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MEET THE AUTHOR – CAROL THOMAS

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 Christmas is 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.

Make sure you grab a copy of Being A Friend At Christmas for all the youngsters you know…

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.

Author Carol Thomas

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!

About Being a Friend at Christmas (Little Pup book #2):

Little Pup’s looking forward to Christmas

and he knows just how lucky he’s been

because some dogs are still in shelters,

a warm home and best friend yet a dream.

Hoping a small gift of kindness,

will help them feel loved, not alone,

Little Pup has a wish that might come true,

when Father Christmas visits his home!

“A lovingly illustrated, and beautifully written, Christmas story you’ll want to share again and again!”

View the book trailer: https://youtu.be/q8Yhj7AfwPE

Purchase link: http://getbook.at/BAFAmazon

Finding a Friend (Little Pup book #1).

When Little Pup finds himself at the shelter,

he doesn’t know quite what to do.

Big dogs all around, feeling lost and alone,

Little Pup needs a friend… but who?

“A delightfully written and wonderfully illustrated picture book, with a heartwarming ‘tail’ of friendship.”

View the book trailer: https://youtu.be/66ypEpoNTd8

Purchase link: http://getbook.at/FAFAmazon

About Carol:

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.

Happy reading everyone xx

Books by Caroline James

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Meet the Author – Vicki Beeby and her new book The Ops Room Girls

I’m thrilled to have Vicki Beeby stop by my blog today as she celebrates the publication of her wonderful new novel, The Ops Room Girls which was published by Canelo on 16th July. Grab a coffee and sit back to enjoy this post as Vicky talks to me about her writing life.

Author Vicki Beeby

What started your journey into the world of writing?

I’ve always known I wanted to write books one day, but I only knuckled down to writing novels about ten years ago. From my teens to my early thirties I wrote a daily journal, and I think that was a good introduction to the discipline of regular writing. In my twenties, I also started writing fan fiction, well before I knew fan fiction was actually a thing. I liked to write about minor characters and give them a story of their own. When I discovered internet sites where you could post fan fiction, I dared to upload a few stories and was encouraged by the feedback to keep going. After a while I wanted to create my own characters and worlds, so started writing original fiction. It still took a lot of perseverance to get my first publishing deal, but I don’t think I would have started if it hadn’t been for the encouragement I got from fellow fanfic authors.

What is it you most enjoy most about being an author?

I love the whole process of starting out with a spark of an idea and developing it into a complete story. At times the process can be painful, but nothing can beat the kick of holding a book in my hands, knowing that the words inside came from my own head.

Tell us about your latest book and why you chose to write it.

The Ops Room Girls is the first in a series called The Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. It follows the story of Evie Bishop, a working-class girl who joins the WAAF near the start of World War Two after having her hopes of an Oxford Scholarship dashed. She is posted to the operations room of an RAF fighter station where she befriends two other WAAFs – shy, awkward May and flirty, glamorous Jess. The book is set against the background of Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain and follows Evie, Jess, and May’s adventures as they embark upon romances and join the struggle to keep their pilots safe. 

 

I love watching old war films but have always been frustrated that the action mostly centres on men. You would occasionally see women in the background, but you never discovered what they actually did. In particular, I was curious about the women in some scenes in the Battle of Britain films, who could be seen pushing blocks around a chart on a large table. When I found out what their job involved, and the vital work they did during the Battle of Britain, I knew I wanted to tell their story.

Who are your top three favourite authors and why?

Rosemary Sutcliff Douglas Adams & Marion Keyes

Rosemary Sutcliff – I fell in love with history and historical novels thanks to her. Douglas Adams – I love his sense of humour and his way of looking at reality and twisting it. Marian Keyes – What can I say? She’s a goddess. I’m in awe of how she can write about dark stuff like addiction, grief and depression and still make her books funny and uplifting.

What are your writing plans for the next year?

I still have to write the third book in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force series, so I’m looking forward to getting stuck into that. After that, I’d like to write another World War Two series, although I haven’t fixed on what to focus on. I’ve got a list of story ideas that came to me when researching the current series so I’ll read through them and see which ones spark more ideas.

How do you celebrate on publication day?

I’m not one for elaborate celebrations, but I do take time off work so I can enjoy the day properly. When my first three books were published—medieval romances under the pen name Tora Williams—I went out for breakfast with my mum to celebrate. With lockdown, celebrations will be even more low-key. I’m in a bubble with my mum, so I’m going to take a cake around to her house and she’s ordered a cream tea by post. I’m such a party animal!

 

It was such a pleasure to talk to Vicky and I am currently reading and loving The Ops Room Girls – watch out for my review soon. You can follow Vicky on the links below:

 

The Ops Room Girl links:

Amazon: Mybook.to/OpsRoomGirls

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/ebook/the-ops-room-girls

Google: http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN9781800320888

Apple: https://books.apple.com/book/the-ops-room-girls/id1509441974?app=itunes

Social media links:

Twitter: @VickiBeeby

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/VickiBeebyAuthor

 

 

BOOKS BY CAROLINE JAMES

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Meet the Author – Morton S Gray

I’m thrilled to have Morton S Gray on my blog today. Morton’s latest book, The Truth Lies Buried, is now available in paperback and audible as well as all ebook platforms. Morton, like me, loves beautiful Cumbria…

Thank you for inviting me over to your blog, Caroline. When you asked me to Meet the Author, I tried to think of a linking factor between us to spark the blog post and came up with The Lake District! Why? Because your super novel The Best Boomerville Hotel is set there and I have enjoyed many holidays in the area over the years. So, I thought I’d talk about a few snapshots from those visits.

Author Morton Gray

A favourite teenage holiday photograph sees me on the ferry across Lake Windermere. I had just become conscious of what I wore and can still remember the feel of the turquoise flared trousers and green floaty tunic top. I felt amazing.

Fast forward to when my eldest son was small – I used to take him to the Lakes at least once a year. After driving up the motorway, I very often couldn’t face the car for a few days, so we used to explore by bus or ferry and had lots of fun. One year, son insisted on wearing his pirate bandana and carrying his plastic sword all of the time – surprisingly we made lots of friends that year.

Fast forward again and I had my first holiday with my now husband in Bassenthwaite. Hubbie severely overestimated both my level of fitness and the length of walk across the fells I could cope with. I had never climbed that far up a hill in my life and had never seen Windermere laid before me like a map as we were so high up. I think it was when I was exhausted and finding it difficult to put one foot in front of the other on the scree slope on the way down that I began to seriously question whether our relationship had a future! (P.S. we’ve been married sixteen years!)

We’ve had several holidays with youngest son in the Lakes (who if we were celebrities should by rights be called Bassenthwaite, but he gets embarrassed when I say that!), but these days it’s usually hubbie and I on our Lakes holidays whilst youngest son is on some school camp or other.

Our favourite place to stay is Grasmere, as you can walk off in all directions without having to travel in the car. Last year, we stayed at the lovely Daffodil Hotel on the banks of Grasmere Lake. And, no trip to the Lakes is complete without a visit to the wonderful restaurant, The Jumble Room.

Thank you, Caroline, I’ve enjoyed reminiscing about Lakeland holidays, but what I really wanted to tell your readers and that feels almost cheeky now, was about the paperback and audiobook release of my second novel for Choc Lit, The Truth Lies Buried on 12 March 2019. You’ll find details below.

“A brilliant read and I would highly recommend anyone to read either of Morton’s books.”
Amazon Reviewer
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Author Interview – Sandra Danby

I’ve long been a fan of Sandra Danby’s writing and with the publication of her new book, Connectedness, it was a good opportunity to have a chat with the author herself…

Tell me a little about Sandra Danby the person and why you write.   I write because I can’t not write. It’s what I love doing… telling a story, finding the right way to tell it, inventing things, shaping it. Any day away from my desk feels like a lost day. I have loved reading from my Janet and John days through Enid Blyton to Mary Stewart, then an English degree followed by +35 years as a journalist. When I had the chance to write fiction seriously I found it difficult to unshackle myself from my journalism training, to loosen up and let my imagination go rather than worry about researching facts and getting everything right. I’m getting there now.

 

I love the cover of your new book, Connectedness, can you explain why you chose this?

Connectedness by Sandra DanbyIt is lovely, isn’t it? I’m so pleased with my ‘Identity Detective’ series covers, they were designed for me by Jessica Bell who asked incisive questions about characters, imagery, themes, symbols and excerpts before starting work. The tree represents our connections to known and unknown branches of our family, and it is the recurring image of all my book covers. The nodding woman was Jessica’s idea and it is a wonderful way of showing Connectedness is the story of one woman at two different stages of her life; as a twenty-something art student, and as successful artist in her fifties. As mature adults, we are all the sum of our previous life experiences and Justine Tree, the artist in Connectedness, certainly is.

The title is unusual – how did you come up with, Connectedness?

The title came early in the writing process, one day I was playing with words to do with family, relations, , identity, the sense of belonging, connections, and ‘Connectedness’ came into my mind clearly and strongly. The step of making it into the name of Justine’s new art collection came much later when I was re-drafting.

This is the second book in the Identity Detective series. Can you explain what the series is all about?

Rose Haldane reunites the people lost through adoption. The stories you don’t see on television shows. The difficult cases. The people who cannot be found, who are thought lost forever. Each book in the ‘Identity Detective’ series considers the viewpoint of one person trapped in this horrible dilemma. In the first book of the series, Ignoring Gravity, it is Rose’s experience we follow as an adult discovering she was adopted as a baby. Connectedness is the story of a birth mother and her longing to see her baby again. Sweet Joy, the third novel that I’m writing now, will tell the story of a baby abandoned during The Blitz. Each novel is a mystery about adoption reunion, family secrets and romance, lost and found.

It is a clever author who links their books in a series this way. Is the subject matter personal to you? Do you identify with the lead character Rose Haldane or is she like anyone you know?

I’m asked this a lot! I write adoption mysteries but I’m not myself adopted. I was however over-imaginative as a child, the youngest of three with quite a gap before I came along. So I used to imagine exotic parents who were foreign, royal, adventurers, the usual childhood fantasies. As I grew older this developed into a fascination of how we become who we are; is it blood and genes, or upbringing and experience? A mixture of the two? And if you were a cuckoo in the family but not told about it, would you sense it? Rose is a journalist because I was one and I knew her world but though she started off as a mixture of myself and my fellow journalists, she evolved into her own person.

What’s next in the series?

Sweet Joy tells the story of Theresa, an elderly lady who feels she has one last chance to answer the questions of her birth. On the night of November 29, 1940, Twickenham endured a horrendous night of bombing in The Blitz. In the rubble of a bombed house, an ARP warden finds a baby untouched by the devastation. She is healthy and obviously cared for, but she is alone and no adults are found near her and no one claims her.

The locations in Connectedness are beautifully described. Do you have a strong knowledge of Filey (Yorkshire), Málaga (Spain) and London and if so, what are your connections and why did you want to write about these locations?

 

Yes I know each of the locations intimately and hope it shows in my writing. I grew up on the East Yorkshire coast and, though I merged several locations into one and invented Justine’s cliff top home Seaside Cottage, the place is very dear to me. I have lived in and around London since I was eighteen when I travelled south to university while Spain has been my home for the last ten years. We live inland from Málaga in the beautiful countryside around Ronda and are frequent visitors to the city for its art, its food and the beaches. I used many of my experiences as a newcomer in a foreign country to enrich Justine’s arrival in Málaga as a foreign student at art college. Her struggles with ordering coffee, buying bread and attempts to make herself understood are things that happened to me.

Plaza de la Merced, busy traffic - photo @SandraDanby
Plaza de la Merced

You cover the art world in depth in Connectedness – did this involve a great deal of research?

Malaga, entrance to Museo Picasso - photo @SandraDanby
Picasso Museum Malaga

A fair amount of research and reading but I can’t say it was hard work. I have always loved art but never studied it so I had a very superficial understanding. I gradually built up my knowledge by reading, watching documentaries and visiting exhibitions, by not limiting myself to artists I was familiar with but consciously exploring periods and styles new to me. The Málaga location also provided the connection to Pablo Picasso who was born in the city. He was a childhood inspiration for Justine as she, like the young Picasso, drew the birds she saw around her every day as a child, mostly seabirds and pigeons.

 

You have received some fabulous reviews for Connectedness – will we be seeing more in this series and when?

Thank you! I am a slow writer so it will be three years or so before we see Sweet Joy. I often wish I could write quicker but I have health issues that make it difficult for me to spend long periods at the computer. So I tend to break up my days, combining writing one novel at the computer and then later in the day taking a break away from my desk while researching the next. So I am currently researching book four in the ‘Identity Detective’ series, currently title-less, which will be set again in Yorkshire.

What’s your favourite and why:

Book. Pride and Prejudice

Tipple  Does tea count? I’m tee-total now as alcohol stopped agreeing with me.

 Outfit  I’m a jeans and t-shirt girl, a scarf around my neck and New Balance trainers on my feet.

Film  All the President’s Men. The film that made me aspire to be a journalist. My second choice is another Redford film, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. What a fantastic script by William Goldman.

About ‘Connectedness’

Connectedness by Sandra Danby

TO THE OUTSIDE WORLD, ARTIST JUSTINE TREE HAS IT ALL… BUT SHE ALSO HAS A SECRET THAT THREATENS TO DESTROY EVERYTHING

Justine’s art sells around the world, but does anyone truly know her? When her mother dies, she returns to her childhood home in Yorkshire where she decides to confront her past. She asks journalist Rose Haldane to find the baby she gave away when she was an art student, but only when Rose starts to ask difficult questions does Justine truly understand what she must face.

Is Justine strong enough to admit the secrets and lies of her past? To speak aloud the deeds she has hidden for 27 years, the real inspiration for her work that sells for millions of pounds. Could the truth trash her artistic reputation? Does Justine care more about her daughter, or her art? And what will she do if her daughter hates her?

This tale of art, adoption, romance and loss moves between now and the Eighties, from London’s art world to the bleak isolated cliffs of East Yorkshire and the hot orange blossom streets of Málaga, Spain.

A family mystery for fans of Maggie O’Farrell, Lucinda Riley, Tracy Rees and Rachel Hore.

Download your copy here: Connectedness

Author Bio

Sandra Danby is a proud Yorkshire woman, tennis nut and tea drinker. She believes a walk on the beach will cure most ills. Unlike Rose Haldane, the identity detective in her two novels, Ignoring Gravity and Connectedness, Sandra is not adopted.

Author Links

Author website: http://www.sandradanby.com/

Notes on a Spanish Valley blog: https://notesonaspanishvalley.com

‘Connectedness’ at Amazon: https://amzn.to/2q6qy5Z

‘Ignoring Gravity’ at Amazon http://amzn.to/1oCrxHd

Twitter: @SandraDanby https://twitter.com/sandradanby?lang=en

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sandradanbyauthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6563021.Sandra_Danby

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sandradan1/