Thursday, 7 December 2017

My #festivefeeling easy-bakes

Today I'm sharing my festive easy-bakes with you. All I ask is that you don't tell the world just how easy they are to make. We want to impress without the stress, but we don't want folk thinking no effort has been made, do we?
When the calendar turns to December 1st up goes the cry for a continuous flow of two particular eats in our house – sausage rolls and mince pies. The production line (aka me), is then in operation until around December 22nd when I pack up the rolling pin and parchment and stuff the family full of Quality Street and Yule log to ensure a bit of balance. The marathon baking stint might sound impressive but I promise you there’s no stress involved in keeping up with demand.

For the sausage rolls you will need -

One pack of pre-made puff pastry (at room temperature)
The very best sausage meat you can source
1 beaten free range egg
Pepper, a variety of dried herbs or dried chilli flakes (or any other dried addition you fancy)
Ma Larkin style apron
Classic fm belting out carols, or depending on mood/taste Smooth Xmas belting out Wham
One glass of fizz, mulled wine or similar as reward for hard work

What you need to do with it all - 

Roll out the pastry on a floured board and cut into 2 wide strips
Arrange sausage meat along centre and brush pastry with egg wash
Sprinkle liberally with pepper, herbs etc. alternatively leave plain
Roll to create two long sausage shapes, brush with more egg wash and sprinkle top with any flavourings you have used to help identification when baked
Cut to required lengths
Bake for 10 mins at 220 and a further 20-25 mins at 180 until golden and crisp
Finally, top up your glass again, you’ve worked hard after all!

It couldn't be simpler and the mince pies are every bit as easy to make!

For the mince pies you will need - 

One pack of pre-made short crust pastry (at room temperature)
A ready made jar of mincemeat
1 beaten free range egg
A star shaped pastry cutter for that festive flourish (optional)
Ma Larkin style apron
Classic fm belting out carols, or depending on mood/taste Smooth Xmas belting out Wham
One glass of fizz, mulled wine or similar as reward for hard work

What you need to do with it all - 

Roll out the pastry on a floured board and using a cutter, cut out circles large enough to fill the size of your baking tray
place a pastry circle into each hole
Spoon in one not too heaped spoonful of mincemeat
Cut out the pie tops from the remaining pastry. If using a circle make slightly smaller than the base
Brush the pastry base edges with egg before adding the top to ensure a good seal and then apply egg wash over the whole top for a lovely glaze
Bake for 20-25 mins at 180 until golden 
Finally, top up your glass again, you’ve worked hard after all!

So there you have it! Whether you have the time (or the inclination) to bake from scratch this holiday or like me you opt to take the easier option, I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year! Don't forget to tell me your favourite bakes below and on social media using the hashtag #festivefeeling

Heidi x

Monday, 4 December 2017

A brand new book!

Today I am absolutely delighted to be able to share with you the title and blurb of my brand new novel which will be published in Summer 2018.

Sunshine and Sweet Peas in Nightingale Square takes us away from Wynbridge, but there are still connections to the town and a visit or two throughout the course of the book.

Here's a little taster of what it's all about...

Kate is on the run from her almost-divorced husband who is determined to have her back, and she has found the perfect place to hide... a little cottage on Nightingale Square in Norwich, far away from her old life in London. But the residents of Nightingale Square don't take no for an answer, and Kate soon finds herself pulled into a friendship with Lisa, her bossy but lovely new neighbour.

Within a matter of days Kate is landed with the job of campaigning the council to turn the green into a community garden, meanwhile all the residents of Nightingale Square are horrified to discover that the Victorian mansion house on the other side of the square has been bought by developers. But when all hope is lost, the arrival of a handsome stranger is sure to turn things around!

Links to Amazon



I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the lovely folk who live in Nightingale Square. They are all determined not to let Kate hide away and between them make up a wonderful close knit community in the very heart of the city. I hope you are looking forward to meeting them!

H x

Thursday, 30 November 2017

My #festivefeeling go-to reads

My TBR pile is positively groaning from October onwards. Not only do I have wonderful authors and publishers now sending me wonderful Christmas themed books to read and talk about on social media, I also have the bookshop and online shelves calling me with all manner of sparkly loveliness in the form of glittering covers and tempting titles.

However, there is always, always room on the teetering pile for my three go-to festive reads! Christmas simply wouldn't be Christmas without visiting these three titles and I would love to know if you have any books you re-visit during this most magical time of year and if they are the same as mine! Do let me know here or on social media using the hashtag #festivefeeling

A Christmas Carol
Charles Dickens

I've lost track of the number of years I've been visiting Mr Scrooge and willing him to get his act together before anything ghastly befalls dear Tiny Tim. Not only do I love the story which is a poignant reminder for us to do good throughout the whole year, but especially during this increasingly materialistic season, but I'm also in love with the actual story-telling. There are at least two occasions when Dickens speaks directly to us and I can imagine that he is indeed standing right by my side as I am reading. What a thrill, even if I do end up with goose bumps! I'm going to be heading to the cinema this weekend to watch The Man Who Invented Christmas which looks great fun. Fingers crossed it will enhance my enjoyment of this fabulous festive tale.

Village Christmas
Miss Read

I was in my early twenties when I was first introduced to the gentle tales of village and country life from Miss Read by my Nan. She had a huge pile of ancient penguin editions and I devoured one after the after and have ever since carried around a list of titles I am missing should I happen to find some in a second-hand store or charity shop. Village Christmas is a tiny book with a massive heart and makes the perfect travel companion in the run up to the big day!

The Night Before Christmas
Clement C Moore

Truth be told, I gave this book to my husband in the run up to Christmas years ago, but as a family joke rather than anything else. He's a huge fan of Clark Griswold and I thought it would be fun to stick a Santa hat on my dear hearts head and have him recite the tale to us as Clark does to his family in the film, however, the plan backfired. My husband did read the book, with feeling, and we all sat transfixed to listen and we have done every Christmas Eve since and so, another Swain festive family tradition was somewhat unexpectedly born!

I hope you have enjoyed reading all about my go-to festive reads. Do remember to let me know if you have any and if you get in touch via social media use the hashtag #festivefeeling to keep the chat going!

H x

Cranking up the #festivefeeling

Can you believe it? Tonight is the night the advent calendars are unwrapped which means that tomorrow is December 1st! Where has the year gone? It seems like only yesterday that I was enjoying the warm welcome Mince Pies and Mistletoe had received and yet, here I am, 12 months on, with two more paperbacks added to the pile, including another festive cracker!

However, when I flip the calendar over tonight and start thinking about dragging the decorations out of the loft, there'll be more than writing on my mind, believe it or not, and I thought it would be nice to share some of those thoughts with you guys.

So, between now and Christmas, every Friday I'll be uploading something festive here on the blog to celebrate the season! This is what I have in mind...

December 1st  -

My go-to festive reads

December 8th  -

My easy-cheat festive bakes
(just don't tell Dorothy from Wynthorpe Hall that I cheat with the pastry)!

December 15th -

Decking the halls 

December 22nd -

Celebrating the Solstice

I hope you will have to time to join in the fun and share some of your traditions with me in the comments box and on social media. I'm going to use the hashtag #festivefriday on Twitter so please, look out for my tweets!

H x

Monday, 20 November 2017

I know I say it a lot, but...

What a week! Even by my standards last week was really rather bonkers! Of course there's lots going on that I can't tell you about just yet, but it won't be long before I'm spilling the beans. I promise. A couple of standout moments from last week I can tell you about however, include the fabulous present I received from my editor, Emma Capron and the entire Books And The City Team...

Isn't it stunning? Needless to say it has pride of place on the wall opposite my writing spot along with a brand new polishing cloth. I still can't get used to being able to call myself a Sunday Times Best-selling Author but I'm working on it!

The end of the week was every bit as wonderful as the beginning as I (a little nervously) delivered my very first Writing A Novel workshop on Sunday at Gunton Hall Hotel in Lowestoft. It was a wonderful day which flew by and I was thrilled to hear the chatter and promises as the final session drew to a close that old projects were going to revived and finished and new ones started. It was wonderfully fulfilling to end the day knowing that the spark of creativity had been well and truly lit! Massive thanks to Suzan Collins for coordinating the entire event and encouraging me to take part.

Right, that's all the news for now, but do pop back later in the week as I'll have something even more exciting to share with you all. Wishing you all a wonderful book-filled week.

H x

Friday, 17 November 2017

Happy Book Birthday Mince Pies and Mistletoe!

I know! It's shocking isn't it? An entire year has skipped by since my first Christmas read, Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market was published and since then 2 more books have launched and I've become a Sunday Times Best-selling author. Sorry, I know you all know but the novelty still hasn't worn off. I don't think it ever will!

Anyway, I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank you all for continuing to journey to wonderful Wynbridge with me and let you know in the run up to Christmas I'm going to be sharing some incredibly exciting news. And lots of it!

Here's a link to Mince Pies and Mistletoe on Amazon if you were looking for a Christmas read packed full of festive feeling and community spirit!

Wishing you all a wonderful end to the week and an exciting weekend!

H x

Sunday, 5 November 2017

Welcoming Carol Hedges

Today I am delighted to welcome Carol Hedges to the blog to share her where do you get your ideas from post and treat us all to a few moments of marvelous time travel...

My special place is St Pancras Station in London. It is the starting point for my research for all the Victorian Detective books, as it is where the train from Harpenden, my town deposits me whenever I visit London to walk the streets and take myself on another journey: back into the past to imagine what life was like back in the 1860s.

The actual station was built later than the 1860s, and has now been beautifully refurbished inside, but it still bears evidence in the arched roof and the Gothic exterior, of the wonderful craftsmanship of the Victorians. Who else would go to such trouble to build a train station?

Every time I alight from the train, I always go for a walk round ~ not to visit the shops or grab a coffee, but to look up and imagine how exciting it must have been for the original travellers as they entered the smoky atrium, and saw the line of shining engines waiting for people to board. In an age when the fastest means of travel was by horse (and in an overcrowded city like London that wasn't fast at all) to be whisked away at anything from 30 to 60 miles an hour must have been breathtaking and truly terrifying.

From St Pancras Station, I can walk to the great Georgian and Victorian squares that fan off from each other and provide the location for so many of my books. I always take my camera, and one of my pictures of Russell Square actually appears as the cover background to Rack & Ruin.From the top of a double-decker bus, I can observe the tops of the buildings, that still retain their original features, even though their ground floors have all been modernised.

It was on one of my visits to London that I came up with the original idea of writing a historical crime novel ~prior to that, I'd only written teenage fiction.I always loved the Victorian period, and writers like Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. Walking through the station, I was struck with the thought: could I write a book featuring people who lived in their time? Could I fill pages with noblemen and thieves and women in crinolines? By the time I'd reached the exit, I had my answer: Yes, I could. And I would! And five books later, I am still inspired and still writing them!

St Pancras Station is the beginning of my research, and the end ~ and as the train whisks me away, at speeds scarcely imagined by the characters in my books, or their real contemporaries, I can sit back and see them, in my minds-eye, going about their lawful (and unlawful) business in the smokey, dirty, gas-lit streets of  'Babylondon'.

Author Bio

Carol Hedges is the successful UK writer of 17 books for Teenagers/Young Adults and Adults. Her writing has received much critical acclaim, and her novel Jigsaw was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal.

Her ebook Jigsaw Pieces, which deals unflinchingly with many of the problems that beset today's teens, is available on Amazon as is her Dystopic Fantasy The Last Virus

Carol is also the writer of 'The Victorian Detectives' ~ a series of novels set in 1860s London and featuring Detective Inspector Leo Stride and his side-kick Detective Sergeant Jack Cully.

The five books in the series are:

Diamonds & Dust
Honour & Obey
Death & Dominion
Rack & Ruin
Wonders & Wickedness

Meet Carol online

Amazon Author page:…

Twitter: @carolJhedges