Tag Archives: loveahappyending.com

PARTY TIME! Celebrating the launch of Sophie’s Turn #sophiesturn

I’ve been dreaming of this day since I was ten, and now I’m lost for words?

What can I say? Words aren’t adequate. I’m whooping with joy and clapping my hands and jumping up and down. I’m whistling and cheering and clapping. And finally, I shout.

Hooooooray! It’s publication day for Sophie’s Turn!!

Sophie’s Turn is now available in Kindle edition from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk and many other Amazon sites. The paperback edition is also available from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. In addition, you can obtain Sophie’s Turn from Barnes & Noble. Yes, you can grab your copy now! And then… let’s party!

If you wanted to order 10, this is what you’d get… a whole box full!

I’m expecting quite a few guests throughout the day. There’ll be music, and dancing, and food. Come and join me as I go into party rock chick mode! I’ll update the post as new things happen during the day… it’ll be amazing.

Nicky’s Launch Party for Sophie’s Turn…

OMG, I am so excited that I can barely contain myself. What will the day bring? I have, however, breakfasted in style: a special treat courtesy of the kids.

Wow, Bucks Fizz Muffins! Didn’t know these existed…

Oh… they’re yummy! Thank you, boys!

The complete works? For me? Because it’s such a big day…? I’m touched. Tuck in!

Next job… Decorate the house!

Let’s have bunting (handmade)…

…and balloons, too!

Is that the doorbell? Already???
My goodness, the guests are arriving… must hurry!

Here’s Shaz, my first ever blogger-reviewer! She says: ‘Am honoured to have been a small part of your writing journey Nicky. You deserve all the success, not only for your skill but for all the work you put in behind the scenes. Have an amazing day with the re-launch of Sophie’s Turn and here’s to your continued success… **clinks champagne glasses** Rock On!’

And Sue, my writing buddy! She says: ‘Huge congratulations Nicky!
All your hard work rewarded.
Can’t wait to have a paperback copy of my bookshelf! XXX’

Linn, fabulous loveahappyending.com and Sapphire Star sister, is here, too! She says: ‘When it comes to rock chicks Sophie is IT! She might be in a quandary – Tim or Dan? – but she’s sure as hell going to have some fun! Wishing you all the best Nicky and congrats on a fab-u-lous party!’

OMG, all of the Romaniacs have arrived: I’m bowled over. They say: Happy Publication Day Nicky! So glad we could make it to the party – it’s certainly busy here. Have a great time and thank you for all your support. Love ~ The Romaniacs x

So many people here… that deserves a little song, right?

*Nicky sings** I’m walking on sunshine… yeah-eah…. And thank you for coming, yeah-eah-eah….

Heading into the afternoon… let’s have some lunch first!

Well, I had to, didn’t I? Sophie adores seafood… as do I!

More guests… the photographer is here! Welcome Debbie!!

Cheers!

Ooooh! And my publishers are here: that’s a really early start for them. So thrilled they made it!

Welcome, Katie! **clinks glasses**

And Amy, too: Hello! **Clinks glasses again**

And of course the party is spreading around the world!
I’m also at Shaz’s blog, Jera’s Jamboree, right now, as well as over at Loveahappyending.com. The Romaniacs are hosting me, as is Dizzy C’s Little Book Blog. In Germany, I’m visiting Dorothy Dreyer’s We Do Write, and over in the United States, I’m with Sapphire Star Publishing sister, AL Jackson, Susan Livingston’s Fascinating Books and Beth Art From the Heart. Last but not least, I am also in Canada with Melanie Robertson-King on her Celtic Connexions blog.
I mean, WOW! Talk about a global booklaunch…

So it’s lunchtime… we must be half-way there! That reminds me of a song. What was it?

**Sings along with Bon Jovi** …we’ve got each other, and that’s a lot, for love… we’ll Give It A Shot!

And hooray, right on cue, Jessie D. is here too! We are totally rockin’ and rollin’ over here.

I am so excited for the re-release of Sophie’s Turn. I can’t believe it was just a year ago when I first read this incredible book. It was my first Kindle read, and I stayed up late into the night unable to put it down, wondering what would happen next to poor, sweet, confused Sophie. And the opportunity to do some armchair traveling along with Sophie’s own adventures was so fun.
I couldn’t be more happy for author extraordinaire Nicky Wells! I’m not just a huge fan of this book because of Nicky – I’m a huge fan of Nicky’s because of this book! She’s woven a fabulous, fun tale, and I can’t wait to share this book with my friends and family… and then find out what happens next for Sophie in the rest of the trilogy!
Best of luck on the re-release, Nicky… and Sophie!

This Joint Is Jumping!

Apparently, I have to do the rock chick thing now. Well, if you’re sure… You did ask!

**Strums and sings** More than words… is all you have to do…. to make it real…

What do you mean, speech, speech?
**muffled heckling from the sofa**
Oh, alright. But I’ll have to put my glasses on first… and my speech dress.

OK, then, let’s hear it…

This is a really big day for me and it wouldn’t have happened without a number of amazing people in my life. So in true Oscar style, I’d like to thank my Mum, for always believing in me, and my gorgeous husband, for ditto.  Thank you to all the many fantastic people who are continuing to help me along the way, not least: Amy and Katie at Sapphire Star Publishing; Jessie Dalrymple; Shirley Mukisa; Shaz Goodwin; Sue Fortin; Linn Halton; everyone at loveahappyending.com; Deborah Smith; and the many, many wonderful bloggers who support me: know that you make this author’s world go round! You rock, one and all. Thank you!

Changed back into my party gear. Ready for a song and a dance… and some air guitar, perhaps?

And I will dance the night away….

Oh hello! My husband is back from work…

Big hugs for my lovely, smiley husband. We’ve missed you at the party!

…and he’s brought me flowers!! Time to dress up for the evening, it appears…

Now I do feel like a celebrity!

How do you know that you’ve arrived? You know when the rock stars turn up at your party!

Give it up for: THE HUSH!

WOW! Look what special guests have arrived now… IT’S THE HUSH BAND! I am absolutely and complety overwhelmed. What a party! THE HUSH also have a message: “What an honor to be Nicky’s special guest for this momentous occassion! We wish you all the best. Sophie’s Turn is a terrific read.”
OK. Now I need to sit down quietly for a moment or I am going to explode….. Whoooop!

They’re setting up stage… they’re going to play. WOW! I am beside myself with glee and excitement.  Rock stars a the rock star romance lauch party. AWESEOME! THE HUSH totally rocks!

Now it’s definitely CHAMPAGNE O’CLOCK!

I did it! I did it! Didn’t spill a drop!

Say ‘Sophiiieee’ for a picture with the star of the day.
(The BOOK, not me!)

‘Sophiiieee’: Me, my book, and a glass of pink bubbly. Rock on!

Whoa. So much bubbly. So much dancing. So much day left to go… Time to stock up the energy reserves. Happy eating!

Let’s have a party spread… Bon apetit, help yourself!

How and when will the party end?
Will it end?

 Actually, all good things come to an end.
And this, as they say, is it for this feature!

Aaaah… End of a long, happy day. CHEERS!

Thank you all SO much for coming to the party, for joining in, leaving comments, partying with me and my guests. It’s been really special and I couldn’t have done it without you.
It’s been an absolute blast! 

Please keep tweeting, keep visiting, keep rocking: that’s the spirit. I’ll be out and about for a long while yet, tweeting you, saying ‘hi’ on Facebook and responding to your much appreciated comments. 🙂

Thus, with the party only very nearly over,
the motto for the after-party is…

Rock the night! Rock on my friends, and happy reading.

#sophiesturn

Are you ready? Introducing the blog tour of all blog tours: #sophiesturn

Taking a deep breath.  And another one. Trying to calm my nerves, contain the excitement that is threatening to spill over and engulf me.

Tomorrow is launch day for Sophie’s Turn. Tomorrow, I will party. And I’ll post a party piece with all the joys and thank yous and everything. But today, I’m sharing with you the itinerary for the promotion journey that Sophie, Dan, Sapphire Star Publishing and I will undertake with sixty-three outstanding bloggers and reviewers. Yes, you read that right. Sixty-three! Hence my question… are you ready?

How did this come about? I don’t rightly now. Sapphire Star Publishing organised a fabulous blog tour on my behalf with Reading Addiction Blog Tours. And I got in touch with the bloggers I had come to know and love from a previous release of Sophie’s Turn. The response has been overwhelming, the support is staggering and I am just totally over the moon. The result is the blog tour of all blog tours.

Don’t panic. I won’t be asking you to visit every stop. I won’t be asking you to tweet yourself to death (that’s my job, wish me luck). I won’t even stalk you with continuous updates, although hopefully you’ll see the odd tweet or three… 🙂 I’m simply posting the schedule here, in a safe, obvious space on my blog, so that if you DO want to stop by and say hello on any given day, you can find me. That’s all.

Lastly, I want to give due credit and say Thank You to all these amazing bloggers and fellow authors who are giving up their time and making space on their blogs to help me shout about Sophie’s Turn. I couldn’t do it without you. So without furhter ado, take a look at this schedule and stand in awe, as I do, at the amazing support for my baby.

See?

SOPHIE’S TURN:
THE LAUNCH TOUR 2012

Stops and features are subject to change. Links may not function until the date a post is scheduled. *Asterisked stops have been scheduled by Reading Addiction Blog Tours on behalf of Sapphire Star Publishing: Thank You!
 

6 September  Romance that Rocks Your World  Party Time!

6 September  Jera’s Jamboree  Review, give-away and interview: Update on my publishing journey

6 September  AL Jackson  Guest post: The rock song that kept me going

6 September  Loveahappyending.com  Guest post: The journey begins

6 September  The Romaniacs  Guest post: A natural born singer. Not.

6 September  We Do Write  Interview: Getting to know me…

6 September  Dizzy C’s Little Book Blog  Review, excerpt and give-away

6 September  Celtic Connexions  Quick introduction to Sophie’s Turn

6 September  Beth Art From the Heart*  Review and guest post: A Day in the Life

6 September  Fascinating Books  Review and Guest post: The roaming writer

7 September  Wonderland Reviews*  Review and interview

8 September  Louise Graham  Review and interview: Hiya! meets Sophie and Dan

8 September  Andi’s Book Reviews *  Review, give-away and guest post: Why book covers are so important

9 September  Bookreview by Rea  Review, give-away and interview: Where do my characters come from?

10 September  For the Love of Film and Novels*  Review, give-away and guest post

11 September  Books For Me*  Review and excerpt

12 September   Solitary Bookworm*  Review, give-away and excerpt

14 September  Stephanie Keyes  Interview: Am I Sophie?

14 September   My Seryniti *  Review, excerpt, give-away and interview

15 September  Love reading love books  Review and interview: Tell us about writing Sophie’s Turn…

16 September  The Book Chick  Review, give-away and guest post: I don’t procrastinate

17 September  My Reading Room*  Review, give-away and interview

18 September  Mandy Baggot  Guest post: Mandy interviews Dan Hunter

18 September  Romantic Novelists’ Association Blog  Guest post: Titles and covers, and covers and titles…

18 September  Up All Night Reviews*  Review, excerpt and give-away

19 September   A Date With a Book*  Review, excerpt and give-away

20 September  Amy Gregory  Guest post: Just the right side of hot and steamy…

22 September  Chick lit and Wine  Review, give-away and guest post: Sophie’s Turn goes Wine Tasting 101

23 September  Forget the Housework  Interview and give-away

24 September  What’s Beyond Forks?*  Review, excerpt, give-away and interview

25 September  Hello, You  Excerpt and interview: Meet Nicky Wells, the author who loves rock stars

27 September  Me, my books and I  Review, excerpt and give-away

27 September  Cocktails and Books*  Review, give-away and guest post: A Day in the Life…

28 September  Booklovin’ Mamas*  Give-away and guest post: Why Book Covers Matter…

29 September  Chick Lit Club Connect  Give-away and guest post: Rock Star Romance… by proxy

29 September  Crazy Four Books*  Review, excerpt, give-away

30 September  Liv for Today  Review, give-away and Q&A

1 October  My Cozie Corner*  Review and give-away

2 October  Reviews By Molly*  Review and excerpt

3 October  Reader Girls*  Review, excerpt and give-away

4 October  Jennifer M Eaton  Guest post: Peak performance

4 October  Jersey Girl Book Reviews*  Review, excerpt and guest post

4 October   LovLivLife Reviews*  Review and excerpt

6 October  Janice Horton  Guest post: High heels and broken ankles

6 October My Reading Addiction* Review and excerpt

7 October  Sheryl Browne  Guest post: Taking the plunge…

9 October  Lynn Reynolds  Review

11 October  Kim the Bookworm  Review plus interview: A little bit about life, the universe and everything

14 October  Linn B Halton  Guest post: Party and six pieces of advice

15 October  Tracie Banister  Interview and give-away

16 October  Today I’m Reading  Review, give-away and interview: Writing and inspiration

18 October  Chick Lit Central  Review, give-away and interview

19 October  My life. One story at a time  Review, give-away and interview: Where and how do I write?

21 October  Bonnie Trachtenberg  Guest post: Compulsive-Obsessive Plotting Disorder

23 October  books 4u  Guest post: A peek into the author’s office…

26 October  The Littlereader Library  Review and guest post: Changing writing habits

27 October  Words from Anneli  Introducing Nicky Wells; followed by Guest post: The Night I Was Powerless on 30 October!

30 October  Age is Just a Number  Interview and review

1 November  Patricia Sands  Guest post: Developing strength of character

6 November  She Who Blogs Behind The Rows  Guest post: There’s always a song…

9 November  ChickLitPlus  Review

11 November  Alchemy of Scrawl  Guest Post: Confessions of an Insomniac

13 November  Jen Tucker  Interview and guest post: Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Dan Hunter

 Wow! Congratulations if  you had the courage to scroll all the way down. You rock! See you on tour…

CentreStage with Sue Fortin: Photographic walk around Arundel

And another double-whammy week here on CentreStage:
we are a-rockin’ and a-rollin over here. Welcome!

CentreStage showcases amazing authors from around the world. These authors might tell you about their writing, their books, their lives or anything else that takes their fancy. Today, my fellow loveahappyending.com author and writing buddy, Sue Fortin, takes the stage with a wonderful journey around the countryside… Take it away, Sue!

Hi Nicky, thanks so much for inviting me here on CentreStage to chat about why I chose to set my book, United State of Love, in Arundel, West Sussex.

You’re so welcome! And ever since reading United State of Love, I’ve wondered what it looks like over there. Your descriptions are beautiful and intriguing… but I interrupt, already! Sorry.

I live just a few miles from Arundel and have always loved the place. It’s a beautiful historic town and attracts many visitors throughout the year, especially in the summer. Anyone visiting Arundel by train is greeted by the fabulous view of the Arundel Castle shouldering one side of the town and the majestic cathedral standing proudly at the top of the hill on the other side.

I had the pleasure of working there for 18 months when I was younger and spent many a lunch hour with my boss trying out the various tea shops and restaurants. When it came to deciding on a setting for the restaurant in United State of Love, Arundel was the obvious choice. An old church building in Tarrant Street was perfect for my character, Tex, to convert for his business. This is where Anna experiences her infamous ‘eargasm’.

I remember the ‘eargasm.’ A fantastic moment, loved, loved, loved it. I’ve pictured the place many times… now let’s see the real thing. Here goes:

I can also credit my boss for helping me decide on the job of tour guide for my character Anna.  One day, when he was preparing for a big court case, he sent me off for the afternoon on a guided tour of Arundel. I really enjoyed the tour, even though the town is built on a steep hill and I wasn’t exactly wearing the right footwear.

The river Arun, well known for being one for the fastest flowing tidal rivers in the UK, cuts through the town and again I used this as a reference point in the book.  Tex’s apartment looks out over the river.

I can’t possibly talk about Arundel and not mention Swanbourne Lake, surrounded by chalk hills and trees, marking the beginning of the 1000 acre Arundel Park. A great place for a 45 minute stroll around the lake or longer hikes through the park.  I used this in a scene where Tex and Anna have a scare, which initially pushes them apart but then ultimately brings them back together again.

So this is the lake… I like it. It looks romantic, a really nice setting for Tex and Anna.

I like using real places that I am familiar with or have visited. Having said that, I must confess although I have several scenes set in Brenham, Texas, I have never actually been there.  Nor have I stayed at any working-holiday ranches like ‘Moonshadow Meadows’, the home of Tex. However, I did research these and will be forever grateful for Google Earth and Street View!

STOP PRESS!! To celebrate being here on CentreStage, United State of Love is available for download at a special offer price of £0.98/$1.50 – see links  below. Happy Reading!

Why, thanks, Sue: this is an amazing offer. You are a rock star!! Tell us a litte more about United State of Love

Since splitting from her husband, single mum Anna Barnes is enjoying her new found freedom and independence. Now she can concentrate on looking after her teenage son and building up her career. However, she didn’t bank on working for Tex Garcia.

The gorgeous American chef is getting the locals hot under the collar and not just because of his culinary prowess! Beneath that handsome exterior, however, lies a man haunted by his past. Tex can’t commit and women pass through his life like dishes going out to service. So what is it about Anna that’s different?

Can Tex break her self-imposed rule of never mixing business with pleasure and add some spice into the mix? Or is Anna’s ex set to spoil the recipe altogether?

United State of Love is available in paperback from FeedARead. For the Celebration Offer on Kindle copies, visit amazon.co.uk  or amazon.com. It’s a great read, go grab it now!

Finally, you can visit Sue on her blog, love reading love books; on Facebook and on Twitter. Sue is a featured author at loveahappyending.com, and is also busy blogging in an authorly capacity with The Romaniacs and Famous Five Plus. She’s one busy lady!

So, are you inspired to visit Arundel? Have you got a photo diary of your favourite settings and book locations? Feel free to share, if you can, and pop by and say ‘hello’ at any rate…

CentreStage with Miriam Wakerly: Writing with a difference since she was eight…

Welcome to CentreStage!

CentreStage showcases amazing authors from around the world who may share with you stories about themselves, their writing or their lives. We have seen all manner of features on CentreStage so far but one thing is certain: there never is a dull moment here.

Today, it is my great pleasure to introduce fellow loveahappyending.com author Miriam Wakerly!

Miriam tells us something about her years as ‘wordsmith’ … Over to you, Miriam! First of all, do you think writers are born or made?

From listening to other writers and reflecting on my own experience I sit firmly quivering on the fence with this question. Surely it has to be a combination of both? The urge to write, or make things up, seems to come at an early age and the stronger this is the more effort that person may put into developing any inborn talent. But it doesn’t seem like an effort. It’s as if you can’t not write!

On the other hand neither parent nor teacher can force a child to like books, but rather encourage and provide opportunity, I guess. I think all children have a pretty lively imagination.

I get the ‘can’t not write’ thing, 100 per cent.  And the lively imagination!!! So how do you fit into that?

My parents told me that as a small child I was always happy with my own company. I was good at occupying myself. Now there may be many reasons for this – lack of other children to play with, a mother who was suffering from depression, just one sibling – my sister ten years older than me. Perhaps I sought out the other worlds that books could offer, but certainly I loved to read and write as soon as I could. Once I discovered it, the tiny local library was a haven of pleasure; I gobbled up books and was always good as essays, compositions and stories. When asked what I wanted to do when I was grown-up, I would say, when around 8 years old, that I wanted to be ‘an authoress’ – or a bus conductress. Perhaps my inspirational role models were limited!

I doubt they were limited! I love the way you describe your love for books and your library haven. It sounds like a magical escape world.  So, how did you move from the pleasure of reading to the pleasure of writing? Tell us a bit about your writing life.

My first published article was in the School Magazine. I was 13 and this was the first issue; it was a new venture and I was the youngest contributor. It opened like this:

‘I am in love. Yes – he is dark, handsome, has good looking features and dreamy, brown eyes – and a wet nose!’

Cringingly embarrassing, but yes, it was about our black Cocker Spaniel, an account of his funny antics and achievements. From this you might think I was born to write really bad romantic comedy.

No, no, no! I adore this opening line, nothing cringeworthy about it. But do tell… did you write rom-coms?

I reckon almost any fiction, including mine, needs to make the reader smile now and then, but not necessarily laugh out loud. I admire any writer who can keep the comedy bubbling along from cover to cover! Certainly I did write what may be described as romantic fiction. I had a go at Mills & Boons years ago, but I think it was with the idea of making a fortune, not because it was really my kind of book. I never quite managed that working-to-a-formula-but-giving-them-something-different-thing.

But I did get many stories, with titles like ‘The Eye of the Storm’ and ‘Love Turned Sour’, published in magazines such as My Story, Romance and True Story. I don’t think they exist now, but I became a ‘regular’ and was paid around £80 per story in the 1980s. Looking back, not a bad rate, really! I did this when my three children were growing up and I was working odd days as a supply teacher, doing the Mumsy juggling thing, spinning plates and so on. My first ever published story was in Christian Herald!

The magazine editors never notified me – it was always exciting to call at the newsagents and flick through the pages to see if a story was in that month. Then a while later I would get my cheque in the post.

That is amazing! What a revelation. I’ve tried to read the feature above but my eyes aren’t good enough… You’ll have to send me a hardcopy! But I hear you wrote more serious articles, too?

Writing articles was part of my training ground. I always knew I loved writing and tried my hand as a freelance, building up a portfolio to help get PR work for companies. So at first the articles were about things I knew a little bit about: Does your Garden have Acid Soil?  in Popular Gardening; Wasn’t My Face Red? About embarrassing moments with toddlers, in Under-5 magazine (Playgroups organisation). A humorous account of a sailing holiday that went into Woman’s Realm; that kind of thing.

Ooooh, I feel an anthology coming on. Can you have an anthology of your own articles? Anyway, some kind of collection: Miriam’s views on life, the universe and everything?

Later, topics became increasingly bizarre, including bees; designer radiators; puppy training pads; systems integration; pan-European bulk storage and transportation; and retail security in changing rooms!

How come?

Well, after various proper jobs in the real working world, I set up my own PR and Marketing company – just working solo, writing press releases, feature articles, product and company brochures, and later, words for company websites. One company marketed boilers and radiators; as well as the more technical stuff, I wrote some ‘fascinating’ case studies about the buildings where their products were installed, like The Royal Courts of Justice and the Grand Hotel in Brighton. Here’s some other titles: ‘Varroa Disaster Won’t Go Away’ – an article on bees in Farmers’ Weekly; Cat Allergy and Cat Owners in Pet Business World; Odour Busters – on pet smells in the house;   There were many others. See what I mean? But the subject matter got even more unlikely!

Later I just focused on projects for IT companies dealing in software, connectivity and other technological advances – with over 30 clients in total. This was the commercial sector most in need and the most lucrative. So, after much deliberation and digestion of boring technical matter, I put together articles like: Hidden Structure – article on cabling in Premises and Facilities Management; and Why Doesn’t the Lift Work? This was an article on the perils of Y2K! Remember that old ‘millennium bug’? No, it would be too, too terribly boring to tell more of this. There were more! You don’t want to know.

I do! This kind of stuff fascinates me. Really! And… it’ll go right in your collection of articles about just about anything! 🙂 But I interrupt again, I’m sorry. You were saying…?

Suffice to say that after a few years, not surprisingly, I had a really desperate urge to do something completely different, which I did. And, of course when would I get that novel written?

Aha! Had you written a novel by then?

Not sure when I started but for sure I wrote two or three – the usual rejection story. Skip a few years, then I launched my first novel, Gypsies Stop tHere the day after I retired in 2008; the sequel/prequel No Gypsies Served in 2010 and this year Shades of Appley Green – a modern village novel. How that all happened is another story …

So it took a few years, overall?

You could say that. But all those years I was writing, writing … maybe I was born that way, I don’t know! But certainly I’ve had a lot of practice at putting words together – sometimes even in the right order.

Wow, Miriam–you make me laugh. And I stand in awe! What a wealth of writing and being-published experience you have… This is a truly amazing feature, thank you so much for sharing!  (And I await your anthology with bated breath!) Now let’s find out more about your novels. First of all,  Gypsies Stop tHere and No Gypsies Served:

Gypsies Stop tHere

“A fantastic, insightful first novel… Challenges prejudices and entertains thoroughly… perfect holiday read” Waterstone’s

Will uprooting herself from London to live in the country help Kay escape guilt-ridden memories of her husband’s death? Far from finding a quiet life, she is caught up in an age-old village conflict where passionate opinions on Romany Gypsy Travellers divide the local people.

A young woman, Lena, enters her life, unwittingly putting Kay’s plans on hold. Kay struggles to not only come to terms with her emotional past but also to resolve Lena’s problems, those of the village and the Gypsies. And another relationship blossoms that she would never have dreamed of…

No Gypsies Served, published 2010, sequel/prequel to Gypsies Stop tHere

Two years have passed since Kay successfully campaigned for the Appley Green Gypsy Site, and four years since her husband was murdered. Life in the village was going so well, until the phone call and letter. Then comes the disastrous site opening. Worst of all, Dunstan, whom she realises is her best friend and ally, is giving her the cold shoulder for some unknown reason.

Dunstan is taking an emotional trip down memory lane, into childhood as a Gypsy on the road, and his eventual break from his people. Why is he so angry with Kay that he keeps away from her? Chances of a longed for reconciliation look slim …

And then, changing gears slightly… Shades of Appley Green, a modern village novel, set in the same village but the first of a new series:

Shades of Appley Green – a modern village novel

Steph is a special, but troubled young woman. Chosen by the most venerated man in Appley Green to fulfil his mission, she feels publicly admired rather than privately loved. She certainly does not trust men!

In helping a once famous, elderly architect with Parkinson’s regain a social life, she finds herself taking personal risks, fending off objections, blind to danger. We wait for the moment when it dawns on Steph what is driving her deep-seated obsession, for only then can she find the happiness she deserves.

Appley Green is a charming English village. Everyone says so. But people are still people. With the emotional turmoil that comes with love, birth and death, a close-knit community can harbour betrayal and guilt, as well as joy and laughter.

You can find all of Miriam’s book on Amazon in paperback in Kindle editions.  You can also visit Miriam on her blog, or find her on Facebook and Twitter. Go on, don’t be shy! Miriam loves a good natter, and, as you saw, she can talk about almost anything……

So, my friends: here’s an author in Miriam who’s not afraid to tackle unusual, potentially controversial topics. What have you up your sleeve that is different and waiting to be written? Have you got a stack of wild-and-wacky articles to your name that are languishing on the shelf, or in a publication somewhere? (Tell us in strictest blogosphere confidence, of course!)

CentreStage with Sheryl Browne: Ode to reviewers and supporters

Welcome to the latest edition of CentreStage!

CentreStage showcases talented and exciting authors from around the world. These authors might tell you about their writing, or their lives, or any subject that is dear to them. Today, the wonderful Sheryl Browne is visiting CentreStage for the second time. I think she had such a great time on her previous visit, she simply had to come back. I am honoured!

But alas! Sheryl is having a weird time on CentreStage today. I seem to have gone… funny. I usher Sheryl in with undue haste, shutting the door firmly beside her, stealing a surreptitious backwards glance down the corridor. ‘You know the score… over to you, Sheryl! Here’s the mic… off you go…’ Sheryl gives me a worried look but springs into action.

**Sheryl enters**

Ooh, I’m in the spotlight, again.  ‘Ta-dah!’  *Takes centre-stage*

‘Ahem, I’d like to start by… Oops, hold on.’  *Attempts to adjust microphone, which is currently eyebrow level.  Grunts and fiddles.  Microphone plummets to kneecap level.  Smiles sweetly, dips surreptitiously, yanks it back up and smacks self in the head*

‘Ahem…’ *Starts again, now a bit cross-eyed* ‘My husband and I… Whoops, no, wrong speech. Bear with me. Um,’

*Thinks, finger poised on chin* ‘Ah, yes, I’d like to start by saying thank you to all the lovely people who have…  Pardon?  Yes, I know, I’m not receiving an Oscar, Nicky.  Yes, I know your next guest is due.  I am trying to get on with it.  Honestly, if your stage props were up to par, sweetie, we wouldn’t have been delayed in the first place.  Humph!

‘Now, where was I?  Um? Right, yes.  I’d like to start by thanking all the people who have been so uber-supportive during my book launches, first and foremost, my fellow authors and friends at Loveahappyending.com’ *pauses to cast Nicky a pointed glance* ‘without whose guidance and constant encouragement, I would have possibly been swept away by the tidal wave that is Twitter, like a little speck of dust in cyberspace.  Yes, it is quite eloquent, isn’t it?  Thank you, Nicky.  Wha’d’y’mean: if a bit long-winded??

*Glances miffily over at Nicky side-stage, points nose in air and turns back to audience*

‘I would also like to thank all the lovely readers who have bought my book, in particular readers and reviewers, who have gone to the trouble of posting up some fabulous reviews.  Without people who are prepared to give of their time to do that, writers who are struggling to make a name for themselves might possibly sink without trace.  Yes, Nicky, I know I’ve gone all poetic now.  Thank you for that.  Shhhut up!  I’m trying to be serious.  Wha’d’y’mean, I don’t do serious?  This is me, being serious!

‘I’ve lost the plot now.   Ah, yes, reviewers.  Seriously, if you…’ *microphone plops to ankle-level* ‘Do not utter a word, Nicky.  Yes, you are.  You’re tittering.  Stoppit.  Ahem! If you haven’t thanked your reviewers, do it now, profusely.  They’re quite partial to chocolates, I gather, preferably Belgian or Hotel Chocolat.  And wine, a nice chilled Chablis, possibly, or…  OK, now I’m not being serious.  The thing is they do it for FREE, in their own time. They have tbr piles up to their armpits and probably impaired vision because of it, so if you’ve given a reviewer a hard time, chasing or moaning, feel ashamed. Very, very ashamed.

‘Likewise, if you invite someone to take centre-stage on your blog and then give them a hard time! Will you please stop giggling, Nicky!  It’s putting me off!  Thank you!  I’d just like to end by… No, I did NOT bring a coat.  I’d just like to end by thanking Lovehappyending.com again, and all my Twitter and Facebook friends for their tremendous support.  Having two book launches quite close together has been a bit demanding promo-wise and I simply couldn’t have done it without you.  Also, Safkhet Publishing – THANK YOU – for helping me to get my books where they should be: out there for people to enjoy.  Comments are always truly appreciated.  Good comments more so, obviously, but the not so-good…  Well, you write, you learn.  Every little comment and piece of advice is always taken on board if you are…  All right.  All right. I’m going. Anyone would think you have someone important on next.  Honestly.’ *Turns to strop side-stage, passing next guest en route*

‘Hi JK.’

**Sheryl exits**

At this point, the door opens and I bustle in, bearing a tray with biscuits and two steaming cups of tea. ‘Here we are, Sheryl,’ I breeze, somewhat breathless. ‘Sorry it took so long, someone seemed to have been messing about in my kitchen… Sheryl? Sheryl?’

I catch sight of myself already in the room and drop the tray in dismay.  ‘Who are you?’ I shriek, fearfully. ‘And what have you done with the lovely Sheryl…?’ The impostor turns and flees. Well, I never. What was that all about? 

Let me tell you more: About the lovely, talented and unflappable Sheryl Browne

Now residing in Worcestershire, Sheryl grew up in Birmingham, UK, where she studied Art & Design. She wears many hats: a partner in her own business, a mother, and a foster parent to disabled dogs. Creative in spirit, Sheryl has always had a passion for writing. A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, she has previously been published in the US and writes Romantic Comedy because, as she puts it, “life is just too short to be miserable.”

Sheryl’s debut novel, RECIPES FOR DISASTER – combining deliciously different and fun recipes with sexilicious romantic comedy, is garnering some fabulous reviews! Sheryl has also been offered a further three-book contract under the Safkhet Publishing Soul imprint. SOMEBODY TO LOVE, a romantic comedy centring around a single policeman father’s search for love, his autistic little boy and the boy’s Autism Assistance Dog, launched July 1 with an immediate 5* review.  WARRANT FOR LOVE, bringing together three couples in a twisting story that resolves perfectly, released August 1.

You can visit Sheryl on her website, on Facebook and on Twitter. Sheryl is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and a featured author with innovative reader/author project, loveahappyending.com.

Now for more about Sheryl’s recent double release…

Somebody to Love

How do you tell her?

After a turbulent marriage to a man who walked off hand-in-offshoot with something resembling a twig, divorced mum, Donna O’Conner, doubts happy endings exist. She’d quite like to find herself an Adonis with… pecs …and things. Alas, that’s not likely, when her only interest outside of work is hopping her three-legged dog in the park, carrying a poop-scoop. In any case, Donna isn’t sure she’d know what to do with an Adonis if she fell on one. When PC Mark Evans comes along, gloriously gift-wrapped in blue, however, she can’t help wishing she did.

Mark, a single father, is desperate for love. He doesn’t hold out much hope, though, that there is a woman out there with a heart big enough to love him and his autistic son. Enter big-hearted Donna, plus three-legged dog. And now Mark has a dilemma. Pretending not to mind her house-bunny chewing his bootlaces, he’s smitten with Donna on sight. Should he tell her his situation up-front? Announcing he has a child with autism spectrum disorder on a first date tends to ensure there isn’t a second. Or should he skirt around the subject, which amounts to a lie? When one lie leads to another, can he ever win Donna’s trust back? Admit that he didn’t trust Donna enough to let her into his life?

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Somebody to Love has been made with love… love of animals. Sheryl Browne has done excellent research on assistance dogs, specifically their use with autistic individuals. With a focus on romance with police officers, appealing to all readers who love our boys in blue, the author’s “teasing but not telling” style makes this read appropriate for anyone, including young adults and older teens.

Somebody to Love is endorsed by Danemere Animal Rescue Centre and Our Dog Publications. Watch the video… and you can get the book directly from the publisher if you wish. Somebody to Love is also available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Warrant for Love

It can’t get any worse, can it?

Leanne Curtis has shared more than her heart and her home with her womanising man. She’s shared her pin number. The scales are peeled painfully from her eyes when she spots female footprints on the inside windscreen of his car. Devastated, Leanne storms off into the night. He wasn’t going to pay her back when he sold his flat, his bolthole, his shag-pad, probably, the absolute…! Shivering on a street corner, Leanne comes up with a survival plan. She’s no choice. If she’s to keep her son in PS3s, Leanne needs a lodger.

Brought up in care, Police Constable Paul Davis doesn’t communicate well. On duty, he’s gloomily contemplating his impending divorce. His wife sleeping with his sergeant is not helping his morose mood. His sergeant has a history, and Paul needs to find somewhere decent to live in order to gain custody of his son, fast. And to keep his job. Wrongfully arresting Leanne Curtis for soliciting, he muses, whilst avoiding five-star-freezer looks from her friends, might not be the best way to do it.

Could fate have brought them together, though? Leanne needs a respectable lodger. Paul needs a home. One thing leads to another, and Paul can’t quite believe his luck. When a blackmail plot ~ cooked up by Leanne’s friends ~ threatens their budding relationship, however, is Paul compelled to uphold the law? Or will he risk everything to make sure Leanne’s abusive ex gets his comeuppance?

PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Warrant for Love is not your typical rom-com where only one gal gets the guy — Sheryl Browne brings together three couples in a twisting story that resolves perfectly. With a focus on romance with police officers, Warrant for Love appeals to all readers who love our boys in blue. Complex yet everyday relationship problems makes this read appropriate for young adults and older teens.

You can obtain Warrant for Love directly from the publisher, and from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Wow! What a post.  Love Shery’s humour and style. And an impostor on my blog stirring up trouble… it’s all fun and games over here at CentreStage!

Thanks for visiting again, Sheryl, and I promise next time I’ll have the tea ready, the stage set up and the premises searched for impostors. Maybe PC Paul Davis can help me…

CentreStage with Carol E Wyer: Candide-style witty observation, humour and insight

The Summer Silence is over: I’m back! And I’m back with a bang: welcome to the latest edition of CentreStage.

CentreStage features fantastic authors from around the world. On CentreStage, these authors might write for you about their lives, or their writing journey, or anything else that matters to them.  Every feature will be different in format and flavour, so watch out for a variety of stories and tales.

Today, it is my great pleasure to bring you a fellow lovehappyending.com author, Carol E Wyer.

Welcome, Carol! It’s so lovely that you could visit here today. Let me ask you first of all… what’s your background? Did you always want to be a writer?

Although I only began writing full time two years ago, I have written for a long time. For many years I wrote short stories for children, none of which I took to press but which I read to my son or his friends when they were little.

For some time I ran a language company and at that time I progressed to writing stories that were educational. I wrote a series of books, highly illustrated by a good friend that were set in France and which, through the use of animal characters, taught basic French to children. I took the books into local schools where they were used as part of a curriculum to teach French to young children and were very much enjoyed.

That’s amazing, I’m going to have to look out for those: what a wonderful idea. But this love for writing… does it maybe echo a love for reading, too?

Writing has always been a pleasure for me. It is on a par with reading which I absolutely love. Being a speed reader I can race through books at a terrific speed (if only I could type that quickly) and I love all genres. Reading allows you to have ‘time out’ for you. It allows you escape from your world for a while. Sometimes I enjoy being transported to an earlier time, or abroad. Other times I’ll get to grips with a mystery and quite often I just want to read something light and cheerful that leaves me with a feel good factor.

Having been asked the question a few times now and having given different answers depending on my mood, I sat back and worked out just what is my favourite book of all time. That is such a difficult question when I consider the number and variety of books I have read over the years. Being bed-bound for some considerable time in my youth meant I had read the entire contents of the local library from Enid Blyton through to Dennis Wheatley and Charles Dickens by the time I was eighteen.

Oooooh, a fellow kindred spirit! I can totally relate to your love for anything Enid Blyton and I am with you all the way. On Dickens, too. Great choices! But I gather there is one book, one author in particular who struck a note with you… and an unusual one at that?

Yes, indeed! I have, always loved humorous novels and enjoy Ben Elton’s novels or anything that is dry and amusing. But I suppose I have been most influenced by a novel I read at University: Candide by Voltaire. It is not the sort of book you would pick up in a bookshop and think what a great book –I’ll get this for my trip to Ibiza but it is undoubtedly the book that has influenced my approach to life and my writing.

Go on, tell us more!

Published way back in 1759 it is a French satire about a naive young man who lives in a sort of paradise at Chateau Thunder-Ten-Tronckh. The illegitimate nephew of the Baron, he is allowed to live at the chateau under the tutelage of Pangloss, who attempts to teach him that “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds” or as we know it ‘optimism’.

It consists of thirty chapters which are divided into three sections. At the beginning of each chapter is a summary of what to expect.

Although written a long time ago it is actually a tremendous novel, fast moving, fantastical, erratic but above all I appreciated and enjoyed the sarcastic tone of the novel. The plot parodies many adventure and romance clichés and the tone is mordantly matter of fact.

Events that Candide witnesses were based on historical happenings for example the Seven Year War, and the 1755 Lisbon Earthquake, Tsunami and fires. The novel humorously and directly contends the problem of evil as did the philosophers of Voltaire’s day.

After many adventures, almost dying, finding love and losing it again, the resurrection of Pangloss and other characters, Candide meets a farmer who lives a simple life, works hard, and avoids vice and leisure. Inspired, Candide and his friends take to cultivating a garden in earnest. All their time and energy goes into the work, and none is left over for philosophical speculation. At last everyone is fulfilled and happy. Candide decides to turn his back on optimism and cultivate his garden.

The book applies to modern times as much as its own and is definitely my favourite read – just as it was Frederick the Great’s, King of Prussia, who said that it was the only book he knew that one could read and re-read and never become bored of it.

I checked it out on Amazon before I wrote this post and was surprised at how popular it still is. You can download it for free so why not check it out? I am not alone in enjoying it one review I found said it was:

“A must read for any fan of classical European literature it reads as an escalating, buccaneering romp through exotic lands with a firm tongue in cheek and a book long maxim of the thrill of the chase surpassing the kill.”

Well, I can’t beat that, can I?

Now, now, don’t put your light under that bushel. I’ll have to check out Candide first of all and then, when I’ve closed that glaring gap in my education, I shall get back to you… But tell me more, first of all, about your own novels.

My novels are humorous. They look at life and problems facing all of us who are getting older but feeling just as young as we did ten years ago. My first novel, Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines, written through the eyes of a woman who is facing the dreaded ‘five-oh’, smacks slightly of Candide. Amanda Wilson doesn’t go on any great journey and meet Jesuits, become mega wealthy or get cooked by cannibals but she blunders through mishaps and hugely entertaining episodes to eventually learn to appreciate what is around her. She finally recognises that the grass is not always greener on the other side and that if she wants to enjoy her life and her relationships then she has to work at them.

I suppose deep down the message I took from reading Candide stayed with me and I hope that in years to come people will say how much they enjoyed my acerbic witty observations and how it is as relevant in the future as it is today.

That sounds fantastic. Who wouldn’t be tempted to go and get a copy now? Speaking of, here’s where you can find Carol’s books:

Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines is available on FeedARead and amazon.co.uk as well as amazon.comSurfing in Stilettos is available on FeedARead and amazon.co.uk as well as amazon.com.

And you can find out more about Carol at her website. Carol is also on Facebook and Twitter.

PS: Owing to a small scheduling delay (from my end, mea culpa) this post now coincides with Carol’s official launch of Surfing in Stilettos. How cool is that? I am so honoured to feature Carol on her launch day. HUGE congratulations, Carol, and I hope it goes fantastically well. Rock on! 🙂 xx

As always, over to you, dear reader. Have you read Candide? Is it a hard act to follow? And do you have an author or book that’s inspired you in the way that Voltaire inspired Carol? We’d love to hear about it…

Hall of Fame launch party with Linn B. Halton and J.K. Hogan

Roll out the red carpet!
Open the champagne!
It’s time to enter the Hall of Fame!

Yes, today it’s a double celebration as not one but two of my amazing fellow authors over at Sapphire Star Publishing celebrate the launch day for their books.  Meet Linn B. Halton and J. K. Hogan!  Pour yourself a cuppa (or something sparkly, if it’s late enough in the day!), sit back and enjoy as you get to meet these exciting new authors…

STOP PRESS! Just had news that the lovely Linn B. Halton can’t be with us today as she is currently touring Europe:

So she’s asked Hilary Marks from The Restaurant @ The Mill to visit on her behalf…

Welcome, Hilary!

Hello Nicky – it’s fantastic to meet you!  My name is Hilary Marks and stepping in for Linn B Halton.  As you say, Linn’s on a tour of Europe at the moment, the lucky thing!  Some big wedding anniversary celebration, so it’s all rather romantic – castles, a chateau here and there …

Anyway, I’ve come to tell you a little bit about The Restaurant, it’s out now and is published by Sapphire Star Publishing.

Nicky: Yes, tell us more about The Restaurant. What’s the story here?

Why did Ben and I open a Restaurant?  Well, it’s a long story and it’s the reason why Linn began writing this novel.  Let’s just say Ben and I both have things from the past that mean it’s hard to let go. I wish it wasn’t like that, but that’s life.  However, the wonderful thing is that The Restaurant @ The Mill is our dream and it’s thriving.  It’s been very hard work and it hasn’t all been easy, but the building itself lends an ambience and with Ben’s brilliance as a chef … well, we’re both very proud of what we have achieved.

Nicky: But it’s not just about you and Ben, is it? I gather there are plenty of things going on!

Ah, you want to know about the other ‘stories’ within this story ….

Well, we have some lovely regulars and then, of course, there is Sadie, our head waitress.  She’s learning the trade and although she’s very new I think she’s going to do very well.  She has this ‘friend’ Sam, she’d like him to be a boyfriend really but it’s complicated.  He used to be her sister’s boyfriend before her sister had a serious accident.  The story of Sadie’s sister Mya is told in Linn’s novel, Touched By The Light, which is a psychic romance.  It’s both sad and uplifting, but it left Sadie and Sam with an awkward association, they still rely upon each other so much.  I’m sure we’ll find out what happens before we get to the last page of The Restaurant.

There’s Thomas too, he’s a friend of mine – very attractive, very wealthy and very lonely.  Funny how when we look at other people’s lives we tend to focus on the successful bits and don’t always see the heartache they hide so cleverly.

Isobel and David live nearby and often come to dine.  Isobel is a writer and after a lifetime of bringing up her family it’s how her time to devote to her passion!  The problem is that whilst David is the love of her life, he’s decided to take early retirement and I get the feeling he’s often in the way … I hope they do sort it out.  They are a lovely couple, I’d hate to see them drift apart at this stage in their lives.

Charlotte and Nick are struggling. They might be newlyweds and having their first baby, but life is taking its toll on them.  Nick was involved in an accident and it’s changed him – I wonder if Charlotte will ever get back the ‘Nick’ with whom she fell in love …

Now Grace is a fabulous lady, she’s a medium and features on the TV programme ‘Spirits Live’.  This rather distinguished gentleman seems to have come into her life, his name is Lawrence and it’s obvious they’ve known each other really well in the past…

Nicky: What a colourful cast! I have to confess to having met them all by now and I’m totally wrapped up in their stories. But someone is still  missing, right?

You want to know about Sarah?  There isn’t very much I can tell you, the spirit of Sarah wanders the Mill and when we bought it the previous owners warned us of her presence.  She doesn’t trouble us at all, although she’s often felt by people who come to visit us.  I haven’t seen her myself, but I think Ben has  – I’m sure Linn knows all about that!

Nicky: Well, well, I’ll just have to read on to find out more….

It’s been lovely to be here with you Nicky, thank you so much and if you ever want to come and dine with us – The Restaurant @ The Mill will have a table especially reserved for you!

Nicky: Thanks so much, Hilary, I will. I know how much pride Ben takes in his work, sourcing only the freshest ingredients every day (and the very best wines, I hear!). I look forward to meeting you there!

Wow, what a post! I have goose bumps of excitement. But there’s more… don’t miss the excerpt below! First of all, though, Hilary wanted to share how you can find out more about her author, Linn B. Halton. You can visit Linn’s author page over at loveahapyending.com.  You can also find Linn on Facebook and Twitter and, of course, at Sapphire Star Publishing. Linn is also present on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com!

Nicky: Thanks for that, Hilary. Now then, let’s have a read of the opening page of The Restaurant @ The Mill:

The first time I walked around the flour mill at Huntingbridge in Gloucestershire turned out to be a life-changing moment. Reminiscent of the first time I met my business partner, Ben Adams. The initial thought that struck me on both occasions was “Great, not perfect, but I can work with this.” It was enough to clinch the deal for me.

You see, I thought I had a “perfect” life once a long time ago. I married Josh, the man of my dreams, only to find out one failed marriage and a broken heart later, that everything could change in an instant. What you saw depended upon where you were standing when you admired it. If you were on the outside looking in on someone else’s life, it was only natural to form an opinion based on the façade you saw. What I eventually discovered was that even when you were on the inside looking out, it was easy to be fooled into thinking everything was fine. On that fateful day many years ago, what I hadn’t appreciated was that what we had was in fact a love triangle and knowing that would have given me a whole new perspective.

Everyone around us believed Josh and I had an enviable life, because we looked like the perfect couple. For two years and four months I thought so too. Then I found out Josh was cheating on me, and had been for quite a while before I eventually discovered the truth. The other woman, who had also fallen under the irresistible spell of my attentive husband, obviously had a completely different viewpoint from where she was standing. What was so poignantly sad and particularly cruel was that even after their affair I continued to remain oblivious to the fact that my life was a sham. Josh continued to be the kindest, most thoughtful, and loving man that I had fallen in love with—and that, above all else, hurt the most. How could he deceive with such blatant disregard to anyone else’s feelings? Had he ever really loved me? Or did he only love himself?

Well, I don’t know about you, but I was hooked after this, and I have been following the story of The Restaurant @ The Mill ever since…

HUGE congratulations to Linn on the launch of her second novel with Sapphire Star Publishing. Here’s to a tremendous launch!

You can get The Restaurant @ The Mill now from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com!

And here’s today’s second launch in the Sapphire Star Publishing family. Get ready for…

Fire On The Island by J.K. Hogan

She who wields the mark is the barrier between man and monster.
She is the daughter of gods, the mother of man, protector of all.
Vigilati Usque Ad Mortem”

All Isla Macallen wanted was a simple existence on her little Scottish island, free from her mother’s insanity and the prying eyes of neighbors. What she got was embroiled in a war for the souls of mankind. A war of good versus evil, of witches versus demons, and Isla learns that she alone can end it.

Dr. Jeremiah Rousseau was a self-proclaimed nomad, traveling the world researching paranormal phenomena. He doesn’t expect his research to lead him to Scotland, and to the woman who will turn his world upside down.

Together with a facetious shapeshifting animal spirit guide, Jeremiah and Isla discover that she is part of an ancient bloodline bred to protect the gateways between the human world and the spirit world, to keep evil demons from destroying them. They must find the key to defeating Alastore, the demon king, and closing the gate before Samhain, when the veil between the worlds is lifted. As the war for their souls wages around them, Isla and Jeremiah will risk it all for love—a love neither had ever thought possible.

Are you intrigued? Does that stunning cover grab you? Want to read on? Well, J.K. has sent this excerpt to get you hooked good and proper. Enjoy!

Isla had stopped at the edge of the porch and stood, frozen, staring out into the rainy darkness. Beyond her, Jeremiah could see the silhouette of a man. His face was in shadow, but from the luminescent eyes swirling with shadows, he knew it was Alastore.

When the man stepped forward into the dim light cast through the open door of the house, it became clear that he had a victim. Mhairi Mackay stood in front of the demon, and he had a strong arm locked around her neck.

Jeremiah surged forward, determined to protect Isla’s only remaining family, but Marduk stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. With a silent shake of his head, Marduk encouraged Jeremiah to think first and act with care.

Trust nothing, question everything, because things will most definitely not be as they seem. Marduk’s earlier words came back to him, and Jeremiah gave the man a quick nod to let him know he understood.

Isla lifted a foot to step down off the porch. “Think, Isla. Breathe. That’s not really Mhairi. She’s at Sacred Hearts, guarded by doctors and nurses that didn’t even want to let us in at first, remember?” he said in a low tone.

He saw a shudder rack her slender body but, much to his relief, she stayed put. Three pairs of eyes fixed on the pale, glowing arm that had the projection of Mhairi in a headlock.

Alastore threw his head back and cackled, before pinning each of them with a hard glare. “You think you can defeat me? I will lead you to your graves like lambs to the slaughter.” His voice was demonic, and they could hear the echo of pure evil behind it. It sounded like a dozen demons living inside one body, speaking in unison.

Without warning, he wrapped his free hand around Mhairi’s head and twisted in opposite directions. They heard a gruesome snap before the image of Mhairi crumpled to the ground.

A strangled cry ripped from Isla’s throat as the three of them bounded off the porch. They ground to a halt as Alastore threw his hands up toward the sky, and the pelting raindrops burst into incandescent flames.

The pellets of flame singed their skin, forcing them back to the shelter of the porch. Isla wailed as the spectre of Mhairi seemed to dissolve under the onslaught of fire and rain combined. Alastore’s head swiveled back to face them, his eyes gleaming with madness and hatred, pierced through to Isla’s soul.

“The little witch thinks she can defeat me! I, who can make the sky rain fire?” He took a step forward and Isla stood her ground. He glared at her with his mouth turned up in a gruesome sneer. “I will burn your life!” he spat at her.

“You’ll watch everything you care for turn to ash if you fight me!” He turned his cutting glare to the two men standing shoulder to shoulder on her right and absently gestured toward them. “These will die. Everyone will die.”

Facing Isla again, he gave her a sickeningly sweet smile. “And you, my dear…You will watch things fall apart. And then, you shall be mine.” She shuddered when he licked his lips and leered at her.

Isla would never be able to explain what came over her in that moment. As she focused on the images the demon pushed into her head—the pain and suffering, the dead and dying—it was the thought of Alastore turning his wrath upon Jeremiah that sparked the bone-deep anger inside her.

Storming off the porch into the maelstrom of fire and rain, she felt the breeze on the nape of her neck, when Jeremiah reached for her and missed. Storming toward Alastore, she stopped a few feet in front of him.

The balls of fire raining from the sky seemed to roll off an invisible shield around her and fury radiated from her body. “The hell I will!” she growled at him, gathering her energy low in her chest, preparing for a strike.

Marduk’s deceptively calm whisper drifted over to Jeremiah. “He’s goading her for a reason. Pushing her buttons. He may be trying to funnel her energy into himself, leaving her vulnerable for him to take her. Alastore does nothing without reason. Stop her.”

Jeremiah palmed the shotgun and whispered back to Marduk. “If I shoot him, it’s not going to stop him, right?” He waited for the other man to nod before continuing. “But it’ll hurt.”

Giving him a devious grin, Marduk nodded again. “It sure will. When he’s in corporeal form, he’ll feel the same pain a human would, he just won’t die. It will send him back to the locus to recharge.”

“Good enough for me.” Jeremiah pumped the forestock of the shotgun, drawing Alastore’s attention. The demon snarled at him but didn’t seem overly worried. That didn’t bode well.

Bracing the buttstock of the twelve gauge on his shoulder, he took aim and pulled the trigger. Nothing happened. Cursing, he expelled the dead round and pumped again. Trigger pull, nothing.

Howling with laughter, Alastore returned his attention to the 110 pounds of livid woman that stood in front of him. He cocked his head, like an animal hearing a strange sound. “So pretty, and yet so easy,” he began, “just like your mother.”

“Christ,” Jeremiah hissed as he saw flames spike out from Isla’s fingertips. She was playing right into Alastore’s hands, but she just couldn’t see it. Shoving the shotgun into Marduk’s hands, he turned toward the house.

“I think he’s somehow jamming the gun. Maybe if I find something with no mechanics, he won’t be able to stop it.”

“Hurry.”

Well, duh. Jeremiah bounded into the house and began tearing through cupboards and rifling through drawers. He thought about grabbing a knife, but he didn’t think any of them should get that close to the demon.

Inspiration struck when he found an unopened bottle of vodka, dusty and forgotten in a cabinet. Grabbing a kitchen rag, he ripped it in half. Emptying a third of the bottle down the sink, he stuffed the rag down into the neck, making sure that it was in far enough to soak up the alcohol.

He snagged a lighter from a drawer and rushed back outside. “Get her out of the way,” he ordered Marduk as he passed, not even stopping to make sure the other man heard him. He didn’t need to stop, because Marduk ran to catch up with him as he was lighting the rag on fire.

Marduk grasped Isla by the shoulders and yanked her back into his arms as Jeremiah tossed the burning bottle at Alastore’s feet.

The projectile immediately exploded, engulfing the demon in a huge wall of fire. The surge of heat was so intense, Jeremiah backed up several steps. He stood, watching as the skin melted off of Alastore’s corporeal form to reveal a blackened skeleton.

An inhuman screech rent the air as Alastore pointed a bony finger at them. “You’re mine,” he croaked as what was left of him dissolved into ash and flame.

“Yeah, yeah, and our little dog, too. Got it,” Jere grumbled.

“Hey!” Marduk’s indignant tone said he didn’t appreciate the dog reference, but Jeremiah didn’t much care. Pulling Isla away from wolf-boy, he enveloped her in a tight hug. Resting his chin on the top of her head, he allowed the shudders he had been suppressing to roll over his body. Giving her one last squeeze, he set her away from him and brushed past her, stalking into the house, slamming the door behind him.

Doesn’t this just have everything? Passion, romance, intrigue, fire… well, I can’t wait to read the entire book! HUGE congratulations to J.K. on the launch of Fire On The Island!! Fire on the Island is available now from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

Find out more about J.K. on her website or over on her author page at Sapphire Star Publishing. J.K. is on Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads, too!

Now raise a glass and **cheers** to J.K. and Linn!

CentreStage with Tricia Jones: On Sharing a Dream. No really, sharing. A Dream.

Welcome again to CentreStageCentreStage showcases fantastic authors from around the world, often introducing fellow featured authors at loveahappyending.com as well as my fellow authors in the Sapphire Star Publishing family.  On CentreStage, these authors might write for you about their lives, or their writing journey, or anything else that matters to them.  Every feature will be different in format and flavour, so watch out for a variety of stories and tales.

Today, it is my great pleasure to welcome loveahappyending.com featured author Tricia Jones! Tricia has a truly amazing experience to share today, and I am reeling from the wonder and astonishment of it all: a truly magical moment. So, here goes Tricia with…

Perchance to Dream!

A few weeks ago, I took off for a girlie shopping weekend with a group of friends I meet up with once year. We all used to work together, but over the years have moved off in different directions/locations, yet have stayed in touch. I treasure the friendships. This trip I was room-sharing with one of my bestest bud girlfriends and we stayed up half the night chatting until sleep finally claimed us.

That night, I had a really lovely dream. I was sitting with my friend in the hotel’s conservatory which, in the way of dreams, actually wasn’t the hotel’s conservatory but yet it was. Still with me? Good. While we sat there relaxing, what looked like a really large wasp flew in through the open doors and landed on the floor a few feet away from us. As we watched, trying to decide if it actually was a wasp, it began to grow and soon morphed into a beautiful red creature that most definitely was not a wasp.

As we continued to discuss what it might be, the creature grew some more, stood up, and looked me straight in the eye. I had the most amazing feeling of wonder flow through me. My friend must have felt the same, because she didn’t say anything, and believe me when she’s quiet (even in dreams) you’ve got to believe there’s something seriously going on with her. The creature and I continued to stare at each other, then it flicked its beautiful tail and sauntered off through the open doors and into the hotel garden. It was then I realised it was a fox, a mummy fox to be exact now with a baby fox clinging to her. Again, she turned and looked at me. It was so beautiful, I felt my throat catch. Much too soon, she turned away again and disappeared into the bushes.

In the manner of dreams, I promptly forgot the experience on waking. All of us girls met up for a long, leisurely breakfast before hitting the shops. Then it was lunch, more shopping, a few tearful goodbyes and my friend and I began the drive home. We did the usual recap of the weekend as we drove; recounting laughs shared, items purchased, food eaten, alcohol consumed, etc. While I always enjoy our annual get-together, I mentioned to my friend how extra special the weekend had been, with some particularly lovely moments and memories we all shared. From nowhere came the memory of that dream, and I started to mention it to my friend when she began to recount her own dream – a dream about a fox complete with clinging baby!

We had to stop the car as we both felt quite shaky, having experienced a woo-woo moment. We traded further memories of the dream and, while the details were different, the gist was the same. Extraordinary. Mind boggling. We considered that perhaps one of us had mentioned the dream that morning and it had somehow got lodged in that part of the brain that scrambles reality, but seeing as neither of us had recalled the dream on waking, it hardly seemed plausible.

So, how do we explain it? Coincidence? Shared collective consciousness?  Astral travel? My husband has his own theory and thinks it the result of too much chocolate and wine consumed the night before. Me? Well, I looked up an online dream dictionary and apparently to dream about a fox represents insight and resourcefulness, prompting the dreamer to exhibit more of those qualities in everyday life. Hmm, well maybe. Another theory states that to dream of an animal with a baby/cub represents a need to nurture the dreamer’s maternal/feminine qualities. This might be a possibility, seeing as we’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of our next guide dog puppy to foster J and I’m desperately in need of some serious puppy love. But whatever else the dream might represent, for now I’m happy to put it down to an enchanting experience shared with a special friend, representing the close and precious nature of our friendship. That’ll do for me.

Tricia

Tricia, what an amazing experience. I am totally enthralled. How extraordinary that you could share this dream with your friend; that’s really special! Now, then, tell us more about you?
Tricia Jones, Author!

More about me… ok, here goes. I write contemporary romance with strong, sexy heroes who like their own way and heroines who enjoy making them sweat.

The settings for my stories are real places-although names have been changedto protect the innocent-and I love checking out those places first hand, especially if they happen to be in France or Italy. I have been known to check out potential hero material amongst those Mediterranean males…well, a girl’s only human.

Hear, hear! I am with you all the way. Tell us about your current novel: I bet it has a gorgeous, hunky male lead?

 Bull at the Gate

Alexander “Bull” McKinley’s reputation as a hard-nosed businessman is tested when an old Fairy Gate and local superstition stand in the way of a lucrative development contract. Alex has his hands full trying to convince the villagers to play ball, without the unexpected—and definitely unwanted—attraction to the feisty redhead leading the revolt.

Dee Ashman detests those who put profit before people, and she’s damned if an arrogant, insensitive and, okay, wildly attractive capitalist is going to destroy the symbolic heart of the village and break her beloved grandmother’s heart.

But they cannot deny the desire that burns between them nor the unleashed passion neither can resist.

Fabulous! You can buy Bull At The Gate on Amazon. Find out more about Tricia on her website or her blog. Tricia is also on Twitter and Facebook and welcomes your visit!

Thanks, Tricia, for introducing yourself, your book and… your dream. This is question time for the readers. Have you ever, ever had an experience like Tricia’s? And how do you explain it?

CentreStage with Harriet Grace: How to Make Your Novel Fly

Welcome again to CentreStageCentreStage showcases fantastic authors from around the world, often introducing fellow featured authors at loveahappyending.com as well as my fellow authors in the Sapphire Star Publishing family.  On CentreStage, these authors might write for you about their lives, or their writing journey, or anything else that matters to them.  Every feature will be different in format and flavour, so watch out for a variety of stories and tales.

Today, it is my great pleasure to welcome loveahappyending.com featured author Harriet Grace! Harriet brings us a very unique post with hand-crafted, powerful images, and I absolutely adore the drawings!  So over to you, Harriet

How Make Your Novel Fly?

I’ve often wondered how successful novels started.  How did the author choose what to write about?  Was it the characters, the plot, or just the brilliant writing that made it successful?  Set out on the long journey of the novel and people will ask you ‘what are you writing about?’  Do you have a plan?  A synopsis?   But I don’t know these things until I’ve written book!

Over the years I have written 2 novels which found an agent but not a publisher;  completed an MA in Creative Writing and written another novel; found another agent, and nearly a publisher.  I was always at the writing end of the process, trying to create characters, a story, honing the craft of writing novels and wondering whether I was ever going to get to the end.  But I never let myself think about the end, let alone beyond it.  The idea that I might one day have to sell a book of mine, and therefore need to know at least one unique selling point about the book, if not several, was somewhere I wouldn’t go.  It felt like tempting fate.  Such hubris would invoke the wrath of the Gods and I would never see a book of mine in print.

My novel ‘Cells’ started off with an image I had of a woman of about forty sitting at her desk and looking across a busy open-plan office and seeing a young man she has never seen before and making a connection with him.  He looks a bit like Jesus and she feels weirdly attracted to him…  Fairly quickly, the woman at the desk becomes Martha,  Features Editor of a national newspaper, married to Grant.  They both have successful careers and live in a beautiful house in Putney on the river.  The young man becomes Jon, a bit of a loser.

And then – eureka! – I realised that Martha and Grant haven’t been able to have children.  They have tried IVF several times and it has failed, and they are trying to move on.  Suddenly, I had a MODERN DILEMMA (MD for short), although I didn’t realize it at the time, or how important that would be!

At my launch I said:

We live in an age of amazing medical advances where everything seems possible.  But what happens when the technology fails?  What does it do to people who have tried and tried to have a baby through IVF and failed?  How do they move on?  How does it affect their lives, their relationships?

Looking back, it felt like luck that I’d hit on this MD because it has made the novel so much easier to sell.  I had a hook, attractive enough to win me a reading at the Kingston-upon-Thames Readers Festival. The Head of the MA Publishing degree at Kingston University attended that reading and invited me to talk to her students about self-publishing, and then included me as a case study in her on book on self-publishing ‘The Naked Author’.  The MD helped me get reviews, was useful in press releases, on Twitter and Facebook, and as introductions to readings.  It appears that many women, like Martha, have gone through this experience.

So, here is me pretending to be Martha walking across the footbridge near her home at Putney.  We used this image for the cover of the first edition.

Here are the patterns in the river, which Martha gazes at and which to Martha look like cells.  Cells which refuse to fuse together to make a baby.

How do other writers choose what to write about in their novels?  Are they influenced by fashionable genres or subjects, or world events?  Do they write a plan?  A synopsis?  A strapline for the key idea the book is about?  Or do they just create characters they are interested in, get into their world, their story, and hope that the story picks up the Zeitgeist of the moment and makes the novel fly?

I would love to hear your comments…

~Harriet

Well–what can I say? Thank you for this amazing post. The ‘MD’ of your novel is something that I have seen a few of my friends go through–and it is tough. I love the swirling river imagery, that’s very powerful. I am eager to hear how readers find their inspiration for writing!

Let’s find out more about Cells, first of all!

CELLS – One woman, two men, a last chance for happiness

Peak time on the Features floor of a national newspaper and the computers crash.  Martha Morgan, Features Editor, has a migraine and is losing control of her job.  Head pounding she sits down, looks up and there is Jon, one of the messengers; and for a few seconds he seems like a saviour.

Martha is married to Grant, a successful analyst.  They have a beautiful home but no baby, in spite of IVF.  Jon, brought up by dysfunctional parents, can’t stick at a job or find a girlfriend.  When Martha decides to take him under her wing and invites him into their home, the lives of all three of them break open, bringing the past and present into an explosive future.

Format: Paperback and Kindle ISBN: 9781906236618 Language: English Publisher: SilverWood Books (2nd edition July 2011)

Cells is available on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle; through bookshops; and directly from the publisher, SilverWood Books.

And now let’s find out more about Harriet Grace, Author:

Harriet Grace grew up in a small village called Inkpen (Inkpen features in the novel).   She has grown-up children and stepchildren and now lives in London.  She has an MA (Distinction) in Creative Writing and has had poems published.  Cells is her first novel.

Visit Harriet on her website , follow her on Twitter or find her on Facebook or at loveahappyending.com.

Now, dear reader, remember to let us know how you go about finding inspiration for your novels… Just how do you make your novels fly? We’d love to hear from you!

CentreStage with Linn B. Halton: Following the path that fate lays out …

Welcome again to CentreStageCentreStage showcases fantastic authors from around the world, often introducing fellow featured authors at loveahappyending.com as well as my fellow authors in the Sapphire Star Publishing family.  On CentreStage, these authors might write for you about their lives, or their writing journey, or anything else that matters to them.  Every feature will be different in format and flavour, so watch out for a variety of stories and tales.

Today, it is my great pleasure to welcome another loveahappyending.com featured author…  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you:  Linn B. Halton!

A great believer in fate….

People who know me well understand that I am a great believer in fate. That’s not to say I think we live our lives on ‘remote control’ by any means, but if you are born to be an eminent surgeon or a rock star … well, you will find yourself following a particular path.

Yes, I do believe we have freedom of choice but if you are making a cake and have all the ingredients in the bowl, you suddenly can’t change your mind at that point and decide you are making pasta instead! However, the sort of cake you end up with will depend on the effort you put in to make it the best it can be. It can be a plain little sponge or an amazingly decorated cupcake (both can be very enjoyable) – the choice is yours.

…and stars!

I’m old enough to be a little more laid back about things than I was even a few years’ ago. I am a typical Gemini and admit I am borderline obsessive compulsive. Hey, it’s in my genes so it’s not my fault!  It is true that over the years I have made things happen by sheer rugged determination and total commitment. I can be focussed to a fault. It’s a trait that has a good and a bad side, but it has come in handy with my third career.

A woman of many talents, including finance…

Career number one was finance. I hated maths with a passion when I was at school. However, accountancy was another matter and I specialised in planning and forecasting. For over twenty years, after my sons started school, it was something I enjoyed despite the pressures and deadlines that seemed never ending. It taught me so much about being disciplined in the way I work, about being methodical and planning ahead. Probably not the best environment for someone who leans heavily towards OCD – but my gut instincts meant that I could spot errors or problems areas in financial reports quite easily. I enjoyed investigating anomalies and resolving problems. It was a job I loved. It didn’t fulfil my artist/creative side though and the outlet for that was my hobby. Together with my husband we have lived in and renovated 13 properties to date. It was this hobby that led me into my second career.

…design…

A chance meeting and conversation led to a job offer to become an Interior Designer for new build Show Homes. For a while I had a dual role and also took on Sales & Marketing as the housing market hardened and selling was very much led by the finishes on offer to potential purchasers. It was an exciting time for me as I was responsible for making the selections for all of the internal finishes for show homes and any properties not sold prior to the final fix stage.  To be paid to go to work and choose floor and wall tiles, bathroom suites, kitchens … it was a dream. Fate had unleashed my inner longing to be creative on a larger scale.

Then my mother became unwell and my intuitive side told me (without anything concrete to confirm it) that she wasn’t going to be with us for much longer. I resigned from my job at the end of December 2008 and she died unexpectedly at the end of March 2009, three short months later.

…and writing!

My mother and I both knew that I would eventually become a writer – whether published or unpublished – because I began writing when I was 11 years old.  Family and work commitments meant I was too busy to write anything more than poetry on occasion, but I kept a journal of storylines for when I reached that me time stage of my life.  We both assumed it would be once I retired, but shortly after her death I found myself in front of the computer writing my first novel – Touched By The Light.

Fate and talent coming together at last!

I didn’t go back to work, and again fate and my mother had enabled me to see that you can walk away from the nine-to-five habit and earning a good salary. We bought a smaller house and now I spend my time writing and running three websites connected with writing. It’s more than a full-time job, it consumes all of my free time but I absolutely love it! My husband understands that this is my time, after years of working and bringing up a family he never begrudges me a second of the time I’m on the computer. We try to ensure we still get quality time together – we have date nights and holidays/short breaks to keep the magic going.  As a Grandma I find the time I spend with the grandkids grounds me and is a perfect break away from my new ‘job’.

The other day someone asked me if I ever get writer’s block. Having waited so many years to get to this stage, the answer is no. I have too many projects in my little journal waiting to be taken forward. I wrote for about sixteen months flat out after my mother died and completed five manuscripts. One she inspired, the true story Being A Sceptic Is Oh So Easy, my debut novel was released in Feb 2011 and the other three are all due out this year – starting with The Quintessential Gemini published by the fabulous Sapphire Star Publishing.

The best possible outcome!

What is hugely satisfying for me, is that this ‘job’ feels so right.  I am a square peg in a square hole – I’ve never been the round peg type of lady. For whatever reason I’m where I’m supposed to be and doing what makes me happy.  I’m so thankful for this opportunity and I’m grateful to every single person who sits down to read one of my novels, it’s an amazing thought and humbling.  It’s one thing to write, but another for people to want to read what you write.

Writing for me has never been about fame and fortune because I accept if that was my fate it would have created the opportunity for me earlier in my life.  It’s about the readers who take the time to post a kind review or Email me to let me know how they felt about a story I have written. When I was in my early 30’s I went to see a clairvoyant who told me that I had an unusual life map for a Gemini. He told me that I would gain the most pleasure from my working life at the END of my life and that I would work to a good old age. Well, if I have to write ALL of the stories in my little journal, I might have to live to the ripe old age of 120. A little cosmetic surgery may be in order if I update my author photo … It’s been a total pleasure to be here with Nicky and thank you for dropping by to help me celebrate novel no. 2!

Wow:  Introducing… The Quintessential Gemini, Linn’s masterpiece number 2! 

For twenty-one years the main focus of Katherine Dale’s life has been her work.  Love interests and hobbies came and went; but always there for her, her only constant – other than her cat delightfully named No. 4 – was her nine to five habit.   Until she’s replaced.

Her confidence is dented and she’s angry; at life and at herself.  She’s failed to grasp the office politics that were going on around her and ignored hints of ‘changes to come’ in her horoscope forecasts. For over twenty years she has followed Mark Ainsley-Thomas, a renowned Astrologer in the UK and USA.  His daily forecasts direct the way she lives her life as a typically complex Gemini.  Mark is now an ‘A’ list celebrity and his new Agent is determined to raise his profile in America, so he has to take on James Kingman to help him run his website.

Katherine is totally confused by James’ forecasts and that’s where the fun begins! 

The Quintessential Gemini is available in paperback and e-book from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

 ******

Linn is a featured Author on http://loveahappyending.com/.  You can visit Linn’s author page at loveahappyending.com as well as at Sapphire Star Publishing.  Linn also has her very own website and blog, and she Twitters and Facebooks as well!

Linn, a big thank you for visiting CentreStage today and sharing the path that fate had laid out for you… so far.  I am curious to see where you go from here!

Over to you, dear reader:  tell us about your fate.  Is life taking you down the path you expected… with a few twists and turns thrown in for a bit of fun?