Posted in Writing


nicola orbaGood morning Nicola and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Thanks for having me! Well, I live in Ascot in Berkshire with Stanley the cat. Writing is my complete passion. I still undertake freelance projects as a marketing/events manager so my life is a whirlwind of writing, working, meals out with friends, time with family, attending horse racing meetings, walking in Windsor Great Park and promoting my books. Love Me Tinder is my eighth novel.

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

Wow, a big question for me, but I will try and précis the answer. I started writing 20 years ago. I amazingly got an agent on submitting my first novel. For 2 years I received rejection letters. The agent let me go. I wrote another 5 books and then in 2011, 15 years since I started my first novel, I decided to publish 6 of them myself. After a massive amount of hard work and persistence, I won 2 awards at the Festival of Romance and bagged myself another agent, the lovely Kate Nash. In 2015 my dreams started becoming reality as I signed a 7 book deal with a long awaited traditional publisher – Accent Press.

When your latest book has been published is the next story already plotted and ready to write?

No. Ideas come to me but I usually have a break as when I start again I know it is all consuming.

Can you tell us something about your current WIP?

I’m clearing the mind cache at the moment as Love Me Tinder still swirling around after final edits. I have a few ideas forming but think I really must start Beyond the School Gates, the sequel to The School Gates which has been my bestseller so far. Plus, I would like to get another Christmas novella out there.

If money was no object what would be your idea holiday destination?

A private villa on Mustique Island with turtles in the garden!

And lastly, if you had to spend a year on a desert island, what four ‘must haves’ would you want to take with you?

  • Leonardo di Caprio
  • My cat Stanley
  • A feather pillow
  • PG Tips tea bags

Twitter: nicolamay1


Dull security or risky freedom – which would you choose? 

With her marriage in pieces, shy Cali Summers is faced with this decision and hits the world of fast love on an internet dating app. Using room 102 in the hotel where she works as her dating ‘lair’, she opens herself up to a world of sex, lies, deception, as well as personal discovery and passionate love.

With a charming F1 engineer, a handsome army officer and her adulterous ex all on the scene, a predictable love match is far from on the cards.


I have to admit, Chick Lit is not my usual choice but as I had organised this promo for Nicola I decided it would be good to read and review the book as well.

I took to Hotel Events Manager Cali straight away.  Having spent twelve years with Jamie Summers, getting married seemed the natural thing to do.  But nine months after the wedding they are divorcing because he now wants to be with his blond bimbo trainer Bella.  In the middle of her divorce, Cali is not in a good place. However, she has great support from gay receptionist Adam who encourages her to download the Tinder Dating App and go out and find herself some male distraction.  This she does with some very interesting results.  At the same time she finds herself pulled in to other peoples’ problems – her boss Marcus, best friend Annie and Events Coordinator, Louise. And despite leaving her for Bella,  Jamie keeps turning up at her flat, making everything even more complicated.

I loved this story. All the way through I wanted Cali to have a happy ending.  The internet dating world was a real minefield – men who lie about their age, download misleading photos, lie about their marital status – Cali seemed to come across them all.  There were great support characters plus an abusive grey African parrot, all which made for lots of laugh out loud moments. A thoroughly enjoyable read.

And does Cali get that happy ending I wanted so much for her?  Well, sorry, you’ll have to buy the book to find out.

I would like to thank Nicola for a pre-publication copy of Love Me Tinder in exchange for an honest review.

You can download Love Me Tinder here:


Posted in Writing


Author Madalyn Morgan has just published her fourth novel The 9.45 to Bletchley and today she has dropped in for a chat on my blog.

Morning Madalyn and welcome. Can you tell us something about your latest book?

Good morning, Jo. Thank you for having me on your fabulous Blog. My latest book, The 9:45 To Bletchley, is the fourth book in the Dudley Sisters Saga. Set in the midst of the Second World War it is the youngest Dudley’s sister, Ena’s, story.
Ena works at Silcott’s Engineering, a local factory a couple of miles from she lives with her parents in a cottage on the Foxden Estate. She is taken off the factory floor and given vital work to do on disks and dials that are taken to a secret facility that Ena only knows as, Station X.
When Coventry is bombed, and Silcott’s parent company destroyed, Ena has to accompany the assistant of the boss, on the 9:45 train to Bletchley. Ena makes regular trips to Bletchley Park, until one day her work is stolen.
When she and her friends are accused of being involved in the theft, and later in sabotage, Ena investigates. While trying to clear her name, she falls in love.

This is the fourth in The Dudley Sisters Saga. Are there any more in the pipeline?

Yes. There may be more in the future, but at the moment I only have one plotted. Foxden Hotel opens during the New Year’s Eve party of 1948, exactly ten years after the first novel Foxden Acres. The land of the estate has been sold off and the hall turned into a hotel. The hotel’s opening celebrations are thwarted by someone from the Dudley sister’s past. Although the first four books were set during WW2, I have tried to vary the genres – land army, show business, undercover agent in occupied France, and Spy thriller. The Foxden Hotel is a murder mystery.

Is there anything in particular that draws you to write about the Second World War?

My mother used to tell me about the war. She told me about her life at that time; the work she did, the dances, the letters the girls wrote to lads in the forces overseas. I found it fascinating. So, when I did a writing course and came to the Biography module, I wrote about my mum’s life. My tutor liked it, but suggested that because mum and I were unknown, I should write it as a fiction. At the same time, my mother said she wanted to give the brass Wellington Bomber that had stood in our hearth for as long as I could remember, back to the Polish airman who had made it for her. He had died, but I found his son. He came up, met mum, and he was overjoyed with the plane. It was after that that I decided to set my novels in the Second World War. I had so many ideas in my head, too many for one novel. So, I plotted four stories. Four sisters, four jobs, four loves. I still have mother’s biography somewhere. One day I shall turn it into a fiction.

Have you been influenced by any favourite authors? If so who?

Yes, many authors have influenced me. From Shakespeare to Mary Webb, from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Virginia Woolf, and many modern writers like, Ben Macintyre and Robert Harris.

What are you working on at the moment?

I am plotting, The Foxden Hotel, and trying to get my garden in shape before I go to Fishguard. I attend The Writers’ Holiday every year. It was after a week at Caerleon, The University of South Wales that I finalised and published my first novel, Foxden Acres in 2013.

When writing do you keep to a set number of words per session or simply go with the flow?

I do hours rather than words. If I write for three hours in the morning, and what I have written is good, that’s great. If I go on in the same vein after lunch, that’s also great. But if I have lost the plot, excuse the pun, and I’m writing rubbish, that is depressing. It is then that I’ll go into the garden, or do the ironing. I think while I’m gardening. I watch old movies while I’m ironing. I do a word challenge with an author group, but I don’t give myself high targets, that kind of pressure I do not need. It’s why I don’t do NaNoWriMo. The research I have to do is pressure enough.

If you weren’t writing historical fiction is there any other type of genre that would interest you?

Yes. I have a contemporary book with the working title, 42 Into 28 Won’t Go! Briefly, it’s about a young guy who takes advantage of an older woman, an actress, in several very bad ways. In the end, he gets his comeuppance. It is part autobiographical. However, I shall write it as fiction because I can make it much more dramatic. I shall make the threats, happen.



Madalyn Morgan has been an actress for more than thirty years working in repertory theatre, the West End, film and television. She is a radio presenter and journalist, writing articles for newspapers and magazines.
Madalyn was brought up in a busy working class pub in the market town of Lutterworth in Leicestershire. The pub was a great place for an aspiring actress and writer to live. There were so many wonderful characters to study and accents learn. At twenty-four Madalyn gave up a successful hairdressing salon and wig-hire business for a place at E15 Drama College, and a career as an actress.
In 2000, with fewer parts available for older actresses, Madalyn learned to touch type, completed a two-year course with The Writer’s Bureau, and began writing. After living in London for thirty-six years, she has returned to her home town of Lutterworth, swapping two window boxes and a mortgage, for a garden and the freedom to write.
Madalyn is currently writing the fifth novel in the Dudley Sisters Saga, The Foxden Hotel.

Madalyn Morgan – Novels

First novel, Foxden Acres


Foxden Acres:

Second novel, Applause

screen 2

Third novel, China Blue

China Blue-AMAZON Kindle (2)
China Blue:


Fourth Novel, The 9:45 To Bletchley



Visit Madalyn Morgan online:

Non-Fiction Blog:
Fiction Blog:
Actress website:

Twitter Name: ActScribblerDJ
Radio Links:

Posted in Writing

TUESDAY TALK celebrates publication day for Lynda Stacey’s debut novel House of Secrets


A woman on the run, a broken man and a house with a shocking secret …


Madeleine Frost has to get away. Her partner Liam has become increasingly controlling to the point that Maddie fears for her safety, and that of her young daughter Poppy.
Desperation leads Maddie to the hotel owned by her estranged father – the extraordinarily beautiful Wrea Head Hall in Yorkshire. There, she meets Christopher ‘Bandit’ Lawless, an ex-marine and the gamekeeper of the hall, whose brusque manner conceals a painful past.
After discovering a diary belonging to a previous owner, Maddie and Bandit find themselves immersed in the history of the old house, uncovering its secrets, scandals, tragedies – and, all the while, becoming closer.
But Liam still won’t let go, he wants Maddie back, and when Liam wants something he gets it, no matter who he hurts …
Winner of Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks 2015 Search for a Star competition.


Writer Madeleine Frost thought she had found that special someone and a new beginning after the tragic loss of her husband in a car crash.  But recently her partner Liam has been behaving strangely with mood swings which trigger controlling and aggressive behaviour especially towards her small daughter Poppy.

After finding him in a compromising situation with his female boss, Madeleine  decides to leave him. But the only place she can find safety for herself and Poppy to is Wrea Head Hall, a hotel run by her father, a man she hasn’t seen for years.   Her father is delighted to see his long lost daughter and is pleased to have Madeleine and Poppy stay with him.

One of the first people Madeleine meets is Christopher ‘Bandit’ Lawless, the hotel’s handyman.  Ex-marine Bandit lives in the lodge house, once the home of his father who is now in care.  An Afghanistan veteran haunted by his own loss, his first unfortunate encounter with Madeleine is soon brushed aside as the two start to get to know each other.  Madeleine begins to relax and feel safe, hoping she can make a new life with her daughter at the hotel. But when tragedy strikes and Liam turns up again she realises her nightmare is far from over.

Lynda has written an entertaining debut novel with some unforgettable characters.  There is romance between Madeleine and Bandit as well as light hearted moments between Poppy and the hotel’s cook Nomsa.  Drama and suspense are provided by the thoroughly unpleasant Liam.  Why won’t he let Madeleine go and what exactly are behind the locked doors in his house?

Woven through this modern day story is a link with the past; the diary of Emily Ennis, whose family once owned Wrea Head Hall. When Bandit and Madeleine discover it and begin to read about her tragic love affair it takes them on a journey that will eventually link the past with the present.

A hugely enjoyable read.  I look forward to more from Lynda…




meLynda, is a wife, step-mother and grandmother, she grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire.
She is currently the Sales Director of a stationery, office supplies and office furniture company in Doncaster, where she has worked for the past 25 years. Prior to this she’d also been a nurse, a model, an emergency first response instructor and a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor … and yes, she was crazy enough to dive in the sea with sharks, without a cage.Following a car accident in 2008, Lynda was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to dive or teach anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.
Her own life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of Lynda joins Choc Litromantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.
Lynda joined the Romantic Novelist Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers Scheme and in 2015, her debut novel House of Secrets won the Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition.
She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her ‘hero at home husband’, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for over 20 years.


Link to Choc Lit

Link to Amazon




Posted in Writing

TUESDAY TALK trips to Monday to catch up with Lynda Stacey whose debut novel House of Secrets is out tomorrow….

meAuthor Lynda Stacey’s debut novel HOUSE OF SECRETS is published tomorrow. Today I’m pleased to have her on my blog for a pre-publication chat.

Morning Lynda and welcome. Huge congratulations on the publication of your first novel. Can you tell us something about House of Secrets?
Hello and thank you so much for having me.
OK, where do I start. Madeleine is twenty-four and desperately wants to believe that Liam loves her, but he’s cruel to her three-year-old daughter, Poppy and Maddie knows that she has to leave. She takes refuge at her father’s country house Hotel, Wrea Head Hall. Here she meets Christopher Lawless, aka Bandit, an ex-marine with an over protective nature. You could say that a tentative relationship begins, but Liam wants Madeleine back and what Liam wants, he normally gets, no matter who gets hurt in the way.

You joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writer’s Scheme. Did you find this helpful?
I really did find it helpful. I got to have my work critiqued, this gave me the necessary help to move my novel forward. I’d encourage anyone to join, the RNA are the best and most supportive network of people I’ve ever met. It’s like becoming a family member over-night and suddenly finding that you’ve got a hundred and fifty new siblings.

Have you been influenced by any favourite authors? If so who?
I’ve read all my life. Starting with the amazing Enid Blyton. In later years, I read all the classics, but always steered back towards romance, or thrillers. I love Stephen King, Tess Gerritsen, Lesley Pearce, Jill Mansell, or Kate Morton. It all depended on what mood I was in. I’m currently reading Jean Fullerton’s, ‘Wedding Bells for Nurse Connie.’ It’s a great book with loads of history.

You have a busy full time job. How do you find time for writing?
Ha ha… I don’t sleep. I wake up very early and do a little writing. I then go to work. I’m a Sales Director for a stationery and office furniture company and my days are full on. I can be manipulating spreadsheets one minute and sitting in corporate meetings the next. My husband finishes work before me and he normally makes the tea while I do other housework jobs. Then, I sit down and I put the laptop on my knee and I start. It gives me an escape from day to day work. I love it.

Do you have a favourite place to write?
Yes, sat on the corner of my big corner suite. Albeit, I always feel a bit naughty doing this seeing as I had an extension put on my house two years ago. I insisted that I needed an office, but now I have one, I still prefer to sit on the sofa – lol..

What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just finished writing my 3rd novel. The first chapter of that novel was shortlisted for the Elizabeth Goudge Award last year and it’s been an interesting one to complete. Once I’ve finished launching House of Secrets, I’ll be starting a time-slip. I was a miner’s daughter and I’m going back to my roots and writing about the mining community of South Yorkshire. I feel as though I need to write this book, to give something back to where I came from.

Many thanks Lynda and happy publication day tomorrow….

Posted in Writing

This week Tuesday Talk is chatting to Choc Lit’s Search for a Star finalist Lisa Hill

Lisa Hill WriterGood morning Lisa and welcome to Tuesday Talk. First of all congratulations on being short listed for Choc Lit’s 2016 Search for a Star. To kick off the interview can I ask you to tell us a little about yourself.

Hi Jo, and thank you for inviting me to Tuesday Talk! I was born in Cheltenham but moved to a little village called Bussage, near Stroud, when I was fourteen months old. My Dad was from Slad, where Laurie Lee grew up and Cider with Rosie is set. I had an idyllic childhood growing up in the Cotswolds, dancing around maypoles and riding ponies until I returned for schooling in Cheltenham as a teenager. My first encounter of an author was Jilly Cooper who lived in Bisley, the next village to us. My Dad would take me for summer walks (he was a photographer, always after his next best shot) and he used to chat with ‘Mrs Cooper’ over her garden wall. It wasn’t until some years later I realised how famous Mrs Cooper was! I have three sons; Hamish, 13, Archie, 10 and Laurence, 7 who is named after Laurie Lee (as my Dad was Godfrey and I couldn’t bring myself to name any of the boys after him!). I have been married to my Superhero, Matt, for two-and-a-half years and I carry out the admin and accounts for his electrical firm. Before I met Matt my career was in property which is where I drew much of my writing inspiration to begin with. We have a bonkers Vizsla x Weimaraner called Sparky who I enjoy taking for country walks even though he has a propensity to go missing!

When did your writing journey begin and what was the trigger?

I have always been a book worm. When I was a child my favourite series were The Worst Witch and Sweet Valley High but GCSEs, A-Levels and then College kerbed my appetite for reading and it wasn’t until Hamish was born, when I was twenty-three, that I really got into reading romance; lots of breastfeeding gives you plenty of time to read! I enjoyed writing stories at school, I was always writing up little books of some description or other (mainly about horses) but it had never occurred to me to write a novel until I started reading romance. At first I would find myself coming to the end of a novel and continuing the plot in my head. Then, when my first marriage became an unhappy one, I would imagine myself as the heroine in my own novels, a lot of the time with Sean Bean as the hero. The threads of stories came together and I decided after Laurie was born to take up creative writing evening classes. I joined the RNA New Writers Scheme in 2011 and have written three full novels in my time as a member.

Who are your favourite authors and did any of them inspire you?

Anyone who knows me will know how star struck I am by Jill Mansell. I don’t even try to hide it. If we go back to the breastfeeding period for a moment, that was when I discovered her novels. It was in 2003 and she had a decent back catalogue even then. The first novel I read of hers was Head Over Heels and I fell in love with her writing, her characters and her sense of humour. A few years later I read an article in a newspaper about her writing career and realised that if Jill could go from being a medical professional to being a bestselling author then there was no reason why I shouldn’t try either (although I’m still trying!).

What is the best part of writing for you? And the worst?

For me, it’s when the unexpected happens. I love coming up with characters and a setting (I even draw a picture of the town or village where my characters live) but it’s when I start writing and the characters come to life and do something, make a decision or act differently to how I expected, that I really enjoy the writing process. My worst has to be editing. I wish I didn’t but I find it hard to juggle so many plates in the air. Although my good friend and Choc Lit Author, Alison May, has helped me with coping strategies i.e. not trying to edit everything at once. Now I do one read through to deal with plot issues, a second read through for grammar and spelling then a final read through for anything I miss. Hence why it’s my worst; it seems to take so long!

How do you spend your chill out time?

Well, funnily enough, writing is my chill out time. We recently went to Corfu and I spent most of my time sunbathing and writing! With three lively boys and an even livelier eight-month old puppy there is precious little chill out time and writing is creative for me; I find it therapeutic.

What is your favourite holiday destination?

Ashamedly, I am thirty-six and have only been abroad four times (this is what happens when you spend your twenties reproducing), something I intend to rectify as the children get older. However, I am quite a home bird. I am very lucky to live in the Cotswolds; sometimes an afternoon out can feel like a holiday. My favourite holiday destination has to be Devon and Cornwall. We are off to Cornwall again later this summer, to Port Isaac where Doc Martin is filmed (another favourite of mine).

If you were able to go back and live in any historical time period what would it be and why?

I think it would have to be the 1920’s. Women’s appearance and independence changed dramatically during this era and it would be amazing to experience (not to mention all the wonderful couture and dancing!).


You can catch up with Lisa on her Social Media Links
Twitter & Instagram: @lisahillie
Facebook – Lisa Hill (

Posted in Writing

As Tuesday Talk takes a break, the eyes have it…

images (1)Tuesday Talk is taking a break this week so I thought it would be a good opportunity to write about something personal to me. Something which I though might help reassure anyone who has either been diagnosed with a cataract or is awaiting cataract surgery for the first time.

Three weeks ago I had a cataract op. It was something I wasn’t particularly looking forward to.  In fact the thought of anyone doing anything around my eye just about freaked me out.

My eyesight has always been good and I’ve been lucky enough only to need glasses for reading or PC work.  However, about three years ago I noticed a definite change in my left eye.  It was subtle at first and mostly noticeable when driving.  The number plates of vehicles in front became blurry.  They were ‘ghosting’, so effectively I was seeing two plates, one slightly to the right of the other.

My annual eye check revealed I had a cataract developing and the ‘ghosting’ was due to the fact it was a rare vertical variety which splits the vision.  Everything stabilized for a while and was copeable with, the only changes being to the lenses in my prescription glasses.  Then last summer I began to notice a definite deterioration. An eye test in September confirmed the cataract had worsened but it was borderline so my optician was unable to refer me. It was suggested I return for another assessment in the New Year by which time they felt it would have reached the stage to justify surgery.  This I did, in March and a referral letter was written to my GP.

Once the paperwork was processed I had my initial consultation and was measured for a new lens. Then I had to wait to be contacted and offered a suitable date for surgery.  When I received the call I chose 14th June, two days after returning from holiday.  With hindsight I’m not sure whether this was the most sensible thing to have done.  OK I was away relaxing, but each day my date with the surgeon was looming ever nearer.  By the time Sunday 12th came and we had arrived home I wasn’t looking forward to what was about to happen…not at all.  However putting things into perspective, like it or not the situation was a ‘must do’ if I was to retain my sight.

My appointment was scheduled for 1.40 pm.  I arrived and was directed to the Day Surgery Unit. I had arrived minus make up and any earrings or necklaces had to be removed.   A nurse arrived and a gown was slipped over my clothes. We then went through the form I had completed on my initial consultation just to clarify nothing had changed – prescription meds etc.  I was then given two lots of post op eye drops and guidance on how to manage the eye after surgery.  Before the nurse left he inserted a tiny drug delivery bead behind my lower left lid.  This gradually released medication to dilate the pupil.  It took about an hour to take effect following which I was taken into surgery.

Looking back I realise the great unknown was driving most of my fear; that and the fact the eye is such a delicate organ for someone to be operating on.  As it was I have to say the whole process (which only took 20 minutes) was nothing like I expected.  The face is covered; the anaesthetist who sat on a small stool by the operating couch was merely there as he put it ‘for hand holding’.  I had instructions to squeeze his hand if I wasn’t comfortable and wanted them to stop.  As it was I didn’t.  There was the sensation of having liquid poured across the eye followed by an awareness of light to my left.  While the surgeon carried out the procedure I felt absolutely nothing.  Once the op had been completed I left the theatre with my eye protected by a clear plastic shield. I kept this on overnight and removed it the next day, although I did use it for the first few nights afterwards to continue to protect the eye while I was asleep.

My OH joined me back in Day Surgery reception where were brought tea and biscuits. The nurse arrived to complete the discharge paperwork and eventually we went home.  The anaesthetic gradually wore off, of course, and regular doses of paracetamol were needed afterwards for a couple of days.   I was also one of those patients whose eye was closed post op and it took around a quarter of an hour for it to open properly.  My first sensation was brightness, then it was as if I was looking through fine gauze so everything was slightly hazy before my vision eventually cleared.

Once home, there was a regime of four lots of drops per day for the first two weeks and two for the second two weeks. I had to wait 24 hours before being able to wash my hair.  There was also a make up ban for the first week and for me who never goes anywhere without putting their ‘face’ on, it was like going out in public wearing just my underwear. But it was a small sacrifice in order to make sure everything was allowed to heal properly.  A week after the op my eye still felt a little scratchy but my vision was amazing.  What it did show was how bad the ‘good’ right eye had been .

I had my follow up appointment last Tuesday and it’s been a complete success. My right eye will need the same treatment as a cataract is already developing. However, now I know what to expect the future holds no fear for me, only the expectation of having clear vision once more and that, for me, is incredible.