Mandy's Musings

Mandy's Musings

Monday, 8 December 2014

Cross Stitch Release Day!

So excited to announce that Cross Stitch, sequel to A Stitch in Time is released today! 


Fans of  Stitch in Time will be happy that Sarah Yates will once again be up to her time travelling antics, despite the fact that she really only wants a quite life and to settle down with her true love John Needler. The past year has seen Sarah whisked away to 1913 London and the suffragette movement, 1940 Sheffield during the Blitz , 1876 Kansas to a grasshopper plague and finally to 1928 London and possibly the biggest medical discovery of the modern world. So ... Sarah figures she’s due some normality at last and is overjoyed that it is her wedding day.

However, Sarah and normality don’t often spend much time together, and on that day of all days she is once again hurled back in time to 1939. And if this isn’t enough, once there, she gets entangled with a very disagreeable creature – Veronica Ratchet, an ‘old school’ school teacher who seems extremely reluctant to disentangle herself from Sarah’s life.
The meeting with Ratchet leads to more adventures, thrills and spills than Sarah can shake a stick at. It is exactly what she doesn’t want and about as far away from normal as you can get. No, actually ... Ratchet and the 1970s Punk Rock era is just that bit further.


I so enjoyed writing this book, and I hope you will enjoy reading it. 




Cross Stitch can be found here and A Stitch in Time here.




Monday, 9 June 2014

Meeting My Main Character Blog Hop

Thanks to the very marvellous Chris Stovell for passing the baton on to me. You can read all about Chris's main character, May, in her latest book Follow a Star which came out last week! I have a real live copy sitting on my table and can't wait to get my teeth into it.  Of course I don't mean literally, what do you take me for? No, don't answer that ... right where was I? Oh yes, you can meet Chris and May here.

Writers like to burble on about their main characters and I am no exception. So without further ado, here goes. Actually there is one further ado. I need to tell you the title of my latest book and show you a picture of the cover. Here it is.



Actually the title is on the cover so I don't need to tell you it. Clever, eh? Okay let's get cracking...

What is the name of the main character? Is she real or fictitious? 

Her name is Karen Ainsworth, but she might also have another name that I can't divulge here as it would spoil the surprise. And given that she is in a novel, I think it's a safe bet that she's not real. Having said, that she's real enough to me. She has bits of me in her,( not internal organs, but character) and bits of other people who I may, or may not have met. 

When and where is the story set?

It is set in the present and in Cornwall not far from where I live.

What should we know about Karen? 

She is slim, blond, thirty and very happily married to a doctor, Tristan Ainsworth who is the GP in a sleepy little Cornish village. Think Doc Martin but without the very scary Martin Clunes. Tristan is much nicer and much easier on the eye. Sorry, Mr Clunes if you happen to be reading this. Yes I know it is unlikely, but one never knows. For the record, I think Mr Clunes is a fantastic actor and probably very nice in real life. Karen has two children and a phenomenal singing voice. 

What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?

Karen is not as happy as she would have us believe. Oh yes, she adores, Tristan, but since moving to Cornwall at Tristan's behest, she has become withdrawn, reclusive an secretive. She was fine when they lived in Swindon, so what has Cornwall to do with the change in her personality? Moreover she loves to sing, it lifts her spirit and brings untold happiness, so why does she now keep silent? Well, that would be telling wouldn't it? Can't say too much on this, but she does have issues with her past and that does tend to mess up a person's life. However her husband has one or two problems of his own relating to his past also. There is a dark secret that one of them has, and if that secret is divulged, their marriage, their family, and even their freedom could be at stake ... But what is it, and which of them is keeping it? Again, you'll have to read it to find the answer.

What is Karen's goal?

She wants a happy life and to enjoy singing in the choir and living by the sea with her husband and children. Is it too much to ask? 

What is the book's title?

Blimey you have a short memory, it's called Somewhere Beyond the Sea and can be examined again here if you so wish.

Thanks again to Chris for passing on the baton. 

I am now delighted to hand it over to the incredibly talented Juliet Greenwood. You can find out all about her books and main character here  I am dying to find out what she has to say and I'm sure you are too!  





Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Guest Post - Alison Morton



Today, my writing friend Alison Morton launches SUCCESSIO, the third novel in her award-winning Roma Nova series featuring sassy detective Carina Mitela. As writer and broadcaster Sue Cook says, it’s a “A real edge-of-the-seat read, genuinely hard to put down.”

I know Alison as a RNA colleague and Twitter friend. I’ve followed her progress and although I write time travel, I’ve often wondered how different or difficult is was to write in an alternate history setting. And just to complicate things, she adds a feminist twist, but has plenty of love interest! 


So, Alison, Romans in the 21st century - how do you write that?

“Thanks, Mandy. All the usual good ‘craft’ rules apply: cracking story, attractive and hopefully slightly quirky characters, emotional pressure, dilemmas and conflict, snappy and purposeful dialogue and, of course, a badly tangled love life.
The tools for writing alternate history are similar to regular historical fiction, plus an over active imagination!

My top tips:
  • Identify the point your alternative timeline diverges from the standard historical timeline and research that point thoroughly so you can set the scene accurately;
  • Anchor the divergence point story with references to the past;
  • Use elements from the historic record carefully, but not fearfully;
  • Think through the setting that has formed your characters;
  • Make sure your characters live naturally within their world including, and especially, seeking and finding love.



What’s SUCCESSIO about?


She senses danger crawling towards her when she encounters a strangely self-possessed member of the unit hosting their exchange exercise in Britain. When a blackmailing letter arrives from a woman claiming to be her husband Conrad’s lost daughter and Conrad tries to shut Carina out, she knows the threat to her happiness is real.

Trying to resolve a young man’s indiscretion twenty-five years before turns into a nightmare that not only threatens to destroy all the Mitelae but also attacks the core of the imperial family itself. With her enemy holding a gun to the head of the heir to the imperial throne, Carina has to make the hardest decision of her life…

 And here’s a trailer with some exciting music: http://youtu.be/B6Tr0VvKbJI


SUCCESSIO is available through your local bookshop (paperback) and online as ebook and paperback at multiple retailers.

You can read more about Alison, Romans, alternate history and writing here on her blog at www.alison-morton.com
Twitter: @alison_morton

Bio
Alison Morton writes Roman-themed alternate history thrillers with strong heroines. She holds a bachelor’s degree in French, German and Economics, a masters’ in history and lives in France with her husband.

A ‘Roman nut’ since age 11, she has visited sites throughout Europe including the alma mater, Rome. But it was the mosaics at Ampurias (Spain) that started her wondering what a modern Roman society would be like if run by women…

Both INCEPTIO, the first in the Roma Nova series, which was also shortlisted for the 2013 International Rubery Book Award, and PERFIDITAS, the second in series, have been honoured with the B.R.A.G. Medallion®, an award for independent fiction that rejects 90% of its applicants.  Alison’s third book SUCCESSIO is being launched 3rd June 2014.


Monday, 5 May 2014

My Writing Process Blog Tour




Thank you to my fellow Choc Lit author and wonderful friend, Chris Stovell for inviting me to take part in the blog tour. She has her new book due out in the summer and I for one can't wait! Follow a Star will be her third novel and I'm sure will be just as brilliant as her first two, Turning the Tide and Move Over Darling. You can find out more about Chris here

Follow a Star (July 2014)
I also need to say thanks to Sharon Booth who nominated me a while ago but for one reason and another, er ... things went awry! Sharon is a lovely lady who is always very supportive of my writing which means such a lot. She is currently writing book two in a series and you can find out more about Sharon here

Okay, so what am I working on at the moment?

This is a picture of part of the magical Tintagel Castle about half an hour from my home. I got some of my idea for my new work in progress Summer in Tintagel when I visited earlier this year and the rest from walking along the cliff paths near by. It will involve aspect of mystery, romance and the paranormal. It is in the very early stages but I think I like where it is going.


How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I guess because I always like to have lots of often separate but interlocking threads running through my stories. I enjoy setting puzzles for the reader too and having a dialogue with them. As a reader I love to try and guess what is going to happen, or who has a secret. Therefore I try to write what I enjoy reading.

Why do I write what I do?

I have always written. Well, not always. A new born baby writing would be very disconcerting wouldn't it? But since I was around eight-ish I wrote short stories and poems. It is in my blood as they say. I get jumpy if I have nothing on the go. I enjoy losing myself in the writing and creating new characters and situations from nothing. It is kind of playing make believe when you are a kid in a way. The thing is, I have never grown up and don't intend to. 

How does my writing process work?

I have no set pattern to my work in that I don't get up at a certain time, sit at my laptop (pictured above) and crack on with it. I tend to just do it as and when, but normally I do writing of some description every day for a few hours. Neither do I plan very much. I am not a post-it note and scene-by-scene type. I just write the title (can't write without one) and a few key points, hit return on the keyboard a few times so I have a blank page and then go for it. My books although are similar in some respects - they all have a love story within them and a few twists and turns, but they are very different too.

You can see them below:


I am delighted to now pass the challenge on to fellow Crooked Cat author, David Robinson on the 15th of May. David is a phenomenally successful author and lovely with it. His 'cozy' crime Sanford Third Age Club Mystery series are always riding high in the charts. I think he has written thirteen books in total. If I'm wrong I am sure David will put me right :) You can find about more about David and his books here




Wednesday, 9 April 2014

An Exciting Week!

I have had a very exciting launch week for Somewhere Beyond the Sea so far! On Monday I went to Radio Cornwall to guest on the very lovely Tiffany Truscott show.

Click on the link below if you'd like to listen to me on the show :

http://bit.ly/1ju2UX2

And today I appear in the St Austell Voice :)




Can't wait for the joint launch with fellow Choc Lit author Angela Britnell. Her novel, Sugar and Spice will be launched alongside Somewhere Beyond the Sea in Penzance on the 20th of May.





It will be held at The Edge of The World Bookshop 6.30-8pm. Refreshments will be provided and all are welcome :)









Sunday, 16 March 2014

Yahoo! A Stitch in Time has a sequel!

Not only have I had two books out in the last few weeks, Somewhere Beyond the Sea and Dancing in the Rain, I am now in a position to announce that the sequel to A Stitch in Time will be out in December! Cross Stitch continues Sarah and John's story and introduces a few new characters. One in particular throws a spanner into the works to make Sarah's time travelling experiences as exciting as ever!

Can't wait for the cover now. If it is anywhere as fab as these and I'm sure it will be, I will be thrilled to bits. These are bookmarks by the way. The Cornish Print Company a local company in Newquay did them :)


Friday, 28 February 2014

Guest Blog - Tom Winter

I am SO delighted to have the author of Lost & Found, Tom Winter, as a guest author on my blog today! In August 2013 Lost & Found was chosen as the Book of the Month by the Mail on Sunday's You Magazine book club. That summer, the Kindle edition was also a No. 1 bestseller on Amazon UK. I can totally see why. It is beautifully written and I howled with laughter one minute and was in tears the next. 

Hi Tom, thanks for being my guest today! I have just finished your clever, funny, poignant and all round fantastic book, Lost & Found  and can’t wait to pick your brains. No, not really – that would be really painful, (a bit like that joke.)


The blurb on your book reads : Meet Albert and Carol, two lost souls, brought together by a series of unforgettable letters ... Can you tell us a little about how you came up with such a unique idea?



It all began in early 2010. I was at the end of a rather messy five-year relationshipnot the kind that ends in screaming and smashed crockery, but rather the sort that slowly chokes itself to death after stripping all the oxygen from the air. The experience made me want to write a story about a woman who persisted in a marriage long after she knew it was doomed.

 As the character of Carol became clearer in my mind, it was obvious that shed got herself into this situation precisely because she couldnt express her feelings face-to-face, so it made sense that shed choose to put her thoughts in anonymous letters. Yet shes also reached the stage where she has a desperate need to be heard (by someone, anyone), so writing letters alone wouldnt have been enough for her. At first I imagined her leaving the letters around her local park, perhaps tucking them into tree trunks or leaving them on benches, but as I began to imagine the kind of person who would find them, and why these anonymous letters might mean something to him, I developed the character of Albert. From that moment on, the story fell into place very quickly.

  


Are any of the characters based on anyone you know or bits of them? I dont mean like an arm or leg, but traits within a personality.

The people in my life have probably been wondering the same thing, though none of them have been brave enough to ask yet! My writing draws on many thoughts and observations, so there are definitely elements that I could trace back to certain individuals. Mostly, however, the two characters are based on me; they are two very different aspects of my personality.

  
Do you think Max ever got over the flower incident, or do you think it tipped him completely over the edge?

No, I think it pushed him right over the edge. I believe theres a certain kind of bully who chooses to be mean to people as a defence against his own brittle fragility. As soon as someone fights back, he disintegrates. I imagine Max living out the rest of his days with the living room curtains drawn tightly shut.

  
You have a cracking sense of humour. The bit about the protective clothing to guard against exploding office workers had me in tears of laughter the most. Are you a funny person in your day-to-day life?

I suspect youd find me very disappointing in real life! I do like to make people laugh (though its easier said than done here in Germany). I come from a mad familymad in the classic, medieval sense of the wordso making people laugh was an important skill to have as a child. Although Im always thrilled when people find my writing funny, in truth its the distillation of many hours spent staring at a blank wall, which means I actually qualify as the most boring person you know.

 Ha! I doubt that very much! 

Lost & Found is your debut, have you always written, and how long did it take to achieve your success?

Ive been writing since about the age of four, when I took my mothers diary and filled in many of the entries with statements like This is my snot. Hopefully it was obvious to everyone that these werent my mothers words, least of all because Id also decorated the pages with smears of the real thing.

In all the years since, I have always imagined being a published novelist, but I struggled for a long time to find my voice as a writer. A few years before Lost & Found, I wrote a very different book which, after endless rejections, got me an agent in New York. For a while I thought my career was taking off, but in retrospect I can see that I had written the wrong book, and chosen an agent who wasnt right for me. The experience was a tough learning curve, but I finally got back on my feet and started all over again by writing Lost & Found. Happily, that led me to the perfect agent, Juliet Mushens at The Agency Group, who became a real champion of my writing.

That kind of support is crucial, so pleased you found Juliet. And as I have just finished laughing again because of your 'snot' explanation, I am further convinced that you are NOT boring!
  
 Can you tell us a little about your next book, Arms Wide Open?

Its about a brother and sister who discover that their long-dead father may actually be alive. The only person who knows the truth is their mother, who has succumbed to early-onset dementia, a rare and hereditary form of the disease. Over the days and weeks that follow, Jack and Meredith are forced to consider both the past and the future: their memories of their mother, their hopes for finding their father, and the fear of whats in their bloodline. As in Lost & Found, Ive used black comedy to lighten very difficult subjects. The paperback is out in April.

Cue a shameless plug: You may also like to know that Im currently writing my third book, Days of Wonder, which will be published next summer. But thats another story (no pun intended).

Fantastic, I love the title! Will look out for that too. And Arms Open Wide sounds like another roller coaster ride of tears of sadness one minute, and laughter the next. Can't wait to read it. So, Tom, what is the one bit of advice you would give to writers trying to get published?

Never give up! Keep writing. Keep honing your craft.

That advice is so important. I always say the same thing :) And  can you tell us who is your very favourite author?

Im going to cheat and give you two. I love Nick Hornby and David Sedaris. They could publish their shopping lists and I would still buy them.

Good choices! Thank you so much for taking the time to be a guest on my blog, Tom. It was great fun and  can’t wait for  Arms Wide Open and Days of Wonder!J


Here is the link for the paperback of Lost & Found  Click on the link above if you would like to purchase the Kindle version. I guarantee you will not be disappointed ... unless you have no sense of humour and/or are a very boring person. 

Monday, 24 February 2014

One Week and Counting!

I am VERY excited! A week tomorrow (March 4th) my e-book-version of Somewhere Beyond the Sea will go live, and on the Friday of that same week another e-book Dancing in the Rain will be launched. YES - that's two! I can hardly contain myself. What actually does that phrase mean? How would one contain oneself - in a box? A trunk with a padlock perhaps, Houdini fashion... sorry I digress.


So, they are very different books, though both within the romantic suspense genre. Somewhere Beyond the Sea is a mystery/suspense set in Cornwall, where all is not what it seems in the household of Dr Tristan and Karen Ainsworth. One of them has a dark secret that is at risk of exposure. But how far will the keeper of the secret go to protect it, and could their marriage survive if all the skeletons were to come tumbling out of the cupboard? I loved writing this book, because I found it a challenge to try to keep the reader guessing who has the secret and what that secret actually is. I hope I managed it!




Dancing in the Rain, as well as being a mystery/suspense also has a paranormal/spiritual aspect. It was the first adult novel I every wrote about eleven years ago. Needless to say it has been carefully edited and changed as I have learned so much about writing since then! It starts in England when our hero - research scientist, Jacob Weston's job and troubled dreams lead him thousands of miles away to Monument Valley Arizona. There, he finds answers to who he really is. His world is rocked by the realisation that his past has been built on a lie, but what is expected of him in the very near future is even more terrifying.


As you can imagine, I am over the moon (another odd phrase) that this novel is now being published and I hope both of them will be well received. I am already getting second (and third) book nerves! After the success of my first novel with Choc Lit PublishingA Stitch in Time, I guess it's only natural that I wonder if it could be repeated. 
So, with a huge amount of excitement and a little dollop of trepidation, I'll carry on counting down the days ... 

Saturday, 15 February 2014

A Stitch in Time Wins an Award!

I was so chuffed yesterday to discover that I have won an award for A Stitch in Time!  Here is is!

It is from the Single Titles Reviewers' Choice Award and more information can be found about it and other winners here. It was totally unexpected and made my day! 

Another thing that made my day was seeing the new artwork for my new ebook  with Choc Lit Lite Dancing in the Rain  out soonish. I hope to be able to share the cover sometime in the near future - but for now you will just have to wait! It is all under wraps :)

Somewhere Beyond the Sea is due out on the 7th of April too, so I have an exciting few months ahead. Can't wait!


Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Real Life Copying Fiction?

So ... two weeks ago I eventually joined a choir. Hurrah!


I have been talking about it for the past few years and just never got round to it. I have always loved to sing, and once I sang to an audience of over a thousand. Okay, granted, they were a captive audience - (a school summer assembly) and I had the help of two other colleagues, one on keyboards, one on guitar, but I did do it! The TV programme - The Choir also convinced me that I wanted to join one, but I didn't want to sing classical stuff. So I looked up the Rock Choirs that have sprung up all over the shop but decided that they were a bit too pricey. Then I found one about twenty minute's drive from me, but the dark winter nights put me off.

And then ... just when I had forgotten the whole idea, my daughter told me that she'd found out from someone at playgroup that there was one just down the road - less than ten minute's walk! Well, you can imagine, I jumped at it. The Indian Queens Community Choir turned out to be just what I had been looking for. There are about 26 of us, mixed ages and gender (though it has to be said, there are more women than men) and seem a really nice bunch. So far we have sung  Rule The World, (Gary Barlow) Sweet Child of Mine and last week joy of joys, Coldplay's Viva La Vida! They are one of my favourite groups and I know most of their songs very well. I was told by the lady next to me, Barbara, who is Justin, the choir leader's mum, that Fix You was on the list too. I love that song! So, I was chuffed to little mint balls.

The strange thing is that Somewhere Beyond the Sea, my next paperback out on the 7th of April (ebook version March) has a choir in the story too. One of my main characters, Karen Ainsworth, has an extraordinary singing voice, (unlike me) and though she has many worries in her life, eventually decides to try and put those behind her when she joins her local choir in the fictional Cornish village of Kelerston. Unfortunately, that's where the real nightmare begins for Karen and her husband...

Now, of course I really hope for my sake that I don't encounter such horrors at my local choir!  I can't see that happening actually, as my group are a real nice bunch and there's a great community atmosphere in the room. I love belonging to a community. Since we moved to Cornwall in August from Bristol I have met some lovely folk who are so friendly. Even strangers on the street say hello when they pass.

So if you live in the area why not come and join in? You will be really glad you did :)



Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2014 - Hurrah!

I am so looking forward to this year! 2013 was very good to me with a successful launch of A Stitch in Time. It has some lovely reviews (45 five-star!) and is at the time of writing, it is  #1 again in Time Travel!

My second novel with Choc Lit, Somewhere Beyond the Sea will be out in March and another ebook out around the same time. (Title to be decided) I am hoping for Cross-Stitch, the sequel to A Stitch in Time to be out at the end of the year if all goes well, fingers crossed. This will depend on a favorable report from Choc Lit's tasting panel  ;)

On a personal level, I have a beautiful granddaughter Esme who was born in July. She is so full of life and desperate to start crawling. She's really cute and bright as a button, just like her big brother, Ronan.


Esme



 I can't wait for spring so we can take full advantage of our recent move to this stunning part of the world.
Bedruthan Steps (20 mins from us!)


I wish you all a brilliant, happy, healthy and successful New Year. If it is anything like the last one I will be over the moon! :)