Jera’s Jamboree : (Life in the fun lane) From Paris with Love by Samantha Tonge

JJ is delighted to be welcoming Sam today.

Picture 013

Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family, and two cats who think they are dogs. When not writing, she spends her days cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, came out in November 2013.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SamTongeWriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SamanthaTongeAuthor

Website: http://samanthatonge.co.uk/

Doubting abbey Blog: http://doubtingabbey.blogspot.co.uk/

Blog-Background-20111-003

Life in the Fun Lane

The tagline on my Facebook author page and Twitter profile is “Samantha Tonge – writing about life in the fun lane”. And that’s what I hope I do. My main goal with novel writing has ALWAYS been to entertain and put a smile on someone’s face. With my debut Doubting Abbey I was lucky enough to receive a good number of lovely reviews, and the ones that really made me glow inside, said how the book made them giggle. If I can help make someone’s bad day a bit more bearable, then I have done my job. And I hope I achieve this too, with the standalone sequel, From Paris with Love, a story that revolves around romance, food, a mystery guy called Joe Bloggs (yes really!) and Blade, a hot French rockstar.

So, does this mean I’m a fun person? Am I anything like my main character bonkers Gemma? Er… It’s possible! In my youth. I always seemed to be getting myself into embarrassing scrapes – like the time I hadn’t noticed my wraparound skirt had fallen off, or when I nearly got caught skinny-dipping by a deep sea diver! Plus I had lots of fun times in various jobs, including working in the Christmas decorations department of Harrods and a riotous few months employed by Disneyland Paris. And out with friends, or people I don’t know, I laugh a lot. People would probably call me outgoing. I like to see the humorous side of life and encourage funny banter with anyone who’ll participate, be that a cashier, bartender or person standing behind me in a queue.

I remember my grandfather – who often larked around – saying “if you can’t laugh, what’s the point?” I guess that has stuck with me, ever since he passed on. Of course, as I’ve matured – like Gemma now is, in From Paris with Love – I’ve taken life more seriously. I now have responsibilities like a mortgage and kids to look after. I’ve faced illness myself, and lost dear relatives. And yet… perhaps it’s that ‘Britishness’ people have talked about since the war, or just human nature, but humour, albeit dark at times, has always played an important part in me coping with life’s trials.

As time passes, I truly believe, more than ever, in my grandfather’s words. You need to be able to laugh at life, because if not, at times you really would feel like giving up. I may be older and wiser but lots of element of life – even the ageing process! – still hold the fun-factor for me. And the day that changes, is the day I’ll stop putting finger to keyboard.

Laughter is universal isn’t it!  No matter the language we speak, we all understand what laughter means (in all its different shades).

Thank you for sharing Sam.

From Paris With Love coverEvery girl dreams of hearing those four magical words Will you marry me? But no-one tells you what’s supposed to happen next…

Fun-loving Gemma Goodwin knows she should be revelling in her happy-ever-after. Except when her boyfriend Lord Edward popped the question, after a whirlwind romance, although she didn’t say no….she didn’t exactly say yes either!

A month-long cookery course in Paris could be just the place to make sure her heart and her head are on the same page… And however disenchanted with romance Gemma is feeling, the City of Love has plenty to keep her busy; the champagne is decadently quaffable, the croissants almost too delicious, and shopping is a national past-time! In fact, everything in Paris makes her want to say Je t’aime… Except Edward!

But whilst Paris might offer plenty of distractions from wedding planning – including her new friends, mysterious Joe and hot French rockstar Blade – there’s no reason she couldn’t just try one or two couture dresses is there? Just for fun…

|  Amazon UK Kindle  |  Amazon US Kindle  |  Goodreads  |

Jera’s Jamboree : Guest Author Celia Kennedy ~ How Charlotte’s Restrained came to be…

JJ is delighted to be welcoming Celia Kennedy today

SmallPhoto

Celia Kennedy was born in Wurzburg, Germany on an American military base. Her parents’ penchant for traveling the world, via a Volkswagen Minibus with a Porsche engine, sparked her imagination. Staring out the window, sometimes through fog and rain, at other times at sunny blue skies, she began to make up stories for the places and spaces they passed by. The in-between time, the most fascinating to her.

The imagined world has always fascinated Celia. She has studied Landscape Architecture, Architecture, Interior Design, and pretty much every other subject matter. Like her childhood, it was the ride that was the most entertaining, arrival at a degree, not anywhere as important.

Mark Twain said, “Write what you know.” When combining this concept with her unusual life experiences (working at a nuclear submarine base when Chernobyl blew, testing software Bill Gates kept close tabs on, travelling extensively while quite broke, or falling in love with her boyfriend’s close friend) thinking of what to write about isn’t challenging; there just needs to be more hours in the day.

Celia published Charlottes Restrained in December of 2012 and Venus Rising in August of 2013. Look for Kathleen’s Undressed, a companion novel to Charlottes Restrained, to be published in 2014.

Currently she lives in Washington State with the loves of her life.

website – www.celiakennedy.weebly.com

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6965584.Celia_Kennedy

 Twitter – https://twitter.com/KennedyCelia

Blog-Background-20111-003

How Charlotte’s Restrained came to be…

Late in the summer of 2008 my husband and I were watching an episode of Inside the Actors Studio. Host James Lipton was interviewing Clint Eastwood. This multi-talented man fascinated us. After the interview was over, we chatted about how amazing it would be to invite him over for dinner and get to know him. The obvious problem: how to contact Clint Eastwood? Next obvious problem: if we could call him on the phone, what would compel him to want to have dinner with complete strangers? Sidestepping these crucial issues, it didn’t take long for the plan to evolve. It also didn’t take long to realize that it would be preferable to go to his house for dinner. After all, he lived in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California and likely had a better cook than me.

At the same time, I spent the first week my kids were back in school perfecting my domestic goddess-ness and realized I was as good at it as I wanted to get. There was something else I wanted to do more – write. I fired up my laptop and started writing. I didn’t have a strategy, hadn’t jotted down an outline or done any research. I also had zero contacts and resources. All I had was plain old-fashion gumption. Honest to Betsy, it never occurred to me that I couldn’t write a book.

It was also completely obvious to me to borrow from reality and write a book about encountering a long admired celebrity. Mirroring real life, there would have to be plenty of twists and turns. However, in the fantasy world, we can make incredible things happen. I needed people, loads of interesting and entertaining people who could make such a feat happen!

Let’s face it, we want it all. We want romance. We want to be a part of a group of friends who grew up and grow old together. We want to travel. We want to eat good food and drink great wine. We want to wear fabulous clothes! So, how to get it all in one book?

Charlotte, her BFF’s, a celebrity, and a handsome Irishman!

I like to think of myself as mostly normal, so I feel comfortable representing all women, when I say that we know we’ve found a real friend when we don’t worry about the state of our house when they stop by. We are really good friends if we’ll change our clothes in front of each other. We know we are Besties if when we really mess up, the other person may be really angry, but needs our own special brand of crazy in order to feel like life is do-able. Oh! And the most important factor: laughter. All of us want someone we can belly laugh with.

Charlotte, Hillary, Tiziana, Kathleen and Marian are such a village. These five women have history, have bled for each other, talked each other in and out of bad and good situations. Let each other be real. Fortunately for us these vivacious women are scattered around the globe, giving us the opportunity to travel to exciting places, where they meet up, drink up, and get into a little trouble.

We also have Des Bannerman, the King of Romantic Comedies in Charlotte’s Restrained. Des Bannerman is my vision of a mega star. A decade into his career he is riding the wave of major-motion picture success. He’s the go to man for chick flicks. Des Bannerman started out with a really big dream, but has become a little jaded by all the glitz and glory, and lives a life surrounded by people he trusts, but doesn’t really get to meet new people, because how does he meet them and who can he trust?

Pivotal to the story, is Liam Molloy, the Irishman who steals Charlotte’s heart. Liam has many things going for him; he’s gorgeous (of course), he’s the source of envy (providing many opportunities for the ladies to banter about men and “love”), and he has a great sense of humor. To be honest, I borrowed from reality again, the banter between Charlotte and Liam is much like mine and my husbands.

What makes a compelling story?

Beneath it all, I believe that we thrive when we know we are a part of a village. No one person can give us everything we need, BUT when we have a village we have everything! Friends, lovers, pets, children, frenemies, co-workers, all provide us with opportunities to grow and love. The most successful tales take place in the village concept.

To make the village happen in Charlotte’s Restrained, we are blessed with the opportunity to travel to London, Rome, New York, Dublin, and Saint Tropez. Amongst the many benefits of all this travel is that we get to see and feel the tempo of life in different parts of the world – we eat and drink foods that may be new and unique, we walk down streets ladened with history and float on oceans that are azure blue.

Me!

I love getting to know authors, most of those that I’ve reached out have been amazingly accessible and supportive. You can learn as much about me as you can stomach at www.celiakennedy.weebly.com or on Twitter (@KennedyCelia), Facebook (Celia Kennedy, Author). On my website there are links to my blog WomanReinventsSelf. That’s where you read the good, the bad and the ugly!

If you look for me on Pinterest (http://www.pinterest.com/celiakennedy) you will find boards that I have created for Charlotte’s Restrained, Venus Rising, and my current work-in-progress, Kathleen’s Undressed (a sequel to Charlotte’s Restrained).

It’s great where an idea/inspiration can take the imagination Celia 🙂

Wishing you success with all your writing projects.

Charlotte’s Restrained is going on tour!

Charlottes Restrained Tour Banner

Date Tour Host
4th August Tome Tender
5th August Chicklit Club Connect
6th August Books are my life
7th August Brook Cottage Books
12th August Tracy Riva Books and Reviews
13th August allthingsbookie

Giveaway on tour is a signed copy of Charlotte’s Restrained plus Amazon GC.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We hope you’ll check out the posts and enter the giveaway!

Jera’s Jamboree : Guest Post Vicki Lesage

JJ is delighted to be welcoming Vicki today

vicki-lesage-author-photo

Vicki Lesage is an IT Director by day, writer by night. And a full-time nerd. She loves fondue, wine, math, and zombies. She lives in Paris with her French husband and rambunctious son.

She published Confessions of a Paris Party Girl after numerous commenters on her blog encouraged her to write a book. Easy for them to say! She is now working on a sequel, Confessions of a Paris Potty Trainer, which is proving much easier to write. If you thought living in a tiny Parisian apartment was hard, try it with a baby!

 

Connect with Vicki:

 Website

Facebook

Twitter @vickilesage

Goodreads

Blog-Background-20111-003

Confessions of a Paris Party Girl

Writing about wine, romance, and bureaucracy as an American living in Paris just wouldn’t be complete without a few jabs at the Frenchman’s idea of romance, would it? I’ve lived in Paris for 9 years, been married for nearly three, and endured plenty of cheesy and ridiculous chat-up lines in my single years.

 

The highlight reel:

After kissing one dude (I blame the wine for even letting me get that far), he groped my butt then said “My hand discovered a land I would love to explore.” He wants to explore my… butt? No thanks!

After being duped into going back to a guy’s apartment for a “party” (again, I blame the wine for me not noticing that none of his friends were following us), this guy wrote a sappy note in a tattered copy of “Le Petit Prince,” signed it, then handed it over with strict instructions for me to read the book ASAP so we could discuss it on a future date. Like homework? Not interested. Also, there will not be any future dates. Luckily he wrote his note in pencil so I was able to erase it and donate the book to charity.

“Hey you! Girl with a smile! Would you like to have a coffee with me?” This was shouted to me in the pouring rain as I was struggling with numerous shopping bags. Of course, this “gentleman” didn’t bother to help with my bags as he strode alongside me. He only offered to buy me a €1 espresso. I told him that was extremely kind of him but that I had coffee at home.

“My girlfriend doesn’t pay any attention to me anymore. I just feel so lonely.” Girlfriend? I’m outta here.

“I had a great time tonight but I have to head home so I can help my friend move early tomorrow morning. Can I take you out on a date tomorrow afternoon?” You might be wondering what’s wrong with this one. Nothing! That’s what my future husband said to me the night we met (in a bar). No groping, no trying to get in my pants, no stubborn persistence. Just a nice, respectful end to a lively evening. The rest, as they say, is history.

The French aren’t all bad. You just have to watch how much wine you drink around them!

St46

Vicki, thank you for sharing those wonderful chat up lines – the last one is definitely the best 🙂

confessions-of-a-paris-party-girlWine, romance, and French bureaucracy – the ups and downs of an American’s life in Paris. This laugh-out-loud memoir is almost too funny to be true!

Drinking too much bubbly. Meeting sappy Frenchmen who have girlfriends or are creeps or both. Encountering problème after problème with French bureaucracy. When newly-single party girl Vicki moved to Paris, she was hoping to taste wine, stuff her face with croissants, and maybe fall in love.

In her first book, this long-time blogger and semi-professional drinker recounts the ups and downs of her life in Paris. Full of sass, shamefully honest admissions, and situations that seem too absurd to be true, Vicki makes you feel as if you’re stumbling along the cobblestones with her.

 

 

Will she find love? Will she learn to consume reasonable amounts of alcohol? Will the French administration ever cut her a break?

 

Available at:

Amazon.com (paperback) | Amazon.com (Kindle)

Amazon.co.uk (paperback) | Amazon.co.uk (Kindle)

Jera’s Jamboree : Guest Author Kaira Rouda

JJ is excited to be welcoming Kaira Rouda to the blog today

K13_1397

Kaira Rouda is an award-winning entrepreneur and author of both fiction and nonfiction. Her books include: Real You Incorporated: 8 Essentials for Women Entrepreneurs; Here, Home, Hope; All the Difference; and the short story, A Mother’s Day.  She lives in Southern California with her husband and four children and is at work on her next novel.

Connect with her on Twitter, @KairaRouda, and on Facebook at Kaira Rouda Books. And of course, on Pinterest! For more about Kaira and her books, please visit her website KairaRouda.com.

Blog-Background-20111-003

 

Shaz! Thanks so much for having me here! I’m so excited about my latest novel, In the Mirror, out tomorrow, and I am excited to be touring with Fiction Addiction!

In the Mirror is the story of Jennifer Benson, a woman who seems to have it all. Diagnosed with cancer, she enters an experimental treatment facility to tackle her disease the same way she tackled her life – head on. But while she’s busy fighting for a cure, running her business, planning a party, staying connected with her kids, and trying to keep her sanity, she ignores her own intuition and warnings from others and reignites an old relationship best left behind.

MIRROR_cover_300dpi

The novel asks the questions: If you knew you might die, what choices would you make? How would it affect your marriage? How would you live each day? And how would you say no to the one who got away?

I’m thrilled by the reviews so far, including this blurb from New York Times bestselling author Tracey Garvis Graves:

“Kaira Rouda has created relatable characters you’ll care deeply about. Emotionally gripping and heart-achingly beautiful, In the Mirror will make you think about what’s truly important.”

And this from Foreword:

“Balancing sadness and humor, the retrospective tone of this novel is both therapeutic and affecting. In the Mirror is an emotion-packed novel about a mother facing terminal cancer. It is a nostalgic tribute to the things that really matter: family and friends.”

This novel is very special to me. It was inspired by a young mother, and a dear friend, who fought metastatic breast cancer for more than a decade. Sadly, we all know too many of these stories, too many of these moms, too many women affected. My friend’s grace under pressure continues to be an inspiration and a lasting legacy, not only to her family but her entire community.

This book has been in the works for 10 plus years, and I am so grateful for the response it has received from early reviewers. I hope you will give it a try!

I’m sure my blog readers will join in wishing you success Kaira.

In the Mirror is going on tour!

In the Mirror by Kaira Rouda Tour Banner

Date Tour Host
12th May Reviews By Molly
13th May Deal Sharing Aunt
15th May Lost in Chick Lit
16th May Always With A Book
19th May Tea Party Princess
23rd May Victoria’s Pages of Romance
26th May Tracy Riva Books and Reviews
27th May This Chick Reads
28th May Raven Reviews
29th May Crooks on Books
3rd June Me, Bookshelf and I
4th June allthingsbookie
6th June Books With Wine and Chocolate

Kaira is generously offering two bundles to giveaway:

US/Canada

giveaway photo

and International

three novels giveaway

You will be able to enter on the Rafflecopter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We hope you’ll join in!

Jera’s Jamboree : Guest Post GVR Corcillo ~ Memories and tangents

I’m delighted to welcome GVR Corcillo to JJ today

Gerpic2

With her Ivy League education, white trash sensibility, and pop culture savvy, GVR Corcillo delights in writing chick lit about characters who try not to trip as they valiantly march to their own bongo beat.

She didn’t start writing right away. First, she worked in a greenhouse, a supermarket, a movie theatre, a potpourri-stuffing factory, an electrical fixtures plant, a book warehouse, a metal-perforating factory, a video store, several movie studios, a children’s museum, a radio station, and a bar. She also taught high school in Watts and South Central Los Angeles.

But none of these fit the bill for what she always wanted to be when she grew up – a writer. So, she won some writing contests, hit the New York Times Bestsellers List with her first short story, and got a screenplay produced.

Geralyn Vivian Ruane Corcillo, a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, lives in North Hollywood with her husband Ron, a television comedy writer. They are both New York Giants fans.

 Author Links

 Author website

Like GVR Corcillo on Facebook

Follow GVR Corcillo on Twitter

Become a Fan of GVR Corcillo on Goodreads

Blog-Background-20111-003

Off on a Tangent

By

GVR Corcillo

Thank you, Shaz – I am so psyched to be guest blogging on Jera’s Jamboree! Especially as my first name is Geralyn, and people have been misspelling it with J my whole life. So this is really cool.

In my Chick Lit novel She Likes It Rough, my heroine Lisa Flyte is somewhat whacky, a bit over the top. Definitely a woman who marches to her own bongo beat, often going off on a whim, or off on a tangent. It can make for a funny book with unexpected twists and turns, but there is also a constructive side to going off on a tangent…

 

SheLikesItRough2_432

“So let’s sink another drink

‘Cause it’ll give me time to think . . .”

Morning commute, could barely keep my eyes open, but when Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself” punched through the car, suddenly, a beam of good cheer more potent than a double shot espresso blasted through me.

Huh?

But I don’t even like Billy Idol. I mean, I had plenty of celebrity crushes when I was a kid in the eighties, and a bunch of the guys were blond and British, from Anthony Andrews to Simon Le Bon, from Julian Sands to Simon MacCorkindale. But Billy Idol was never one of them. I mean, I liked him In The Wedding Singer, but his music had never really rocked my world. So why was I suddenly so chipper, getting my groove on to a song I’d never liked?

After a few minutes, I figured it out.

Spike!

Platinum blonde British rocker Billy Idol reminded me of platinum blonde British vampire Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I’d been watching on DVD with my husband and our best friend on Saturday nights since Christmas. What fun we have, just hanging out and relaxing for an hour or two, eating Chinese food and ice cream, indulging in and critiquing Joss Whedon and all things Buffy.

Just like that, on a few beats of vintage eighties rock, my mind went off on a tangent and instantly made the connection for me.

I’m going off on tangents all the time, in conversation, in life, in home décor. I can never seem to keep myself on a linear path of any kind because, as Katherine Hepburn says to Spencer Tracy in Desk Set, “I associate many things with many things.”

The orange paisley comforter I picked out at the home furnishings store. My husband stood there looking at me warily. “Really? You want that one?” Heck, yeah! It reminded me of the bedspread I’d had as kid in the seventies, a riot of big orange flowers. Oh, to be six again, to have no reason to get up more pressing than that of watching Scooby-Doo. Those were the days…

Seem silly to buy a comforter based on a time in my life when I wore slip-on yellow rain boots with umbrellas and duckies on them? Maybe. Then again, life can come to feel pretty colorless if you just live it, getting through day by day, then just forget it all.

Remembering, connecting, and associating, whether deliberately or viscerally, add vibrancy, hue, and flavor to the everyday grind. Tapping into other times, places, feelings, worlds, even right within yourself,canexpand life, perspective, and understanding, even if only for a moment. Going off on a tangent – a nifty knack for a writer, no?

A few years ago, my husband I were watching Sunday NFL football. NY Giants at Philadelphia Eagles, third quarter. Pass goes high, Plaxico Burress stretches to catch. He’s tackled on his descent with such ferocious precision the sound of impact makes me wince. The announcer chuckles. “Dawkins waffles Burress . . .” Suddenly, my eyes fill with tears. I’m no longer watching Sunday NFL with my husband, but I’m a thirteen year-old kid looking at Officer Green, standing on my front porch, hands on hips, holding something in his hand.

“Do you own a brown and white dog?”

I nod.

“It just got waffled down on Layton Road.” Then he hands me Rhoda’s busted collar.

To this day, I cannot hear the word “waffle” used that way without remembering how Rhoda was still warm when we went down to get her off the road.

But all these tangents become the threads of life, never snipped off but left to drift and tangle.

Like all of Rhoda’s wispy trails. Because when I think of that awful day and that asshole cop, I also remember the most amazing thing about Rhoda – she loved to swim. Loved it loved it loved it. All summer long she was jumping into the pool and splashing around, just so happy happy happy. And she made me so happy. And she loved her tennis ball – she obsessed over it. The tennis ball would have taken out a restraining order if it could have. And Rhoda loved sleeping in the corner of the couch when we weren’t home. How do I know? The tell-tale circle of brown and white hair stuck into the couch cushions. All of Rhoda’s tangents twine together with everything else, taking me from the grisly to the gleeful, from the sad to the sublime.

Dog 1

All the tangents in our lives waft and weave together and make us who we are today. Sure, some people go off on tangents and whims, but they’re just following different strings, touching as many parts of life at once as they can. They make tufts that look like tumbleweed while many people make more linear ropes. Is one better than the other, or does each shape just take us different places?

What tangents flutter through your psyche, snagging and connecting the past to the present, the baffling to the beautiful, the trivial to the tragic? Are you a tumbleweed or a rope, or something in between? Have you found your shape yet? Do you want to?

Not a great way to find out about Rhoda … but great you can think about the positives.

I’m always talking ‘off tangent’ Geralyn.  Some people keep up with where I’m going but others probably just think I’m random.  Tangents can take you to some interesting places!

Thank you!

She Likes It Rough is touring with Fiction Addiction Book Tours.

She Likes It Rough Tour Banner

Date Tour Host
6th May Lost in Chick Lit
8th May MissBookworm Reviews
Fiction Dreams
12th May DizzyC’s Little Book Blog
14th May Inheritance Books with Rhoda Baxter
16th May Little Whimsy Books
BookRoom Reviews

Giveaway on tour is is $25/£15 Victoria’s Secret Gift Card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We hope you’ll join in!

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 http://www.choclitpublishing.co.uk 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. http://crookedcatpublishing.com/

Amanda’s blog – http://mandykjameswrites.blogspot.com/

Twitter – @akjames61

Facebook mandy.james.33

Blog-Background-20111-003

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?

 |  Amazon Paperback  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Goodreads  |

Jera’s Jamboree : How do you keep the motivation going? Guest author Victoria J Brown

Is your motivation flagging?

JJ is delighted to be sharing  with blog readers the wise words of Victoria J Brown.

Vic Portrait 1

Victoria J.Brown is a chick-lit author. While studying for her MA in Creative Writing she won a short story competition judged by Adele Parks. Although Victoria holds an MA, she sees herself as a storyteller not a literary writer.

She is passionate about people following their dreams. She has written Annual Inspirational Books which provide daily motivational messages. Also being a qualified wedding planner and Managing Director of Calm Weddings, she has written 3 weddings books.

Author Links

 website:  www.victoria-brown.com

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/vicjbrown

twitter: @victoriajbrown

Blog-Background-20111-003

I’ve always collected inspirational quotes. Hence, the reason I’ve put together my inspirational books.

‘A message a day can keep the negativity away’.

It’s so easy to fall into the treadmill of life, or in many cases, the rollercoaster of life, losing sight of the goals and things we want to achieve. I’m a huge believer in following your dreams and I understand that daily life can easily get in the way. But it’s about keeping yourself motivated to achieve the life you truly want and deserve. In the words of Zig Ziglar,

‘Many people say that motivation doesn’t last – but neither does showering that’s why we do it daily’.

I believe you must write down your goals. Set out your dreams into a structured format, then work back over. Many people look too far ahead into the future, and this can send motivation spiralling downwards. However, having that future dream is great, but it is best to look at what needs to be achieved to reach these dreams. Setting out weekly goals and tasks is an excellent way of marking off achievements towards your dream. For example, there are many people who want to write a book, but all they see is the end product and how on earth could they possible write 80,000 words or more. Setting aside some writing time during your week, even if you can only afford half an hour, that half an hour will soon help you produce a book. Imagine if you could write a page a day, this time next year, you would have a 365 page novel.

It’s about setting yourself small tasks, as these small tasks soon lead into bigger achievements. It’s about focusing on what you’ve done to move forward, not what you haven’t done!

‘Remember: Even the smallest steps count!’

smallest actions

It’s so easy to get caught up in the bigger picture!  Great advice 🙂

imageKat is pregnant after only being with Max for 6 months. Running her own beauty salon, dealing with her depressed alcoholic father, fighting battles with Max’s mother and facing ex-girlfriends, Kat isn’t sure if having a baby is the right thing to do. Her life feels like one big mess, whatever decision she makes will change her life for ever.

50% of the profits go to the Hope for Holly Charity.

Amazon UK

How My Life Became Chaos is touring with Fiction Addiction Book Tours.

HMLBC TB

Date

Tour Host

31st March Crooks on Books
2nd April Brook Cottage Books
3rd April Beckie’s Book Mix
7th April Books are my life
8th April allthingsbookie
9th April Chicklit Club Connect
10th April A Novel Thought
11th April jgrwriter
13th April Inheritance Books with Rhoda Baxter

The giveaway on tour is 1, 2 and 3 of the Chaos series in one signed paperback copy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Chaos Series

 

While How My Life Became Chaos is touring, if readers buy a copy of the book and send proof of purchase to Victoria, they will be sent an ecopy of Daily Inspirational Messages 2014.

hardbackcoverstanding

Join in the fun!

Jera’s Jamboree : Marrying the Geek a guest post by Linda MacDonald

I’m delighted to be welcoming Linda MacDonald to Jera’s Jamboree

Colour crop

Linda MacDonald was born and brought up in Cockermouth, on the edge of the Lake District in Cumbria, England. She was educated at the local grammar school and later at Goldsmiths’, University of London where she studied for a BA in psychology and then a PGCE in biology and science. She taught secondary science and biology in Croydon for eleven years before taking some time out to write, paint and make jewellery. In 1990 she was lured back into teaching at a sixth form college in south-east London where she taught health and social care and psychology. For over twenty-five years she was also a visiting tutor in the psychology department at Goldsmiths’.

At the end of 2009, Linda broke her wrist very badly through tripping over a classroom chair. Reminded of the fragility of life and how time was passing with her writing dreams still unfulfilled, she decided to publish her first novel independently. Meeting Lydia was inspired by finding an ex classmate on Friends Reunited. The novel explores the effects of school bullying on later life, and the pros and cons of internet relationships from the perspective of a woman going through a midlife crisis. It was published in September 2011. The stand-alone sequel, A Meeting of a Different Kind, had already been drafted before Linda broke her wrist and was published in November last year. It continues the story from the perspectives of two different characters, looking at issues of friendship, loyalty and betrayal. Both books may be read independently and are being very well-received by a wide ranging readership of men as well as women. The third part of the series, The Alone Alternative, is about taking a second chance of love in midlife. It is now going through the publication process and is expected to be released in June.

Health issues in 2011 prompted Linda to retire from teaching in order to concentrate on her writing career. She hopes that with this new focus she can bring her books to the notice of a larger audience.

Twitter @LindaMac1

Blog-Background-20111-003

Marrying the Geek

I was watching University Challenge: two stacked rows of the bespectacled, the awkward, the clean-cut boyish and the slightly weird. First I thought, Geeks, and then I thought, Husband Material. Not for me, of course, but for the dozens of sweet young women wandering the corridors of our academic institutions; women who probably pass them by without a second glance. If only their peers knew what I know, it might save them a lot of pain.

When I was young, there seemed to be two types of boys: the edgy, dangerous ones and the industrious, sensible ones. The dangerous ones grew their hair long, went out with girls and elicited disapproval from parents. The sensible ones were polite and courteous and steered clear of the party scene, at most indulging in a beer at the pub and a game of darts. They might have been geeks – except in 1970s Cumbria, we didn’t use such a word.

I suspect my mother would have been very pleased if I had brought home a geek – so long as he was of the socialised variety and not permanently attached to whatever electronic fad was prevalent at that time. This is because mothers know that geeks are often more reliable and less inclined to lead their daughters astray.

I look back with the wisdom of age, remembering Jonathan and Nigel and Richard (not their real names), not exactly geeks, but semi-geeks. They were friends of a sort, but even though they may have hinted at romantic intent, they weren’t exciting enough or fanciable enough for me to be interested. Instead I pursued the other type and ended up with a broken heart.

In my novel A Meeting of a Different Kind, Edward’s daughter Harriet thinks much the same as I did when I was a teenager. She says to her family, ‘Geeks are so not cool.’ But her mum replies, ‘Your dad was a geek when I met him. A good-looking geek, but a geek nonetheless. Geeks are very marriageable.’

Husband Edward has hit midlife, and has women of a certain age falling at his feet because they know that although he may not have the sculpted face or the brooding eyes of a film star, he is much more likely to be honest, trustworthy and faithful.

So why might this be?

Now for the science bit …

Masculine-looking men with their square jaws or prominent brows, their sloping foreheads and their angular profiles, produce more testosterone, both before birth and at puberty. And it is the excess of this hormone which is thought to give them the persistent desire to chase women; to spread their seed far and wide. They are the Super Hunters of the masculine world; handsome guys who attract attention with their confident charm and their fool-proof dating strategies. Young women are captivated (and some older ones too). They fall in love and then suffer a rollercoaster ride of emotional angst because he’s a Player, treating them badly before moving on to the next one.

On the other hand, the less masculine-faced men, those with lower testosterone levels, are more likely to be monogamous and they become an attractive target for women who want to settle down and have a family. Consciously or sub-consciously women are drawn to them; even those who might once have been geeks.

It is Mr Darcy versus Mr Wickham; it’s Bridget Jones’s Mark Darcy versus Daniel Cleaver. How often do women have their hearts shattered by the love-rat, only to end up with Mr Faithful? But some women never learn. They repeat the pattern of destruction and wonder why they never meet someone to love them back.

Is there no hope when dating the Mr Wickham’s of the world? Of course there is. Some day even he may want to settle down. He may meet a woman he doesn’t want to lose; he may even fall in love. But even then, he is a riskier option. Romantic love is a fickle construct, thought to last only an average of twenty-two months. When the magic wanes in the marriage game of chance, the odds on stability are much more favourable with a geek.

Fascinating!  Thank you for sharing this with us Linda.

News Flash The Alone Alternative, Linda’s third novel is expected to be released in June 2014.

 

AMeetingofaDifferentKindWhen archaeologist Edward Harvey’s wife Felicity inherits almost a million, she gives up her job, buys a restaurant and, as a devotee of Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall, starts turning their home into a small eco-farm. Edward is not happy, not least because she seems to be losing interest in him. Taryn is a borderline manic-depressive, a scheming minx, a seductress and user of men. Edward and Taryn don’t know each other but they both know Marianne. To Edward, Marianne is a former classmate who sends him crazy emails. She is Taryn’s best friend, and when Marianne meets Edward, she tells Taryn how wonderful he is and that he is not the philandering type. Taryn sees a challenge and concocts a devious plan to meet him during a series of lectures he is giving at the British Museum. When Edward and Taryn’s paths cross, questions of friendship, loyalty and betrayal are played out against a backdrop of mental fragility and the destabilising effects of a large inheritance…

|  Amazon Paperback  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Goodreads  |

A Meeting of a Different Kind is touring with Fiction Addiction Book Tours.

AMOADK TB

Date

Tour Host

24th March Victoria’s Pages of Romance
28th March Brook Cottage Books
28th March Chicklit Club Connect
30th March Inheritance Books with Rhoda Baxter
31st March allthingsbookie
4th April Compelling Reads

A Meeting of a Different Kind is on Kindle promotion while touring at the unprecedented low price of 99p (read my review here)
Meeting Lydia will also be on Kindle promotion £1.99 (read my review here)

Both are ‘keepers’ for me.

The giveaway on tour is 1 x signed copy of The Alone Alternative (which will be delivered after publication).

We hope you’ll join in!

Jera’s Jamboree : The Magic of Being a Writer ~ Jessica Gilmore

I’m delighted to welcome Jessica Gilmore to Jera’s Jamboree today.

After learning to read aged just two, Jessica spent every childhood party hiding in bedrooms in case the birthday girl had a book or two she hadn’t read yet. Discovering Mills and Boon on a family holiday Jessica realised that romance writing was her true vocation and proceeded to spend her maths lessons practising her art, creating Dynasty inspired series starring herself and Morton Harket’s cheekbones. Writing for Mills and Boon really is a dream come true!

An ex au pair, bookseller, marketing manager and Scarborough seafront trader selling rock from under a sign that said ‘Cheapest on the Front’,  Jessica now works as a Membership Manager for a regional  environmental charity. Sadly she spends most of her time chained to her desk wrestling with databases but likes to sneak out to one of their beautiful reserves whenever she gets a chance. Married to an extremely patient man, Jessica lives in the beautiful and historic city of York with one daughter, one very fluffy dog, two dog-loathing cats and a goldfish called Bob.

On the rare occasions that she is not writing, working, taking her daughter to activities or tweeting, Jessica likes to plan holidays – and uses her favourite locations in her books. She writes deeply emotional romance with a hint of humour, a splash of sunshine and usually a great deal of delicious food – and equally delicious heroes.

Website

Twitter @yrosered

Blog-Background-20111-003

In my head I have a perfect writing place. It varies depending on my mood, sometimes it’s a cottage by the sea, chintzy and cosy with a large range cooker and freshly baked scones cooling on a rack. Other times it’s a book-lined flat overlooking the river here in York; white walls, large abstract paintings and, best of all, solitude. No children, husbands, dog or cats, dearly as I love them.

One day I may own the perfect writing place but, as a working mother, dedicated writing time or space is a luxury I just don’t have. The Return of Mrs Jones was written as and when I could grab a few moments; in the gym, ballet school waiting room, the local library, in my car, in bed, on the train, with sleeping dogs, cats or children cuddled in close so I can only type one handed. On holiday, weekends, evenings, lunchtimes – any time but early mornings, much as I long to be the organised type who gets up at 6am to get 1000 words in before the day starts I’m just not that disciplined!

Writing this way isn’t ideal. It’s not great for your back, it can be too cold or too hot and blocking out the TV, gossipy parents, bored toddlers and, my personal bete noir, children playing on their phones/Nintendos/iPads with the sound turned up, is challenging. But, when you’re starting out, finding the perfect place and time to write means you may never actually write at all.

And then something miraculous happens. After a few moments it all slips away, I forget that I’m sat on a chair designed for a five year old or that the steering wheel is jabbing into my side, the noise fades to a distant hum and I’m there, in a harbourside village in Cornwall, watching two people reconnecting, exploring their shared past and falling in love again.

That’s the magic of being a writer, the ability to lose myself into an imaginary world. I loved the time I spent getting to know Jonas and Lawrie wherever and whenever that time was. I hope you do too.

I think you would call that being in the flow – Zen 🙂

Jessica’s Harlequin debut, The Return of Mrs Jones, is touring with Fiction Addiction Book Tours to reveal the US and UK covers.

Publishing 1st April 2014

The woman he never forgot…

Of all the places, Lawrie didn’t expect to be celebrating her thirtieth birthday in the seaside town where she grew up. And she certainly didn’t expect to be celebrating it with her estranged husband, Jonas Jones…. But life is full of surprises. His devastating smile and edgy good looks still have the power to send her heart racing!

Seeing Lawrie again intrigues Jonas—while he hasn’t forgiven her, he can’t say he’s forgotten her, either. And while they may not be teenagers anymore, there’s no denying the sparks that still fly between them….

Purchase from

Amazon UK

Harlequin US

TROMJ TB

 

Date

Tour Host

17th March jgrwriter
18th March Brook Cottage Books
19th March Rose & Beps Blog
20th March Crooks on Books
20th March The Bookish Confections
21st March Chicklit Club Connect
24th March Rachel Brimble Romance
25th March Cometbabesbooks
25th March Everything Books and Authors
26th March Books are my life
27th March Bookalicious Travel Addict
28th March Victoria’s Pages of Romance

You will be able to enter the giveaway of a paperback copy of The Return of Mrs Jones via commenting on tour host posts.

We hope you’ll join in the fun!

Jera’s Jamboree : Feature Post Ruby McNally ~ Top Five TV Kisses

I’m delighted to be welcoming Ruby McNally to Jera’s Jamboree today

Ruby McNally double-majored in psychology and cognitive linguistics before ultimately deciding her talents lay elsewhere. She grew up hiding her diary from her five brothers, who will never know she wrote this book. She lives in Boston, and has no cats. Crash is her first novel.

Author Links: rubymcnally.tumblr.com, @Ruby_McNally

Book Links: on amazon, as well as Samhain’s website

Blog-Background-20111-003

Full disclosure: there is basically nothing I like more in this cold, wintery world than a good TV makeout. I’ve been known to bail out of actual, real-life plans so as not to miss two of my favorite characters locking lips in real time–never mind that I’ve got DVR. “I have someplace I need to be be!” I’ll tell friends apologetically, ducking out of bars and dinners early and hurrying back to my apartment. After all, on my couch is a place. Here are five of my all-time favorites, helpfully YouTubed for your viewing pleasure (and mine, duh):

5. Finn and Rae, My Mad Fat Diaries

All right, so I’m basically coming out of the gate cheating, since there is no actual kiss in this scene. But there’s a hell of a hug, and a confession of love via letter-tracing, so it counts. Have you all watched this show? You should be watching this show, it is amazing, it will hit you right in your feelings bone over and over until you fall down and scream uncle.

4. CJ and Danny, The West Wing

This one is a gem. “I thought what I’d do is kiss you, you know, on the mouth.” “Be careful of the fish.” “You walked into that door there.” I mean, come on! I know everyone loves Josh and Donna and I do too, but they didn’t kiss for a million and a half seasons and CJ carrying a goldfish around the office remains nearest and dearest to my heart. Memo to Aaron Sorkin: write more like this one, please and thanks.

3. Emily and Naomi, Skins

Ugh, the music. The nature noises. Kathryn Prescott’s lisp. This is just really pretty kissing (that then dissolves into cunnilingus–which, you know, also good). Plus, it was a lesbian storyline that wasn’t confined to sweeps week, something I always appreciate.

2. Will and Alicia, The Good Wife

This kiss has been watched more than 136,000 times on YouTube, and I am proud to tell you that probably only like 130,000 of them were me (or okay, 130,002, because I just watched it twice more while writing this list). Julianna Margulies’ “Damnit” is what makes this entire scene for me. That, and the fact that Alicia comes back.

1.  Sam and Andy, Rookie Blue

The blackout. Andy running through the sparkler-filled streets. How breathless she is. The part where she shoves him up against a wall. He asks if she wants to talk! She emphatically doesn’t want to talk! I’m not made of stone, okay? I am not made of stone.

What’s your favourite TV kiss?

Crash_CoverLights and Sirens, Book 1

Publication Date: Digital: 3/4/2014

A year ago, after a gut-wrenching shift at work, Taryn Falvey made a huge mistake: she fell into the arms of fellow paramedic Nick Kanelos, and into his bed. Since then they’ve kept their distance, knowing their lives are too messy to mesh.

Taryn’s got her hands full keeping her many siblings and alcoholic mother from slipping into grinding poverty. A normal relationship—a normal life—isn’t even on her radar.

After that desperate night of passion, Nick retreated to the big, empty house on the edge of town he used to share with his late wife. Now it’s just him, his mutt, and his memories rattling around the empty rooms. He’s taught himself not to need anything or anyone too much, but he hasn’t been able to get Taryn off his mind.

As inevitable as gravity, life brings Taryn and Nick spiraling back into each other’s orbit. As their attraction reignites, there’s only one question remaining. If two professional rescuers are capable of rescuing themselves—and each other—or if they’re diving heart first into certain disaster.

Crash is touring with Fiction Addiction Book Tours

Crash TB

Date

Tour Information

3rd March Everything Books and Authors
4th March Chicklit vs Fantasy
5th March Reviews By Molly
6th March Raven Reviews
7th March Carol Clarke Blogs
8th March A Novel Review

The giveaway on tour is 1 x ecopy of Crash.

We hope you’ll join in the fun!