New Month, New Season, New Beginnings: A look forward and back #writing #reading @AngelaBritnell @portybelle

I like September. Here in the northern hemisphere it marks the start of autumn and autumn is most definitely my favourite time of year. I always enjoying going for a walk but autumn walks are the best.  I love the autumn colours of the leaves, the soft light, the cooler air. And who can resist tramping through those piles of falling leaves as if you were five years old again?

Writing News

I also find that a new month and a new season help me to focus on my writing plans as I tend to sketch out my aims and targets on a monthly and quarterly basis. It’s also a good time to reflect on what I achieved in my previous planning period(s).

Looking back

The looking back part has been particularly rewarding at this point as I achieved two things at the writing desk that I’m proud of.

Newsletter all set up

The first of those was getting my author newsletter set up – something that was a lot of hard work, a steep learning curve and something I’d wanted to do for a long time. So, isn’t this blog enough? I hear you ask. Why have a newsletter? Good questions. Responses below.

Well, firstly, no, the blog isn’t enough – much as I love it. It’s enough as far as fulfilling my aims in setting up. Those aims being to write about my recent reading and writing experiences and to share my reflections on those and occasionally other matters too. I see the blog as a sort of collection of magazine type articles and a chronicle of my life as a reader and writer.

Secondly, an author newsletter is a different thing. It is more specific and it is more tightly focussed. The audience consists of the readers of my books. The content is based on my books – the ones already published, the one I’m currently working on, and my future writing plans. Recipients of the newsletter get a free book on signing up, as well as ongoing occasional special offers, giveaways, sneak peeks into my work-in-progress. It’s a chance for me to get to know the readers of my contemporary romances and for them to get to know a bit more about me.

The newsletter is already proving to be a rewarding thing to do. It’s so good to have this direct link with my loyal audience and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.

If you haven’t signed up to get my monthly letter in your inbox and you’d like to, just click HERE and yes, you will be rewarded for doing so with a free book – a collection of some of my short romantic stories.

New Book

The second thing I’m proud of achieving recently is of course the publication of my latest romance novel, Baby Steps. It was my most successful launch to date, sales have been good and the feedback I’ve received has been great. Yeah! You can read what it’s about HERE and you can buy it HERE

You can also read a guest post I did on the wonderful Portybelle’s book blog HERE about how this latest novel took me surprise and wasn’t at all what I planned to write.

Looking Forward

New book, new series, lots of planning

I’m now busy writing the next book. As it’s the first in a completely new series set in the Scottish Borders, there’s been a lot of planning to do. I’ve had to map out a fictional farm, village and town. I’ve had to think about who will be the main characters in subsequent books in the series and there’s also been a fair bit of research to do as well.

But with that all done, I can now crack on with Happiness Cottage and to tell the story of Lori and Aidan.

Reading

As usual I’ve done a lot of reading in the last month – mostly romances and mostly very good reads. So as always it was difficult to choose one as book of the month. But I did it. No surprises that it was a romance novel. It was a perfect summer read.

Summer at Seaspray Cottage by Angela Britnell

What would you do if you inherited a Cornish cottage by the sea?
If you’re Thea Armitage, sell it as soon as possible. Whilst there’s no denying that Seaspray Cottage has its charm, it just holds too many bad memories for Thea to consider keeping it – although at least spending the summer preparing it for sale gives her a distraction from troubles back home in Tennessee.
What Thea didn’t count on was her worst Cornish memory moving in right next door. Local bad boy Harry Venton played no small part in Thea’s decision never to return to Cornwall twenty years before – and now he’s her neighbour! Could things get any worse?
Except Harry isn’t the boy he was, and as Thea comes to realise that her opinion of him was built on lies and misunderstandings, perhaps things will start looking up for her summer at Seaspray Cottage …

Reflecting

In a world that can sometimes seem rather bleak thank goodness for the escape provided by books. Happy reading everyone!

Your comments are welcome below. Feel free to share your own reading and writing reflections and to share this post.

Rights of Way – in Romance and in Life #newbooknews #romanticnovels #contemporaryromance #reading #writing

Falling in love can’t be planned but it also can’t be avoided

New Book News

Only two more weeks until Baby Steps is published and don’t you love that cover! You can find out more about the book later in this post – but first I wanted to share some thoughts I’ve been having about my writing as publication day draws near.

Writing Romance

I write romance novels. So, as per the rules of this genre my novels have two main characters who meet, overcome any obstacles there might be to them falling in love, and then they enter into a happy-ever-after relationship. I accept those rules as it’s what my readers expect.

However I don’t accept some other rules dished out to me in the past by publishers and literary agents. Rules that suggest readers of romance do not want to read about anyone over thirty falling in love – especially if that anyone is a woman. Or the rule that romance readers don’t want to read about ‘difficult subjects’ such as cancer, bereavement or human rights.

Not all romances have to be rom-coms

While I enjoy reading romantic comedies, I don’t believe, that all stories with a romance at their hearts have to be light-hearted. They can be dark, they can be serious, they can make you think. I’d go so far as to say that sometimes they should make you think and they should reflect real life.

So, while I stick to the conventions when writing my contemporary love stories I also like to include some challenging issues for my characters to deal with along the way.

Women’s Rights

And one of the main things I always ensure is that my female characters are no pushovers. For one thing, they not only show that while the road to true love rarely runs smoothly, it also isn’t closed to those older than thirty. They also stand up for themselves and they value their hard won equality. They seek out and follow their own paths through life, making the decisions that are right for them.

They have the right of way when it comes to living their life – in romance and in every other way.

In Baby Steps, my latest novel, the female main character, Sophie has to deal with is an unplanned pregnancy. Fortunately she has choices. Choices fought for and achieved by previous generations of women. She exercises those choices.

In a far from happy coincidence, as I write this post, the news has broken of the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse legislation giving women the right to abortion. I find this to be a sad, distressing and backward step. And along with other backward steps that are threatened for women’s rights here in the UK, I must admit to being concerned for the future rights of my daughter’s and granddaughters’ generations.

Not Helpless

But concerned as I am, I refuse to feel subdued or defeated. I may not be a political activist, I may only be one small voice, but I will continue to uphold women’s right of way in my conversations, in my writing and in my life in general. We can all fight back in our own ways.

Meanwhile in happier news …

And breathe. The good news is my above-mentioned new novel, Baby Steps will be released later this month. So not long to wait now. Here’s everything you need to know.

What is it about?

Estranged from her mother, cheated on by her ex and grieving the loss of her brother, emotionally distraught Sophie Campbell decides she needs to focus on her career as a researcher for a TV and radio broadcaster. What she doesn’t need is a man in her life. And as for marriage and children – definitely not.

Honourably discharged from the British army following life-changing injuries sustained while serving in Afghanistan, Steven Jackson is rehabilitated and embracing life to the full. Working as the manager of a support centre for military veterans brings him a great sense of pride and achievement. But he wants more. He wants to meet the love of his life, and to one day be a husband and father.

When Sophie and Steven meet through work, there’s an undeniable chemistry between the two thirty-somethings. But will Steven’s open, caring and patient ways be enough to break down Sophie’s barriers and allow a relationship to develop between them?

Set in the Scottish city of Glasgow, Baby Steps is a contemporary romance which tells a story of love against the odds.

**************

Baby Steps is a spin-off novel from Anne Stormont’s Skye Series of novels. Sophie is the daughter of Rachel one of the main characters in that series and features as a character in the supporting cast, as does Steven. However, Baby Steps can be read as a standalone.

When and where will it be available?

It will be published as an ebook and as a paperback on 18th July 2022. It will be available on Amazon or you can ask your local bookshop to order it in.

Want to Read the First Chapter of Baby Steps?

Subscribe to my newsletter – if you’ve not already done so – and as well as getting the free book of short stories that all my new subscribers get – you’ll also a sneak preview of the first chapter of Baby Steps in my next email. You can sign up here

As always, thank you for reading my post and please do feel free to leave a comment below.

Big Things On My Mind: The Comfort of Work and the other ‘Small’ Things. Plus Books of the Month for October 2021 #writing #reading #savingtheplanet @MaggieChriste33 @4victoriawalker @JulieCaplin @Heidi_Swain

Big Universal Things On My Mind

There’s a lot of important, difficult and sometimes scary stuff going on at the moment and I’m sure I’m not alone in being a bit preoccupied by it all – and in feeling rather helpless.  

There’s the fragile state of humanity’s existence if we don’t get our act together and make big positive steps to ensure our planet’s future. The COP26 – the 26th UN Conference of the Parties – began yesterday in Glasgow and will run for the next two weeks. As a Scot, I’m proud that it’s being hosted here, but as a citizen of planet Earth I am of course invested in there being positive outcomes from this conference and am desperately hoping it doesn’t just produce yet more hot air that our poor struggling world has to process. As lot of people do, I try to do my bit to live sustainably, but laudable and vital as our individual efforts are, it’s going to take a concerted national and international effort to save our beautiful wee planet.

There are the continuing challenges of the Covid pandemic with cases here in the UK continuing to rise and our health service under pressure before winter has even arrived. And more than that there’s the desperate need for the richer countries – UK included – to ensure that the world’s poorer countries can vaccinate their populations. In the meantime I will continue to be careful, to wear my mask and to get my booster vaccination when it’s offered.

And then there’s the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan. Again, while I can contribute at a personal level by donating money to a humanitarian charity, it needs the will, effort and action of governments to help ease the situation for all who are suffering there.

The Comfort of Work and the Small Things

However, I am grateful to have other things going on – things that yes, are distractions from the big stuff but are also way more than just that. These are the things that despite everything provide solace, a sense of purpose and a big dollop of joy. They are the things rooted in love.

There’s the joy of time spent with family and friends – something I’ve been doing a fair bit of lately, there’s the solace of a good book – see below for more about that, and then there’s my work as a writer.

I LOVE my job. I love that I can create and get totally absorbed in my imaginary world, that I can create interesting characters that I want to spend time with and get to know the places they live, work and play in.

Currently I’m busy ruthlessly redrafting my latest novel in preparation for it going off to my editor. I know I’ll miss spending time with this latest set of characters but I’ve already begun a new book and I can’t wait to give it my undivided attention. So yes, it’s looking like I’ll have two new books out in the first part of 2022. And that definitely makes my heart sing.

The Solace of Reading

Books of the Month for October 2021

A Mother’s Story by Maggie Christensen

This is a slight cheat as this latest novel by one of my favourite authors isn’t published until tomorrow (2nd November 2021). I was lucky enough to get a pre-publication copy and I’ve already reviewed it over on Goodreads – here’s what I wrote:

A wonderful emotional read.
Wow! As a long-time fan of Maggie Christensen’s romance novels I thought I knew what to expect when reading A Mother’s Story. I was wrong. This isn’t a romance. It’s a family saga but boy, is it packed full of love, emotion and drama.
The first chapter had me hooked and it was hard to put the book down. Don’t read this at bedtime if you want to get sleep early.
The book begins in World War Two and spans the following decades. It ranges from Scotland to Australia, runs along two timelines and tells the story of three women.
It’s a powerful tale of family love – especially the love between mothers and daughters – and it’s beautifully told.
As for the ending – well, all I’m going to say is it’s perfectly judged.

From the back cover:

A lost child. A mother’s grief. A daughter’s journey.

In Scotland, in1941, as WW2 increases in ferocity, Rhona Begg goes against her parents’ wishes and enlists in the ATS—a decision that brings with it heart-breaking consequences. After the war, weighed down with regret and grief, Rhona receives news that has the power to change her life.

Across the ocean in Australia, Nell Duncan worries about her husband who is fighting in the Far East. When she receives the dreaded news that he is missing in action, her world collapses. The end of the war brings changes to Nell’s life, but her dream of bearing a child is no longer possible and she grieves for what might have been.

In 1971, when Joy Baker gives birth to her daughter, she begins the journey to discover her ancestry. What she finds shocks her to the core and propels her on a journey to the land of her birth.

Three women. Three mothers. Three astonishing stories.

From wartime Scotland to present day Australia. A Mother’s Story is an emotion-filled sweeping family saga.

Snug in Iceland by Victoria Walker

From the back cover:

Rachel Richards is stuck in a rut. Her boyfriend Adam barely notices her most of the time and her life in London isn’t as exciting as it should be. When the company she works for, Snug, asks her to oversee the opening of a new store in Iceland, she jumps at the chance for a change of scenery. Exploring Reykjavik with the help of Icelandic tour guide Jonas, Rachel discovers that life is out there waiting to be lived. As she falls in love with Iceland, she begins to see what is important to her and wonders whether the life she left behind is what she wants after all…

The Cosy Cottage in Ireland by Julie Caplin

From the back cover:

Snuggle up in your favourite armchair and take a trip across the Irish sea for comfort food, cosy cottage nights and a heartwarming romance…

Talented lawyer Hannah Campbell wants a change in her workaholic Manchester life – so she books herself a place at the world-renowned Killorgally Cookery School in County Kerry. But on her first night In Ireland, sampling the delights of Dublin, Hannah can’t resist falling for the charms of handsome stranger Conor. It’s only when Hannah arrives at her postcard-pretty home at Killorgally for the next six weeks that she discovers what happens in Dublin doesn’t quite stay in Dublin…

Nestled amongst rolling green hills and breathtaking countryside, the cookery school throws Hannah and Conor together again–for better or worse.

Top of the to-be-read pile

Unlike with the books I’ve already read and enjoyed, I don’t normally share what I’m about to read but this month – whether you like it or not – I’m doing just that.

Like many keen readers I have a fairly substantial pile of to-be-read books and sometimes it can be difficult deciding what to read next. But at this time of year I do narrow the field and get cracking on lots of lovely, snuggly and romantic Christmas reads.  And I’ll be starting my festive reading season off with the latest novel from another of my favourite authors.

It’s called Underneath the Christmas Tree and is by Heidi Swain

From the back cover:

Wynter’s Trees is the home of Christmas. For the people of Wynmouth it’s where they get their family Christmas tree, and where Christmas truly comes to life.

But for Liza Wynter, it’s a millstone around her neck. It was her father’s pride and joy but now he’s gone, she can’t have anything to do with it. Until her father’s business partner decides to retire and she must go back to handle the transition to his son Ned.

When Liza arrives, she discovers a much-loved business that’s flourishing under Ned’s stewardship. And she’s happy to stay and help for the Christmas season, but then she has other plans. But will the place where she grew up make her change her mind? And can it weave its Christmas cheer around her heart…?

More Romantic Christmas Recommendations Next Time

Check back here at end of November/early December for more of my recommended yuletide reads.

What are your go to refuges when the problems of the world seem overwhelming?

Do you have pile of books waiting to be read? Do you like to read books that are linked to where we are in the year? What’s your favourite recent read? What do you plan to read next?

Please, do feel free to share in the comments below.