I live in an area that has been in ‘Tier Three’ for some time, with the highest rates of Covid19 and it feels as though we have been isolating for a long time now, in addition to the current nationwide Lockdown. I am fortunate that I work and write from home but I so miss the contact with others face to face, to meet up for a coffee, a chat and a hug. For those of you, like me, unable to see relatives, especially anyone who is ill or going through a difficult time, I’m sending out a big virtual hug to you all.
We’re giving you an early Christmas offer, my ‘Coffee Tea’ series is currently reduced to only 99p/99c per book. These books have received very generous, wonderful reviews by kind readers and are described as feel-good fiction with lots of twists. So treat yourself – grab a coffee and something delicious to munch and snuggle down for a duvet day of reading.
Have you been trying any online courses during this difficult time? I am a WI member and discovered that the very clever ladies who organise speakers have put scores of classes and talks online. I had three blissful hours listening to the life story of artist Freda Khalo as we learned how to paint a watercolour in her style. I’m not very good, but I really enjoyed giving it a go.
Christmas is approaching, have you started to prepare? I haven’t done a thing. Its difficult to plan as family members who have to isolate through illness will not be joining, even if we are out of Lockdown over Christmas. But I will make a Christmas cake this weekend and if it turns out well, will post the recipe in the next newsletter. I’ll make a pudding too.
Have you got a favourite Christmas cake recipe? Do share it, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org – I love to try your recipes and will credit and add to my website if they turn out well.
The audio version of my latest book Boomerville at Ballymegille is now in production and it has been great fun working with narrator Gill Mills again. She is a wonderful actress/narrator and seems to completely ‘get’ my characters. It is fascinating to hear ‘Hattie’ being bought to life again and all the old friends from Boomerville. As the author, I almost feel as though I am listening to someone else’s book!
I hope that the sun is shining in whatever part of the world you are reading this.
Please stay safe, keep well and look after each other.
Today, I am joined by Carol Thomas – a successful author of women’s fiction/romance, who also writes for children. Her new book Being a A Friend at Christmasis now available and is absolutely delightful. A book that I will be putting in all the Christmas presents for the little ones in our family this year.
The book is beautifully illustrated, by Carol, and I am delighted to chat to this very talented author about her writing life.
What inspired a successful writer of romance to create a children’s book?
I didn’t set out to write a children’s book, but my first, Finding a Friend, came to me almost fully formed. It was one of those moments, as a writer, you know you should note down. I had been reading my son a bedtime story, looked at a picture of him and our dog on his wall, and just started saying it. It then took just over a year to complete and publish the book, with the illustrations being done by the very talented Drew Bristow, an illustrator living in Brighton.
Being a Friend at Christmas, is the second in the Little Pup series, though each can be read as a standalone story. In this story, Little Pup is looking forward to his first Christmas in his new home, but he remembers the dogs he left behind in the shelter. He has a plan, but he needs Father Christmas’ help to make his wish come true. I can’t resist happy endings, maybe it’s the romance writer in me, but I knew I wanted to write this book soon after the first came out. It became a labour of love during lockdown, especially as I illustrated it too.
The illustrations are delightful – have you had any formal training?
That’s very kind of you. No, though for some time I doodled and kept sketchbooks, partly because I like drawing and find it relaxing, but also because it was encouraged as part of my teacher training. I must admit that having the illustrations in Finding a Friend as a guide helped and lockdown gave me the time I needed to practice and create the pictures.
What age group is the book marketed to?
It is written for under 7s. As a teacher, I wanted to write books that could be shared and enjoyed again and again. The text is purposefully rhythmic and rhyming to engage early readers, while little ones can join in and anticipate words and phrases. The illustrations are colourful and each story can inspire a conversation about the puppy’s thoughts and feelings.
The story and verse are charming, did it take long to put together?
For Being a Friend, I was writing to an idea and wanted to ensure I followed the same rhythm and rhyme scheme as Finding a Friend, and so it did take a little longer to complete. For a long time, I had most of it written but couldn’t make a couple of verses fit. I stepped away for a couple of months and returned to it afresh. I am thrilled with it now.
Going forward: Children v Adult writing – what do you prefer?
I enjoy both. Ruby Fiction, an imprint of Choc Lit, publishes my romance books, and so I have to prioritise time for them, but I also love creating children’s books, that I self publish. The process is different for each but ultimately rewarding.
Did you find the self-publishing process difficult?
I’d say challenging rather than difficult. There are still things to do with the process I’d like to be better at and to know more about but I am proud of what I’ve achieved. Being traditionally published too, I think it’s good to have the insight into both routes to publishing.
What can we expect from you next?
I am marketing Being a Friend at Christmas. I have a novel currently with my publisher, Choc Lit (fingers crossed they like it) and I am writing a Christmas novel that I hope will come out in 2021. I am crazily busy as I have also recently taken on a new teaching role working in year six, and, of course, must ensure I have quality time with my family and dog too – especially as they keep me sane!
Carol Thomas writes for both adults and children: Her contemporary romance novels, have relatable heroines whose stories are layered with emotion, sprinkled with laughter and topped with irresistible male leads; while her children’s books have irresistibly cute, generally furry characters young children can relate to.
Its been an absolute pleasure to chat to Carol and don’t forget that you can purchase Being a Friend At Christmas now, I think it is a perfect book for children and not just at Christmas.
Are you ready for Autumn? The darker evenings and chillier days are perfect for snuggling down and relaxing with a good book.
Promo – This month my novel, Coffee Tea The Caribbean & Me is on offer for 99p/99c as a download on Amazon. This book was Thomson Holidays top read in their inflight magazine, so if you fancy a virtual change of scene and a fun filled, page-turning read, head off to beautiful Barbados with Jo and Hattie and be prepared to hang on tight!
Autumn – I havebeen busy and I am writing the follow up to The Best Boomerville Hotel. Huge thanks to all you wonderful readers who have left such glowing reviews for Boomerville, all of which encourage me to write on.
Audible – I have only just started listening to books on audible. Where have I been – I love it! I can listen to books whilst driving, walking, cooking and so on. I’m currently listening to Kate Atkinson’s novel, Transcription, and am thoroughly enjoying it. I can’t wait to hear Boomerville come to life as an audible book!
Boomerville Bertie is thinking ahead to Christmas and with a competition coming in November, look out for your chance to win this cute little bear. He’ll make a great stocking filler.
Soup – With autumn days, I always think of warming comfort food and here’s my recipe for pumpkin soup with parmesan croutons:
In a large saucepan, gently sauté onions in olive oil until soft, add garlic and ginger and cook for a further couple of minutes. Add cumin powder
Add the pumpkin to the pan, stir into the onion mix and cook for 5 minutes. Pour stock over squash mix and bring to the boil. Cook for 10 – 15 mins until squash is soft. Remove from heat and blitz with a stick blender until smooth. Return to heat and add cream, stir gently until nearly boiling.
Serve in warm bowls with chopped coriander sprinkled on top
You can buy or make croutons – if making cut bread into cubes, place on oven tray (greased with olive oil) sprinkle olive oil over and finely grated parmesan. Roast in oven for 5 – 10 mins till golden brown, turning croutons once.
Happy reading, hope you enjoy perfect autumn days.