Monday, 4 May 2015

#HIFortnight: How an Author Feels When Their Book Baby is Born... Guest Post by Debbie Johnson

With the Royal baby news still at front and centre, with everyone (or at least, me) waiting with baited breath to learn Princess Cambridge's name- I've got the lovely Debbie Johnson talking about how it feels to give birth to a Book Baby...

Click to view on Amazon
I remember reading years ago that authors view their books like their children – at the time I had two of mine still in nappies, and was convinced that books would be a heck of a lot less tiring!

Since being published, in a few different genres and with different companies, I now kind of understand that concept. It’s not the work levels that are similar – it’s following their progress, agonising over every step they take, and worrying if you’ve done enough to help them/haven’t done enough to help them/are the worst parent in the whole world!

Taking my first Harper Impulse novel – Cold Feet At Christmas – as an example, it was a strange road. I’d actually written it a few years earlier, then got sidetracked into other projects. When it was eventually accepted by the lovely people at HI, I was ecstatic. And when I saw the beautiful cover they produced to go with it, even more so – that was the equivalent of my baby being dressed in the very finest designer duds available!

If that book was a baby, it certainly attracted a lot of ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ as people peered into the pram. It was one beautiful looking baba. But as anyone who has kids knows, the most gorgeous of party outfits can soon be ruined when the child in question spills juice on it, slobbers chocolate on it, or rolls in dog poo at the park. Looks are not everything.

I think I speak for all authors when I say having a book released is horrifyingly nerve-wracking –
even if you are famous and well established. But as a debut romance writer, you have no idea how the world is going to respond – in the case of chick lit, it’s taking a huge leap of faith into a black hole decorated with cupcakes and rainbows.

We all start off – like first time mums – obsessing over everything: any mentions on Goodreads, any Amazon reader reviews, pieces on blogs, the lot. There was a great reaction when the cover to Cold Feet was unveiled – but that doesn’t mean people will buy the book, less still like it! So you spend the first few days literally glued to Amazon. You press the ‘refresh’ button over and over again looking for anything new – it is pathetically, tragically needy!

Click to pre-order on Amazon
Once Cold Feet started to chart, it got even worse. I thought I was going to develop blisters on my fingers, and if the internet went down, I’d be hysterical. Slowly, bit by bit, it started to creep higher and higher, until it hit the top ten on Amazon and even number 1 on iTunes.

This should have been reassuring. It was the equivalent to a fantastic school report, and a big thumbs up at parents’ evening for my book baby – but could I relax? Not a chance!

Now, with my next book – Pippa’s Cornish Dream – out on July 2, I possibly feel even worse. I mean, not only do I have all the usual nerves about whether people will like it, but it is massively in the shadow of a hugely over-achieving elder book sibling. Will it do as well? Will it sink without trace? Will it disappear without making anyone as happy as Cold Feet did? Like with my kids, I won’t love it less if it does – but it is still very anxiety-making!

I have three children in real life. I was once told my a friend that that the third one ‘raises themselves’ – I can only hope that it’s the same with books!

Thank you so much for joining us on Chick Lit Love- and wishing you well with the new arrival :)

Friday, 1 May 2015

#HIFortnight: Exclusive excerpt! Zara Stoneley

I've got Zara Stoneley here with me today, finishing off the first fantastic week of #HIFortnight with something very, VERY exciting!!! So, without any further ado, here's Zara...

I’ve written a few posts for HI Fortnight, and there’s more to come in a couple of weeks when I celebrate the release of ‘Country Affairs’ with a blog tour, so I was scratching my head for something different. And this is it – I hope you enjoy it!

If you’ve already read Stable Mates (and if not, you can always grab a copy here), and you’ve read the description for Country Affairs then you’ll know that there’s a new man in town. Todd.

Australian surfer Todd is gorgeous (he is, believe me) and he’s the reason for Lottie leaving Barcelona in tears and heading back to Cheshire. Which is where the story Stable Mates began. And in Country Affairs, he’s back.

The excerpt below was originally in the prologue to Stable Mates (until I deleted it!), and Lottie’s romance is just about to be brought to an abrupt end…

      Lottie stretched one leg in the air and tried to peer past her boobs at it. Her legs had never been this brown before. A definite bonus. But there again her stomach had never been quite this blobby either. Lying about on beaches for several hours a day had its benefits and its drawbacks.
     “Do you think I’m getting fat?”
     “Nicely rounded.” Todd swapped his beer can into the other hand and reached out to grope her thigh. Which, she realised wasn’t quite as firm as it had been. She bent her legs up to see if it helped.  They did look more toned in that position, and her stomach looked slightly flatter. Maybe if she wriggled deeper into the sand so that her hips tipped up a bit, she could get it to look like it used to. When she was mucking out a row of stables before breakfast, and riding all day.
     “More to grab hold of.”
      Was that good or bad?
      Lottie flicked the sunglasses back down, so that she looked more tanned and hopefully thinner and then sneaked another glance at the man beside her. He was the first man she’s ever been out with who didn’t feel the need to rush around all the time. She couldn’t imagine Rory sitting still for this long, or bringing her an ice cold beer on the beach, or just, well chilling. He would have thrown her over his shoulder and dumped her in the sea by now, or started up a game of beach volleyball, or been checking out his tweets to see who was leading the latest three day event.
     “Chill treas, switch that brain off for a bit.” Todd’s fingers were making their way further up her inner thigh and Lottie let the shiver distract her from thoughts of Rory and horses. She lay back, one hand on the can of beer, the other covering his and closed her eyes. Concentrated on the music, confident that MC Hammer would never really be her first choice. However long she listened to it. Half an hour more sun, then a jug of Sangria…
      A shadow moved across the sun and Lottie waited for it to clear. But it didn’t. She tipped her head to one side, but that didn’t work either. With a sigh, Lottie opened one eye, all she could see was black.
      Shit, she’d died without noticing it. The other eye flew open in panic and for a moment the black was more black. She’d gone blind, not died. She squinted and gave a sigh of utter relief as it turned into a Spanish policeman, upside down. A fairly dishy one if she was honest. Not at all like a British policemen. And he had a gun. And groovy black boots. Black trousers. Black shirt. Men in black. So that was okay.
      No it wasn’t.

And it ends like this...
     “Sorry babe.” Todd shrugged. Avoided meeting her eye. “Suppose you were going to find out one day.”
     “Todd.” She grabbed her bag and ran after them, well tried to, running and sand didn’t mix. Caught up just as they hit the boardwalk. Lottie hopped from foot to foot on the hot sand. “Why are they arresting you?” She pulled at his arm, and he shook her off. “What have you done?”
      She couldn’t have been sleeping with a murderer, could she? Or a thief, or maybe he was some big conman? No, Todd couldn’t be. He wasn’t like that. She wouldn’t have fallen for it. Would she? Not that she had any money to con out of.
     “It’s probably best if you go home.” He shrugged. “Sorry.”
      Home? But where the hell was home? And what was she going to find out?

I’ll be posting the rest of the prologue on my website very soon. And you can find out exactly what Lottie finally found out in Country Affairs!

Zara- you're fab, and I cannot wait to finally delve into Stable Mates and Country Affairs - what a treat! Thanks so much for sharing this with us on Chick Lit Love! xx

About Zara 
Bestselling author Zara Stoneley lives in deepest Cheshire surrounded by horses, dogs, cats and amazing countryside. When she's not visiting wine bars, artisan markets or admiring the scenery in her sexy high heels or green wellies, she can be found in flip flops on the beach in Barcelona, or more likely sampling the tapas!

Zara writes hot romance and bonkbusters. Her latest novels, 'Stable Mates' and ‘Country Affairs’, are fun romps through the Cheshire countryside and combine some of her greatest loves - horses, dogs, hot men and strong women (and not forgetting champagne and fast cars)!

She writes for Harper Collins and Accent Press.

Country Affairs: The Blurb
'A great treat for readers who love their books jam-packed with sexy men and horses.' Bestselling author Fiona Walker

Welcome back to Tippermere for the wedding of the year…

Scatty but loveable Lottie Brinkley is famous throughout the village for her disorganised personality so when she steps up to plan the perfect wedding the only likely outcome is disaster.

And when her globetrotting, love cheat of an ex, Todd, literally crashes the wedding on a not-so-noble steed things definitely look set to take a turn for the scandalous! As rumours of why he’s back spread through the village quicker than the stable girl can drop her knickers, is Lottie's future with sexy eventer Rory Steel about to fall at the next fence?

With a wave of unexpected pregnancies, steamy shenanigans in the hay and a farrier with more than shoeing horses on his mind, will Lottie ever be ready to take on the coveted title of Lady of the Manor and restore the Estate to its former glory?

As the heart of the village, Tipping House Estate, makes its move into the 21st Century, pulses start to race in a novel packed full of charm, hunky stallions (the guys that is), and a daring plan that just has to succeed...

Grab your copy of Country Affairs here

Find out more about Zara:

Website      Twitter        Facebook        Google+

Thursday, 30 April 2015

#HIFortnight: The Vision of a Hero- Guest Post by Lorna Gray

A huge welcome today to Lorna Gray who's here to talk about heroes... (excuse me whilst I pop over to the corner to drool quietly!)...

If you're like me, when you really engage with a book, you get a vivid picture in your mind of the characters within it. You'll also have shared this sense of loss I have when a film or TV comes along and changes that impression forever. It's like being forced to say goodbye to someone you thought you were going to become lifelong friends with.

For me, this happened first when I read the Sharpe series by Bernard Cornwall at the age of about thirteen. They were the first books to truly engage my interest in learning about the past and after trying to work out what a sardonic smile actually looked like, I went on to read all about the Napoleonic Wars. That being said though, I should probably be honest here and admit that, worthy historical interests notwithstanding, I didn't really mind when Sean Bean appeared on the scene ...

I can't fully remember when I discovered Jane Austen, and whether it was before or after Mr Bean (Sean, that is, not Rowan Atkinson), but Pride and Prejudice gave me that all important first encounter with romance. Jane Austen redressed the balance from all out action and Mr Darcy taught me about the other kind of hero, the sort who isn't a shoot-anyone-who-is-posh rifleman.
It was a couple of years later that I had one of those experiences I mentioned at the beginning. The text gave me a vivid idea of what Mr Darcy looked like, only to have it altered irrevocably by Colin Firth (again, not necessarily in a bad way!).

Sticking with Jane Austen, I actually find Persuasion the most romantic of her novels. The union between Elizabeth and Mr Darcy is all very well but I loved the sadness of Anne Elliot who gave up her man only to rediscover him many years later (Ciaran Hinds all the way, none of your newfangled adaptations, thank you very much). I revisited this theme again in another of my favourite books, this time Wildfire at Midnight by 1950s author Mary Stewart.

Mary Stewart is the author to blame for fixing my imagination in the post-war period. I feel a certain fascination for a time which has all the legacy of war while also having the reassurance of knowing that not everyone died and life really did go on (based on the fact we're still here now! – please don't shake my understanding of reality). I've also had the luxury of keeping my impression of Mary Stewart's heroes relatively pure because to date only one of her books has undergone adaptation for film and that was so different from the text that it barely counts.
When it came to writing my own hero – or rather Eleanor Phillips's hero – Matthew Croft, within the pages of post-war mystery In the Shadow of Winter, I had very strong ideas of what he should look like. Just like Captain Wentworth and Nicholas Drury in Wildfire at Midnight, he too plays the role of the former sweetheart who brings the heroine face to face with the old ties of a failed romance. He does it in dramatic style as well because he's caught up in the real winter of 1947 and danger pursues him through the snow right to Eleanor's door.

But when it comes to discussing his appearance and my ideal of who would play him off the pages, I'm afraid I just don't dare say. I can't bring myself to do what I've just been complaining about. So, suffice to say, Matthew Croft is pretty fantastic. You know what to do if you want to discover the rest...
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Thank you so much, Lorna, for being my guest today!

In the Shadow of Winter is available now from Harper Impulse on Amazon UK here and on Amazon.com here. It will be released in paperback on the 21st of May.



Wednesday, 29 April 2015

#HIFortnight Guest: Angela Campbell

I'm so excited to welcome the lovely Angela Campbell to Chick Lit Love today with a guest post for #HIFortnight. Take it away, Angela!...

Once again, I’m incredibly honoured to be included in the Harper Impulse Fortnight that’s happening through May 10, but rather than go on and on about my own books (as I have a tendency to do when I’m given the chance), I wanted to talk about how wonderful, and how awful, it is to be a romance reader these days.

It’s wonderful because there are so many books available. When I first started reading, oh, way back when, I had to beg my dad to take me to the bookstore or library to peruse a usually small selection of romance titles. Mostly, I read Harlequins, because they were easy to obtain. Nowadays, I don’t even have to leave the comfort of my bed to shop for new books and authors. You youngsters don’t know how good you have it.

But this is where the it’s-also-awful comes in. Because it is awful that I can’t buy and read every book that appeals to me. I don’t have to choose only Harlequins anymore. I can read paranormals from an indie writer or I can read contemporary from a well-known author or I can read historicals or I can read dinosaur porn (not that I’ve read dinosaur porn or anything…I’m just saying it’s out there). It’s all available, and this is at once wonderful and awful! For one, I’d be living in a cardboard box if I bought every book I wanted. For another, I can barely find time to write these days, let alone read all of the books that appeal to me. And there are A LOT that appeal to me.  I love every genre and am constantly discovering new ones. I’ve recently discovered New Adult, so apparently that’s a thing now too. Imagine me muppet flailing here.

Point is, I’m pretty sure I have every, or almost every, Harper Impulse book on my Kindle, and I’d encourage you to buy a few if you haven’t been exposed to the awesome that is Harper Impulse already. Have I read them all? No, of course not. Pffft. I have a job, and a cat. But I want to read them all because the ones I’ve read so far have all been fantastic.

Seriously, grab a couple and then come back and let me know what you think. I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

Thanks so much for joining me, Angela! Check out Angela's books by clicking on the pic...



Author Bio:
Angela Campbell is an overachiever with a soft spot for men who dress funny. Superman, Charlie Chaplin, Dracula, Doctor Who, Elvis - those are her kind of heroes. An eclectic reader who loves almost every genre, Angela read her first romance novel at 16 and immediately endeavoured to write one, too. Many offbeat attempts (and a couple of decades) later, she published her first novel through Carina Press. Her new paranormal/ romantic suspense series is published by Harper Impulse. With every story she pens, Angela aims to build in a paranormal element to a contemporary and recognisable world with characters who find love in oftentimes humorous and extraordinary situations. Learn more about her books at www.angelacampbellonline.com.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Appleby Farm Cover Reveal

As you probably know, the lovely Cathy Bramley's Appleby Farm has been published as a four-part series - with the final part due to hit the digital-shelves on the 7th May. I'm very excited to be able to join in the reveal of the gorgeous cover for the full story, which will be published in paperback by Corgi on the 13th August. Here it is- isn't it gorgeous?!

If you're anything like me, you'll want to get your pre-order firmly in place for this one - it's up on Amazon here

You can connect with Cathy:
on twitter @CathyBramley
or via her website www.cathybramley.co.uk



The Blurb:

Appleby Farm is a charming, funny and romantic story for anyone looking for a feel-good, light-hearted read, from the author of bestselling Ivy Lane.

Freya Moorcroft has wild red hair, mischievous green eyes, a warm smile and a heart of gold. She’s been happy working at the cafĂ© round the corner from Ivy Lane allotments and her romance with her new boyfriend is going well, she thinks, but a part of her still misses the beautiful rolling hills of her Cumbrian childhood home: Appleby Farm.

Then a phone call out of the blue and a desperate plea for help change everything…

The farm is in financial trouble, and it’s taking its toll on the aunt and uncle who raised Freya. Heading home to lend a hand, Freya quickly learns that things are worse than she first thought. As she summons up all her creativity and determination to turn things around, Freya is surprised as her own dreams for the future begin to take shape.

Love makes the world go round, according to Freya. Not money. But will saving Appleby Farm and following her heart come at a price?