Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The RNA conference 2017

Back row- Milly, Lynda, Me
Front Row- Chrissie and Debbie
Ever since I joined the RNA NWS I've been hearing about the wonderful conferences that are held annually, so this year I decided to go with some friends. unfortunately they couldn't make it for various reason (sending love to them x) so feeling a little apprehensive I decided that maybe I should just wait until next year.
However my author friends and the friends who couldn't make it all encouraged me to go. Even my hubby encouraged me to go and it was our wedding anniversary, so I popped one of my anniversary roses in my suitcase and off I went up to Harper Adams University in Shropshire and I must admit my hand was held every step of the way.
My anniversary rose
My room
The first contact was Immi Howson who is the NWS co-ordinator, I had left it quite late to get in touch with her, in fact it was only a month before the conference, I wasn't even sure if they'd still be able to fit me in but of course they could. She then shared my email with Jan jones who told me that she had been very nervous for her first one but she loved it so much that she now organises it. I was then contacted by Kate Thomson who looks after the first timers, she kindly invited us to a welcome party in her kitchen on the first night and encouraged us to say a little about ourselves via the group email and when I mentioned what time I was arriving at Stafford station I was contacted by a lovely lady called Suzanne who suggested we shared a taxi.

We arrived at Harper Adams Uni and went to collect our keys, because I've been blogging for a couple of years I've got to know so many wonderful authors and I began to see people I recognised immediately. Lovely Carrie Elks and some of the Romaniacs were in reception and they gave a lovely warm welcome and checked we were okay, then we needed to collect a huge goody bag and a lanyard with a badge with our names on, first timers had a sparkly flower on so that other delegates could be especially kind to them.

On the way to our room we bumped into gorgeous Heidi Swain and Jenni Keer so there were lots more hugs, there were approximately 8 en-suite rooms in our flat and we had a shared kitchen. I then saw the fabulous Milly Johnson who along with Heidi had also encouraged me to come so yet more hugs there. By this time I'm feeling extremely welcomed and was able to relax and enjoy the next few days in wonderful company.
Me with Heidi and Milly x











All of the lectures were over in the Weston building and there was such a vast range of sessions and lectures to choose from. We had been invited to pre-book 1-1's with various industry professionals but I thought I would leave that until next time.

After a quick cup of tea the rest of the weekend passed in a whirlwind of information and fun, the best thing was that I was so interested in all of the lectures. I couldn't possibly list all of the sessions that were available so I will just pick out a few of my highlights.

Felicity Trew started with the role of an agent and how to write the perfect submissions letter, it was both funny and shocking to hear some of the examples she had used which had been based on some real submissions she'd had and the session was really enjoyable and informative.

Next was a welcome session by Nicola Cornick (Chair) and Jan Jones, tjey were a wonderful duo who obviously really believe in the RNA and seem to love what they do. They also finished off the Sunday morning with a closing session where they were joined by President of the RNA Katie Fforde who drew the raffle to win a fabulous quilt which was made in honour of the late Carole Blake, this was won by Brigid Coady who was delighted.
Katie Fforde, Jan Jones and Nicola Cornick











On the Saturday, Immi had a session to welcome all those on the NWS which was lovely, she was joined by Alison May (Chair) and John Jackson who has just graduated to full member of the RNA as his book is being published.
Immi on the left with the mic in a different
session with Nicola Cornick & Alison May

John Jackson looking dapper at
the Gala dinner, he's usually on the
other side of the camera

Alison May and Bella Osborne were very entertaining as they debated over plotter vs pantser, we had to then answer five questions and it seems that I'm a bit of both which I was very happy with.

We had literary royalty present at the conference with Katie Fforde, Jill Mansell and Milly Johnson.
It was fascinating to listen to Jill telling us about her writing life as she was being interviewed by Kate Johnson. How amazing that she's now written thirty books.
Me with Jill Mansell
Kate Johnson interviewing Jill
Milly Johnson and Jill Mansell















Emily Ruston and Jenny Hutton did an enlightening presentation on deconstructing the revisions letter which I found very useful as they gave examples of what an editor may say and then explained what they actually mean.


The Gala dinner was perfect on Saturday night, the dining room was transformed with pink lights lighting up the plinths. What I love about the booky people I've met is that they really know how to have a good time and we did.


On Sunday I was meant to go to a dialogue workshop but instead I found myself sitting at the breakfast table with lovely agent Kate Nash who gave me an insight into her world and also discussed my work with me which I thought was an amazing thing to happen.

Fiona Harper explained how to build characters from the inside out in her session, she showed us examples from her own book. I found this so interesting and useful and have requested the handout that Fiona kindly offered.


A panel then followed called how can I help? Which was chaired by Alison May and included from left to right, Julia Silk (agent MBA), fellow blogger Debbie Johnston who blogs at Brook Cottage Books and also organises blog tours as JB Johnston and Julia Williams (editor, Harlequin Mills and Boon).



As if this whole conference wasn't brilliant enough already I found that the people I was with made it even more memorable, I was able to spend time with friends I've known for a couple of years and meet new amazing friends that made this weekend the most fun I've ever had. I'd heard about the kitchen parties but never expected to be invited to Milly Johnson's one! Special thanks for making me laugh so much go to Milly, Debbie Johnston, Chrissie Bradshaw (winner of last year's Elisabeth Goudge competition- pictured), Lynda Stacey and Jenni Keer and I would like to give special thanks to Heidi Swain for her positive encouragement and she has permission to say 'I told you so.' I've come away from there with so much to think about.
Chrissie Bradshaw ready to
hand over the Elisabeth Goudge
trophy to 2017 winner,
Immi Howson.

Back row- Milly, Lynda, Me
Front Row- Chrissie and Debbie
















If anyone is hesitant about going to the conference in the future then my advice is to just go for it otherwise you'll really miss out on the best time. See you in Leeds next year.
I would like to say a huge thank you for all of those who organised it so brilliantly.

Sincerely
Book Angel x


The Breakdown by B.A Paris

‘A psychological page-turner’ – Good Housekeeping

If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

It all started that night in the woods.
Cass Anderson didn’t stop to help the woman in the car, and now she’s dead.
Ever since, silent calls have been plaguing Cass and she’s sure someone is watching her.
Consumed by guilt, she’s also starting to forget things. Whether she took her pills, what her house alarm code is – and if the knife in the kitchen really had blood on it.
Bestselling author B A Paris is back with a brand new psychological thriller full of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Title: The Breakdown
Author: B.A Paris
Published By: HQ
Publication Date: 9th Feb
Links: UK:  Amazon   US: Amazon

Our Review


Cass Anderson is on her way home one night during a storm and is warned by her husband not to take a certain shortcut as it was too dangerous. However she is more scared of the storm and wants to get home quicker so takes the shortcut anyway and sees a woman in a car which is parked in a layby. She tries to stop to offer to help but becomes scared incase it's a trap and goes home. The next day she is horrified to find that the woman has been murdered but feels she can't tell anyone as her husband had specifically told her not to go that way. The longer she doesn't tell the police the more scared she becomes and eventually she is eaten up with guilt because she  feels that the woman would still be alive if she'd stopped to help.
As if this problem isn't bad enough she has also been incredibly forgetful and suspects that like her mother she is developing early onset dementia, this is incredibly upsetting for her and instead of confiding in her husband Matthew she tries in vain to cover up the ever worsening symptoms.
I really liked Cass as a character but felt she got herself into a lot of trouble by trying to hide things.
When she visited the doctor with her symptoms and was prescribed the medication I really felt for her as she felt that her situation was hopeless.
The book was gripping all the way through and the fear of the journey home at the beginning was almost tangible.
I would like to say I guessed who did it but really I guessed three people and it was one of those.
It was a cleverly woven psychological thriller which got the adrenaline running as I read it.
This is the second book I've enjoyed from this author and I'm eagerly anticipating the third.

Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author 


B A Paris is the internationally bestselling author of Behind Closed Doors, her debut novel. She was brought up in England and moved to France where she spent some years working in Finance before re-training as a teacher and setting up a language school with her husband. They still live in France and have five daughters. Her second novel, The Breakdown is out now.

Follow B A on Twitter @BAParisAuthor

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Author Q & A Sue Moorcroft



‘Effortlessly engaging…a magical must!’ Heat


The #1 bestselling author returns for summer! Grab your sun hat, a cool glass of wine, and the only book you need on holiday…

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…

A glorious summer read, for you to devour in one sitting - perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.

Title: Just for the Holidays
Author: Sue Moorcroft
Published By: Avon
Publication Date: 18th May 2017
Links: UK: Amazon   US: Amazon

Author Q & A


We are to delighted to welcome Sue to the blog today.

Welcome to Sincerely Book Angels.

Thank you for inviting me over!


What was the inspiration behind this novel?
I had dinner with a friend and she told me about the holiday from hell she’d just been on! I asked if I could use some of her story as a jumping-off point for the book – and she said yes! Just for the Holidays was born.


Did you always want to be a writer?

Pretty much since I realised someone had to create the words that went between the covers of books, yes. I toyed with the idea of journalism at school but when I realised I had to stay and get more qualifications I gave up on the idea. I missed out on another opportunity later, too, but my heart lies with fiction so it was a blessing in disguise.


What other jobs have you had?
My first job out of college was as a secretary in a bank and that was actually my only ever full-time proper job. I’ve worked part-time for Motor Cycle News, a digital pre-press and as a bookkeeper. When I was at school I worked on Saturdays in a butcher’s shop. Being a mum took up a lot of my time.


How did it feel when your first novel was published?
Amazing! Uphill All the Way was published by Transita in 2004 and I went onto their stand at the London Book Fair. They put the first copy in my hands and I welled up. Everyone on the stand signed it for me and I still have that copy on my shelf. By the time I sold that book I’d also sold 87 short stories and a serial but that book was something special.


Please tell us a little about your publishing story.

As I felt I’d missed the boat with journalism I decided that while I was working only part-time while the children were small would be a good time to try and get fiction published. I wrote two novels, which are now in landfill sites somewhere and I’m glad! They were not of a good standard. Then I began a course and decided I’d follow advice in a handbook written by the late Nancy Smith and try and get short stories published to prove to the editors of novels that I could pass quality control. Teaching short story writing just sprang naturally from having sold a lot to magazines and it led to teaching in all kinds of places, including in Italy, France, America and Dubai, and writing the actual courses. I’ve cut hard back on the teaching now in order to fulfil my present two-book-a-year contract. Securing representation from Juliet Pickering of Blake Friedmann was a big turning point. Getting the right agent for you can be crucial.


What other books have you written?

Uphill All the Way, Starting Over, All That Mullarkey, Want to Know a Secret? (Family Matters in hardback), Love Writing, Love & Freedom, Dream a Little Dream, Is This Love?, The Wedding Proposal and The Christmas Promise, plus a novella, Darcie’s Dilemma. There are other ‘books’ out but the began life as magazine serials so they’re really novella-length sweet romance ebooks.


Have you ever had writer's block? If so how did you overcome it?
I can’t really afford writers’ block! Inspiration is an empty bank account, as Mickey Spillane said. If something I’m writing turns to treacle I do some research or I hop on to another scene, write blog posts etc. There’s always something to do. Sometimes I talk the issue over with another writer, my agent or my editor. Then, hopefully, the treacle will thin.


What motivates you to keep writing?
I just feel a compulsion to write. I love it, even when it’s hard work. Also, I don’t want to have to go and get a proper job.


Where is your favourite place to write? (can we please have a picture)

My study, in silence. It’s very messy but I know where everything is …


Do your characters moods ever affect your mood and vice versa?

Yes, I sometimes well up when I’m giving someone a hard time. I don’t think my mood affects theirs, though. I can’t remember that happening.


What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Persist

Educate yourself in publishing as well as writing

Don’t make enemies


Which authors inspire you?
There are so many! I like to read in roughly the area I write (except for Formula 1 books – they’re an added extra) and sometimes the opposite happens. I don’t get inspired, I just think, gloomily, that X has written something so good I’ll never match it. But I try anyway.


What are you reading at the moment?

Fast Track by Julie Garwood


If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits?
I don’t want to change you by Damien Rice


Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book?

Michael Fassbender would play Ronan. I think he’d quite like to be a helicopter pilot. In actual fact, the picture I had in my head of Ronan was singer-songwriter Frank Turner but without the beard. Who knows? Maybe he can act too?


What is your next book about?
Give Me Till Christmas comes out later this year and is set in ‘my’ village of Middledip. Alexia is project managing the refurbishment of a pub to make it a community café when someone runs off with all the money, which has an impact not just personally but professionally. Ben is just getting divorced and has come to live on the edges of Middledip to recover. They have a bit of an encounter and everything goes downhill from there.

And now think about the books you've read and just give the first one that comes into your head for our quickfire 'Which book round.'
A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute

Which book has made you:

Laugh out loud?
Magnus Mills’s first book. I’m not absolutely sure of the title but it was black humour.

Cry your heart out?
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (but that was a while ago!)

Want to read it again?
Gone too Far by Suzanne Brockmann

Think more?

The Velvet Cloak of Moonlight by Christina Courtenay

Wish it would be made into a film?

Anything by Sue Moorcroft

Shocked?
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Scared?
The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty


Thanks again for inviting me onto your lovely blog!
Thanks for joining us Sue and good luck with the book.

Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author




Best-selling author Sue Moorcroft writes contemporary fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. The Christmas Promise rose to #1 in the Amazon Kindle chart; The Wedding Proposal, Dream a Little Dream and Is this Love? were all nominated for Readers’ Best Romantic Read Awards and Darcie’s Dilemma for Readers’ Best Short Romance. Love & Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was nominated for a RoNA in 2013. Sue’s a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner, a past vice chair of the RNA and editor of its two anthologies.

Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles and writing ‘how to’. 

Sue’s next book: Just for the Holidays

Website: www.suemoorcroft.com.

Blog: https://suemoorcroft.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sue.moorcroft.3

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/SueMoorcroftAuthor

Twitter @suemoorcroft

Google+: google.com/+Suemoorcroftauthor

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/suemoorcroft

Instagram: suemoorcroftauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/862993.Sue_Moorcroft

Take Five Authors: https://takefiveauthors.wordpress.com



Author Q & A with Estelle Maher


Is our life dictated by us, fate or divine intervention? On her way home from the office, thirty-year-old Grace Hammond stumbles across a tramp named Crowley who is found dead in her village the following day. Crowley soon returns to Grace looking for her help so he can cross over.  He just needs to complete a task that will have a positive effect on her life. Unfortunately, neither knows where to start! Help comes in the form of her landlord, her elderly neighbour, her gay best friend, a good looking American and Frank Sinatra! Can Grace help Crowley be with his family? Can she get her own life back on track?


Title: Grace and the Ghost
Author: Estelle Maher
Published By: Createspace
Publication Date: 24th March
Links: UK: Amazon   US: Amazon 

Author Q & A

Hi Estelle and welcome to Sincerely Book Angels blog.

What was the inspiration behind this novel?
Grace and the Ghost is about a young woman who is haunted by a man who she briefly met when he was alive. His name is Crowley and he has been given the task of picking someone and doing something that will have a positive effect on their life. He cannot move on until the task is complete. I was inspired to write the novel as I’ve always been deeply interested in the spiritual side of life and death. I've had numerous experiences throughout life which have always made me believe there is more to life than being born and dying. Whist our physical vessel may die, I’ve always questioned what happens to the energy inside - the energy that makes us the person that we are. That has to go somewhere, right?


Did you always want to be a writer?
I've always dreamed of being able to dedicate a lot of time to writing. Remote cottages and windswept beaches always featured heavily in my dreams. I like to think I'm moody like Hemingway but my friends pin me more as a Barbara Cartland! I have actually been writing on and off since I was a teenager - scribbling on flock wallpaper covered exercise books etc. In my thirties I had a go at writing a novel but babies, life and more excuses came my way. I then started a little holiday blog a few years back and more recently another regular blog which meant for the first time I was actually getting feedback on my writing. It was all really positive and encouraged me greatly. Then, one day, I sat back in my chair at work and thought 'there has to be more to my life than this'. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't unhappy I was just unfulfilled. I then drove home one night and Crowley, the ghost, popped into my head and he wouldn't go away. He was always tipsy and nagging me to write his story!


What other jobs have you had?
All kinds of office work but mainly in insurance. My first Saturday job was in a chocolate shop and I sometimes wish I was still there. I also ran my own childminding business when my children were small. They were fun years and I was super thin from all the running around!


How did it feel when your first novel was published?
When I finished writing Grace and the Ghost, I closed my laptop and cried. I couldn't stop and still really don't understand why I cried so hard. I called my husband and sobbed to him when I realised I couldn't calm myself down after nearly an hour. Being published and having a physical book is surreal. To see it sitting on my son’s bedside table every time I go in his bedroom to scoop up his dirty washing is very strange!


Can you please tell us a little about your publishing story.
I tried to go through the traditional route and was offered a publishing contract but the terms didn't feel right for me. I was getting a bit disheartened until a friend said, 'why do you need someone else to tell you if you're book is good enough for people to read?'. He was right of course and so that’s when I decided to self-publish. At first it all felt rather intimidating but then through a friend I was introduced to my editor, Sue Miller of Team Author UK. Without her I'd still be muttering about ISBN numbers and acceptable fonts! I could not have done anything without her. She introduced me to a network of people who could help me in every sense. Cover designers, web designers, book shop owners etc. You need all these people to help you. I could never have done it on my own!


Have you ever had writer's block? If so how did you overcome it?
I never felt like giving up when I was writing Grace and the Ghost nor did I get writer’s block - the book literally fell on the pages. My original manuscript was so huge I think someone has shredded it and sold it to Ikea for mattress stuffing!


What motivates you to keep writing?
I know it sounds strange but my characters motivate me. If I don't write for a while I can hear them nagging in my head. It’s a bit like when you put pause on the Sky box and it starts to annoy you after a while.

Where is your favourite place to write?
We have a small den in our house which is the room we had fun decorating. Nothing matches and anything goes. The settees are big, old and squashy. Lovely for settling into a days writing.


Do your characters moods ever affect your mood and vice versa?
Without a doubt. I had to kill a character off in Grace & The Ghost and I became depressed for a couple of days. I could see my family all looking at me rather shiftily around the dinner table all wondering what was wrong with me. They were relieved when I said that I had to kill a lovely character off and that made me more upset as they didn’t understand. Looking back, it's quite amusing but it just shows you how much you get involved with the people in your book.


What three pieces of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
1) Thinking about the end goal was too big for my little brain to process, so I took a stepping stone approach. I think this is really important as a writer. Let your idea develop and write what comes from your gut more than your head. 

2) Once it's written, go back and read again. 

3) Give it to a couple of really honest friends for feedback. Surround yourself with positive people as well. I had a few people along the way who thought my dream was impossible. The only thing that limits us is ourselves so don't let other people help you along that negative path.


Which authors inspire you?
With the exception of Terry Pratchett, I read books very different to mine. I love glamour books with bitches, money and powerful men. I grew up watching Dallas and Dynasty so still need my eighties fix now and again from Barbara Taylor Bradford and Jackie Collins. Most of the time though I tend to read biographies, especially old Hollywood stars.


What are you reading at the moment?
My friend who is also a fellow author has written a great series of books called the Mineran Series. I'm reading the first one and it's fast paced. It's very different from what I normally read but it's good to get out of your comfort zone sometimes.


If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits?
Ghosts That We Knew by Mumford & Sons.


Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book?
My favourite character is Kate Mortimer. She's a cantankerous old American with a quip for everything. Mostly barbed in her delivery but everyone loves her. Dead or alive it would have to be Bette Davis but if they have to be alive I'd be very happy with Shirley MacLaine.


What is your next book about?
I'm currently writing a second book, called Angel's Rebellion. Two characters from Grace & The Ghost are in the second book. It's not a sequel as such, you don't have to read Grace to understand Angel's. 

My next book Angel's Rebellion is based in Heaven. Crowley, from my first book, has been promoted and is trying to find his feet in his new role as a spiritual guide. But a group of angels are not happy at their 'unappreciated interventions' so plan to reveal the truth to all on Earth. Crowley and his friends are trying to limit the damage to faith and human beliefs on Earth. It sounds heavy but hopefully the reader will laugh as much as they did with Grace & The Ghost.


And now think about the books you've read and just give the first one that comes into your head for our quickfire 'Which book round.'



Which book has made you:

Laugh out loud?
Adrian Mole – all of them, Sue Townsend


Cry your heart out?
PS I Love You,Cecila Aherne


Want to read it again?
Twopence to Cross the Mersey, Helen Forrester


Think more?
The Soul's Code, James Hillman


Wish it would be made into a film?
The Discworld books, Terry Pratchett


Shocked?
Small Island, Andrea Levy


Scared?
Bless The Child, Cathy Cash Spellman

Thanks so much for joining us Estelle and good luck with the book.

Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author



Estelle Maher was born in the heart of Liverpool, England. After spending her teens in rural Dorset, she returned to the North of England and now resides in Wirral with her husband, 2 children and 2 dogs.

Her career has been varied, working in shipping, insurance and finance. But in her spare time, she’s quite at home with a paint brush upcycling furniture. She also writes a blog in her spare time, The Secret Diary of A Middle Aged Woman, a humorous snapshot of random thoughts.

Estelle has been writing on and off for a number of years and writing the blog was her first step in writing for an audience that was wider than her and her husband.

However, throughout her life, Estelle has experienced lots of ‘inexplicable moments’ which inspired her first debut novel, Grace & The Ghost.


Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Don't Close Your Eyes by Holly Seddon

Robin and Sarah weren't the closest of twins. They weren't even that similar. But they loved each other dearly. Until, in the cruellest of domestic twists, they were taken from one another.

Now, in her early 30s, Robin lives alone. Agoraphobic and suffering from panic attacks, she spends her days pacing the rooms of her house. The rest of the time she watches - watches the street, the houses, the neighbours. Until one day, she sees something she shouldn't...

And Sarah? Sarah got what she wanted - the good-looking man, the beautiful baby, the perfect home. But she's just been accused of the most terrible thing of all. She can't be around her new family until she has come to terms with something that happened a long time ago. And to do that, she needs to track down her twin sister.

But Sarah isn't the only person looking for Robin. As their paths intersect, something dangerous is set in motion, leading Robin and Sarah to fight for much more than their relationship...

Title: Don't Close Your Eyes
Author: Holly Seddon
Published By: Corvus
Publication Date: 6th July
Links:   UK: Amazon     US: Amazon

My Review



Omg what a book. I read it in a day and was carried along by the amazing twists and turns that took my breath away. really did not see them coming.

The book is about twin girls Sarah and Robin who have a perfectly happy childhood until their parents make friends with another family which throws everything into chaos.

Decisions are made which tear the families apart and their lives change dramatically.  Then the consequences come back to haunt them in later life.

The story switches from present day to various times in their past and eventually we find out what happens through both of their points of view.

The characters are extremely complex and believable, the author handles the various subjects responsibly and with great sensitivity.

I don't want to say too much about the plot as it's best to read it fresh so you can feel the shock as each twist slams into you.

I really enjoyed the sub plot too which involved Robin's neighbourhood which I felt reminded me of the film Rear Window and also The Girl on the Train.

I highly recommend this high quality psychological thriller which is completely different from the rest.

Thanks to Holly Seddon and Corvus for the Arc which I've reviewed voluntarily.

Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author



Holly Seddon is a full time writer, living slap bang in the middle of Amsterdam with her husband James and a house full of children and pets. Holly has written for newspapers, websites and magazines since her early 20s after growing up in the English countryside, obsessed with music and books.

Her first novel TRY NOT TO BREATHE was published worldwide in 2016 and became a national and international bestseller.

Her second novel DON'T CLOSE YOUR EYES will be published in July 2017.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

My Favourite Things by TA Williams, Author



Food Savoury and sweet

It’s such a pity crisps (or potato chips as I believe they are known across the Atlantic) are so full of evil things - fat, sugar and murky life-shortening chemicals. I love them, especially with a drink (see below)

As for sweet stuff, I’m lucky I don’t really have a very sweet tooth, but my all time favourite is what the French call Iles Flottantes - those amazing blobs of soft meringue floating in custard. Yum.


Drink

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not an alcoholic, but I do like wine and beer. My favourite is probably a little known French white called Menetou Salon (a close neighbour of Sancerre). It’s crisp, dry and goes wonderfully with crisps (see above). It’s difficult to find so a good Chablis makes an excellent replacement.


Film

I like lots of films but I suppose it has to be Casablanca – the all time best romance ever made. And if I’m in the mood for humour, Get Shorty with the wonderful Gene Hackman.


Book

I have to confess to a deep and lasting love of the James Clavell sagas of the orient: Shogun, Tai Pan etc. These books have everything (mind you, they also manage to fill over a thousand pages each).


Author

Difficult. There are so many. It probably has to be Hemingway. I think For Whom the Bell Tolls is amazing.


Character

Thomas Cromwell in Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall. Strong, tough, bright and unexpectedly caring (unless you get on the wrong side of him).


Song

These questions are getting harder and harder. But, seeing as I’m old, it has to be something ancient and a bit out of the ordinary, so I’m going to plump for Dire Straights, Private Investigations. I even wrote a thriller years ago whose title comes from a line in there – Race Between the Lights - and never published. Note to self – dig it out and take another look at it.


Holiday destination

Long haul: definitely Japan. I used to go there every year on business and I love the place. Closer to home, rural inland southern Spain is terrific as well.


Animal

Black Labrador, no question. There’s one in almost all my books.


Person

My wife, Mariangela. We’ve been together now for 41 years. Not bad, eh?


Place to write

My study only. I write on my desktop computer surrounded by scruffy bits of paper covered in scribbled notes.


Season

Spring. I hate, loathe and detest the months of November and December, but from about mid January onwards I start brightening up and by Easter I’m a happy bunny once more.


Tradition

This is a really difficult question to answer. There are so few traditions remaining intact these days. How about kissing under the mistletoe?


Inspirational quote

I’m not sure if it’s an attributable quote, but I like the sentiment: At the end of your life you regret the things you didn’t do more than the things you did.


Thing in the whole world

A black Labrador would have to be pretty high up on my list, but it has to be my daughter in the first thirty seconds of her life. She opened her eyes, checked us out, decided there was no point in crying so she closed her eyes and went to sleep. It’s an amazing thing to see something you’ve created come to life – a bit like getting a book published really…


A few lines about myself:

I am 68 years old and I live in a little Devon village with my Italian wife. I only got my first publishing deal when I was in my sixties. So the message I bring is to never give up. Keep on writing and you will achieve success. Writing to me is like a drug – I have to write and I get great pleasure from writing. If my books bring pleasure to my readers then that’s even better.











Thanks for joining us today on My Favourite Things

Sincerely
Book Angel x

Monday, 3 July 2017

My Favourite Things by Jackie Buxton, Author & Blogger



Food - savoury and sweet:
Hmmm? Everything! I like my food. But if I had to choose just one thing it would be paella. The first time I had authentic paella was on holiday in Lanzarote. My husband-to-be had bought my flight for me for Christmas but, to get the cheap deal, we had to be part of a package holiday - complete with 6am wake up calls for bus tours! The group courier was really lovely and very keen to get us ALL involved in the FULL itinerary but hubbie and I were keener on discovering remote bike trails and beaches and just being togevver. We sneaked off one day and stumbled across a little beach shack which was far from the madding crowd, but certainly not lacking in atmosphere. Not a word of English was spoken and there wasn't an awful lot of Spanish coming from us either (just the odd bit of French with an 'o' on the end after a few jugs of Sangria) but we still managed to 'chat' to the locals. We were entertained by an exuberant, traditional live band and flamenco dancers while we were presented with the most enormous paella dish to share. So tasty. It was one of the best, authentic, unplanned evenings of a holiday ever but the next day, so as not to offend the courier, we told her we'd just had a quiet night in…

As for sweet, that has to be Christmas cake, Lindt chocolates and custard. Not all together, of course. Although…[insert Christmas cake pic – our pic (I made it, daughter iced it (!) so no problem with using the pic]


Drink:
Tea and prosecco. Definitely not together.


Film:
So many! The Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind - so clever, so life-affirming. Little Miss Sunshine - oh, how we laughed (and cried). The Truman Show - one of those films of an imaginary world which is getting chillingly closer to our own lives all the time. The Machinist where all becomes clear in the final scenes and thus had me thinking about it for days after. Over Christmas I re-watched, What We Did On Our Holiday which is a very close second to my favourite film of all time. It's another life-affirming, laugh-out-loud tear jerker with the brilliantly acted children teaching the adults a thing of two of what it's all about. But for my all-time favourite, I'd have to plump for Thelma and Louise because it has it all: adventure, laughter, sadness, spirit, friendship and even, a young Brad Pitt.
Picture Credit: Amazon, Thelma and Louise


Book:
So many again! Probably the most influential was The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay because it came after a long hiatus of reading any fiction of my own choice after a disastrous selection of books for English A-level and a less than scintillating collection for my German and French degree. My first boss thought it awful that my education had put off this once avid reader and bought The Power of One for me, saying that if this didn't get me back into reading, nothing would. It worked and I've never looked back since. Its sequel, Tandia, and the film of both are wonderful, too. Maggie O'Farrell's After You'd Gone is right up there as well as one of those tear jerkers which is almost too painful to read. What really pulled me in was O'Farrell's ability to evoke the most raw of emotions so vividly, a trait common to all her later books, too. I'm a huge O'Farrell fan. Also, The Devil's Music by Jane Rusbridge, Perfect by Rachel Joyce, Atonement by Ian McEwan, The Dead Fathers' Club by Matt Haig and everything ever written by Anita Shreve. So many books but I'd better leave it there.



Author: all of the above! If I had to choose, probably Rachel Joyce for her wonderful observation and pithy narration. I think her short stories are fabulous, too.


Character:
Mickey Stone played by Adrian Leicester in Hustle. I'm a sucker for a quick witted character and Leicester is also very pleasing on the eye...
Picture credit BBC

Song:
Breaking Glass by Hazel O'Connor - it sends shivers down my spine every time. It's a brilliant musical and lyrical interpretation of that 'love at first chemistry' moment. My lovely friend, who I don’t see enough, also plays it on the piano and we croon together so it also reminds me of her. Wonderful World by Louis Armstrong always hits me in my stomach, too, as do most songs from the Beautiful South or the House Martins, particularly, A Little Time. But number one for me? Dream a Little Dream by Mama Cass formerly of Mamas and Papas. There have been so many renditions over the years but this is the one which was played and played in my house and I was struck with its melancholic beauty at a very young age. When Jacqui Abbott and Beautiful South produced their gorgeous cover for the film, French Kiss in the nineties, I discovered it all over again. [Insert cover of Dream a Little Dream by Mama Cass]



Holiday destination:
My top choice has to be Antigua. It was a work prize, we'd never have afforded or even chosen to go there otherwise, but I can't do better than clichés to describe the beauty of the vast sandy beaches and the green of the sea – not to mention the total loveliness of the people who never stopped laughing and couldn't do enough for us. I have a funny memory of our attempts at pony trekking along one beach, much to the mirth of the tour leaders, but that's a story for another time.
Credit: www.antiguahotels.org

A close second is Vancouver Island. Before we were married, hubbie and I saved up all our holiday and spent a month travelling across Canada on 'stand-by' tickets which were ridiculously cheap, before the days of cheap flights. We fell in love with Canada and the Canadian people. We camped on Vancouver Island for supposedly two days but couldn’t bring ourselves to leave the never ending beach with its constant barbecuing and singing. After five nights we were forced to drag ourselves away.


Animal:
Please don't hate me when I say I'm not much of an animal lover although I am fascinated by monkeys and apes and mesmerised by dolphins. I also fall in love with pretty much anything featured on Planet Earth.


Person:
Aside from my wonderful family and friends of course, probably Michelle or Barack Obama. If the world listened to them a bit more, and to those preaching hate a little less, I think we could all live in a much more harmonious place.


Place to write:
Any coffee shop!


Season:
Can I say, 'the change of season'? I like them all but wouldn’t choose to live where there was little change. Even on the rare occasions we have a long, hot summer, although I've loved every sun soaked minute of it in the beginning, I find myself getting a bit twitchy if it heaves on into October. By then I'm ready for wandering through fallen leaves, and after a month or so of that, it's time for crunchy snow and warm fires. And so it goes on!



Tradition:
It has to be Christmas. People love to berate the commercialism of it and yes, there is an ugly to side of it. But the essence of friends and family coming together and celebrating life, love, family and friends, whether for religious or other reasons, is, I believe, a lovely sentiment to uphold.



Inspirational quote:
Life's a journey, travel it well! It says it all, really. Thanks to 'Cold Feet' for that.


Thing in the whole world:
Children laughing, actually anyone laughing – just laughing. That's it. It's impossible to be cross or upset when people are laughing.


A bit about me: I'm a writer, editor and teacher of creative writing and just love anything 'writing'. When I'm not writing or reading or drinking coffee or prosecco, or cleaning (which I despise with a passion), you'll often find me running or cycling in the gorgeous Yorkshire countryside. I'm also a bit of a clumsy oaf so if I'm not in the hills, next place to look might be A&E. 


I've had short stories published in anthologies and Chase Magazine but my first full length book was Tea & Chemo, (November 2015, Urbane Publications) which came off the back of my blog posts based on my headlong contretemps with cancer. My first novel is Glass Houses (July 2016, also Urbane Publications) and is the story of two women, their stupid mistakes and the ramifications and silver linings which result. [Could insert: Jackie Buxton with Glass Houses; Glass Houses COVER; Tea & Chemo cover]

UK Amazon    US Amazon


UK Amazon   US Amazon

You can find me here – please come and say hello!

Blog: https://jackiebuxton.blogspot.co.uk

Web: www.jackiebuxton.com

Twitter: @jaxbees

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jackiebuxton40/
I also flit in and out of the wonderfully supportive, Book Connectors Facebook group and vow to spend more time there in 2017. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1466353170351020/


Hi Annette, thanks so much for having me on your blog. It's a great idea and I've had fun working out my favourites even if it's really difficult choosing number ones! And I've had a good reminisce in the process (not to mention a little shop of second hand DVDs once I reminded myself of some films I'd love my teenage children to see).
You're very welcome Jackie and thanks for joining us today.

Sincerely
Book Angel x