Four Favourite Reads for May #books #reading #amreading #lockdown

After the flurry of book launch activity over the last ten days – and thank you to everyone who supported Fulfilment‘s launch – it’s now back to some sort of normal at the writing desk and here on the blog too. I hope everyone is keeping safe and well and that you’re coping with whatever stage of Covid-19 lockdown you’re experiencing in your locality.

I have to say reading has certainly helped me to cope with the stresses the lockdown has produced here in Scotland. I know that some people have found they’ve been reading less during this time, finding their concentration compromised and /or not wanting to read in the way they did before. But for me reading has been a real blessing.

And as for what I’ve been reading during lockdown – well I’ve been looking for sheer escapism to a non-threatening, non-Covid world. I’ve avoided thrillers and crime novels and gone instead for  – yes, you guessed it – romances, and for books that make me smile and sigh happily – books that have provoked positive reflection, that have not only entertained, but have also uplifted.

So which novels have delivered some – or all – of the above to my reading door during May? There have been several and I’d like to share my top four.

 

First up is The Life She Finds, the latest in Maggie Christensen’s Granite Springs series of mature romances set in Australia. I was lucky enough to receive a pre-publication review copy of this novel which is out on the 9th of June and is available for pre-order here. It was great to be back in Granite Springs and not only to read about the main characters, Lyn and Ken, but also to catch up with characters from the previous novels in this lovely series. Lyn and Ken’s story – as they met again after more than forty years apart – was a poignant one of loss, of difficult family relationships and of missed opportunities. But, ultimately, it was a reassuring, hopeful and heartwarming tale.

When Lyn Hudson takes early retirement, her plan is to fulfil a lifelong dream to travel the world. But news of her father’s death forces her back to Granite Springs; the town she fled when she was eighteen. While she has fond memories of roaming the paddocks with her childhood friend, Ken, life on the land was definitely not for her.

Ken Thompson, cheated out of his inheritance in the family property after an argument with his father, has built up a successful business in Granite Springs as a realter and stock and station agent. When the son he intended to inherit his business returns to work on the family property, his plans for the future are shattered and family relations further strained.

Thrown together by circumstances, the pair discover the spark which they denied forty-five years earlier is still smouldering. But time has passed. They are different people.

Is it possible they’ll find common ground and start afresh, or will Lyn once again follow her dreams and abandon Granite Springs and their chance at happiness?

 

 

Let me Burn by Carrie Elks is a small town American romance and tells the story of Lucas and Ember. Lucas is a firefighter  and Ember is an elementary school teacher and theirs is a captivating, much sigh-inducing, and intense story. I should point out there are some fairly steamy sex scenes but it’s not yucky or overdone – but just be aware the lovemaking scenes don’t stop at the bedroom door. The couple are young but both have emotional  baggage and interesting, sometimes poignant backstories. You can buy it here.

Lucas Russell lives for his job. Forced to take extended leave following an accident, he returns to his small home town to stay at the beach cottage his grandparents left him. 

After a broken engagement, Ember isn’t ready for love right now. But she didn’t count on meeting a handsome firefighter with a dimpled smile. After Lucas saves her from one awkward situation too many, she finds him impossible to resist.

What starts as a fling develops into something much deeper. Until the day Ember’s ex-fiancé returns to town and threatens to destroy the connection that’s building between them.

One thing’s for sure. Somebody is going to get burned.

 

The third of my May favourites is The Switch by Beth O’Leary. This has some romance but there’s a whole lot more going on besides. It’s an original and clever story that’s told from the points of view of a grandmother, Eileen, and her (adult) granddaughter, Leena. The two of them switch places in order to give their lives a bit of a reboot. Eileen is looking for new experiences and some adventure and Leena needs some peace and quiet to get over recent trauma. So the grandmother goes to live in her granddaughter’s London flat and the younger woman moves into her grandmother’s country cottage – and the swap proves life-changing for them both. You can buy the book here.

Leena is too young to feel stuck.
Eileen is too old to start over.
Maybe it’s time for The Switch...

Ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, Leena escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Newly single and about to turn eighty, Eileen would like a second chance at love. But her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen… So Leena proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love, and L Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire.

But with a rabble of unruly OAPs to contend with, as well as the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – local schoolteacher, Leena learns that switching lives isn’t straightforward. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, and with the online dating scene. But is her perfect match nearer to home than she first thought?

 

And finally book number four is One Winter Morning by Isabelle Broom. Again, as in The Switch, there is more going on her than the slow burning central romance. Main character Genie has a lot of issues – and yes, sometimes I wanted to shake her – but that was the point – she ‘s stuck in an emotional quagmire and she needs help to get out. And so along comes a wonderful, beguiling cast of characters who all play their part in freeing her from the burdens of her past and liberate her to move on. The setting of New Zealand was another plus for me – it was almost a character in its own right – and having read the book I’d so love to visit this amazing-sounding country. And the walk that Genie and the lovely, Kit, take at the end up Queenstown Hill to the Basket of Dreams sculpture with that inspirational quote – oh my – wow just wow! You can buy the book here.

Genie isn’t feeling very festive this December.

The frosty mornings and twinkling fairy lights only remind her it’s been a whole year since she lost her adoptive mother, who took her in as a baby and raised her as her own.

She’s never felt more alone – until she discovers her birth mother’s identity.

And where to find her – New Zealand, half the world away.

Travelling there could be her one chance to meet the woman who gave her up . . .

But will she find the answers she has been looking for? Or something she could never have expected?

 

How about you? Are you finding you’re able to read during lockdown? If so what books have you particularly enjoyed? have you read ones that are new to you or have you been re-reading old favourites perhaps?

Five on Friday with Anne Stormont @writeanne #FiveOnFriday #ContemporaryRomanticFiction

Hello everyone, I hope your Friday is going well. I just wanted to share a guest spot I have today over at Jill’s Book Cafe as part of her Five on Friday series. It was good fun taking part and coming up with answers to all the interesting questions and categories. So thank you to Jill for having me over at her place and I hope you enjoy the post. Have a good weekend and stay safe.

Jill's Book Cafe

Today I’m delighted to feature author Anne Stormont. Anne writes contemporary romantic fiction where the main characters are older but not necessarily wiser. She hopes the stories she tells will entertain, but she also hopes they will move, challenge and inspire her readers.  She has written three novels so far – Change of Life, was her first. This was followed by the Skye series of three novels Displacement, Settlement and the newly published Fulfilment.

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It’s a wrap. New book is out and book video is on a screen near you. #books #reading #writing #romanticfiction

So that’s it. The paperback and ebook versions of my latest novel Fulfilment have now launched. Details can be found in my previous post here. It’s been a crazily busy week or so online with all the launch events and publicity and I’ve been so heartened by all the lovely positive comments and support from the online community of writers, readers and of course friends and family. Thank you all.

And I also need to say a huge thank you to Donna Gowland for making the book trailer video to publicise my series of novels set on the Scottish island of Skye – of which Fulfilment is the third and final part. Isn’t it gorgeous?

And now it’s on to something new. I’ve got lots of ideas for the next novel and am looking forward to exploring/developing some of them. I’m thinking maybe a series of contemporary romances set in in the Scottish Borders – with each book about a different couple – but all set in the same community so readers can keep in touch with characters from previous books as the series develops. Can’t wait to get started on inventing a village/town and setting up a cast of characters …

I’d be interested to have your feedback on whether you like reading a series or do you prefer standalone novels? And what do you think of the video?

 

It’s Official Launch Day – Fulfilment Goes Live #reading #books #writing

 

Yes, today’s the day. It’s the official release date for my new novel Fulfilment. The paperback has been available for a few days now – but If you pre-ordered the ebook  on Amazon it should arrive on your Kindle today. (It’s available here)

I have a bottle of the bubbly stuff chilling for later and I’m going to enjoy toasting my new ‘book baby’ as it goes off into the world.

Fulfilment is the third and final book in the Skye series and I’m going to miss hanging out with Rachel and Jack. But it’s time I left them in peace to get on with their lives. And it’s time to start something new. More on that at a later date 🙂

In the meantime, here’s what it says on the back cover of Fulfilment:

 

The path of true love rarely runs smoothly…

When former Edinburgh police detective Jack Baxter met local author and crofter Rachel Campbell on the Scottish island of Skye, they fell in love. It was a second chance at happiness for both of them.

They both had emotional baggage. Jack helped Rachel cope with unimaginable grief after the death in combat of her soldier son, and Rachel was there for Jack after a criminal with a grudge almost ended his life. There were many bumps along the road but they believed they’d worked through and settled their differences.

However, Jack is struggling. Still suffering from post-traumatic stress, haunted by his past, and taunted by the demons of self-doubt, he feels Rachel deserves better.

Meanwhile, Rachel is busy preparing for the launch of her latest book – a book in honour of her son and aimed at promoting peace. So at first she fails to notice just how troubled Jack is.

Can Jack overcome his demons?

Can Rachel convince Jack he deserves to be loved?

Can they finally resolve their differences and fulfil their dreams together?

 Fulfilment is the third and final part in Rachel & Jack: The Skye series.

It follows on from Displacement (book 1) and Settlement (book 2).

If you like mature, emotional and thought-provoking contemporary romance in a dramatic setting, then this is a book for you.

 

Thank you or moran taing, as Rachel might say in Gaelic, to everyone who has bought, read and reviewed the earlier books in the series. If you haven’t read them Settlement  (book 2 in the series) is still on special offer here for only £0.99

And thanks too to everyone who has bought Fulfilment. I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to hearing what you thought of it. And if you have a time I’d really appreciate it if you left a review over at that big online store.

Cheers! Slainte! and thank you everyone for your support.

Writing and Reading news: It’s been quite a week #writing #reading #books

It has been quite a week in my writing life and with another big day coming up later this week on Friday, the excitement continues. Yes, it’s the crazy busy time around the launch of the new book.

But as well as being very busy with all things writing and publishing related, I’ve also been reading by way of relaxing.

So I thought I’d do a round up of all things bookish in today’s post.

Fulfilment – book 3 in the Rachel & Jack Skye Series launches

First of all thank you to everyone of you who has shared the news of the publication of Fulfilment via your social media channels, websites and by word of mouth. It all helps so much – especially at this time of no real life book launches.

And of course, thank you too, to everyone who has either bought the paperback or pre-ordered the ebook (here) which will be delivered to Kindles this Friday on the 15th May. I so appreciate it.

And, I have to say, it was quite an emotional moment to hold my proof copy of the book in my hands and then to put it on the shelf with its two preceding novels in the series.

Special offers on the first 2 books in the series

Book 1 in the series Displacement is free for your Kindle at the moment – but this is the last day so if you haven’t read any of the series so far – and you fancy doing so – now would be a good time to get started. Get it here 

Book 2 in the series Settlement is on a countdown deal at the moment in the US and will available to buy for $0.99 until Friday 15th May. And in the UK it will be available at a similarly reduced price from 12th May until the 19th. Get it here

So if you haven’t read them, what are you waiting for? 😊

I don’t just write books. I read them too

But as I said, I’ve been spending some time reading too. And so I thought I’d share my three favourite recent reads with you. All are – surprise, surprise – contemporary romances.

The New Guy by Kathryn Freeman

New Year, New Guy by Angela Britnell

The Switch by Beth O’Leary

All are first class, engaging, and heartwarming reads and are available as paperbacks and as ebooks and are definitely worth checking out.

So, as always, over to you – what have you read and enjoyed recently? And if you’re a writer what are you currently working on?

And remember, if you have read and enjoyed a book please do consider posting a review on Amazon. It doesn’t need to be long and involved – just a couple of e=sentences will do – but it really does help an author get some sales traction.

Free book: Displacement special offer #freebook #amreading #amreadingromance

 

Good news! If you haven’t already read any of my Rachel & Jack: Skye series of second chance romance novels you can grab a copy of book 1 Displacement for free. Yes, the ebook is free on Amazon for five days only – from today until the 11th May.

It’s waiting for you here

And even more good news – Book 2 in the series is Settlement and from tomorrow the ebook version will be discounted on Amazon for one week – from 8th to 15th May. I’ll post that link tomorrow.

And just in case you missed yesterday’s post here – yes, I’m delighted to say book 3, Fulfilment – the third and final part of the series – is out now as a paperback here and is available to preorder as an ebook here.

New Book Announcement: Fulfilment is now available #books #reading #romanticfiction #contemporaryromance

Yes, it’s arrived. My new book, Fulfilment is out and is available now as a paperback here – and for – pre-order on Kindle here – for delivery to your device on May 15th.

From the Back Cover

What’s it about? Well, it’s a contemporary second chance romance. It’s the third and final book in my series set on the Scottish island of Skye and brings the story of Jack and Rachel to a conclusion. Here’s what it says on the back cover:

The path of true love rarely runs smoothly…

When former Edinburgh police detective Jack Baxter met local author and crofter Rachel Campbell on the Scottish island of Skye, they fell in love. It was a second chance at happiness for both of them.

They both had emotional baggage. Jack helped Rachel cope with unimaginable grief after the death in combat of her soldier son, and Rachel was there for Jack after a criminal with a grudge almost ended his life. There were many bumps along the road but they believed they’d worked through and settled their differences.

However, Jack is struggling. Still suffering from post-traumatic stress, haunted by his past, and taunted by the demons of self-doubt, he feels Rachel deserves better.

Meanwhile, Rachel is busy preparing for the launch of her latest book – a book in honour of her son and aimed at promoting peace. So at first she fails to notice just how troubled Jack is.

Can Jack overcome his demons?

Can Rachel convince Jack he deserves to be loved?

Can they finally resolve their differences and fulfil their dreams together?

If you like mature, emotional and thought-provoking contemporary romance in a dramatic setting, then this is a book for you.

Needless to say I’m delighted to see Fulfilment going out into the world. As I said above, it’s the third and final part of Rachel and Jack’s story and although it can be read as a standalone novel, I do hope that readers will read Displacement (book 1) and Settlement (book 2) first.

 

Buy Links for Fulfilment

The book can be pre-ordered from Amazon here

The paperback is available here

 

Time To Write. But Struggling To Get On With It: Using writing prompts to get started #writing #amwriting #writingprompts #WordPress

Getting Started Can Prove Difficult

Whether you’re a professional author, someone who writes as a hobby, or are a complete novice, the hardest part of getting words down on the page is often, simply, getting started – even in normal times.

But, in the challenging times we’re currently living through, no matter how much you want to continue writing, or to give it a try for the first time, it may be proving even more difficult to get in the zone – regardless of the time you may have at your disposal.

Writing like any other art or craft is part aptitude, part acquired skill, but for the most part perseverance. It can be frustrating, challenging and exhilarating.

Yes, it begins with inspiration and by that I don’t mean anything particularly grand. It can be a tiny seed – a passing thought, a memory, a question that pops into your head uninvited but it can be enough to eventually lead to a finished, polished and ready to share piece of work. Or having explored it you might decide it’s not worth pursuing. But either way you’re going to have to take the idea and have a go at writing something.

But sometimes inspiration doesn’t arrive. You know you want to write something but you don’t know what. And this is equally the case for experienced and rookie writers. And sometimes, even when you do have an idea you’d like to run (or continue) with, that old enemy procrastination prevents you getting to your notebook or laptop and getting on with it.

And this is where writing prompts can prove very useful. A writing prompt is that little seed that will get you started but you don’t have to come up with an idea yourself. It’s also not prescriptive in terms of style or content, it’s just a gentle, non-threatening nudge.

Following a writing prompt might lead to a few lines, a paragraph, or a page of words. The result might turn out to be a poem, a bit of factual writing or a fictional story. It might be something you want to develop further, it might not – but it will get you in the writing zone.

Using a prompt acts as a warm-up for your writing brain. It can set you up for getting back to the work-in-progress or it can inspire and encourage you to try something new. Nobody but you is going to see it. You can write freely. And it doesn’t have to lead to anything other than writing for its own sake.

So all you need now are some examples – some actual writing prompts – and it so happens I have some to share with you. And they’re courtesy of the amazing creative folks over at WordPress.

Writing Prompts on WordPress

Throughout the month of April WordPress has been offering a daily one-word creative prompt and you can see them by clicking here. There are also helpful notes and hints as to how you might go about writing your response to the prompt.

Examples include:

  • Hands
  • Pairs
  • Open
  • Song
  • Distance

So what are you waiting for? Established writer or complete beginner – go on give it a go. Write on the back of an envelope, in a beautiful notebook, or on your computer. Keep the results to yourself, develop them into something more, or put them up on your new or established writing blog – it’s up to you. But just do it.

What helps you to stop procrastinating – not only if you’re a writer – but in life in general? What helps you get into the required zone and get on with whatever it is you need to be doing? Are you finding it harder to concentrate during lockdown – or has it proved to be a gift of extra time for you to do the things you enjoy – while at home?

 

 

 

Staying Safe & Well: Gardening, Writing & Isolationships #health #lockdown #gardening #writing

It’s day 28 of Covid-19 lockdown here in the UK. For me, it’s a case of so far, so good. Yes, it’s taken a bit of getting used to this new normal and I’m finding one day at a time to be the best approach. But I’m grateful that I live in a beautiful part of Scotland, that I can take a daily walk on uncrowded paths and trails, and that me and my loved ones remain healthy. I’m also grateful to be able to continue working.

 All round wellbeing

It’s not only trying to remain physically healthy that’s important during this time of isolation, it’s also vital to look after our mental and emotional wellbeing too. In my previous post, I mentioned how much of a comfort reading is proving to be at this time and I shared some recommended reads. But reading’s not all that’s keeping me going.

Photo by Charles 🇵🇭 on Unsplash

Staying connected

As for many folk, the existence of the internet is proving to be a boon at this time too. I’ve been able to see and interact with my children and grandchildren at family meetings on zoom, keep in daily touch with my four sisters in our WhatsApp group, and email, text and have video calls with friends. And being able to socialise like this – even if our relationships are more isolationships for now – helps so much.

Happiness in horticulture

I’m also grateful to have a garden and I’ve recently been spending time digging, planting and weeding. Working in the garden, sun shining and birds singing at full throttle all around me, is such a therapeutic activity at any time, but at the moment it’s especially enjoyable. It’s been good to see how well our newly established garden is faring after its first year. Most of last year’s planting is thriving and our new trees are looking especially grand. At the weekend I dug over and weeded the beds, I cut out the dead wood and old foliage from the shrubs and I got seeds planted – some in pots and trays and some in containers and beds. I also planted some new rockery flowers and came up with a list and a plan for some further new planting.

Seeds for a new book

And, as I was working in the garden, I was able to think about my writing. Of course, I’m getting excited about the new book and I’m currently busy with getting all the final launch details in place, but I’m also starting to think about future projects and getting started on my next book. I’ve got lots of ideas – all recorded in my ideas notebook. Most will probably never see the light of day, but there are a few which I want to explore. The ideas are mainly characters who’ve come to me with snippets of backstory and I intend to ask them a bit more about themselves before deciding if they’re novel worthy.

So as I gardened with actual seeds, knowing some would come to nothing and others would be discarded in the thinning out process, and as I pulled out and disposed of actual weeds and deadwood – there was a similar process going on in my writer’s brain. There were metaphorical seeds – some which might grow and flourish – and grow into something splendid – and some that wouldn’t get to germinate or would be discarded at a later date. And there were some unsightly metaphorical weeds there too.

Yes, you can take the girl out of writing but you can never take writing etc, etc. 😊 The writing brain is running continuously in the background, no matter what I’m doing – and I have to say that at the moment I’m especially glad of having an escape route into an imaginary Covid-free world.

What’s keeping you well?

I hope you’re all safe and well and finding your own ways of coping mentally, physically and emotionally at this difficult time. What’s working for you?

 

Reading in the Time of Covid: the lifeline offered by #reading #books – List 1

Books, Books, Books

I don’t know about you, but one of the main things that’s getting me through this time of social isolation is reading. Reading has always been one of my main leisure activities, but now it’s become more of a sanity saver, escape pod, and huge source of comfort.

Reads to escape into

So, as I said in a previous post, I’m suspending my Book of the Month post for the foreseeable, and instead I’m aiming to do an occasional round-up of books I’ve recently read and enjoyed, and that I think you might enjoy too. As you’ll see my main go-to genre remains contemporary romance – which with its themes of love, hope and happy-ever-after provides just what I need at the moment .

Recommendations – not reviews

As I want to include several books per post, the round-up won’t include reviews, but if a book’s included it will be because I consider it to be a good read and one that provides some much-needed escapism.

Six Good Ones

Contemporary Romance:

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

The New Guy by Kathryn Freeman

The Life She Wants by Maggie Christensen

My One True North by Milly Johnson

Romantic Suspense:

Cold & Deadly by Toni Anderson

Psychological/historical/literary:

Hidden by Linda Gillard

Previously read and recommended authors

Other authors who I’ve not read so recently, but who are definitely worth checking out include:

for contemporary romance – Heidi Swain, Jo Lambert, Marie Laval, Kate Field, Kate Blackadder Emma Davies, Miranda Dickinson

for historical romance – Anne Stenhouse

for alternative history/romance/suspense – Alison Morton

for contemporary/ crime thriller/romance – JJ Marsh

Availability

All the books by the above authors are available as paperbacks and/or ebooks and can be purchased from online stores and from bookshops offering online/phone ordering and postal delivery.

Over to you

Are you finding some solace in reading at the moment? If so what book(s) would you recommend? What is your go-to genre and has it changed during this challenging time? Are you looking for comfort, escapism, thrills or challenges in the books you’re reading? Maybe you’re more into non-fiction? Do share your thoughts below.