Wednesday 26 October 2011

Tears & Laughter & Happy Ever After

I'm thrilled to have two short stories included in this fantastic anthology. Tears and Laughter and Happy Ever After is filled with stories from the best and most successful short story writers around. It will be published as in Kindle format in mid-November and in paperback a month later.

‘Tears and Laughter and Happy Ever After’ is a vibrant and varied collection of stories from writers who between them have had hundreds of short stories published in women’s magazines in the UK and around the world! Contributors have also won or been placed in dozens of competitions, published novels and written non-fiction for many UK magazines.

As the title suggests, the twenty-six stories encompass the dizzying heights of happiness, the heartbreaking depths of sadness and every emotion in between. Within the pages of this book you’ll meet a housewife with a surprising secret, a beekeeper with a problem and an undertaker with something unusual on his mind. You’ll also encounter angels, ghosts, aliens and many other intriguing characters. And, in the end, you may just find the path to happy ever after.

The idea for this book came from the successful ‘A Story A Fortnight’ writing group which brought the writers involved together in a project which has inspired and supported them in their short story writing.

Who’s been up to ‘Monkey Business'?

What's happening in 'The House At Summer's End’?

Who is 'The Girl In The Yellow Dress'?

If you want to know, you have to read ‘Tears and Laughter and Happy Ever After’.

You can find out more on our website and keep up with the news on Facebook and follow on Twitter @tears_laughter .

Friday 21 October 2011

Tweet Treats from Jane Travers

I'd like to welcome Jane Travers to my blog today. Jane is the author of a clever recipe book inspired by Twitter. I'll let Jane tell you more...

If life had taken another path I’d have been an inventor. I’ve always had ideas about how to make things better, or things that didn’t exist, but that I really wanted. When my daughter was a baby I had dozens of ideas; from a blanket that would actually stay on a squirming baby at night, to a gadget that would quickly and efficiently sterilise a pacifier if it fell on the ground.

However, my complete knack of makerly know-how scuppered me every time I came up with an idea for something. How would I make that gadget? I knew nothing about casting, moulding, or manufacturing, and so each idea would rattle annoyingly in my brain for a while, until it went to the place where ideas go to die. (Although I did make a kitchen implement I’d always wanted in a pottery evening class once! It’s rather odd though, and I don’t think anyone else would want one...)

Then in April of last year I had another idea. I was about to go and lie down in a darkened room until it too went away, but I realised that I could do this; I could collect hundreds of 140 character recipes through Twitter, I could badger celebrities to contribute, I could combine them all into a book that would be useful, cute and entertaining, and I could give the royalties to charity!
The great thing about this idea was that it required no technical know-how. I needed only two things; words and Twitter. Oh, and lots and lots of my time. And some serious balls. And a smattering of insanity.

Ok, more than two things.

Actually, there was another thing I’d need that I hadn’t thought I’d get – help. I had no sooner thrown the idea out there than I was bombarded by offers of help from Twitter friends, some of whom I’ve met in real life, most of whom I haven’t. They went forth (virtually) and spread the word, rounded up celebrities, coerced, cajoled and celebrated with me. I couldn’t have done this without Team Tweet Treats.

Anyway, I’m delighted to say that for once my daft idea has come to fruition. Tweet Treats was published this week by The O’Brien Press and is available from, Amazon, The Book Depository, Waterstones, Easons, Dubray Books, O'Brien Press and all good bookshops. All royalties are being donated to Medécins sans Frontières, an incredible organisation who are on the ground giving medical care to those who need it most in Somalia, Haiti and Pakistan, to name but a few. Every copy of Tweet Treats that’s sold directly benefits those who need it most.
Maybe I’ll turn my attention to the perfect mouse trap next time...

Monday 17 October 2011

Highland Storms & Deerhounds

Thank you for having me as your guest in the lovely Plotting Shed again, it’s great to be back!

Last time I was here I think I talked about dogs, because of Grumpy and the fact that my first novel featured two little dogs just like my own. I hope you won’t mind if I do it again? As you’ve probably gathered, I love dogs (well, all animals really, as long as they have no more than four legs!), so I guess it won’t be a surprise to hear that I decided to include a dog in Highland Storms as well – a deerhound called Liath.

This time, however, I gave him more of a starring role. Perhaps because a deerhound is so much bigger than the small, fluffy pooches I wrote about before, I was able to include him in the plot to a greater extent. And being an intelligent hound, he’s also a whole lot more obedient than the ones I live with in real life – trust me, you couldn’t get less obedient if you tried! Anyway, Liath is the heroine’s constant companion, friend and guard, and boy does she need him! He saves the day at least once and does his best to help out in every way, and that, to me, is what a proper guard dog should do.
The best thing of all, however, is that Liath likes the hero and decides not to guard the heroine against him, which annoys her no end at first! To me, this just showed that Liath was clever and knew a good person when he saw one, but it takes a while for the heroine to reach the same conclusion. I had great fun writing those scenes!

Different breeds have different characteristics, of course, and I tried to incorporate those of a deerhound into Liath. The lovely features and the fact that although they’re big, they are gentle and docile if treated right. The more I read about them, the more I wanted one, but sadly I don’t think my current dogs would accept another one into their pack. One day maybe …

I enjoyed all aspects of researching this novel, because I love Scotland and all things Scottish. It was a great excuse for visiting the Highlands and taking my daughter to see Loch Ness, where she hadn’t been before. Urquhart Castle, Eilean Donan and all the other sights we saw were breathtaking. We also enjoyed getting to know a small herd of Highland cattle (which are also mentioned in the story), owned by a friend of mine. The calves were adorable and some of the bigger animals allowed us to go near and even comb them! (I was a bit wary of those horns though.)

But enough about animals, I think. Instead, here is a short synopsis of Highland Storms:-

Who can you trust?

Betrayed by his brother and his childhood love, Brice Kinross needs a fresh start. So he welcomes the opportunity to leave Sweden for the Scottish Highlands to take over the family estate.

But there’s trouble afoot at Rosyth in 1754 and Brice finds himself unwelcome. The estate is in ruin and money is disappearing. He discovers an ally in Marsaili Buchanan, the beautiful redheaded housekeeper, but can he trust her?

Marsaili is determined to build a good life. She works hard at being housekeeper and harder still at avoiding men who want to take advantage of her. But she’s irresistibly drawn to the new clan chief, even though he’s made it plain he doesn’t want to be shackled to anyone.

And the young laird has more than romance on his mind. His investigations are stirring up an enemy. Someone who will stop at nothing to get what he wants – including Marsaili – even if that means destroying Brice’s life forever …

To win a signed copy of this novel, please tell us which breed of dog you like best and why?

Saturday 15 October 2011

Sunny & I'm Inside Editing

The weather has been gorgeous for the past few days and I think it's set to last into next week. I'm inside editing, of course, but here's a picture of Grumpy standing at the front door about half an hour ago. He seems intrigued by whatever it is that Rob is doing. Notice how he isn't helping though.

It was the anniversary of Rob and I meeting up (wedding anniversary is in August) and my lovely husband bought me these beautiful roses as well as some chocolates. I would have taken a photo of the chocolates...

Well, you know how it is? Chocolates aren't made to be looked at, they should be eaten.

This week I'm thrilled to have two guest bloggers telling us all about their new books. Can't wait.

Have a fun weekend. x

Sunday 9 October 2011

Tui - Before & After

Meet Tui.

She's the only long-haired black pup and so pretty. Don't you think she looks too sweet?

This was naughty Tui ten minutes later!

Poor sis, I do hope her garden recovers soon.

Friday 7 October 2011

Pups Leaving, YA Novel & NaNoWriMo 2011

Do you think Milo is sad that he's leaving the rest of the puppies? Actually he's one of three leaving early next week and I'll be sorry to see him go. The beautiful pup I posted on Facebook (Mowgli)is also going as is one of the black girl pups. Milo is going to a friend of my sister's so my sis will still be able to see him regularly, which will be nice. The pups are causing a bit of mayhem now and sis's garden looks like it's been ransacked.

I'm 2/3 through editing my WW1 novel and having received wonderful suggestions and support from my RNA NWS Reader, I hope to finish my edits by the end of this weekend. I'll then probably take a few days to read a book before I take a look at the dirty draft of my first attempt at a YA novel. I started this during NaNoWriMo 2009 and haven't had the time to look at it since then. So maybe now is the time to do so. I enjoyed taking part in NaNoWriMo 2010 too and managed to write the required 50,000 words for both the years I took part.

If you haven't taken part before and need something to spur you on, then NaNoWriMo 2011 is a great way to do it. Both times I reached the half-way point and wondered why I was putting myself through such a battle, but in the end it was very satisfying to achieve 50,000 words in 30 days.

I'll be visiting the pups again tomorrow morning before having lunch with a very good friend who is over in Jersey with her husband for a week. Can't wait. What are you hoping to do this weekend?