Sunday, 17 September 2017

Jane Cable - Studland


Today Jane Cable writes about how a day trip to the village sparked her latest novel, Another You.

It’s 3rd September 2010 and I am sitting in my mid-life crisis soft top Saab with my friend J, waiting for the ferry from Sandbanks to Studland. I’m worried I’ll be sick. He tells me it only takes five minutes. 
This summer I have been to many places with J as he recovers from a major breakdown. What I don’t know at 9.30 is that today will be the first day I’ll feel I have my old friend back, and that our destination will spark what will eventually become my first traditionally published novel.

For those who don’t know the Dorset coast, the short ferry ride from the swanky hotels and apartments of Sandbanks takes you not only across the mouth of Poole Harbour but into another world. The Studland peninsular is a strip of heathland with a single road running through it and bordered by sandy beaches which end in the crook of Old Harry’s arm. Cared for by the National Trust it is a nature-lover’s paradise with a very special history too.

On that September morning we drove straight to the village and parked next to the pub before walking along a grassy path towards the sea. The view was breath-taking, yachts bobbed in a sheltered bay, the bluest of seas lapping against the massive chalk cliffs rising to its right. To my absolute amazement, parakeets darted from the trees above our heads.

We didn’t go down to the beach straight away but headed for a concrete blockhouse called Fort Henry and J told me that Churchill, Eisenhower and King George had watched the rehearsals for D-Day from there. It was the first time I’d heard of Exercise Smash, which would become so central to Another You.
What inspired me that day though was the sheltered shoreline with its higgledy-piggledy row of beach huts. A while afterwards I wrote a short story about a group of teenagers whose barbecue turned decidedly ghostly but it was only when my mother told me I had the opening of a novel that I began to research the area further.

First and foremost I am an author inspired by place, but for a story to gel and take off I need another idea to collide with it. At the time I was already writing The Faerie Tree (inspired by a real tree on the banks of the river Hamble) so I set Studland to one side. Then my husband bought me a book of true ghost stories, and one of the hauntings happened in the village. I started to research the history of place and very soon Exercise Smash and the tragedy which came of it leapt to the fore.

I went back to Studland again and again to research the area more closely. I walked where my character Marie walks, returning to my car to take copious notes. I sat in the pub garden and imagined what it would be like for her to live and work there. I dreamt of the secret life of beach huts, and what could happen behind their closed doors and spent hours in contemplation at the small memorial to the men who lost their lives. Most importantly I went back there on the 70th anniversary of their death and met John Pearson, WW2 historian and tank restorer who knew everything and more about Exercise Smash.

The result was a novel so grounded in Studland that many readers have told me it makes them want to go there. One of my proudest moments was when the manager of the local National Trust shop told me that I’d captured the area perfectly. Because I write romance with a strong element of mystery – and even a little ghostliness –  grounding the story firmly in a real place helps me to make it powerfully believable.

STOP PRESS: Jane Cable has teamed up with the National Trust to organise a day of talks, walks and displays about Studland’s wartime history. Dive into D-Day is a free event on Sunday 1st October. For more details visit Jane or the National Trust’s website.

About Jane

Jane Cable is a writer of romance with a twist of suspense in a beautiful British setting. Her first novel, The Cheesemaker’s House, was a finalist in The Alan Titchmarsh Show’s People’s Novelist competition and won the inaugural Words for the Wounded independent novel of the year prize. Another You is published by Endeavour Press and tells how chance meetings around the sixtieth anniversary of D-Day have the power to change downtrodden Marie’s life forever.

Twitter: @JaneCable

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Morton Gray - Ideas from all over the place!

Today I am delighted to welcome Morton Gray to the blog to talk about where her ideas come from. Thank you Morton, for this eclectic mix!

Ideas come from everywhere and anywhere. I’ve learned over the years that I can’t force or manufacture them, I almost have to wait for them to find me.

Heidi asked me to talk about a trip I’ve taken that inspired ideas, but I’m going to cheat and talk about several different sources. Shhhh don’t tell her…

Surprisingly, the place I’m most likely to find ideas is in the shower! I think I’ve had more ideas come to me there than anywhere – it’s my own personal Tardis.

The second most likely place for ideas to lurk is in coffee shops. I write here most often, when I’m working on a first drafts. Ideas can come from overheard conversations, or just appear as I’m sipping my skinny flat white.

Sometimes I feel quite naughty when scribbling down an idea. I once copied down almost verbatim a telephone conversation I heard in an airport lounge. The man was arguing with a relative about his father’s will and was shouting into his mobile, so it was impossible not to overhear. I would never use it verbatim you understand, but the snippet might be useful for something in the future. A bit like the pictures from magazines and the family history articles I salt away for possible use.

Memorial benches can be good for evoking ideas and names. I have been known to sit quietly on a bench after reading the inscription and allow a story to form in my mind. One particular bench at Witley Court in Worcestershire, a ruined stately home run by English Heritage, was the catalyst for the whole of the novel, currently untitled, that will be published by Choc Lit in 2018. The story has now changed a lot since the first draft, but it began on that bench at Witley.

I think I can safely say, that ideas appear everywhere I go, I have far more ideas already than I can ever use for novels. My debut novel The Girl on the Beach was inspired by an art competition at my son’s school, combined with two newspaper articles I read days apart.

“The Girl on the Beach” by Morton S. Gray

Who is Harry Dixon?

When Ellie Golden meets Harry Dixon, she can’t help but feel she recognises him from somewhere. But when she finally realises who he is, she can’t believe it – because the man she met on the beach all those years before wasn’t called Harry Dixon. And, what’s more, that man is dead.

For a woman trying to outrun her troubled past and protect her son, Harry’s presence is deeply unsettling – and even more disconcerting than coming face to face with a dead man, is the fact that Harry seems to have no recollection of ever having met Ellie before. At least that’s what he says …

But perhaps Harry isn’t the person Ellie should be worried about. Because there’s a far more dangerous figure from the past lurking just outside of the new life she has built for herself, biding his time, just waiting to strike.

Morton lives with her husband, two sons and Lily, the tiny white dog, in Worcestershire, U.K.

She has been reading and writing fiction for as long as she can remember, penning her first attempt at a novel aged fourteen. As with many authors, life got in the way of writing for many years until she won a short story competition in 2006 and the spark was well and truly reignited.

She studied creative writing with the Open College of the Arts and joined the Romantic Novelists’ New Writers’ Scheme in 2012.

After shortlisting in several first chapter competitions, she won The Choc Lit Publishing Search for a Star competition in 2016 with her contemporary romantic suspense novel The Girl on the Beach.

Previous 'incarnations' were in committee services, staff development and training. Morton has a Business Studies degree and is a fully qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Reiki Master. She also has diplomas in Tuina Acupressure Massage and Energy Field Therapy.

She enjoys crafts, history and loves tracing family trees. Having a hunger for learning new things is a bonus for the research behind her books.

Facebook Page – Morton S. Gray Author -

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Jessica Bell - beautiful Donaghadee

Today I am delighted to welcome book blogger, Jessica Bell, to the blog to tell us all about why one place in particular is very close to her heart and how it has become her go-to reading spot.

There is a place that holds a special place in my heart and gives me so much inspiration and that is my lovely hometown of Donaghadee, Northern Ireland.

Donaghadee is well known for its harbour and has quite the history, the lifeboat station was founded in 1910, and is one of the most important on the Irish coast. RNLB Sir Samuel Kelly (ON 885) is a famous lifeboat once based in Donaghadee and now on show and preserved at the harbour for her gallant efforts over 50 years ago. On 31 January 1953 the lifeboat rescued 32 survivors in the Irish Sea from the stricken Larne–Stranraer car ferry, MV Princess Victoria.

It was on that very harbour that I gained my love of reading.

From I was a young teenage girl I spent summer after summer going through book after book whilst enjoying the stunning views. I must of got through a book a day.

Reading is now a big part of my life and I have a huge passion for it, you will always find me curled up with a book and a cup of coffee and I believe this is down to the amount of time I spent down at the harbour reading.

Even now I have kids I still manage to visit the harbour every day taking the kids walking and they love it as much as me, or at night escaping for a few minutes peace with my kindle. It is so pretty all lit up at night.

Reading here makes me happy and it has made me appreciate the different little villages and locations that I love to read about.

It is just a beautiful, peaceful spot with the iconic views of the lighthouse and lifeboat, that you could spend so much time at.  There is always someone out taking a photograph.

Join Jessica on her blog

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Book bargain update!

Did you know that you can now download Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage for just 99p? I know! Not only are both The Cherry Tree Cafe and Summer at Skylark Farm less than £1, my latest book is also joining in the book bargain extravaganza. That's 3 books for less than  £3!

Wishing you all a wonderful trip to Wynbridge folks and squeezing in a quick but massive thank you to everyone who has read and reviewed so far! Those reviews makes us authors and our agents and publishers very happy indeed.

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Tara Lyons - A lakeside escape

Today I am delighted to welcome lovely Tara Lyons to the blog to tell us all about how a weekend away with the girls provided the unexpected inspiration to expand her writing horizons.

Each year, my girlfriends and I go on a weekend away. At one point or another in the last ten years, we’ve all worked with each other, but with retirement, redundancy and new jobs, we’re now all doing something different. So, we make sure that the eight of us get our girls weekend away every year. We’ve planned Ireland for next year, it was Brighton this year and last year was the beautiful Ambleside in the Lake District.

When we went away last October, I hadn’t envisioned I’d be inspired to write the third book in my DI Hamilton series. I mean, it’s set in London, for one thing. But also, it was just my usually once a year getaway with the girls; letting our hair down, catching up and chilling out. So, I was quite surprised when four of us decided to take an early boat trip out around the lake. 

Ambleside is a beautiful part of the country, and we were very lucky with the weather in October. There was no rain, but it was fresh. The leaves crunched under our feet as we walked towards the jetty and the air had that coolness about it – you know, when you inhale it deeply and feel it in your lungs. The sea breeze strokes your face and you just feel alive. It’s not a feeling I get very often living in a busy and crowded London.

The guy at the ticket office explained we could spend about forty-five minutes on the boat, just taking a tour, or we could choose to get off at one stop and jump on a later boat. We decided on the tour – we had a spa afternoon booked in also, you understand – and we set off, sitting up front. I’m definitely one of those people who are calmed by the sea and love any kind of boat trips. The scenery surrounding the lake is absorbing, and I guess I’ve always found it quite romantic and beautiful. But, on that day, I saw something different.

As the boat approached its first stop across the lake, I saw the mystery behind the beauty. The way a huge tree blocked our vision of the island and how its gigantic branches hung low, almost touching the lake. The weather-beaten boat house and rusty chains dangling from the jetty into the murky water. I was looking at Ambleside with my author’s eyes and had been inspired for a story. 

During the boat trip, I snapped a variety of scenes from different angles, concentrating on the trees and old boat house we’d stopped at. Then, when I returned home, I was still occupied with book two in the series, but I didn’t want to lose the momentum from my weekend away. I created a folder on my laptop, named inspirational photographs, and filled it with all the different ones I’d taken of Ambleside, the lake and during our visit into the small town of Keswick. I didn’t have the story in my mind, but I knew these images were my starting point.

Once I’d completed No Safe Home, I moved on to planning book three and how I’d get my London based detective, Denis Hamilton, to Ambleside. And so, his mother’s story was created: Philippa retired to the Lake District and runs a small tea shop. Denis and his wife were enjoying a long weekend there when he stumbled across a murder scene at the very boat house I’d visited. The fact I had taken the trip with my friends seemed to be the perfect base for my next story and so Deadly Friendship, book three in the series, was published in July. 

Product Details

Author bio 

Tara is a crime/psychological thriller author from London, UK. Turning 30 in 2015 propelled her to fulfil her lifelong dream of becoming a writer. In the Shadows is Tara's debut solo novel published in March 2016. She co-wrote The Caller and Web of Deceit: A DI Sally Parker novella with New York Times bestselling author, M.A Comley.

In August 2016 Tara signed a two-book contract with Bloodhound Books. The third book in the DI Hamilton series, Deadly Friendship, was published in January 2017.

When she's not writing, Tara can be found at a local Wacky Warehouse stuck in the ball-pit with her young, energetic son. 

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Monday, 21 August 2017

Happy Publication Day Christie Barlow

Today I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Christie Barlow to my blog and as today is her publication day I invite you all to raise a glass and toast her success. Welcome Christie! Do please tell us all about your latest book, The Cosy Canal Boat Dream!

Thank you Heidi, for inviting me onto your blog!

 I am super excited it’s publication day for The Cosy Canal Boat Dream. I'm sure a lot of my author buddies will agree with me on this, but as authors, we are known to have ideas stewing in our minds longer than Brussel sprouts at Christmas, when in actual fact; all we want to do is shout about our new books!

My new book The Cosy Canal Boat Dream is a pretty special one as it will be my first published novel with Harper Impulse! How exciting! Well, and slightly nerve-wracking! That’s normal though, right? For this book, my inspiration was right under my nose - believe it or not! When I say under my nose, I also mean under Woody’s (my cocker-spaniel) nose.

Every day prior to the book idea, my sidekick and I would go on a walk route Barton marina which has this beautiful, old picture house and a rather mouth-watering deli. And, if that wasn’t enough, the marina is even a home to multiple craft shops. It didn’t take me long to link Barton marina with the deli and old picture house in a storyline capacity. After all, with such beautiful views, stunning buildings, and wonderful smelling food to drool over; I would be doing the marina a disservice by NOT using it as my inspiration for my new book.

Clearly I don’t want to give any parts of the storyline away, but, I can mention the main character, Nell and what inspired me to shape her character. You may have seen multiple posts online about women empowerment, yes? When I came to create Nell’s personality, I took my inspiration from women icons such as ‘Jane Eyre,' the suffragette movement, and the inspirational women who are in my life. When you read the book, you’ll find out more about Nell, her backstory, and what shaped her as a person. Just like my other characters from my previous novels, I aim to build their lives with my own personal experiences in mind, and I feel that it’s important to be able to relate to who I am writing about. You never know, you may find that Nell, or any of the other characters from, The Cosy Canal Boat Dream, might end up being and inspirational role model for yourself!

The Cosy Canal Boat Dream is out today - here’s the blurb:

Welcome to the Little Rock marina – where hearts are healed and dreams are made…

For the last two years Nell Andrews has been struggling to stay afloat. As her life tumbled down around her, the only safety net has been her cosy canal boat, The Nollie. Tucked away inside, Nell has found a place to heal her broken heart. And now she’s ready to move on and follow her dream…

Gorgeous Guy Cornish, with his easy Irish charm, makes him an instant hit with everyone at the marina, and the perfect person to help Nell with her project. But Guy has his own reasons for being at the marina, and a past that threatens to sink Nell’s dream…

Christie x

That sounds fantastic Christie! Thank you so much for dropping by today, especially when I know how busy you are with the celebrations and champagne. I wish you and your latest book every success!

Here's a link to Amazon folks where you can find out more about The Cosy Canal Boat Dream...

Follow Christie on Twitter

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Where do you get your ideas from?

Hello everyone and thank you for checking out this first in a new series called 'where do you get your ideas from'. This week I'm going to be kicking things off and sharing three places which have inspired my writing and over the next few weeks I have some fabulous authors and bloggers lined up who will kindly be sharing their own sources of inspiration.

More often than not I have found inspiration strikes when you least expect it, irrespective of where you are, however, I did plan the research trip to Happy Days Retro Vacations in sunny Saxmundham, Suffolk last summer.

I knew I wanted vintage-style glamping to feature as a main thread throughout the novel I was working on at the time, Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage, and Happy Days provided the perfect place to live, breathe and soak-up the experience.
I didn't settle on Airstreams for Lottie Foster to work with in the end, but the pretty polka dot and Cath Kidston inspired interiors and the classy and grass free shower rooms provided the level of luxury and comfort I was hoping she would be able to achieve and Lizzie and Jemma from The Cherry Tree Cafe certainly thought so, as any of you who have read the novel will know!

Next up on my list of inspiring settings is a place I came across courtesy of a bog standard bus trip into Norwich. Ordinarily I use the wonderful Park & Ride system to ferry me in and out of the city, however, on this particular day I had taken the regular bus all the way in and decided to sit on the top floor and thank goodness I did. The First bus takes a different route to the P & R and as we approached the city I caught a glimpse of some terraced houses set around a central green that I simply knew would have to feature in one of my books. And, surprise, surprise (in a slightly altered guise), they do.

I do have a photo of this fab place, but as I am currently still writing the book, I'm going to keep it under wraps. For now...

My third and final 'trip to inspire' only happened yesterday evening and, as with the last, it kind of fell into my head rather than came about as a result of going out and looking for it. An impromptu trip to the beach in Lowestoft, Suffolk helped me to string together some of the threads of what I am hoping will be the backdrop for my next book or possibly even the next two! Obviously I'm not going to reveal too much as I have nothing but the bare bones as yet, but I think this pretty little montage speaks for itself.

Thank you so much for journeying with me through this post to discover some of the places where I have got at least some of my ideas from. I hope you will enjoy the rest of the series and perhaps find inspiration from them to fuel your own creative endeavors.

Next week, Christie Barlow will be here to tell us about the inspiration behind her new book, The Cosy Canal Boat Dream.

Until then, wishing you all a wonderful week!

H x