I apologise for wishing you a late but very happy, healthy and enjoyable 2023.
I am late because I am currently in Spain on a working holiday. We set off in December and travelled slowly through France to enjoy Christmas in the sunshine on the southern Costa Branca. It has been a lovely trip, and I am enjoying doing lots of research for a future novel.
France was extremely cold and sightseeing involved layers of warm clothing as we headed south. But the sun shone, and the trip was terrific despite lots of frost and ice.
This part of Spain where we are right now is very Spanish, and at this time of year, there aren’t any tourists to speak of, just folk like us enjoying travelling and winter sunshine. I am astonished to see some of the motorhomes that come and go. Mobile mansions! Especially those with German number plates. One day I noticed a set-up that involved an outdoor gym, BBQ and lounging area, and I almost expected to see a disco ball appear with a pop-up dance floor!
Fred is with us and getting used to being away from the comforts of his home. He is a great little dog and good company. Not one to get wet, Fred has discovered that he loves the long stretches of beach here. But when the waves come in, he has perfected his ‘dressage pony’ trot to ensure he keeps clear of the surf.
We were fortunate to be in Alicante for the start of The Ocean Race. This yacht race goes around the world, covering thirty-seven thousand nautical miles over six months. Alicante gave the teams a tremendous send-off, and I am enjoying watching the race online as it progresses.
A trip to the mud baths at San Pedro was fun too. The mud there is from the salt lakes, and said to be one of the healthiest places in the world. Spread it on your body, bake it in the sun, then rinse it off and feel like a million dollars! Any aches and joint pains have disappeared.
My new book, The Cruise, will be published in April. Cover reveal and more news to follow. I so enjoyed writing this book as I took the characters to the Caribbean on a cruise of a lifetime, and the trip was a journey along memory lane for me.
The Spa Break is going well. Thanks to you all for reading, and I hope it provides a little escapism in these colder or not-so-cheery months.
If you’d like a trip to a Boomerville Hotel and see what shenanigans the guests are getting up to with managers Jo and that rascal Hattie, Boomerville at Ballymegille is currently on promo at only 99p/99c on Amazon. Hattie is about to appear again in a future book, so watch this space.
July has been very mixed in the UK, and the heatwave with record temperatures didn’t last long! For a few days it bought the country to a standstill in some areas, but as the month came to an end, the rain fell hard in lovely Lancashire, where I live. Fred, my Westie, despite being brushed and ready, is not keen on getting wet…
The newsletter this month begins with a giveaway. Would you like to virtually jet off to Barbados with a lovely feel-good read?
Coffee Tea the Caribbean & Me was Thomson Holidays InFlight Magazine’s recommended summer read, and I am offering a personally signed copy. Simply head over to my Facebook page and comment on why you’d like to win, or you can email your comment to me. Please use the links below:
The winner will be announced on 12th August. Open internationally. Last month’s giveaway winner was BETHAN DAVIES who is now enjoying her virtual Spa Break and goodies.
I had a trip to Majorca. Puerta Pollensa is a lovely area in the north of the Island, and it was a very relaxing break. But I came home and tested positive for Covid not long afterwards and have been quite unwell in the following weeks. The second time for me with the dreaded virus. I hope you have managed to steer clear, but if not, please take good care and look after yourselves.
HARPER COLLINS SUMMER PARTY
I was thrilled to be invited to the Harper Collins Summer Party. It was a grand affair in the garden at the Victoria and Albert Museum in Knightsbridge, London. I spent the evening chatting with many lovely authors and folks from the world of publishing, including some famous names and celebrities.
THE SPA BREAK IN PAPERBACK
My new novel, The Spa Break, came out in paperback on July 7th, and I thank everyone who has read it. Your reviews are massively appreciated, as are your comments on social media. The book seems to have ticked the box for both young and older readers. If you have yet to visit The Spa Break, I hope your virtual stay will leave you happy and uplifted as you make friends with Bridgette, Emily, Serena and Marjory. They all have life-changing experiences during their stay, and as I am a great believer in coming out of your comfort zone, especially as we get older, I hope their exploits will encourage you too.
Covid kept me out of the water, but happily, I am back, and my swims in the local lake and the sea when the tide is high have been such a joy.
I am ploughing through my talks this year and was delighted to be asked to speak in Preston last week. It was a full house and a very lively audience, many of whom stayed to chat afterwards at my book signing. Thanks to everyone who came along on the day.
As August begins, I shall be hard at work on my new novel. The Cruise will be published next year by One More Chapter (Harper Collins UK), and I am enjoying creating new characters for you to meet very soon. Would anyone like to read more adventures of Hattie & Jo from the Coffee Tea series? I feel they are just waiting for me to put pen to paper, so they can get up to more escapades. Do let me know. I love to hear from readers.
I hope these months find you well and happy, wherever you are in the world.
The winner will be drawn on 7th July – so why not celebrate with me and enter now!
The most fun you’ll have all year!
A weekend at the spa will leave four old friends with a whole lot more than they’d bargained for…
The glossy brochure promised a serene experience of total tranquillity and rejuvenation, but what best friends Bridgette, Emily, Serena and Marjory get is a weekend that upends their lives!
There for a girls’ weekend to celebrate Bridgette’s impending seventieth birthday, the spa soon has these spicy sexagenarians realising that there are unexpected benefits to age and experience, and that over the hill certainly doesn’t mean out of the game…in any respect…
As the weather begins to warm up, we’re heading into a very special commemorative weekend here in the UK as her majesty Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her platinum Jubilee. Flags will be flying all over the country as street parties take place and a whole host of events get underway. Our Queen is an incredible lady, and I wish her many more years of good health and happiness.
Or you can email me at email@example.com stating why you would like to win the books.
The winner will be drawn on Jubilee Sunday, and the giveaway is open internationally. The winners of last month’s giveaway for chocolates and a cuddly Fred the Westie were Jill Doyle and Georgie Moody. Congratulations to both.
Following the publication of my new novel, The Spa Break, I recently had my own spa break on the lovely island of Jersey in the channel islands. I stayed at The Club Hotel & Spa, which is in St Helier and a perfect location to visit all the attractions of this pretty island. To my joy, I discovered an outside lido on the beach that had a retaining wall enabling swimming in the clear salty water.
Jersey is renowned for its fabulous seafood, with the clean crystal waters of the gulf stream flowing alongside. The restaurants live up to their reputation for fresh fish cooked to perfection.
There is history wherever you go in Jersey. Evidence of the German occupation of the island during World War II is far and wide, and they celebrate Liberation Day on the 9th of May each year. The coastal walks are fantastic, with many lighthouses, pretty coves and wide sweeping beaches to stroll along. It is a perfect place for a holiday.
I can’t wait for the paperback of The Spa Break to be published on 7th July. There’s nothing quite like holding your book baby in your hands. Don’t forget that it is available as an ebook on all platforms and is currently on offer in some countries.
Handsome young chef Zach Docherty is feeling the heat. Following an exposé in a national newspaper, his fiancée Poppy Dunlop has broken their engagement. Heartbroken at the thought of life without Poppy, Zach drowns his sorrows. When his agent suggests that Zach becomes a contestant in a reality TV show, Jungle Survival, he reluctantly agrees. Plunged deep in the jungle into a bizarre mix of talent and trials, Zach meets glamour model Cleo Petra, and the cameras go crazy. Will Zach survive and be crowned Jungle King? Or will his latest exploits push Poppy further away…
Whatever you are doing this Jubilee holiday and wherever you are, I wish you much happiness.
Thank you to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for organising this tour and to Caroline James, One More Chapter and Netgalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for a honest and unbiased review.
Giveaway to Win a Fred the Westie soft toy and a personalised box of chocolates (UK Only)
*Terms and Conditions –UK entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the…
Yeah! Finally, the day has arrived, and my new novel, The Spa Break, is out now as an e-book and available on all platforms. The paperback will follow on 7th July.
I want to thank everyone who pre-ordered The Spa Break and hope that as it lands on your e-readers today, you get a chance to enjoy a visit to Sparadise very soon. Emily, Bridgette, Marjory and Serena can’t wait for you to join them!
Thanks too for all the early reviews from advance reviewers. They have been so kind, and I am beyond thrilled that The Spa Break is proving to be a fun-filled read for so many.
The winner of my recent publication day GIVEAWAY, chosen at random, is… drum roll… JILL DOYLE! Many congratulations to Jill, and your gift will soon be with you very soon. Thank you to everyone who entered on Facebook or sent me an email to be included in the draw.
As the online book tours kicks off I would like to most of all thank you, lovely readers, for supporting me in my writing journey. It is exactly 10 years today since I published my first novel, Coffee Tea the Gypsy & Me. In those days, I knew little about publishing and was unable to find a publisher as an unknown author.
I self-published the novel, and to my astonishment, it went to #3 in women’s fiction on Amazon. The rest, as they say, is history. With publishing contracts and several novels later, I am indebted to my publisher, One More Chapter (HarperCollins UK), who approached me to write The Spa Break.
So, happy anniversary to me and happy reading to you all.
Hello lovely subscribers, thank you for opening this post. Please read on for my spring news and the chance of a chocolate treat and cuddly Westie giveaway.
Spring is truly glorious in the UK at the moment. The weather is warm, and there has been plenty of sunshine. It is such a pleasure so early in the year. I’ve been getting ready for the release of my new novel, The Spa Break, which publishes on April 15th as an ebook. The paperback will be published on July 7th. Between writing and publicity, I have occasionally escaped with one or two trips.
A long-awaited trip was, at last, to meet my precious granddaughter, Willow. After a difficult pregnancy and a very traumatic birth followed by life-saving surgery and many weeks in ICU, Willow was finally able to come home to her mum and dad. Meeting this precious child has been monumental for me, and I have to proudly say that she is quite simply adorable. Both parents and daughter are progressing well and love being at home together.
My ever-thoughtful other half treated me to a weekend in Harrogate and afternoon tea at Betty’s tearooms. Betty’s is a popular and quite famous institution that began over 100 years ago when a young Swiss baker and confectioner, named Fritz Butzer, dreamed of opening his own business and left his home to travel to England. He had no money, no job, couldn’t speak English and certainly had no idea of the extraordinary legacy he was about to create. To dine at Betty’s is to step back in time and experience superb food in elegant surroundings with exemplary service. Afternoon tea can be booked in the Imperial Room, where piano music is played, and uniformed staff attentively cater to your every whim. We started with a glass of bubbles and had a delicious tea with dainty sandwiches, scones with jam and cream and divine little cakes. A treat indeed.
We’ve enjoyed some bracing walks locally in these early months of the year. On a windy day, this is the beach at the head of the bay near Grange in Lancashire. Fred, our Westie, adores this walk and will run forever along the sand.
Grange-over-sands (as it is known)was an isolated fishing village until the Victorian era when the railway arrived. Then it became a popular seaside resort. With spring water available and bracing sea air, one of the first sanatoriums in Britain was set up near Grange for those suffering from tuberculosis or breathing difficulties. In the 1930s, a lido, initially filled with salt water, was located overlooking the bay, but it closed in 1993. Today, there is a campaign to restore and re-open this fabulous art deco structure. As a ‘Friend of Grange Lido’ I will be one of the first to dive into the pool when it re-opens.
Heading into the Lake District in Cumbria on a chilly Sunday, we found the hills laced with snow and lake Ullswater inky dark and deserted, with no leisure boats or steamers. Ullswater is 9 miles long and the second largest lake in the area. It is my favourite lake. When I owned a hotel in Cumbria, I spent many happy hours walking with my collie dog around this beautiful stretch of water.
My next novel, The Spa Break, is set in what is now my home county of Lancashire, in an area called the Trough of Bowland. It is classed as an area of outstanding natural beauty where there are hills covered in heather and magnificent views as far as the eye can see. With grassy banks to roam over, sheep graze idly, and a river meanders alongside a remote twisting road.
The spa in the The Spa Break is named Sparadise. It is a luxurious retreat set in mature gardens by a lake, where four mature friends, Bridgette, Emily, Marjory and Serena, spend a weekend celebrating Bridgette’s big birthday. comments are favourable, and advance reviewers describe the book as uplifting and funny, the story that encourages us all to come out of our comfort zone, no matter what age.
THE SPA BREAK – coming soon…
You can grab a bargain and pre-order The Spa Break at a reduced pre-publication promo price by clicking on the link below:
Receive a gorgeous box of luxury chocolates and a cute cuddly ‘Fred the Westie’ – a dog in The Spa Break. To be in with a chance to win this lovely gift, simply go to my Facebook page and say why you’d like to win. If you don’t use Facebook, you can email me too.
The winner will be announced on publication day, April 15th 2022 and entries are invited from wherever you live.
Covid still rages globally and I find reading the perfect anecdote to the frustration and bewilderment of current world events, especially the horrors unfolding in Ukraine. I hope that reading brings you much pleasure too. I send my thoughts and prayers to everyone suffering at this difficult time.
As the clocks go forward in the UK and the nights get lighter I wish everyone celebrating Mother’s Day on 27th March a very happy day.Until next time, wherever you are and whatever your day-to-day brings you, I wish you good health, happiness and peaceful and fruitful life.
January is drawing to a close and here in Lancashire in the north west of England it has been an unusually mild month. Living close to the Lake District in Cumbria I’ve enjoyed the short drive to park then wander, for some happy dog walks with Fred, our Westie. My favourite lake is Ullswater, and you can see from these photos how beautiful it is. On a misty January day, the lake and mountains have an ethereal quality of their own. All the seasons are glorious and it’s no wonder the area is famed for producing so many poets and writers.
I am delighted to say that my new novel, The Spa Break is publishing in a few weeks and you can pre-order it today at the promo price of only 99p (the promo price may differ in each country). The ebook will automatically land on your e-reader on publication day. The paperback will follow a few weeks after the ebook.
The publisher is One More Chapter (HarperCollins UK) and I was thrilled to be contacted last year by Charlotte Ledger, the Publishing Director, who had an idea for a novel and asked me if I would expand her thoughts and write the book. The Spa Break finds four friends on a relaxing weekend away to celebrate a big birthday. But as the days unfold, the spa soon has these spicy sexagenarians realising that there are unexpected benefits to age and experience, and that over the hill certainly doesn’t mean out of the game. I loved bringing new characters to life and I hope that this feel-good, funny novel will be one that you enjoy.
Emily, Bridgette, Marjory and Serena are entertaining characters and I hope that I will be writing more about their escapades in future books. If this newsletter lands in the hands of any book reviewers, please get in touch for an ARC copy.
I’m enjoying reading novels by Marius Gabriel and am currently reading The Parisians. He has a wonderful ability to mix fiction with history during WWII, when Paris was occupied. Using real characters in his novels, especially from the world of fashion, such as Coco Chanel and Christian Dior, he brings the stories to life. Clever writing and highly recommended.
This month I have a signed copy of Hattie Goes to Hollywood to giveaway. To enter please go to my Facebook page or you can email me using the address below. Just comment why you would like to receive the book and you will automatically be entered into the draw. Good luck!
Welcome to new subscribers. Thanks for signing up; it’s so good to have you with us. I haven’t written here for a little while, so this is a catch-up post. Here in lovely Lancashire in the North West of England, autumn is quite stunning. On the edge of the picturesque Trough of Bowland and only a short drive to the Lake District, the autumnal countryside is beautiful at this time of year, especially when the sun is shining.
More recently, there has been heavy rain, and threats of flooding in the area and the little town where I live was hit by the deluge.
I’ve been hitting the keyboard hard these last few months and will soon have exciting news of my next book. I am in love with all the new characters and can’t wait for you to meet them. As much as I love writing, it is a job and takes discipline to sit down and slowly but surely work through the process of putting a manuscript together. The new novel has been different for me because I was given a theme and asked to write a story around it. With this in mind, here are a couple of tips that I’ve employed during the process.
Write for yourself, rewrite for others.
So often, writers are told to write for themselves, get the story down, feel the story and let the words flow onto the page. One of the most essential points in the process is listening to an editor and acknowledging their constructive points. So you have your first draft. You think it is brilliant, then your revisions come back with a hell of a lot of suggestions. Don’t cringe away with hurt feelings; take on board the advice from the capable and experienced editing brain that you entrusted your book baby to. They know the market and the reader you are writing for. Learn, write and learn some more.
Make your readers feel something.
If you don’t care about your characters, your readers will feel precisely the same way and soon turn to another book. You have to step into the shoes of the individuals you write about and walk through their lives with them, feeling their highs and lows and understanding what makes them tick. Sometimes I find myself crying when one of my characters is having a tough time, and that’s an emotion I embrace because readers may feel the same too.
Like many, the travel bug has been itching, and last month I was able to scratch it when we caught a last-minute flight and headed to the tiny island of Paxos in the Ionian Sea. Paxos is one of a cluster of islands that dates back to prehistoric times, and the Romans ruled the island from the 2nd century BC. By the end of the 14th century, the Venetians had taken over, and there is still evidence of incredible Venetian architecture throughout the Ionian islands.
With no airport, access to the island is by boat only, and on the day we travelled, the sea was choppy and not for the faint-hearted. October was stormy with heavy wind and rain at times, but it was genuinely glorious when the sun came out. Our home for the duration was a villa set in an olive grove. The house had been the former home of the British Governor of the island during the 19th century when Paxos was a British Protectorate. A perfect place to relax and take stock of the previous year, even when there was no electricity due to the weather and the candles came out.
I love audiobooks, and this month, in my free time, I have been listening to several novels by Diane Chamberlain. My favourite was Big Lies in a Small Town, which slips between 2018 and 1940 and is a great read.
I adored Eva Glynn’s The Olive Grove. It is beautifully written and based in Croatia and made me want to jump on a plane and head off to discover the places so skillfully described. Don’t miss it – it’s a great read.
My book club recommended Mike Gayle’s, All the Lonely People, and given the difficulties of isolating during the pandemic, this book really hit the spot. Another gorgeous read.
If you fancy a fun, cosy mystery to snuggle down with on the dark nights, my novel Hattie Goes to Hollywoodis on promo for you at only 99p/99c. Hattie is one of my favourite characters. Larger than life and full of fun, she gets into a great deal of trouble but somehow digs her way out with a smile on her face and plenty of laughs along the way. I hope you enjoy the story. It’s also available on audio and read by the lovely Gill Mills, also a fan of Hattie.
Christmas is around the corner, and I will write again before then. Do get in touch. I love to hear from you and don’t be shy. I love to chat about all things books and travels and whatever else is on your mind. You can find me on social media on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and I am always delighted to follow back.
I haven’t written my blog for some time and apologise to anyone who has missed a monthly update on my books and writing, or new recipe or two. The last twelve months have been the most difficult time of my life, with my beloved sister, Cathy, having been diagnosed with terminal cancer, to her death on 6th May.
Too soon and so badly missed, she was not just my sister and best friend but also my writing inspiration. As a late starter, from the very first word I ever wrote, she was with me. Encouraging me to glue my behind to a chair and get my fingers tapping out ideas on a keyboard. We plotted each novel together, shared the first draft, the highs and lows of publishing and drank champagne on news of a book’s success. She was my critique and my greatest fan, the one who urged me to write on and take my work seriously. As I sit here, I wonder how on earth I shall pick up the pieces and write again.
But I will. Because that is what Cathy would want me to do.
So, as I begin a new chapter in my life without my darling sister, the page turns and a new book is born. I am up and running again and the words are flowing and I am sure that my beautiful girl is waving her magic writing wand and willing me on.
To all of you who have lost someone close in these difficult and trying times, I send you my sincere love and raise a glass to their memory.
Books & offers
All of my books are free to read on Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Prime and you can find them by using the link below:
Method: Whiz all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Freeze.
TIP: If you have bananas that are going black, don’t throw them away. Simply freeze and use in this recipe (or a banana bread recipe). Bananas that have been frozen taste sweeter which means you won’t need to add as much sweetener. You can use any frozen fruit such as strawberries, raspberries or blueberries. Best of all, this ice-cream is ready to eat as soon as you’ve made it!
For the kids: use lollipop trays and freeze
I hope that the sun is shining wherever you are in the world and that life is treating you well. May you stay safe in the pandemic affected areas. Have a great summer.