Posted in Writing



JL-All-BooksI’m back after a week in one of the most beautiful parts of the UK.  It’s been a relaxing few days with the opportunity to distance myself from everything going on at home.  However as any of you who are writers know, writing is something you never quite separate yourself from no matter where you are.  As human beings there’s always something going on in our heads, whether it’s what to cook for the next meal, deciding whether to buy that expensive pair of shoes we saw yesterday, what to watch on TV tonight or in my case, the situation with my current work in progress.

I have to confess I did try really hard to fight the whole thing; to tell myself the time for becoming a writer again was on the 18th when we returned home.  However, I found it impossible.  I was thinking about various issues with the book all the way there, all the way back, and in lots of bits in between.  Before we came away, I closed down on that last evening with the end of the current chapter unfinished, basically because whatever I wrote simply didn’t sit right.  Oh it seemed to work but seeming for me isn’t the end of the deal.  I have to be sure I’m happy…really happy before I close off and move on to write the next chapter.  Writing from home is great but it has to sit alongside everything else.  The day has to be planned; meals prepared, domestic stuff done and of course I need time out to socialise. Therefore writing fits into the bigger plan, it has its place but alongside everything else going on in my life.  So a week away with my other half to the exclusion of everyone else was a godsend, It allowed my mind a clear run on how everything in my writing world was progressing. Without any distraction I could sit back, analyse and put a few things down on the pad I’d brought with me.  Although we had no wifi in the area except in a few of the local pubs, I also took the laptop along to use as a word processor as I don’t trust my scribble if left more than a day!  The solution to the end of the chapter I had been working on came within the first few days of the holiday and I used my spare moments when not out and about to sit down and outline the scene.  A second and necessary earlier scene for that chapter followed and both were typed up and inserted into the manuscript which I carried on a USB stick.  Result!

Another thing that had been niggling me was the surname of one of the central characters.  When I first chose it I felt it balanced well with his first name.  However, I soon began to feel it simply didn’t sit right on the character I was visualising.  On occasions I’m stuck like this a car journey can turn out to be priceless and street name signs invaluable.  I had to wait until Wednesday as we were going through one particular town for luck to strike.  I saw the sign, knew that was what I’d been waiting for and that was it! One more thing which could be crossed off the ‘To Do’ list.

Wouldn’t it be marvellous to plan a book and simply write it? In some ways I guess I envy those who have that journey with everything set from that first initial step into Chapter One to THE END.  Or do I? No actually I don’t. The excitement for me in writing is the unknown; in that spark of new ideas as you reach a particular scene and decide how you will play it – from whose perspective and where the action takes place.  What I also tend to do while working on a book is change hats. Being an avid reader as well as a writer, I like to step back and look at what I’m doing from the reader’s viewpoint.  Is the story plausible? Is the dialogue right? Are the characters physically working the scene correctly.  It may be simple things but collectively they are so important. I’ve read many books where I’ve thought ‘No, he wouldn’t do that.’ or ‘hang on, this character has just taken off his coat – twice.’ Of course these errors should be picked up when the manuscript is edited (or not, in the case of the character taking off his coat not once but twice in the same scene!), for me it’s simply part of my personal writing process.

The jury is still out on whether this WIP is going to make one or two books.  The time span for the novel is in two distinct years – 2007 and present day which lends itself quite neatly to a split should I choose to go down that road.  The way the first part is shaping – now sitting at just over 81,000 words I would say yes we are probably looking at two books. If not then I’ve got another large book on my hands which I need to avoid if I want a sensibly priced paperback version.  I do like to keep a hard copy of the book and there are some friends who still avoid Kindle, although Amazon sales are almost 100% electronic downloads.  This will mean another book cover of course.  I have already sorted the one for Summer Moved On.  I find creating the cover is almost as exciting as writing, I absolutely love getting involved.  My designer Jane Dixon Smith is amazing – and she’s also an author in her own right.

I’ve some research to do as well into running a stud as horse breeding figures in the second part of the book. Basic background knowledge regarding stud farms is something I can probably pick up locally as we’ve several in the area but that’s for later in the year and on the back burner at the moment.

So that’s it. Not giving anything away about plot or characters only to say I’m pleased with the cast and the story.  Now to get back to the most important thing of all – the writing!

Have a good week – back next weekend!

Jo x


Posted in Writing


Extra Time Cover

The game kicked off on June 5th with the release of ‘Striker’, and now that game carries on with the release of ‘Extra Time’, the second book in Michelle Betham’s seductively wicked bonkbuster trilogy.

Life’s moved on for professional soccer player Ryan Fisher, sports reporter Amber Sullivan and Jim Allen, the manager of Ryan’s club Newcastle Red Star. But the repercussions of just a few months ago still hang heavy. Who’s trying their best to play by the rules? And who’s still willing to break them…?

Delving into the lives of those who live and work within the so-called Beautiful Game, ‘Extra Time’ is a story of sex, secrets and the true cost of fame.

Footballers’ Wives meets Jackie Collins in this sizzling scorcher of a read!

‘Extra Time’ – the game continues…



I’ve been making up stories for as long as I can remember, so it stood to reason that, at some point, I’d start writing some of them down. I currently have ten novels in total to my name, ranging from the sweet to the really quite steamy – which is my favourite kind of romance!Michelle Betham Author Image


When I’m not creating hot heroes and sexy scenarios I like to read everything from erotica to horror. I’m also a bit of a TV addict with a penchant for “binge-watching”, I love football, darts and rock music, have a slight obsession with Timothy Olyphant, and I’m also an unashamed ‘Breaking Bad’ geek!


Contact Links:


Blog –


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Facebook Author Page –


Twitter – @michellebetham


The Striker Series - CoversBanner


‘Extra Time’ – Book #2 in the Striker Series – is available to download now from the following buy links:-


Amazon UK |  | Kobo  | Barnes & Noble  | Sainsbury’s | Google Play


‘Striker’ – book #1 in the series – is also available to download, and ‘Final Score’ – the third and final book in the trilogy – is due for release in August.


Paperback versions of all books in the series will be available later in the year.


Posted in Writing


cover This is the second book in the Greek Island Mystery series.  Although each book is intended to be read as a standalone, some of the characters from the first book, ‘Jennas’s Journey’, do make an appearance. Kat has never understood why she was sent at the age of seven from Greece to live in England with her Aunt Tigi. When she receives an email from her grandmother, the first contact in over twenty years, informing her of her mother’s death, she knows this could be her last chance to find out the truth. Little by little she finds out the shocking facts as her grandmother opens her heart.  It seems everyone has a secret to tell, not only her grandmother, as Manoli, her school friend, also harbours a guilty secret. Then there’s a twenty year old mystery to solve as well as a murder and what happened to the missing Church treasure?  


MY REVIEW Written in four separate parts first we are introduced to Kat, who is returning to the island of her birth with young daughter Izzy.  Her mother’s recent death is the reason for her return; a woman she was taken from when she was just seven years old after her father died.  Raised by her Aunt Tiggy in London her mother’s death has now brought many questions she seeks answers for.  Answers she hopes her grandmother will have.  Kat has also welcomed this break from the UK, away from her troubled relationship with husband Robert. She is reunited with childhood friend Manoli, married to an English girl with a family of his own and still haunted by a traumatic childhood memory.  While back at home Kat’s husband Robert has problems of his own as Keisha his daughter from his first marriage turns up on his doorstep with unexpected news. In the second part of the book we go back in time to Grandmother Sophia’s story and the reader is able to start to piece together this mystery and find the answer to some of Kat’s questions.   The story then returns to present day. In parts three and four, past and present are carefully woven together to eventually present all the answers – and some surprises! A great plot with a wonderful cast of characters.  Life on a Greek island is colourfully described with just enough detail to run comfortably alongside the main story.  Although the second part of a trilogy, this can be read as a stand-alone book.  And I have to say, the appearance of some of the characters from Jenna’s Journey was tempting enough to make me want to download a copy and read it. A very well deserved four stars from an author I hope to be reading more of… Thank you to JB Johnson for forwarding me a free copy in exchange for an honest review.


NOW READ AN EXCERPT FROM SOPHIA’S SECRET: The boy knew he shouldn’t be out so late on his own but a dare was a dare! His best friend, Vasilli, had dared him to meet up at midnight in their den in the woods. He’d been so excited he could barely sleep. His mother had come to tuck him in—not that a boy of nearly eight needed tucking in he’d reminded her as they went through the usual nightly ritual. “Night night.” “Sleep tight, mind the bugs don’t bite.” Then when she’d gone, he forced himself to stay awake until he heard his parents come back up the stairs to their room.  He waited for the light to go out and gave it a few more minutes to be on the safe side. The luminous watch that he’d asked for on last birthday was showing nearly 11.30. There would be plenty of time to get there. He peered out of his bedroom window. It was dark out. There were no streetlights in his village. It was lucky that he’d remembered to pack a torch. He crept silently down the stairs, careful not to wake either his parents or the sleeping twins, put a jacket on over his pyjamas, slipped his trainers on and spying the fruit bowl on the table, put a couple of apples in his pocket in case he got hungry. The gang had built the den during the long summer holidays when they were allowed to play out until late provided that they told an adult where they were. This was different. The summer had given way to autumn and there was a chill in the night air. He wrapped his arms round himself for extra warmth or maybe just to give himself courage. He thought fleetingly of turning back but he knew he wouldn’t be able to stand Vasilli’s taunts of ‘chicken’ the next day. All he had to do, he reminded himself, was cut through the woods at the back of his house and meet his friend in the den. Just then, as if giving him a signal, the moon came out from behind the clouds illuminating the woodland path. He set off at a run, not wanting to be late. Once he reached the safety of the den, they’d have a good laugh about what a great game it had been. An owl hooted in the branches above him almost scaring him silly. It felt so different at night. Every sound was magnified a thousand times, making him alert to every eerie sound. Little creatures scurrying around made the leaves underfoot rustle. Twice now he’d thought he heard someone following him but when he stopped there was no one. Only a few more metres to go and he’d be safe. Not wanting to cut through the churchyard, he kept to the wall until he reached the woods. The moonlight showed him the den, just as he’d left it. He rushed inside, breathing heavily, surprised to see that Vasilli hadn’t arrived yet. He glanced at his watch. It was only 11.54. He decided to wait no more than ten minutes and then he was going home. His father would give him a right talking to if he got caught. He’d probably be grounded for weeks. It never crossed his mind that his friend wasn’t coming. He settled himself into the snugness of the den to wait. At least it was warmer in here, out of the wind. He woke up suddenly, surprised that he’d fallen asleep. There were footsteps just outside the den: Vasilli must have been held up. He was about to shout to him but thought he’d surprise him instead by shouting ‘boo’ as he crawled through the entrance. The footsteps stopped and he heard a scraping noise. He peered into the darkness but couldn’t make out what his friend was doing. Then the moonlight clearly showed him that whoever it was, he was far too tall for his friend. It was a man with a spade. He could hear the soft earth plop onto the ground as he dug a hole. Suddenly the den smelt of fresh earth and vegetation. He hoped the man wasn’t going to be long. He was in enough trouble already. The moon disappeared and it was dark again, totally silent now except for the sound of the spade on the damp earth. He’d wanted an adventure but suddenly an adventure on your own wasn’t nearly so much fun.  He wondered what the man was doing. Maybe he was burying treasure. They could come back tomorrow and dig it up. That would be fun. He knew though that he shouldn’t be here and was afraid. What if the man caught him and told his parents? His heart was thumping so loudly he was sure the man could hear him but the spade just continued to thwack as the soil was lifted. It seemed like hours but his watch showed it was 1.10am. When the moon came out again he saw the man lift something big and heavy into the hole and start to cover it up. Now he knew he had to remain totally silent or else he’d end up in the hole too no doubt! He had a horrible thought that perhaps instead of treasure, the man was burying a body. At any rate it certainly didn’t look like treasure. Why was he out here in the woods at this time? He couldn’t be up to any good? Just then the man trampled down the earth so that it wouldn’t leave a trace just as the moon slid out from the shadows. The boy realized with a jolt that he knew the man. Fear trickled through his body, just as he lost control and wet himself. Hot urine trickled down his leg, turning cold seconds later. He didn’t consider the trouble he’d be in for wetting his pajamas, right now he just wanted to be anywhere else but in the middle of the woods with a murderer for company. He was tired, cold and wet. He watched the man leave and when he was sure it was safe, he ran all the way home. He was relieved that his parents hadn’t missed him.  He half expected all the lights to be on and his father standing in the middle of the living room asking him where the hell he’d been. Instead there was a gentle snoring noise coming from the bedroom.  Luckily the twins hadn’t woken his parents up while he’d been out. He quickly changed into clean pjs. He’d admit to wetting himself in the morning but that was all. He crept into bed and fell asleep straight away but somehow his mother’s words kept playing on his mind over and over again. ‘Mind the bugs don’t bite.’ He dreamt of bugs covering him but instead of a bug’s face, he saw the man in the woods. He was to dream the same dream time and time again.   PART ONE   Chapter 1   They say you should never go back to a place where you were once happy, not unless you are prepared to be disappointed. As she surveyed the all too familiar island from the deck, Kat wished she’d heeded that advice. The beautiful cove where they’d played as children was now home to a luxury hotel—the azure blue waters of the infinity pool glinting in the sun. ‘Why on earth had she come back?’ she asked herself. She knew that it would only lead to more heartbreak, yet after all this time she had finally been unable to resist the pull of her homeland. “Is that it?” Asked an excited voice next to her. “Yes darling, that’s where mama grew up. If you look carefully, you can just make out the house where I used to live when I was your age. It’s at the top of the hill. Can you see it yet? The little house painted yellow. It’s called ‘To spiti lemoni.’” “I see it, I see it,” replied Izzy jumping up and down. Looking at her daughter’s face flushed with youthful exuberance, Kat felt a tug of nostalgia for that innocent time. She put her arms round her daughter and hugged her close, wanting to protect her from anything that might harm her. “When’s daddy coming?” Izzy asked out of the blue. “You know he has to work, sweetie. This is going to be our little adventure, okay?” “But I’m going to miss him sooooo much.” Luckily before Kat could think of anything else to say, they were caught up in the swell of passengers disembarking. Pushing their way past dithering tourists trying to get their bearings, they set off up the hill towards the lemon house. Luckily they hadn’t brought much luggage, just a bag with a couple of changes of clothes each, swimming things, underwear and a few toiletries. Anything else that they needed she figured they could buy on the island. They wouldn’t need much as she didn’t intend to stay for long. She’d planned on being away for a week, two at the most depending on how long the formalities were going to take. Izzy had her own backpack with her DS in it. She’d virtually refused to come away without it and Kat could empathize with that because she felt the same about her Kindle, which went everywhere with her. She knew she gave into her daughter far too much but she could honestly say she wasn’t a spoilt brat like some of the other kids in her class and that was down to her. She could hardly give Robert any credit for his daughter’s upbringing, as he was never there. The email had pinged into her ‘in’ box just as she and Robert hit a really bad patch. They’d been arguing more and more recently. She knew he worked hard but he didn’t appreciate that she worked too as well as looking after their daughter and the house. It seemed that lately more and more was left to her and when they did speak it was just to complain about each other. She was fed up with his long hours and lack of family time; he complained that she was never satisfied. Then the email from Greece had arrived informing her of her mother’s death. For the rest of the day, she’d put it to the back of her mind. After all, she hadn’t seen her in years so she could hardly play the grief-stricken daughter. Then that evening over dinner she’d mentioned it to Rob and his sense of duty had insisted that she go and pay her respects. Of course, his work responsibilities didn’t extend to him accompanying her and with nobody to look after Izzy she’d almost turned it into a holiday, pushing the real reason why she was here to the back of her mind. The sun was blazing and already she could feel a trickle of sweat run down her neck into the crevices of her shoulders. They stopped at the periptero, which had expanded from the tiny kiosk that she remembered into what looked almost like a shop with awnings and freezers taking up most of the outside space. She had to face up to the villagers at some point she reasoned and this seemed as good a place as any. Achilles had barely changed at all. As a child she’d thought he was old but back then he couldn’t have been more than forty-five. Now, he must be nearly seventy but she recognized the weather beaten features and the kind eyes. Steeling herself, she spoke to him in Greek remembered from years past. “Two ice-creams please.” Achilles looked up from the newspaper he was reading, “You’re back then? We weren’t sure if you’d come or not.” He said. For a second she wondered how he could possibly recognize her after all this time. Then she looked down at her daughter who was the spitting image of her at the same age. She knew that whatever she said would be all round the village in a matter of minutes. Achilles would take great pleasure in passing the news on to all his customers and soon everyone would know that Pelagia’s daughter was back for the funeral. There was a pause as neither knew what else to say until finally, remembering the circumstances under which she’d returned, Achilles waved away her offer of a ten euro note and said the ice-creams were on the house.  Before he could ask any more questions they moved up the hill and sat on a low-whitewashed wall to eat their ice creams. Looking around her, Kat thought that this part of the village had changed very little. She still recognized most of the houses although some had evidently been sold and tarted up as holiday homes. Where the roofs had once held spare water tanks in case of drought and solar panels for the hot water, now they were proper roof terraces with sun loungers and patio furniture catering to the needs of tourists. The traditional donkeys that she remembered from her childhood had long gone, as the islanders’ wealth had improved. Now you had to be wary of young men riding mopeds and scooters instead. It felt strange to be in a place that was so familiar, yet to always be the outsider. It was strange too how she never quite felt English in England yet she’d been away so long she no longer felt Greek either. Even her name was neither one thing nor the other. She’d changed it from her birth name of Ekaterina to Kat when she’d realized that nobody in her class could pronounce such a mouthful. It wasn’t quite English either as she hadn’t liked to be called Katie. Perhaps she really should have trusted her instincts though and stayed at home.  She’d only come because Robert insisted. It was almost as if he had an ulterior motive. She pushed that thought to the back of her mind too. Now she really was becoming paranoid. Maybe that’s what returning to the island did to you? Soon they reached the top of the hill and the lemon house, pausing only to take in the tremendous view that she recalled so vividly. On a clear day you could see all the way across to the mainland. It was a view that no camera could quite capture. Its exquisite beauty refused to be pinned down. Maybe it wasn’t so bad to be back, after all? Out of a childhood habit she automatically felt under the terracotta pot where her mother had always hidden the door key. Nothing! She couldn’t believe she’d come all this way to be refused entry to her own childhood home. Her emotions were running high but she knew she couldn’t let the tears fall, especially not in front of Izzy. She thought that if she started crying, she would probably never stop. Then the door opened and her grandmother said. “I heard you were back. You’d better come in.” Achilles’ early warning system had worked faster than even she could have anticipated. “I got a text from Achilles in case you were wondering.” Kat marvelled inwardly at how well her grandmother could read her mind but then that was something she’d always been good at. Somehow though she hadn’t associated mobile phones with her grandmother and wondered if she was being unreasonably ageist or if it was because the way she remembered the island was before the advance of technology AUTHOR BIO Julie RyanJulie was born and brought up in a mining village near Barnsley in South Yorkshire. She graduated with a BA (hons) in French Language and Literature from Hull University. Since then she has lived and worked as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language in France, Greece, Poland and Thailand. She now lives in rural Gloucestershire with her husband, son and a dippy cat with half a tail.  She is so passionate about books that her collection is now threatening to outgrow her house, much to her husband’s annoyance! She is the author of two novels set in Greece, “Jenna’s Journey” and “Sophia’s Secret” both part of the Greek Island Mystery series. She is currently working on a third book, ‘Pandora’s Prophecy.”

LINKS Facebook – Twitter  @julieryan18 Blog


Jenna’s Journey –

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Posted in General


This is my last post before I disappear on holiday. This time we’re heading north-east to Derbyshire and the Peak District. I’ve only ever driven through here on my way to somewhere else, but can remember it’s very beautiful so there’ll be a lot of photo opportunities. We’ve a rented cottage in the village of Over Hadden which is just outside the town of Bakewell. The good news is that the cottage is equipped with every modern convenience; the bad is there’s no wifi. However, I will have my phone so I won’t be totally out of touch. I do, however, have issues with typing on a microscopic keyboard. I have very small hands and that means small fingers but I still fail to cope with a simple message without backspacing and cursing. I’m totally amazed as I watch people beating out a message with their fingers in overdrive, making it look so easy.

One of the nicest aspects of holidays is the opportunity to take photographs but I don’t just restricted this to times when I’m away.  Whenever I go out for walks locally my camera comes too.  I have always loved photography, the only trouble is very often my visual expectations far exceed the capabilities of the camera.  This means what I’m seeing is not what I get when I take the shot – oh and I guess I ought to throw the limitations of the photographer into the mix too – with the best will in the world I’m no David Bailey!  Too optimistic I think is the word we’re looking for.  However that does not take away the love of seeing things and wanting to capture them on film (or memory card as it is now).  A lot of my good shots I have to say are luck rather than judgement.  My friend Jane Risdon is the lady with the camera.  She has posted some wonderful shots and I bow to  her expertise!

One really funny memory wrapped around photography was when we went on holiday in Spain back in the eighties.  The husband of the couple we went with was a total


photography geek – it was a major hobby and he had his own dark room.  This was the first time we had been on holiday with them and although we knew about his passion for photography we  had no idea what what lay ahead. Every time we left the villa it felt like an expedition – the stuff he insisted carrying with him was amazing, including, of course, a telescopic tripod – he almost needed his own private Sherpa!  We went up into the hills one day to a place called Guadalest.  There were fabulous views right back down to the coast and he took ages changing the lens and getting this damned tripod set up to capture each shot while all we wanted to do was to find a bar and a cold beer! These were the days before digital cameras were generally available so all his shots were taken on film. A few days after our return home his girlfriend rang to tell us that when he went to take the film out it had broken off inside the camera.  In his dark room when he took the back off he discovered there was no film – he had forgotten to put one in!  Total geek then!  All that effort, all that fussy preciseness in setting up shots of views had been a complete waste of time! Not sure whether he learned any lessons from what happened as a job move saw them leaving the area later that year and we never went away with them again. Having said that I’m convinced had they stayed we would not have put ourselves through a holiday with a photographer with OCD for a second time!  Once was quite enough!

Denim Patchwork Horse, Bruges
Denim Patchwork Horse, Bruges

Of all the couples we know it seems I’m the only female who likes taking photos.  Not only do I find it a good pictorial reminder of where I’ve been, I’m one of those people who find things beyond beach and cityscapes and want to capture them if only to show other people – much easier than trying to describe what

View from Corfu Villa
View from Corfu Villa balcony

I’ve seen.  Like the denim horse in Bruges last October when we were enjoying a city break there.  It was in the entrance to a number of clothes boutiques and was too good to resist.  Then there was another the year we went to Corfu with friends.  We arrived at the villa and unloaded the luggage.  The men carried it upstairs and we opened the doors to the bedrooms trying to decide who was having which room.  I went into one of them pulled open the shutters, walked out onto the balcony and was totally blown away by the view.  I knew if I left it I would never be able to capture that shot again so grabbed my camera.

My local ventures into photography have come about because even after years of living here I am totally mesmerised by this area on the eastern side of Bath where I live.  Bath is all hills, built in an extinct volcano, you cannot enter or exit the city without negotiating some sort of gradient.  On our side of the city we have Solsbury Hill, made famous by Peter Gabriel’s song of the same name.  It looks across to Bathampton Downs to the south of Bath.  The River Avon, main rail line to London, theKennet and Avon Canal and the A4 trunk road all run from east to west along the valley floor between these two hills.  The place where I live is slightly east of this and gives us amazing views both across and down this valley.  Tucked against a hill with a large sprawl of wood above it, it became the inspiration for Meridan Cross, the fictional West Somerset village which features in my books.  I never tire of watching the cycle of the year and the ever-changing colours of the trees. I had always imagined that leaves were all the same shade of green. Not so, there’s an amazing variety as I have come to learn.  When it rains there is always low cloud which threads its way eerily through the wood and if we should  by any chance get snow it looks as if someone has taken a huge icing sugar shaker and dusted the trees – absolutely magic! Next week the Peak District’s dramatic landscape will no doubt be offering more good photo opportunities. I can’t wait!

Take care and I’ll  be back blogging on 20th July.  In the meantime there’s a slideshow below of some of my favourite shots – enjoy!



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Jo x