#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 LeeAnne Hansen and #Review of ‘Ghost Light’

I occasionally download and review books from Story Cartel. I’m so glad I found Ghost Light here a few weeks ago, quite by chance, because it’s a fabulous novel. I’d like to introduce you to LeeAnne Hansen, because I became her fan almost from page one. This post includes a short blurb, my review, and an author interview.

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Blurb Ghost Light

Fiona Corrigan sometimes has difficulty discerning between the reality of stage and real life, especially when it comes to the attentions of her handsome co-star, the dark, brooding, Patrick Berenger.

Before they can depart for Edinburgh for their next performance, Patrick and Fiona’s acting troupe are mysteriously summoned to a remote village in Scotland, in the dead of winter. Once there, although stranded by a massive storm, Fiona is happy that she will finally have the time alone with Patrick that she needs to seduce him.

Unfortunately, Fiona couldn’t have anticipated Sean’s appearance, (Patrick’s equally handsome, drunken cad of an older brother) or his devastating effect on both her and Patrick. Nor could she have anticipated the true purpose of the strange summons by the eccentric landlord, the dark secrets he would reveal in twisted ways, or the identity of the phantom woman who haunted the stage each time the ghost light went dark.

Set in 1920’s Scotland, Ghost Light is equal parts tingling romance and chilling ghost story.

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My 5-Star Review

Sometimes it takes a few pages to get into a novel, but this is another novel I knew I’d love from the first line. ‘Devon slammed his glass down onto the wooden desk, sloshing whiskey onto his hand.’ Then a very theatrical exchange between two lovers takes place. A few pages on, the passage ends with ‘Then the lights fell to black. And the curtain dropped.’ Fabulous! I knew the novel would mix reality and fiction, real life and stage life, and it did not disappoint.
There are two unusual and impossible love stories, which are linked to form a complex love triangle. The brooding and moody Patrick, and his fiery and impulsive brother, Sean.

The love story in the novel is Fiona’s journey of self-discovery. What does she want from life? What is love? Who does she love? The decision seems easy, at first, but soon their relationships become more intense, and Fiona realizes she desires real love and passion, instead of a romantic idealization of love. The outcome is traumatic, as she continues to deny her need for real love. There are moments she seems to prefer to experience an ideal yet imaginary love on stage, because she is afraid of unleashing her real passion.

It is an intense novel because the characters are a group of actors who travel to an isolated Scottish village, Loglinmooth, just as winter is falling. Most of the action takes place in a spooky castle and a haunted old family theatre, which has been opened for the purpose of their visit, to put on a play. All the characters are well-developed; merry Abby, enigmatic, dark Gavin, enthusiastic and encouraging Nicolas, their director, and inspiring and learned Andrew the playwright, to name a few.

There’s a cryptic letter, a mysterious train journey, a disappearing coffin carrying the brothers’ cruel, dead father. A vampire-like butler, a vanished mother, whom many believe to be a ghost, a ghost, a murderous plot, a murderer, a play which mirrors the characters lives, and lots of chilling moments along dark passages and rickety backstage.
It has all the ingredients of an entertaining and chilling ghost story, with engaging characters, a sound plot, and a passionate love story. A wonderful winter read!

I contacted LeeAnne on Twitter, before I even finished Ghost Light to tell her how much I was enjoying it. When I finished reading (a sad moment because I was having such fun!), I asked her for an author interview, and here it is:

LeeAnne Hansen

1- Ghost Light is set almost entirely in a small Scottish village, including a haunted castle and old theatre. Could you tell us what inspired you to write this novel? Is it based on a true story or event?

Well, there was a personal experience but sadly it was not in a castle. A few years back, a friend and I attended a play together to see a mutual friend perform. The theater had this plaque in the lobby dedicated to their ghost light. My friend that was with me had never heard of a ghost light which had surprised me because having grown up and gone to school in theater, I just always assumed it was something that everyone knew about. So, as I was explaining to him how it was meant to keep ghosts away but most likely to keep people from tripping at night I realized that Ghost Light would be a great title for a novel. That thought later inspired me to touch on a few other theater traditions and superstitions in Ghost Light; for example, to never whistle on stage, or mention that cursed Scottish play Macbeth by name, things like that. And in addition, having traveled to Scotland and Ireland, I found the setting and atmosphere there just right for a ghost story.

2- I’ve noticed that both your novels to date, Ghost Light and Yonder include ghost stories. Why are you so interested in ghosts? Do you believe in ghosts?

Well, I am a huge fan of the mysterious and unexpected, like The Twilight Zone and Hitchcock movies as well as classic ghost stories like The Shining or The Haunting of Hill House. I love a story where the main characters have set goals they are trying to achieve but something unexpected or unexplained enters that plan. As for ghosts, I have had a few experiences with them and the thing I have found is that whenever the topic of ghosts comes up, almost everyone has their own story or wants to hear yours. Nora Roberts used a metaphor to talk about ghosts once that said something about when a plant dies the roots still remain or are left behind. I always really liked that.

Cover for ebook- Yonder

3- What would you say to a reader to convince him/her to read Yonder?

Yonder is a mix of so much of me and that time period. It has the music I just adore of the 20s-40s. The chapter headings are all songs from that era. (I even created my own playlist for the songs and listen to it constantly while I am writing.) It is also close to my heart and past, being that my Grandmother was from Mississippi and she was Southern through and through, not to mention the cover of Yonder is her statue my Grandfather (who fought in World War II) gave her. Yonder also has a bit of what it was like growing up in the Bible Belt, which is a hard thing to explain to people outside of that belt, but it is the world that the character’s of Yonder exist in and it was part of my childhood. I also think the 1940’s was such a romantic and beautiful time period and if I had a time machine I would travel back to the dances my Grandmother always talked about. I love the music, the clothes, the fact that there was no text messaging or social media complication; it just seems like the perfect world for a girl to get swept off her feet.

4-What’s your writing routine like?

I establish the characters first and then let them tell me their story. I don’t really plot. For example, the villain in Ghost Light was never intended to be evil, they just literally stepped up and took over. I was completely surprised. Although, looking back now, all the clues were right in front of me, even if I wasn’t totally aware of placing them there. Another example would be, in Yonder there is a scene with Isabel sitting on a dock and she impetuously throws off her dress and leaps into the lake … which surprised the hell out of me! What can I say? That girl is a hot mess and she just likes to take over whenever she can.

5- What are you working on now?

The sequel to Yonder called The Great Hereafter. It is quite an experience that book. It has gotten darker than I had expected. Our poor main character has one hell of a story to tell.

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

Well, I adore Monty Python. I have the biggest crush on Dean Martin. I love me some chocolate salted caramels. I am a huge romantic. I also have a scar above my eye from believing Peter Pan had taught me to fly. One of my first stories I had written as a child was Star Wars fan fiction … I will not be sharing that one but it was written in different colored ink that varied page from page.

I love this picture of LeeAnne. Doesn’t she look like a character straight out of her novels?

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7- How can readers find out more about your books or contact you?

 

     My official website is- www.leeannehansenbooks.com – which I have a blog on. I try to tell stories of the history of certain things that happened in my books.

 

I am also on twitter under @LeeAnne_Hansen_   or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LeeAnne-Hansen-164792133615223/

Thank you for visiting my blog, LeeAnne.

You can find her books in the following links:

 
They are also available on all platforms, be it ITunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, really any online store.
Thank you so much for visiting my blog, LeeAnne. It’s been a pleasure to have you here tell everyone about your wonderful books!