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Friday, 29 April 2016

Extract from 'Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe' by Debbie Johnson





My new favourite author’ – Holly Martin, bestselling author of ‘Christmas at Lilac Cottage’ & ‘Summer at Rose Island’


The brand new book from best-selling author Debbie Johnson will make you laugh, make you cry, and make you raid the pantry in the middle of the night…
The Comfort Food Cafe is perched on a windswept clifftop at what feels like the edge of the world, serving up the most delicious cream teas; beautifully baked breads, and carefully crafted cupcakes. For tourists and locals alike, the ramshackle cafe overlooking the beach is a beacon of laughter, companionship, and security – a place like no other; a place that offers friendship as a daily special, and where a hearty welcome is always on the menu.
For widowed mum-of-two Laura Walker, the decision to uproot her teenaged children and make the trek from Manchester to Dorset for the summer isn’t one she takes lightly, and it’s certainly not winning her any awards from her kids, Nate and Lizzie. Even her own parents think she’s gone mad.
But following the death of her beloved husband David two years earlier, Laura knows that it’s time to move on. To find a way to live without him, instead of just surviving. To find her new place in the world, and to fill the gap that he’s left in all their lives.
Her new job at the cafe, and the hilarious people she meets there, give Laura the chance she needs to make new friends; to learn to be herself again, and – just possibly – to learn to love again as well.
For her, the Comfort Food Cafe doesn’t just serve food – it serves a second chance to live her life to the full…

Title:        Summer at the Comfort Food Cafe
Author:    Debbie Johnson
Published By: Harper Impulse
Date:        April 29th 2016
Link:        UK: Amazon  US: Amazon



We are delighted to be able to feature an extract from 'Summer at the Comfort Food Café', the scrumptuous new novel by Debbie Johnson which will be out in ebook on the 29th April and paperback on 16th June.


They filmed The French Lieutenant’s Woman there,’ I say, trying to meet my daughter’s eyes in the rear-view mirror. She’s not interested, of course. She’s too busy staring at her phone, thumbs moving quick as lightning as she types. So quick they’re just vague pink blurs, in fact. If Lizzie was going to be a superhero, she’d be called Thumb Girl: the Fastest Text in the West.
Sadly, Thumb Girl doesn’t seem impressed with my cinematic reference, and really, what did I expect? Was that the best I could come up with? A sappy Meryl Streep movie from before she was even born? A historical romance featuring some award-winning moustaches and meaningful glances? It’s enough to give mothers the world over a bad name, for God’s sake.
‘Never heard of it, Mum,’ she replies, grudgingly. I’m actually surprised she even vocalises her response and suspect she’s saying something much ruder on her screen. I make a mental note to check her Twitter account later. Or Tumblr. Or Facebook. I’ve kind of lost track of which one is her favourite form of communication at the moment. It certainly isn’t good old-fashioned talking. Not with me at least.
I scrabble for something more contemporary – something cooler. Something that might make her hate me ever-so-slightly less than she does right now. Something along the lines of ‘the lead singer from Green Day will be living next door to us’, but more … true.
’Yeah. I suppose it is a bit old for you. Well, they filmed Broadchurch there,’ I finally say.
’The one about the murdered kid?’ asks Lizzie, finally looking up, one eyebrow raised in query just about visible beneath her straight blonde fringe. The fringe has been getting lower and lower for months now – eventually I fear it will cover her whole face and she’ll look like Cousin It dressed by Primark.
’That’s it, yes, the one with David Tennant in it,’ I reply, encouraged to have finally found some common ground. Even if it is common ground built on infanticide and Doctor Who.
’Wow. What a great advert for the place,’ comes the sarcastic reply. ’Remind me to get a rape alarm.’
Okay. Deep breaths. There are at least four hours left of this fun family road trip, I remind myself. In an ideal world, we’ll at least save the shouting until we’re past Birmingham. I consider starting a ‘count the red cars’ game and realise that they haven’t played that since they were a lot younger. And I also realise – for about the millionth time – that I suck at this.
David had a way of making car journeys fun. I’d be the one making sure we all had bottles of water and muffins to eat and spare carrier bags in case Nate threw up, and he’d be the one making them laugh. I’d be studying the map – Sat nav’s for Slackers, he’d always say – and he’d be driving and somehow managing to keep everybody’s spirits up.
Well, they’re older now – and way less easy to amuse. Plus, I’m still not sure how it is going to be possible to read the map, drive the car and keep everybody’s spirits up at the same time. I’m struggling with my own spirits, never mind theirs as well. And, even though I’d never drink and drive (honest), every time I think of the word ‘spirits’, I start to yearn for a large, super frosty G&T. Or maybe a mojito. Later, I promise. Later.
I take the deep breath I’d recommended to myself and ask – silently – the question that plays across my mind at least a few times every day. Even more right now as we set off on this exciting adventure that nobody, including me, seems to find very exciting at all. What Would David Do, I think? WWDD, for short.
David, I know, would be untroubled. He’d smile and ignore the cheekiness, and find a way to deflate the whole situation with a lame joke. Or he’d start to talk in a series of fart noises. Or put on a French accent and sing ‘Barbie Girl’. Something like that, anyway.
But David did have the very big advantage of Lizzie adoring everything about him. He could never do any wrong in her eyes – whereas her feelings towards me, right now, aren’t quite so generous. At best, I suspect they go along the lines of ‘will someone please tell me I’m adopted?’, and at worst, she may be using her birthday money to hire a hitman. To say she’s displeased at being separated from her friends for the summer is something of an understatement – a bit like saying Daniel Craig is passably attractive.
‘It’s on the Jurassic Coast,’ I add, trying again. I can practically feel the black aura creeping over my shoulders from the back seat, but I have to try. Because that is definitely what DWD and I need to keep going. Sat nav’s for Slackers, and Quiets for Quitters. It’s 6.30am and I’ve only had one mug of coffee.
If somebody doesn’t talk to me soon, I might actually fall asleep at the wheel, which would be bad for all concerned as I’m in control of a very full Citroen Picasso, complete with equally full roof rack and a fat black Labrador snoring in the boot.
Nate perks up at my latest comment, looking up from his DS for a moment. Presumably Super Mario/Sonic the Hedgehog/Pokémon/delete as applicable is on pause. His hair’s a bit too long as well, but not for style purposes – we just haven’t found the time or the inclination to go to the barbers very much. That was one of his dad’s jobs, too. I’ve been trimming it myself with the nail scissors, which I really must stop doing – he’s twelve. He needs to stop looking like he lets his mum cut his hair, even if he does.
’So did they film Jurassic World there?’ he asks, hopefully. I hate to disappoint, but feel that leading him to expect a first-hand encounter with a friendly bronchosaurus might ultimately result in him hating me when he realises I lied. He is, as I’ve said, twelve – so technically he knows that velociraptors don’t roam the hills and vales of Dorset. But he’s also a boy, so he lives in hope that he’s about to be whisked off to a super-secret island filled with Scenes of Mild Peril.
’Erm … no,’ I admit. ’But we can go fossil-hunting, if you like? Apparently there are loads washed up on the beach.’
He gives me the smile. That small, sweet smile that says ‘I remain unimpressed, but love you anyway’. The uni-dimple makes a brief, heart-wrenching appearance, before he turns his face back to what really matters. The small device on his lap.
I have a fleeting moment of nostalgia for the days when kids weren’t permanently attached to electronic gadgets, and then realise I am being both hypocritical and very, very old. When I was their age, I thought my Walkman was the absolute bees knees and used to pull very rude faces when my mum suggested I might get ear cancer if I didn’t take the headphones off every now and then.
’That sounds cool, Mum,’ Nate says, already lost in his alternative reality.
’Are you okay playing on that?’ I ask. ’You don’t feel sick?’
’No. It’s okay Mum. I haven’t been car sick since I was eight.’
’All right. But I’ve put some bags in the glove box you know, just in case …’
He nods and gives me another grin before playing again. Beautiful boy.
I bask in my thirty seconds of maternal glory and glance out at the approaching motorway sign.
Hmmm. Sandbach Service Station – I wonder if they do mojitos to go?
Sincerely
Book Angels x

About the Author

Debbie Johnson is a best-selling author who lives and works in Liverpool, where she divides her time between writing, caring for a small tribe of children and animals, and not doing the housework. She writes romance, fantasy and crime – which is as confusing as it sounds!
Her latest book, The Birthday That Changed Everything (HarperCollins), has been described by Sunday Times best-selling novelist Milly Johnson as 'a lovely, emotion-filled, giggle-inducing story.'
Her other romantic comedy best-sellers include Cold Feet at Christmas, Pippa's Cornish Dream and Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper. Her next tale, The Comfort Food Cafe, will be out on HarperImpulse in May 2016.
You can find her supernatural crime thriller, Fear No Evil, featuring Liverpool PI Jayne McCartney, on Amazon, published by Maze/Avon Books.
Debbie also writes urban fantasy, set in modern day Liverpool. Dark Vision and the follow-up Dark Touch are published by Del Rey UK, and earned her the title 'a Liverpudlian Charlaine Harris' from The Guardian.
You can find out more at www.debbiejohnsonauthor.com, or at www.facebook.com/debbiejohnsonauthor

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Author Q & A Elaine Everest - The Woolworths Girls


It's 1938 and as the threat of war hangs over the country, Sarah Caselton is preparing for her new job at Woolworths. Before long, she forms a tight bond with two of her colleagues: the glamorous Maisie and shy Freda. The trio couldn't be more different, but they immediately form a close-knit friendship, sharing their hopes and dreams for the future.
Sarah soon falls into the rhythm of her new position, enjoying the social events hosted by Woolies and her blossoming romance with young assistant manager, Alan. But with the threat of war clouding the horizon, the young men and women of Woolworths realize that there are bigger battles ahead. It's a dangerous time for the nation, and an even more perilous time to fall in love . . .

Title:        The Woolworth Girls
Author:    Elaine Everest
Published By: Pan Macmillan
Date:        May 5th 2016
Link:        UK: Amazon  US: Amazon

Author Q & A

Welcome to Sincerely Book Angels.
What was the inspiration behind this novel?
I have always enjoyed hearing stories from the town of Erith where I was born and as a child had fond memories of our local Woolworths store where I ultimately set The Woolworths Girls. When married I lived in a street that had survived two world wars and often wondered what it would have been like to live there during WW2. So, I had my setting, background stories and a love of the area. The Woolworths Girls was born.

Did you always want to be a writer?
I’ve always written and my first attempt at a novel was on a Petit Typewriter and was the tale of Pip the Pixie. I often wonder what happened to that great work! Much much later I started to write short stories for women’s magazines as well as features and moved into writing full time. It was my dream job but still I wanted to be a novelist.

What other jobs have you had?
I was a Woolworths Girls, albeit as a Saturday job, while in my final year at school and during college where I trained in accountancy. Back then my mother wanted her children to work in an office as it was something she wasn’t able to do as a teenager due to the war. Boring, boring, boring, but I moved into management before deciding to follow my writing dream. All I will say is that those years gave me a great file of ideas of for characters and plots so perhaps not totally wasted.

How did it feel when your first novel was published?
My first taste of having a book published was one of three non-fiction books for dog owners. Very exciting! However, it was with my first novel that I found readers liked my style of writing, loved the setting in North West Kent and enjoyed what I had to say. After that I focused more on my fiction and moved away from journalism.

Have you ever had writer's block? If so how did you overcome it?

I don’t believe in writers block. Writing is my job and I have to come up with the words regardless of how I feel. If I find myself wading through treacle when writing I will go back to my story outline, check the chapter breakdown and reread what I’ve written and that usually trigger fresh words and ideas to keep me going.

What motivates you to keep writing?
Money! Seriously, it is my job. If I don’t write I don’t earn and the dog starves. Nothing is more motivating than a hungry dog looking at an empty bowl.

Do your characters moods ever affect your mood and vice versa?
Goodness, yes! My characters’ lives and moods can affect me very much. In one book a favourite character finally realises her husband has gone forever and it reminded me of losing loved ones. I sobbed with her – and still do when I reread that page. I wouldn’t say my mood affects my characters as it would not make me a very good writer to have my life affect my writing. However, I lean heavily on personally experiences when writing emotional scenes. Dredge up my feeling from that time and have my girls feel sadness or joy.

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

1. Don’t give up. It’s a hard profession and not as glamorous as some make out.

2. It’s all about the story telling. If your grammar and spelling is not so good you can learn but always tell a good tale.

3. Don’t believe your own PR.

Which authors inspire you?
I know so many wonderful authors through the Romantic Novelists’ Association that I find this hard to answer. However, looking back to books that made me want to be a writer I’d have to say Barbara Cartland for her sparkling romantic novels, Saga writer Dee Williams for her down to earth stories and showing this writer, during one wonderful course at Writers’ Holiday in Caerleon, that sagas was the genre she wished to write and also Milly Johnson for her wonderful romcoms.

What are you reading at the moment?
I’ve just finished the final chapter of a wonderful saga, The Gunner Girl (Simon and Schuster) by Clare Harvey. The story gripped me from beginning to end and at the moment the characters are still alive to me. I’m looking forward to reading the author’s next book.

If your book was made into a film what song would you choose for the opening credits?
This is an extremely interesting question as The Woolworths Girls does have a soundtrack to the book. Music plays an important part in my stories and my characters sing or dance their way through the book to memorable songs of the war years. A section at the end of the book shows these songs and my own memories of my family singing at parties and get-togethers. So that opening song... It would have to be I’ll See You in my Dreams. My favourite version is by Joe Brown. The haunting lyrics resonate as my girls dream of their loved ones far away.

Who would you choose to play your favourite character in the film of your book?
The actress, Sheridan Smith, would be ideal to play Maisie, one of my Woolworths Girls. With an outgoing and bubbly personality Maisie was the girl everyone loved who didn’t seem to let life get her down until...

What is your next book about?
The Butlins Girls is at the editing stage and will be published in the spring of 2017. It is 1946 and war is over. Billy Butlin has taken back his holiday camps which have been used to hold and train troops during the war. With a lick of paint they are ready within weeks and amongst the new Red Coats is Molly from Kent who is running away from her past and into the arms of the man of her dreams, matinee idol Johnny Johnson.

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? Here Come The Girls – Milly Johnson
Cry your heart out? Little Women – Louisa M Alcott
Want to read it again? Too many to mention.
Think more? The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
Wish it would be made into a film? The Trouble With Goats and Sheep
Shocked? Fifty Shades of Grey – because I couldn’t understand the hype.
Scared? It - Stephen King

Thank you so much for joining us on our blog today and good luck with the
book.

To read our review of The Woolworths Girls please click here.
Sincerely
Book Angel x

About the Author

Elaine Everest
Hello, welcome to my author page. I was born and brought up in the North West of Kent and love to write stories set around Erith and Slade Green - places I know so well. It is heartwarming to know that many people look back with fondness to the town, the people and a life long gone.

Twenty years ago I moved a few miles away from Erith and now live in Swanley with my husband, Michael, and Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry, where I write nostalgic stories set in and around the county.

Follow me:
Facebook: Elaine Everest Author page
Twitter: @elaineeverest
My writing school: www.thewriteplace.org.uk