yes, I too can love; you yourselves can tell it from the past. Is it not so?” I always found that unbelievably sad.

But I’ve sidetracked myself 🙂 In 2003, I wrote a short story for the Dracula Society’s anthology, which I called The Reluctant Vampire. Will made his first ever appearance in that short story, and the reluctant vampire was of course, his love interest, Ellie. Both characters have come a long way since that initial outing. Will has changed from a ‘dark-haired David Bowie lookalike’ to a man who is gorgeous in his own right, and Ellie has changed from a slightly whingeing, scared girl to a feisty young woman who is still scared but refuses to show it.

The editor of the anthology said my story read like the beginning of a novel, and it’s almost certainly her fault that I carried on writing.

I’ve set the book almost completely in the more exclusive areas of North London, apart from a few visits to colourful Hoxton, which is where Will’s trendy nightclub is. I have always fancied living in Highgate, but my research soon told me I had less than a snowflake in hell’s chance of that ever happening. The beauty of fiction is achieving dreams within a story, so of course I spent many happy hours wandering around the most expensive roads in Highgate, taking surreptitious photos of the beautiful period houses. I wasn’t arrested, so I don’t think anybody thought I was a burglar or a stalker. I found the perfect house for Will – I only hope it doesn’t belong to Sting – I know he lives in Highgate!

Quite a few scenes take place in the famous Highgate Cemetery itself too. I never need an excuse to revisit there. For those of you who have never been, Highgate Cemetery is a conservation area, which originally opened as a Cemetery in 1839. The mausoleums in the West Cemetery known as the Circle of Lebanon and Egyptian Avenue are Grade 1 listed buildings, protected by law as part of English Heritage. Its most famous inhabitants are some of the Rossettis, including Elizabeth Siddle, wife of Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and several members of Charles Dickens’ family. Will and Ellie often wander around there at night, and of course, Will has ‘obtained’ a key.

Add to all of this, the urban legend of The Highgate Vampire, and the stage is set for Dance Until Dawn. It’s a modern romance between a three-hundred-year-old vampire and a feisty, 21st century woman who is a newly turned vampire. I wanted to lose the usual ‘will he turn her’ cliché, which pops up in so many paranormal romances. So the story opens with Ellie reborn into a life of shadows, darkness and intrigue. I hope you enjoy it!

DUD_hirespackshot-smallDo you Believe in Love After Life?
At twenty-five, West-End dancer, Ellie Wakefield should be having the time of her life. The only problem is, since waking up in a three-hundred-year-old vampire’s leaky cellar, Ellie’s been very much dead. And to make matters worse, she’s found that an aversion to blood and a fear of the dark aren’t very helpful – especially when you’re a fledgling vampire.
William James Austen has fallen hard. He’s spent the last year loving Ellie from afar and now he’s finally able to be truthful about who and what he is. As the most powerful vampire in London, he’s used to getting what he wants. But this time, Will might just have bitten off more than he can chew.

Jera’s Jamboree review : Emma – There’s No Turning Back by Linda Mitchelmore

emmaPaperback: 352 pages

Publisher: Choc Lit (7 Jan 2014)

ISBN-10: 1781890935

ISBN-13: 978-1781890936


It isn’t easy to look forward when the past is so close behind you

Life hasn’t always been kind to Emma Le Goff. She has had her fair share of hardship and now finally, her life appears to be looking up. She and her childhood sweetheart, Seth Jago, are set to marry and both believe that an idyllic existence, free from heartache, awaits them.

However, when they discover that the past is more difficult to forget than they could have ever imagined, Emma continues to be haunted by the mysterious circumstances surrounding her family, and Seth is hounded by a jealous ex-lover set on revenge.

Seth plans for their escape to Canada, but when the charismatic Matthew Caunter returns to Devon, Emma finds herself uncertain of whether a move to Canada is really what she wants …

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I read To Turn Full Circle in June 2012 (you can read my review here)  and I loved Emma’s character (you can read my interview with Emma here) so when Choc Lit were offering Emma – There’s No Turning Back, I couldn’t turn down this opportunity!

There’s a new reverend who refuses to marry Emma and Seth but as you would expect from her character, Emma finds a way around it! although this does cause misunderstandings with Seth in their relationship.

Caroline Prentiss is back with an added responsibility and blackmailing Seth.  Caroline’s personality is really evident when she leaves Emma a package in her bakery on the worktable … and Seth’s brother Miles is still causing problems.

It was great to see Emma making a go of her bakery business and even with all the set-backs it brings, she doesn’t let it stop her.  Talking of crises points in the story – they happen quickly (of which there are quite a few) so there is none of the dragging each one out.  I loved the pace.

Emma’s friend Ruby is a fabulous character.  She had me giggling with her mispronunciations.  I’m hoping that Ruby staying in Shingle Cottage means we’ll get to see more of her!

When Matthew Caunter comes back on the scene, the affect he has is to cause confusion.  I could feel how Emma felt – the scene on the beach is heart-wrenching.  Even though Seth is fabulous and his relationship with Emma works really well, there is a small part of me that hopes that while they’re in Canada, something happens to Seth so that Matthew can give Emma the amethyst necklace …

As with To Turn Full Circle, Mitchelmore has added relevant historical aspects such as the suffragettes. Loved Emma driving the motor!

Emma has come a long way from that orphaned child we first met.  She knew her own mind in the first story and that carries through:

“Seth, don’t tell me how to behave, to react.  Please.”

I’m looking forward to seeing how life in Canada works for them and where the story will ultimate lead us.

You can read both books as standalone’s as the back story is shared at relevant times, however, I would recommend you read both.

Buy it and spread the word

Buy it and spread the word

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

You can tweet with Linda Mitchelmore and find her on Facebook.

Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview Janet Gover

I’m delighted to welcome Janet Gover today.

Janet Gover -web

Janet lives in Surrey with her English husband but grew up in the Australian outback surrounded by books. She solved mysteries with Sherlock Holmes, explored jungles with Edgar Rice Burroughs and shot to the stars with Ray Bradbury. After studying journalism at Queensland University she became a television journalist, first in Australia, then in Asia and Europe. During her career Janet saw and did a lot of unusual things. She met one Pope, at least three Prime Ministers, a few movie stars and a dolphin. Janet now works in television production and travels extensively with her job.

Janet’s first short story, The Last Dragon, was published in 2002. Since then she has published numerous short stories, one of which won the Elizabeth Goudge Award from the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Flight to Coorah Creek is her debut with Choc Lit and Bring Me Sunshine her first Choc Lit Lite ebook novella.



Twitter @janet_gover


Hi Janet, 


Please summarise Flight to Coorah Creek in 20 words or less.

A story about guilt and redemption and most of all – love.  About facing the past and embracing the future.

What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?

The story is set in a small outback Australian town – Coorah Creek. It’s a fictional town, but is inspired by the town where I grew up.  In a small town, there is a wonderful feeling of community. People help each other out.  But it’s hard to keep a secret in a small town. People tend to know everyone else’s business.  Small towns also tend to attract interesting and unusual characters.

I plan to write a series of books in the town. Each book will bring back old friends – but I’ll also toss some new characters into the mix, just to see what happens.

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

My characters talk to me. If I wasn’t a writer, talking to imaginary people would probably not be considered a good thing.

They all have a story to tell – the one I write down, but also a backstory. I know where they grew up, what school was like for them. What past love affairs they have had – and how they ended. I know about their jobs and their friends. I have to know all this if I am going to give my characters depth… make them seem as real to my readers as they are to me.

Are you a panster or a plotter?

Definitely a pantser. I always have the opening scene of the book in my head – and the final scene. It’s the big bit in the middle that worries me. Some of my writer friends are plotters, and know in advance everything that is going to happen in each chapter. I don’t. I just listen to the characters in my head as they tell me their story.

You mentioned you’re planning on writing a series, so what’s next?

I am just finishing writing the second Coorah Creek novel.  Two of the minor characters from Flight To Coorah Creek take centre stage in this one. Adam and Jessica and Ellen and Jack – the people we meet in the first book come back too.

I want my readers to get to know the town and all its people. I want them to feel that coming back to The Creek is like coming home, and catching up with old friends.

Which authors have influenced your writing?

The whole idea about writing a series came from a series of books by Robyn Carr. She’s a wonderful US author – who I got to meet briefly while I was living in New York. She wrote a series of books set in a small town called Virgin River. I confess, I didn’t like the name of the town, but I loved the books. I just devoured them.

And then one day I thought – could I do something like that? Create a world in a small Australian town? That’s how Coorah Creek was born.

Does Flight to Corah Creek tackle a social barrier?

I write love stories – but it seems to me that love is always struggling against other things. When we fall in love – real, lifelong love – we do it despite so many obstacles.

In Flight to Coorah Creek – my characters do have real problems to overcome. One of my characters is a battered wife. Another character has had to face trial by media.

When a person faces these sorts of things – they have to deal with them in their own way. But it helps to have someone standing by your side, supporting and loving you despite all the obstacles.

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

The best part is always hearing from readers. Writing is hard work. There are a lot of hours spent alone at a desk, wondering if this book will be any good. Will I be able to do justice to the characters and their story? Will anyone like it?

When a book is published, it’s like letting your child go out into the world. Whenever a reader e-mails to say they liked the book, I just want to cry. Some letters in fact do make me cry. Sometimes a reader will say I helped them at a difficult time. Or made them smile. Those are the very best days.

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

The rejections. Every writer gets them some times. You write something and send it to an editor who says – no thanks, it’s not for us. That hurts. Writing is a very personal thing and it’s hard not to take rejections personally. Those are the bad days. But when the knocks come, you have to pick yourself up and get right back into it. It’s the only way.

What tips do you have for other aspiring writers?

The great Ray Bradbury once said – through one of his characters – write a short story every day for a year, because no-one can write that many bad stories. In a way he’s right. The more you write, the better you will become. Try your hand at different styles – write short stories; write for children; write romance or crime. When you find yourself writing something that touches your own heart – then you are on the right track. I quite often have tears in my eyes as I write. That’s a good thing. If what I am writing touches my heart – it will touch the readers’ hearts too.

Thank you for inspiring answers Janet.  Wishing you success!

Flight To Coorah CreekWhat happens when you can fly, but you just can’t hide?

Only Jessica Pearson knows the truth when the press portray her as the woman who betrayed her lover to escape prosecution. But will her new job flying an outback air ambulance help her sleep at night or atone for a lost life?

Doctor Adam Gilmore touches the lives of his patients, but his own scars mean he can never let a woman touch his heart.

Runaway Ellen Parkes wants to build a safe future for her two children. Without a man – not even one as gentle as Jack North.

In Coorah Creek, a town on the edge of nowhere, you’re judged by what you do, not what people say about you. But when the harshest judge is the one you see in the mirror, there’s nowhere left to hide.

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