Today I'm delighted to welcome my friend and fellow-Darkstroke author Jessica Thompson, whose new novel A Caterer's Guide to Holidays and Homicide is published today.
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Tuesday, 19 October 2021
Tuesday, 5 October 2021
Today is a very special day for my dear friend and fellow-author Jennifer C Wilson, because it marks the publication of her latest work Twelve Dates 'Till Christmas, released through Ocelot Press. She joins me on the blog to talk about the background to this amazing new venture.
Welcome, Jen! Please tell us more!
Hi Sue, and thank you for inviting me along to your blog today, to talk about Twelve Dates ‘Till Christmas, my latest release, which is out today! As you know, this is a bit of a departure for me, compared to what I usually write, but as the idea landed in my mind almost fully-formed, it seemed rude not to at least try and write it down and see how it went…
The inspiration behind Twelve Dates is an odd one, even for me. I usually get my story ideas from pottering around castles or other historical sites, and thinking about the people who have lived there before, but obviously, that’s been in short supply for the last eighteen months or so. For Twelve Dates, it all began with a night of terrible sleeplessness. I have been going through phases of TV nostalgia during the various stages of Lockdown, and back in March, I had been watching a lot of Coupling, Musketeers, and Friends (still am, in the last case). I had been struggling to sort some plot points in the historical romance I was working on at the time, and decided the best way forward might be to write something completely different for a bit, to see if I could break the cycle and become unstuck. As I said, one night, I just could not get to sleep, however hard I tried, and the characters of Lexie and Callum started chattering away. Another writing friend had also mentioned she was working on a Christmas romance novella, and everything just slotted into place. I knew straight away that they were best friends, almost inseparable, but initially, couldn’t work out whether they were a couple or not. As I started jotting down ideas though, the concept of a will-they-won’t-they / friends-to-lovers plot really started jumping out at me, and it seemed to fit perfectly for Callum and Lexie’s situation.
I also liked the idea of a “Christmas countdown”, with regular events leading up to the big day, and that’s when I thought about how quickly weekends get booked up when everyone’s working hard, especially in the run-up to Christmas, with so many parties, chances to catch up with friends etc. After that, the concept of ‘twelve weeks’ or ‘twelve dates’ came together, and I started thinking about key events, when they would be happening, and what potential fall-out would be between those events.
Within a week of that bad night, I had the skeleton sorted, and began drafting some of the scenes out, just to see if it kept working. And I was really enjoying it, so just kept going. I always knew it would be novella length, rather than a novel, and that I wanted to hear both Callum's and Lexie’s sides of the story, since there’s a lot going on for both of them. After all, that change from seeing somebody as ‘just a friend’ to sensing a growing attraction can be a time of turmoil, and I wanted to capture that.
Given that we were in the middle of Covid, I decided to set everything in October to December 2019, before any of us had really even heard of the virus, and it certainly wasn’t holding up Christmas parties or other celebrations. I know some people are tackling the pandemic in their fiction, but for me, I couldn’t quite face it. Although I think if it had been set during 2020, we would have found Callum and Lexie setting up their own little support bubble, and definitely spending even more time in each other’s pockets! Happily, in Twelve Dates, all of this is still in the future, and not troubling anyone just yet.
I really enjoyed writing Twelve Dates ‘Till Christmas, and hope people enjoy reading it just as much!
Thank you, Jen. I hope this one flies for you!
MORE ABOUT TWELVE DATES 'TILL CHRISTMAS:
Callum and Lexie are perfect for each other - at least, that's what everyone tells them. But they're just good friends, aren't they? And neither wants to ruin the solid friendship that's treated them so well since university.
But when an old school friend of Callum's asks Lexie for a date, and passions overflow on a work night out, could it be the trigger to show each of them what they have been missing out on all this time?
With twelve weeks until Christmas, that's a lot of opportunity for romance - and for misunderstandings...
Purchase Link - https://mybook.to/12Dates
MORE ABOUT JEN:
Jennifer C. Wilson stalks dead people (usually monarchs, mostly Mary Queen of Scots and Richard III). Inspired by childhood visits to as many castles and historical sites her parents could find, and losing herself in their stories (not to mention quite often the castles themselves!), at least now her daydreams make it onto the page.
After returning to the north-east of England for work, she joined a creative writing class, and has been filling notebooks ever since. Jennifer won North Tyneside Libraries’ Story Tyne short story competition in 2014, and in 2015, her debut novel, Kindred Spirits: Tower of London was published by Crooked Cat Books. The full series was re-released by Darkstroke in January 2020.
Jennifer is a founder and host of the award-winning North Tyneside Writers’ Circle, and has been running writing workshops in North Tyneside since 2015. She also publishes historical fiction novels with Ocelot Press. She lives in Whitley Bay, and is very proud of her two-inch view of the North Sea.
Social Media Links –
Friday, 25 June 2021
Today I'm delighted to welcome back my dear friend and fellow-author Vanessa Couchman, whose amazing novel The Corsican Widow is the Ocelot Press Book of the Month for June 2021. I had the pleasure of working with Vanessa as editor of this novel (not that it needed much editing!), and it comes highly recommended.
Vanessa is here to talk about novels inspired by her beloved Corsica. Read on for a fascinating insight into this magical place, and for details of a very special freebie!
Welcome, Vanessa! Please tell us more...
Thank you, Sue!
Corsica is blessed not only with magnificent, mountainous scenery but also with an intriguing history and culture. The island provides inspiring material for historical novelists. It has also fascinated writers for centuries.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, a number of authors visited and wrote about Corsica. James Boswell, better known as Samuel Johnson’s biographer, visited Corsica during his Grand Tour in 1765. The young Corsican republic was struggling for independence from Genoa. Boswell was greatly impressed by Pasquale di Paoli, the republic’s leader, and published An Account of Corsica on his return to England.
Boswell’s book is not a novel, although aspects of it may seem inventive! He remained a lifelong fan of the island, proclaiming the Corsican cause wherever he went, which earned him the nickname “Corsica” Boswell.
Several French authors visited the island and found the more gruesome themes in its history captivating. The concept of personal and family honour was particularly strong on Corsica, often culminating in vendetta when honour was breached. Vendetta diminished in the 19th century from its 18th-century peak, but it continued to pose enough of a problem for the authorities to make it an interesting topic for novelists.
The best-known novel about vendetta is Prosper Mérimée’s Colomba (1840). While visiting Corsica, Mérimée met Colomba Carabelli, whose family was involved in a particularly bloody vendetta in Fozzano, in which her son was killed. I have seen her house in Olmeto, where she moved later in life.
Prosper Mérimée fictionalised her story. The heroine of Colomba is young and beautiful but bloodthirsty and formidable. Following the murder of her father, she tries to incite her reluctant brother, recently returned from the Napoleonic Wars, to avenge his death.
Mérimée’s short story Mateo Falcone (1829) also deals with banditry, honour and vendetta.
Other novelists who wrote about vendetta include Honoré de Balzac (La Vendetta, 1830) and Alexandre Dumas (Les Frères Corses, 1844). Both novels dealt with the theme of expatriate Corsicans who were unable to break with the cultural traditions of their homeland.
The power of the landscape
Writers have also been inspired by the charismatic power of Corsica’s landscape, including Gustave Flaubert, Edward Lear and Guy de Maupassant. Lear published a journal of his 1868 trip and made a series of sketches and watercolours of the island’s towns and scenery.
De Maupassant spent two months travelling around Corsica in 1880 and subsequently referred to it in novels and other writings. In Une Vie (1883), the only happy time in the heroine’s marriage to a rake occurs during their honeymoon on Corsica during a journey by pony between Ajaccio and Bastia.
All of the French novels mentioned above are available in English translation.
Tales of Corsica series
My own Corsica novels are similarly inspired by the landscape, culture and history of this enigmatic island. Both The House at Zaronza (early 20th century) and The Corsica Widow (18th century) are based on true stories.
Vendetta is not a theme in either novel, since they are both set in Cap Corse in northern Corsica, where vendetta never took such a firm hold as in the south. However, they both draw on Corsica’s unique traditions, particularly as regards beliefs in magic and the supernatural, and on its strict social mores.
The Corsican Widow is Ocelot Press Book of the Month for June 2021. The story takes place during the mid-late 18th century, a time of great upheaval for the Corsican people.
Vanessa has lived in Southwest France since 1997 and is a self-confessed history nut. Quirky true stories often find their way into her fiction, and she likes nothing more than pottering around ruined châteaux or exploring the lesser-known byways of France. She is very attached to the Mediterranean island of Corsica, which has provided the inspiration for some of her novels and short stories.
The Tales of Corsica series are standalone novels set in the same house on the island: The Corsican Widow (18th century) and The House at Zaronza (early 20th century) are published so far.
Vanessa is also writing a trilogy set in France between 1880 and 1945.
Sign up to Vanessa’s monthly newsletter for book news, background info about France and Corsica and book recommendations, and get two free Corsica stories.
Amazon author page: http://author.to/VanessaCouchman
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/vanessacouchman.author/
Thursday, 20 May 2021
Today I'm delighted to welcome my dear friend and fellow-author Nancy Jardine, whose amazing novel The Beltane Choice is the Ocelot Press Book of the Month for May. Read on to find out more about Nancy, her amazing books, a wonderful special offer and a great competition.
Welcome back to Broad Thoughts, Nancy!
Hello Sue, thank you for inviting me to your blog. It’s really lovely to be visiting again.
10 Questions – 10 Answers from Nancy Jardine
What do you think makes the best historical fiction?
It needs to be a compelling tale that draws the reader in to the world depicted where they can feel, hear and can almost touch the protagonists. The plot needs to keep them engrossed. The settings, the dialogue and the narrative need to be seamlessly intertwined and entirely realistic to entertain throughout. And last but definitely not least, the tale needs to be well-written and well-edited.
What does your family think of your writing?
My daughters have always been very supportive of my writing and can be critical beta readers. They’ve helped at a couple of my local book launches and since they both look very decorative that’s a great thing! My husband reads mostly non-fiction and had never read any of my novels till my latest – Beathan The Brigante – was launched in August 2020. He totally surprised me by getting himself a copy which he ‘critically reviewed’ afterwards, claiming it an entertaining read, and that he would probably read the rest of the series from the beginning. Book 1 is of course The Beltane Choice, Book of the Month (May) at Ocelot Press.
What are the most surprising things you’ve learned about yourself as an author?
From very young, I’ve always been an avid reader and love the escapism that fiction can bring me. When I re-read some of my earliest published work from 2012, I’ve difficulty believing that I really was author who wrote it. I don’t have great recall, never have, so I can surprise myself by the historical depth I managed to convey back then. I’ve learned so much more about Roman Britain during the last ten years that I’m almost tempted to re-write some archaeological aspects that I included, which are maybe now slightly out-of-date. However, life is about learning and, to me, so is the writing process.
How much research do you do?
Loads. I can never stop researching once started. I’m a book magpie and my Roman Empire bookshelf continues to spill over.
How do you relax?
I’m not great at that, but I love watching historical series that are made for TV. A nice glass of red wine helps with that relaxation.
As a self-published author, how do you promote your books?
Without a doubt, this is the toughest aspect to writing! I relatively recently became a member of a couple of retweet groups on Twitter and do daily ‘shares’. I’ve also dabbled my toes, of late, in the Amazon Advertising waters. I’m hoping my cold feet will warm up soon. I occasionally try paid promotion sites to boost sales of my novels, and have done a few Blog Tours for my books. I’m on Facebook and other Social Media places but posting there doesn’t sell my novels.
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
I try not to get downhearted when a poor review comes to my attention. It happens occasionally, but it’s best to accept that readers who review often read things differently. I try to find ‘quotes’ that I can use in positive promotion from most reviews I’ve received.
What makes your books stand out from the crowd?
I like to think that the strengths of my Celtic Fervour Series are in the relatively underused locations of northern Roman Britain (north England and Scotland) and that my stories are about relatively average displaced tribespeople rather than ‘Celtic’/Iron Age kings or queens. My stories are adventures; however, they’re not about Roman legionaries and the battles they’re involved in, which is what a lot of Roman Empire novels are about.
Plotter or Pantser?
Mostly pantser. The final plots for my Celtic Fervour Series have mostly grown organically, though I have a rough idea of what the book will entail at the beginning. I create timelines as I progress and check them constantly to make sure plot events work, since I try to keep to what is known about documented historical events if I’ve included them. As the series has progressed to five books and a short-story about my Garrigill warrior clan, I also have an expanding family tree which I sometimes refer to if I’ve forgotten details from an earlier book.
What’s in your future writing plan?
A great question. And probably the same as it would have been last year since my writing progress has taken a little sabbatical. I can blame the pandemic, or just admit that I’ve been less motivated.
I’m presently working on a prequel to the Celtic Fervour Series. I started this after a couple of reviewers commented that they would have preferred more specific historical background references in Book 1, The Beltane Choice. I’m hoping that the prequel will give a more detailed setting to an era that actually is very vague in pure historical terms. What is known about 1st Century northern Roman Britain comes more from archaeological interpretation than from historical sources, so it truly is a challenge that I’ve set myself.
I anticipate getting more progress made on my story that begins in Victorian Scotland during the summer. This is intended to develop into a 3-book series. And someday soon, I’ll get back to my time travel trio who will go on other adventures – they’re currently in limbo after being whizzed back to the Roman Aberdeenshire of AD 210.
Given that the Covid 19 global pandemic has curtailed most travel plans during this early part of 2021, where would your ideal location be if you got the go-ahead to have a holiday?
Melrose, to re-visit the Trimontium Roman Museum (see the photo above) and to visit the Vindolanda Fort on Hadrian’s Wall (and some other forts along the wall while I’m in the vicinity). I missed out on a visit to York last year, to sell my novels alongside other historical authors at the Eboracum Festival, and would love to get down there if they plan another one. I’m not quite ready to fly off anywhere exotic, but destinations that I can drive to, or take a train to, sound like a great plan! My husband might like the idea of doing another cruise, but not just yet for me.
Don’t miss out on the bargains!
During the whole month of May, as the Ocelot Press Book of the Month, Nancy Jardine’s Celtic Fervour Series of historical adventures will be on special prices.
The Beltane Choice will be 99p http://getbook.at/findhere
The other 4 novels in the series will be reduced to £1.99 (equivalent prices across the Amazon network) https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/kindle/series/B08GCW51G5
Nancy has a couple of competitions on the Ocelot Press Readers page on Facebook during May 2021 where you can win 1) a beautiful Celtic Keyring 2) a signed copy of The Beltane Choice. Join us there and enter the competitions https://www.facebook.com/groups/ocelotpressreaders.
Nancy Jardine lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. She creates her fictional characters for her historical; time travel historical; and contemporary mystery/ thriller novels at her usually messy desk. When not writing, researching (a total obsession), reading or gardening, her young grandchildren will probably be entertaining her. Or, she’ll be binge-watching historical series’ made for TV.
Signing/ selling her novels at local events is great fun, as is giving author presentations – on her novels or on Ancient Roman Scotland – to groups large and small. Both are a fabulous excuse to get away from the keyboard and meet new readers. Zoom sessions have lately been an entertaining alternative to face-to-face events till Covid 19 pandemic rules permit local events to restart.
Current memberships are with the Historical Novel Society; Scottish Association of Writers; Federation of Writers Scotland, Romantic Novelists Association and the Alliance of Independent Authors. She’s self-published with the author co-operative Ocelot Press.
You can find her at these places:
Amazon Author page http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere
Monday, 10 May 2021
Today I'm delighted to welcome back a dear friend and fellow-scribe. Jo Fenton and I started our writing careers at around the same time. It's hard to believe that was more than eight years ago!
Jo's latest novel, Paparazzi, is published today. It is the second in her Becky White thriller series, and I had the pleasure of working with her as editor of this amazing story. Believe me, she's really excelled herself with this one. Read on to find out more about it, and for news of an exciting giveaway!
A stalker. A popstar’s family murdered. A terrified photographer.
It’s thirty years since Becky White joined the police. Now, six months after leaving the force, she is suffering from PTSD, when an old friend turns up with a tempting offer.
Following the creation of The White Knight Detective Agency, their first client is a press photographer – a member of the Paparazzi – a young woman with a mysterious and troublesome stalker.
But as the case develops, Becky and Joanna find themselves embroiled in murder. When they are unable to prevent further deaths, their investigation takes them down an unexpected path.
But can they trust their instinct? And will they identify the killer in time to save a child’s life?
Paparazzi, the second instalment in the bestselling Becky White Thriller series. takes you on a journey into the deceptive world of superstars – and those who follow them!
Jo Fenton grew up in Hertfordshire, UK. She devoured books from an early age, particularly enjoying adventure books, school stories and fantasy. She wanted to be a scientist from aged six after being given a wonderful book titled Science Can Be Fun. At eleven, she discovered Agatha Christie and Georgette Heyer, and now has an eclectic and much-loved book collection cluttering her home office.
Jo combines an exciting career in Clinical Research with an equally exciting but very different career as a writer of psychological thrillers.
When not working, she runs (very slowly), and chats to lots of people. She lives in Manchester with her husband, two sons, a Corgi and a tankful of tropical fish. She is an active and enthusiastic member of two writing groups and a reading group.
Giveaway to win a signed copy of Revelation by Jo Fenton (the first in the Becky White thriller series)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please click here to enter via Rafflecopter. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
Huge thanks to Rachel's Random Resources for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour.
Thursday, 6 May 2021
Today I'm delighted to welcome a very special guest: my friend and fellow-author Lizzie Chantree, who is here to talk about her latest book.
Welcome, Lizzie! Please, tell us more!
Hi Sue, and thank you for inviting me onto your blog today. I’m thrilled to be sharing details about my latest book, which is called Shh… It’s Our Secret.
Shh… It’s Our Secret is about a very shy woman who is trying to find her voice. Violet has a secret that could change the lives of all of the café bar regulars where she works and effect the greater community around her. Feeling unappreciated by her boyfriend and the sister who raised her, Violet sets out to find inner strength, push her demons aside and show the world what she can really do. This sets off a chain of events that none of them could have predicted and Violets quiet life becomes a thing of the past.
This book is full of friendship, laughter and fun, as well as second chances at love. It is a romantic tale about pushing doubts aside and believing in ourselves, whatever the consequences.
Shh… It’s Our Secret, by Lizzie Chantree
Violet has a secret that could change the lives of everyone she knows and loves, especially the regulars at the run-down café bar where she works. After losing her parents at a young age, they are the closest thing she has to a family and she feels responsible for them.
Kai is a jaded music producer who has just moved outside of town. Seeking solitude from the stress of his job, he’s looking for seclusion. The only problem is he can’t seem to escape the band members and songwriters who keep showing up at his house.
When Kai wanders into the bar and Violet’s life, he accidently discovers her closely guarded secret. Can Kai help her rediscover her self-confidence or should some secrets remain undiscovered?
author and award-winning inventor, Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at
the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s
British Female Inventors of the Year in 2000. She discovered her love of writing
fiction when her children were little and now works as a business mentor and
runs a popular networking hour on social media, where creatives can support to
each other. She writes books full of friendship and laughter, that are about
women with unusual and adventurous businesses, who are far stronger than they
realise. She lives with her family on the coast in Essex. Visit her website at
www.lizziechantree.com or follow her on Twitter @Lizzie_Chantree https://twitter.com/Lizzie_Chantree.
International bestselling author Lizzie Chantree, started her own business at the age of 18 and became one of Fair Play London and The Patent Office’s British Female Inventors of the Year. She writes books full of friendship and laughter, about women with unusual businesses, who are stronger than they realise.
Book links: Lizzie Chantree.
Universal book buy link: The little ice cream shop:
Universal book buy link: Networking for writers:
Universal book buy link: If you love me, I’m yours: viewbook.at/IfYouLoveMe-ImYours
Universal book buy link: Ninja School Mum: viewBook.at/NinjaSchoolMum
Universal book buy link: Babe Driven: viewbook.at/BabeDriven
Universal book buy link: Love’s Child: viewBook.at/Amazon-LovesChild
Universal book buy link: Finding Gina:
Social media links:
Author page: https://www.viewAuthor.at/LizzieChantree
Tuesday, 4 May 2021
The Legacy is a spin-off story from Alison Knight’s previous novel Mine, which was first published in November 2020. Both novels are set in and around London in 1969. The Legacy can be read as a stand-alone story, but it does refer to a significant event in Mine, so if you are also planning to read Mine I recommend that you do that first if you want to avoid spoilers. In fact, I recommend that you read it anyway – it is an amazing and very moving story. You can find out more about it here.
The Legacy opens with a scene which also occurs in Mine: a wealthy elderly lady, aware that she does not have long to live, summons a solicitor to her deathbed and issues instructions to change her will. Her only living relative is her lazy and profligate nephew, James, who had been relying on inheriting his aunt’s money in order to settle his many debts. But under the terms of her new will she bequeaths him £5,000 (around £70,000 in today’s money) – not by any means a trivial amount, but nowhere near enough to cover everything he owes. The rest of her estate (money, property, valuables and investments) is left to her god-daughter Charlotte. Unaware of his aunt’s last-minute change of mind, James quits his dead-end job as soon as he hears of her death – and is horrified to learn that he is to receive only a small proportion of her estate rather than the huge fortune he had been expecting.
Charlotte, who has always earned her own living and is used to a modest lifestyle, is totally unprepared for the sudden acquisition of a life-changing amount of money, and soon begins to wonder if it is changing her life in a way she hadn't anticipated or even wanted. Meanwhile, James turns to increasingly desperate measures in his attempts to shake off his many creditors and to get his hands on the money which he still believes is rightly his.
The Legacy is perfectly crafted and beautifully written, with a fast pace, an intriguing plot, and a shocking twist which took me completely by surprise. It is a wonderful cautionary tale about the perils of living beyond one’s means, of relying on expectations rather than making one’s own way in the world, and of counting one’s chickens before they hatch. Highly recommended.
An unexpected inheritance. A web of deceit. A desperate escape.
James has his dreams of an easy life shattered when his aunt disinherits him, leaving her fortune to her god-daughter, Charlotte. He turns to his friend, Percy, to help him reclaim his inheritance - and to pay off his creditors. But when their plans backfire, James becomes the pawn of Percy and his criminal associates.
Charlotte is stunned when she is told of her windfall. After an attempt at cheating her out of her inheritance fails, James tries to intimidate her. But she is stronger than he thinks, having secrets of her own to guard, and sends him away with a bloody nose and no choice but to retreat for now.
Resigned, James and his spoiled pampered girlfriend Fliss (Percy's sister) travel across France on a misison that promises to free James from the criminals for good. But James isn't convinced he can trust Fliss, so makes his own plans to start a new life.
Will James be able to get away, or will his past catch up with him? Will Charlotte's secrets turn the legacy into a curse?
Purchase link: mybook.to/legacy
Alison Knight has been a legal executive, a registered childminder, a
professional fund-raiser and a teacher. She has travelled the world – from
spending a year as an exchange student in the US in the 1970s and trekking the
Great Wall of China to celebrate her fortieth year and lots of other
interesting places in between.
In her mid-forties Alison went to university part-time and gained a first-class degree in Creative Writing at Bath Spa University and an MA in the same subject from Oxford Brookes University, both while still working full-time. Her first book was published a year after she completed her master’s degree.
The Legacy is a drama set in 1960s London. Like her previous book, Mine, it explores themes of class, ambition and sexual politics, showing how ordinary people can make choices that lead them into extraordinary situations.
Alison teaches creative and life-writing, runs workshops and retreats with Imagine Creative Writing Workshops () as well as working as a freelance editor. She is a member of the Society of Authors and the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
She lives in Somerset, within sight of Glastonbury Tor.
Social Media Links –
Huge thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for the opportunity to take part in this blog tour.