Sunday, 5 July 2020

The Secret Seaside Escape Summer giveaway!

With summer now finally here, I thought it was about time I launched a 

SECRET SEASIDE ESCAPE GIVEAWAY 

We might not be able to kick up our heels at the coast, but a trip to fictional Wynmouth, on the Norfolk coast will keep us safe and satisfy those sandy beach cravings.



I have a few things up for grabs!

FIRST TWO OUT OF THE HAT EACH WIN - 

A signed paperback copy of THE SECRET SEASIDE ESCAPE along with a BOOKMARK and #SWAINETTE coaster

FOUR RUNNERS UP EACH WIN -

A SECRET SEASIDE ESCAPE BOOKMARK

To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is follow the blog and in the comments below tell me your favourite seaside destination. Also, and this is EXTREMELY important, make sure you leave a Twitter handle, full name or some other way for me to contact you so if your name is pulled out of the hat, I can get in touch!

The competition runs until midnight on July 19th and winners will be announced shortly after.

UK only I'm afraid.

Good luck everyone!

H x






Saturday, 4 July 2020

Castle Writers goes digital

As many of you may recall, a few weeks ago I was championing the use of a Busy Book. More than an excuse to buy yet more notebooks, the real function of the book is to offer a place, set apart from other writing projects, in which to explore and experiment.


You may recall that I had also discovered that CASTLE WRITERS, the writing group run by Norwich author and artist, Amanda Addison, which prior to lockdown, met in Norwich Castle had gone digital. The similarly named group is still meeting but now online and Amanda is posting monthly creative writing resources to keep the words flowing using artefacts from the castle as inspiration.

This month the focus is on FOOD and along with the fabulous exercises which are guaranteed to get the words flowing, there's a food based extract from THE SECRET SEASIDE ESCAPE included!



Here's the link if you would like to download the class and give the exercises a try. I thoroughly recommend them all and they only take a few minutes. You never know where your imagination and pencil will lead you.


Happy writing!

H x

Friday, 26 June 2020

Living the #amwriting life - June

Hello my loves and welcome to yet another #amwriting Round-Up written under the trial of #lockdown. I'm not going to make it all doom and gloom, but I'm not going to put a gloss on it either - June has been tough. Personally, I've found this the most difficult month so far. Don't get me wrong, great things have been happening but some pretty crappy stuff has too, and that's given me a bit of a mental battering. I've soldiered on even when I haven't felt like it, but if you happen to be feeling the same way, then know you are definitely not alone.

However, all that aside, let me tell you what went on in my Writing Life this month...

On the first of the month, there was a publication day to celebrate, as COMING HOME TO CUCKOO COTTAGE was released in Germany. Isn't the cover beautiful? It matches THE CHERRY TREE CAFE which came out there a while ago, perfectly.


I think Lottie and her friends would be very happy with this pretty re-imagining! 

Next up were the Book Birthdays and the end of May and beginning of June has a whole rash of them. Usually, I let these dates sail by with little more than a fond remembrance and a flick through the camera roll on my phone, but this year I shared pics and celebrated the lot online.


They came thick and fast, starting -in June - with The Cherry Tree Cafe paperback release, then the Skylark Farm E-book, both hot on the heels of Poppy's Recipe for Life and Sunshine and Sweet Peas which came out at the very end of May.

I've had two fabulous visitors to the blog and been off on my blogging travels too. Suffolk based author, lovely Victoria Connelly popped by as did RNA chum and debut author Kirsten Hesketh. You can find both of their fabulous posts further down the blog.

My blogging travels offered a rare night out - all be it a virtual one - as I had FRIDAY NIGHT DRINKS with Julie who runs the gorgeous A LITTLE BOOK PROBLEM blog. We had a great time - even Freddie Mercury put in an appearance.




Thankfully, even though June has been demanding and difficult, and some days far too hot, I have managed to keep writing. The final tweaks to THE WINTER GARDEN have been made and I'm already looking forward to sharing the story with you. I thoroughly enjoyed writing about the festive season in Nightingale Square and describing some of the city delights was a real treat.


With The Winter Garden put to bed, I was able to turn my attention to Book 12, and just as well given that the first draft deadline is in September. EEK! 

As you can see from the above pic, I have a notebook for every novel, and usually that's a real help, however, getting going on this particular story was very, very tough. I had a whole week fumbling about and not really making any progress at all. It might not sound like long and, in the grand scheme of things, I don't suppose it was but at the time, I never thought the story was going to start.

Rather than panic, I instigated a change of routine and that really helped. The draft is going great guns now and last week I wrote over 19,500 words. Just don't tell my editor because she'll want it extra early! 

I haven't got a title yet and I'm not allowed to tell you where it's set, but I think you're going to love it. It's the Summer 2021 release and it's warming up a treat!

So, there you have it. Definitely not all doom and gloom but a tricky few weeks nonetheless. I'm sending lots of love and a big squishy hug your way, just in case you're starting to feel the strain too. Hang on in there my loves and if you want to chat, leave a comment or look me up on social media and we'll set the world to rights.

Lots of love

H x

















Sunday, 14 June 2020

Welcoming Victoria Connelly to the blog

Today, I am delighted to welcome Suffolk based author, Victoria Connelly to the blog to tell us all about her writing journey, creative process, share some #amwriting tips and talk about her new book, The Beauty of Broken Things, which was published on June 5th.




Could you please tell us a little about your path to publication?

I was first published in Germany, which is a little unusual. There was a bidding war for my novel, Flights of Angels, which was later made into a film in German. But no UK publisher wanted the book! It took me a few more years before I found a UK publisher for my romantic comedy Molly’s Millions. I then wrote five books for Avon, HarperCollins, and I now write for Lake Union. As well as being traditionally published, I independently publish novels, novellas and non-fiction and have now sold over one million books. I adore being a ‘hybrid’ author. It gives me both security and freedom and it keeps me wonderfully busy too.



Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I used to be a pantser, but, as I get older, I’m doing slightly more in the way of plotting. Not a lot, it has to be said, but I like a rough outline of what’s going to happen and I usually know how things will end. But nothing is set in stone because that would be awfully dull, I think!



Do you have a regular writing routine?

When I’m in first draft mode, I like to write about 1,000 words a day. I work best in the mornings and often continue into the evenings, but I like a long lazy lunch, rest and dog walk in the afternoons!



How long does it take you to write a first draft?

It takes me about five months for a first draft.



Is there any part of the writing process that you particularly like? Dislike?

I love the first draft stage when the story and characters are all shiny and new and anything is possible. That’s my total joy! My least favourite is the structural edit when your publisher wades in, tells you they love everything, but then ask if you can just a few changes. Somebody once likened this process to telling a cook to add some ingredients to a cake that was already baked, and that’s pretty much how I feel about it!

Quickfire –

Tea or coffee?

Herbal tea

Longhand or keyboard?

Keyboard

Milk or dark chocolate?

Dark

Romance or thriller?

Romance

City break or beach holiday?

Beach

Favourite author?

H E Bates, with special mentions for Miss Read and Rosamunde Pilcher!



What are your top 3 writing tips?

Read lots and write lots – build up your writing muscle – the more you do, the more you can do!

Don’t give up! Keep writing, keep improving, keep approaching publishers, and don’t forget that authors can independently publish these days too. There’s never been a better time to be a writer!

Love, love love what you do. Remember, you are your first reader and if you don’t like your story and fall in love with your hero, how can you expect anybody else to?



Finally, can you tell us a little about your new release, The Beauty of Broken Things and what inspired you to write it?



The Beauty of Broken Things is about Luke Hansard, who tries to track down the online friend of his recently deceased wife, Helen. But the friend, Orla, is a recluse, living in a castle on the Suffolk coast, and she doesn’t want to be found. The story follows how Luke and Orla meet and how they slowly learn to help each other come to terms with their mutual loss.

I wanted to explore how we all use social media these days – how friendships are made and how close we can feel to people we’ve never actually met. That fascinates me. And the gap between what we post and what we hide also interests me greatly and was something I wanted to delve into.



Author Bio

Victoria Connelly studied English Literature at Worcester University, got married in a medieval castle in the Yorkshire Dales and now lives in rural Suffolk with her artist husband, a young springer spaniel and a flock of ex-battery hens. She is the author of two bestselling series, Austen Addicts and The Book Lovers, as well as many other novels and novellas. Her first published novel, Flights of Angels, was made into a film in 2008 by Ziegler Films in Germany. The Runaway Actress was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Romantic Comedy Novel award.

Victoria loves books, films, walking, historic buildings and animals. If she isn’t at her keyboard writing, she can usually be found in her garden either with a trowel in her hand or a hen on her lap.



Social Media Links –


Twitter: @VictoriaDarcy

Instagram: @victoriaconnellyauthor

https://www.instagram.com/victoriaconnellyauthor/

Facebook: @victoriaconnellyauthor

https://www.facebook.com/victoriaconnellyauthor



The Beauty of Broken Things:

Amazon UK:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beauty-Broken-Things-Victoria-Connelly-ebook/dp/B07YKW2D3B/

Saturday, 6 June 2020

All The Books!

Well, that's another week in #lockdown under my belt and I'm not going to lie, it was an absolute stinker. If it could have gone wrong it did. It didn't seem to matter where I turned, I was beset by problems, hiccups and hold ups from all sides.

I thought I'd feel better for turning my phone off, but actually I didn't. I missed my chums on social media and when I eventually turned my phone back on, I had a LOT of catching up to do!

The very best thing I spotted with my name on after my online break was this pic snapped by my friend, Laura showcasing the bookshelves in Tesco...


Isn't it an absolute beauty? I don't think I've ever seen so many #feelgoodfiction titles crammed into such a small space and I'm incredibly proud to know many of the authors who have penned these beautiful books. There's a wealth of talent on display here and I am honoured to be featured among it.

I can't help thinking that this timely shot sums up the reading needs of us as a nation right now. The shelves here are full of uplifting happy ever afters and escapes and that's the fiction I love and if the supermarket book buyers know their onions, and I think they do, then it looks very much to me like you guys do too! 

Personally I think it's time for the literary elite to take #feelgood seriously, don't you?

Wishing you all a wonderful week!

H x




Saturday, 30 May 2020

Living the #amwriting Life - May

As always when I sit down to write my #amwriting during lockdown monthly round-up, I wonder if I'm going to have anything to talk about. Events, appearances and signings have all been cancelled well into the autumn now, so is anything of note actually happening?

Of course it is!

May has still been a surprisingly busy month. The Secret Seaside Escape is selling really well and has attracted over 160 fabulous reviews on Amazon. I'm delighted that the new setting of Wynmouth has been so well received and I'm planning to take us back to the sunny seaside again at some point in the future. There's an idea already brewing for a few books time...

I've been a pin-up in Heat magazine again - always a thrill!


And there was a full page ad in the in-store Waitrose magazine where it's being stocked


As well as being featured in glossy magazines, I have been putting myself out there online too! My Facebook Live event with wonderful Kim Nash proved extremely popular and was great fun and my Curl Up with Cathy Bramley (not as strenuous as it sounds), was wonderful!

I also recorded a series of short videos for my publisher, Simon and Schuster, for their online #authorsinlockdown series. I'm not going to lie, I didn't find it easy and I'm not going to add a link to them here but they're still out there if you really want to track them down. Eek!

Enough said about that... The Secret Seaside Escape was also listed very high up on the Woman and Home Romance Reads List and voted number 1 on the Norfolk Council Top #lockdown Book List, which was fantastic, because as you know, it is set on the Norfolk coast.


And of course, almost last but by no means last, there was The Winter Garden cover reveal! Yay! The response to this snowy beauty has been overwhelming and the pre-order numbers fantastic so thank you everyone. The books has already been awarded a couple of lovely orange Amazon Bestseller flags and I can't wait to take you back to Nightingale Square. The book is a slight departure from my usual Christmas read, but have no fear, there's still plenty of seasonal spirit packed into the pages.


So, what am I doing now? Well, my editor loved the second draft of The Winter Garden so it is heading to the copy editor which means that I can crack on with Book Number 12. This will be the summer 2021 release and I'm extremely excited about it. I can't tell you where it's going to be set or who it's about, but I think you're going to love it. All being well, I'm planning to dive into the first draft next week, so keep your eyes peeled for further news!


So, that was May. Not too shabby given the circumstances, was it? I very much hope this post finds you all safe and well. I know staying at home is getting harder now and the days are blurring into one, but the longer we stick to the rules (unlike some who should know better), the safer we'll all be and the sooner #lockdown will be over.

Stay at home with some fabulous fiction my loves and I'll see you all soon!

H x




Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Welcoming Kirsten Hesketh to the blog

Today I am delighted to welcome to the blog, my lovely friend, Kirsten Hesketh, who had her debut novel, Another Us, published just last week. Hello Kirsten and massive congratulations! 


A book launch in the time of coronavirus ….

First of all, a huge thank you to you, lovely Heidi for welcoming me onto your fabulous blog! I really, really appreciate it. 

Hello everyone! 

I first met Heidi way back when, when I had just started writing and had just joined Twitter (for me, the two things happened simultaneously for some reason). We used to shoot the breeze in an online group and occasionally word-race together - which is where you see how many words you can write in - say - an hour and compare notes (lying if necessary!!) afterwards. We’ve met a couple of times in person at the Romantic Novelists Association conferences in Telford and Lancaster and let me tell you - although you don’t need telling - that Heidi is every bit as warm and wise and supportive in person as she is on-line. So, I’m delighted to be here!

 I’m here to share the exciting news that my debut novel, Another Us, was published last week by Canelo! I couldn’t be more thrilled. 


It is, of course, a very strange time to be being published and - obviously – the whole thing fades into complete insignificance compared to what is going on in the world at the moment. The launch party and most of the publicity has had to be cancelled and Another Us will just be an E-book for the time being – but, for me, it’s still marvellous and exciting and I very much hope that some of you will enjoy reading Another Us. It’s a ‘compassionate, poignant and funny’ story (I hope!) and is inspired by - but not about - one of my children who was diagnosed with mild Asperger syndrome when they were 11 and by a statistic I subsequently saw which claimed that 80% of marriages with a child on the spectrum break down by the time that child is 16. From my own marriage and from the families I personally know, the statistic seems to be rubbish, but it did inspire me to ask ‘what if’ and the idea behind Another Us was born …

Here’s the blurb:

What if Emma isn’t the person she thought she was?

Her younger son has just been diagnosed with autism.

She’s accidentally quit her job.

The marriage she was dedicated to suddenly seems like a sham.

She’s pretty sure that she is going to have an affair with a hot new dad at the school.

The only thing that stays the same is everyone else. Emma realises it’s not them – it’s her. But if she’s not who she thought she was, can her old life fit in with the new Emma?

Compassionate, funny and poignant, Another Us is perfect for fans of Marian Keyes and Fiona Gibson.


And here’s a little bit about me … 

Kirsten has a background in advertising and now runs her own consultancy specialising in psychological interviewing and focus groups. Over the past 25 years, she has interviewed the Great British public on everything from Rolos to razors.

Married with two children and two exceptionally fluffy moggies, Kirsten is also a keen amateur archaeologist and loves to spend her weekends hacking through the mud on a local Roman dig. She is also a staunch supporter of Wycombe Wanderers - especially when they are winning!

I hope everyone is staying well and healthy and I look forward to seeing you on the other side. In the meantime, do come and say hello on Twitter. I'd love to chat!

Stay strong and lots of love. 

Thank you again, Heidi. 
xxx