This was an enchanting book. It’s a novella length story but it had enough depth to make it a most satisfying read.
Once again this author has done what she has already proved very good at. She has taken a couple of minor characters from a previous book – in this case from Champagne for Breakfast – and told their story. And, as before, it works beautifully.
The main characters of academic Alex and former stockbroker Jack could easily have been stereotypes – however, they are far from that. Both are seeking new paths following traumatic events in their personal lives and both are rather lost and lonely. Jack, although displaying lots of masculine traits, also has a caring and gentle side – as shown, for example, by his care for his elderly clients. And Alex who is a self-sufficient, hard-working and professional university lecturer also finds time to be a good aunt to her young niece and a good friend to her elderly neighbour and to a former colleague.
But when Jack and Alex first meet it seems unlikely they’ll have any sort of romantic future together despite a reluctant attraction between them. They both have other seemingly more important things going on in their lives which suggest a relationship isn’t going to happen. And it’s this will-they-won’t they that keeps the reader hooked.
The setting of the story on Australia’s vividly described Sunshine Coast added even more interest for me as a UK reader. And as to the significance of the Brahminy in the title – well, it’s a bird – specifically, a red-backed sea-eagle of the kite family – and which is native to Australia. But you’ll have to read the book to understand its lovely, romantic significance. And I recommend that you do.
From the backcover:
Drawn together by fate, can this midlife couple find happiness?
University lecturer Alex Carter is devastated when her partner ends their long-term relationship. Accepting a position at a university on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she plans to spend time with her family, renovate her beach cottage and forget all about men.
But, as she is making a new life for herself, the past rises up to throw a spanner in the works and she has to make a determined effort to reset her compass.
Shocked by a colleague’s suicide, Jack Russo leaves his high-powered city career and travels north, settling in a coastal town in an attempt to simplify his life. Yet, even here, he discovers, everything isn’t what it seems. When his fledgling handyman business appears to be in danger of collapsing, he is forced to make some hard decisions.
A feel-good story of discovering that there can be second chances if only you can learn to trust again.
A Brahminy Sunrise will be published as an ebook on 15th January 2019 and it can be pre-ordered here if you’re in the UK or from the online store local to you.
I received a free ARC copy of this book with no obligation to review.
No matter what is going on in the real world, isn’t it great that we can escape into the imaginary world of books and reading?
I’m finding it good to be back at the writing desk after the festive break. I’ve begun writing my next novel Fulfilment which will be the third and final part of the Skye series which so far comprises of Displacement and Settlement. I love escaping into my made up story world – a world that (unlike the real one ) makes sense and where I have some control.
And I must say it’s great to be with Jack and Rachel again and seeing how this end part to their story is going to play out. But I’ve promised them that once that’s done I will then leave them in peace and go and bother some other imaginary people. And, yes, there’s already a queue of new prospective characters forming a disorderly queue in my head.
So far I have a very rough story outline in place and the first two chapters are written. So watch this space…
Over the festive period I read lots of mainly Christmas/Winter themed books. And even although Christmas is now past, they would still all be enjoyable reads at any time. I’ve listed my top 5 below – along with a brief review of each.
A Little Christmas Faith by Kathryn Freeman
What a perfect Christmas/Winter read. Lovely characters, an ideal setting and a heartwarming romantic story. This is an ideal book to curl up with and get lost in at this time of year.
A Little Christmas Charm by Kathryn Freeman
This is the second in the Christmas Wishes series. It can easily be read as a standalone but I recommend you read the first one A Little Christmas Faith ( see above) first. This one briefly mentions the main characters from book one which is nice. It’s another charming story from this excellent author of feel good romance. As always the reader is rooting for the main characters to get over their difficulties and give in to the attraction and love they feel for each other. A perfect winter, fireside read.
A Second Christmas Wish by Kathryn Freeman
I’ve read several other books by this author and have enjoyed them all. So I wasn’t surprised to find this one hugely enjoyable too. It’s another cosy, feelgood story of second-chance love from Kathryn Freeman with her usual array of likeable characters and nicely drawn settings.
Winter Beneath the Stars by Jo Thomas
I enjoyed this book very much. The Lapland setting was unusual and beautifully described. I loved the Halley and Bjorn the main characters. All in all a most satisfying and romantic read.
Snowflakes and Cinnamon Swirlsat the Winter Wonderland by Heidi Swain
This book has the perfect recipe for a heart-warming winter read. Hayley and Gabe the main characters have been through a lot of sadness in their lives before they meet and are reluctant to open their hearts to anyone new, but in the enchanting setting of Wynthorpe Hall they find they’re falling in love. Curl up with a glass of something nice or a hot cup of tea and enjoy this lovely, romantic story.
But as well as writing and reading books I also enjoy sharing my thoughts about them with others. Of course I want to spread the word about my own writing, but I also like to share information about the books I’ve most enjoyed reading too. And I’m certainly going to continue doing that this year.
I’ve already got two reviews in the pipleline as 2019 has started well reading wise. So watch out for my five-star reviews of:
Maggie Christensen‘s lovely new romantic novella – A Brahminy Sunrise – out on 15th January and available to preorder now.
Alison Morton‘s incredibly fabulous crime/thriller/mystery/romance Inceptio. I can’t believe I haven’t read it before now and can’t wait to read the rest of the series.
PS – reader’s reviews
And I’d just like to end this post with a bit of an author plea. If you read and enjoy a book do you leave a review – perhaps on the online store where you got it? Online reviews are really helpful to authors not only in terms of feedback, but also in giving a book increased visibility in a very crowded market. A review doesn’t have to be a long academic critique – just as well – since I wouldn’t be writing them. You only need to do a couple of sentences simply saying you liked it and why you did – just as I’ve done above.
And yes, I posted the above reviews on the online store where I got the books for my e-reader.
And yes, I do go to actual book shops too – especially my local one – where I tend to buy non-fiction books and books for my grandchildren – as well as the occasional paperback novel for myself.
So over to you. Do you enjoy reading and why? Do you plan to read lots in 2019 – or perhaps to write a book yourself? Do you leave reviews of books you’ve enjoyed and want to tell others about? Do you prefer a paper book or an e-book? Leave comments below.
And so, it just remains for me to wish you a happy and book-filled 2019 and may all your reads be good ones.
My previous two posts have been about the books I’ve read and enjoyed this year and about my own writing. And, in this my final post of the year, I thought I’d take a quick look back at how this writer’s life has been in general.
On a personal level, for me, 2018 – as it will have been for everyone – was a mix of ups and downs. And, out in the big wide world there has certainly been plenty to rant about. But I want to concentrate here on the smaller stuff and on the good stuff.
Here in the house, the 18 months of renovations finished earlier this month. Hurrah! It’s been stressful but worth it and our ‘new’ house at long last feels like ours. We have carpets! We have pictures on the walls! We have a home!
There have been parties to go to, music concerts and theatre trips enjoyed. There’s been quality time with family and friends – not least of which was the trip from our home in Scotland to Australia taken by me and the husband to visit our daughter, son-in-law and two grandchildren. We had such a wonderful time and have so many precious memories. It was very hard to leave, but I’m already saving up for my next trip.
I also particularly enjoyed my visits to the Borders Book festival and to that other one held in the big city – the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
2018 was also an important anniversary for me. It is now 20 years since I had cancer – 20 years that I realise I’m fortunate to have experienced – and for which I’m very grateful.
I’m also very grateful to be able to spend so much of my time doing something I love. I don’t know what I’d do without my writing. I certainly can’t see myself retiring any time soon. It was wonderful to have Settlement – my new book – published in September, wonderful too to have it so well received by my readers. And I must also express my gratitude to my editorial team, to all the book bloggers and reviewers who took the time and trouble to comment, and most of all my loyal readers.
Next year I plan to do lots more enjoyable things, to read lots more books, and just to treasure still being here. And of course there will be lots more writing…
And so it only remains for me to say thank you to everyone who has followed, read and or commented on my posts during 2018. I wish you all a very Happy New Year when it comes.
As always, do feel free to comment below on how 2018 was for you and what you hope for in 2019.
Having written about my top 20 reads for 2018 in my previous post, I thought I would follow that up with a look at my writing highlights during the last twelve months.
It has certainly been a busy year of writing with many hours put in at the writing desk. And I’m pleased to say those hours were productive.
Procrastination wasn’t an option as throughout the year there were writing tasks to be done. Posts for this blog and for guest spots on others’ blogs had to be written. I had features and opinion pieces to write. I also had to keep my website up to date along with my Facebook and Amazon author pages. And I had author talks and writing classes to prepare.
But of course, by far the biggest and most important task was to finish my latest novel and get it ready for publication by the end of 2018.
I spent January and February finishing off the pre-edit redrafting of Settlement. I’d already done several redrafts and lots of rewriting but my deadline to finish this stage was looming.
I made it! By early March, the manuscript was ready to go off to my editor – that alchemist of prose, John Hudspith. Having seemingly learned nothing from my experiences with my earlier novels, I was fairly sure there’d be very little that needed changing. But of course I was wrong.
By June, I’d spent three months doing further changes in response to John’s suggestions. And, as always as a result of this process, the properly crafted and polished work was so much better than its rawer earlier version.
So by July I was ready for a holiday and me and the mister set off from a very sunny and warm Scotland for winter in Queensland, Australia. But no hats or scarves were needed and we had a wonderful time visiting our daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren.
Once back home, August was taken up with finalising the new novel’s cover with brilliant cover designer Jane D Smith. And, I must say, thanks to Jane, the cover has received a lot of praise.
Then ‘all’ that remained was to write the publicity and marketing copy for booksellers, for my website and for social media. I also booked a blog tour to be organised by the amazing Kelly at Love Books Group.
And finally, in late September, Settlementwas published, launched, and off out into the world.
This meant that October and November were taken up with a lot of marketing and interaction with my readers. It was great to get positive feedback on the book – both from existing and new readers. And I was delighted when some folks asked if there would be a third book in the series which began with Displacement.
Yes, is the answer. As this year of writing comes to an end, I’ve already begun writing the first draft of Fulfilment which will indeed be the third and final book – in the series I never planned to write.
Yes, I really didn’t have series in mind when I wrote what is now the first in the set.
Displacement was supposed to be a single standalone novel – just as my debut novel had been. I intended to move on to something completely new when it was published. But my readers weren’t having it and following an online poll they convinced me that a sequel was required. And then, as I wrote Settlement I sensed that a third novel was going to be needed before I could confidently write The End and finally leave Jack and Rachel in peace. Therefore it was good when readers seemed to agree.
So 2019 looks as if it too will be another year filled with writing. Bring it on! I can’t wait to find out where Fulfilment is going to lead me.
I’d be interested to hear from readers of this post what your hopes are for the new year – either in terms of your work – as a writer or otherwise – or more generally. Please do leave comments below.
Next week’s post will be my final one for 2018 and having done a roundup of my year’s reading and writing, I plan (with reference to the subtitle of this blog) to finish off with some reflecting. You’ve been warned 🙂
And I really do. So I was delighted to do a guest post on the reasons why for Kate’s marvellous book blog. This post also nicely rounds off the publicity posts for my latest indie novel Settlement. Kate aka @The Quiet Knitter is an awesome book blogger and she is very supportive of indie authors and publishers. So, thank you, Kate.
As 2018 draws to a close so does another year of reading. I’ve read 60 books this year. Yes, I’m a keen reader. I guess most writers are. But even if I never wrote another word I’d still be a reader. I love how it can transport, educate and inspire me. I love how reading can delight me and make me think.
For this round up of my year in books, I’ve picked out my top 20 favourite books of 2018 – 5 non-fiction and 15 fiction. Most of the other 40 came close to making it on to the list but there were, inevitably, a few which I didn’t enjoy or which I didn’t finish. Reading is subjective after all – and one woman’s can’t-put-down is another woman’s don’t-care-what happens.
My Top 20 Books
So what have been the books that have transported, or educated, or inspired me this year? What books have made me laugh, or cry, or think? The list is in no particular order.
Somebody I Used to Know by Wendy Mitchell
When she was diagnosed with dementia at the age of fifty-eight, Wendy Mitchell was confronted with the most profound questions about life and identity. All at once, she had to say goodbye to the woman she used to be. Her demanding career in the NHS, her ability to drive, cook and run – the various shades of her independence – were suddenly gone.
Philosophical, profoundly moving, insightful and ultimately full of hope, Somebody I Used to Know is both a heart-rending tribute to the woman Wendy once was, and a brave affirmation of the woman dementia has seen her become.
How to be a Craftivist by Sarah Corbett
This bookis a manifesto for quiet activism: how to tackle issues not with shouting and aggression but with gentle protest, using the process of ‘making’ to engage thoughtfully in the issues we are about, to influence and effect change.
Divided by Tim Marshall
We feel more divided than ever. This riveting analysis tells you why.
Walls are going up. Nationalism and identity politics are on the rise once more. Thousands of miles of fences and barriers have been erected in the past ten years, and they are redefining our political landscape.
Understanding what has divided us, past and present, is essential to understanding much of what’s going on in the world today. Covering China; the USA; Israel and Palestine; the Middle East; the Indian Subcontinent; Africa; Europe and the UK, bestselling author Tim Marshall presents a gripping and unflinching analysis of the fault lines that will shape our world for years to come.
Beyond Tribal Loyalties by Avigail Abarbanel
There is an expectation in Jewish communities that all Jews embrace Zionism and offer automatic, unquestioning support for Israel, “right or wrong”. Jewish identity and Zionism are commonly and deliberately blurred. Jews who criticise Israel are often vilified and excluded. By expressing sympathy for the Palestinians, they risk being branded as traitors and accused of “supporting the enemies of Israel”.
Beyond Tribal Loyalties is a unique collection of twenty-five personal stories of Jewish peace activists from Australia, Canada, Israel, the United Kingdom & the United States.
The Biography of Story by Trish Nicholson
An entertaining cultural history and a highly original take on the power of stories in societies past and present. Trish Nicholson brings us a unique interweaving of literature and history seen through the eyes of storytellers, making a fascinating journey for general readers and students alike. From tales of the Bedouin, to Homer, Aesop and Valmiki, and from Celtic bards and Icelandic skalds to Chaucer, Rabelais, Shakespeare, Scott and Chekhov, some of the many storytellers featured will be familiar to you; others from Africa, Asia and the Pacific may be fresh discoveries.
Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas
Fifty-something Shona is a proud former pupil of the Marcia Blaine School for Girls, but has a deep loathing for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which she thinks gives her alma mater a bad name.
Impeccably educated and an accomplished martial artist, linguist and musician, Shona is thrilled when selected by Marcia Blaine herself to travel back in time for a one-week mission in 19th-century Russia: to pair up the beautiful, shy, orphaned heiress Lidia Ivanovna with Sasha, a gorgeous young man of unexplained origins.
But, despite all her accomplishments and good intentions, Shona might well have got the wrong end of the stick about her mission. As the body count rises, will she discover in time just who the real villain is?
Memory and Straw by Angus Peter Campbell
Gavin and Emma live in Manhattan. She’s a musician. He works in Artificial Intelligence. He’s good at his job. Scarily good. He’s researching human features to make more realistic mask-bots – non-human ‘carers’ for elderly people. When his enquiry turns personal he’s forced to ask whether his own life is an artificial mask.
Delving into family stories and his roots in the Highlands of Scotland, he embarks on a quest to discover his own true face, ‘uniquely sprung from all the faces that had been’.
A novel about the struggle for freedom and personal identity; what it means to be human. It fuses the glass and steel of our increasingly controlled algorithmic world with the memory and straw of our forebears’ world controlled by traditions and taboos, the seasons and the elements.
Face the Wind and Fly by Jenny Harper
Love, loss and family life against the background of a controversial project that fractures the whole community. She builds wind farms, he detests them. Can they ever generate love? After fifteen happy years of marriage, Kate Courtenay discovers that her charismatic novelist husband is spending more and more of his time with a young fan. She throws herself into her work, a controversial wind farm that’s stirring up tempers in the local community. Sparks fly when she goes head to head against its most outspoken opponent, local gardener Ibsen Brown – a man with a past of his own. But a scheme for a local community garden brings the sparring-partners together, producing the sort of electricity that threatens to short-circuit the whole system.
The Long Walk Back by Rachel Dove
Does everyone deserve a second chance?
As an army trauma surgeon Kate knows how to keep her cool in the most high pressure of situations. Although back at home in England her marriage is falling apart, out in the desert she’s happy knowing that she’s saving lives.
Until she meets Cooper. It’s up to Kate to make a split-second decision to save Cooper’s life. Yet Cooper doesn’t want to be saved. Can Kate convince him to give his life a second chance even though it’s turning out dramatically different from how he planned?
An Englishwoman’s Guide to the Cowboy by June Kearns
Jane Austen meets Zane Grey
The American West, 1867. After a stagecoach wreck, well-bred bookish spinster, Annie Haddon, (product of mustn’t-take-off-your-hat, mustn’t-take-off-your-gloves, mustn’t-get-hot-or-perspire Victorian society) is thrown into the company of cowboy, Colt McCall – a man who lives by his own rules and hates the English.
Can two people from such wildly different backgrounds learn to trust each other? Annie and McCall find out on their journey across the haunting, mystical landscape of the West.
Somewhere Beyond the Sea by Miranda Dickinson
Can you fall in love with someone before you’ve even met?
Seren MacArthur is living a life she never intended. Trying to save the Cornish seaside business her late father built – while grieving for his loss – she has put her own dreams on hold and is struggling. Until she discovers a half-finished seaglass star on her favourite beach during an early morning walk. When she completes the star, she sets into motion a chain of events that will steal her heart and challenge everything she believes.
Jack Dixon is trying to secure a better life for daughter Nessie and himself. Left a widower and homeless when his wife died, he’s just about keeping their heads above water. Finding seaglass stars completed on Gwithian beach is a bright spark that slowly rekindles his hope.
Oh Crumbs by Kathryn Freeman
Abby Spencer knows she can come across as an airhead – she talks too much and is a bit of a klutz – but there’s more to her than that. Though she sacrificed her career to help raise her sisters, a job interview at biscuit company Crumbs could finally be her chance to shine. That’s until she hurries in late wearing a shirt covered in rusk crumbs, courtesy of her baby nephew, and trips over her handbag.
Managing director Douglas Faulkner isn’t sure what to make of Abby Spencer with her Bambi eyes, tousled hair and ability to say more in the half-hour interview than he manages in a day. All he knows is she’s a breath of fresh air and could bring a new lease of life to the stale corporate world of Crumbs. To his life too, if he’d let her.
But Doug’s harbouring a secret. He’s not the man she thinks he is.
Isobel’s Promise by Maggie Christensen
Back in Sydney after her aunt’s death, sixty-five year-old Bel Davison is making plans to sell up her home and business and return to Scotland where she has promised to spend the rest of her life with the enigmatic Scotsman with whom she’s found love.
But the reappearance of her ex-husband combined with other unexpected drawbacks turns her life into chaos, leading her to have doubts about the wisdom of her promise.
In Scotland, Matt Reid has no such doubts, and although facing challenges of his own, he longs for Bel’s return.
Can this midlife couple find happiness in the face of the challenges life has thrown at them?
The Many Colours of Us by Rachel Burton
Julia Simmonds had never been bothered about not knowing who her father was. Having temperamental supermodel, Philadelphia Simmonds, as a mother was more than enough. Until she finds out that she’s the secret love-child of the late, great artist Bruce Baldwin, and her life changes forever.
Uncovering the secrets of a man she never knew, Julia discovers that Bruce had written her one letter, every year until her eighteenth birthday, urging his daughter to learn from his mistakes.
As Julia begins to uncover her past she also begins to unravel her future. With gorgeous lawyer Edwin Jones for company Julia may not only discover her roots but she may just fall in love…
The Perfectly Imperfect Woman by Milly Johnson
Marnie Salt has made so many mistakes in her life that she fears she will never get on the right track. But when she ‘meets’ an old lady on a baking chatroom and begins confiding in her, little does she know how her life will change.
Arranging to see each other for lunch, Marnie finds discovers that Lilian is every bit as mad and delightful as she’d hoped – and that she owns a whole village in the Yorkshire Dales, which has been passed down through generations. And when Marnie needs a refuge after a crisis, she ups sticks and heads for Wychwell – a temporary measure, so she thinks.
A novel of family, secrets, love and redemption … and broken hearts mended and made all the stronger for it.
The Winter that Made Us by Kate Field
When Tess finds herself unexpectedly alone and back in Ribblemill, the childhood village she thought she’d escaped, she’s sure she can survive a temporary stay. She’s spent a lifetime making the best of things, hasn’t she?
Determined to throw herself into village life, Tess starts a choir and gathers a team of volunteers to restore the walled garden at Ramblings, the local stately home. Everything could be perfect, if she weren’t sharing a cottage and a cat with a man whose manner is more prickly than the nettles she’s removing…
As winter approaches, Tess finds herself putting down her own roots as fast as she’s pulling them up in the garden. But the ghosts of the past hover close by, and Tess must face them if she’s to discover whether home is where her heart has been all along.
It’s Who We Are by Christine Webber
Five friends in their fifties find themselves dealing with unforeseen upheaval as they uncover long-hidden and devastating family secrets. Meanwhile, the world around them seems to be spinning out of control.
The events of It’s Who We Are take place between October 2016 and June 2017, against a backdrop of all the political uncertainty and change in the UK, Europe and America.
The story is set in East Anglia, London and Ireland, and is about friendship, kindness and identity. Most importantly, it highlights how vital it is to reach for what enhances rather than depletes you.
One Thousand Stars and You by Isabelle Broom
Alice is settling down. It might not be the adventurous life she once imagined, but more than anything she wants to make everyone happy – her steady boyfriend, her over-protective mother – even if it means a little part of her will always feel stifled.
Max is shaking things up. After a devastating injury, he is determined to prove himself. To find the man beyond the disability, to escape his smothering family and go on an adventure.
A trip to Sri Lanka is Alice’s last hurrah – her chance to throw herself into the heat, chaos and colour of a place thousands of miles from home.
It’s also the moment she meets Max.
Alice doesn’t know it yet, but her whole life is about to change.
Max doesn’t know it yet, but he’s the one who’s going to change it.
Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty
A retired couple, Gerry and Stella Gilmore, fly to Amsterdam for a midwinter break. A holiday to refresh the senses, to see the sights and to generally take stock of what remains of their lives. But amongst the wintry streets and icy canals we see their relationship fracturing beneath the surface. And when memories re-emerge of a troubled time in their native Ireland things begin to fall apart. As their midwinter break comes to an end, we understand how far apart they are – and can only watch as they struggle to save themselves.
Gift Horse by Jan Ruth
Caroline Walker’s daughter suffers a horrific riding accident. Her distraught parents wonder if she’ll ever walk again, let alone ride. And when Mollie’s blood group is discovered as rare, her husband offers to donate blood. Except Ian is not a match. In fact, it’s unlikely he’s Mollie’s father.
Eighteen years previously, Caroline had a one-night stand with Irish rock star, Rory O’Connor. Caroline fell pregnant. Deeply flawed boyfriend, Ian, was overjoyed. And Caroline’s parents were simply grateful that their daughter was to marry into the rich, influential Walker family.
Caroline turns to Rory’s friend Connor; and although his almost spiritual connection with his horses appears to be the balm she needs, Caroline cannot forget Rory, or her youth – both lost to a man she never loved.
Eighteen years on and after surviving cancer Rory lives as a virtual recluse in the Welsh mountains. Through his well-meaning but interfering sister, he is shocked to discover he has a teenage daughter. Or does he?
As the truth begins to unravel, Caroline finds herself faced with a complex trail of moral dilemma.
Snow Angel by JJ Marsh
December in a small Devonshire village is the perfect time for a Yuletide festival, a Narnian wedding or a murder.
Now retired, Beatrice is working on a book, planning a wedding and pretending she doesn’t miss the cut and thrust of Scotland Yard.
When a local celebrity dies in suspicious circumstances, Matthew encourages Beatrice to do some private investigating. Her enquiries reveal more than predicted and she discovers even her nearest and dearest are capable of deceit.
A snowstorm hits the village and Beatrice chases a lead, throwing everyone’s plans into disarray and threatening lives. The ancient forest conceals a primeval web of complex loyalties and lethal bonds.
Angels protect their friends. But destroy their enemies.
All the books above are available in a selection of formats and can be bought online and in book shops. And , of course, it’s always worth asking at your local library.
Have you read any of the above books? If so did you enjoy them too? What would your top read/reads be for 2018? Feel free to comment below.
I love reading. I read both fiction and non-fiction and enjoy various genres. Romantic fiction is my favourite, with crime fiction a close second, but I also read the occasional historical novel too.
And when I write my own books I write the sort of book I would want to read. My novels are essentially romances with lots of other themes/issues woven into the mix as well. And one thing that struck me early on in my writing career was that in romance in particular the main characters in the popular novels I read were mainly young – i.e. in their 20s or 30s. But I wanted to write about characters who were a bit older than that.
So I was delighted to get the chance to explore this notion of age in fiction when I wrote a guest post for Linda’s Book Bag blog on this very topic.
You can read the post on Linda’s wonderful book blog here.
I can’t imagine not writing. I just love it so much. Even if nobody read my scribblings I reckon I’d still have to keep on doing it. But if even one person reads and enjoys what I produce then that’s a bonus. But of course I’m delighted when more than one person does.
I love getting positive feedback and reviews – even the less positive but constructive reactions are helpful.
I really appreciate when readers who have already done enough by buying and reading my books, also take the time and trouble to review them – whether that’s on one of the online retailer sites or on their book blogs. This all helps spread the word to other potential readers and it does my writer’s ego good as well…
And today I certainly got that ego boosted when I read book blogger Joanne’s wonderful review of Settlement. What I especially loved was that she totally got what I was trying to say in the novel and she appreciated the subtleties of the title. This was a thoughtful and, to me, very special review.
You can read her review on her Portobello Book Blog here.
I was delighted to be invited to be part of a community day at the Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre which took place on Sunday 25th November 2018. The event was aimed at local people for whom entry to the centre throughout the day was free – although non-locals were welcome too.
I was asked to do an author talk about my novel for children – The Silver Locket. It’s a timeslip novel aimed at 9 to 12 year-olds. And, as the main characters are three twenty-first century children who find themselves transported back in time to the aftermath of the battle of Culloden, (it has been described as an Outlander for children) the book was felt to be a good fit for the event.
It also helped that I got the idea for the novel when I visited the centre on a school trip from the Isle of Skye with my Primary 6 (10 & 11 year-olds) pupils.
Background to the book
The children were learning all about the background to the battle of Culloden – about the Jacobites led by Bonnie Prince Charlie and their struggles to remove King George II from the throne and to have the Prince crowned king of Britain. It was hoped the visit to Culloden would bring this period in history to life for the children. And it most certainly did. Not only is the visitor centre – with its information, displays, artefacts, immersion room, and battlefield tours – totally superb, the education staff are second-to-none.
But it wasn’t only the children who were affected by what we saw on the day of our visit. I was too. When the education staff took us out onto the battlefield and we recreated the ‘Highland Charge’ where the Jacobite army (made up mostly but not exclusively of Scottish Highlanders) charged at the British Redcoat army, an idea popped into my head. An idea about three modern-day children finding themselves back… You know the rest.
At the time as well as being a teacher I was also a writer. I was writing – still am – contemporary fiction for adults. But I had no intention of writing for children. Except the idea wouldn’t go away.
And, in the end, I wrote the book and I used the author name of my alter-ego Anne McAlpine in order to keep my two writing identities separate. And in 2015, The Silver Locket was published.
So, it was good to be back at the Culloden Visitor Centre and to be part of their well-attended community event. I never dreamt on the day of the school visit that one day in the future, I’d be back as the author of a children’s book, that the book would be set at Culloden, and that I’d be there doing an author event. And I must say I really enjoyed doing some readings from my novel and sharing the background to the book – back where it all started.
Thank you to the National Trust for Scotland and to Catriona and the staff at the centre for the invitation, the warm welcome, and the opportunity to be part of your event.
You can read more about The Silver Locket below and you can buy it here.
From the back cover of The Silver Locket
The Battle of Culloden, 1746, and Bonnie Prince Charlie is defeated. Can three young friends from the 21st century ensure he escapes and that history stays on track?
A time-travelling mission, a very big adventure. Three twenty-first century friends and an eighteenth-century prince have a date with destiny…
It’s the last week of the school holidays and twelve year old Caitlin Cameron is bored. But when her new childminder turns out to be the eccentric Bella Blawearie, otherwise known as Scary Lady, everything changes.
Scary Lady lives up to her name. She seems able to read Caitlin’s mind. She sees visions in a snow globe and tells the time from a patchwork clock.
And things get even weirder when Caitlin and her two best friends, Lynette and Edward, accidentally open a time portal in an old tree and are hurled back through time to the eighteenth century.
They find themselves caught up in the blood-soaked aftermath of the Jacobite defeat at the battle of Culloden, and discover they’re there for a reason. A reason Scary Lady knows all about.
But all the friends have is questions. What is the significance of the silver locket passed to Caitlin by her grandmother? Can the locket help them ensure Bonnie Prince Charlie makes the right decision about his future?
And if they fail, will Scotland’s history books rewrite themselves, meaning Caitlin and her friends will not even be born?
Join them in their 18th century adventure as they make new friends, encounter great danger and strive to carry out their mission.
The blog tour for my new novel, Settlement, ended yesterday. I’ve never done a blog tour before so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But it proved to be a great experience. Yes, it was a bit nerve-wracking waiting to see what the bloggers’ thoughts were on the book, but I needn’t have worried – it all went well.
So I owe a huge thank you to all the book bloggers who took part out of the goodness of their hearts and to Kelly at Love Book Group Tours for organising it all.
And, as I did a few days ago when I posted a roundup of the first three stops on the tour (here), today I’m putting up the links to the rest.
Day 4: A lovely review on The Secret World of a Book Blogger site – here
Day 5: It was another extract from the beginning of the book was shared by Louise on her Bookmarks and Stages blog – here.
Day 6: Another fab review – this time from Kate on her Confessions of an Avid Reader blog – here.
Day 7: I had a guest post on Joanne’s blog – Portobello Book Blog – and Joanne even included a mini-review of what she thought of Settlement so far as she was still reading it at time of posting. You can see my post and her thoughts here.
Day 7: There was a second stop on day 7 at Sandra’s Beauty Balm blog. And with such a wonderful review from Sandra it was a great way to end the journey. You can read what she thought here.
And that’s it. So, once again, thank you to the bloggers, to Kelly, and to all the people who read the posts, and who commented on them and shared them on social media. I appreciate it all. And thanks to readers of this blog too who have also been supportive.
But before I go, I should answer the above mentioned Sandra’s question: Yes, there will be a third book in the Displacement/Settlement series. I’ve just started writing Fulfilment which will be the final part of the set. I will then leave these characters in peace and move on to something completely new.