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


Friday, 15 May 2020

THE WINTER GARDEN

Today I am absolutely delighted to be able to share with you the stunning cover for 

THE WINTER GARDEN


I hope you love it as much as I do!

This is our first festive trip to Norwich and I couldn't be more excited to share the run up to Christmas with you and the Nightingale Square, Prosperous Place, and Grow-Well community.

Here's the blurb - 

Freya Fuller is estranged from her parents and has been following her childhood dream of becoming a gardener ever since. When an opportunity to design a winter garden opens up at a Victorian property in Nightingale Square, Freya jumps at the chance to make a fresh start. But while the majority of the residents are welcoming, local artist Finn seems determined to shut her out, and when Freya's family make a surprise appearance, it seems that her new life is about to come crashing down.

Publication day is October 1st and the book is already available to order - 



I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Freya and Finn who are both welcome additions to the Nightingale Square series. They fit the place to a T and I hope you will enjoy spending time with them too. The E book has already been awarded a Best Seller flag on Amazon so early indications suggest that The Winter Garden is going to be a popular festive reading choice and obviously, I'm over the moon about that. Huge thanks to everyone who has already ordered!

I'd love to know what you think of the cover so, if you have time, do leave a comment in the box below.

Take care my loves and stay safe.

H x

Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Welcoming Juliet Greenwood to the blog

Today I am absolutely delighted to welcome Juliet Greenwood to the blog as she celebrates the publication of her novel, The Ferryman's Daughter. Welcome Juliet and congratulations on your new release!



Thank you so much Heidi for inviting me to your blog, it’s great to be here.
I’m incredibly excited about the publication of my first historical saga for Orion. The Ferryman’s Daughter will also be the first time my book has gone into audio, so that’s like being published for the first time all over again!

Like so many writers, my journey towards The Ferryman’s Daughter has been a long one, but it’s all experience I’ve blessed again and again as I’ve been through the process of editing – and writing the next book of my contract, of course.

I just love Hester, my heroine of The Ferryman’s Daughter, and can’t wait to introduce her to the world. Hester is determined and independent minded and never gives up, whatever life throws her (and it throws everything it can, from WW1 to a feckless father and a very creepy would-be suitor). She’s particularly close to my heart, as she was largely inspired by the women in my own family, particularly my great-grandmother, who was a nail-maker (as tough and ill-paid a life as you could get) and her daughter, my grandmother, who rose to become a cook in a big country house. Their influence has clearly worn off on their female descendants. Putting my aunts in one room definitely made for a volatile Christmas. For which I’m glad, as it gave me the idea that maybe girls shouldn’t be just seen and not heard, and we also have stories to tell …

It’s that family history that’s always made me fascinated by the lives of women in the past. Hester was also inspired by these women, whose stories have been largely been forgotten, but which need to be told. Women who proved to every last sceptic that they could think and climb mountains without their wombs shrivelling up inside them, and were perfectly capable of becoming doctors, pilots, surgeons, scientists, business leaders, professors – not to mention running a country. Most importantly, they showed that they were able to run their own lives – and that there are men out there who wouldn’t have it any other way.

So today you are invited to a virtual (is there any other kind?) celebration on Porthgwidden beach in St Ives, where Hester dreams of one day opening her own cafe. Tea and the best apple cake (recipe in the book) you’ve ever tasted coming up!



Buy the book


Get to know Juliet


Juliet Greenwood has always been a bookworm and a storyteller, writing her first novel (a sweeping historical epic) at the age of ten. She is fascinated both by her Celtic heritage and the history of the women in her family, with her great-grandmother having supported her family by nail making in Lye, in the Black Country, near Birmingham in the UK, and her grandmother by working as a cook in a large country house.
Before being published by Orion, Juliet wrote three historical novels for Honno, the Welsh Women’s Press, reaching #4 and #5 in the UK kindle store.
Juliet lives in a traditional quarryman’s cottage between the mountains and the sea in beautiful Snowdonia, in Wales in the UK, and is to be found dog walking in all weathers, always with a camera to hand…



Sunday, 10 May 2020

In praise of... the Busy Book

Yesterday, on social media, I posted pics of my Saturday essentials and mentioned that I was reinstating the use of a Busy Book. Lots of folk asked what a Busy Book is, and why I had one, so I thought I'd write a post explaining all.


Before my novel writing schedule became a full-time occupation, way back when I attended some creative writing classes and workshops, I always had a Busy Book. In short, it was the place where I jotted down all thoughts, ideas and short pieces of writing. I've got notebooks bulging with glued in postcards, post its, notes and extracts, the spines completely cracked and the pages crammed full. They were my constant companions and looking back through them now, I can see exactly when certain ideas for future books began to take shape.

However, when I started writing two books a year the Busy Book fell by the wayside. I just couldn't squeeze in the time to create anything other than my adventures in Wynbridge and Nightingale Square and, perhaps more importantly, I didn't want to. The notebooks weren't completely abandoned though. Every novel I write has its own book with its synopsis, additional plans, timelines, detailed chapter notes and printed out correspondence from my editor.


These are great go-to reference guides, quickly and easily reminding me of what happened in exactly which chapter and why. When it comes to editing, they really come into their own and they are most definitely now a fixed part of my writing process.

But back to the Busy Book... as loathsome as #lockdown has been, it has gifted me two things. Firstly, increased fitness. I've managed to walk well over two miles around my tiny garden every day since I became confined to barracks and it's a practice I will most definitely be sticking to. Working from home means I quite often don't leave the house from one day to the next and now that has become an enforced restriction I've been much more proactive about keeping moving and I know that lots of you have too.

Secondly, no long journeys and no days out, has given me more time at the weekends and, in turn, a need to keep my brain busy, lest it falls to thinking about the confines I'm living with. So, right on cue... enter stage right... THE BUSY BOOK!


I've downloaded a number of creative writing exercises I've found online and which have nothing to do with the books I am writing and I've got stuck write* in (*pun intended). Yesterday I wrote Haiku and a longer piece of prose inspired by an image provided by Amanda Addison. Her wonderful creative writing group - Castle Writers - based at Norwich Castle has now gone digital. Click the link if you'd like to check it out and try the exercises for yourself, and I've got more lined up courtesy of NaNoWriMo which will keep me busy for many Saturdays to come.

They only take a few minutes - or hours if you're feeling inspired - so do consider creating a Busy Book of your own. There's never been a better time to stop faffing and get writing! Do let me know if you start one. I'd love to hear all about it.

And finally, this week I also shared this pic on social media...


And lots of you fell in love with the beautiful bespoke bookmark. As soon as the restrictions are lifted, and I can start posting things out again, I'm going to be giving loads away so do keep popping back for details. 

In the meantime my darlings, do keep reading and writing and remember, setting up your own Busy Book is the perfect excuse to buy stationery!

H x


Saturday, 25 April 2020

Living the #amwriting Life - April

Here we again folks! Another month has zipped by and I find myself writing the April #writinglife round up. I fully expected April to drag its heels, but bringing publication of The Secret Seaside Escape forward by a couple of weeks has certainly kept me on my toes! So, what's been going on?

The first thing I'm going to mention doesn't really have anything to do with writing at all, but please indulge me. It was my birthday on the 8th and I found a local Café who would deliver Afternoon Tea straight to my front door. It was such a treat!

Would you look at the loveliness...


Everything in the box not only looked amazing, it tasted delicious too and I couldn't help thinking that Jemma and Lizzie from The Cherry Tree Café in Wynbridge would definitely be offering a bespoke baked home delivery service during #lockdown. Wouldn't you agree?


A week later, publication day dawned. I openly admit that I was nervous about The Secret Seaside Escape being published. I knew the story was proving popular - there were well over 150 reviews on Netgalley to reassure me about that, but would anybody be buying books, reading books or even talking about books?

My fears were very quickly set aside when I turned my phone on at 6am and it was still buzzing at bedtime! My social media feeds were jam packed all day and the reviews started pouring in. Just a week in and there are over 100 on Amazon and they are all 4 and 5 stars. The #shelfies from various supermarkets have been appearing too and that's been a real surprise. Huge and heartfelt thanks to everyone who has enjoyed their trip to Wynmouth, posted a pic or uploaded a review. Your kind words and images have been very much appreciated.

Seeing all the beautiful paperback pics had me wishing for my own (my author copies are still en route), so I did something I've never done before - I ordered my own book online. It didn't take more than 24 hours to arrive and I was instantly smitten.


I've never had a yellow cover before and I absolutely love it. The blue foils used for the title add a real pop of colour and you all know exactly how I feel about bunting, right?

And as if that wasn't all enough excitement there's the #blogtour which is still in full swing thanks to the fabulous #swainette blogging crew and a variety of online events in lieu of the usual signings. Massive thanks to Books and The City for setting up the #AtHomeWith on Twitter, My VLF for featuring me on the Romance Panel and to Victoria Walters for inviting me to take part in my first Instagram Live.


News also broke about my next festive title this month - The Winter Garden. This will be our first Christmas in Nightingale Square and I can't wait to share the story with you. The cover is absolutely exquisite. I'll be having a reveal for that very soon and in the meantime I'm planning the Summer 2021 release, but my lips are sealed about that!

And just when I thought it wasn't possible to squeeze anything else into April, I had a lovely short story published in the May edition of Woman and Home and two fabulous friends set up a Heidi Swain Book Club group on Facebook where folk can chat about all things Wynbridge, Nightingale Square and Wynmouth. If you get the chance, do take a look because it really is absolutely lovely.

So, that was April. I very much hope this post finds you all safe and well and hopefully by the time I'm writing the next round up, we'll have all been out for a few - appropriately distanced - adventures.

Take care and stay safe.

With love

H x



Sunday, 19 April 2020

The Winter Garden

Well, what can I say? Last week was phenomenal! I had no idea that The Secret Seaside Escape was going to be welcomed into the world with such enthusiasm and so many reviews. The tally this morning is up to 84 and that's just 4 days after publication. Phenomenal! I've finally got my hands on a paperback too and I'm absolutely thrilled with it.


Of course, as you all know, the writing life never stops and today is first draft deadline day for The Winter Garden. There was much excitement when this title was announced last week and as it is now available to order (link to the right of this post), I thought I'd share the blurb with you. I would love to share the cover too, because it is exquisite, but that's excitement for another day.


Here's the blurb...

Freya Fuller is estranged from her parents and has been following her dream of becoming a gardener ever since. When an opportunity to design a winter garden opens up at a Victorian property in Nightingale Square, Freya jumps at the chance to make a fresh start. 

But while the majority of the residents are welcoming, local artist Finn seems determined to shut her out, and when Freya's family make a surprise appearance, it seems that her new life is about to come crashing down . . .


I can't tell you how excited I am to be writing the very first Christmas book set in Nightingale Square. The setting and the wonderful cast of characters make it the perfect place for a city Christmas with a twist and I really hope you will enjoy the festive celebrations there!

Thanking you all again for your wonderful support and wishing you a safe and settled week.

With love,

H x