Sunday, 24 January 2021

First post of the year

 Hello my loves. How are you all? I can't believe it has been almost a month since I last checked in with you here. To be honest, I haven't been particularly active on any of my social media platforms, so please don't feel singled out.

I haven't been neglecting you on purpose, but working on a first draft often means I go a bit quiet online. With two to write every year you can imagine the pressure and between you and me, I'm not finding this one a particularly easy write. I know it will all come good in the end and that when I go back to the beginning and read it through, I'll be happier than I expected to be, but for now, I'm in the thick of it and it's heavy going.

I don't even think it's much to do with the book. The characters, plot and setting are fabulous, so it's definitely more about me. Being confined to barracks isn't easy, is it? I've played strictly by the rules, living #lockdown life even when restrictions were a relaxed a little and I'm beginning to crave a dose of normality.

Keeping in touch with people is helping. I'd started to miss catch ups with RNA chums and friends via Zoom because I didn't really have anything to say, but that didn't help at all and so I'm back. Gabbling away about nothing in particular and feeling far better for it. If you're struggling too, please do whatever you can to keep those communication channels open. I promise it will be worth the effort and you'll feel better for it.

One thing I haven't neglected is my daily exercise. It's literally 25 mins around the village and out into the garden to look at Green Things Growing, which you know I'm extremely passionate about. I've even had the pleasure of talking about EMBRACING WINTER in WOMAN AND HOME magazine this month, which was an absolute highlight! 

If you've been hunkered down since Christmas, then why not give it a go. 

Here's my prescription - 

A phone call to a friend or family member + half an hour outside = a boost in mental health

Give it a go and let me know in the comments box below how you feel!

So, aside from bossing you all about and writing flat out, what else have I been up to that you might be interested in? The most exciting highlights have been my DD turning 21 last weekend and waking to so much snow the garden looked like Narnia. It only lasted a day, which made it even more special. It's a real comfort to still have her at home and I can't imagine she'll be back at Uni before April now.

I have fab book news too. SUMMER AT SKYLARK FARM is heading to FRANCE! I'm over the moon and totally in love with the cover. The orange parts are going to be orange / gold foils. What do you think? I love that it's so bright and cheerful and features a Skylark! Some of the books are already available in Italy and Germany so a French addition is most welcome.

Well my loves, I better go and introduce myself to the washing machine. Those Sunday chores certainly won't do themselves, will they? Thank you for taking the time to pop by and don't forget - make that call and take some time to wrap up and get outside.

Until next time, with love,

H x

Sunday, 27 December 2020

Last post of the year

Hello my loves! Can you believe we've made it to the end of the year? No, me neither. It's been a real roller coaster, hasn't it? And we can't unbuckle our belts just yet because I fear the bumpiest bits are still to come. 

My plan is to stay safe, keep immersing myself in escapist fiction and make the most of the great outdoors - at a socially responsible distance, of course. I suggest you do the same - as I mentioned in THE WINTER GARDEN getting some daily fresh air and observing green things growing gives us a great mental boost and we all need to be looking after our mental health, don't we?


If you've visited the blog before, you'll know that at the end of each month I've been posting a little round-up of what I've achieved on the #amwriting front during the previous four weeks. I've written the post for myself as much as to keep you all up to date, to keep track of my work rate and remind myself that I am still being productive. This is to be the last of these posts as my imminent schedule is going to be proof enough that I'm keeping busy but before I list what I got up to in December, I want to say thank you.

This year has been extremely difficult for all of us and I'm amazed that I have managed to write books during all the fear and uncertainty, but then I shouldn't be because I've had you wonderfully supportive crew reading, championing, photographing and kindly reviewing my efforts and, thankfully, enjoying them too. You've let me whisk you away to the seaside and we've been to the city for Christmas and I am, as always, exceedingly grateful that you are reading my books, and recommending them and sharing the Wynbridge, Nightingale Square and Wynmouth love.

I wish you all a safe and healthy 2021 and look forward to sharing more stories with you over the coming months. Please look after yourselves and those you love and avoid those still taking risks and further jeopardizing our chances of a swift return to the normality we're craving. I'm sending you all a virtual hug and looking forward to our first IRL #swainette clan gathering!

So, what did I get up to in December?

The final month of the year has been extremely busy and full of fabulous news!

At the Books and The City Blogger event we had the reveal for A TASTE OF HOME which went down a storm!

Then, hot on the heels of that excitement, I was able to share the news that SUNSHINE AND SWEET PEAS IN NIGHTINGALE SQUARE has been selected as a World Book Night title. This is a huge honour and a real career highlight for me. I can't wait to join in with the 10 year anniversary celebrations next year!

I took part in some wonderful online events in December too. Oriana Blyth (Head In A Book) kindly hosted another Insta Live where we finally managed to answer everyone's questions and had lots of laughs doing it. I also chatted with Norfolk Libraries via Zoom and that was another fabulous event and completely sold out!

Online events have been a real lifeline this year. I'm used to meeting folk at signings and parties, but this year I've had the pleasure of 'meeting' so many more of you thanks to the joys of technology! Long may these events continue.

And of course last, but by no means least, I was able to reveal the title of next year's festive release. Those of you who have attended events this year will be well aware of how difficult I find it to come up with titles so this is a miracle and a very well received one!

UNDERNEATH THE CHRISTMAS TREE will take us back to the wonderful coastal setting of Wynmouth for the second time and for Christmas too which is going to be extremely exciting. I have the most gorgeous festive setting for you and can't wait to get the book written.

So, there we have it. That's the end of my #amwriting year and I'll be starting the brand new one next week. Again, thank you all so, so much for journeying along with me and I look forward to sharing many more stories with you and introducing you to a whole host of new characters.

No matter what the world throws at us, rest assured that we'll always have fabulous fiction!

With love and thanks,

H x





Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Exciting New Book News!

I'm absolutely thrilled to tell you that I'm going to be releasing another festive title next year and it will be stuffed full of cracking Christmas treats and traditions!


UNDERNEATH THE CHRISTMAS TREE will be published next October and it's set in wonderful WYNMOUTH on the Norfolk coast.

We've already been there in THE SECRET SEASIDE ESCAPE and I'm thrilled to be adding another title to what I hope will soon be a whole series!

I'll be sharing more details soon, but in the meantime here's an order link, should you feel inclined...


Underneath the Christmas Tree


I hope you are all as excited about spending next Christmas at the seaside as I am!

Hugs

H x

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

World Book Night 2021

This is a week of truly wonderful things!

I'm absolutely delighted to be able to share with you the thrilling news that SUNSHINE AND SWEET PEAS IN NIGHTINGALE SQUARE has been selected as a World Book Night 2021 read!

It's the 10th anniversary of the incredible scheme and the theme this year is Books To Make You Smile. 

Having spent a decade as a TA supporting reading development I couldn't be more proud to be involved and have the opportunity to encourage reading for pleasure!

https://worldbooknight.org/



Cover Reveal KLAXON!

I'm SO excited to be able to share with you the stunning cover for my spring 2021 release

 A TASTE OF HOME


Isn't it an absolute beauty? 

It encapsulates the story perfectly too!

Here's the blurb along with a link to order, if you feel so inclined...

Fliss Brown has grown up living with her mother on the Rossi family’s Italian fruit farm. But when her mother dies, Fliss finds out she has a family of her own, and heads back to England with Nonna Rossi’s recipe for cherry and almond tart and a piece of advice: connect with your family before it is too late…

Fliss discovers that her estranged grandfather owns a fruit farm himself, on the outskirts of Wynbridge, and she arrives to find a farm that has fallen into disrepair. Using her knowledge gleaned from working on the Rossi farm and her desire to find out more about her past, Fliss rolls her sleeves up and gets stuck in. But what will she discover, and can she resurrect the farm’s glory days and find a taste of home…?


I hope you like the sound of it. I'm so excited to be taking us back to Wynbridge for the summer! We haven't been there in the sunshine since COMING HOME TO CUCKOO COTTAGE which feels like forever ago now. Do let me know what you think either in the comments box below this post or on social media.

Love and hugs

H x











Sunday, 29 November 2020

Living the #amwriting Life - November

Putting together these monthly round-ups seems to be happening faster and faster! Can you believe it's December next week? No, me neither! So, what went on in my #writinglife in November...

I recorded a really fun festive panel for the Virtual Lit Festival which will air on December 6th. Here's the link. Do register and join us. Milly Johnson was on fine form as always! There's a live chat after the panel has aired, so questions at the ready!

https://myvlf.com/blog/christmas-book-festival-sunday-december-6th

I also recorded a YouTube interview with Fab Book Fiend and chatted about the importance of diversity in my books.

I submited draft 2 of A TASTE OF HOME which my editor loved, so it's on to the copy edit next week. Hooray!

I attended 3 fascinating Society of Author online events. One discussing Impostor Syndrome, another about making making a will and the third was afternoon tea with Margaret Atwood, complete with a tour of her wonderful writing space!

I recorded another podcast and wrote a magazine feature - more details to come on both in the next few weeks.

I also thoroughly enjoyed a couple of other EXTREMELY EXCITING book related things but I can't tell you about them just yet. Sorry!

Stay safe my loves and happy festive reading!

H x



Sunday, 15 November 2020

An exciting anniversary

Today is a VERY exciting anniversary in my path to publication journey. It was exactly 6 years ago that I travelled down to London for a special Books and The City writing masterclass event.

I'd already been once, to discuss my Digital Originals submission with Clare Hey and Sara-Jade Virtue. The submission was The Cherry Tree Cafe, and I was waiting to find out if the rest of the Team loved it as much as Clare and S-J.

I wasn't in the building long before Clare took me to one side and said the words I'd been longing to hear - 'We'd like to offer you a two book deal'


Milly Johnson and her fabulous agent were among the speakers that day, but I can't remember much of what they said! 12 books in and I'm still on Cloud 9 and forever grateful that I get to work with such a magnificent Team.

I had very little confidence when I submitted The Cherry Tree Cafe, but I knew, that more than anything else in the world, I wanted to be a published author with books on the shelves, and so I uploaded it and pressed send. 

If you have a burning ambition, I urge you to do the same. Life is too short to put things off and wait for the right time. That time is now so go for it! Be brave! You've nothing to lose and everything to gain!

With love

H xxx