#FridayReads ‘Wildfell’ by London Clarke #authorInterview @londonclarke2 Happy Publication Day!

Today is publication day for London Clarke’s debut, Gothic suspense novel, Wildfell.

 

Wildfell by [Clarke, London]

 

Running away isn’t always an escape…

Anne Fleming is running away…

An ill-fated relationship with her grad school professor drives Anne to check out of life. After disposing of all her possessions, Anne assumes a new identity and boards a plane. But a chance meeting on a London-bound flight leads her to Wildfell, a gothic mansion with a cast of strange characters and a long history of disappearances and deaths.

While living at Wildfell, Anne is plagued by voices, ghostly mists, and a mute girl with a sketchbook full of murders. She only remains because of her violent attraction to fellow inhabitant—gorgeous actor Bain Tierney. But when Wildfell tenants begin disappearing one by one, Anne must decide if she trusts Bain. Is anyone in the house who they claim to be? Or are there are other forces at work inside Wildfell? And will they ever let her leave?

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Wildfell is on my kindle and I’ll be reviewing soon, but first a short interview with London.

What attracted you to the Gothic genre?

I was attracted to the gothic genre from a young age. When I think back to the first gothic novel I read, it was probably one by Victoria Holt given to me by my grandmother. My grandmother was a voracious reader, and I have to attribute my own love of reading and writing to her. I loved the creepy house set in some rainy, windswept setting. There was always a brooding, mysterious, yet breathtakingly handsome man with a dark past. He either turned out to be a good guy in disguise or a killer who deceives the heroine. The unpredictability of the stories riveted me. I still love the eerie settings, the potential for the supernatural, and the isolation of the settings.

I remember reading Victoria Holt as a teenager, too. In fact I still have ‘On the Night of the Seventh Moon’, first published in 1972! I also love novels with creepy houses!

How important are the supernatural elements in your novel? 

Although I may write some novels in the future that only suggest the supernatural, right now I’m exploring the darker side of supernatural elements and how they can wreak havoc on a house and its inhabitants. I’ve always been interested in houses that experience hauntings and what that actually means for the people within. So, in short, the supernatural elements are pretty important in my novels.

I’m sure plenty of readers love ancient, haunted houses. I do! 

Tell us something about your main character/s.

Anne, my main character, has lived a nontraditional life. She has no idea who her father is, and she’s grown up with a mother who hates men and has done her best to poison Anne against them. But instead of buying into her mother’s philosophies, Anne rebels and romanticizes men. Her impetus to run at the beginning of the novel is because her hopes of proving her mother wrong are crushed when she is betrayed by her graduate school professor—a man she thought she was in love with. By the time she arrives at Wildfell, she’s in crisis mode–confused, ashamed, and searching for a foothold as she emotionally freefalls. When she meets Bain, she’s immediately attracted to him, but he also furthers that confusion. She feels a little intimidated by him, can’t make him out, and doesn’t know if he’s friend or foe.

A mysterious love interest who could be on your side or against you, leads to intense suspense and romance…

What kind of reader would enjoy Wildfell? 

A reader who enjoys a gothic setting with a creepy house (obviously), scary novels, and twisty mysteries. There is a strong thread of mystery to the story. Readers of Wendy Webb, Darcy Coates, or Laura Benedict will, I think, enjoy Wildfell for its elements of the supernatural. But there is probably more of a romantic angle than most horror fiction, so I’d like to think it will appeal to readers of romance and paranormal romance as well.

Sounds intriguing, paranormal, romance, suspense… I am so looking forward to reading!

What are you working on now?

I am working on a second gothic suspense novel with a vampire angle. This one will be the first book of a series set in Asheville, North Carolina. The working title is The Burning Thirst, but it will probably change. Currently, it’s scheduled to be released late this year.

I’m not too keen on vampires, but I could be persuaded if the plot is thick and the characters engaging!

What would you like readers to know about you?

Hmmm… Well, beyond the creepy stuff I’m truly a romantic at heart. I love to cry in a book or a movie, and I’m a huge fan of Jane Austen. I’m also an animal fanatic. I have two greyhounds that I love to distraction and I would have more, but my husband says two are enough (and it’s his house too). I’m also a bit of a wine connoisseur. At least, I like to think so.

I certainly hope you’re having a glass of vintage wine or champagne to celebrate your publication day! 

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Obsessed with vampires and haunted houses from a young, London grew up reading gothic tales featuring romantic and tragic heroes like Wuthering Heights and Dracula. She considers herself a recovering runaway and confesses that she once moved to England in search of a man who was the perfect amalgamation of Dracula, Hamlet, Heathcliff, and Mr. Rochester. London graduated from George Mason University with a B.A. in Music and M.F.A in Creative Writing and has had an eclectic array of jobs including receptionist, legal secretary, literary assistant, high school English teacher, and freelance editor.

London lives in a Washington, DC suburb with her husband and two greyhounds. She’s happiest when she’s writing novels, reading books, or re-watching her favorite programs like The Vampire Diaries or Being Human.

Follow London Clarke on Twitter

Visit London Clarke’s Facebook Page

Visit London’s Webpage

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#ThemeReveal #AtoZChallenge #Haiku #Photography #MondayBlogs

This is my fourth time participating in the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

I’ve had great fun as well as a bit of stress the previous three years! But I’m ready to go again.

Year one was 2015 and I posted an author spotlight iincluding an interview with an author a day and a book review of one of the author’s books. I chose contemporary authors, many of whom published independently. These authors and their novels had made me think, laugh, and/or cry.

Year two, 2016 was devoted to Jane Eyre. I posted about my inspiration and passion. My posts were all about Jane Eyre, the book, characters, themes, symbolism, author, etc.

Year three, 2017 was devoted to poetry. I ambitiously took part in National Poetry Month as well as the April A-Z Blogging Challenge. I posted two poems a day, one written by me and another poem written by one of my favourite poets, whose name or surname began with the corresponding daily letter.

This year, 2018, is my fourth year and my theme is poetry once again. On this occasion I’ll be writing a haiku a day, but I’m also adding a new hobby to the posts, photography. I will post one of my photos every day to accompany the haiku. I’m still learning but I’m gradually getting better at taking and editing photos.

Haiku (or hokku) is a Japanese verse form. In its English version, it has three unrhymed lines of five, seven, and five syllables. A haiku often features an image to represent the essence of the haiku. It often refers to nature or seasons.

A Haiku aims to capture the essence of fleeting feelings in a specific moment in time, which becomes one with the universe.

It has been described as one of the most elegant and immediate poetic forms because it creates an aura of mystery and artistry in a short and intense outburst of syllables.

The challenge of an effective haiku is to capture the elusive instant, which reveals universal feelings, making it both ephemeral and eternal at the same time, by using just three lines and 17, or fewer, syllables. A Haiku is often written in the present tense and includes an enigmatic last line.

It wasn’t popularized in Western literature until the early 1900s. Paul-Louis Couchoud became one of the first European translators of the form who popularized this poetic form in Europe. Soon more were translated and written by French, Spanish and English speaking poets.

Western poets like W.H. Auden, Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, Jorge Luis Borges, Billy Collins, Allen Ginsberg, e.e. Cummings, Ezra Pound, Joanne Kyger, Anne Waldman, Richard Wright, and Sonia Sanchez also wrote haiku.

Here’s a beautiful Haiku written by North American poet Sonia Sánchez, published in her collection of poetry, Shake Loose My Skin (1999).

I love writing Haiku with one of my own photographs or in response to a photo prompt. I find it reduces the poem form to its very essence, the equivalent to flash fiction, in a poem.

Writing a haiku isn’t as easy or simple as it would appear. Sometimes I spend hours, even days thinking of the right word or the right combination of syllables to capture the moment and the feeling. Other times, it’s impossible to find the right words… and occasionally, the seventeen syllables flow from pen to paper, as if they had been in my mind for years, waiting to be written.

Here’s a haiku I wrote recently. It’s one of my favourite, so far. I took the picture and wrote it when I was experiencing complex emotions.

Clouds scream at howling tides.

Seize the fury, ride the storm,

Then embrace the calm…

Are you taking part in the April Blogging Challenge this year?

If you are, what’s your theme?

Feel free to add the link to your theme reveal in the comments 🙂

#BookTour ‘Christmas Secrets’ #Author Interview @donnahatch

Interview with Author Donna Hatch

  1. Could you tell us something about why you wrote this novel and where the idea, or inspiration, came from.

I’ve been toying with the strangers kissing idea for a couple of years, and have had a few false starts. Finally, I brainstormed the concept with a critique partner. After trying several options, I finally landed on one that worked for me.

2- You are a bestselling author of Regency Romances. Why do you think this genre is so popular 200 years after the original romances were written?

I think there are many reasons. One reason they are popular is due to all the recent movies based on famous historical books such as all the Jane Austen films, North and South with the dreamy Richard Armitage, and many other historical novel adaptations as well as BBC series that take place in historical eras.

Another reason historical romance novels stay popular is because most people read either to relax or escape—which are kinda one in the same. We crave a reprieve from our troubles. The fantasy of vicariously living the life of the very rich, wearing beautiful gowns, having handsome heroes vie for our favor or even dueling over our honor is very appealing, and giving those stories a historical setting furthers the fantasy.

In Regency England, manners were very formal. There was a protocol to everything from how many sets a lady could dance with a gentleman in one evening (two), to what to wear while walking (a walking gown).

I love the eloquent speech used during the Regency and how they also prized wit. My job as a historical novelist is to include witty dialogue in every historical I write. I also love the manners of the Regency: gentlemen stood when a lady entered the room, removed their hats, cleaned up their language, and bowed. Yes, I do wish men still did those things today. Regency men were educated as well as athletic; they rode horses, fenced, and boxed. They were strong, noble and honorable—to the point of being self-sacrificing. And that is why I love them!

3- Have you ever thought about writing another genre, such as contemporary romance?

Not contemporary but I have written a fantasy, which is currently out of print, and I’d like to write more in the future. I also am considering writing young adult fantasy or futuristic/science fiction.

4- What are you writing at the moment?

I am working on book 5 of my Rogue Hearts series, and I’m brainstorming a new series about spies during the Napoleonic Wars.

5- What would you like readers to know about you?

I love chocolate and cute fluffy baby animals.

Here is my official bio: Best-selling author, Donna Hatch, is a hopeless romantic and adventurer at heart, the force that drove her to write and publish twenty historical romance titles, including the award-winning “Rogue Hearts Series.”  She is a multi-award winner, a sought-after workshop presenter, and juggles multiple volunteer positions as well as her six (yes, that is 6) children. Also a music lover, she sings and plays the harp, and loves to ballroom dance. Donna and her family recently transplanted from her native Arizona to the Pacific Northwest where she and her husband of over twenty years are living proof that there really is a happily ever after.

Connect with Donna here:

Facebook ~ Website ~ Amazon ~  Goodreads ~ Twitter ~

 

Holly’s two Christmas wishes this year are to finally win her mother’s approval by gaining the notice of a handsome earl, and discovering the identity of the stranger who gave her a heart-shattering kiss…even if that mystery kisser is the resident Christmas ghost.

Amazon ~ Amazon UK ~ Amazon Canada ~ Amazon Australia ~

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To view the blog schedule and follow along with this tour visit the Official Facebook Event page 

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway

Hosted by:

#Author Spotlight @Lizzie_Lamb and #BookReview Scotch on the Rocks for #RBRT

In the spotlight this week is Lizzie Lamb, author of Scotch on the Rocks which has just been shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize, this year.

Good luck Lizzie, because you’ve written a wonderful novel, which deserves all the praise and attention it’s getting from readers and reviewers!

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Blurb Scotch on the Rocks    5-Stars!

ISHABEL STUART is at the crossroads of her life.

Her wealthy industrialist father has died unexpectedly, leaving her a half-share in a ruined whisky distillery and the task of scattering his ashes on a Munro. After discovering her fiancé playing away from home, she cancels their lavish Christmas wedding at St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh and heads for the only place she feels safe – Eilean na Sgairbh, a windswept island on Scotland’s west coast – where the cormorants outnumber the inhabitants, ten to one.
When she arrives at her family home – now a bed and breakfast managed by her left-wing, firebrand Aunt Esme, she finds a guest in situ – BRODIE. Issy longs for peace and the chance to lick her wounds, but gorgeous, sexy American, Brodie, turns her world upside down.

In spite of her vow to steer clear of men, she grows to rely on Brodie. However, she suspects him of having an ulterior motive for staying at her aunt’s Bed and Breakfast on remote Cormorant Island. Having been let down by the men in her life, will it be third time lucky for Issy? Is she wise to trust a man she knows nothing about – a man who presents her with more questions than answers?

As for Aunt Esme, she has secrets of her own . . .

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My Review

Scotch On The Rocks is the first book I’ve read by Lizzie Lamb, and it won’t be the last! I already have her two other books on my kindle, Tall, Dark and Kilted, and Boot Camp Bride.

Scotch on the Rocks is a contemporary romantic comedy set in a small, picturesque village in Scotland.

The author brings to life an unconventional cast of characters in the small local community, including a histrionic and egotistical opera singer, her best friend, fanciful Lindy, who calls herself Lola, a cheating ex-fiancé, as well as a foul-mouthed and cheeky parrot!

The plot thrusts the heroine, Issy, straight into the action. She’s upset because she’s just broken up with her fiancé, whom she was about to marry, and drives back home across a flooding causeway, to her eccentric aunt Esme’s home, transporting her father’s ashes. On her arrival at her aunt’s Bed and Breakfast, she meets the attractive and secretive, American, Brodie.

As the plot unfolds, Issy will gradually find out why Brodie is there and who her family really are. No-one is who they seem, and the secrets of the past, going back to the WWII, will be disclosed. Their lives will never be the same again.

I loved the sharp dialogue, which makes the characters come alive, the vivid descriptions, which made me feel part of the scenery, and the passion, which made me fall in love with all the lovers (young and older), and the island.

The setting was a real plus. The last time I visited Scotland was many years ago, and I can’t wait to go back and visit places like Cormorant Island and picturesque coastal locations. I enjoyed the local customs, dialect, food and drink. I’m so glad I read it over the Christmas holidays, because although it takes place in summer, it has a Christmassy feel to it. It’s definitely a novel to curl up with on a comfortable armchair by the fireplace!

Scotch on the Rocks is humorous yet tragic. It’s also surprising, exciting, heartwarming and romantic, too.

Finally, there’s a satisfactory ending and hopeful message: It’s never too late to follow your dreams, and by never, I mean even that some characters are well over the age of retirement when they made their dreams come true!

I’d like to thank Lizzie for gifting me a copy of her book in exchange for an honest review, and Rosie for organizing Rosie’s Book Review Team, and making it possible for readers, writers and reviewers to connect.

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Lizzie is an amazing author, so I asked her to answer some questions which will be of great help and inspiration to all writers, especially those new to this fascinating profession. 
1- What made you decide to leave your teaching job and become a full-time writer?

I’ve always wanted to be a ‘writer’. The bug really bit after my grandfather bought me a Petite typewriter when I was about ten – and I never looked back. Fast forward a few years . . . I became a teacher and married, however, with a mortgage and bills to meet I knew that I couldn’t afford the luxury of giving up the day job in the hope of making a living out of writing. Then, after thirty-four years at the chalk face, the day dawned when I thought, this is it; now or never. I left the profession and set on the road to becoming a published writer.

2- What advice would you give an author who wants to self publish his/her novel?

Write the best novel you can, the one you hope readers will want to read. THEN, if funds allow it, have it professionally edited; I used Hilary Johnson Agency for my first novel, and also had it critiqued, twice, by the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Don’t be afraid to ‘kill off your darlings,’ when you edit, be professional and always keep your readers in mind. Pay to have it proof read and I also suggest that you have it formatted by a professional – at least the first time. Readers are very unforgiving if a book is sloppily presented and full of spelling mistakes. I would also advise wannabe writers to ‘get their ducks in a row’, well before they self-publish. By which I mean: build up your social media presence: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and create a website which has a built-in blog. Use all of the above to build up your on-line persona and find potential readers before you actually publish your novel. Make friends, generously promote other writers and once your book is published, find new readers via a newsletter etc. Sounds daunting? It is, but hard work reaps rewards. Finally, write another book, and another; prove that you have what it takes to go the distance.

3- Which writers have influenced you as an author?

When I first set out as a writer I was heavily into historical novels. However, as I moved up the career ladder, I had less time for reading. That’s when I got into Mills and Boone (in the 80’s heyday when there were some fantastic writers: Charlotte Lamb, Sara Craven etc, then the shorter Jilly Cooper novels, Jill Mansell, Catherine Alliot, Fiona Walker and finally, Sophie Kinsella. They made me realise that I loved romantic comedy and that’s what I decided to write, although I do find dropping snippets of historical factoids into my novels irresistible. Later, I was much taken by the Little Black Dress (Headline) imprint and I aimed my first novel at them. Unfortunately, by the time I’d finished writing it, the line was closed and I had to start looking for a different publisher.

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4- Could you tell us about the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s and the New Writers’ Scheme?

Here’s a link to the New Writers’ Scheme which tells you everything you need to know. It’s a fabulous place to start out and you learn so much from meeting and mixing with published authors and agents. As part of the annual subscription, you are entitled to a critique of your novel (full or partial) by an author already published in your genre. Once you gain a publishing contract you can ‘graduate’ to full membership. In 2015 the rules were changed to allow self-published authors to leave the NWS and become Independent Members, provided they meet the criteria for that membership. I love being part of the RNA and have learned since joining, it’s well worth an aspiring writer to consider joining.

5- What is your writing routine?

I try very hard to stay off social media until after I’ve done my words for the day, but I never manage it. There’s always mail to answer, tweets to schedule and blog posts to write. But, once I get started I don’t want to be interrupted. Luckily I have a room at the end of the house which is all my own and I can leave the pc in sleep mode, return to it later in the day and pick up where I left off. I don’t allow anyone on my computer as several years ago one of my great niece’s accidently deleted swathes of work. Now everything’s backed up on Dropbox. I’m disciplined and write every day (where possible). We have a touring caravan and when we go on holiday, the pc and the parrot come, too. I find that if I leave too long between writing my novel, I lose the flow . . .

6- Are you a plotter or a pantster?

I start off as a plotter and get the bare bones of the story down on a time line with post it notes, then I start writing. That’s when plotter becomes panster – the novel unwinds in front of me as I type, like a movie and I simply have to write it down and knock it into shape. Sounds easy? I spend all day dreaming about my novel and my characters act out scenes in my head, scenes I hadn’t even thought of. Then, when I sit down to write it’s all there, demanding to be made into a novel. Sometimes I wonder who’s in charge – them or me!

7- What are you working on now?

I hope to publish my next novel, This Highland Magic, within the next year.

Dr Henriette Bruar travels to north to catalogue the library in an ancient castle set in the middle of a remote Highland loch. The laird, Sir Malcolm MacKenzie, of that Ilk, is pressed for cash and is selling off the estate’s assets, including the library. This doesn’t please his son, Keir, who fears there will be nothing of the estate left to inherit. To all outward appearances, Henriette seems like just any run of the mill academic, unremarkable even. However, in her heart of hearts, she sees herself as a cross between Indiana Jones and the Relic Hunter and dreams of someday finding a precious manuscript, a hidden treasure or unlocking family secrets. At Sir Malcom’s castle, she sets out to do just that.

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8- What would you like readers to know about you?

After teaching my 1000th pupil and working as a deputy head teacher in a large primary school, I decided pursue my first love: writing. I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted (2012), followed a year later by Boot Camp Bride. Although much of my time is taken up publicising Tall, Dark and Kilted and Boot Camp Bride, I published a third novel SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS in July 2015. It achieved Best Seller status within two weeks of appearing on Amazon. I am a founding member of an indie publishing group – New Romantics Press. In November 2014 we held an Author Event at Waterstones High Street, Kensington, London the icing on the cake as far we are concerned, and a fitting way to celebrate our achievements. I live in Leicestershire with my husband David (aka Bongo Man) and a naughty parrot called Jasper.

9- How can readers find out more or contact you?
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/lizzielamb
Lizzie’s Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/LizzieLambwriter
Lizzie’s email: lizzielambwriter@gmail.com
Lizzie’s Website: website: http://www.lizzielamb.co.uk
Lizzie’s Newsletter: http://tinyurl.com/ELNL-2016
Linked in: uk.linkedin.com/pub/lizzie-lamb/18/194/202/
Goodreads http://tinyurl.com/cbla48d
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/lizzielamb/
Twitter: @lizzie_lamb

10- Where can readers buy your books?

https://www.amazon.com/author/lizzielamb

Thank you for visiting my blog and taking art in this Author Spotlight, Lizzie. It was a pleasure to have you here and learn more about your writing process and future projects. Good luck with the Exeter Novel Prize and I’m looking forward to reading your next novel, later this year 🙂

I hope you all follow Lizzie’s advice and have a wonderful weekend!

Follow your heart

#Author Spotlight @Patricia_Sands & #BookReview of her Novel ‘The Promise of Provence’ for #RBRT

I recently read and reviewed The Promise of Provence as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.

Promise of provence cover

My Review

The Promise of Provence is an innovative and unusual type of novel because the heroine is not an innocent or feisty young woman in search of a career or a companion. The main character is a middle-aged woman, in her late fifties, who finds that the life she was living, and had planned to continue leading, disintegrates unexpectedly before her eyes. As a result, she is forced reinvent herself and redesign her future.

The first part of The Promise of Provence carries us through the traumatic events, which will shatter Katherine’s life. As all life-changing experiences, the difficult moment must first be overcome in order to move on to the following stage. The rest of the novel deals with how she recovers from the loss and renews her faith in herself.

I enjoyed the interior monologue of a mature woman, facing life choices, normally associated with younger women, such as coping with men’s sexual advances, finding a place to live, and meeting new friends. Katherine has the intelligence and experience to realize what she wants, and the courage to leave her comfort zone and attempt to get over the sadness she feels and recover her self-esteem.

She does something she has always dreamed of doing; she visits Europe. When she takes part in a home exchange holiday in the South of France, it will change her life forever, because she finds new incentives in life. Katherine’s journey is spiritual and emotional as well as geographical.

‘I thought I was coming on this exchange to run away from something, but now I feel I was really running toward something – a new me.’

I enjoyed her travels in Europe. She carried me away with her curiosity and sense of adventure, showing me the scenery, the delicious food, and museums, chateaux, and historic sights of France, Monaco, Budapest, and Italy.

Throughout her travels, she meets some wonderful people, but she also has some unfortunate experiences. There is romance, and there are some nasty characters, too. The romance, which eventually evolves, is not a whirlwind, and it is not the central issue in the novel, but it is solid, because it has potential to develop. Presumably it will be one of the main storylines in book two, Promises to Keep (Love in Provence Book 2).

It is a well-written and moving story, which transmits hope and optimism. A person’s happiness is in his/her own hands. As Francois tells Katherine:
‘Life is full of choices. Don’t be afraid to make them when you know they are right for you. You are much younger than I and have so much to live. Live it well.’

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I enjoyed the book so much that I asked the author, Patricia Sands, some questions for an Author Spotlight.

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1- The Promise of Provence and its sequel, Promises to Keep, are doing very well with 400 reviews between them. Why do you think the series is so popular?

When I first published The Promise of Provence, I thought it was a stand-alone novel. However, I received so many emails from readers asking for more of Katherine’s story that I decided to add two more books, shorter than the first. The majority of my readers love stories set in France and many are devoted Francophiles. After Amazon Publishing contacted me and purchased the rights to the series, my readership is increasing even more through their great marketing. I feel tremendously grateful to have been offered this opportunity to work with Amazon’s Lake Union Publishing, their women’s fiction imprint.

2- The main character in your novel embarks upon a new life when she’s well over fifty. Were you surprised that so many readers were interested in reading about this type of heroine?

It’s been a lovely surprise, thanks!
My first novel, The Bridge Club, is about eight women and follows their lives until they are in their ’60’s. I heard from a large number of readers then who said they enjoyed reading about older female characters and that’s what encouraged me to continue writing to my demographic. Now I know that the majority of my readers are over 40 and many over 60. They tell me it is rare to find novels with older characters and they like that about my stories.

3- What inspired you to set it in Provence?

I’ve had a love affair with France since I first spent a year in Europe after university, when I was twenty-one. Fortunately, I’ve visited different parts of that beautiful country many times throughout my life. For the past twenty years my husband and I have spent extended time every summer in the south of France, usually in Nice or Antibes. In 2011, we rented an apartment in Antibes for five months where I wrote the first draft of The Promise of Provence.
On many of our visits, we have arranged some of our accommodation through home exchanges and that’s one of the reasons I wrote that experience into The Promise of Provence. It’s a fabulous way to travel!

4- What are you working on now?

I’ve recently finished final edits with Amazon’s Lake Union Pubishing for “I Promise You This“, Book 3 in the Love In Provence series. It will be published in spring, 2016. The plan is to write another three-book series with the same characters in the south of France as they open a small inn. I’m excited about getting on with those books and thrilled that I can keep writing about the part of the world that my readers love as much as I do.

5- What would you like readers to know about you?

I love writing and all the work that goes with it! It’s been a great surprise to me to begin a completely new career as an author after I turned sixty. I’m often asked to speak to women’s groups and love to encourage women of all ages to follow a dream, no matter how old we are. It’s never too late!

I also love hearing from readers and believe that’s an author’s greatest reward. I send out a newsletter once a month and feel that’s my chance to speak to each one of the subscribers. There’s always at least one book giveaway per letter (from many of my author friends) and often there are sneak peeks at my writing, along with photography and information about France.

6– How can readers contact you or find our more about your books?

I can be reached directly by email at patriciasandsauthor@gmail.com. All my book information and a sign-up link for my newsletter can be found on my website: http://patriciasandsauthor.com/

I’d like to thank Patricia Sands for writing such a lovely book and for visiting my blog. It was wonderful to read her novel and find out more about her books and her writing process!

#Author Spotlight Helen Pollard & #BookReview of her Novel ‘Holding Back’ for #RBRT

I reviewed Holding Back as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team. I’d like to thank Rosie for organizing the Review Team and Helen for allowing me to read and review her novel.

HoldingBack - cover

 

My Review: An Enjoyable Holiday Romance

If you fancy a pleasant journey and holiday romance in sunny Portugal in summer, this is a novel for you.

Laura is a dedicated teacher who helps her best friend from college at her husband’s family’s delightful hotel, in exchange for a room and the run of the place for a few weeks of her summer holidays. Although she’s contented with her life, she has some unsolved personal issues which are obstructing her chances of happiness.

Daniel is an assertive and hard-working hospitality company manager who is tiring of travelling and avoiding his ex-girlfriend.

Daniel and Laura meet at the airport, and later at the hotel where he’s a guest.

They’re both afraid of emotional commitment, yet missing a more meaningful relationship, and although they meet at the right place and the right time, for a romantic interlude, they’re both reluctant to take their unexpected attraction any further than friendship. However the intervention of their family back home, months after the holiday will give them a second chance.

I read it in one enjoyable sitting. The main characters are authentic and likeable, the plot is plausible and unassuming. The setting is idyllic, small coastal towns in northern Portugal, and the happy ever after ending brings a tear of relief to the eye. What’s not to like about it?

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Helen Pollard - author pic

Let’s get to know Helen a little better:

What would you say to convince someone to read Holding Back?

If you like sunshine and an interesting location to go along with your romance, Holding Back is set in beautiful northern Portugal. I’ve had a lot of compliments about how well the setting is described, taking you on a ‘virtual’ trip there! In fact, it was the place itself that inspired the story. I’d visited that area of northern Portugal a couple of times a few years ago and those memories stayed with me until my imagination came up with the characters and story for Holding Back.

What are you working on now?

I’ve just finished a story set in the Loire region of France. It’s quite different from my previous two books, as it isn’t a straightforward romance. It’s contemporary women’s fiction with down-to-earth humour and just an element of romance. I hope to find a home for it soon!

What would you like readers to know about you?

When I’m writing, I work really hard on the characters and dialogue. You can have the fanciest plot in the world, but if your characters aren’t believable, the story just won’t work – especially in a romance. I don’t do a detailed outline at the start – I’ll have a basic premise in mind, and certain points or events that I definitely want to get to, but beyond that, I allow my characters to take me where they want to go. It’s more fun that way! I’m also a compulsive edit-and-polisher – I tweak and tweak until I feel my story is the best it can be.

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Thank you for visiting my blog and telling us more about yourself, your novel and your writing process. It was a pleasure to have you in my Spotlight.

Find out more or contact Helen:

Author links:

Website & Blog:  http://helenpollardwrites.wordpress.com    

Facebook:  http://facebook.com/pages/Helen-Pollard/372986142839624

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/helenpollard147

Goodreads:  http://goodreads.com/author/show/8647878.Helen_Pollard

Amazon:  http://amazon.com/Helen-Pollard/e/B00O2E0BRC

Buy Links:

Amazon UK:  http://amazon.co.uk/dp/B00WRZ1PKA

Amazon US:  http://amazon.com/dp/B00WRZ1PKA

Kobo:  https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/holding-back-2

Smashwords:  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/539037

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/holding-back-helen-pollard/1121818382?ean=2940151469210

 

 

#Author Spotlight Gloria Antypowich & #BookReview of her Novel ‘Full Circle’

This week’s Author Spotlight features  Gloria Antypowich and her novel Full Circle.

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My Review

One of the reasons I read is to travel, and another is to encounter events beyond my daily routine. In Full Circle, I was alternately shocked, surprised, upset, and cheerful. I also travelled to Canada and found out what life on a ranch is like! So it was a satisfying read. I especially enjoyed the dialogues and the descriptive scenes which transported me to another continent.

The four main characters are very well-developed, which made me care about what would happen to them, and plenty of things happen! I read about many life changing and dramatic events in their lives, such as loss of parents and children, neglect, fear of commitment, divorce, betrayal, marriage, pregnancy, falling in and out of love, depression, as well as disturbing events such as child murder.

It is a romance, so it is not a spoiler to say that there is an optimistic ending. However, it is not an ordinary or simple romance, the story gradually unwinds and becomes more complex as the plot grows and the characters develop.
At the start of the novel Shauna Lee Holt is a successful accountant with her own business in a Canadian town, who promiscuously enjoys the company of men. We will learn that there is more to Shauna Lee than lust when Brad appears in her life, like a catalyst, and turns her world upside down, as he discovers (with the reader) the traumatic secrets of her past.

Brad is generous and supportive and helps her discover the healing power of love, instead of (or as well as) lust, and helps her face the truth and discover who she is and what she wants to make of her life.

Although Full Circle is part of a series, this can be read as a stand-alone novel. I have not read book one, The Second Time Around, but now I’m curious to find out more of the back story of the lives of Colt and Frank Thompson, the happy couple who seem to have everything, but are also struck by dramatic events in Full Circle.

There are two more novels in the series, The Hand of Fate and Second Chance, which I look forward to reading.

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I read and reviewed this enjoyable novel last summer and asked Gloria to answer some questions to get to know more about her work and her writing routine.

1- What would you say to readers to convince them to buy Full Circle?

If you are looking for something more than a traditional romance, you will enjoy Full Circle. Your first impression of Shauna Lee Holt could easily be disdain because, while she is a successful business woman, in her personal life she is promiscuous, sleeping with different men on a regular basis. When Brad Thompson arrives on the scene she hits on him immediately, but he is different from the other men she knows. He is attracted to her, but he is not willing to play her game. He makes it clear to her that he will not have sex with her until they have gotten to know each other and established the beginning of a truly monogamous relationship. He’s determined not to be another one in a string of guys in her bed, but she certainly does test his resolve.

Behind the façade she has created, Shauna Lee is a tormented person who feels unworthy of love and she doesn’t know how to be with a man like Brad. As he gets glimpses of her tragic past he begins to realise that she may never be able to give him what he wants. When they begin to make headway, shadows from her past come forward, like ghosts slipping through the cracks that Brad has pried opened in her armor. Will Shauna Lee let Brad stand by her side and help her like he wants too, or will fear overrule and cause her to slam all her emotional portals shut again?

This story is filled with drama. It revolves around betrayals, hatred, infanticide, regret, revenge, strong friendships and unconditional love. Bring your box of Kleenex when you sit down to read. There will be times when you may laugh, but I’m certain there will be more times when you will feel like crying.

2.What inspired you to write the Belanger Creek Ranch Books?

The Belanger Creek Ranch Series has been a long journey for me. Over 30 years ago I was fortunate to be able to attend RWA conferences in the USA for a few years in succession. Then one year I decided to go to a writer’s workshop in Regina Saskatchewan. That would have been a long two day drive for me, and my husband didn’t want me to go by myself, so he went with me. I had romanticised about the Cypress Hills. They are a high point of land that straddles the SE corner of the province of Alberta and the adjoining SW corner of the province of Saskatchewan: an anomaly in the otherwise flat land of the prairies. Exploring them was on my agenda for that trip. On our way back home to B.C., we detoured off Highway 1 and visited Loch Levan, then drove through the Center Block of the Interprovincial Cypress Hills Park, and across the Gap Road to historic Fort Walsh in the West Block. Among other things, I saw the biggest grasshoppers I have ever seen in my life on the Gap Road! I made notes and took pictures—we talked to a couple of ranchers and that was research for my first book. I wrote the book, had an agent who presented it to Harlequin, who in turn gave me a polite not-now letter, so I went on to other things. I published that original book as “Hearts at Risk” in 2011, and after a few people said they wanted to know more about the characters I decided to write a second book, “You Can Run,” in 2012.

Then my husband decided to write and publish his hunting memoir and his personal memoir, so I put my writing aside and dedicated my time to editing and revising his manuscripts. As well, there were 350 pictures in his personal memoir and 150 in his hunting memoir. I had to prepare those pictures for the publisher by converting them to black and white, editing them with Photoshop Elements where necessary and resizing them. Then I had to number them according to where they would be placed in the individual manuscripts and create place holders in 3 separate files for each book. It was a major project!

In 2014 I settled into my own writing again. I still loved and believed in the characters and story of my first two books (even though they were total flops) so I did an extensive rewrite of “Hearts At Risk,” and it became The Second Time Around, Book One of the Belanger Creek Ranch Series. Then I tweaked the manuscript for “You Can Run” and it became Full Circle, Book Two of the Belanger Creek Ranch Series.

I like a series of books if they relate to each other, but can be read on their own, and by the time I started writing again I knew I wanted to do a book that included a surrogacy. That book went through 3 title changes—at first I was going to call it “The Bastard and The Barren”. My husband has no input in my books (in fact I don’t think he’s even read books three and four), but one day he when he came into my office and when he saw the file name on my computer he was disgusted!! Any way as the book evolved—(or possibly I was the one who evolved) I decided the title was going to be “The Gift” Then when I did the very final edit—I knew there was so much more to that book than just the gift of surrogacy, and after I changed the last paragraph, I decided to call it The Hand of Fate. Two new characters had been introduced into the “Belanger Creek Ranch family” and the idea for A Second Chance, Book Four was spawned.

I choose to call the series The Belanger Creek Ranch Series, because thirty years ago when we drove through that country I had made a note about a small creek named Belanger Creek. I have no idea what the area is like now, but there was not a ranch there then.

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3. What’s your writing routine?

Insane!! I’m a total “pantster.” I’ll have an idea and I’ll do thorough research as background material. Then I’ll just jump right in and start writing—for hours and days and weeks and months.

Since my husband also writes, that is OK when he is settled in front of his computer, but when he isn’t, I think not having “a wife” for weeks on end gets frustrating. He doesn’t say much…although sometimes actions speak louder than words! My kids rag on me for living an unbalanced life—no exercise and sitting at the computer non-stop. Our oldest daughter and her family live upstairs (we live on the ground floor of the same house) and if she looks out of her bathroom window at midnight and sees the glow of the light from my office, she will go into their spare bedroom just above where I am working and stomp on the floor to let me know that she doesn’t approve! Our children and grandchildren are proud of my accomplishments—I have to correct myself here-they are proud of both of our accomplishments—but they just don’t get what it’s like to be a writer!

4-What are you working on now?

I am not writing right now—I am marketing, marketing, marketing!

But I have many ideas simmering on the back burner. I have done research for a possible rodeo series—I know a stock contractor, a bull fighter, a chuckwagon owner, a chuckwagon outrider and a bull rider, as well as a tie down roper. I do much of my research on line, but I like to get a feel for what characters would think and do from real life people if possible. Most of what I learn never makes it into a book, but it makes me feel that I can write with authenticity.

I also have a “series” that’s been on my mind for a few years—one book would be titled Too Little Too Late, another Meant to Be and the third would be The Ties That Bind. They are all about married couples whose relationships face challenges. Too Little Too Late and The Ties That Bind are not actually “happy ever after” books. Meant To Be has heartache but ends happily. They all deal with harsh realities of things that do happen in life. I have thought about them for so long, but am not certain that I want to go down that road yet.

I have also thought about doing a series about girls who arrived on The Bride Ships in the 1800’s—that’s more historical—but there is such fascinating, and yes, horrible stories to be gleaned from that time in the US and when the gold rush was in full swing in the Cariboo area of British Columbia, where I live.

Also I wrote another book years ago that was about a surrogacy contract that fell apart when the intended mother died. More than once I have thought about bringing it to life. I loved that book and still remember it clearly—it had a paranormal element to it.

So as you see, I have plenty of ideas to work on—and in honesty, undoubtedly less than 20 years to write—if I’m very fortunate. Oh mortality!! And the hand of fate! One never knows what will come into your life in a given time. So I choose to live one day at a time!

Lucy, Thank you so much for featuring me in your Author Spotlight!

It was a pleasure having you on my blog, Gloria.

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If you’d like to contact Gloria, here are her social network links:

FaceBook: http://tinyurl.com/Gloria-Antypowich-Author-Page
Twitter: https://twitter.com/glantypowich
My webpage is http://gloriaantypowichauthor.com/home/
My Blog: http://gloriaantypowich.com/blog/
GoodReads: http://tinyurl.com/goodreads-Gloria-Antypowich
Linkedin: http://tinyurl.com/Linkedin-Gloria-Antypowich

Purchase link:

My books on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/Gloria-Antypowich-Amazon