Monday, 20 November 2017

I know I say it a lot, but...

What a week! Even by my standards last week was really rather bonkers! Of course there's lots going on that I can't tell you about just yet, but it won't be long before I'm spilling the beans. I promise. A couple of standout moments from last week I can tell you about however, include the fabulous present I received from my editor, Emma Capron and the entire Books And The City Team...


Isn't it stunning? Needless to say it has pride of place on the wall opposite my writing spot along with a brand new polishing cloth. I still can't get used to being able to call myself a Sunday Times Best-selling Author but I'm working on it!

The end of the week was every bit as wonderful as the beginning as I (a little nervously) delivered my very first Writing A Novel workshop on Sunday at Gunton Hall Hotel in Lowestoft. It was a wonderful day which flew by and I was thrilled to hear the chatter and promises as the final session drew to a close that old projects were going to revived and finished and new ones started. It was wonderfully fulfilling to end the day knowing that the spark of creativity had been well and truly lit! Massive thanks to Suzan Collins for coordinating the entire event and encouraging me to take part.

Right, that's all the news for now, but do pop back later in the week as I'll have something even more exciting to share with you all. Wishing you all a wonderful book-filled week.

H x


Friday, 17 November 2017

Happy Book Birthday Mince Pies and Mistletoe!

I know! It's shocking isn't it? An entire year has skipped by since my first Christmas read, Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market was published and since then 2 more books have launched and I've become a Sunday Times Best-selling author. Sorry, I know you all know but the novelty still hasn't worn off. I don't think it ever will!


Anyway, I just wanted to take the opportunity to thank you all for continuing to journey to wonderful Wynbridge with me and let you know in the run up to Christmas I'm going to be sharing some incredibly exciting news. And lots of it!

Here's a link to Mince Pies and Mistletoe on Amazon if you were looking for a Christmas read packed full of festive feeling and community spirit!



Wishing you all a wonderful end to the week and an exciting weekend!

H x



Sunday, 5 November 2017

Welcoming Carol Hedges

Today I am delighted to welcome Carol Hedges to the blog to share her where do you get your ideas from post and treat us all to a few moments of marvelous time travel...


My special place is St Pancras Station in London. It is the starting point for my research for all the Victorian Detective books, as it is where the train from Harpenden, my town deposits me whenever I visit London to walk the streets and take myself on another journey: back into the past to imagine what life was like back in the 1860s.

The actual station was built later than the 1860s, and has now been beautifully refurbished inside, but it still bears evidence in the arched roof and the Gothic exterior, of the wonderful craftsmanship of the Victorians. Who else would go to such trouble to build a train station?


Every time I alight from the train, I always go for a walk round ~ not to visit the shops or grab a coffee, but to look up and imagine how exciting it must have been for the original travellers as they entered the smoky atrium, and saw the line of shining engines waiting for people to board. In an age when the fastest means of travel was by horse (and in an overcrowded city like London that wasn't fast at all) to be whisked away at anything from 30 to 60 miles an hour must have been breathtaking and truly terrifying.


From St Pancras Station, I can walk to the great Georgian and Victorian squares that fan off from each other and provide the location for so many of my books. I always take my camera, and one of my pictures of Russell Square actually appears as the cover background to Rack & Ruin.From the top of a double-decker bus, I can observe the tops of the buildings, that still retain their original features, even though their ground floors have all been modernised.

It was on one of my visits to London that I came up with the original idea of writing a historical crime novel ~prior to that, I'd only written teenage fiction.I always loved the Victorian period, and writers like Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins. Walking through the station, I was struck with the thought: could I write a book featuring people who lived in their time? Could I fill pages with noblemen and thieves and women in crinolines? By the time I'd reached the exit, I had my answer: Yes, I could. And I would! And five books later, I am still inspired and still writing them!


St Pancras Station is the beginning of my research, and the end ~ and as the train whisks me away, at speeds scarcely imagined by the characters in my books, or their real contemporaries, I can sit back and see them, in my minds-eye, going about their lawful (and unlawful) business in the smokey, dirty, gas-lit streets of  'Babylondon'.

Author Bio



Carol Hedges is the successful UK writer of 17 books for Teenagers/Young Adults and Adults. Her writing has received much critical acclaim, and her novel Jigsaw was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal.

Her ebook Jigsaw Pieces, which deals unflinchingly with many of the problems that beset today's teens, is available on Amazon as is her Dystopic Fantasy The Last Virus

Carol is also the writer of 'The Victorian Detectives' ~ a series of novels set in 1860s London and featuring Detective Inspector Leo Stride and his side-kick Detective Sergeant Jack Cully.

The five books in the series are:

Diamonds & Dust
Honour & Obey
Death & Dominion
Rack & Ruin
Wonders & Wickedness



Meet Carol online

Amazon Author page: amazon.co.uk/Carol-Hedges/e…

Twitter: @carolJhedges


Wednesday, 1 November 2017

Sunday Times Best-selling Author

So did you hear the news? I'm sure you must have done by now! I've been shouting long and loud on all my social media accounts and so many of you have been in touch to say congratulations that I can't imagine there's anyone left to tell, but just in case...

Yesterday, October 31st, was no ordinary Tuesday. Not only did I get to meet Nigella Lawson, who I have to tell you, is every bit as gorgeous in real life as she is on the TV, but I also received the most thrilling telephone call of my career so far.


There I am, drinking tea with my good friend Auntie B in the Norwich Virgin Lounge, when my phone starts pinging and vibrating and about a dozen messages and emails land all at once, most telling me to call Emma, my editor and the rest warning that under no circumstances am I allowed to look on social media.

I had planned to wait until I reached the calm sanctuary of home to make the call, but in truth only made it as far as the park and ride car park where I discovered, while sitting in my far from glamorous ancient Fiat Panda that I could now call myself a Sunday Times Best-selling Author!

Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells had flown from the number 13 spot (which I was already thrilled with), to the heady heights of number 5!


As you can imagine, much squealing and gasping ensued and the drive home was heady, to say the least. Further phone calls when I crossed the threshold confirmed that it was really happening and my lovely agent, Amanda, was as every bit as excited as I was.

So there, you have it - a dream come true on what turned out to be a far from ordinary Tuesday! I'm not sure where I'll go from here. Milly Johnson has suggested setting my sights on the number 1 spot and I have to say, I'm finally beginning to realise that you should never say never! What I do still say however, is that if you fabulous folk weren't going out and buying this book which I love so much, I wouldn't be anywhere near half as happy as I am right now, so thank you all. Thank you all very, very much!

H x

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Welcoming Sonja Price

Today I am delighted to welcome Sonja Price to the blog for the first time. Sonja has written a beautiful, inspirational and thought provoking post all about creating contrast in your story.


What does a writer get when they take two places and contrast them? A double-whammy of a setting and a great foundation for a story. In my novel THE GIANTS LOOK DOWN Jaya, a Hindu girl from Kashmir, wants to become a doctor much to the chagrin of her mother and the patriarchal society of 1960s. Halfway through the story a catastrophe befalls her and she is transplanted to Scotland.

With its rugged coastline, highlands, gentle mountains, lochs and the towering castle of Edinburgh, Scotland has always exerted a magnetic force on me. Often dismal and grey and surrounded by slatey sea, it is, however, always atmospheric. What might contrast suitably with this, I asked myself? Why, the Vale of Kashmir- a landlocked paradise on the other side of the globe bursting with colour and flowers overlooked by the highest mountains on this planet! Yet on closer inspection, the two proved not as different as I thought. Pictures of purple saffron-filled fields competed with the heather-swathed highlands and lochs were mirrored in the necklace of lakes that spans the vale.


My Kashmiri protagonist must have found Scotland initially grey and colourless, considering the weather, the different flora, the buildings and what people wore. As a vegetarian, she missed the exotic fruit and veg she found at the floating market in Srinagar or on the sweltering streets of Delhi. In place of the scent of lotus blossoms, she could smell sea air or heather. Scotland, often whipped by a bracing wind due to its coastline and a damp cold that defies all clothing and bores its way through to your bones, would be a shock to someone used to the dryness of more extreme winters and the protection of the majestic mountain ranges. Their soaring peaks lent my book the title: THE GIANTS LOOK DOWN.


At barely 16, Jaya would indeed experience a real culture shock. What would a Hindu, who worshipped thousands if not tens of thousands of colourful gods, make of a vicar talking of one God and damnation in a Church of Scotland founded on Calvinist and Presbyterian traditions? Yet in her homeland religion was also a knife used by Pakistan, India and China to cut up a veritable paradise on Earth. Kashmir, once an independent state, has had to bow to the British, the Indians and the Pakistanis. There have been two wars fought over it since Partition and the Vale is now part of India despite being predominantly Muslim. Jaya was used to curfews and a place scarred by warfare, whereas Scotland was peaceful albeit regular mumblings of referendums on independence.

Jaya’s reaction to the settings gives the readers an insight into her character and is a powerful motor for my story of displacement, determination and love. A girl who had never been alone in a room with a man apart from family members had to deal with the attentions of the handsome but older son of the family she is staying with. Was she ultimately able to navigate the rapids of love in a foreign culture and conquer the trauma of her own past? Did she have to give up love to fulfil her vision of becoming a doctor in Kashmir and building a clinic high up in the mountains? Well if you want to find out that, you’ll have to read the book!

Author Bio

I live in Somerset but am always hopping on and off planes because I teach English at Jena University in Germany. I studied at the University of East Anglia and completed a PhD in English Literature. I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and my short stories have appeared in Stories For Homes, the Shelter Anthology of Short Stories and In these Tangles, Beauty Lies, an anthology in aid of the Beanstalk Trust for children with reading difficulties. My debut novel The Giants Look Down came out in 2016 and made me a finalist for the Joan Hessayon Award just like Heidi!

Links

Website:                      www.sonja-price.com

Twitter:                       @PriceSonja

Facebook:                   Sonja Price Author


You can find THE GIANTS LOOK DOWN as a paperback or e-book on:


Thursday, 26 October 2017

Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells paperback celebration!

As anyone who chats with me on social media no doubt knows, yesterday ended with a very big celebration and I wanted to take this post-fizz filled opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has ordered or popped a paperback copy of Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at The Christmas Fair into their trolley and shot it to the...

 number 13 spot in the Fiction Paperback Chart!

Even now, all these hours after first hearing the news, I'm still having trouble expressing my excitement, although not my gratitude. Thank you all for continuing to love Wynbridge as much as I do and making my dream come true!


H x


Sunday, 22 October 2017

Juliet Greenwood - beautiful Brondanw

Today I am delighted to welcome Juliet Greenwood to share her wonderful 'where do you get your ideas from' post with us. The journey Juliet took was both inspirational and life changing. I hope you enjoy reading about it.


The place I went to was one I’d passed by all my life, but never thought to go in. When I did, it changed my life.

The place is Brondanw Gardens, in Snowdonia, North Wales, created by architect Clough Williams Ellis, who built the Italianate village of Portmerion. It has all of Portmeirion’s quirky charm, eccentricity and love of life, with just a tinge of melancholy.


Brondanw is both a garden and a wilderness. It was the wilderness I found first. I was driving home from a weekend with my dad. It was becoming clear that, at nearly ninety, he was becoming too frail to cope in the home he loved and which held all the memories of over sixty years of life with my mum. It had been an emotionally draining few days, not only coping with his distress, but also knowing this was the end of an era, the real end of childhood, when we, the children, were becoming the parents.

By the time I got to the turnoff to Plas Brondanw, I was tired, and needed a rest before tackling the winding road up past Snowdon, not to mention regaining my sense of myself before launching back into daily life. I took the turn-off into beech trees, and there it was. It was just a small wilderness of trees, quirky little gates, ponds and follies, including the ‘ruin’ of a castle on the hill. There was something about it, that autumn afternoon, an atmosphere that held me in its spell. I still get that same feeling when I visit it now. It’s hard to explain, but it’s definitely there.


It was as I was standing among the trees that the idea came into my head of a lost garden, peopled by mysterious statues, and the story of the woman who created them. It was the story that eventually became the timeshift ‘Eden’s Garden’, my first novel published by Honno Press. From then on, I always stopped to visit the wilderness on my way back from visiting my dad, and, after his death, visiting family.


I also got to visit the formal Gardens, which are created in the grounds of Clough Williams Ellis’ home, and where I took the publicity photos for ‘Eden’s Garden’. The gardens have the same eccentric touches as Portmeirion, with odd little statues in unexpected places among the flower bed, the kind that just have to make you smile.

 Brondanw Gardens helped me through a difficult time, and also became the starting point for my journey as a novelist. The rest of the research for my books was a road trip around Cornwall – but that’s a different story!

Author bio...


Juliet is the author of three novels published by Honno Press. The first, ‘Eden’s Garden’, was a finalist for ‘The People’s Book Prize’, and the second, ‘We That are Left’, was completed with the aid of a Literature Wales Writer’s Bursary. Both reached the top #5 in the UK Amazon kindle store. Her latest novel, ‘The White Camellia’, is set in Edwardian Cornwall, complete with a crumbling mansion, a goldmine with a dark secret, and a long-running family feud. Gardens still somehow find their way into every book, and have quite taken over the one she is writing now …
Links:


‘The White Camellia’, Honno Press, 2016


‘We That Are Left’, Honno Press, 2014


‘Eden’s Garden’, Honno Press, 2012