Blog Archives

Boot Camp Bride – Book Birthday Blitz

Boot Camp Bride is five years old this month. Recently I re-visited Norfolk and the sites which inspired the novel. I’d love to share them with you and, hopefully, remind you of what a great romcom Boot Camp Bride is. There’s a chance to win a paperback copy (UK only) or a mobi. download (worldwide) – details at the end of this blog, so join in the fun and you could be a winner.

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Blurb? I’ll allow one of my latest reviews to do the talking for me –

“Charlee is forced to attend a boot camp to get a scoop for the magazine she works for. I adored the situation set up for this story – such fun! The author is very clever at painting her characters and adding poignant brushstrokes of humour and vulnerability. Oh my, Charlee’s anecdotes will chase away the winter blues! Charlee guided me through her adventure, and I could not stop laughing. How does Lizzie Lamb manage to combine humour, adventure and romance? Charlee was feisty, fun, intelligent and clumsy – perfect. Undeterred by the alpha male, she managed to fight him with wit and stubbornness. Lizzie Lamb’s characters and style of writing sparkle in Boot Camp Bride. This romantic comedy is classic gold: it is the equivalent of comfort food and a good night out with friends.” 

As the tagline says – meet Charlee Montague – your new best friendThis is how I imagined her and delicious alpha hero, Raphael Fonseca Ffinch (aka Rafa)  . . .

Noel Coward was not a great fan of the county and quipped: awfully flat, Norfolk. That’s what I thought the first couple of times I visited Thornham where the novel is set. But after a time, I started to understand the appeal of this beautiful landscape. Here’s what Charlee thinks as she looks out across the marshes for the first time, Rafa at her side. windmills on the fens 2018-09-26 14.23.31

Now she was out of the wind and the sun had come out, the marshes didn’t look so grim after all. There was a stripped back beauty to them, she could see that, and the flocks of birds heading for the feeding grounds down by the shoreline ensured the view was ever changing. And she had to admit, just sitting there, eyes closed, face soaking up the weak January sun, was the perfect antidote to the last couple of manic weeks. When she glanced at Ffinch he was scanning the marshes through his binoculars, his cup of hot chocolate untouched on the bench beside him. Why did she get the impression it wasn’t the birds he was watching so intently? ‘What’s out there?’ Charlee asked, slipping on her sunglasses against the almost overwhelming expanse of bright blue sky that filled three quarters of the landscape. ‘The Wash. And over there you can see the wind turbines on the shoreline at Skegness.’ Charlee followed his pointing finger and squinted at the distant shore where almost a hundred huge turbines were turning like quiet ghosts.

the lifeboat inn

Boot Camp Bride is set in Thornham, near Hunstanton. The Lifeboat Inn, an alleged haunt of smugglers, doubles for The Ship in the novel. This is where Rafa and Charlee  spend their first night together – strictly business, natch – very much aware of a growing physical attraction.  lifeboat stairs.jpg

“Charlee and Ffinch climbed the stairs to their respective bedrooms. Charlee was rather unsteady, a combination of vertiginous heels and the quantity of wine she’d consumed. She pulled a face and groaned, thinking of the hangover she would wake up with and the windswept salt marshes dashing ice-cold rain and sleet into her face. Ffinch walked up the stairs behind her, his hand resting lightly on her waist as if keeping a loving eye on her, whereas in reality he was holding her upright. Bidding the other guests goodnight, he whispered in her ear. ‘Smile, for goodness sake. You look as if you’re going to your doom, not a night of passion in The Ship’s best room. Stay in role.’ ‘I’m concentrating on my balance, if you must know, and,’ Charlee whipped round as his words sank in, almost falling backwards into his arms. ‘A night of passion, now hold it right there, mate. It’d take more than two glasses of champagne -’ ‘Half a bottle of Rioja, a sticky with your pudding and cognac with coffee – to do what? Make the thought of sleeping with me more palatable?’ Although he kept a straight face, Charlee detected banked down humour there.”

My friend Joan and I sitting in the hall of The Lifeboat Inn. It was at her and husband Roger’s place in Thornham that the idea of Boot Camp Bride first took shape.

It was easy to imagine Thornham Manor as the phoney Boot Camp for Brides – the front for drug smuggling on the marshes. At high tide it would be easy to land contraband on the nearby quay without arousing suspicion. jlnbqYou can also read an extract HERE

Boot Camp Bride is also available as a paperback and would make an ideal Christmas/ birthday present for someone who enjoys reading romance with a light sprinkling of humour and quick fire dialogue. Oh, and there’s a classic VW Camper Van featured in it, too. What’s not to like?

If you’d like to enter Boot Camp’s Brides Birthday Competition, all you have to do it FOLLOW my blog and/or share this post on any of the links below. The winner will be notified by email.

And, finally – If you’d like to read more about Rafa and Charlee’s adventures, download  a copy of Boot Camp Bride – It’s 99p/99c from Wednesday 21st November for one week.  

Guest Blog Post – Rosie Travers – Theatre of Dreams

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It’s a pleasure to welcome Rosie Travers to my blog today. 

If you don’t know Rosie or her novels, here’s your chance to find out – 

Welcome Rosie, tell us a little about your background

I grew up in Southampton on the south coast of England and loved escaping into a good book from a very early age. As a teenager I landed my dream job working in a book shop, and spent much of my spare time scribbling numerous short stories and novels, none of which I was ever brave enough to show anyone. Sadly, the real world took over and my writing habit was put on hold for marriage, mortgages and motherhood. In 2009 I moved across the Atlantic to Southern California when my husband took up a three year overseas work assignment.  Life as an ex-pat wife wasn’t quite as glamorous as I’d first envisaged, so to fend off the loneliness and homesickness, I began a blog about our life in Los Angeles, which re-ignited my creative juices.

When I returned to the UK I undertook a creative writing course and boosted by a couple of short story competition successes I joined the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers’ Scheme. My debut novel, The Theatre of Dreams, was published on 1 August 2018.

Tell us about Theatre of Dreams. Great cover and it sounds an intriguing read. 

Rosie Travers Theatre of Dreams

Rosie said: The wonderful thing about being an author is being able to rewrite history – my inspiration for The Theatre of Dreams is the historic Lee Tower which was once situated on the seafront at Lee-on-the-Solent in my native Hampshire.  The Art Deco complex was constructed in 1935 and originally comprised a cinema, ballroom, restaurant and 120ft observation tower. The buildings were demolished by the local council in 1971 and the site is now a car-park – a travesty in a town with so few amenities. I spotted a commemorative notice about the tower and my imagination was captured.

The Theatre of Dreams is a story of new beginnings, laced with romance, tragedy and intrigue. Set in a fictional south coast resort,  a devious octogenarian, a disgraced actress and a bankrupt architect form an unlikely alliance to save an iconic local landmark,  but each has a very different motive.

I was so intrigued that I searched for Lee Tower on Google and here’s what I found – Sadly, the images are copyrighted, but you can look for yourself. 

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Official Blurb

Musical theatre actress Tara is down on her luck and in desperate need of a job. When terminally-ill octogenarian Kitty invites her to take over the running of her former dance academy in the old-fashioned resort of Hookes Bay, Tara thinks she’s found her guardian angel. But it soon becomes very clear Kitty is being far from benevolent. Too late, Tara realises helping Kitty will signal the end of an already tarnished career, unless she can pull off the performance of a life-time.

The Theatre of Dreams is published by Crooked Cat Books

Here’s what some reviewers have said about The Theatre of Dreams

“a true pleasure to read from first page to last….I challenge anyone to read this book and not become completely enthralled with these characters. The character development in this book was just simply stellar!”

“This is a highly enjoyable book with just the right balance of all the elements needed to make it a satisfyingly great read. it really does deserve 5 big shiny, glittery stars!”

The Theatre of Dreams is available on Amazon in ebook and paperback.

Official Blurb

Musical theatre actress Tara is down on her luck and in desperate need of a job. When terminally-ill octogenarian Kitty invites her to take over the running of her former dance academy in the old-fashioned resort of Hookes Bay, Tara thinks she’s found her guardian angel. But it soon becomes very clear Kitty is being far from benevolent. Too late, Tara realises helping Kitty will signal the end of an already tarnished career, unless she can pull off the performance of a life-time.

The Theatre of Dreams is published by Crooked Cat Books

If you’d like to read an extract – click on this link:

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If you’d like to learn out more about Rosie, here’s where you need to look –

Website: www.rosietravers.com

Twitter @RosieTravers

Facebook: www.facebook.com/rosietraversauthor

Instagram: rosietraversauthor

STOP PRESS * Rosie’s second book, Your Secret’s Safe With Me, will be released next year.   

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My 10 point guide on how to be a (successful) indie author – part #1

This blog post is the result of #UKROMCHAT inviting me onto their fab site. I thought the notes were too good to be hidden away in one of my box files. I hope you find the post interesting.  Do share/comment/ask questions, that’s what this post is all about.

 1.Please tell us about your latest book Take Me, I’m Yours

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India Buchanan plans to set up an English-Style bed and breakfast establishment in her great-aunt’s home, MacFarlane’s Landing, Wisconsin. But she’s reckoned without opposition from Logan MacFarlane whose family once owned her aunt’s house and now want it back. MacFarlane is in no mood to be denied. His grandfather’s living on borrowed time and Logan has vowed to ensure the old man sees out his days in their former home. India’s great-aunt has other ideas and has threatened to burn the house to the ground before a MacFarlane sets foot in it. There’s a story here. One the family elders aren’t prepared to share. When India finds herself in Logan’s debt, her feelings towards him change. However, the past casts a long shadow and events conspire to deny them the love and happiness they. Can India and Logan’s love overcome all odds? Or is history about to repeat itself? You can read an extract.

2.This is your first book set outside of the UK. What drew you to Wisconsin. 

Back in the day I trained a teaching student from Oshkosh University for two terms. We became great friends and I had a standing invitation to go over to stay with her in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. I did just that for five weeks one summer and when I flew back from Chicago I promised I would write a romance set in Wisconsin. Last year I learned she has Parkinson’s Disease and that galvanised me into action – this book is for her.

3.OK, we need to know about Sexy Scottish Lairds and Hunky Marine Biologists…

#3cWell, if you insist. I am a dyed-in-the-wool romantic. For some women, it’s Regency Rakes, Cowboys or Navy Seals, but for me it’s a man-in-a-kilt. If he’s a highland laird or the heir to a highland estate so much the better. Not because of wealth or  belonging to an aristocratic family but because I love a hero who isn’t afraid to shoulder responsibility, care for his tenants and who has a strong connection with the land. Those attributes, allied with a sharp mind, a sense of humour and a willingness to care for the heroine wins me over. As for marine biologists: who could resist Daniel Craig or Sean Connery emerging from the surf in a wetsuit – budgie smugglers, not so much! Urgh.

4 and 5.Please tell us about your writing journey prior to New Romantics Press being founded

I had bagged an agent (the late Dot Lumley) and HM&B were showing interest in my writing.  In 1990 I reached a crossroads, continue with my writing or accept a deputy headship of a large primary school. Because of the demanding nature of teaching, I knew I couldn’t do both and chose the latter. In 2006 I took early retirement from teaching joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme, wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted and submitted it for a critique. I was told it was ‘almost ready’ to start sending out to agents but needed more polishing. etc. In the meantime, I co-founded NRP with other members of the RNA/NWS. Then, over lunch in my garden, author Amanda Grange advised us to consider self-publishing on amazon. The algorithms were changing and . . . well, you can read more about it here –  That was in 2012 and we’ve never looked back. I only wish I’d had the chutzpah to self-publish a year earlier because terms were more favourable on Amazon at that point.

New Romantics Press is keen to find new readers and share our work with them. Over the last six years we have published fifteen books between us and are currently working on new titles. Our motto is: Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves and you can read more about us on in this blog

6.What are the benefits of collaborating with other authors?

Well, for one thing, you are never more than a phone call away from a good mate who will listen to your writing woes, meet you for coffee and offer sound advice. Between us, we have a wealth of knowledge about indie publishing, social media, PR – and what one of us doesn’t know, the others will find out! I couldn’t imagine being without my NRP support system.

Your events sound like fun . . . #5bMost readers and bloggers mention how much fun we have promoting our books. Writing can be a lonely occupation. As authors, we spend most of the time hidden away in our studies/offices tapping at the keyboard. When we do get out, we like to let our hair down. Warning: our events involve laughter and prosecco, so only like-minded writers and readers need apply.

In 2019, Adrienne Vaughan and I will be running a series of workshops for novice and intermediate writers, sharing our knowledge and giving them the confidence to finish their WIP. On a more personal note, before the end of 2018, I have a library talk, a lecture on indie publishing to deliver at De Montfort University, I’m hosting a workshop featuring Kim Nash of Bookouture – and organising a Christmas Party for the Belmont Belles (the Leicester Chapter of the RNA) with guest speaker Carole Matthews. Oh, and I have another novel to write – no pressure, obvs.img_3267

Here endeth the first part of my talk. Do join me next time when I will be covering the following aspects of writing:

  • the difference between self-publishing and indie publishing
  • advice for writers considering self-publishing/indie publishing
  • my thoughts about taking a hybrid approach
  • plotters vs pantsers
  • top tips for finishing a novel 
  • choosing and researching the location of my novels
  • why do I write happily ever after novels 

Laters,

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– BREAKING NEWS –  TMIY hits #1 spot

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New Novel – Take Me, I’m Yours – a Wisconsin love story

I hope you’re having a great summer and enjoying these endless days of sunshine. It reached over 35 degrees in SCOTLAND (Motherwell) when I was there this summer researching my next novel. However, I turned my back on the glorious sunshine and spent time in the caravan putting the finishing touches to Take My, I’m Yours. IMG_1975(1)

For some of the time, I was working with my formatter, Sarah Houldcroft of Goldcrest Books almost 600 miles away in Leicestershire. In one hilarious incident I had to travel across north-west Sutherland to find a phone signal in order to finalise the last details with her. Then I was forced to sit in the car park of the Fisheries Dept in Lochinver to check through and upload the final version of the novel.
See how I suffer for my art?

Anyhoo, here’s the blurb  – I hope it’ll tempt you to download a copy of Take Me, I’m Yours, or buy a paperback for yourself or a friend. 

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You’re probably wondering why I have deserted the highlands of Scotland for Lake Michigan. If you download the novel you’ll find the answer in the dedication. In Take Me, I’m Yours the hero Logan MacFarlane quotes Robert Frost, saying that he has ‘promises to keep’. I promised my friend Dee Paulsen that when I left the teaching profession to become a full-time author, I would write a romance set in Wisconsin. Take Me, I’m Yours is that novel.

Many years ago we stayed in Door County, Wisconsin. On our last day, we went to Egg Harbor and Cana Island to explore the lighthouses there. Images of that day stayed with me and when I came to write Take Me, I’m Yours, I had no trouble imagining Aunt Elspeth’s dilapidated house with its ancient lighthouse looming over it.  The story almost wrote itself because I’d spent many years thinking about it and having conversations with the characters in my head.

Here’s how the novel begins . . .

Sip and have fun!

 

The first reviews are in – Goodreads – and here’s what they say:

  • From the moment that Logan MacFarlane roars into view on his vintage Triumph motorcycle and India Buchanan grabs her monkey wrench to defend herself for their first skirmish, I knew I was going to love this bookjames-kresser-598017-unsplash
  • I fell in love with Scotland reading Lizzie’s books, and now with Wisconsin, too!
  • As usual Lizzie’s characters leapt off the page and I felt as if I knew them; loved some and despaired of others. A very satisfying read.
  •  Be ready for 19 chapters of pure escapism where witty, ironic dialogues mix skilfully with top romance.

If you’d like to read some of Take Me, I’m Yours  click here. TMIY is also free to read for Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime subscribers.

mara-ket-504242-unsplashI am proud of this novel and everything I’ve achieved over the last five and a half years as an an indie publisher. I could rest on my laurels but I am burning to start novel number 6, a ‘road-trip’ romance which will take readers from Cornwall of Scotland on the trail of two runaways.

And, of course I have another gorgeous hero waiting in the wings to meet you . . . and a less-than-impressed heroine who will keep him on his toes.

The first stages of my planning sheet for #6

Planning sheet for #6 which I started while in Scotland in June

Finally, from  the 15th – 21st of September, Take Me, I’m Yours will be on tourIMG_1919(1)

footnote: I received an email this morning from Amazon inviting me to enter Take Me, I’m Yours into the Kindle Storyteller Award 2018 judged by Lorraine Kelly and readers. Will I do it? Of course I will – as Del Boy once so famously said: she who dares, wins. It would really increase my chances of being shortlisted if you downloaded a copy and left  a review.

Thank you very much , Lizzie x

Brora to Bettyhill – Coast Road 500

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When I was a child, my family would gather round the radiogram and play old 78’s. One of their favourites was Granny’s Heilan’ Hame sung by Kenneth McKellar and by the time the record finished there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.

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(c) History Links 

I hadn’t thought about that song in years but when we left the Black Isle and headed towards Brora I saw a sign Granny’s Heilan Hame and it triggered some happy memories. I researched the eponymous granny ( Kate Mackay), and discovered more about her and the song, including a  photograph of her highland home.

Rain bucketing down we headed for Golspie and the campsite at Brora. The wind dropped enough to allow us to explore the sand dunes and we had the glorious beach almost to ourselves. We considered taking the single track rail journey to Wick the next day but were talked out of it by a fellow camper who said that most of the journey was between brown hills dotted with telegraph poles. Next time, maybe. panorama of beach at Brora

If you do find yourself in Brora consider visiting Dunrobin CastleDunrobin castle (2) - Copy(see turrets in photo on right) We’d visited years before so we headed up the A9 instead for Dunnet Bay and the Castle of Mey. We thought that touring Scotland in September the camping/caravan  sites would be empty – not so. The popularity of Route 500 meant that sites were very busy and it’s wise to book ahead.

That’s me pointing at a dead jellyfish on the beach (one of many!) and the view from our caravan window over Dunnet Bay. Bit stormy as you can see, but no midges.

 

Next day we drove into Thurso. Being used to large towns and cities I turned my nose up at the rather old fashioned shop fronts. Once inside the shops, I revised my opinion,   I found them to be well-stocked and the staff were very helpful and welcoming. So don’t drive past Thurse, take time to stop and look around. The following day we visited John o’ Groats. We hadn’t been there in twenty years so we were surprised to find it vastly improved, – fabulous cafe. cool gift shop, free wifi, and the best roast beef sandwich ever.

2017-09-16 12.40.23IMG_0450[2]was glad I was able to get on the internet  because there was a message from Amazon offering me a three month #PRIME deal on Boot Camp Bride. I had to reply before the end of the day. Did I accept? You bet I did.

We decided to visit the Queen Mum’s former home at the Castle of Mey and had a guided tour which made it well worth the visit. It’s a pity it wasn’t high summer because we were told that the rose gardens there are something else. The castle was very comfortable and I could have easily have lived there because it wasn’t too large – and it had central heating (!)

The next day, as we drove through Thurso, we were held up to allow a police convoy to pass us by at high speed. It consisted of outriders on motorbikes, and a couple of large vehicles packed with armed officers wearing SWAT gear and carrying machine guns. We never found out what the drama was, but we wondered if it was a drill or something similar. Anyhoo, undeterred, we moved on – past the former nuclear plant at Dounreay  and towards our goal, BettyHill.

 

I’ve always wanted to visit Bettyhill because that was  my maiden name, and I remember as a child wondering why a place in the remote north of Scotland shared a name with me. Just as we were travelling along the rather narrow road (sans caravan, obvs) we drove past over a thousand cyclists – luckily going the other way – on the last leg of the Lands’ End/ John O’ Groats Ride Across Britain . We stopped at the Bettyhill Hotel and had coffee and a bacon butty while we watched them swoosh past. Brave souls. Here are two stragglers . . . and a view from the hotel dining room.

 

Then it was on to Bettyhill. I discovered that the Countess of Sutherland had built it as a replacement village the to rehouse 15, 000 tenants removed from prime sheep grazing land as part of the Highland Clearances. The Countess (Elizabeth) named the village after herself and probably considered that she’d looked after her former tenants/crofters well.  We might have a different take on that nowadays. Read some of the first-hand accounts of the distress caused by the clearances and make up your own mind.

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74269077 – haunting remains of arichonan township, a cleared village in the highlands of scotland.

One of the places we would have loved to visit and camp overnight is Altnaharra but everything we read advised against taking a caravan to the site. So we pressed on the Durness and my favourite cafe – Cocoa Mountain – and the best hot chocolate in the world. But I’ll tell you more about that in my next blog post.

Meantime, if you haven’t read any of my novels, check out the blurbs and download one from Amazon. Paperbacks also available.

 

I’ve just finished proofreading my latest novel – Take Me, I’m Yours – which will be published July 2018. If you’d like to learn more about THAT, subscribe to my newsletter and be in with a chance to even win a signed paperback and other goodies.

Guest post – Eleanor Harkstead, new novel and Men in Kilts –

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It is my pleasure today to give a big shout out to Eleanor Harkstead fellow member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, lover of history, men in kilts and all round fabulous author. Some of you may remember that I interviewed Eleanor (aka Helen Barrell) back in June 2017. At the end of that post I asked her what she was working on and she said:

 

“With two non-fiction titles under my belt, I’m focussing on fiction for a while. I’ve recently started to write collaboratively with Catherine Curzon  – we have historical romance and romantic thrillers up our collective sleeves.” 

 

Their contemporary short story about feuding theatricals, ‘An Actor’s Guide to Romance’, is available on Amazon. The first installment in their Captivating Captains series, the historical novel The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper, will be published on 3 April 2018, and is available to pre-order. Both titles are published by Pride. If fancy reading ‘something different,’ give Eleanor and Catherine’s novel a try.

I met Eleanor through the Birmingham Chapter of the RNA and we discovered a common bond: writing, romance, a love of history and Scotland. To give you a taste of Eleanor’s work, I thought it would be fun to ask her to write a piece about Men in Kilts. Here it is:

The Ballad of the Scotsman in a Kilt

The first time I visited Glasgow with my Scottish partner, he assured me that I wouldn’t be seeing anyone in a kilt. “No one wears kilts in Scotland. Only bagpipers wear them, and old men in the islands.” Reader, I was disappointed. Until we got off the train at Glasgow Central and found ourselves in a swirling morass of Scottish footie fans who were off to see their team play an international match. Almost everyone was in a kilt. 

“I thought you said no one wears kilts in Scotland?”  “Erm….” was his reply

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On another trip to Glasgow, my partner decided to buy a kilt. The ground floor of the shop was full of shortbread and whisky, and knickknacks featuring lake monsters and West Highland terriers. We headed down into the basement to the kilt department, where the heavy tartans and tweeds muffled the sounds from the street above. First, to decide the tartan. Being a Wallace, my partner does have a tartan for his surname, but he found its red colour a bit brash. So he opted instead for the Wallace hunting tartan, which is mainly a dark green. Obviously, you’d startle your quarry if it you had a quantity of bright red fabric swinging about your thighs as you crossed the springy heather, so each tartan has a hunting variant. Also – each tartan has an “ancient” variant, where the colours are more muted. After choosing his fabric, my partner was measured up. A kilt should be worn high on the waist, not low-slung on the hips, and it should come above the knee. 

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When out and about in his kilt, my partner has had people comment that his kilt’s too short, but it is the correct length.

 

I’m sure you won’t mind me referring you back to the image of the heavy fabric swinging about the thighs as our Scottish chap strides up the side of a mountain – if the kilt is below the knee, that stride is going to be rather difficult. There’s an option to have a “sports kilt” – this involves less cloth (the pleats mean kilts are made from a vast amount of fabric), and they’re made from synthetics rather than wool. This makes them easier to move about in, whether you’re tossing cabers or heading off to a football stadium.

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Lizzie’s husband favours the Bonnie Prince Charlie jacket and Dockers t-shirt for a more casual look. The sporran is very handy for storing one’s iphone.

A sporran, next – my partner chose a plain leather one. You can get all sorts of designs on them, such as thistles or the St Andrew’s cross, as well as ones made from seal fur. If you must, you can have a ceremonial dagger – or sgian dubh – to tuck in one’s sock, then you have to choose your jacket. Does sir want a black “Bonnie Prince Charlie” jacket, or perhaps for that laird-striking-out-across-his-acres look, a tweed with buttons made from bone? And as for the shirt, will sir be wearing a plain white one or a Highlander-style billowing blouse? Whilst I evinced an interest in a shirt of the more billowing variety, my partner decided it would make him look like a jessie, so he wears one that he bought from Next. With a Wallace hunting tartan tie, of course.What footwear for a kilt? There’s traditional lace-up brogues, or you could go with a buckled shoe, or heck, why not go a bit punk and wear DMs or motorcycle boots?2017-09-27 10.33.23

A flutter of excitement went through my English family and friends once it became known that my partner had his very own kilt. He wore it when we visited my mum on her birthday in that most unScottish of English counties: Essex (well, apart from the Dagenham Girl Pipers).

 

My mum was exceedingly pleased with the kilt, and demanded she have her photo taken stood beside my partner in his Scottish finery. I am dismayed to relate that she told him it really suited his rear. Yes, it certainly does; that wouldn’t have passed me by, but mother – really. We went out for dinner on my mum’s birthday, so my partner decided to wear his kilt. On the way to the restaurant, my mum insisted we stop off in Sainsbury’s. The locals of Brentwood had never before seen a man in a kilt sashay through the aisles of their supermarket and my partner left a sea of astonished faces in his wake. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

All except one local who came up to him to declare that he was wearing the Blackwatch tartan. My partner tried very politely to explain that he was wearing the Wallace hunting tartan, but she wouldn’t have it. Because of course, who could be more expert on kilts than someone living in Essex? “I know it’s the Blackwatch tartan – I’ve got it on a biscuit tin.”

Those better be shortbreads, or I’m having words.

 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that no wedding is complete without a man in a kilt. We looked at the photos of a friend’s wedding to discover that a nice picture of my partner stood beside the bride was complete with women of a certain age in the background who were very obviously staring at his legs. At another wedding, he noticed that several female guests were deliberately getting their photos taken so that my partner and his kilt – and of course his legs – were in the background. 

 

He’s even received an invitation to a wedding purely based on the fact that he owns a kilt. Unfortunately, on the day my partner was at a loss to find the right shoes, so turned up in trousers. As disappointing as this may have been for the women who were so looking forward to staring at a strange man’s knees, he wore his tweed jacket and tartan tie with his trousers, so he still brought a suitably Scottish vibe to proceedings.

And what does a Scotsman wear under his kilt? Boxer shorts – in plaid, of course.

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Many thanks to Helen/Eleanor for writing that piece for the blog. If you want to know more about Eleanor and her work, here are the links. 

www.pride-publishing.com/book/an-actors-guide-to-romance

www.eleanorharkstead.co.uk

www.facebook.com/eleanorharkstead

 

 

My week in retrospect – blogging, writing, Goodreads Giveaway, fabulous presents – and surviving the dreaded lurgy.

Many thanks to blogger Linda Hill for inviting me on her blog to talk about Girl in the Castle. Linda is the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Media/blog star award of 2017.

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You can read the blog post here https://wp.me/p5IN3z-cRi

I’ve also been learning how to make animations on ripl.com What do you think?

If you’d like to share my tweet here’s the link

I spent quite a chunk of the week monitoring my ‘paid for’ Goodreads promotion. Here are the results. The promo was limited to the US and the winner chosen at random. I was able to mail the book direct to her via my Createspace account. Simples.

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Would I do it again? If I see a spike in downloads, yes; if not, no. I’ll be blogging about it in more detail in the near future. Tune in for more details in a couple of weeks.

I spent some of the week composing guest blog posts and sending them off to bloggers/writing blogs to go out in March.

The highlight of the last ten days or so was being long listed for the Exeter Novel Prize. Fingers crossed I make the short list.

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I have also been cracking on with my work in progress which I hope to publish late spring. I have two fabulous editors working on this with me and when it’s ready I’ll be zooming it over to my proofreaders. I have also recruited a new member to my team to check accuracy of location etc.  I think I’ve got all the bases covered. Cover reveal sometime after Easter – hopefully.

While all this activity was going on, my husband (code name Bongo Man), and I have been smitten by the dreaded lurgy –  equivalent of the American term, cooties – and had to cancel our proposed caravan trip to the Cotswolds. We hope to try again in March.IMG_7299 (Edited).JPG

In the meantime . . . a fabulous present arrived from the Diva from Dumbarton2018-02-17 09.10.48 (2)We can’t wait to find a space for the gifts next to the hand-crocheted blanket and cushion our mate Carole Matthews made especially for the new van. I have Carole’s new novel – A Million Love Songs on pre-order, something else to look forward to.

Well, I guess that about wraps it up. Must dash. Bongo Man, still laid up with the dreaded lurgy, has requested a slice of Battenberg cake to accompany his mid morning cuppa. Better head for our local co-op and hope they have some on their shelves. Laters.

Have a great week. Keep on reading, writing, blogging and reviewing.

A Heads Up and Some Good News

Hi everyone – I’m delighted to share my news with you.

GIRL IN THE CASTLE  has been long listed for the Exeter Novel Prize.

Click on the arrow to watch this promo.

I’ve got my fingers and everything else crossed that I make the short list.

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💕Perhaps you’d like to read Girl in the Castle or buy a paperback copy for someone for Valentine’s Day? 💕 Here’s the blurb to whet your appetite –

Her academic career in tatters, Dr Henriette Bruar needs somewhere to lay low, plan her comeback and restore her tarnished reputation. Fate takes her to a remote Scottish castle to auction the contents of an ancient library to pay the laird’s mounting debts. The family are in deep mourning over a tragedy which happened years before, resulting in a toxic relationship between the laird and his son, Keir MacKenzie. Cue a phantom piper, a lost Jacobite treasure, and a cast of characters who – with Henri’s help, encourage the MacKenzies to confront the past and move on. However – will the Girl in the Castle be able to return to university once her task is completed, and leave gorgeous, sexy Keir MacKenzie behind?If you want to read an extract from Girl in the Castle, you can do so here.

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I’m also offering a #GIVEAWAY of a paperback copy of Girl in the Castle on Goodreads (US only, sorry). You have until February 15th to enter.

Two years ago I was shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize with Scotch on the Rocks. If you would like to read about that occasion, here’s the link

Finally . . . yesterday, New Romantics Press travelled to London for the launch of  Adrienne Vaughan’s new novel – That Summer at the Seahorse Hotel. We had a fabulous time. If you’d like to see the photos and read the blog post, here it is . . . Have a great weekend and keep on writing, reading and reviewing.

Guest Post – Welcome Sharon Booth –

It is my pleasure to welcome Sharon Booth to my blog. Sharon and I ‘found’ each other via Facebook and the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Sharon is a hardworking and inspired novelist and a generous supporter of other writers.

We met ‘in the flesh’ for the first time last year at the RNA Afternoon Tea in York. Sharon is every bit as warm and friendly as I’d imagined. Take it away, Sharon . . .

author picI write contemporary romance, with a generous sprinkling of humour thrown in for good measure. For many years, I tried to write big, dramatic, historical sagas, as I’d grown up reading Catherine Cookson novels, and thought that was the sort of thing I should be writing. It took me quite some time to realise that, as wonderful as those books are, they’re not the sort of books I need to write. I started to create contemporary stories, filled with heroines I would happily hang out with, and heroes I fell in love with. Now, I have nine books published! Two of those books started life as People’s Friend pocket novels, which was a dream come true, as it meant my work was actually on the shelves in supermarkets and WH Smith.

I have also sold the large-print rights for the pocket novels, to Ulverscroft, and the first one was published last April, as part of its Linford Romance Library, with the second one coming out in March. This means I also have books in libraries.

I live in East Yorkshire with my husband and German Shepherd dog. I have five grown-up children and seven grandchildren.  I’m one tenth of the blogging group, The Write Romantics. I’m shamefully prone to developing huge crushes on fictional heroes, and I never lose hope that, one day, I will hear the sound of those Tardis engines …

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A Q and A session with Sharon. I’m sure you’ll find her answers and inspirational.

advice for fledgling authors

  • If you really want to write, do it. Don’t wait until you “have the time” or until inspiration strikes. Pick up a pen, or sit at that computer, and start. I’ve been told, many times, by various people, that they would love to write a book “if they had the time”. The fact is, you have to make the time. I have a family and a day job. If you want to write, you will push everything else aside and do it.
  • Seek out other writers. It’s a very lonely business if you don’t make contact, and the writing community is so supportive. Join a writing group, or make online connections. Maybe join the Romantic Novelists’ Association if your genre is romance.
  • Read the genre you write in. Read how-to-write books. If you can afford it, take writing courses.
  • Be prepared for rejection and develop a skin like a rhinoceros hide – or, at least, pretend to.
  • Don’t expect to get rich. Keep writing. Don’t give up. If you want this, you must make it happen.
  • Be kind to other writers. It’s a tough world out there, so share their news, encourage, support and congratulate. Learn to promote your own stuff, but don’t be afraid to promote other people’s. There’s room for everyone.
  • Most of all, don’t forget to enjoy it. Writing is a job, and it’s undoubtedly hard work. You started writing because you love it, never lose sight of that.

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Who or what has inspired you the most to become a writer?

  • Enid Blyton, whose stories sparked my love for books and reading, which, in turn, made me want to write my own stories.
  • My English teacher, from the age of thirteen until I left school. My English teacher was so encouraging and supportive, really making me believe that this was something I could do. For the first time in my life, I began to think that writing was a gift, and that I should nurture it and be proud of it.
  • A BBC programme, Reader, I Married Him, back in 2008, or thereabouts, ignited that flame of hope again, after years spent raising children, and writing nothing more exciting than shopping lists.
  • Jane Wenham-Jones’s book, Wannabe a Writer? convinced me that, yes, I really, really did, and led me to study creative writing, read numerous how-to books, and eventually join the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme.
  • Milly Johnson and Sue Townsend. Reading books by these two wonderful writers, about people I knew and understood, I finally realised that I could write about people like me, and that books could be funny, too.

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If not a writer – then what?

I do have a day job, working for the NHS. If I’m honest, though, that’s not a path I chose, exactly.  I’d already given up on the idea of university, as I’d been assured that it wasn’t for “people like us”. I wanted to be a primary school teacher at one point, in my early thirties, and took a further education course aimed at women keen to return to work after having children. A careers guide visited us, and suggested I should aim lower, and try to be a teaching assistant instead. My already fragile confidence was shattered. I spent a few more years floundering, before finally gathering my courage and signing up for a degree in literature with the Open University,  graduating with honours in my mid-forties. I want people to know that it’s never too late to realise your dreams,  don’t listen to the doubters.

Tell us a little bit about where you set your novels

I set my novels in Yorkshire – which is such a huge and diverse county. My Kearton Bay novels are set on the North Yorkshire coast, in a little village that bears a remarkable resemblance to Robin Hood’s Bay. Bit by bit, I’ve built up a whole world around that village, spreading out into the Yorkshire Moors and creating a network of villages and towns that also feature in my Moorland Heroes and Bramblewick series. The Skimmerdale series, on the other hand, is set over in the stunningly beautiful Yorkshire Dales. I have another series in my mind, which will take place in the Yorkshire Wolds, which is an area on my doorstep – the Wolds Way actually starts in my home town of Hessle, right by the Humber Bridge. It’s an underrated area, often overlooked as people rave about the Moors and Dales. I absolutely love Yorkshire, and like nothing more than heading out for the day to take in the stunning views or ancient buildings. We’ve got plenty of castles and abbeys to choose from, that’s for sure.

My current book is Saving Mr Scrooge, the second in my Moorland Heroes series – the first being Resisting Mr Rochester.

It’s the time of peace on earth and goodwill to all men, but at Carroll’s Confectionary, the meaning of Christmas seems to have been forgotten. New boss, Kit Carroll, is hardly winning friends with his high-handed attitude, his foolhardy approach to production, and his tight-fisted treatment of the factory’s employees.
Marley Jacobs, his self-styled PA, is determined to make him see the error of his ways, and return the festive spirit to Carroll’s Confectionary.

Unfortunately, the little matter of their previous relationship, along with Kit’s callous treatment of her when they were teenage sweethearts, keeps getting in the way of her good intentions. With encouragement from co-worker Don, romantic sister Olivia, and — astonishingly — the usually sceptical Great Uncle Charles, Marley decides to save this modern-day Mr Scrooge from himself, despite having no well-meaning ghosts to help her.

But revisiting the past doesn’t just stir things up for Kit. As Marley struggles to deal with bittersweet memories, present-day events take a surprising turn. Can the future be changed, after all? And is it only Kit who needs saving?

Moorland Heroes series

“Sharon Booth’s writing just gets better and better…” Review of Saving Mr Scrooge: Being Anne Book Blog.

“Everything you want in a Christmassy book”. Review of Christmas at the Country Practice: Writer up the Hill.

“A terrific book from a terrific author”. Review of Resisting Mr Rochester: Antrim Cycle

“There Must Be an Angel is one of those delightful stories that grabs you by the hand on page one”. Review of There Must Be an Angel: Jaffa Reads Too.

“A hugely entertaining jaunt of a novel through the Yorkshire dales”. Review of This Other Eden: Random Badger.

I’m currently working on the second in my Skimmerdale series, the sequel to This Other Eden. I’m very much enjoying revisiting my gorgeous Yorkshire Dales sheep farmer, Eliot! I’m also working on the third Bramblewick novel, which continues the story of the village surgery, and the medical and reception staff who work there.

You can find out more about Sharon and her book here – www.sharonboothwriter.com

**featured image – Whitby, Yorks – https://unsplash.com/@grafiklee

Happy Samhain (Halloween) – party photos, novel extract and free download

As a writer of Scottish romances, I thought I’d blog about a halloween party featured in my latest novel – Girl in the Castle

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I hope you enjoy the extract. I’ve also added some photos I took at a Halloween party last night and, to celebrate Halloween, there’s a FREE download featured at the end of this blog post. men in kilts laughing

When Henri entered the Great Hall, it had been completely transformed by the purple gloaming outside the windows, strategically placed candles and the roaring twin fires. A harpist was playing a selection of melodies on a clarsach, and in another corner, children were dookin’ for apples in a barrel of water, supervised by nannies or older siblings. The young guisers, dressed as ghouls, spirits or favourite super heroes, took great delight in frightening the grown-ups with turnip lanterns dangling from sticks and fake Dracula fangs. 

Henriette - shawlIf Henri had dressed so as not to draw attention to herself, the other guests showed no such restraint. They were celebrating Samhain in style; the men in kilts, ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ jackets over matching waistcoats, dress shirts, black tie, and brogues. The women in long plaid skirts/kilts, silk blouses with lacy jabots or, like herself, in simple black dresses worn with clan tartan in the form of a shawl or a sash. Clearly, this was an evening for showing off, because heirloom tiaras, necklaces and bracelets had been taken out of the bank vault. The jewels caught the candlelight and added extra glamour to the evening.

 One man stood apart from the rest, and it took several seconds before Henri realised that it was Keir. She’d never seen the Master of Mountgarrie other than in his work clothes. But this Keir, wearing full Highland dress with unconscious grace and style was every inch the laird she’d dreamed about in the library. Grasping her silver caman for good luck, she stepped out of the shadows and into the hall.Man in a doorway

If you’ d like to read more about the Girl in the Castle,  download it onto your kindle or to buy and keep a paperback copy on your bookshelf.

Here are the photos from last night’s party  – (thank you, hostess with the mostess, Adrienne Vaughan)- lots of spooks and demons, but not a kilt in sight. Unfortunately. You might also catch a glimpse of fellow New Romantics Press’s June Kearns behind one of the masks (!) 

 

 

 

If you like spooky stories then check out an anthology Adrienne and I contributed to. It’s  FREE to download at the moment, then it’s going – going – gone.

#best seller

And finally . . . check out this blog post I wrote about a real life spooky event which happened to me and my siblings many years ago.1-img072.jpg

Have a great Halloween celebration whatever you have planned.

** many thanks to Nick Fiddes of Scotweb/Clan.com for giving me permission to use  photos from his fabulous website.

 

 

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