A Life in a Day of a Writer: Author Heidi Swain @Heidi_Swain shares a typical writing day #writing #books #reading

Heidi Swain – author

Today it’s the turn of feel good romantic fiction writer Heidi Swain to give us a glimpse into the sort of days that make up her life as a writer.

Heidi’s latest book is The Winter Garden which I recently read and absolutely loved – more about that later. But now over to Heidi.

Heidi’s writing space

Heidi Swain’s Writing Life in a Day

How my writing day is organised depends on which part of the process I happen to be working on. Planning and plotting days are fairly free and easy, reading page proof days have lots of breaks littered throughout to keep the mind (allegedly) fresh, but writing the first draft and editing is much more structured and it is one of those days which I’m going to describe for you today.

I write Monday to Friday and the day is broken into well-defined chunks. I have tried a variety of schedules, but find this the most productive. In a good week, working like this and with no domestic dramas and minimal interruptions, I can manage to write just shy of 20,000 words over the five days.

The day starts at between 5.30 and 5.45. Between getting up and sitting down at the laptop – which is on a desk in my bedroom – at 7am, I’ll either take a walk around the village or do a few laps in the garden, then sort any laundry, open curtains and windows, make tea and mentally prepare myself by thinking through or reading over the notes I will have written at the end of the last writing session the day before.

Between 7am and 9am I’ll write. Sometimes I spend a while working through the last chapter, otherwise I’ll crack straight on with the next, often making notes on things to add, change or amend on scrap paper as I go.

9am to 10am is time for breakfast, cat cuddles and writing reflection.

10am to 12 is a repeat of the first writing session of the day, although this is probably when the most words go down and I’m properly ‘in the zone’. By this point the scene is firmly set in my head and I’m eager to get it typed.

12 – 1pm is lunch, washing dishes and more reflection. Quite often at this point I’m feeling a little dazed!

1pm – 3pm is another session at the laptop. However, if I feel the writing is coming to a natural close – such as when I reach the end of a chapter – I will finish early. This afternoon spot always ends with me writing up a precis of what I’ve just written in the notebook assigned for that novel, and then I’ll make notes in another book about what comes next.

I find this note taking invaluable and will often also write the opening paragraph of the next chapter on screen ready for the next day. By writing down what happens next, I have a clear idea of what I’m going to write and throughout the rest of the day I can visualise it, often writing more notes covering the finer details along with scraps of dialogue.

Having a well-defined idea of what comes next ensures I don’t sit down and stare at a blank screen. The scene is already there, in my head and I can translate it straight to the screen without wasting time or getting in a flap – which I undoubtedly would!

At the end of the day comes the admin – catching up with emails, posting on social media and any other business. This all happens right up until bedtime. Weekends are when I write guest posts like this, update my blog, spend a bit longer on social media and generally collapse in a befuddled heap for a while.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I tend not to finish before 3pm as I have morning Pilates classes via Zoom – invaluable to counter all of those hours hunched over the keyboard – so they have to be factored into the schedule.

And that’s it. A typical day in my writing – a first draft – life!

I know it probably all comes across as pretty prescriptive, but it’s a routine that works for me and with two books being published a year, I need to stick to it in order to hit my deadlines. A strict routine like this wouldn’t work for everyone of course and at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you’re getting the words down. As long as the word count is rising, you can do it how you like, when you like and where you like. Not everyone thrives on the same set up but I feel comfortable and safe in my well-structured day. It took me a while to figure it out, but now I’ve found it, I’m sticking to it!

Anne: Thank you to Heidi for this informative and entertaining insight into her writing life.

You can read more about Heidi and about her latest book below. It’s called The Winter Garden and, as I said above, I thoroughly enjoyed this satisfying and so romantic story and the main characters, Freya and Finn are perfectly flawed and so likeable. It’s a perfect autumn/winter read.

From the back cover:

Freya Fuller is estranged from her parents and has been following her dream of becoming a gardener ever since. When an opportunity to design a winter garden opens up at a Victorian property in Nightingale Square, Freya jumps at the chance to make a fresh start.

But while the majority of the residents are welcoming, local artist Finn seems determined to shut her out, and when Freya’s family make a surprise appearance, it seems that her new life is about to come crashing down . . .

Buy Link:

You can buy The Winter Garden HERE

More about Heidi:

Although passionate about writing from an early age, Heidi Swain gained a degree in Literature, flirted briefly with a newspaper career, married and had two children before she plucked up the courage to join a creative writing class and take her literary ambitions seriously.

A lover of vintage paraphernalia and the odd bottle of fizz, she now writes feel good fiction with heart for Simon and Schuster.

Her debut novel, The Cherry Tree Café was published in July 2015 and since then she has had a further nine books published, becoming a Sunday Times Bestseller in 2017. She is currently looking forward to the release of her 2020 Christmas title, The Winter Garden.

Heidi is represented by Amanda Preston and lives in Norfolk with her family and a mischievous cat called Storm.

Heidi ONLINE:

You can connect with Heidi at the links below:

Website: HERE

Twitter: @Heidi_Swain

Facebook: Writer Heidi Jo Swain

Amazon: HERE

Publisher: https://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/

http://booksandthecity.co.uk/

A Life in a Day of a Writer: Author JJ Marsh @JJMarsh1 shares a typical writing day #writing #books #reading

Today it’s the turn of crime writer JJ Marsh to give us a glimpse into the sort of days that make up her life as a writer.

Jill’s latest book is The Woman in the Frame and it’s the 11th book in the utterly fabulous Beatrice Stubbs series – more about that below. But now over to Jill.

JJ Marsh’s Writing Life in a Day

Jill’s Writing Desk

Such a thing as a pure writing day always felt like a fantasy. Even though I only worked part time as an English teacher, I was also spending several days a week marketing, profile-raising, reviewing and writing articles for magazines on top of trying to write novels. Two years ago, my husband and I came to a decision. We both gave up our jobs to focus on making a success of my books. He took over the marketing, I backed out of all commitments other than my own work and threw all my energy into writing.

This gave me the gift of time. Few things are more precious and the onus was on me to use it wisely. As I type, I’m about to begin my sixteenth book, a figure I can scarcely believe myself. A quick check of my shelves verifies that assertion. By the end of 2020, I will have written and published four novels in one year. The first in the series took three years to write.

What changed? A few things.

Discipline: Without it, I could happily while away my days arguing with people on Twitter and drinking gin in the garden. That’s why I get up early, walk the pug, plan strategy with my husband over breakfast, do my daily exercise, spend an hour learning languages, then go upstairs to my study and start work. Seven days a week.

Experience: The characters in my series are so familiar; it feels like my job is stage manager. I prepare the set, arrange the props, let them out of their box and watch what happens. That means I spend mornings doing research or plotting or filling in an Excel sheet of character development. Mmm, those oh-so-sexy spreadsheets.

Focus. My writing has to support two people. That scary prospect showed me what I’m capable of when not being a lazy mare faffing about on Facebook. Afternoons are for writing, nothing else. I aim for 2-3k words per day. First I re-read yesterday’s work, edit out the ‘all’s* and write the next chapter.

Well, I say write …

Dictation: Old age, as my Nan used to say, don’t come alone. Hours at the keyboard gave me RSI in my shoulder and bursitis in my elbow. Dragon Dictation has made a huge difference to my productivity. Plus I can paint my nails at the same time which makes me feel ever so Barbara Cartland. The only downside is that the pug sleeps under my desk, which is why my manuscript is peppered with at least one extraneous ‘all’ (*pug snore) per sentence.

Narrative: As an ex-actor, director and ravenous reader, the structure of storytelling is hard-wired into my system. That said, I’ve still got a lot to learn. In the evenings, after I’ve shouted at the TV news, I read or listen to an audiobook, study a masterclass or watch a film. I’m obsessed with how people tell stories.

Anne: Thank you to Jill for this fascinating insight into her writing life. I must say I admire her work ethic and commitment. And I also must say if you haven’t read any of Jill’s books, you really should – because they’re just brilliant. The Beatrice Stubbs detective series is original, entertaining and always gripping.

You can read more about Jill and about the latest book in the Beatrice Stubbs series below. And isn’t that cover gorgeous?

Note from Jill: My most recent publication is The Woman in the Frame, book 11 in The Beatrice Stubbs Series. Each novel is a stand-alone read and this particular one was a long time coming. The story has been fermenting for years but I was always nervous of fictionalising certain people’s secrets. Still, they’re all dead now.

The Woman in the Frame

Crystalline Mediterranean waters lap the rocky northern coast of Mallorca, blessing the town of Deià with blood-orange sunsets, balmy night skies and the legacy of a poet. This former artists’ colony now attracts the rich and famous, looking to party in privacy. It’s the perfect place for a honeymoon until your morning coffee is interrupted by a dead body.

Who would want to murder the muse of a world-famous artist? Why would anyone slash his artworks, but only those depicting her unearthly beauty? Suspects are in abundance and the police want a quick solution.  Enter Beatrice Stubbs, private investigator, who never rejects a job if it involves good food and fine wine.

Meanwhile, Beatrice’s old friends Adrian and Will are babysitting. Adrian doesn’t mind because he quite likes this kid. Plus the dull practicalities of parenting might act as a reality check on Will’s fatherhood fantasies. Unless, of course, it has the opposite effect.

Beatrice and her assistant Theo must sift through the secrets of a small town with a big reputation. Someone – an esoteric church leader, a wild-eyed ex-muse, the woman who forgets nothing, the artist’s agent or that covetous neighbour – knows what really happened and why. But when locals and incomers point the finger at one another, how can Beatrice distinguish between lies, truth and artistic licence?

A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

“Sun, sand, sea … and cold-blooded murder. Addictive and emotive, this book will shake all your senses.” – Gillian E. Hamer, author of The Gold Detective Series

About JJ Marsh

Jill grew up in Wales, Africa and the Middle East, where her curiosity for culture took root and triggered an urge to write. After graduating in English Literature and Theatre Studies, she worked as an actor, teacher, writer, director, editor, journalist and cultural trainer all over Europe.

Now in Switzerland, she writes crime and literary fiction to entertain readers with enthralling stories and endearing characters.

Her Beatrice Stubbs crime series topped the Amazon best sellers in “International Mystery & Crime” in Australia, Canada, the UK and the US.

You can connect with Jill online at the links below:

Website: www.jjmarshauthor.com

Twitter: @JJMarsh1

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jjmarshauthor

BUY LINK:

You can buy Jill’s book HERE

A Life in a Day of a Writer: Author Jan Brigden @JanBrigden @TheRomaniacs shares a typical writing day #writing #books #reading

Today it’s the turn of contemporary romance author Jan Brigden to give us a glimpse into the sort of days that make up her life as a writer.

Her latest book is If I Ever Doubt You and you can find out more about it below.

Jan Brigden’s Writing Life in a Day

When I first started writing full time from home, I set myself various daily targets in the hope of mirroring the last office job I’d held.

Hope being the operative word.

So … At my desk by 8.30 in the morning. Write until 10.30. Half hour break to stretch my legs and catch up with emails/phone messages, etc. Resume writing until lunchtime, say 1pm. Lunch. Write from 2 until 4 with suitably-spaced leg-stretch breaks. 4-5pm catch up with social media. Finish at 5, ready to prepare dinner and enjoy the rest of the evening with husband Dave who usually comes in from work between 5 and 6pm or spend a few hours with friends/family depending on what I had planned.

It started well enough but I soon realised that I couldn’t write to order and was putting far too much pressure on myself to reach these daily self-imposed targets. I’d get frustrated if the muse didn’t strike and end up staring at a blank screen for ages trying to force the words to come. I’d then feel guilty if I hadn’t produced much and it would feel like a day wasted.

With time and experience and lots of advice and support from my fellow writers, some of whom to varying degrees had faced exactly the same thing, I totally changed my outlook and routine. Instead of sitting down regimentally each day, I’d go for a nice walk which I immediately found provided me with inspiration and clarity for whichever scene or chapter I was planning to write next. Instead of feeling sheepish that I was out walking or dancing in front of the TV in the lounge to one of my exercise DVDs, I realised this valuable time fired up my creativity and passion for my book. I also found that some days I’d fit more writing into a shorter space of time which would free me up for other pleasures such as reading other author’s books or indulging in anything mindfulness-related, be it books, audio or videos.

I no longer feel guilty if I’m not writing all day every day as taking time out benefits me. It was about trusting myself to let go and be more flexible. I’ve never been the quickest writer nor the most disciplined. It seems to come in fits and starts for me. I can become quite obsessive about it at times and leave it alone for days at other times.  I do have other personal family commitments, more so now, which I love and which aren’t an excuse, I’ve just accepted that as much as I love writing, it isn’t the most important thing in my life.  It’s one of them.

Anne: Thank you to Jan for this fascinating insight into her writing life. I must say I like the idea of trusting herself and being flexible in her approach to writing – seems like excellent advice to me.  You can read more about her and her latest book below.

Jan’s latest book 

 

 

From the back cover:

She might have scored a celebrity footballer, but the game isn’t over yet …

Rebecca Dunning should be blissfully happy – after a whirlwind weekend, she and top footballer Alex Heath are still going strong. But as the murkier side of the celebrity lifestyle reveals itself, so does the creeping doubt.

Rebecca finds herself isolated in the fake, flashy world of toxic WAG cliques and ruthless reporters, and when a mysterious online admirer follows Alex’s every move, she struggles to cope. Can she keep playing the media game for the man she loves, or will she have to admit defeat?

If I Ever Doubt You  is the stand-alone sequel to As Weekends Go

Buy link for e-book

Amazon

Buy link for audiobook

Amazon Audio

About Jan:

Jan lives in South East London with her husband and motley crew of cuddly toys. Jan’s written for pleasure from a young age; short stories for classmates, odes for workmates, fun quizzes for family and friends, progressing to the contemporary uplifting dramas she writes today.

The idea for her debut novel, As Weekends Go, sprang from a script she composed as part of a creative writing course assignment via The Writers Bureau. The novel went on to be published by award winning UK independent publishers Choc Lit after winning their Search for a Star competition.

Jan’s latest novel, If I Ever Doubt You, also published by Choc Lit, is the sequel to her debut.

An avid reader, reviewer and all round book devotee, Jan is also one eighth of online writing group The Romaniacs (www.theromaniacs.co.uk) who successfully self-published an anthology of short stories and flash fiction entitled ‘Romaniac Shorts: Fashionably Brief’.

Connect with Jan:

Twitter: @JanBrigden or @TheRomaniacs
Facebook: Jan Brigden – Writer
Blog:  https://janbrigden.wordpress.com/

Books of the Month, a Blog Tour, and a book festival appearance @LoveBooksGroup @Juleswake @Kathleen Jamie @PortyBookFest #reading #writing #romanticfiction #creativenonfiction

Two great reads to recommend in this post as well as a heads-up on part three of the blog tour for my own Skye series of novels, and news of my appearance at an upcoming book festival..

A mixed start to autumn

September has been a month of contrasts here in Scotland – some beautiful cool but sunny autumn days as well as some incredibly rainy and grey ones.

And as regards my social life it’s been a month of contrasts too.

I got to see friends I hadn’t seen since the start of the Covid lockdown, got out for a couple of lunches, had a couple of friends to the house, and had a lovely staycation week away in Argyll with family.

But then the Scottish government announced we’re back to partial lockdown and we can’t have friends or family to visit us at home or visit them in their homes.

However through all the ups and downs of the pandemic – one thing has remained constant. I continue to find much solace in reading.

And below I have my two of my favourite reads of the month to share with you.

September Books of the Month

First up is a beautiful non-fiction book of contemporary writing about the nature and landscape of Scotland. Antlers of Water is edited by Kathleen Jamie – a favourite writer of mine, and the contributing writers got me thinking even more than normal about our relationship as humans with the natural world.

From the backcover:

The first ever collection of contemporary Scottish writing on nature and landscape, Antlers of Water showcases the diversity and radicalism of new Scottish nature writing today.

Edited, curated and introduced by the award-winning Kathleen Jamie, and featuring prose, poetry and photography, this inspiring collection takes us from walking to wild swimming, from red deer to pigeons and wasps, from remote islands to back gardens.

With contributions from Amy Liptrot, Malachy Tallack, Chitra Ramaswamy, Jim Crumley, Amanda Thomson, Karine Polwart and many more, Antlers of Water urges us to renegotiate our relationship with the more-than-human world, in writing which is by turns celebratory, radical and political.

And second, is a contemporary romance – I know no surprises there – but what is surprising is I read this one in a day – something I’ve never done before. It was a wet Sunday, I wasn’t feeling energetic and the sofa beckoned. And wow! Just wow! The Saturday Morning Park Run by Jules Wake is a five out of five stars and is in line for my book of 2020.

From the back cover:

This is the story of two women.
One old, one young.
One looking for new adventures. One looking for a purpose.
Both needing a friend.

And this is how, along with two little girls in need of a family, a gorgeous stranger, and a scruffy dog, they bring the whole community together every Saturday morning for love, laughter and a little bit of running…(well, power walking).

Blog Tour for Fulfilment

As well as reading, I have of course spent much of the month writing. And after a couple of false starts I’m now underway with the first novel in my new series. However, that doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about the novels I already have out there. And I’m delighted that Fulfilment – the third and final part of my Rachel & Jack: Skye series is off on its blog tour this week – and as before the tour will include reviews and extracts.

This follows on from the recent tour weeks for the first two novels in the series – Displacement and Settlement. These proved very successful and got lots of interaction and sharing and I’m hopeful the same will be true for Fulfilment‘s trip out.

And I must say a huge thanks to Kelly at Love Books Group who organised the tours and to all the book bloggers who have taken part.

You can see below all the stops Fulfilment will be making on its tour – and as always I would appreciate it so much if you could visit, like and share some or any of them. Thank you.

Fulfilment Blog Tour September 2020

28th Sept            Review    Books ’n’ Banter            @AngiPlant        http://booknbanter.wordpress.com/

28th Sept            Review    Undiscovered Scotland              @UndisScot       https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk

29th Sept            Review     Vicky Book and Family               @Vickybooksandfamily                https://www.instagram.com/Vickybooksandfamily

30th Sept            Review    Book Loving Science Teacher   @book_loving_science_teacher                https://www.instagram.com/book_loving_science_teacher

1st Oct                Review     Portobello Book Blog  @portybelle       portobellobookblog.com

1st Oct                Review     The Book Reader         @the.b00kreader            https://www.instagram.com/the.b00kreader

2nd Oct              Review      Jessica Belmont           @jessicaxbelmont           Jessicabelmont.wordpress.com

3rd Oct               Review & Excerpt             Being Anne         @Williams13Anne           http://www.beinganne.com

3rd Oct               Review       Rajiv’s Reviews           @rajivsreviews https://www.rajivsreviews.com/

4th Oct               Review       Daisy Says     @daisyhollands       daisysays.co.uk

4th Oct               Excerpt       B for Book Review     @BookreviewB   https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

 

Portobello Book Festival

Oh, and before I go, just wanted to let you know that I’m delighted to be appearing at the Portobello Book Festival this Friday (2nd October) at 8pm. Portobello is a seaside area in the city of Edinburgh and has hosted its own live book festival for several years.

This year, of course, the festival is online and free to attend – so even if you can’t watch my session – where I will interviewed about my books – as it goes live on the 2nd – you can catch up any time online on YouTube later. You will be able to find my event by clicking on the link HERE any time after 8pm on the 2nd.

The festival runs from the 2nd to the 4th October 2020 and you see the full programme and timings HERE.

A Life in a Day of a Writer: Author Kate Field @katehaswords shares a typical writing day #writing #books #reading

Today it’s the turn of author Kate Field to give us a glimpse into her varied days as a writer. Kate writes wonderful contemporary women’s fiction. Her latest book is A Dozen Second Chances and you can find out more about it below. But first over to Kate to tell you about her writing life.

 Kate Field’s Writing Life in a Day

I love reading blogs about how other authors work, but admit that I’m often struck with a pang of envy over those brilliant writers who knock out several thousand words in one go – and that’s before breakfast. How on earth do they do it?

My writing days are very different. I don’t even have a typical day. I work part time in an office job, and rarely have the mental energy to write on those days. On my so-called ‘days off’, the hours whizz by in domestic activities, and, until recently, a 3 hour school run. Writing has to fit round real life in whatever spare hours I have. Sometimes I manage a few pages, sometimes a few lines. It all counts, and I don’t beat myself up if I have an unproductive day.

I don’t need much to be able to write: my only requirements are a pen (currently a Cross ballpoint pen given to me by a friend), an A4 notebook (I stockpile in the Paperchase sale) and peace and quiet. This last requirement has been hard to come by over the recent months of lockdown! My favourite place to write is the kitchen, as it’s bright and warm, and the hum of the fridge provides just the right pitch of background noise without being intrusive, but now the peace has been shattered by the sound of Zoom meetings echoing round the house and the constant boiling of the kettle. I haven’t had the house to myself since lockdown started, and I’ve found it hard to write at all.

I didn’t realise before I was published that there’s so much more to being a writer than putting words down on the page. On any particular day I might have to write a blog post, arrange a blog tour to promote a new book, design a graphic to use on social media, and keep my Twitter and Facebook profiles up to date. Multi-tasking is an essential skill. It’s quite normal to find that you’re writing one book, editing another and promoting a third, all at the same time. It can get very confusing!

The working day never ends for most writers; you can’t switch off the lights and close the door on your imagination. There are no weekends or holidays: I remember having to stop during a Swiss mountain hike a few years ago because I thought of the perfect words for Ethan’s declaration of love in The Man I Fell in Love With and had to write it down before I forgot. I love reading, but it’s hard to read a book without mentally dissecting the author’s skill in keeping the pages turning and playing with my emotions. I can’t watch television without being distracted by an interesting face that might inspire a character, a useful name in the credits, or by the thought, ‘what if X,Y and Z happened instead?’. Characters and conversations constantly run through my head, and they won’t go away!

In my most recent book, A Dozen Second Chances, I wrote the story of Eve, who takes the opportunity to change her life when her daughter leaves home. It’s a subject close to my heart, as I’ll have an empty nest soon too, and many more hours of my day to fill. Perhaps I can take the opportunity to change my writing life, and at last become one of those authors who write thousands of words before breakfast…

Anne: Thank you to Kate for this fascinating insight into the non-typical days of her writing life. You can read more about her and her latest book below.

A Dozen Second Chances

From the back cover:

What are the chances that twelve little tokens could change a life?

Seventeen years ago, Eve Roberts had the wonderful life she’d always dreamed of: a degree in archaeology, a gorgeous boyfriend, and exciting plans to travel the world with him, working on digs. But when her sister Faye died, the life Eve knew ended too. Faye’s daughter Caitlyn came to live with Eve, her boyfriend left, and she quickly gave up on her dreams.

Now approaching her fortieth birthday, Eve faces the prospect of an empty nest as Caitlyn is leaving home. Caitlyn gives Eve a set of twelve ‘Be Kind to Yourself’ vouchers, telling her that she has to start living for herself again, and that she should fill one in every time she does something to treat herself.

With her very first voucher, Eve’s life will change its course. But with eleven more vouchers to go, can Eve learn to put herself first and follow the dreams she’s kept secret for so long? Because life is for living – and as she well knows, it’s too short to waste even a moment…

Buy link: you can buy A Dozen Second Chances HERE

About Kate:

 Kate writes contemporary women’s fiction, mainly set in her favourite county of Lancashire,

where she lives with her husband, daughter and mischievous cat.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Kate’s debut novel, The Magic of Ramblings, won the RNA’s Joan Hessayon Award for new writers.

Kate’s social media links:

Twitter: @katehaswords

Facebook:  Kate Field Author

Settlement is on tour @LoveBooksGroup #books #reading #bookreviews #romanticfiction

 

Yes, this week it’s the turn of Settlement, the second book in my Rachel & Jack Skye series of novels to be out and about on a book blog tour. And I’d like to say a big thank you to Kelly lacey at Love Books Tours for organising it and of course huge thanks also to all the bloggers taking part.

So what is this book about and where can you read more about it?

 

From the back cover:

Can love truly heal old wounds?  Can the past ever be put peacefully to rest? 

Falling in love is the easy bit. Happy ever after requires work, commitment and honesty.

She wants him to be her friend and lover. He wants her as his wife. Can a compromise be reached? Or are things truly over between them?

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

But after Jack proposes marriage, it becomes clear they want different things.

Then, as Rachel prepares to return to the Middle East to work on a peace-making project that’s close to her heart, and as Jack’s past catches up with him, it seems their relationship is doomed.

Can Rachel compromise on her need to maintain her hard-won independence?

Can Jack survive the life-threatening situation in which he finds himself?

Will they get the chance to put things right between them?

If you like a complex, grown-up romance with lots of raw emotion, dramatic and exotic settings, all mixed in with some international politics and laced with elements of a crime thriller, then this is the book for you.

Settlement is the second of the three books in the Rachel & Jack: Skye Series, but it can be read as a stand-alone.

Stops on the blog tour:

14th Sept Review Daisy Says @daisyhollands
14th Sept Excerpt Orchard Book Club @OrchardBookClub
15th Sept Review Jane Hunt Writer @jolliffe03
15th Sept Review Portobello Book Blog @portybelle
16th Sept Review Reading Through the Lookinglass @readingthroughthelookinglass
16th Sept Review Book Loving Science Teacher @book_loving_science_teacher
17th Sept Review The Book Reader @the.b00kreader
17th Sept Review Rajiv’s Reviews @rajivsreviews
18th Sept Review Vicky Book and Family @Vickybooksandfamily
18th Sept Excerpt Book Reviews Today @valeriepenny
19th Sept Review Books ’n’ Banter @AngiPlant
19th Sept Review & Excerpt Being Anne @Williams13Anne
20th Sept Review Ceris Little Blog
20th Sept Review Jessica Belmont @jessicaxbelmont

I do hope readers will visit one or more of these blogs and see what the book bloggers have to say about Settlement and please do feel free to share.

A Life in a Day of a Writer: Author Darlene Foster @supermegawoman shares a typical writing day #writing #books #reading

Today it’s the turn of author Darlene Foster to give us a glimpse into the unpredictable and variety-filled days that make up her life as a writer. Darlene writes enthralling children’s adventure fiction. She also writes short stories and a wonderful blog with lots of posts and photos about her travels.

Her latest book is Amanda in Holland – Missing in Action and you can read more about it and how to preorder a copy at the end of this post. In the meantime you could get any of the earlier Amanda books for the upper primary/middle graders in your life. So, over to Darlene.

 Darlene Foster’s Writing Life in a Day

I will start by saying there is no such thing as a typical day in my life anymore. I worked for 48 years and my life was very structured. During the latter part of my working life, I decided to follow my dream of becoming a writer and made a vow to write for two hours a day, no matter what. And I did, usually in the evening after dinner while others watched TV. As a result, I wrote and published four books and several short stories.

Now I’m retired and live for the most part in sunny Spain. I seem to have rebelled against structure in my day, so I write whenever I find some time. I no longer write every day either, although I write most days. In the past five years since I retired, I have written four more books. So much for structure!

So here is a sort of typical day. I wake up at 7:30 and take my dog for a walk, which is a great way to start the day. While she is busy playing in the park with her doggie friends, chasing squirrels and trying to climb trees, I often think about the next chapter in my WIP or a short story, blog or travel article I’m working on. Hubby goes for coffee with his buddies and takes the dog along, while I have breakfast, throw in a load of wash and check emails and social media.

When they come home, we all go to the beach so the dog can have a run. Later we stop for a coffee at a beach café, where we meet interesting people from all over the world and where I get ideas for my stories, characters, names, sayings etc. It’s all part of my research.

I work on the computer in the afternoon which includes writing, blogging, marketing, researching, social media and answering emails, taking a break for a cold drink or an ice cream and reading on the terrace. In the hot summer months, I usually go for a dip in the pool to cool off, taking a book and a note pad along. I get good ideas at the pool, especially if there are kids there. Last summer I met the father of a child who told me he had a very real fish phobia. A what?? I had to give that to one of my characters in the Amanda in Malta book. Going to the pool is also part of my research. I sometimes sell books at the pool so it is also part of marketing.

Dinner is on our terrace overlooking an abandoned lemon and orange grove. We take the dog for her evening walk together. (Our day is planned around the dog as you can see.) I might watch TV with hubby, notepad near as I get ideas from TV shows too. Then I work on the computer for an hour or two as that is when my family and friends in Canada are awake and we connect on Skype, Facebook and Zoom. It’s also when I connect with my publisher in Canada as we discuss my next book, do editing, marketing and create covers.

This is a sort of typical day, but other days I meet with writers where we critique each other’s work and share ideas. I belong to three such groups in Spain and one in Canada, which we meet digitally. Other days we may go for a drive in the country and visit Spanish villages, castles or churches full of history and stories. And of course we travel to other countries where I collect ideas for future stories, when we are not experiencing a world-wide pandemic.

Am I happy? You bet I am! Not having to follow a strict schedule, (other than the dog’s), not having to rush to work, meetings and other obligations is wonderful. Will I retire from writing? Never. Why would I? What would I do if I stopped writing?

I shudder at the thought.

Anne: Thank you to Darlene for this fascinating insight into her writing life. I agree – I can’t imagine my life without writing. You can read more about Darlene and her latest book below.

About Darlene

Darlene Foster is a Canadian author who has written the popular Amanda Travels series, featuring a spunky twelve-year-old who loves to travel to unique places where she encounters mystery and adventure while learning about another culture. Readers of all ages enjoy travelling with Amanda as she unravels one mystery after another in various countries. Darlene has won prizes for her short stories and a number of them have been published in anthologies. She has also written a bi-lingual book for English/Spanish readers.

Darlene grew up on a ranch near Medicine Hat, Alberta, where her love of reading inspired her to travel the world and write stories. Over the years she held wonderful jobs such as an employment counsellor, ESL teacher, recruiter, and retail manager, and wrote whenever she had a few spare minutes. She is now retired and has a home in Spain where she writes full time. When not travelling, meeting interesting people, and collecting ideas for her books, she likes to spend time with her husband and entertaining dog, Dot.

Her books include: Amanda in Arabia: The Perfume Flask, Amanda in Spain: The Girl in The Painting, Amanda in England: The Missing Novel, Amanda in Alberta: The Writing on the Stone, Amanda on The Danube: The Sounds of Music, Amanda in New Mexico: Ghosts in the Wind, and Amanda in Holland: Missing in Action. Amanda in Malta: The Sleeping Lady will be released in the spring of 2021.

 Amanda in Holland-Missing in Action is Darlene’s latest book in the Amanda Travels series

From the back cover:

Alongside her best friend Leah, Amanda is in Holland to see all the sights: tulips, canals, Anne Frank House, windmills, and even a wooden shoe factory. She is also keen to find out what happened to her great uncle, who never returned from World War II. What she doesn’t expect is to find and fall in love with an abandoned puppy named Joey. While trying to find a home for him, she meets Jan, a Dutch boy who offers to help, a suspicious gardener, a strange woman on a bicycle, and an overprotective goose named Gerald. Follow intrepid traveler Amanda around Holland as she encounters danger and intrigue while trying to solve another mystery in a foreign country. 

Buy links

Amazon Canada here

Amazon UK here 

Amazon US here 

Barnes and Noble here

Waterstones here

Chapters/Indigo here

 

You can connect with Darlene on social media at the links below:

Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Instagram
LinkedIn
Goodreads

August Books of the Month and Blog Tour News @LoveBooksGroup #reading #writing #romanticfiction

I can’t believe we’re at the end of August and that autumn, my favourite season, is approaching. And as it’s the end of the month, it’s time for a roundup of my most enjoyed reads over the last thirty days.

But first I’ve also got a bit of news about my own books to share with you.

Book Blog tour

My three books in the Rachel & Jack Skye series are going off on a tour of some fabulous book blogs during September.

Each book will get a week to itself and the tour has been organised by the amazing Kelly at lovebooksgroup.com Thank you to Kelly and all the wonderful book bloggers who are taking part.

I hope readers of the blog will have the time and the inclination to visit some of these book blogs and to read not only the posts about my books but to have a wee bit of an explore of the blogs – and who knows – maybe discover some great new reads.

I’d also really appreciate it if readers could share some of the tour posts on social media too and help spread the word. Thank you in advance 😊

Displacement Tour this week

The tour for book 1 in the series, Displacement, starts today with two reviews – one from Book Loving Science Teacher on instagram here, one from Fany Reads English on Facebook here (just click on Displacement book cover when you get there to see review) and a guest post from me over at portobellobookblog.com website here. The tour continues every day this week and I’ll post links here on the blog each day for any readers who fancy visiting any of the tour sites.

Settlement and Fulfilment Tours

The tours for the other two books in the series will be in the week beginning the 14 September and week beginning 28th September. So watch this space for updates nearer the time.

***

August Books of the Month

I have four favourite books for the month of August to share with you.

A Summer to Remember in Herring Bay by Angela Britnell

Contemporary romance. Essy travels to England from her home in the USA – both for work and to dig into her family background – and she meets Ruan. A lovely story of romantic and family love.

From the back cover:

Essy Havers is good at finding things. Her company specialises in helping clients track down anything, from missing china pieces to rare vintage clothing. But now Essy has something more important to find: herself.
Essy has always been curious about her mother’s secret past and her Cornish roots. So, when the opportunity arises, she hops on a plane in Tennessee and ends up in Herring Bay in Cornwall; the village where her mother grew up.
But once there, she’s mystified by the reactions of the villagers when they realise who she is. Was Essy’s decision to visit Cornwall a mistake, or will it lead to a summer she’ll never forget?

Shadows on the Water by Jo Lambert

Contemporary romance. Alex and Ava have to overcome misunderstandings, betrayal and threats in this wonderful romantic tale.

From the back cover:

After the tragic death of her fiancé, Ava Warren is slowly rebuilding her life. She has a supportive family, great friends and a job she loves, managing holiday letting company Estuary Escapes in her home town of Kingswater. Another relationship is the last thing she wants or needs. Until one evening she meets Alex Penhaligon.

Alex has just returned home from California where he has been working for the past five years. A case of mistaken identity gets them off to a bad start. But discovering his error, Alex is anxious to make amends and soon persuades Ava that he’s not quite as arrogant as she thinks he is. As their friendship begins to turn into something much deeper, Ava wonders whether she can at last put the past behind her and make a new future with Alex.

But someone is watching. A man who not only thinks Ava should be his but also holds a long term grudge against Alex. And he’s determined to get his own way irrespective of the lengths he has to go to or who gets hurt in the process.

Set on the south coast of Cornwall, Shadows on the Water is a story of family ties, lost love and tangled loyalties.

The Life She Imagines by Maggie Christensen

Contemporary romance. This is book 5 in the Granite Springs series – you don’t have to have read the others to enjoy this book – but I recommend that you do. Marie and Drew get a second chance at love in this mid-life love story.

From the back cover:

Marie Cunningham’s life falls into disarray when she is suddenly thrust into caring for her teenage niece. After operating The Bean Sprout Café with her former partner, becoming a single parent is not a life she ever imagined.

Drew Hamilton has arrived in Granite Springs to take up the position of principal at the local high school. Recently divorced, he is struggling with the unfamiliar role of single father to his unsettled teenage daughter.

When an unexpected incident brings the two together, the chemistry between them is not immediately apparent. Forced to associate as their teenage charges become best friends, they gradually lower their defences to discover they have a lot in common.

But when a ghost from the past threatens to derail her new life, who should Marie turn to for support – the new man in her life, or the ex-partner who’s always been there for her?

Can Marie and Drew find their happy ending, or will the past threaten to pull them apart?

Meant to Be by Edie Claire

Contemporary romance. This came as a recommended read for me in one of the daily emails from the Bookbub reading website. It was published a few years ago and it was absolutely wonderful. The story of Fletcher and Meara is enchanting and heart-warming and is a frontrunner to be included in my books of the year.

From the back cover:

When nothing is as it seems, all you can do is trust your heart…

On the eve of her thirtieth birthday, Meara O’Rourke can’t help but feel alone. With her last remaining relative newly buried and her potentially disastrous engagement freshly broken, she makes a resolution to begin her life anew — only to have an unexpected phone call turn her whole world upside down. Her biological mother Sheila, whom she met only once six years before, lies in critical condition in a nearby hospital. And though the woman once refused to see her daughter ever again — her last wish is just the opposite.

A few whispered words, and Sheila is gone. But the questions she has put into her daughter’s head, and the historic stone inn she has unknowingly bequeathed, sweep Meara up into the whirlwind of another life — and a legacy of deception. When Meara begins to have memories of a place she’s never been, she realizes that while finding out the truth about her birth and adoption could answer all her questions, it could also tear her apart.

Apology Post

Just a quick apology to those of you who subscribe to this blog by email or who follow my blog announcements on Twitter.

That’s twice now I’ve been trying – and failed – to schedule upcoming posts and instead of scheduling them for a future date, which I can normally do no bother, they’ve published immediately – and I had to unpublish them as they were too early. WordPress – where this blog is hosted – has a recently gone over to a new way of working and I’m having a bit of a struggle with it. So sorry – will try harder in future.

So please, do ignore the last two notifications re new posts. These posts will now go live on 31st August and 7th September respectively – I hope!

Have a good weekend everyone.

A Life in a Day of a Writer: Author Olga Wojtas @OlgaWojtas shares a typical writing day #writing #books #reading

Photo by Antonia Reeve

Today it’s the turn of author Olga Wojtas to give us a glimpse into her life as a writer. Olga writes highly entertaining, clever and witty fiction.

Her latest book is Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Vampire Menace and you can read more about it and how to get a copy at the end of this post. So, over to Olga.

Olga Wojtas’s Writing Life in a Day

For years, I’ve gone to author events to discover the secret formula for a successful writing routine. And I’ve discovered there is no one-size-fits-all. We have different pressures and different commitments: whatever works for you is right, and don’t try to follow what other people do if it doesn’t suit you.

Anthony Trollope used to write from 5am till 8am before going to work as surveyor-general of the Post Office (where he invented the pillar box). Stephen King says you have to read and write for four to six hours every day (I’m guessing he has help with cooking, cleaning, shopping, childcare, etc). Ian McEwan says it’s a good day if he’s written several hundred words (which suggests he’s making reasonable money).

I first started writing seriously when I was working full time as a journalist. I joined an Edinburgh University evening class on short stories. We had to write a story a week as homework. I had a forty-five minute walk to and from the office and found myself making up the stories en route. I would try out bits of dialogue aloud, which led to other pedestrians giving me a very wide berth. And when I got home, I would work on developing what had been in my head, which could take me well into the night.

Now freelance, I’m spending much more time on my own writing, and have published two novels under my own name, as well as a series of cosy crime e-novellas under the name Helena Marchmont.  But my working pattern has been set. I can develop ideas on my laptop, but to get those ideas in the first place, I have to walk. The surroundings don’t matter, so I generally plod round the Edinburgh streets near my flat. I’ve occasionally gone up a hill on the basis that it’s good for me, but I’m back home before I realise I never looked at the view. And yes, I still talk to myself, and sometimes I cackle, and other pedestrians still give me a very wide berth.

I can walk at any time, but my laptop biorhythms only kick in late at night. I’m at my most productive after 11pm, often writing until around 4am, and when I’m on a deadline, I invariably end up pulling an all-nighter. Sadly, I never seem to get the chance to sleep until lunchtime – even under lockdown, there are things to do, people to see (either socially distanced or on Zoom) and I’m permanently sleep-deprived. I have a slight lower back problem which isn’t helped by sitting for lengthy periods, so I’ve invested in a standing desk (a fifty quid flat-pack, and hours of trauma as my husband and I struggled to put it together). At the beginning of a project, it looks great, with just the laptop on it. By the end, I can barely see the laptop for books, notebooks, scraps of paper with indecipherable scribbles, a coffee mug, and the occasional chocolate wrapper (I tend to need an energy boost around 2am).

I still write short stories, and during my walks, I’ll work out the shape that I want, the dialogue, that crucial first sentence, and that even more crucial last sentence. Sometimes by the time I get to the laptop, I’m effectively transcribing a complete story. But that’s impossible with a novella or novel, since my brain can’t cope with more than about two thousand words. So while I walk, I focus on a particular scene, and think that through. In my first novel, “Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar,” I began with three key scenes. I wrote them all separately, and didn’t even know what order they would appear in. They sparked off ideas for other scenes; gradually I began to work out a logical order, and then the task was to join them all up.

And that’s the way I still work, in bite-sized chunks. The main problem I’ve found post-C19 is remembering that my characters aren’t in lockdown and are allowed to shake hands and even hug. I keep thinking they shouldn’t be doing that, and they definitely shouldn’t be going into pubs.

Weird though my working practice is, I’ve found it impossible to change. And I can’t imagine not writing. For as long as I’m able to toddle round the block, I hope the ideas will keep coming, and I’ll keep tapping away at the laptop in the middle of the night.

Anne: Thank you to Olga for this fascinating insight into her rather unusual writing life. You can read more about her and her latest book below.

Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Vampire Menace

From the back cover:

The intrepid librarian Shona McMonagle, erstwhile Marcia Blaine Academy prefect and an accomplished linguist and martial artist, finds herself in an isolated French mountain village, Sans-Soleil, which has no sunlight because of its topography. It’s reeling from a spate of unexplained deaths, and Shona has once again travelled back in time to help out.

Forging an uneasy alliance with newly widowed Madeleine, Shona is soon drawn into a full-blown vampire hunt, involving several notable villagers, the world-renowned soprano Mary Garden – and even Count Dracula himself. Will Shona solve the mystery, secure justice for the murder victims and make it through a deathly denouement in the hall of mirrors to return to present-day Morningside Library?

Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Vampire Menace is available through all good bookshops; via Amazon and Kobo; and direct from the publisher Saraband here

About Olga:

Olga Wojtas is half-Scottish and half-Polish. A journalist, she has spent most of her life in Edinburgh, where she was born and brought up, but has also lived and worked in Aberdeen, Grenoble, Newcastle and Washington DC. She went to James Gillespie’s High School – the model for Marcia Blaine School for Girls, which appears in Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. This inspired Olga’s first novel, Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Golden Samovar, written thanks to a Scottish Book Trust New Writers Award, and published by Contraband. It was short-listed for the CrimeFest Last Laugh award and longlisted for the inaugural Comedy Women in Print award. Her second novel, Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Vampire Menace, published in February this year, was also longlisted for the CWIP award. Olga writes the Bunburry series of e-novellas, published by Bastei-Luebbe, under the name Helena Marchmont – Helena is her middle name, and she grew up in Marchmont Road in Edinburgh.

You can follow Olga on Twitter here @OlgaWojtas

and Facebook here @olgawojtaswriter