Posted in Writing

Tuesday Talk: Today I’m chatting to author Julie Stock about her writing journey, favourite authors and who she’d love to have dinner with…

nashvilleGood morning Julie and welcome. Can I begin by asking you a little about yourself?

I live in Bedfordshire in the UK, with my husband and two teenage daughters. I recently left my job as a teacher to go freelance, concentrating on my writing and writing related activities and I keep my hand in as a teacher by doing supply at my old school.

When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer and how did you begin that journey?

I finally decided to sit down and write a novel in April 2013 when the idea for my debut, From Here to Nashville, came almost fully formed into my mind. Before I knew it, I had written 80,000 words and I realised that I needed to decide what to do next. After meeting some lovely members of the RNA at The Festival of Romance, which took place in Bedford that year, I found out about the New Writers’ Scheme and I was lucky enough to get a place in January 2014. I submitted my debut novel that year and took it from there.

Which writers have inspired you and why?

When I was young, Stephen King was one of my main inspirations and I read every single one of his books the minute they came out. Looking back, I think this was because he always told such a good story, even if the subject matter was sometimes a bit on the gory side!

However, I used to love reading everything I could lay my hands on and so my favourite time of the week was when we would make our visit to our local library and I could pick out several books to see me through the week. My early classic favourites were Romeo and Juliet, Pride and Prejudice, Jane Eyre and A Tale of Two Cities. I was clearly a romantic at heart, even then.

Can you tell us something about your current WIP?

My current WIP is set on a vineyard in Alsace in France and tells the story of Fran and Didier as they negotiate their second chance at love. I hope that this will be the first of a series of books set on this vineyard.

Is there anything in particular that draws you to the characters you write about?

It is more the setting that draws me, initially. With From Here to Nashville, I had a very clear idea of wanting to set part of the story in Nashville and the other part in the UK. From there, my love of music made it an easy step to write about a songwriter who longed to be a successful country music singer. Similarly, I have a degree in French and I have also worked in the wine trade, so the idea of a romance set on a vineyard in France seemed to make sense and my characters have done the rest.

How do you spend your chill out time?

In my spare time, I love to read, cook (and eat!) and travel. I also have a bit of a passion for country music!

If money was no object, where in the world would you choose for a special holiday?

I would love to go to South America, particularly Chile. I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that the country is so narrow that in some places, you can see coast to one side and the snowy Andes mountains to the other. Whilst we’re there, we’d also like to visit Buenos Aires for the food and the dancing, as well as Bolivia which is known to be a haven for butterflies.

And lastly, if you were to invite four celebrities for dinner who would they be and why?
My first guest would be Rick Stein because he is the chef we have admired most over the years, collecting no fewer than seven of his cookbooks since 1988 and we also love his travel programmes so I would have a lot to talk to him about.

Then I would choose J.K. Rowling because in my view, she’s not only a great writer but she’s a very admirable woman and a great role model to us all.

My next guest would be Billy Joel because he is one of my favourite singers and has lived a very interesting life, which would be fascinating to be able to ask him more about over dinner.

For my last celebrity, I’d choose Dr. Michael Mosley, the creator of the Fast Diet so that I could talk to him about the 5:2 eating plan which I have been having great success with since starting it at the beginning of this year.


From Here to Nashville

Two worlds, 4,000 miles apart. Can music unite them?

Rachel Hardy dreams of being a successful country music singer in Nashville’s Music City, four thousand miles away from her lonely life in Dorset.
When Jackson Phillips, an independent record label owner, encourages her band to audition for a nationwide competition, she decides they have nothing to lose.
But the stakes get higher when Rachel starts to fall in love with Jackson, who has demons of his own. Now she has a dilemma on her hands – to abandon her dream and take the easy way out or gamble on Jackson and leave the life she has always known behind.
Follow Rachel and Jackson as they learn to trust in love again and to see whether music really can bring them together.


‘I turned slowly to find myself staring up into the most beautiful pair of brown eyes I’d ever seen. The gorgeous man who’d been watching me earlier now stood before me, and my breath caught as I studied him close up. He towered over my petite frame, his soft, wavy, dark brown hair falling over his forehead, hands slung low in his pockets and cowboy boots peeking out from beneath his jeans.
‘Er, hi,’ I managed to stutter out, reminding myself to breathe.
‘Hey there,’ he drawled in the most luscious American accent. ‘I heard you singing and I wanted to find out more about who that fabulous voice belonged to.’ He smiled and as he did, I noticed the way his lips turned up invitingly at the corners.
‘Thank you. I’m glad you liked it,’ I replied, trying to appear calm and to bring my focus back to his eyes.
And then he chuckled. God, he knew how to make a chuckle sound sexy. He oozed confidence too, with his broad shoulders pulled back and his head held high.
‘You British, you’re so damn polite,’ he said, raising his eyebrows. ‘You sounded great up there.’
‘Yeah, the crowd had a great vibe tonight. I can’t quite believe it.’
‘Well, you have no reason not to; the proof’s all here. I loved your own song by the way. You have a real talent there.’
I blushed then, an honest-to-goodness shade of pink that made him chuckle once more, locking eyes with me as he did, so I knew the compliment was sincere.’

Available on:

About the Author

nashvilleJulie Stock is an author of contemporary romance from around the world: novels, novellas and short stories. She is a proud member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme and of The Alliance of Independent Authors.

She blogs about her path to publication on her website, ‘My Writing Life’ You can also connect with her on Twitter, on Goodreads and via her Facebook Author Page.

When she is not writing, she works part-time as a teacher. She is married with two teenage daughters and lives with her family in Bedfordshire.

Posted in Writing


Minorca July 2011 052
Mahon Harbour, Minorca



Along with my love of the coast comes a sister affection for all things boat. As living next to the sea is never going to happen for me I always make sure I have at least one holiday a year where there’s water. That way at least I can indulge myself in a favourite environment.

Today I’m sharing some of  my photos taken on those holidays…



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Posted in Writing

The Ghost Bird Book Tour: My review -Wednesday 23 March 2016

ghostbird cover final front only sm



Carol Lovekin


Someone needs to be forgiven. Someone needs to forgive.



Nothing hurts like not knowing who you are.

 Nobody will tell Cadi anything about her father and her sister. Her mother Violet believes she can only cope with the past by never talking about it. Lili, Cadi’s aunt, is stuck in the middle, bound by a promise she shouldn’t have made. But this summer, Cadi is determined to find out the truth.

In a world of hauntings and magic, in a village where it rains throughout August, as Cadi starts on her search, the secrets and the ghosts begin to wake up. None of the Hopkins women will be able to escape them.

Charming, quirky, magical

Joanne Harris 

Carol Lovekin’s prose is full of beautifully strange poetry.

Rebecca Mascull, author of The Visitors and Song of the Sea Maid.

Drawing on nature, witchcraft, age-old fairytales and secrets,

Lovekin weaves a powerful, spellbinding tale.

Judith Kinghorn, author of The Last Summer.


Fourteen year old Cadi Hopkins has grown up with her mother Violet and her Aunt Lili who live next door to each other in the village. A tragic accident claimed Cadi’s older sister Dora when she was four.  Shortly after this, Violet’s husband Teilo was killed in a car crash. Her mother has never got over the loss of her elder daughter and husband, nor has she coped with the fact that shortly after Teilo’s death she found herself pregnant with Cadi.Her relationship with her daughter is therefore distant and lacking in any  emotion.  Lili is the one who provides the love and support and Cadi very often takes refuge with her aunt. someone she can talk to. As she grows neither her mother or aunt will tell her the truth about what really happened to her father and sister. Emotionally damaged Violet has chosen to deliberately bury the past and has sworn Lili to secrecy. All Cadi hears besides the whispers in the village is her mother’s constant warning to keep away from the lake. This summer, however, she is determined to discover what happened. Voices and ghostly occurrences together with the return of someone from her mother’s past all become part of her journey to find the truth.

This book has many component parts. First  it is mysterious, filled with family secrets.  Secondly it is mystical – Cadi’s connection with her dead sister’s spirit – a fledgling owl and the Ghost Bird of the title.  And thirdly and perhaps most importantly, it a very human story about the damage we do to ourselves and others through our sometimes misguided beliefs. Happily Cadi’s quest for the truth brings eventual redemption for both the living and the dead.

Beautifully written  it pulled me in from the very first page.  It would make a great movie.

A magical and emotional read fully deserving of my five star award.

I would like to thank Honno Publishing for a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

carol lovekin 1 LFjg preferred photo  janey stevens low resAUTHOR:
Carol Lovekin was born in Warwickshire. She has Irish blood and a Welsh heart, and has lived in mid Wales for 36 years. She has worked as a cleaner, a freelance journalist, a counsellor, a legal secretary and a shop assistant. She began writing with a view to publication in her late fifties has published short stories, reviews and is a prolific letter writer. She has been blogging for over nine years. Ghostbird is her first traditionally published novel.


Author social media


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Book links

Amazon UK       

 ghostbird blog tour poster2

Posted in Writing

TUESDAY TALK: Today’s author in the spotlight is Bookouture’s Helen Pollard

Helen Pollard_ author portaitGood morning Helen and welcome.  Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Hello, and thank you for having me here today.

I live in Yorkshire with my husband, two almost-adults and a Jekyll & Hyde cat – antiseptic cream is always close at hand! When I’m not writing, I enjoy reading – if my eyes aren’t too tired from being at a screen a lot of the time. I don’t watch much TV nowadays – maybe the odd movie or sitcom, but a series has to be really good to keep my attention. I try to go for a short walk once a day to blow away the cobwebs, and I enjoy treating myself to a coffee and a chat with friends when I can.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?  How did your journey begin?

As a child, I loved reading (and rereading) Enid Blyton’s ‘Magic Faraway Tree’ books. I wanted to create whole new worlds the way she did, so I started writing stories in a special notebook. I continued to write as a hobby in my teens, and then in my early twenties, I sent a couple of romances off to a publisher with no success. I stopped writing while I raised my family and later went back to work (no time and too tired!) but as the kids grew older, the urge to write was really beginning to nag at me. I took it up again about six years ago, and decided I would do my best to get published.

If you were asked to write something completely different from your usual genre, what would it be and why?

Gosh, that’s a hard question! I love the genre I’m writing now, but I very much admire writers who can concoct a decent thriller. I know for certain that I couldn’t write one myself, but I wish I could!

Plotter or Panster? What works best for you?

Ha! Well, I used to be a pantser – I don’t really like to do a detailed outline at the start. I’ll have a basic premise in mind, and certain points or events that I definitely want to get to, but beyond that, I like to allow my characters to take me where they want to go.

However, now that I’m writing as part of a series, I’m having to learn to work differently and plan ahead more. It’s taking some getting used to!

Do you prefer music or silence when writing?  If the former, have you a favourite artist?

I much prefer silence while I’m writing or editing. If I do have music on, it can’t have lyrics or I will get distracted.

You’ve recently secured a book contract with Bookouture.  Can you tell us something about that and also your new book The Little French Guesthouse which is due out in April?

I was thrilled to sign with Bookouture! I had a couple of romances published by a U.S. digital press over the last couple of years, but The Little French Guesthouse is in a different genre – cheekier, more down-to-earth chick lit/women’s fiction – and I really wanted to find the right home for it. I think I have  . . . and it will be a three-book series!

The Little French Guesthouse is told from the point of view of Emmy Jamieson whose relationship with her boyfriend is getting stale. She decides on a quiet holiday in France in the hope they can reconnect . . . but he runs off with the guesthouse owner’s wife instead! Left to look after Rupert – the temporarily-incapacitated guesthouse owner – and his business, Emmy faces complications in the form of a handsome young gardener and an attractive accountant, and also has to deal with various friends and acquaintances of Rupert’s. But Emmy handles it all with humour and rediscovered inner strength, and finally begins to consider what she wants from her future.

If you were planning to take yourself away to a desert island for a relaxing few weeks, what four things couldn’t you do without and why?

My husband, son and daughter . . . do they count as things? And my Kindle!


As a child, Helen had a vivid imagination fuelled by her love of reading, so she started to create her own stories in a notebook.

She still prefers fictional worlds to real life, believes characterisation is the key to a successful book, and enjoys infusing her writing with humour and heart.

When she’s not writing, Helen enjoys reading, decent coffee, scrapbooking and watching old seventies and eighties TV shows.

Helen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Find Helen at:

Website & Blog:





The little French Guesthouse


Helen Pollard

The perfect feel good summer read

(La Cour des Roses Book 1)


The Little French Guesthouse



Sun, croissants and fine wine. Nothing can spoil the perfect holiday. Or can it?

When Emmy Jamieson arrives at La Cour des Roses, a beautiful guesthouse in the French countryside, she can’t wait to spend two weeks relaxing with boyfriend Nathan. Their relationship needs a little TLC and Emmy is certain this holiday will do the trick. But they’ve barely unpacked before he scarpers with Gloria, the guesthouse owner’s cougar wife.

Rupert, the ailing guesthouse owner, is shell-shocked. Feeling somewhat responsible, and rather generous after a bottle (or so) of wine, heartbroken Emmy offers to help. Changing sheets in the gîtes will help keep her mind off her misery.

Thrust into the heart of the local community, Emmy suddenly finds herself surrounded by new friends. And with sizzling hot gardener Ryan and the infuriating (if gorgeous) accountant Alain providing welcome distractions, Nathan is fast becoming a distant memory.

Fresh coffee and croissants for breakfast, feeding the hens in the warm evening light; Emmy starts to feel quite at home. But it would be madness to walk away from her friends, family, and everything she’s ever worked for, to take a chance on a place she fell for on holiday – wouldn’t it?

Fans of Jenny Colgan, Lucy Diamond and Nick Alexander will want to join Emmy for a glass of wine as the sun sets on the terrace at La Cour des Roses.

Buy links:

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:


I wish I could tell you it happened like it does in the movies. You know the kind of thing. The heroine standing proud, oozing restrained fury. The audience’s satisfaction as she delivers a reverberating slap across her lover’s face. Her dramatic but dignified exit from the screen.

Believe me, there was nothing dignified about it. All I did was stand there shaking, rage and adrenalin coursing through my body like rabid greyhounds, my mouth flapping open and shut as I tried to find the words. Any words. Even a simple sound of outrage would have sufficed, but all I managed was a pathetic squeak.

‘Emmy, it’s not what it looks like,’ Nathan spluttered, but of course it couldn’t be anything other than what it looked like. My view as I stumbled through the door had been graphically explicit. Even he must have known how lame he sounded. Grappling for dignity and his belt, he tried again. ‘We were… I mean, I didn’t expect you to…’

I launched into a wronged-woman tirade as though someone had handed me a bad soap script.

‘No, I bet you didn’t expect me to…’ An alarm bell clanged dimly at the back of my brain, but I ignored it. ‘How could you? You cheating bastard! I can’t believe you…’ The clanging grew louder and more insistent, moving to the front of my consciousness. ‘Shit!’ With a guilty jolt, I remembered why I’d come all the way up here in the first place. ‘Gloria, you need to call an ambulance. I think Rupert’s having a heart attack.’

‘What?’ Adjusting her dress, Gloria greeted this sudden change of subject with bewilderment.

‘Rupert. Your husband, remember? Heart attack. Ambulance.’ I gave her bangled arm a nudge to see if her brain was still functioning or whether sex with my boyfriend was more spectacular than I gave him credit for.

‘Ohmygod. Ohmygod.’ The message finally got through to her lust-addled brain cells. ‘Where is he?’

‘Kitchen.’ I headed for the stairs, my mind thankfully back on the emergency at hand and pushing visions of Nathan and Gloria romping on the roof terrace to the rear of my consciousness. For now, remarkably, there were more important things to worry about.

‘What do you mean, a heart attack?’ Gloria shouted after me. ‘Why the hell didn’t you call an ambulance?’

‘I tried, but then I realised I didn’t know the number, and besides, my French isn’t good enough,’ I called over my shoulder. ‘I thought it would be quicker to get you to do it. I had no idea you’d be so busy.’

‘Ohmygod, Emmy. He could be dead by now!’

She was right – he could be dead by now – but when we reached the kitchen, to my immense relief, Rupert was still conscious and sitting propped against the wall the way I’d left him. I’d done my best, but I hadn’t expected to lose precious moments with the melodrama upstairs. I couldn’t imagine how I would have felt if he had stopped breathing.






Tuesday Talk: Today I’m chatting to Dorset author Laura E James about writing, dinner guests and being a member of the Romaniacs…

Laura James Choc Lit

Good morning Laura and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourselF?

Hi, Jo. Thank you so much for inviting me to your pad. A little about myself? I’m married to Gajitman and this September sees our twentieth anniversary, I’m a mother to two lovely, funny and caring children, who are growing up far too quickly, and I live on the Jurassic Coast. I have two cats, Daisy, our prim and proper princess cat, and Rascal, our #Splatcat. He gets around a bit on social media.Upside Down

You live in Dorset and have used it as a backdrop for your novels. Is this going to be a continuing theme or do you plan to take your characters farther afield?

I adore the South-West coast. Living close to the sea is good for my soul. It inspires my writing and its vastness gives perspective to the problems life sometimes throws in my direction. I wanted to share that feeling with my characters and readers. My first three Choc Lit books are specific to Chesil Beach and Weymouth and Portland, but book four has wandered a little further afield, but as it stands, is still in Dorset. I love Italy ‒ maybe I should send my heroine there.

You are a member of The Romaniacs – ‘kindred spirits with a love of writing’. Can you tell us about the group and how you all came together?

My wonderful writing sisters. What fabulous women they are. I’m not sure I’d have got this far without them. I first met Catherine through Twitter, our common link being the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme. We travelled together to the inaugural Festival of Romance, and that’s where we met Celia, Sue, Lucie and Debbie. If I recall correctly, we had virtually communicated with one another, but we’d not met in real life until that weekend. The RNA Winter Party followed, where we met Vanessa and Jan, and three months later, we started the Romaniacs blog ‒
We have been there for each other through good times and bad, waving our pom-poms, or lending an ear and a shoulder, and have become close, family friends. My goodness, these girls can make me laugh so much. I consider myself fortunate to have met them and honoured to have them in my life.

Have you any particular places you would love to visit – ideal bucket list destinations?

I’d love to go to Prague at Christmas time. I have romantic images in my head from pictures I saw when I was younger. I’d wrap up though, as I’m not a fan of cold weather. I’d love to go back to Dubai. My parents worked there in the nineties. Gajitman proposed to me on the Arabian Gulf. Dubai has changed since then and I’d like to see how it is now. I’ve never made it to the Italian lakes. It was a holiday my mum and I were planning before she passed away. One day.

Plotter or Panster? What works best for you?

FM_new flat front 300dpiI change with every book, Jo. My work in progress has been planned to within an inch of its life, but the words aren’t falling from my head to the page. I’m wondering if it’s because I’ve not left enough room for organic growth. With my previous books I had the start and a specific ending, but only a rough idea of the middle. Writing the book was as exciting as reading one ‒ I had to turn the page to find out what happened next. I struggle with timelines, so that’s why I’ve planned book 4. I’m trying to avoid the change the entire structure because the story can’t possibly happen in a week issue. Following What Doesn’t Kill You, where the hero, Griff Hendry, is a coastguard, I’ve vowed never to give my characters shift work again. I have a Paloma Faith calendar for book four’s timeline, but it seems rude to cover her in sticky notes.

Name three of your favourite authors.

Jill Mansell, Jodi Picoult and Erica James. There are many authors I love to read, but these are the three to whom I return and whose books have influenced my writing.

If you could invite five well known people to dinner, who would they be and why?

Kate Bush ‒ I never thought I’d get the chance to see Kate Bush live, but I did in 2014, at the Apollo in London. It was amazing. I have loved this lady’s music since my teens. Her storytelling within her lyrics captivated me and made me want to write songs and poems. I learned about rhyming couplets from Kate Bush. I’d like to ask her about her songs and her inspiration ‒ find out what makes her tick.
Paloma Faith ‒ I’ve been to many Paloma gigs and she is charming, witty and entertaining, not to mention talented. I think we’d have a few laughs. She would certainly ToD Darkget the party started. And I’d apologise for the sticky notes.
Jodi Picoult ‒ an amazing speaker and a writer. I’d share my love of issue-driven novels with her. She is an interesting lady, who speaks with conviction and knowledge on many subjects.
Johhny Depp ‒ He is such a fascinating man. I think his acting skills are extraordinary and I’d like to find out how he goes about getting into character. And I’d do this while looking into those deep, brown eyes …
And I’m back again.
Nigella Lawson ‒ so she can teach me how to cook and how to be sassy. Perhaps, since I’m not a natural chef, Nigella would prepare the meal …

It’s been great chatting with you, Jo ‒ excellent questions. Thank you. I’m wondering if I could make that dinner party happen.

Thank you Laura, a great interview and if you did make your dinner party happen think i would bag a spare seat if there was one going…


Possessing little in the way of domestic skills, and with an insatiable hunger to write, Laura E. James found a much better use than cooking, for the family kitchen. Tucked neatly in one corner is her very small, but very tidy desk from where she produces issue-driven romantic novels, short stories, and flash fiction.
Living in and enjoying the inspirational county of Dorset, Laura is a graduate of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, a member of her local writing group, Off The Cuff, a founder of Littoralis, and one eighth of The Romaniacs, the RNA Industry Awards 2015 Media Stars Winner.
Published by Choc Lit, Laura’s debut novel, Truth or Dare? was nominated for the Festival of Romance Best Romantic eBook. Her second novel, Follow Me Follow You was a editorial selection. What Doesn’t Kill You, the third in the Chesil Beach Book Series, is the first title in Choc Lit’s new Dark imprint ‒ compelling, emotional, hard-hitting novels. Not your typical romance story.

For further information, go to:

Read an excerpt from Laura’s latest book…

What Doesn't Kill You Laura E James_FRONT_150dpi

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – but how strong can one person be?
Griff Hendry knows what it is to be strong. After a turbulent past, he’s dedicated himself to saving lives, working as a coastguard along the breath-taking shores of Dorset. It’s Griff’s belief that everyone is worth saving – which is why he can’t forgive his father, Logan, for what he did.
Griff’s future is plunged into uncertainty when his wife, Evie, tells him she wants a separation. The revelation is a shock and leads Griff to question what Evie could possibly be hiding – and she isn’t the only one holding back. Griff’s troubled stepdaughter, Tess, also harbours a dark secret.
As the truth is uncovered, Griff is forced to accept that perhaps he’s never understood what real strength is.

Chapter One

The white horses of the English Channel were charging head first into the obelisk of Pulpit Rock, their remains spewing onto the cliff tops of Portland Bill, then receding, threatening to drag the winter tourists and spectators into the rough water below.

The wild spray reached as far as the toes of Griff Hendry’s boots, as under the gaze of the red and white striped lighthouse, he stood firm. His instinct was to keep vigil over the families and photo-opportunists gripped by the sight of the huge breakers – people like him, restless and eager to engage with the outside world following the festivities of New Year. It made no difference he was off-duty; his experience as a coastguard and his years of living in West Dorset meant he knew the risk; nature was sometimes a beast – raw, savage, and powerful. She was to be admired, but with reverence. Much like love.
Both could drown you without warning.
He pulled his ranger’s coat tighter as he signalled to a man with two small boys to retreat from the brink of the cliff. The wind was gaining strength, and the desperate waves were grasping at the land. One violent gust and the sea would snatch the weakest person away.
‘Get back,’ Griff shouted. ‘You’re too close to the edge.’
As he returned his attention to the water, he saw the worst possible scenario unfolding. A massive swell was heading directly for the Bill. And directly for the children.
‘Move!’ he yelled, covering the distance between him and the boys in seconds. He turned away from the onslaught, propelled the older child to the man, and grabbed the toddler. He thrust them forward, crashed on to the grass, and arched over the young boy, protecting him from the briny storm. He remained there until the noise of shifting shingle ceased, then he brushed the startled lad’s fringe from his eyes, and gave a smile of reassurance. ‘Okay?’
The boy stared.
Griff pushed away from the ground, wiped his wet hands along his thighs, and helped his ward to his feet. Crouching at the boy’s level, he checked him over. ‘Are you hurt?’ Silence. ‘No broken bones?’ Still no reply. ‘Can you lift your arms like this?’ Griff raised his hands over his head, made a play of losing his balance, and launched himself onto his backside. The resulting squelch and Griff’s exaggerated call of ‘Oh, man!’ produced the desired response; the boy’s fixed expression broke with a chuckle.
Having risen to his full height, Griff turned to the father. ‘He’s a little stunned, and his back is soaked, but he’ll be fine.’ He handed the lad over and accepted the nod of thanks the equally wet man offered. ‘It’s as dangerous as it is beautiful here,’ said Griff. ‘More so on days like this. Best to keep safe.’
As he waved to the departing father and boys, his thoughts turned to his own family. He’d kept a close vigil over them, but the undercurrents were far more subtle than in any ocean. From riding high on wave after wave of ecstasy, his relationship with Evie had sunk without trace.
And Griff hadn’t seen it coming.
He needed Evie to talk, to tell him what the problem was so he could fix it, but communication was limited. Her usual reply was a shrug, or a silent diversion, and the more he pushed, the further she withdrew. The death blow came when Griff finally forced the issue with a question. A foolish, instantly regretted question. ‘Is it because of someone else?’
Evie, her green eyes fading to a silky grey, turned away and breathed her word into life. ‘Yes.’
It was after that she asked Griff to leave.
The fact it had been a week before Christmas – the week before the third anniversary of the day they met – proved to Griff the extent of Evie’s distress. Had she been thinking straight, she’d have put the children first, and she’d have kept the family together for the holidays at the very least.
There had to be more to the situation than she was letting on.
Griff raised his collar. Where had it all gone wrong?
The fortnight he’d already spent apart from her felt like a lifetime. Together for three years and married for just half that, the end was hard to accept.
‘I should be here with you, and Tess and Dylan,’ he said, the squall whisking his words out to sea. ‘And Ozzy.’ He’d lost count of the number of times he’d turned to call his dog to heel. Walking the Bill wasn’t the same without the lumbering beast hurtling around, making Dylan squeal. Or without Evie’s hand to hold. He even missed Tess’s teenage objections to taking some exercise. As the icy, January spray whipped Griff’s cheek, he stepped back, stiffness in his ankle eliciting a sharp intake of breath. He flexed his foot, releasing the old memory seizing his bones.
At sixteen, he’d jumped from Pulpit Rock.
It was that jump that broke his ankle.
It was that day he lost his best friend to the undersea rocks.
Twenty-four years on, and Griff hadn’t forgiven himself for allowing it to happen.
And he wouldn’t forgive himself if he lost Evie.
He raked his fingers through his hair and flicked the glacial drips to the ground. He’d grown tired of battling the gale for his hood, but his resolve to fight for his wife, his family, the life he loved, was greater than ever.

Posted in Writing

TUESDAY TALK – Today I’m with Jane Risdon talking about writing, photography and life in the music world

Good morning Jo, thanks so much for inviting me to natter with you this lovely Tuesday morning. Go ahead, ask me whatever you like

Lovely to have you here for a chat Jane. Can I start as I usually do by asking you a little about yourself?

Let’s see, I’ve been married to the same person, a musician (lead guitarist), for the last 45 years and we’ve been together 48. Which to us doesn’t seem possible. Where has all the time gone? We’ve been having way too much fun. We are both still 20 in our heads.  We met when his band came to live near my home. He was over from Jersey (Channel Isles) on tour in support of their first record. It was insanity at first sight. I was still at school and suddenly the most popular girl there once my class mates realised there was a band living next door. Typically it took me a while to register the fact. Actually, once they did appear on my radar, the tall bronzed blonde one took my fancy, but being a good convent girl I viewed them (mostly him) from afar and from under my very long fringe. Little did I know I’d end up with the tall dark haired one, with turquoise eyes. It was touch and go, not that the tall blonde one had a clue. The one with the turquoise eyes only found this out recently – he took it well.  The guitar is still in tune.

We have one son named after Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues. When we got married we didn’t have a fancy wedding as the chosen one had to go off on tour (Switzerland) right after the Registry Office ceremony, which I recall cost me £7.50 – typically the band were broke a lot of the time and I worked at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London to keep him, and a lot of his band – mostly the lead singer – in the manner to which they were rapidly becoming accustomed. We didn’t have any wedding guests – family disapproval – and although it was June, it rained. A school friend was a witness and another friend was our Best Woman, and the taxi driver attempted to take some photos most of which didn’t come out. Oh happy day.

Yes Jo, eventually the long-haired, unwashed, lay-about (family opinion, but rest assured so far from the truth) and I went into business together managing recording artists, record producers, song-writers and the occasional actor…the insanity continued for the majority of our ‘grown-up’ life together, and still does.  Once a musician, always a musician, and with it comes a certain ‘mentality.’ I am sure any of your readers involved with one knows exactly what I mean!

You’ve spent a lot of your life in the music industry which means you’ve probably met a lot of very famous artists. Who was your favourite and why?

I’m always asked about meeting famous people, and who was my favourite, but it is hard to recall them all off the top of my head – there have been so many.  I could write a long list of those not my favourites but most are still upright and breathing and that’s how I’d like to remain for the foreseeable future, so it would be unwise to list any of them.  Let me think. Well, there’s Gloria Estefan, a lovely lady, very professional and polite, but friendly too. One of our artists made an album with David Cassidy and he was a sweetheart and I hate reading about his problems. I think he’s had quite a sad life actually. Alice Cooper was a laugh and such a gentleman – some of our musicians auditioned for his touring band and we got to spend a lot of time with him. Stevie Nicks, was very Stevie Nicks – we did a gig on Alcatraz with her and many others signed to the same record label which was far out.  Actually, there’s no way we could’ve swum back to shore from there.  The Olsen Twins were also there as I recall, already on their way to their billions. Faith Hill was a sweetie. Weird Al Yankowitz was especially kind to a Chinese artist we managed and gave her a signed copy of his hand-written lyrics to ‘Eat it,’ his take on Michael Jackson’s ‘Beat it.’  Oh, I spoke to Michael Jackson on the phone one day, does that count?  He rang one of his songwriters with whom we were working, and the phone was handed to me to say ‘hello Michael.’ So I did.  We made some records with Roger Taylor from Queen – my lips are sealed.  We were involved with music for Baywatch and some of our artists appeared in the series so meeting David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson was something we did regularly. I have to admit I did wash where they’d kissed me. There have been so many, I could write a book…

When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer and how did you begin that journey?

I’ve always wanted to write. I used to write little stories as a child, just for me to read. Being the eldest of 6 kids, I was actually very lonely. They are all much younger than I and they related to me as another adult – another mum. And my parents thought I was their Au Pair. Reading was my escape and writing was a way to deal with not actually having friends of my own age. Plus we moved around a lot, living overseas. My father was in the Army so making friends was difficult when we didn’t stay anywhere very long.

i-am-woman-anthology-vol-1-feat-meI decided that one day when I had time to myself I would write, however, whilst working with our artists touring, recording, and everything else which goes with babysitting the little darlings, it was impossible. I tried it. But it didn’t happen. Once we’d decided to take a backward step from the business, I found time. It was not easy, I didn’t know what to write.  Suddenly all the ideas I thought I had before, had disappeared.  I messed around with ideas and started to put some life events down on paper and during a conversation with a friend, an award-winning writer, who had also been fan-club secretary to my husband’s band as well as a Rock journalist,  she suggested I carry on. She thought I could write.  So for a while she and my husband were the only people to read what I wrote.  Once my confidence had increased I decided to write short stories and eventually full length novels. The short stories have been well received so far.  My novels are still being written, except one which is due out soon.

How would you describe your writing process? Do you plan everything thoroughly or start with an idea and see where it takes you?

Oh Jo, you’d think I could organise a booze-up in a brewery. I can organise musicians and believe me that takes some doing, especially some of the metal and rock bands I’ve managed, but to get myself organised to write, please, I wish!  I supposed I start with an idea garnered from a news headline, something someone says or triggered by a memory of an experience we’ve had or someone we know has had.  A title pops into my head and then the whole story usually comes.  Mind you, it alters as I go along and I believe that the ‘entity’ responsible for writing songs, creating great works of art or whatever, gets into my head and takes over. Where does this stuff come from? You tell me. I walk a lot and often have my camera with me and so something I photograph might set me off with the location for a story or I’ll go out looking for locations where I can set my story, using the photos as visual notes.

I’ll sit down at the computer and then do my best not to have to start writing. I need cups of tea and if I have a supply of liquorice I am happy as a sand boy. I might stretch to making a map or listing the characters names and salient points about them in a notebook, as I often forget what they are called or look like – it’s because my brain is running all over the show and I can’t type fast enough. Sometimes I start early in the day and keep going until I nearly drop off my perch, other times I go at it in fits and starts and don’t get going until quite late. I’m not a creature of habit.

Can you tell us something about your current WIP?

Works in Progress. Ah now, there’s a question.  I have several on the go ranging from a series of ‘observational humour’ stories, based on my experiences staying in a village with ‘she who must be obeyed,’ better known as The Mater. When she was ill I spent a long time with her and waiting for the bus every week, to go shopping, was an education. All her old school mates (she was 80+ at the time) and people she’d known all her life would often wait with us. I soon became an expert on the aches and pains, the bowel habits and digestion challenges for the elderly. It was like listening to an audio copy of the Obits column of the local rag; all the hatch, match and despatches. I quickly learned who had recently popped their clogs, whose medication caused flatulence and various reactions, who couldn’t wait for the bus any longer because they’d fallen, had a stroke or some such. Not to mention who’d had babies during WW2 whilst their husband was in Germany or Japan for the period of the war and still had the village gossips tongue-wagging 75 years after; ooer missus. God’s Waiting Room was born and the antics of Old Ma Hedges, Faney and Cinderella Green, Johnny the Rag and Bone man and others, started to take shape.  I was particularly taken by a certain middle-aged couple who used to ‘misconduct’ themselves in the garden hedge opposite the pub on their way back from a few bevvies, much to the disgust of the doctor’s wife. You get my drift.

I have several crime stories on the go including a series called Ms Birdsong Investigates about a former MI5 officer who is ‘voluntarily’ retired following a messed up mission involving MI6 and her now former lover. She’s living in rural Oxfordshire and is bored out of her skull when she becomes involved in the search for a missing woman. Soon Lavinia Birdsong is back in the world she loves and understands. Russian Oligarch’s with Mafia links, Ukrainian people traffickers and gun-runners – she’s loving it until a certain MI6 officer, Michael Dante, just happens to be running the investigation.  This book started out as a modern day Miss Marple and has taken on a life all of its own ever since I attended a family wedding in 2013 at a grand house, miles from anywhere. I suddenly became aware that the house was not all it appeared to be and made my thoughts known to one of the staff there, who confirmed I was indeed staying in what is commonly known as A Safe House.  The staff all being Foreign and Commonwealth Office employees. I can’t tell you what made me suspect the real purpose of the house – I’d have to kill you. But I was right.   Ping! Ms B had a new identity and I have been rewriting books 1, 2 and 3 since then. I am getting there.

I mentioned co-writing a book with another writer, someone I am so proud to have had the opportunity to write with. Someone who encouraged me and has helped me no end, and has put up with my lack of confidence and belief. Christina Jones and I have long wanted to write together, as I said earlier we go back a long way to our teens when she was my husband’s fan-club secretary, and some time ago we started a book, before I was signed with Accent Press, about life in the late 1960s about two girls in love with the same musician. It’s full of music, fashion, the vibe of the times and world events which shaped our lives back then. It’s called Only One Woman and should be published in the summer. I usually write crime stories so this is a first for me. I really hope everyone will enjoy it. It has been a blast writing it together and has brought us both to tears and laughter along the way.

You have a great passion for photography. How did this come about?

Photography is something I’ve always loved. Thank god for digital cameras. Back in the day the cost of rolls of film and developing them put paid to any idea I had about snapping everything in sight, hence many tours went unrecorded and places we visited are imprinted upon our minds only. But now. Oh boy!  I am as happy as a drunken prawn. I have no idea when I discovered this passion for recording events, countryside, people and the beauty of Planet Earth, I guess it happened just like the passion for recording events in my writing. It came out of the blue a long time ago.

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If you’re invited out to dinner, what would be your ideal food?

Guess what.  I don’t have a favourite food. I eat because I have to, if I’m hungry and feeling light headed.  I suppose I enjoy salads and cheese more than anything, though you’ve got to agree with me surely when I say salads taste of nothing much these days. Now alcohol, that’s another story. I do enjoy a good bottle of wine or champagne and a nice glass of Scotch or JD or Jim Beam…then Twiglets have to be provided.

If you chose to get away from it all and live on a desert island, what four essentials would you take with you and why?

Cripes a desert island. I wouldn’t last five minutes with my fair skin. I can’t take the heat. I have to have AC – can I take that? I’d take a library of books, computer and flash drives with internet connection (I don’t do camping type living), and there would be my husband with his guitar so he could drive me nuts with yet another song he’s written or new rift he’s come up with. I couldn’t leave the poor bugger at home, he’d have peace and quiet and I know he wouldn’t cope without me doing his head in at least once a day.

Well Jo, you did ask. Thanks so much for asking me here today. I do hope you haven’t started another bottle without me. It’s been a blast.  Really. I’ve had fun.

Thank you Jane, a fabulous interview and good luck with your writing.

If you would like to catch up with Jane on social media her links are below:

Accent Press: Accent Press | About Jane Risdon

Jane Risdon  Amazon Author page.  Author blog Twitter  Facebook Author Page.





Posted in Writing

TUESDAY TALK: Today I’m chatting to writer Anne Harvey about her life, her latest book and some interesting musical dinner guests….

Anne 004Good  morning Anne and welcome, can I start by asking you a little bit about yourself?

Where do I start? Difficult this, as I’ve lived a full and varied life and if I was to go into details, we’d be here forever. So, here’s a potted history. Early childhood (the late 1940s/early 1950s – yes, I’m that old!) spent with my parents in domestic service, worked for six years as a weaver in the Lancashire cotton industry, spent a brief time living and working in the United States, lived all over the country, did various secretarial jobs until I ended up in an Admin role at a northern university where I met my third – and the best – husband. We’ll have been married 25 years later this year.

When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer and how did you begin that journey?

I don’t think I ever made a conscious decision that I wanted to be a writer. It just sort of Dirk_Bogarde_Hallmark_Hall_of_Famehappened. For most of my childhood, I was an only child – my brother came along when I was in my teens – and living in other people’s houses, I didn’t have much opportunity to mix with other children. So I made up imaginary stories with my dolls and cuddly toys. As I grew older and became interested in boys, I’d imagine romantic scenes with whatever boy I fancied at the time being the hero! By the time I was working, I was writing the stories down in exercise books and I certainly never thought about publication. As I reached adulthood, my heroes tended to all look like the British film star, Dirk Bogarde!

I’ve already mentioned living and working in the United States. This was in the early 1960s. So life-changing was the experience that I wove a fictional novel around it and naïvely sent it out to various publishers. With no luck, of course. It was still, I now realise, a long way off publication. By then, I was hooked on the love of writing. In the intervening years, I wrote another two novels, now all gathering dust on the shelf, probably the best place for them. I also got involved in tracing my family history and wrote articles, many of them commissioned, for various journals and national magazines. I really only took my writing seriously after taking early retirement. Last year, I self-published my debut novel, A Suitable Young Man, with some moderate success, I’m pleased to say. You can see details of it here

 How would you describe your writing process?  Do you plan your chapters in detail or sim ply sit and let inspiration wash over you?

My first three novels (the one’s gathering dust on the shelf) were written without any kind of planning whatsoever, which shows how naïve I was about the process of writing. ASYM_Front_smallHowever, now that I’m more experienced, my books tend to be a combination of planning and ‘pantsing.’ The first draft might well be just written as it comes to me but subsequent drafts are juggled with and added to as further ideas occur to me that might develop the story further. After the first draft, I do write a scene list, calculating how many scenes each of my protagonists has and balancing this where necessary. I do admire writers who plan meticulously but, unfortunately, my mind doesn’t seem to work that way. A Suitable Young Man took innumerable drafts and the circumstances of my two main protagonists changed several times before it became what I hoped was publishable. I write in the family/regional saga genre.

Can you tell us something about your current WIP?

When writing A Suitable Young Man, I started wondering what would happen to certain characters who were left in limbo. I included an epilogue in that book, which hinted that the story of one of the more minor characters, would continue. In Bittersweet Flight, it’s 1956 and Sally Simcox is a girl in trouble, at a time when having an illegitimate child is BITTERSWEET FLIGHT_high res smallconsidered shameful. The father, Nick Roberts, had offered to marry her but, knowing he was in love with someone else, she’d told him she’d had a miscarriage. Sally has fled to the anonymity of Blackpool, not knowing what she’s going to do there or how she will cope with her situation. On the day of her arrival in Blackpool, she meets a young RAF serviceman. He seems familiar and it isn’t long before Sally realises that he’s the last person she needs to meet for he is Nick’s younger brother, Phil. And he has no idea who she is. Yet it seems that their paths are destined to cross. I would describe Bittersweet Flight as a nostalgic tale of self-discovery, courage, loss and love.  I’ve no firm plans in mind for a further book. However, the first novel I ever wrote is still very dear to my heart and I may well come back to it now that I’m a more experienced writer.

Bittersweet Flight is now available for pre-order on Amazon:


If money was no object, where in the world would you choose for a special holiday?

Without doubt, it would have to be New Zealand. The country, with the South Island’s snow-capped mountains and the more sub-tropical North Island, has long fascinated me. My first husband and I had even looked into emigrating there in the 1970s but our plan never came to fruition. New Zealand is, because of its geographical isolation, unique in its flora and fauna. And the indigenous Polynesian people, the Maori, with their own language, mythology and distinctive craftwork, only add to the country’s attraction.

And lastly if you could invite four celebrities for dinner, who would they be and why?

Definitely Tom Jones! I’ve always been a fan of his golden voice and, having just read his autobiography ‘Over the Top and Back,’ he comes across as a warm-hearted man. Another favoured guest would be the TV presenter, Simon Reeve. He puts such enthusiasm into whatever subject he is discussing and he’s not afraid to show his emotions, as when he came across refugees in his recent series about Greece. I would have to include the author Jojo Moyes. Her books are always subtly different which I think would be very challenging and I’d love to ask her how she does it. Lastly, I would like to include the opera singer, Dame Tiri Te Kanawa, because I understand she has a Maori background and would be interesting to talk to.

Thanks, Jo, for asking me to participate in your Tuesday Talk. It’s been a pleasure!

Thank you for taking time to talk to me Anne and for some great responses to my questions.