Wednesday, 18 October 2017

What's going on in Wynbridge?

Hello folks! I simply couldn't resist the opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has downloaded Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at The Christmas Fair and turned the book into a bestseller on not one, but two Amazon charts already!

It was quite simply the most exciting news to wake up to after spending an evening in the National Gallery in London celebrating 30 years of Simon and Schuster! The star studded event was both glamorous and fun and I felt very proud to be a part of it.

And as you can see, I was in wonderful and very talented company. It was certainly a night to remember. 

Back to the books today and, after an exciting conversation with my agent, Amanda Preston, who loved the brand new bits and pieces I recently sent her, it's all systems go on a potential new project.

Don't forget you can find Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells in both Morrisons AND Tesco stores from this Thursday and again, thank you all for loving Wynbridge as much as I do.

And before I sign off, in case you missed it, Mince Pies and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market is now available in The Works stores on a cracking deal!

Happy reading everyone! Wishing you all a wonderful book filled week.

H x 

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Rachel Dove - Home is where the heart is...

Today I am delighted to welcome Rachel Dove to the blog to tell us all about her passion for Yorkshire.

When I first thought up the setting for The Chic Boutique on Baker Street, I had Haworth in mind. There is something about the place that always transfixed me as a child. I think I was pretty much born in the wrong time, too late. My favourite book growing up (and still) is Wuthering Heights by Charlotte Bronte. When my grandparents took me to see the Parsonage and Haworth as a girl, I was blown away, and still am. I went back last month with my mother to take part in the manuscript project and research the place once more for my third book in the Westfield series, which is out next year from HQ Digital and will be the last in the series. I have loved writing about Westfield, and it is very much a mixture of my home town of Wakefield and Haworth.

When we went to the Parsonage Museum this time, it had exhibits from the recent BBC program, To Walk Invisible. It had costumes, and an actual bedroom layout of what Branson Bronte's room would have looked like, with actual props from set. Mixing the old with the new enhanced the experience so much, and I look forward to going back in October time to see it again.

Haworth is a beautiful place, with uneven hilly roads, quaint shops, and a rich history, and the residents there seem to really embrace how special it is and you get a real sense of pride and community when you visit.
Living in the same place all my life (so far) was never really my plan, but as I raise my family and work and live in the city I was born in, I can't really imagine living anywhere else now, and I think roots are very important to people. They certainly are to many of the characters in my books. They are either proud of them, eager to put some down, or eager to spread their wings, to see what is out there in the world. I guess I always imagined travelling in my early 20s, but I never quite made it, so now my children are getting older, I have plans in place. All good research for books too!

I like setting my books in Yorkshire - they say write what you know, and I am proud to be a Yorkshire girl. People come from all over the world to visit our green fields, small towns and proud landmarks, and to know that I can take my children to such beautiful locations pretty much on our doorstep is a brilliant feeling. My plan is to travel with my family, see the world, but when I am home, feet up with a cuppa in hand, I am truly happy.

Moving on from the series next year will be a wrench, but I am very excited about the books I will write in the future, and the places they will take me. Perhaps a Spanish adventure is in order, or a Parisian love affair. I haven't been to France yet, so maybe that's one for next year! I am planning to change things up, so watch this space!

About Rachel - 

I am a wife, mother of two boys, perpetual student, avid reader and writer of words. I sometimes sleep, always have eye bags and dream of retiring to a big white house in Cornwall, with 2 shaggy dogs, drinking wine on my seafront balcony whilst creating works of romantic fiction. All done with immaculate make up and floaty dresses. 

In the meantime I nearly always remember to brush my hair, seldom have time to look in a mirror and write many, many to-do lists. 

My first solo novel, Crossing Life Lines is out now in Kindle and paperback format. Look out for my horror shorts, published through Bayou Brew Publishing: The House of Sugar Blood, August 2013 and Uni Assassin, out now, and my short story, Mallow Girl, out now. 

In July 2015, I won the Prima magazine and Mills & Boon Flirty Fiction Competition, with my entry, The Chic Boutique on Baker Street, out now in ebook and paperback. The Flower Shop on Foxley Street is out now in ebook from HQ Digital.

Links - 

Amazon Author page

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Welcoming Julie Shackman to the blog

Today I am delighted to welcome Julie Shackman to the blog for the first time. Julie was among one of the first people to sign up for the 'where do you get your ideas from' feature, but unfortunately circumstances beyond her control meant that particular post wasn't destined to be written... yet. However, what Julie has delivered instead is an uplifting Path to Publication piece which is so encouraging I simply had to feature it. Congratulations Julie!

We were due to travel to the States in July but due to family illness, we cancelled our trip.

So, when I volunteered to write this post for Heidi, she explained I would be asked to write about where I had been and what had inspired me.
As I’m unable to write about a specific location we’ve just returned from, I decided instead to talk about my “writing journey” and where it’s taken me.

To say it’s been a straight forward road, with beautiful scenery and no bumps, is an understatement!
My first two romcoms were published as e-books by a London based digital publisher 3-4 years ago, but like most writers, I always dreamt of securing an agent and traditional publisher.
So I sat and wrote my third novel, edited it and started the submissions process.
To my delight, I was eventually offered representation by a literary agent. That was until I parted company with her ten months later, when she informed me she’d been unable to sell it. “I usually represent crime and thriller writers,” she informed me.
Deflated, I undertook more editing of my third novel and repeated the submission process.
After a few weeks, another literary agent rang to say he “loved” my book and wanted to represent me.
Then there was silence.
After several months of very little contact, I was brutally dropped via email one Friday afternoon when he informed me he also couldn’t sell it.

My confidence was bruised and battered. I remember crying to my Husband and explaining tearfully to our two sons that I simply didn’t have the energy to continue.
However, by this point, I’d already started writing Book Four. Although still devastated by the rejections I’d received, I found myself getting so absorbed in my characters and story, it helped to ease some of the pain and proved to be a welcome distraction.
Book Four was soon complete after several rounds of edits.
Now what?

The prospect of having to start again on the submissions merry-go-round filled me with dread.
Still, if I did want to be published, I had no other option.
Taking a deep breath, I began submitting Book Four to agents. I received some very positive comments but no offers.
That was until I contacted uber agent Selwa Anthony.
I emailed her my synopsis and first ten pages one Saturday afternoon in April this year and then tried to forget about it.
Much to my surprise, she responded within forty eight hours, to say she enjoyed reading my submission and requested the full novel.                                                                                                                          
I was encouraged but refused to think too far ahead. I had been in this situation before and couldn’t bear the thought of going through that entire “thanks but no thanks” scenario yet again.
Selwa promised to get back in touch with me within two weeks with her decision.

The next fourteen days were tense, but I read lots; entered writing competitions; undertook my freelance work and tried to resist the temptation to refresh my In Box every ten minutes
Day twelve arrived and so did an email from Selwa to say she wanted to talk. My heart almost burst out of my chest. I convinced myself not to get too carried away until we had spoken.
She was lovely; enthusiastic; friendly; professional and full of positivity about my writing. Then she rounded off the call by offering me representation.
I was delighted but still felt a bit like Bill Murray in “Ground Hog Day.”
We worked on edits and then she began submitting to publishers.
I knew securing an agent was no guarantee of publication.
Other writers I had read about said they had to wait months before getting a publisher. Others were more fortunate with a publisher offering to buy their novel in weeks. Then there were the writers (who like me previously) found no-one ultimately offered to publish it.

Then, six weeks after Selwa signed me, she emailed, saying “Please read email below. I am a very happy agent!  Ring me asap!”
I screamed and burst into tears when I read prestigious Australian publishers Allen & Unwin were offering me a publishing deal.

I can’t describe how thrilled I am, that I didn’t stop writing.

My romantic comedy, “The Silver Bracelet” will be published in paperback by Allen & Unwin very soon.
It really is true – the writing journey is a tough one but you WILL reach your destination.

Please don’t give up!

Julie X - Twitter Handle

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Summer at Skylark Farm Paperback Klaxon

I'm absolutely thrilled to be able to tell you that my second novel, Summer at Skylark Farm, is once again available in paperback via Amazon! So many of you have been messaging on a daily basis to ask when this is going to happen and it has. Yay!

In other news, I've popped up on the fabulous Books and The City blog this week to talk about the joy of writing Christmas books and the reader responsibility that comes along with it. I hope you enjoy it! 

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend and thanking you all for your phenomenal support during what has turned out to be a truly memorable week!

H x

Publication Day Klaxon

Christmas really has come early as my festive '17 release, Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at The Christmas Fair is set to hit the shelves from today!

I'm planning a morning of chatting with you wonderful Wynbridge fans and fellow authors on social media and then I'm heading up to Norwich for a spot on Radio Norfolk later this afternoon. You should be able to catch me live on air around 3.15!

Here's a little insight into what this latest tale from Wynbridge is all about. As always I have included some favourite characters and settings and oodles of festive fun and details!

When Anna takes on the role of companion to the owner of Wynthorpe Hall, on the outskirts of Wynbridge, she has no idea that her life is set to change beyond all recognition. 

A confirmed ‘bah humbug’ when it comes to Christmas, Anna is amazed to find herself quickly immersed in the eccentric household, and when youngest son Jamie unexpectedly arrives home it soon becomes obvious that her personal feelings are going all out to compromise her professional persona. 

Jamie, struggling to come to terms with life back in the Fens, makes a pact with Anna – she has to teach him to fall back in love with Wynthorpe Hall, while he helps her fall back in love with Christmas. But will it all prove too much for Anna, or can the family of Wynthorpe Hall warm her heart once and for all...? 

Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at The Christmas Fair will be available in all major supermarkets between now and Christmas and is on Amazon right now!

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Julie Stock shares the inspiration behind her latest release, The Vineyard in Alsace

Today I am delighted to welcome my friend and fellow RNA member, Julie Stock to the blog to share with us the ideas and inspiration between her latest release, The Vineyard in Alsace.

With the two books I’ve published so far, and the ones that are in the pipeline, my inspiration has come in large part from a place or setting. Once I have that in my mind, that’s what usually gets me going with my story. Sometimes, it will be a flash of inspiration, as with my first book, From Here to Nashville, but when I came to sit down and write my current book, The Vineyard in Alsace, I realised I’d been drawing inspiration from this particular place for a very long time.

With a French family background, gained from my maternal grandfather, I grew up speaking French with him and was lucky enough to travel to France many times over the years. So once I started writing, it was a given that I would write a book set in France one day. I could have set my book in any of the usual places: Paris, the Riviera or Provence but instead I decided on Alsace because every time I’ve visited the region, I come away inspired by something new. And also, I felt it was time to show Alsace some love!

I first went to Alsace with my husband in 1993 just before I was about to start work for a mail-order wine merchant in the UK. We loved Alsace wine even then and so we were excited to go and try some in the actual place. On this trip, we went to visit one of the oldest wine producers in the area, Hugel et fils, who have been making their world-renowned wines in Riquewihr since 1639. Down in their cool cellars, we saw row after row of barrels of wine, ageing and developing. This would all come back to me when writing about Thierry, the winemaker in my book.

Riquewihr is a typical Alsatian village with cobbled streets and colourfully painted, timbered houses. It almost feels like stepping back in time. We also visited Colmar, one of the main towns in the region, and one that would feature heavily in my book when I eventually came to write it. Colmar has a network of canals, all bordered by pretty little houses decorated with window boxes. That’s why it’s also known as La Petite Venise.

The next time we went, we visited the spectacular Château de Haut-Koenigsbourg, part of the rich history of the region caused by its location on the border with Germany. It was so important to me when the time came, to find the right names for my characters. This is hard enough under normal circumstances but given the fact that so many Alsatian names have a German influence, it became even more important. My main female character ended up being called Fran, short for Françoise, named after my great-aunt. I gave her the surname Schell, after a teacher I became friends with during my year in France for my French degree.

We also went on a tour of another winery – this one a co-operative with the most enormous modern steel tanks on display for visitors to marvel at. Not only that but they had an amazing wine-tasting area and shop for visitors. This would inspire me to give Fran the job of managing a project at the vineyard to build a visitors’ centre and to model it on the ones I had seen during my visits.

On the next trip, which was just for a long weekend, we went to a Michelin starred restaurant to celebrate my husband’s birthday, and this became the inspiration for the one Didier takes Fran to when they first start getting to know each other again.

By the time I went for my most recent visit, I’d decided to write my book and set it in Alsace. We went to visit a beautiful medieval church in a little village called Hunawihr. We walked through vineyards up the hill to get there and looked down upon the beautiful little village from on high. When we came back down, I realised we had parked near the salle des fêtes and I knew that I had to have a wedding celebration in that village, involving both the church and the community hall that had so enchanted me on my visit.

Alsace is a truly magical place and if you haven’t yet discovered it, I would urge you to go and find out for yourself just how inspirational a place it is.

Is there really such a thing as a second chance at love?

Fran Schell has only just become engaged when she finds her fiancé in bed with another woman. She knows this is the push she needs to break free of him and to leave London. She applies for her dream job on a vineyard in Alsace, in France, not far from her family home, determined to concentrate on her work.

Didier Le Roy can hardly believe it when he sees that the only person to apply for the job on his vineyard is the same woman he once loved but let go because of his stupid pride. Now estranged from his wife, he longs for a second chance with Fran if only she will forgive him for not following her to London.

Working so closely together, Fran soon starts to fall in love with Didier all over again. Didier knows that it is now time for him to move on with his divorce if he and Fran are ever to have a future together. Can Fran and Didier make their second chance at love work despite all the obstacles in their way?

The Vineyard in Alsace is a contemporary romance set against the enticing backdrop of the vineyard harvest in Alsace in France.

Author Bio

Julie Stock is an author of contemporary romance from around the world: novels, novellas and short stories. She indie published her debut novel, From Here to Nashville, in February 2015 and has just published her second novel, The Vineyard in Alsace. A follow-up novella to From Here to Nashville is also in progress, as well as the next novel.

She blogs regularly on her
website, 'My Writing Life.' You can also connect with her on Twitter and via her Facebook Author Page.

She is a proud member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, The Society of Authors and The Alliance of Independent Authors.

When she is not writing, she works part-time for a charity as a communications officer, and freelance as a proofreader, web designer and supply teacher. She is married and lives with her family in Bedfordshire in the UK.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Tracey Sinclair - New York

This week I am delighted to welcome Tracey Sinclair to the blog. Thank you for taking part in the 'where do we get our ideas from' feature Tracey and for the dollop of wanderlust that settled firmly in my lap the first time I read this piece!

New York! New York!

Cities have always inspired me. While I do love a trip to the countryside – and I am currently living minutes away from the sea – there is something about the bustle and energy of a city that I love. So it’s probably not a surprise that one of the places that inspires my creativity most is perhaps the ultimate city: New York.
I first visited New York over 20 years ago, and – as with most new arrivals – it was love at first sight. New York is one of the few places that always lives up to your expectations. Whatever you think it is, whatever you want it to be, New York won’t disappoint. Every street looks like a movie set; everywhere feels slightly familiar, embedded as it is in our collective cultural consciousness. Walking around New York – and the best way to get around New York is to walk, if you can – gives me a boost like nowhere else on earth, and it always makes me feel more creative.

In recent years, I’ve been lucky enough to be a regular visitor. A close friend of mine moved there almost a decade ago and I have another good friend in Brooklyn, so I am blessed with accommodation opportunities – and there is something about staying with someone who lives in a city that makes it feel all the more special, more grounded in real life than being in a hotel or even an Airbnb. I remember ambling over from my friend’s apartment in the early morning to get breakfast in Chelsea Market, sitting with my coffee and my notebook and my English muffin – which looks like no muffin an English person ever ate, FYI – and I would scribble away my ideas and thoughts, sometimes working on a specific project, more often just seeing what the day inspired. (Touristy as this neighbourhood has become, I still have a soft spot for Chelsea Market – it contains one of my favourite bookshops, Posman Books, and is near one of my other New York faves, the High Line, which nowadays gets as busy as a rush hour platform on the tube, but is still an extraordinary place – a great expanse of green above the city streets).

These days, I forgo most of the tourist things, and try to be as much of a New Yorker as I can pretend to be – I spend most of my time sitting in cafes or wandering around whatever area I am staying in. A few years ago, my Chelsea-based friend moved to East Harlem, an area I was unfamiliar with but quickly came to love. So when he was at work, I would often float from café to diner to coffeeshop, reading, writing, people watching, drinking more coffee than can be good for a body. Even if none of my writing turned into a concrete project, I felt energised and inspired, and always came back richer than I left (in spirit, that is, if most definitely not in finances, since my other New York habits are buying lots of books and loading up on cosmetics from Sephora!)

Funnily enough, despite this decades-long love affair, it took me years before I actually wrote about New York. My books have always had a strong sense of location: my romcom Bridesmaid Blues is set in my hometown, Newcastle; my Dark Dates paranormal series is set in Smithfield, the London neighbourhood where I used to work. But as I have expanded the universe the books are set in, including with short stories, I’ve had a chance to bring in other settings (a memorable trip to the Lake District as a teen inspired one short story, the Edinburgh Fringe provided a fun setting for another, while yet another took place in Brighton, where I now live). Vampire in New York – the tale of one wild night out in the city – remains one of my favourite stories, and I smile whenever I read it.

I’ve been reading a lot of books about New York recently – perhaps because it’s looking unlikely I can manage a visit this year. Olivia Laing’s The Lonely City and Bill Hayes’ Insomniac City have both stolen my heart, beautifully evocative tales of life in a city that I love. And perhaps that’s the best thing about New York City – it’s such a part of our shared imagination that you can’t ever really leave it. Even at a distance, it continues to inspire.

Tracey Sinclair is an author and freelance editor and writer. Her books include the romcom The Bridesmaid Blues and the Dark Dates/Cassandra Bick series, the latest of which, Angel Falls, is out now.