Would you take a chance on a bad boy with a leather jacket and a vintage motorbike?
That’s the question single mum Jo Morris has to ask herself when she collides with local bike mechanic Ed Griffiths on a rainy Welsh hillside. Working at the Art Café, Jo hears the gossip and is all too aware of Ed’s reputation.
But whilst he’s certainly no angel, there is something about Ed’s daredevil antics that Jo can’t ignore. And as she gets to know him better and watches the kind way he deals with her young son Liam, she begins to wonder – is there more to this ‘bad boy’ than meets the eye?
Well, what can I say? This is a really feel good read. There’s Ed a bad boy who’s really a good guy at heart. Jo a single mum working at the Art Cafe, making a new life for herself while protecting her small son from secrets of the past. Fun loving Beryl next door whose a mix of practical neighbour and caring surrogate mum to Jo. And of course four year old Liam. He absolutely steals the show with his energy and innocent questions which can sometimes prove embarrassing. Once again Sue has created a story around motorbikes, which are her passion. But romance definitely takes centre stage and if you enjoyed Summer at the Art Cafe, you will love this.
A story packed with characters you’ll remember long after you’ve reached the end of the story.
Arty, biking, writing granny, that’s me! Living on the Welsh coast, right at the bottom before it plops into the sea, I was a policewoman in Essex before I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at a very early age.
Thanks to my amazing family and friends, I made a full recovery, left the police, met the man I then married and went to live in semi-rural Wales – well, I thought it was semi-rural after living in Essex. I mean, you had to drive fifteen miles to get to a Marks and Sparks. Where on earth did people buy their underwear? It was a small town that thought it was a village. But it had a beach.
I fell in love with it, along with the two adorable little boys I inherited. They inspired my passion for painting children, and they and their children inform the young characters in my books and subsequent career change as portrait painter. I even appeared on Sky’s Portrait Artist of the Year!
The beach formed a huge part of my life, and I trained as a beach lifeguard, patrolling the beach and competing on the single ski. That all stopped when I needed a hip replacement and found carrying equipment too painful. Not to be outdone, I and three pals did a 45 mile walk and raised over £10,000 for Cancer Research, and not long after that, I decided I’d learn to ride a motorbike.
That was a huge and entertaining learning curve, and inspired my debut novel, Summer at the Art Cafe. I’m on my second hip now, still riding my 1000cc red Honda, and I’ve made some of my most enduring friendships through biking.
I hope you enjoy reading about my characters and their stories. Some of my life has inevitably given birth to some of theirs, but their personalities are all their own, and I keep expecting to see them in the local supermarket or on the beach!
Second novel, Meet Me at the Art Cafe is about to meet the world. Although there is still a bikey element in there, this time I touched on vintage motorbikes, which I have a soft spot for.
When I first heard about Jo Lambert’s concept of a Life Playlist, I thought it a wonderful idea. Even after she kindly invited me to take part, I was still excited and pleased. Music thrills me. But when I began seriously to think about the songs……. Oh no! How could I not choose all of the R & B, Soul and Motown songs I loved, or the singer-song-writers going as far back as Bob Dylan, through Joni Mitchell…. Too many to list. At my first attempt I was overshooting my allowance by a multiple of ten.
In the end, the songs I have chosen aren’t necessarily my topmost favourites – if I could even decide which those are – but they are the punctuation to important times in my life.
I was a snooty child. I looked down on friends and classmates who were “in love” with pop singers. How stupid! I thought. We’re children! How can you be in love when you’re only eleven? Stars like Elvis, Cliff Richard, and Adam Faith left me unmoved. There were individual songs I liked, and I did think Jess Conrad was handsome (shame about the voice), but it was not until the Beatles – there arrival on the scene coinciding with my awakening hormones – that I ‘got it’.
It was a love affair that lasted for years and even now I watch old footage, and hear those songs with a great deal of nostalgia. But the song I choose from that era isn’t even one they penned themselves. I had never heard anything like it – the rawness, the pulse, the power, the passion – stirred the fourteen-year-old me in ways I’d never been stirred before. TWIST AND SHOUT, by the Beatles, is my first choice. And if you were around at the time this will bring back a smile.
Though my time at Art School is a very significant milestone in my life, and I look back on it with great affection, it was a relatively brief period. I emerged after two years still the gauche, introverted girl I’d been, living at home and without ever having had a proper boyfriend. Jan, my older sister, was always more out-going than me and had a far wider and more interesting social life.
We went to a party together. Even to my inexperienced eyes it turned out to be a rather staid affair, but the music being played was good. Both my sister and I love to dance. So, when two very flamboyant, loud and funny young men arrived at the party the whole atmosphere changed, and the girls they wanted to spend the evening with were the girls who danced. Shortly after this event Jan decided she wanted to leave home, taking me with her. She organized a flat that we could share with two girl-friends, and a new phase began.
The song that epitomized that life-changing party, and the very many subsequent parties during the next episode of my life as an independent young woman in London, is 007 (Shanty Town) by Desmond Dekker.
Read into this choice what you will. Enough to say it was a very happy time of my life.
A few years later I was working happily in an advertising design studio, but was still very unlucky in love. Or perhaps I should say, too choosy. The men I wanted never wanted me and visa-versa. Jan and I were living as a twosome, by then. I had never met Geoffrey before he turned up in our flat with a band of Jan’s friends and workmates after a leaving party. I immediately liked the look of him, but there was a drawback. Geoffrey was too perfect. A year older than me, he was good looking, clever, in a good job, and interested in art.
But my own social life had recently become more adventurous and I was enjoying myself. I was definitely not ready to settle down. We became friends. My parents loved him. Jan loved him. He was the best friend of her partner, Roger. It all looked too pre-ordained. I could see the road ahead of me running out of other options, so the rebel inside my head would not give in to it.
I was already a fan of 10CC – their discography up to that time is a list of witty, catchy, danceable songs and Dreadlock Holiday has to be a contender for my ‘favourites’ playlist. But around this time the band brought out an iconic song that was a complete change from what had gone before – I’M NOT IN LOVE.
It immediately became our song – mine and Geoffrey’s – and, of course, I married him.
But it was not until I had our son, Tom, that life REALLY altered dramatically. I gave up work planning to go back to it later. I’d recently learnt to drive and we bought our first car. My husband had changed jobs. We moved house. And, when Tom was just three, I resurrected a teenage hobby. I began writing again, but this time with serious intent.
I was a young mother, was doing something I loved and, unbelievably, was soon to be published. I had my own car in which Tom and I were able to go places and do things. It could be as simple as driving to an out of town super-store, or to my art class where, he attended the creche, but this was an unbelievably exciting and fulfilling time in my life. There is a great soundtrack to this period, the mid-Eighties, which vividly revives those emotions. Think Live Aid! Because I can only pick one, I choose a favourite song of Tom’s. MAN EATER, by Hall & Oates. It brings back those memories of driving around, just the two of us, our music blaring out from the car’s cassette player.
Needless to say, Tom’s interpretation of the lyrics was entirely different from mine. His involves a lurking monster.
My fifth is a totally brilliant song that we used to play, over and over again, on the juke box of a beach bar in Greece. It always makes me want to leap up and dance. But its importance to me is because this was the first holiday I’d taken with my sister since we were single girls. Now that Tom was at University and we were free-agents, it seemed a really lovely idea to go away as a foursome – she and Roger, me and Geoff. We settled on Parga in NW Greece, or more specifically Volos Beach next door. For years I misremembered the name and thought this song was called ‘Or just forget about it’. It is in fact SMOOTH, by Santana. The vocals are supplied by the amazing Rob Thomas. I have found an utterly thrilling live performance which has had me bouncing around in my typing chair.
I very much wanted to bring this piece up to date with the song I’ve adored since the instant I heard it. The first time I actually saw the performer his appearance took me totally by surprise. I’d assumed he was black for one thing. Beards have never been my thing, but given my own son now sports the full Victorian, I have to put my prejudices aside. Even though I’ve run out of my allowance, I have to mention HUMAN, by Rag ‘n’ Bone Man.
Thank you so much Jo, I’ve loved doing this.
Wife and mother, Nell, fears change, but it is forced upon her by her manipulative husband, Trevor. Moving to a house she dislikes, in a town she has no connection to, she is cast adrift from all her previous certainties. Her life is further disrupted by the renovations her husband feels essential. She finds herself almost living with a firm of builders, one of whom – Patrick – irritates, intrigues and exasperates her by turns.
After taking a part-time bar job at the sports club she is gradually drawn in to the social scene of the area. Finding herself in a new world of flirtation and casual infidelity, her principles are undermined. Should she emulate the behaviour of her new friends or stick with the safe and familiar? She is tempted by a club member known only as Angel.
But everything Nell has accepted at face value has a dark side. Everyone – even her nearest and dearest – has been lying. She’s even deceived herself. The presentiment of disaster, first felt as a tremor at the start of the story, rumbles into a full-blown earthquake. When the dust settles, nothing is as it previously seemed. And when an unlikely love blossoms from the wreckage of her life, she believes it is doomed.
The future, for the woman who feared change, is irrevocably altered. But has she been broken, or has she transformed herself?
FLY OR FALL- myBook.to/GilliAllan
From FLY OR FALL – Chapter Two
The family have not been living in their new house for many months and renovations have recently started. Nell is aware someone new has joined the team of workmen today, but meets him for the first time when he knocks on her door to use the loo. Her first sight of him makes an impression, but she ignores and discounts her response. Instead of returning outside once he’s finished, he follows her into the kitchen where, feeling mildly irritated Nell feels obliged to offer him a cup of coffee.
…..The man sat, stretching out his cement crusted legs and crossing his feet. His large, steel capped boots were almost white.
‘Prefer tea,’ he said, ‘and I don’t suppose there’s a chance of something to eat?’
‘Yeah. You put it in your mouth and chomp up and down a bit. Fuel for the inner man.’ At my silence he elaborated. ‘Lump of cheese? Bread and jam? Marmite? Honey? Anything? I’m easily pleased.’
None of the other workmen had expected to be fed. And beyond the occasional biscuit, I’d not considered offering food. I was surprised, and by now thoroughly put out by the man’s continuing presumption. I was relieved I could dislike him. Had he turned out to be a thoroughly amiable character, his continued presence around my house could have proved seriously distracting.
‘The others –’
‘No need to worry about Spike and Jazz. Gone off down the boozer.’ He glanced at his watch. ‘Don’t drink. Makes me dopey. Don’t want to fall off the ladder.’
‘I wasn’t worried. I was about to say, they provide their own food.’
‘They’ve got mums. I’ve no one to look after me. Rather spend the extra ten minutes in bed than making a picnic.’ He turned the full strength of his smile on me.
‘I’ve the washing to peg out,’ I said, with a nod to the basket.
‘Doesn’t matter. I can see you’re busy.’ He made as if to get up, withdrawing his long legs.
Concerned now, and half ashamed of my churlishness, I looked at the clock. I didn’t want it on my conscience if my hypoglycaemic builder had an accident.
‘I suppose another ten minutes isn’t going to make a difference to the washing. And I need to get myself something.’ My big mouth. Of course he would take this as an invitation to eat with me. Already he was relaxing back into the chair, hands behind his head, as I pushed aside the library book I was reading and put the bread board and butter on the table. It was a bad idea to get too friendly with the men. I knew it, Trevor had reiterated it. If you get too chummy they’ll take advantage. Yet here I was, in my own kitchen, about to share my lunch with a stranger who was patently all too willing to take liberties. I opened the fridge and took out the cheese box, then dumped some plates and knives onto the table. It would have been different if I’d wanted the company, but I preferred my own. I badly wanted to be left in peace to listen to the radio. Just then, the theme tune to The Archers came on. While washing up the previous evening I’d heard the original broadcast – hard to justify a desperate desire to hear the repeat. I turned it off and sat down opposite him.
‘That looks like a bit of a tome. The Inheritance of Loss …’ As he reached for the hardback by Kiran Desai, I noticed his large hands. Though clean now, they were ruddy, and roughened by heavy work, the knuckles pitted, scuffed, and scabbed by old and recent injuries. Instead of turning the book over to read the blurb, he glanced up at me with raised eyebrows. I wondered if he wanted a précis of the plot or a justification of why I was reading it.
‘It’s not particularly long.’
‘Looks serious. Not much of a reader, me. Apart from the Sun, of course.’
Of course. I’d no need to make clichéd assumptions about the man; he’d done it for me. Upstairs he had evidently washed his face as well as his hands; a few strands of hair still clung to a damp forehead. I wondered what it was that had initially unnerved me at first sight. His was a longish face and although I was mistaken about the depth of tan, his complexion possessed the healthy bloom of a life spent outdoors, a bloom which heightened to a tawny flush over high cheekbones. Without the disconcerting patina of rust flakes I noticed natural freckles scattered across the blunt bridge of his long nose. I’d never admired men with freckles. His eyes were not a piercing periwinkle, nor a glittering emerald, nor a smouldering, sensual brown – merely hazel. There was nothing to write home about in the hair department either. A lighter brown than my own, it was cut in such jagged layers it could conceivably have been styled with garden shears, and the faint russet burnish might only indicate it was still dusted with rust. Even the wide, perfect smile was not that perfect; one of his incisors was crooked, and a scar hooked upwards from the right corner of his over-generous mouth. Analysis proved how misled I’d been at first sight. Nice enough, but far from an Adonis. He put down the book and reached for a roughly hacked doorstep of bread, glancing up at me with an enquiring lift of the eyebrow.
‘I’ve not noticed you around before?’
I felt trapped, wanting this lunchtime interlude to be over, but while he was slathering his bread with spread and helping himself to a sizeable wedge of cheese, politeness kept me sitting across the table as an unwilling participant in the conversation.
‘It may need some updating but this is a good sound property,’ he reassured me, following my explanation of how rapidly we’d done the deal and moved in. ‘And for the size, you got it at a knock-down price.’
‘But we’re on the wrong side of town. Anyone who is anyone lives in Old Town.’
He frowned. ‘Why d’you say that?’
‘Something I’ve heard. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t care less whether we’re on this side of the main road or the other; I know we have the best of both worlds here, with the downs just up the road, and the station and town centre only a fifteen minute walk away.’
‘But you’re not happy?’
‘What do you mean?’
He shrugged. ‘You seem a bit dead-pan, bit rehearsed.’
‘I haven’t found my feet yet,’ I said quickly. He continued to look at me as if waiting for more. I looked down at my hands then up and out of the window. ‘I would’ve had reservations about anywhere I moved to. I … I’m not brave.’
‘Brave?’ He lifted his eyebrows.
‘To start your life again you need bravery. I’m a bit of a wimp. In the past I had a vision of what lay ahead of me. Since we’ve come here it’s as if someone has wiped the board clean.’ Why on earth had I said that to this Sun reading stranger? ….
Gilli Allan began to write in childhood – a hobby pursued throughout her teenage. Writing was only abandoned when she left home, and real life supplanted the fiction.
After a few false starts she worked longest and most happily as a commercial artist, and only began writing again when she became a mother.
Living in Gloucestershire with her husband Geoff, Gilli is still a keen artist. She draws and paints and has now moved into book illustration.
She is published by Accent Press and each of her books, TORN, LIFE CLASS and FLY or FALL has won a ‘Chill with a Book’ award.
Following in the family tradition, her son, historian Thomas Williams, is also a writer. His most recent work, published by William Collins, is ‘Viking Britain’.
Writing this post was fun, but it was surprisingly difficult to choose which tracks to include. Daydream Believer – The Monkees
Davy Jones from the Monkees was my first ever heartthrob. I had a picture of him on my wall as a teenager, also the album Headquarters by the Monkees was the first ever album I bought for myself. Daydream Believer and its message to cheer up has been a lasting favourite ever since. I think I have believed my daydreams – I’ve changed career three times, I dreamed about being a publisher writer and I am.
Waiting For The Sun to Break – James Bay
Just to show I can like more modern stuff! I listened to this a lot when I was writing my third book for Choc Lit, Christmas at Borteen Bay. This is my hero Ethan talking …
Spirit – Chris de Burgh
I’ve put this one in the middle, because although I love it, but it always makes me feel a bit sad too. This is the song I have declared I’d like played at my funeral.
Son of a Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield (link is for Sarah Connor version I like)
This one always makes me smile as my husband’s father was a Church of England minister. I believe that my husband and I were truly meant to be together, as I fell in love with his photograph when having a look at an online dating website for a laugh. At the time we lived two hundred miles apart, so I imagined any relationship to be a non-starter – we’ve been married sixteen years!
Born to be Wild – Steppenwolf
I’ve recently had a prolonged period of illness and it wasn’t until I started to get better that I realised I hadn’t been able to stand listening to music when I was ill. Added to that, I realised that for all of my life I have had song lyrics playing in my head and usually coming out of my mouth in the shower! I felt a ray of hope for the future one morning when I woke with the lyrics of this song playing in my head and scared my son to death by asking Alexa to play it full blast in the kitchen at 6am! The fact that the lyrics were in my head again was a positive sign and the words seemed to be screaming at me that I will get better.
The Truth Lies Buried
now available as an ebook, paperback and audiobook
Two children in a police waiting room, two distressed mothers, a memory only half remembered …
When Jenny Simpson returns to the seaside town of Borteen, her childhood home, it’s for a less than happy reason. But it’s also a chance for her to start again.
A new job leads to her working for Carver Rodgers, a man who lives alone in a house that looks like it comes from the pages of a fairy tale – until you see the disaster zone inside …
As Jenny gets to know Carver she begins to unravel the sadness that has led to his chaotic existence. Gradually they realise they have something in common that is impossible to ignore – and it all links back to a meeting at a police station many years before.
Could the truth lie just beneath their feet?
About Morton S. Gray
Morton lives with her husband, two sons and Lily, the tiny white dog, in Worcestershire, U.K. She has been reading and writing fiction for as long as she can remember, penning her first attempt at a novel aged fourteen. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors.
Her debut novel The Girl on the Beach was published after she won Choc Lit Publishing Search for a Star competition. The story follows a woman with a troubled past as she tries to unravel the mystery surrounding her son’s headteacher, Harry Dixon. This book is available as a paperback and e-book.
Morton’s second book for Choc Lit The Truth Lies Buried is another romantic suspense novel, the book tells the story of Jenny Simpson and Carver Rodgers as they uncover secrets from their past. This book is available as an e-book, paperback and audiobook from 12 March 2019. Christmas at Borteen Bay was published in November 2018 and is Morton’s first Christmas novella. It is set in her fictional seaside town of Borteen and follows the story of Pippa Freeman who runs the Rose Court Guesthouse with her mother and local policeman Ethan Gibson as they unravel a family secret as Christmas approaches.
Morton previously worked in the electricity industry in committee services, staff development and training. She has a Business Studies degree and is a fully qualified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Reiki Master. She also has diplomas in Tuina acupressure massage and energy field therapy. She enjoys crafts, history and loves tracing family trees. Having a hunger for learning new things is a bonus for the research behind her books.
Karen could be excused for crying on her birthday, especially as it’s the first one since her husband got on a plane to the States and never came back. Then there’s the fact that her workmates were practically bribed to attend her birthday meal. But when a restaurant double booking leads to her sharing a table with single dad Elliot and his daughter, things start looking up.
As Karen gets to know Elliot she experiences feelings she thought she’d never have again. But is it enough? Or will the thing that destroyed Karen’s previous relationship also ruin things with Elliot?
Hannah Pearl was born in East London. She is married with two children and now lives in Cambridge.
She has previously worked as a Criminology researcher, as a Development Worker with various charities and even pulled a few pints in her time.
In 2015 she was struck down by Labrynthitis, which left her feeling dizzy and virtually housebound. She has since been diagnosed with ME. Reading has allowed Hannah to escape from the reality of feeling ill. She read upwards of three hundred books during the first year of her illness. When her burgeoning eReader addiction grew to be too expensive, she decided to have a go at writing. In 2017 she won Simon and Schuster’s Books and the City #heatseeker short story competition, in partnership with Heat magazine, for her short story The Last Good Day.
Hannah is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association.
PEGGY SUE – BUDDY HOLLY and THE CRICKETS
I grew up in the fifties in a home where music was played often. The wireless and the gramophone that only played 78’s were our main listening sources, and a mother who was always singing and had been a member of the Mai choir as a teenager and won a singing scholarship, but due to the outbreak of WW2 was unable to take up her place. My late, older cousin, Brian had “proper” records, not just David Whitfield and Dickie Valentine, but exciting stuff like Buddy Holly and Little Richard. When I was ten years old I first heard Peggy Sue at his house, and although I had no idea at the time, hearing that song was the start of my life-long love of Rock’n’Roll music. Sadly, within twelve months of my being aware of his existence, Buddy Holly was to die in a plane crash in 1959. But he’s forever my inspiration and always remembered in almost every novel I’ve written since.
JULIET – THE FOUR PENNIES
Not the strongest song of the sixties, but one that instantly takes me back to the days of my first job after leaving school. As soon as I hear the opening bars I’m back in 1964, a fifteen year old, in her element, standing behind the counter at White and Swales, selling records to the public. The Four Pennies came to do a PA at the shop one Saturday morning while Juliet was at number one. I’d never met a pop group or anyone famous before, apart from Sooty and Harry Corbett a few years before! They were lovely boys and I was sent to the staff room to make coffee for them all. When the singer, Lionel Morton told me I made the best coffee he’d ever tasted I was overwhelmed. I’ve never forgotten this day, it’s one of those precious memories that live on forever, even though since then I’ve met, and become good friends with, many more famous singers and musicians.
THE SUN AIN’T GONNA SHINE ANYMORE – THE WALKER BROTHERS
This song brings back the fabulous memories of a night in 1965 when I went to one of our local clubs, The Manor Lounge in Stockport, and saw The Walker Brother live for the first time. Standing right in front of the stage, as was allowed in those heady days before Elf and Safety spoiled everything, and staring up at the gorgeous Scott Walker, who was close enough to touch, and we did. The poor lad went off stage with no shirt! I went home with a piece of white cotton shirt and several yards of unravelled wool from the drummer Gary’s sweater, plus a piece of John Walker’s shirt too. Happy days. Great show by the way. Again, a never to be forgotten time.
YOU BETTER MOVE ON – ARTHUR ALEXANDER
Again, another song that transports me back to my teens and White and Swales record department where I spent the best years of my youth and would later use the shop and settings and people I met for my Rock’n’Roll years series of novels. This was a favourite song of my lovely late boss John Darnley and was played most days with us all singing along. The Stones did a cover version, but for me, the original was always the best.
HANDLE WITH CARE – THE TRAVELING WILBURYS
Moving further on in time, this song is just so special, not only because the best super group in the world sing it, but because it’s a firm favourite of me and my partner and we love to sing along when it’s on the car, which is most days as it’s on the IPod, each taking a turn to be either, Roy, George, Tom, Bob or Geoff. What a wonderful line-up and so sad that we now only have two of them left.
Thank you, Jo, for bringing back some lovely memories here for me. Pam. Xxx
Take a trip down Memory Lane with the first three novels in the series about The Raiders chart-topping rock band and their lives and loves, spanning forty years. Now available in this box-set at a very special price. Individual books have many five star reviews.
Brand New Formatted Version.
THREE STEPS TO HEAVEN (set in the sixties)
‘TIL I KISSED YOU (set in the eighties)
ALWAYS ON MY MIND (set in the nineties)
Pam Howes was born in Cheshire. She is an ex Interior Designer who began writing seriously in the mid nineties. The idea for her first novel, set in the sixties, was inspired by her time as a teenager, working in a local record store and hanging around with musicians who frequented the business. That first novel evolved into a series set in the fictional town of Pickford, based on her home town of Stockport. Three Steps to Heaven; ‘Til I Kissed You; Always On My Mind; Not Fade Away, and That’ll Be The Day, follow the lives and loves through the decades of fictional Rock’n’Roll band The Raiders. Pam is a big fan of sixties music and it’s this love that compelled her to write the series. A stand-alone true-life romance, Fast Movin’ Train, set in the nineties, was published in early 2012. Pam is mum to three adult daughters, grandma to seven assorted grandchildren, and roadie to one musician partner.
Pam recently signed a second contract with the award winning publisher Bookouture and the first novel in her new Lark Lane series, The Factory Girls of Lark Lane, will be published in July 2018.
Her first series for Bookouture – The Mersey Trilogy – is available in E book, paperback and as audio books.
The Lost Daughter of Liverpool
The Forgotten Family of Liverpool
The Liverpool Girls
Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times bestselling author, an international bestselling author and has held the #1 spot in the UK Kindle chart. She writes contemporary fiction with sometimes unexpected themes.
Sue has won a Best Romantic Read Award, received two nominations at the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards and is a Katie Fforde Bursary winner. Her short stories, serials, articles, columns, courses and writing ‘how to’ have sold around the world.
An army child, Sue was born in Germany then lived in Cyprus, Malta and the UK. She’s worked in a bank, as a bookkeeper (probably a mistake), as a copytaker for Motor Cycle News and for a digital prepress. She’s pleased to have now wriggled out of all ‘proper jobs’.
Hi Jo, here are my tracks and the memories they hold for me.
When I was very young, my mother and I went to live with my maternal grandparents and two teenage uncles (Joseph 20 and Tommy 18) who spoiled me rotten and encouraged me to be precocious. NOT that I needed much encouragement. The house was filled with music, my uncles having bought a large radiogram with wages earned working in the local steel mill. They played their 78’s whenever they could, which meant I knew the words to all the latest songs and they taught me how to jive, twist etc. Later, when we moved house to England, my family’s love of popular music continued (via the radio). We listened to Music While You Work, Children’s Favourites, Sing Something Simple, Two Way Family Favourites and ground-breaking Radio Caroline. As a teenager I fell asleep listening to Radio Luxembourg via an earpiece attached to my prized transistor radio. When Radio One was launched in 1967 it was as important to teenagers, like me, as a man walking on the moon two years later.
Fast forward to listening to Radio One on the drive home from work, the transition from cassette tapes to CD’s and finally, downloading music on my iPhone. Small wonder music has provided the backing track to all our lives.
Here are five of my favourites – click on each title to activate the video
I only have to hear the opening chords of this song and I am transported back to 1967 when the hippy movement reached Leicester. I had just taken my ‘O’ levels and at the start of the summer holidays my friend Brenda Harris and I bought a bag of budgie bells from the local pet shop (much to the shop keeper’s suspicion). We sewed them on the outside seam of our bellbottom jeans, found a couple of floppy hats and ‘granny clothes’ at jumble sales and put together a ‘hippy kit’. Then we joined all the other wannabes on Victoria Park in search of the much promised Happening, which never materialised. Instead, we ended up in mega trouble for chalking – MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR on a neighbour’s garage door, after which the Summer of Love ended abruptly for us.
I often ‘stumble across’ music and this is how I found Runrig. I was watching TV and saw the group perform at Glasgow Barrowlands and was blown away, When I was a child we would often go to the ‘Barras’ a couple of times a year on shopping expeditions. That memory, coupled with Runrig’s fusion of folk, Gaelic and rock music tapped into a part of me I’d forgotten existed; my Scottishness. When Runrig came to Leicester I went to see them in concert and bought several CD’s afterwards. There I found the track Sguaban Arbhair – Sheaves of Corn. It tells how the old ways of crofting and living off the land have vanished as young people head for the cities. It’s my go-to song when I want to get into the mood for writing. In Scotch on the Rocks, my heroine Ishabel sings it at a live mike session in the local pub and the hero falls in love with her. When I listen to it, I’m transported to Eilean na Sgairbh, the imaginary Cormorant Island where I set my novel.
Lady in Red (now sadly cliched) brought Chris de Burgh to my attention. And, of course, I had to listen to his back catalogue (first on vinyl and then on CD). I found Ship to Shore and it raised my spirits at a difficult time. My mother had recently died of cancer, I underwent a hysterectomy, we moved house twice in two and a half years and I was acting head at a large primary school of over 350 children. It became an anthem for me, the backdrop to a time when I wanted to get stuck into my writing but was forced to put my dream on hold. The line: how I wish that we could turn the clock back to the time when we were lovers, in the true sense of the meaning, inspired me to go for gold and achieve my dream. In fact, all of the lyrics have a resonance for me. I only have to hear the Morse code ‘pips’ at the beginning of the song and I’m transported back to when I saw Chris de Burgh at the NEC. A time before word processors, the internet, and Amazon made becoming a published author an attainable dream for thousands of indie authors.
I discovered Adele much in the same way as Runrig. A friend had been banging on about her for months and I put my fingers in my ears and refused to listen. Stubborn, see? Then I caught Adele’s concert at the Albert Hall on TV, heard her sing Someone Like You and Don’t You Remember? and was hooked. Something in her lyrics – which come straight from her heart, the key she sang in, and her performance found an answering chord in me. Overall, I’ve had a good life and a very happy marriage. So, I have to dig deep when writing a sad/emotional scenes and Adele takes me there in seconds. So – that evening, once I’d stopped blubbing like a baby in front of the TV, I went straight on to Amazon and ordered ‘21’. It’s remained a favourite ever since.
In the 90’s we went to America, travelling from Washington DC to Memphis, thru Iowa and up to Door County. We stayed with my former teaching student and when we caught the plane back to the UK, she gave me Bruce Springsteen’s Born in the USA. In return, I promised that I would write a romance set in Wisconsin, bringing together everything we’d experienced over five magical weeks. Once home, I played the album while preparing for returning to school after the long holiday. However, influenced by Jilly Cooper, Helen Fielding et al I put notes for my ‘American novel’ to one side and started writing a rom com instead: Tall, Dark and Kilted. But I never forgot my promise and recently returned to the MS, re-writing and publishing it as Take Me, I’m Yours, dedicating it to Dee Paulsen and her family. Apart from the anthemic Born in the USA, my favourite track is Downbound Train. Every time I play it, I’m back in Dee’s Aunt Bev’s house in Memphis sweltering in 100 degrees in the shade as we rush from air-conditioned house to air-conditioned car. Now I know that I don’t have a pioneering bone in my body and would never convincingly play the part of a woman having a baby in the back of a wagon.
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After working as a deputy head teacher in a large primary school, Lizzie decided to pursue her first love: writing. She joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme, wrote Tall, Dark and Kilted (2012), quickly followed by Boot Camp Bride. Although much of her time is taken promoting her novels she wrote Scotch on the Rocks, which achieved Best Seller status within two weeks of publication on Amazon. Her next novel, Girl in the Castle, reached #3 in the Amazon charts. Lizzie is co-founder of indie publishing group – New Romantics Press, and has co-hosted author events at Aspinall, St Pancras and Waterstones, Kensington. Her latest romance, Take Me, I’m Yours is set in Wisconsin, achieved Best Seller status, too. As for the years she spent as a teacher, they haven’t quite gone to waste as she is building up a reputation as a go-to speaker on indie publishing. Lizzie lives in Leicestershire (UK) with her husband, David.
India Buchanan plans to set up an English-Style bed and breakfast establishment in her great-aunt’s home, MacFarlane’s Landing, Wisconsin. But she’s reckoned without opposition from Logan MacFarlane whose family once owned her aunt’s house and now want it back. MacFarlane is in no mood to be denied. His grandfather’s living on borrowed time and Logan has vowed to ensure the old man sees out his days in their former home. India’s great-aunt has other ideas and has threatened to burn the house to the ground before she lets a MacFarlane set foot in it. There’s a story here. One the family elders aren’t prepared to share. When India finds herself in Logan’s debt, her feelings towards him change. However, the past casts a long shadow and events conspire to deny them the love and happiness they both deserve. Can India and Logan’s love overcome all odds? Or is history about to repeat itself?
If you would like to come along, promote your work and choose five music tracks which are special to you, simply drop me an e-mail me at email@example.com
Can Miss Georgina Morton surrender her independence and accept the Duke’s love?
Miss Georgina Morton, at the age of four-and-twenty, with a modest annual income of four hundred pounds, believes she has no need of a husband and can manage quite nicely without one. Yet within a matter of weeks, she’s betrothed to Giles Glentworth, the Sixth Duke of Westbury, and bound for Regency London.
Set in rural Wiltshire and elegant, fast-paced London…a runaway ward, a shooting at mid-night, and a visit to fashionable Almack’s, are only a few of the adventures Georgina enjoys while falling for the Corinthian charms of the Duke.
Arabella Sheen is a British author of Contemporary and Regency romance novels.
Born in Mortimer House, a Grade II listed Georgian building in the heart of Clifton Village, Bristol, Arabella believes that having grown up with surroundings and architecture steeped in the historical culture of the 1800’s, she was destined to write about a subject she loves deeply, the Regency era.
One of the many things Arabella has a passion for is reading. And when she’s not researching or writing about romance, she is either on her allotment sowing and planting with the seasons, or she is curled on the sofa while pandering to the demands of her attention-seeking cat.
Having worked and lived in the city of Amsterdam in the Netherlands for nearly twenty years as a theatre nurse, she now lives in the southwest of England with her family.