Posted in Writing


IMG_0454I’m really pleased to be part of Lizzie’s blog tour for Girl in the Castle.  It’s a fabulous read and great that she’s been able to spare some of her valuable time to come along to chat…

Romantic novels by LIzzie Lamb - Copy (2)


Where did the inspiration for Girl in the Castle come from?

IMG_0181We were touring Scotland in our caravan and decided to travel as far north as Fort William. Rounding a bend, we saw cars double-parked in a layby and tourists taking photographs of the loch. When I looked over my shoulder, I saw Castle Stalker for the first time in all its glory. We pulled in to Castle Stalker View café and walked down to the side of the loch to get a better view. Something about the castle made shivers of excitement run down my spine – so solid, unexpected and unashamedly Scottish. As a writer of romance I was hooked. I discovered that the owner organised tours of the castle, and picked you up in his launch to take you to the castle. Well, colour me tartan! I hurriedly booked two places and the next day we enjoyed a two hour guided tour of the castle. You can imagine how my mind ran on – imagining a disgraced academic, hiding away from the world in the castle, falling in love with the impoverished laird. Castle Stalker became Castle Tèarmannair (meaning guardian) in my novel and the rest is history. I plan to return there this summer to make a live video of me reading extracts from Girl in the Castle with inspirational Castle Stalker in the background.

Taking you right back to the beginning, when you created Ruairi Urquhart in Tall, Dark and Kilted, did you propose to make all your future heroes Scottish? Or did that decision come afterwards?

I opened the story in Notting Hill because I’d been researching that area and was consciously looking for locations which would be familiar to readers around the world. After London/Notting Hill, Scotland, seemed an obvious choice. There are many Scottish ex-pats in the USA, Canada and Australia and I hoped they might buy the novel. Some publishers/agents told me that readers don’t like novels which change location a third of the way through, but sales of Tall, Dark and Kilted have contradicted that opinion and after almost six years it is still selling well. I was born in Scotland and this has had a great influence on my writing, so for me to write Scottish-themed romance is a no-brainer. My second novel Boot Camp Bride (set in Norfolk) did well, but my heart really is in the highlands so I’ve returned there for Scotch on the Rocks and Girl in the Castle. My next novel, currently being prepared for publication this summer, is set in Wisconsin. It involves a hundred and fifty year old feud between two families of Scottish descent: the Buchanans and the MacFarlanes and the hero/heroine are last of their ‘clan’ – can they bring the feud to an end? Read the novel and find out.

Who are your favourite authors and have any of them influenced your writing?

I’ve always been a great Jilly Cooper fan and was lucky to meet her recently and plucked 2018-03-06 12.39.40up enough courage to ask her to sign one of her novels for me. I love her rollicking rom com style. Looking back, I think her novel Emily has had the biggest influence on my development as a writer. (It’s partly set in Scotland so maybe, subconsciously, that’s what made me set my novel there.) I also enjoy Sophie Kinsella’s novels, my favourite being: Can You Keep a Secret . It’s so funny and taught me how to keep the reader turning the pages and, hopefully, wanting more. Looking around my book shelves I see many novels by Carole Matthews, Mary Wesley, Georgette Heyer and Barbara Erskine. I love history and would like to write a novel in the paranormal vein, one day.

If you had the opportunity to write something completely different, what would that be?

The answer to that would be historical fiction set in the time of the English Civil War. I have shelves groaning with books on the period and would write a time slip where the heroine (possibly a forensic archaeologist) is working on a battle site which is about to disappear beneath a new motorway. She finds a skeleton wrapped in modern-day clothing and wonders . . . how did that get there? Oh, now I want to write that novel and not the one I’ve plotted out for beginning after the summer holidays. Typical.

If you could relocate to any one place in the world where would it be, and why?

It’s a no-brainer for me – the answer would have to be Scotland. However, much as IIMG_5776-EFFECTS (Edited) adore Wester Ross I think I’d have to live on the slightly drier north east coast – Inverness or the Black Isle. It’s full of romance and the way the light changes and shifts over the lochs stirs something in my blood which I can’t explain. I’ve seen the perfect house. I found it when I was researching Holy Loch for Scotch on the Rocks so I’d have to move it stone by stone and rebuild it there. Inverness has an airport so I wouldn’t have to leave all my family and lovely friends behind and, in the summer months, I would organise writers’ holidays there. Also, there are fewer midges on that coast!

When you are writing what’s your criteria for a good hero?

IMG_7301He has to be someone I could fall in love with. A beta hero rather than Alpha Man. Once I’ve fallen in love with my hero the novel practically writes itself. I’m not interested in businessmen in suits, CEOs of large companies or Arab sheiks. I prefer photographers and free-lance reporters who have the skills and wit to survive in war zones. Men who can hold their own in the world they inhabit but have a tender side which the heroine encourages him to reveal as the novel unfolds. I quite like tortured or damaged hero, maybe haunted by the past; a man with demons to fight. I mean, who doesn’t adore Cormoran Strike in the Robert Galbraith novels? I quite like artistic heroes, too: playwrights/authors/artists etc. but not too fey, thank you very much. Above all, I love a laird in a castle, even an impoverished one. Someone who has to consider others; his tenants, employees, family. He has to care deeply for the heroine – even if, initially, they spend most of the time annoying the bejeezus out each other. They might argue, but the making up will be all the sweeter for that. Last but not least, my hero has to be a tender and considerate lover and be man enough to laugh (and cry) with my heroine.

And lastly, if you were holding a dinner party and could invite three celebrity guests (live or dead) who would they be, and why?

I’d invite funny, witty people who would enliven a dinner party with a well-delivered quip or phrase. For that reason I’d choose: Groucho Marx (king of the one liner); Victoria Wood (her scripts with their self-deprecating, deadpan humour are hilarious). Also, Billy Connelly. I saw Billy in concert many years ago and the stories he told about his Scottish childhood had a resonance for me. I laughed so much I thought I’d cracked a rib.






Posted in Writing


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

Hi Jo, and thanks for inviting me to your blog.
I live near the Hampshire coast, write historical romance, tinker on the piano, eat too many biscuits, and wonder why I feel twenty years younger than my reflection in the mirror.

When did you decide you wanted to become a writer?

For many years I wrote short stories for my enjoyment and to share with my weekly writing group. Then I started submitting stories (lots of them) to publishers. Back then, there was a woman’s magazine market for fiction where I constantly sent my offerings. When I finally had a story published in The People’s Friend, I thought – Yes! I can do this.
That first modest cheque kickstarted me into writing in earnest. It took another two years, a lot of frustration, knockbacks and rewriting before my first novel Rebellious Cargo, was accepted by a publisher. But it was worth it. Like most ventures if you really want something you will achieve it – just don’t give up.

Who are your favourite authors? Have they in any way influenced your writing?

The late Patrick O’Brian’s sea stories were responsible for my decision to base my novels against the backdrop of the Royal Navy at the time of the Napoleonic wars. Although his books are not of the romance genre, I adored his Aubery/Maturin series – all twenty of them. I loved the way he depicted how a ship’s community functioned. The friendships forged, the call to duty, and the politics of the day all played out with superbly crafted characters. Plus, some wonderful subtle humour.

Georgette Heyer and Mary Balogh are also great favourites of mine. The former for her authenticity of the period she writes. The way she portrays the wit, manners and conversations of the Regency drawing rooms is unrivalled.
I picked up a Mary Balogh book in a charity shop many years ago and from them I was hooked on Regency romance. I think I have read and enjoyed all her titles. The Bedwyn series of stories, are amongst my favourites.

Which destination is top of your bucket list and why?

I would love to hire a yacht (with a crew) and sail around the Pacific Islands. Also on my list are the Galapagos Islands, Alaska and Finland. I love peace, space and tranquillity. Wild, untouched landscapes fascinate me – which is probably why I always wanted to be an astronaut.

What makes a good heroine?

She must have her weaknesses. And she needs to make the reader care about her, even if her actions exasperate them at times.
I also think a good heroine should never be too predictable.
My heroines often step out of their comfort zones, and that ends up with them making a few alarming choices. I frequently feel like slapping them, but they always redeem themselves in the end.

Esmie Elstone does something very bad in the first chapter of Captain Rockford’s Reckoning.

Are you able to tell us a little about what you are working on at the moment?

The sequel to Captain Rockford’s Reckoning, which was published in April this year and follows the story of Esmie Elstone and her lifelong neighbour Richard Rockford. The book is about friendship, first love, betrayal and a secret betting book run under the guise of a sewing club. Needless to say, little embroidery was achieved.
My present, work in progress, takes up the story of Patience Wetherby;
already known to my readers as the shy member of the club.
Patience had been promised to Colonel Hemmings who is on his way back from war. She has only met him once, years ago, and remembers nothing good about the event. Patience has her own plans and flees London determined to lead a modest yet independent life. But Patience finds turning her back on society and the safety of marriage calls on all her skills to survive – even the ones she never knew she possessed.

And lastly, you are planning to take a year out and get away from everyone. What four essentials would you take with you and why?

Photo of the loved ones.
Notebook and pens to write the next best seller.
Kindle full of books I need to read. Or a very fat book if there is no internet.

 Author profile

Susan Lodge PicSusan Lodge was brought up with five brothers in the West of England and spent her formative years climbing trees and watching westerns. Leaving home, she headed for London and embarked on a career in the Civil Service, gaining a science degree along the way.
Over the years she has worked in several historic cities, where the streets still resonate with the Georgian period, providing a wealth of inspiration for her stories. Her romantic novels are often set against the backdrop of Nelson’s navy, and she always manages to inject a fair dose of humour into the plot.
Susan always wanted to be an astronaut but would now settle for a flight into space. She loves tinkering on her piano, perfecting her swing dance routines and discovering new destinations for her characters.
Married, with two children Susan now lives in Hampshire.

Facebook page

Captain Rockford

Link to my latest release – Captain Rockford’s Reckoning

Amazon author page.
UK –

US –

Other titles –



Posted in Writing

Today Tuesday Talk welcomes historical author Fenella J Miller…

41613_260595754030500_884620120_nGood morning Fenella and welcome. Can I start, as always, by asking you a little about yourself?

Great – writers love to talk about themselves. I am married and have two children and three grandchildren. My daughter and her family have relocated to the US -which is hard for me – but they are all very happy there. I live in a small riverside town in Essex with my husband and British shorthair Billy-Blue.

How did your writing journey begin?

I wrote my first book aged eleven – my father and brother laughed at it and I didn’t write another until I was in my late twenties. I was at home with small child in middle of Cornwall and didn’t drive. I wrote what would be called ‘women’s fiction’ now just for my own pleasure. I decide then that one day I would be a published writer. I now have 55 books written and published.

Would you ever consider writing something other than historical romantic fiction? If so what would that be?

I have written two NA urban fantasy books and intend to write the last two in the series. Again, this is for my enjoyment – will decide when I’ve finished if I want to publish them.

If money were no object, where in the world would you particularly like to visit?

The Maldives, South America, Australia and New Zealand. It’s not money that stops me but the fact that I am care for my husband who has vascular dementia.

What were your favourite books as a child?

Enid Blyton, Fairy Stories and then Lorna Hill both her ballet and horse books. I devoured all the boarding school books and horse stories too. I graduated to adult fiction around ten years old – Georgette Heyer and Leslie Charteris (The Saint).

Are you able to tell us a little about what you are working on at the moment?

I am just finishing the sixth and final book in The Duke’s Alliance series. The Duke’s Bride – hoped to get it done before I go away on 9th – but my editor will have to have what is done and I’ll email the last 10K when it’s finished. This is my fifth book so far this year. Then it’s the third and final book in my Ellen’s War series – I sold this series to Aria Head of Zeus earlier in the year. Over & Out has to be handed in by the end of the year. I then have to write the spring book for the Regency Romantics box set – something I do with a group of bestselling Regency writers three times a year.

And lastly, you are planning a dinner party. If you were able to invite four famous guests (living or dead) who would you choose?

This is a hard one. Bernard Cornwell, Christian Cameron, Michael Connelly and Sean Bean. Whoops! No women on my list – but wouldn’t want to share any of these.



The Reclusive Duke £0.99

The Duke’s Alliance – A Soldier’s Bride £1.99

Christmas at Devil’s Gate £0.99

A Most Unexpected Christmas £1.50


Fenella J Miller was born in the Isle of Man. Her father was a Yorkshire man and her mother the daughter of a Rajah. She has worked as a nanny, cleaner, field worker, hotelier, chef, secondary and primary teacher and is now a full time writer.
She has over thirty eight Regency romantic adventures published plus four Jane Austen variations, three Victorian sagas and seven WW2 family sagas. She lives in a pretty, riverside village in Essex with her husband and British Shorthair cat. She has two adult children and three grandchildren.


@fenellawriter   (website/blog/diary)


Posted in Writing

Tuesday Talk is back from it’s May holiday and to kick off June I’m really pleased to welcome fellow author Kathryn Hall…

KathrynGood morning Kathryn and welcome to Tuesday Talk. Can I begin, by asking you a little about yourself?

Hi Jo. Thank you for having me on your blog today. I’m a self-published author and currently have four books to my name – well, actually to my previous name of Kathryn Brown. However, I got married in May last year and have since decided to write my next book in my new name, Kathryn Hall. I’ve been writing for some considerable years now, having started off with short stories and articles, then progressing to a full-length novel. My passion in the paranormal encouraged me to write my first book back in 2007, and I based it on my own personal experiences when I lived in a Georgian farmhouse located in Northumberland. Discovery at Rosehill, followed by Secrets at Rosehill, focus on the life of Camilla, a medium who falls in love with the village Reverend and tells of the events which map out her rather interesting life. Camilla’s paranormal experiences at Rosehill have been taken from my own, though perhaps exaggerated slightly in order to beef the story up. I should add, however, the love story part of the books is totally fictional.

You’ve previously published four novels: two linked romantic/spiritual stories (Discovery at Rosehill and Secrets at Rosehill) and two romantic comedies (Nightingale Woods and Bedknobs and Bachelors). What’s next for you?

My next project is to write a third book in the Rosehill Series. I don’t have a title for it yet, and I haven’t so far as written a synopsis. But I have drafted the first chapter and decided on the outline. I’m hoping to do some research, like some ghost hunts and overnight vigils – any help will be much appreciated. I want the story of Camilla to continue as I feel she still has a lot to reveal about herself. The mansion that is Rosehill is partly based on the farmhouse in which I lived for fourteen years, though it is seemingly bigger and a lot grander. It boasts several guest rooms and a huge two-tier library, plus a sacred reading room where Camilla makes contact with the spirit world.

I honestly can’t say when this book will be finished as I have a long way to go yet. But it will be finished one day and then I shall think about my next project. Writing is, and always has been, my passion.

Are you a meticulous plotter or do you have a general outline for your story and simply see where your writing takes you?

The latter. Every time. I have a brief outline of the story, mostly in my head before I start to make notes and characterisations, and then I go with where the story takes me. I have such a lot going on in my life on a day-to-day basis that I couldn’t possibly stick to a plot.

If money was no object where would your perfect holiday destination be?

I would really like to go to Australia, mainly because I have a lot of family members there and it would be a wonderful experience to catch up with them. Three of my cousins over there are very spiritual and we have an awful lot of common. But I’d like to see my Uncle again, my late-dad’s brother. The last time I saw him was a poignant time for me, when he hugged me and it felt like I was hugging my dad. They are very alike and to be close to him in person again would be a truly memorable experience.

Do you use a muse for your hero when writing?

When I wrote the first Rosehill book, Discovery at Rosehill, I did actually have the very debonair actor, Martin Shaw in mind as the character of Reverend Marcus Calloway. Though I haven’t really thought about a muse for my other books, there are a number of famous faces I could look towards. I have my very own debonair character now, in the form of my husband. And I do have a penchant for the dog collar.

And last of all, you’ve been invited on I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. Which four celebs would you ideally like to join you and why?

I would like Catherine Zeta Jones because I think underneath the Hollywood glamour and successful career, she’s a very down-to-earth woman who came from humble beginnings and has worked her way up with a lot of lucky breaks over the years (including meeting and marrying Michael Douglas). We all need a lucky break in our lives, and I’d love to know her secret…!

Helena Bonham-Carter is another I’d like to spend time with. She’s an eccentric and could probably keep a group of strangers enthralled in her tales for weeks on end.

The other two would have to be Patrick McGuinness and Peter Kay. What a hoot they would be. Two of my favourite comedians/actors. And both from my neck of the woods.

You  can catch up with Kathryn on social media on the links below  –


Instagram: kathrynhall_author

Twitter: @kathrynhall_

Facebook: Kathryn Hall

And check out ber books – 

Discovery at Rosehill – Amazon

Secrets at Rosehill – Amazon

Bedknobs and Bachelors – Amazon

Nightingale Woods – Amazon



Posted in Writing

And it all started so well…

This year I had a milestone birthday.  Last September (you can never do these things too early) we booked flights and rented a friend’s villa in the small urbanization of Son Vitamina on the south east coast of Menorca.  The journey out was uneventful: a lunch time flight which arrived early evening giving us plenty of time to settle in.  The villa was beautiful and there was a gastro-pub (The Nelson) a few hundred yards up the road.  Although we shy away from Brit food on holiday, we did think it would be a good watering hole and promised ourselves a traditional English Sunday lunch while we were there.

We stayed on the island in 2011 and when not relaxing in the sun I found a shady place to write.  The WIP then was Between Today and Yesterday.  Now, seven years later, I had a new book to get underway and planned the same regime.  The first four days were amazing, eating out in Mahon, the island’s capital, walking the streets of Ciutadella.  Friday was the big day and we spent the morning shopping and then walked down to a small cove someone had told us about.  I remember taking great care in walking as the pathway was rubble and very uneven.  We spent the afternoon by the pool and then showered and got ready for the big event.  We had a ground floor bedroom in the villa and the safe was situated upstairs in our friend’s room.  I remember going up to retrieve a piece of jewellery to wear and then coming down very carefully holding onto the rail which ran from the top to just before the bottom of the stairs.  Reaching the last step I let go, stepped down and fell.  The bottom step was slightly deeper than the rest of the stairs, I had small heels on and I’m guessing I put my foot out and the step simply wasn’t there.  I ended up on the floor having fallen awkwardly.  As soon as OH and his friend helped me to my feet I knew I’d done some serious damage but everyone thought it was simply a bad sprain.  A bag of frozen peas to the swollen area followed by a visit to the local pharmacist produced a support for the foot and some antiseptic spray.  By the next morning, however, it was evident this was no simple sprain so all four of us headed for Mahon A & E.  There they x-rayed and confirmed a break.  The ankle was put into plaster and I was given a discharge letter, meds and instructed to go to my UK A & E for another x-ray on my return home.  Before leaving for the hospital that morning I spoke to the insurance company to let them know what they were doing. On arrival back at the villa I was contacted by a nurse to discuss my situation and arrangements were made for an ambulance to get me to Mahon Airport and collect me on arrival at Bristol.  Because I needed to elevate the leg during the flight home, the insurance company also bought extra seats on the flight.

The rest of the holiday was spent around the pool, although the weather wasn’t brilliant: hot and overcast most days. With assistance I did managed to get to The Nelson for lunch on the Sunday, other than that I did manage to make a series dent in my Kindle TBR pile.

On the day we were due to fly home the ambulance arrived two hours early just as we were in the middle of lunch.  Total panic stations but OH, me and our luggage were eventually on our way to the airport where a designated member of staff saw us through check in and was again on hand to get me onto the plane.  Unfortunately our return home coincided with the French Air Traffic Controller’s strike and our flight had been held up in Lisbon and then again in Bristol, resulting in a two and a half hour delay, one hour of which was spent sitting in the plane on the tarmac waiting for Mahon control tower to give us the green light for take off.  So a flight which should have arrived home at 6.50 in the evening, instead touched down well after ten.  I have never been so glad to be back in the UK even though it took nearly 45 minutes to get eleven of us mobility challenged adults off the plane.  From there it was an hour from airport to front door, making it nearly midnight when we eventually got to bed. I didn’t care though, I was HOME.

The next morning (Wednesday)we went to the Royal United Hospital A & E Department.  I honestly thought I’d be x-rayed, replastered and sent home. As they were putting on the new plaster I wondered why a small plastic pad with a clear nozzle had been inserted under my foot.  I was told it was to be attached to a machine which regularly inflated and deflated it in order to get the swelling down quicker.  ‘Am I having this at home then?’ I asked. ‘Oh no, you’re being admitted.’ was the reply.  Not exactly what I expected to hear…

I was admitted to Surgical Short Stay where because I’d been abroad, I was given a private room and told I would be ‘swabbed’.  This, of course, made my fertile imagination run riot as to what this entailed.  In the end, it was simply a cotton wool swab in each nostril and in the crease of the groin to make sure I hadn’t brought back any nasty bugs.  I spent two nights in the room, Wednesday with the pad inflating and deflating (and yes I did manage to sleep) and Thursday after the op.  I had to have a CT scan before they took me to theatre to check on my heel alignment and that was followed by a visit from the anaesthetist to talk to me about the surgery.  My last memory on arriving in theatre was seeing the clock – 15.55- and being told I was going to be put to sleep. Then there was nothing until I heard someone calling my name from far away and opened my eyes to see a nurse staring down at me. I was in recovery and it was 18.55.  I had absolutely no bad effects from the anaesthetic, in fact I felt remarkably wide awake.  On return to the ward I felt really hungry (having not eaten for nearly two days) and the health care assistant was an absolute angel, organising toast and strawberry jam for me – it tasted like a banquet!  All things considered, I slept well that evening and was discharged late Friday afternoon.  The consultant visited that morning to tell me my foot has been plated either side – not sure whether it’s a support mechanism to enable the bones to grow back correctly or whether from now on I’m going to have a bionic foot! I shall soon find out.

Since then it’s been a whole new learning curve. A steady round of medication and giving myself daily shots in the abdomen to prevent blood clots while I’m in plaster. And then there is getting around. Not easy but the physios set me up on a walker (easier than crutches) and the occupational therapist  organised a series of aids to help me cope with day to day living around the house.  OH has been wonderful, his whole life has been disrupted but he’s been amazing with all the household chores.  I do actually manage the ironing as I have a high seat which I use in the bathroom to sit at the basin and wash each morning.  Boy how I miss having a shower!

I’ve an appointment at the fracture clinic later today – another x-ray, stitches out and a new plaster. It’s five weeks and counting so should be free of my ‘boot’ by early July.  I’ll probably need physio afterwards.  And all this because I missed one step at the bottom of a staircase and fell awkwardly!

Folks I will never ever take my limbs for granted again, nor will I forget the amazing treatment from the staff at my local hospital.  Nothing was too much trouble. At the moment all I can do is read and work on the PC.  Writing that had to be put on hold after the accident is now centre stage and the creative juices are beginning to flow back again.

We have hired a wheelchair and next week I’m hoping we can find somewhere with access so we can get out and have some lunch.  Am not going to let this beat me!

Will post holiday shots on FB later.


Jo xx