I’ve moved over to a new Twitter Account. I’m now Jo Lambert Author. Join me there…
I’ve moved over to a new Twitter Account. I’m now Jo Lambert Author. Join me there…
Well, here we are, marching towards Christmas. How did 2021 go so quickly? It seems only yesterday we were welcoming in the New Year, and now it’s almost time to bid it farewell.
October ended up being so busy I missed my update, so am bringing it along to join November’s. The tenth month seemed to be filled with all sorts of appointments, both dental and medical, plus visits to friends and meals out. The final few days of the month saw us in Brockenhurst for our wedding anniversary. The weather was a mix of overnight rain and windy, showery days. We had a two night stay, meaning one whole day there to ourselves. The hotel was an absolute gem of a find and we will definitely be back next year. Everything there was so well organised, the rooms clean and bright and we were welcomed with coffee and cake. Breakfasts were enormous and set us up for the day. The in-house restaurant did some pretty exceptional meals and just as well we opted to eat there as the evening were pretty wet! Not the kind of weather to venture out to eat. Our one ‘day there saw us in Lymington during the morning, and after a wander and a coffee we headed out to Christchurch, stopping on the way to take a photo of The Needles, just off the Isle of Wight. Although we managed this between showers, the wind was so strong we both had trouble keeping upright! Sadly this had a detrimental effect on capturing anything in the way of a sensible shot!
Back from Hampshire it was straight in to Trick or Treat which saw a goodly number of local costumed children with their buckets – and adults accompanying them – knocking on doors and gathering goodies. Days later it was Bonfire night – usually an event that starts in mid-October and goes on well into November with nightly bangs and whooshing of rockets. This year, for whatever reason, it was much quieter. Maybe people decided to go to the many official ones around, who knows?
Mid-November our new front door and a team of fitters arrived. Ordered in August and held up due to an unprecedented demand at the manufacturers, we were really looking forward to the change. Unfortunately, it was not the door we had ordered. We only discovered this once the old door had been cut up. It meant they had to fit it and re-order. We’ve now been told it’s due here on 9th December, so fingers crossed all will go well this time.
I have to admit to have been struggling with my current WIP. It’s all there – plot, characters, the lot. It simply needs to be written. And that’s where the problem has been – finding my writing mojo. So, I have been working on it in small steps. Usually I like to have at least 2,000 words completed from any one writing session. However, on this occasion I know that pushing myself to accomplish this is not the answer. It will only make matters worse and be counter productive. So when I get an idea for a scene I just write that one scene. If anything comes from that, say, moving it on to the next scene, then I will happily go with it. But I do not force myself to complete something I don’t feel any current inspiration for. I’m hoping that January – which is my least favourite month and usually very quiet – will proved to be the time to kick start everything again as there will be no distractions.
So that’s it for the time being. I will be back again at the end of December. In the meantime here’s wishing you all a very Happy Christmas.
Yes, it’s that time of year again. The nights are drawing in, it’s getting cooler, and a certain species is on the prowl for a mate. Am I talking about foxes? Badgers? Owls? Think smaller with multiple legs. Yes, it’s time for the annual spider invasion.
Nothing is worse than being curled up on the couch reading or watching your favourite TV programme and then out of the corner of your eye you catch movement… and freeze. I think I have yet to find a woman who can tolerate arachnids, in fact some are absolutely terrified of them. Cat ownership taught me to cope with mice but spiders? That’s a whole different thing. My problem with them is that they have far too many legs which means they are adept at changing direction at speed so just when you think that pint glass you have pulled from the cupboard is about to trap them, they dodge away. They also have the disconcerting habit of leaping in the air, which can guarantee you will leap as well, hopefully in the other direction!
Last year, after reading about the fact our eight legged friends weren’t keen on horse chestnuts, we began collecting and leaving them around the house in places where our spiders are usually seen. There are two local trees a few hundred yards away from the house, so a plentiful supply. We have an under croft which runs below the lounge and dining room. I have never gone down there, nor do I intend to, as it is a well known habitat for multiple types and sizes of spider and also a perfect place for them to gain access to the house. On occasions, when work has been undertaken, holes have been drilled in the floor. These, however small, present little trouble to a determined spider in search of romance. I cannot say hand on heart that these chestnuts give us full protection, although we have seen a definite reduction. And for the spiders that do manage to get through, we have invested in the ultimate humane deterrent, pictured below. Much as I detest these eight legged intruders, there is no way I would kill one unnecessarily. Purchased from Amazon, this nifty little contraption means we can deal with them safely. So far we have ejected several quickly and painlessly out of the bathroom window or front door where hopefully they will find better luck tracking down the girl of their dreams.
Another month over. I’ve had my Cornish break, a relaxing week enjoying some fabulous food, visiting two amazing houses and gardens and soaking up the atmosphere in Fowey in preparation for my next book: the third and final part of my Cornish trilogy.
Back in July I’d booked all our evening meals weeks before our trip to South Devon. This time, however, I convinced myself that things would be back to normal. That meant booking Sunday and Friday lunches, our first and last meals, and working from there. So when we returned from Sunday lunch, I scanned my mobile for the names and numbers of places in Fowey where we had previously enjoyed great food. The first restaurant I called apologised and told me they were fully booked until the following Saturday! It appeared staycation was very much alive and well. The return of the new autumn term may have seen families disappear but a new and older set of holiday makers had arrived and the place was buzzing. However, all came good in the end and I managed to book us in on all but one of the remaining evenings.
One of the pubs I managed to book (twice actually) was The Old Ferry Inn at Boddinick. Luckily we were staying right next to the Boddinick Ferry which takes both cars and foot passengers. It meant we could hop on the ferry, enjoy our meal, and hop back on again to return to the apartment. The pub’s dining room had a wonderful view of the estuary, looking up towards Polruan. On our first meal there, it was a warm, clear evening and we not only had the benefit of a great menu but also a fabulous view from our table as you will see from the photo below. The white house with blue shutters on the left side of the picture is where author Daphne Du Maurier wrote her many novels.
As with most holidays, the time went quickly and soon we were packing our cases for the homeward journey. Fowey had became a bit of an oasis. Time to just chill out and think about nothing in particular – whether we were spending time with a glass of wine on the apartment’s patio, or watching the water traffic on the river. In my case there was an element of busman’s holiday. Walking through its streets, I soon became drawn back to my fictitious estuary town of Kingswater. My third and final book of the trilogy features one of the lesser known characters. Until that week, I still had no idea about her life or her family background. That had still to be created. Happily, it wasn’t long before it all began to come together. Now I’m almost ready to begin, and feel quite excited at the prospect of creating another story, which like the others, will contain not only romance, but an element of mystery and suspense.
In my last post I mentioned I would be talking about real life characters who had inspired my writing. In my first books, set in the fictitious Somerset village of Meridan Cross during the 1950s and 60s, I took the opportunity to incorporate one or two individuals I remembered from childhood. One character in the book was an old village man called ‘Doggie’ Barker. He lived in a cottage in the village with his canine companion, a border collie. Doggie’s character was taken from someone in the small Wiltshire village where I grew up. I remember him as ‘Brusher’ Stone, a nickname given him on account of the heavy moustache he sported, so my grandfather told me. A retired farm worker, he would spend most of his time during summer evenings leaning on his gate, chatting to locals who passed. His dog, a black and white Labrador cross, was named Toby, a name I kept for my fictitious canine. Central character Ella’s grandmother, Laura Kendrick, was also based on someone I ‘borrowed’. Marjorie Welch lived in the manor house and was our Sunday School teacher. Married to a retired army colonel and a former debutante (in the time when debs were presented at court), she moved in with her family when I was around eight years old. She thoroughly immersed herself in village life, running the elderly to GP appointments, collecting prescriptions, and even personally delivering a barrow full of logs to a young couple with a new baby when we were snowed in one winter. A wonderful character on which to base Ella’s strong, capable grandmother.
Of course drawing on childhood memories proved useful for my first novels, but as I moved on into contemporary romance, it became all about visualising my characters instead of ‘exporting’ them from the past. Having said that, I have to admit to still getting inspiration for my heroes from stars of both the big and small screen.
And just before I sign off, I’m pleased to announce that I have completed my Goodreads challenge for 2021. However, I’m planning to continue reading until the end of the year – there are so many good books out there. These are my September reads. I don’t usually make recommendations, but have to say Sarah Goodwin’s Stranded and Sheryl Browne’s The Liar’s Child are, in my opinion, a couple of the best psychological thrillers so far this year.
So that is it for the moment. Will catch up again at the end of October.
And now off to write, wish me luck!
Earlier in the month I posted about the locations which had inspired me to create the coastal community of Kingswater – a town of two halves facing each other across the estuary of the fictitious Kings River. Fowey in Cornwall is the main setting, with a few additions from the town of Dartmouth in Devon. The backdrop to a story is important, but another essential part of this parallel universe is what lies within that setting. In Shadows on the Water, Heron’s Gate House and Vineyard played an important role. The inspiration for this came about on a river trip up to Totnes (used for the fictional town Kingshead in the novels) where I spotted what we were told by the tour boat manager was the Sharpham Trust’s Sandridge Barton Vineyards. A new state of the art winery has been built there and a future visitor centre is planned. The vines which sprawl over the hillside towards the banks of the River Dart, produce award winning wines and on September 9th this year the winery will be celebrating its fortieth anniversary. You can read more about the business, their history and the wines and cheese they produce by clicking on the blue and white Sharpham WordPress logo below.
The Sharpham Trust also own a 18th century grade I listed Palladian villa which overlooks the vineyards and faces the river. The house hosts everything from weddings to holistic and art experiences as well as walks, tours, and the opportunity to help in their working garden. I enclose a link below for more details
In Shadows on the Water Heron’s Gate was purely and simply a home, and not a place offering a host of courses and creative activities as Sharpham does. It’s also pale stoned, Georgian and listed with terraced gardens which reach down to the river. It was Sharpham’s location which made me decide it would work very well as Heron’s Gate
In book 2, A Kingswater Summer, one of the main characters, Stella Wynter is a retired actress who lives in a large house up river from Heron’s Gate. No prizes for guessing the inspiration for her home, Penmarra. Of course, it was Agatha Christie’s Greenway which we visited in September 2019. Seeing this amazing house, with its extensive grounds overlooking the river, my imagination began to go into overdrive, recognising the potential for a place where my fictitious actress could have her home.
Stella’s house is a little smaller than Greenway and built of local stone and while Agatha Christie’s home is filled with memorabilia, Stella has instead chosen a designated area in her house. With main character Kiera’s assistance, this will eventually become a place which holds all her treasures and awards from a long and successful acting career.
Greenway perfectly captured this wonderful home by the river with extensive gardens, woods and a myriad of pathways. I also added stables and a boathouse with an apartment over. The boathouse and its apartment were important because I needed somewhere away from the main house for Kiera’s love interest, actor Jake Paterson, to stay. I wanted him to remain a bit of an enigma. A previous and rather unfortunate encounter with Jake, means Kiera isn’t exactly pleased to find him living there. But she’s also curious, and, although she denies it, attracted to this infuriating man. Therefore keeping him at a distance added to the mystery surrounding who he was and why he was there.
So there we are. Location is essential in order to give a book a firm framework in which to tell your story. But equally significant within that setting are the places where people live and work. It gives the characters a proper identity; something I feel is important, especially when writing about communities, as I do.
Next time: Some of the real life situations and characters that have become incorporated into my fictional worlds.
Jo Lambert – Writer of Modern Romantic Sagas
As a country girl who grew up in rural Wiltshire, when I first began to write commercially, the old saying ‘write what you know about’ was very much central to my stories. I knew all about village life; its structure, occupations, the characters, the gossip. It proved to be a fitting backdrop for my first novels. Set in West Somerset in a village called Meridan Cross (based on the village I grew up in), I created a group of friends (Ella, Issy, Rachel and Jenny). I followed their lives for five books in all, beginning during their teens (in the 1960s) and ending in their forties. By book four the ‘girls’ were now in their mid thirties with teenage children. Although the village was still very much a central hub, one of the major scenes was set in southern Spain as Ella fought to save her marriage to record producer Matt Benedict. At the time of writing, the Costa Del Sol was well known to us, having spent several holidays with friends in their apartment just outside Marbella.
Book five saw the children (now young adults) carry the story forward. There were scenes set in Dartmouth, the Caribbean and Italy and Spain as rock star Christian Rosetti (managed by Matt) recorded his new album in the Caymans and went on a European tour which ended in tragedy. The two final books showed I had expanded my horizons from rural England to Europe and beyond. Some of the places I wrote about I had visited, but part of the research for those I had not, took the form of Google Maps where I could not only describe places but also take a ‘virtual’ walk around.
With the Somerset series coming to an end, for the next location, inspiration came from our regular holidays in Dartmouth, South Hams. My South Devon Duo was set in the fictitious village of Lynbrook – a return to rural life, this one with a pub at the centre of the community.
By this time I’d switched from being a saga author to writing contemporary romantic suspense. And that is where I have stayed. My latest trilogy – two books down one to go – is set on the south coast of Cornwall. I’ve cheated a bit with the location, however. East and West Kingswater on either side of the Kings River estuary, has been a blend of Dartmouth/Kingswear and Fowey/Polruan.
If I’ve learned anything in the time I have been writing, it is that for me personally, it is far easier to set my cast of characters in a real place rather than somewhere conjoured up by my imagination. However, at the end of the day, there is no golden rule for this. It’s down to the individual writer and what suits them best.
A Kingswater Summer, the second book set in the Cornish estuary town of Kingswater is currently on offer as an e-book download on Amazon for 99p/$1.37
Love, Deception and Family Secrets
UK Kindle: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09C8Y9BC8/
US Kindle: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09C8Y9BC8/
I’m delighted to shine a spotlight on a friend of mine today – Jo Lambert. Her new Cornish Coastal Romance (book 2) is published today and it’s called A Kingswater Summer. Isn’t the cover lovely? I used to live in Cornwall and Jo’s writing really takes me back there.
A KINGSWATER SUMMER
Book Two in the Cornish Coastal Romance Series
Newly returned from backpacking around Europe, Kiera Merrick has landed a dream job – working for actress Stella Wynter, helping set up a memory room at Penmarra, her beautiful riverside home just outside Kingswater.
Jake Paterson is currently staying with Stella after filming the final series of his popular TV drama. He is trying to work out how to get his co-star and long-term girlfriend Rachel Tyler back after she walked out on him. But Jake soon finds himself drawn to Kiera, developing feelings for her that have…
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Or so says the famous quote. As a writer, I avoided both, although in the Little Court series, my first set of books based in rural West Somerset there were two collies – Gaffer and Laddie – owned by farmer Richard Evas. They were working dogs who got a few mentions. Someone I used to work with way back owned two collies. The younger dog, called Gaffer, became the muse for one of the fictitious duo. Then there was ‘Doggie’ Barker the old village man who had his faithful friend Toby.
There were no more canine characters until my eighth book A Cornish Affair and mother and son Gussie and Gulliver, Cat Trevelyan’s father’s much loved Labradors. Cat’s great aunt Emelia (Em) also got in on the act with her West Highland Terrier Hamish, a small dog with a reputation for absconding. During one of his bids for freedom, as Em searches for him she becomes a key witness in a murder investigation.
Up until that moment, dogs had only played a minor role in my stories. After all, as far as I was concerned, there was only a limited amount canines were capable of. That’s until I introduced Erik into my storyline for A Kingswater Summer, released today (Tuesday 10th August). Erik is a Schnauzer and owned by Stella Wynter, a retired actress who lives at Penmarra, a beautiful old house on the banks of the Kings River. An unexpected meeting sees my central character Kiera Merrick employed to assist in creating a memory room for Stella in the old house. I did not have any plans for Erik beyond being Stella’s companion. As far as I was concerned his role would be similar to Hamish. But as often happens, the characters take over and in this case, as the book progressed, so Erik’s role became more prominent.
First, he was instrumental in bringing Kiera and brooding actor Jake Paterson together. Without giving too much away, when he became parted from Stella, and Kiera took over responsibility for him, he gained a whole load of new fans. Kiera’s father Eddie, not a great lover of dogs, became his companion for evening walks by the river. On some days he kept the team at Merrick’s boat builders company, on others he’d spend time with the crew of the Estuary Princess on her afternoon excursions. And on occasions, he even accompanied Eddie and Kiera’s brother Jory to the local pub. Finally, he became a real hero, attacking an intruder and burying his teeth in the burglar’s leg, sending him bolting for the door.
As always happens when I finish a book, I’m sad to say goodbye to the cast, and I can say hand on heart, I’m going to miss Erik. He really was a great character!
So there we are, a small dog who ended up with quite an important part to play. As I wrote I grew to love him. I hope you will too.
A Kingswater Summer, is now available in e-book at a special publication price of 99p/$1.37 Or read for free with Kindle Unlimited…
It’s the 7th of August and yes, I’m late again. No excuses, apart from the fact this piece of writing has been one of those things I kept telling myself I’d get around to. Clearly that hasn’t happened, but, hey, I’m here now.
July began with a week’s holiday. Back to Dartmouth, but a very different town to the one we usually stay in. The lock down has left its mark. Some shops have closed permanently while pubs and restaurants have spilled out onto the pavements giving the place a café style feel. Staycation too, has seen the place swamped with people, meaning social distancing becomes difficult in the town’s narrow streets. To ensure we were able to eat out every evening, I made a list of places and booked meals a fortnight before we were due to leave. We’d had problems in May while staying in Norfolk. Pubs and restaurants were only just opening up, but despite ringing to book our evening meals, we could only get lunches. One pub told me they weren’t taking evening bookings for the next three weeks! I guess we had all missed having a meal out! Good news for their trade, but a bit of a disappointment for us as one of those evening meals was to celebrate my birthday! Instead we met a couple of friends for lunch in a pub (their choice). They moved to Norfolk fifteen years ago and really love it there. They were instrumental in getting us together, so although the celebration wasn’t quite what we planned, we enjoyed it.
As far as Dartmouth was concerned, we managed to reserve a table at all the places we booked. Only one pub texted us just before we left to say because there had been an increase in Covid cases in South Hams they had decided to close until the end of the month. Looking for somewhere else for our main Tuesday meal we decided on The Sloop at Bantham, where we’ve eaten many times in the past. It’s next to an area,with views towards Burgh Island, and managed by the National Trust. The Sloop is a lovely pub with great food but getting there isn’t for the faint-hearted. A long narrow, twisty country road with passing places – and yes, you always seem to meet another vehicle where there aren’t any in sight! The journey in was fine, and we had a wonderful lunch. The return trip, however, was fraught with stops and starts. Not only did we meet other vehicles – including two very wide box vans – we also had cars following, which made it difficult to reverse. However, soon the main road was in sight and we were on our way back to Dartmouth.
The rain fell mostly at night, leaving a cool edge to daytime temperatures. While we were there, we had a family meet up with one of my husband’s cousins at Slapton. It’s where the rehearsal for the D-Day landings took place in 1944. There was a strong, quite cold wind as we walked along the beach and it was great to reach the pub and sit down to enjoy a hot coffee. We had a relaxing week, but not the best we’ve ever experienced in Dartmouth. I’ve never known it so crowded and every other person seemed to own a dog, which goes to prove there has definitely been an increase in canine ownership during lockdown. Maybe next year when the staycationers are relaxing in the Med, we’ll get back to how things used to be.
I guess the rest of the month has been all about book. Yes, A Kingswater Summer is being published next Wednesday, 11th August.
It’s been one of the most difficult writing experiences I’ve had. I’ve really missed my editor, whose family commitments meant she couldn’t work on this latest book. She’s proved not only to be a great editor but a good friend as well. Having now received the e-book for final checking, I’m amazed how much the whole thing has changed since I completed that first draft. The baby I started with has become a fully fledged adult who is about to leave home- a strange analogy maybe, but one I find most apt! Once publication day has come and gone it will be time to sit down and work out the storyline for the final book of the trilogy. The never ending cycle of writing, but I wouldn’t want to do anything else!
Until next time
Rain rattles through the trees as she leans into the car, careful not to touch anything. Two pretty blue eyes stare back through the dark, wide with relief, or maybe fear. A baby girl, wrapped up in a pink snowsuit, reaches out a tiny hand. Her mother is nowhere to be found…
An abandoned baby is the last thing Detective Madison Harper expects to find as she drives to her first day back at work since the case that ripped her life apart. But as she cradles the shivering child close, all her instincts tell her there’s something more sinister at play. Then she finds a lone sneaker down a muddy trail nearby, the laces spattered with blood…
In a town as small as Lost Creek, Colorado, the baby and the shoe are quickly identified as belonging to Kacie Larson, a waitress at the local diner who quietly stashed away her tips to make a better life for her daughter. A mother herself, Madison can’t believe that Kacie would just abandon her child, but she also can’t convince her new team. Not for the first time, Madison feels she must go it alone to get the job done.
But when a body is pulled from a nearby lake, and it’s not Kacie, the case takes an agonizing turn. Is this missing mother really who she says she is? Is there a chance she’s still alive? Madison barely has time to think before the sweet little girl she rescued is snatched on a crowded street. Gone, in the blink of an eye.
To break this case and earn her place back on the force, Madison must learn to trust her team, and herself again—and fast. If she doesn’t find this twisted individual in time, a little girl could die…
A pulse-pounding, absolutely gripping and totally addictive page-turner that will have you racing through the pages and reeling at the twists. Perfect for fans of Melinda Leigh, Lisa Regan and Kendra Elliot, you’ll be sleeping with the lights on!
Amazon link: http://viewbook.at/LittleGirlTaken
Wendy is a former coroner’s assistant turned crime writer who lives in the UK with her husband and 3 cats.
Her first novel (The Girl Who Died) was longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Competition. Since then she has written two crime series – one follows Officer Dean Matheson on his quest to make detective, and the other is her current series which follows Detective Madison Harper as she tries to reclaim her life after spending six years in prison for a murder she didn’t commit.
As well as crime novels Wendy also has short stories published in various anthologies in the UK and the US, and she has been shortlisted and longlisted for various writing competitions.
Wendy’s social media:
Facebook: Wendy Dranfield Author
Pinterest: Wendy Dranfield
Instagram: Wendy Dranfield Author
This is the third book in the Detective Madison Harper series. On her way to her first day back at Lost Creek Police Department, she discovers a baby girl in the back of a crashed car. Who is she? Why has she been abandoned? And where is her mother? The blood in the front of the vehicle is concerning.
I love Wendy Dranfield’s novels. She provides the reader with great characters and a plot with twists and turns aplenty. Nothing is straightforward and the shocks and surprises are many as the suspense mounts during the search for the abandoned baby’s mother. Of course, a Maddison Harper novel would not be complete without her friend Nate and dog Brody. In Little Girl Taken, Nate plays a more central role, and confronts a nemesis who has taunted him since his release from jail.
This is a well written, edge of the seat thriller with surprises aplenty. Since joining Bookouture, Wendy’s writing has gone from strength to strength. Looking forward to what’s next in store for Madison and Nate.