Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Blog Takeover: Lynn Marie Talks New Year's Resolutions and Frou-Frou Cocktails

I'm handing my blog over to Lynn Marie Hulsman, a fellow Harper Impulse Rom-Com author! She's talking New Year's resolutions. Take it away Lynn Marie! 

I’m usually eager to make New Year’s resolutions. This year I’ll lose enough weight to fit into my high school jeans. In the next 12 months, I’ll organize my closets in so well they make Martha Stewart’s look like a hot mess. Even though I am not a medical doctor, this year I will find a cure for malaria. While it’s good to have goals, overshooting the mark can leave me feeling inadequate and defeated.

This year, I have a better resolution. In 2014, my plan is to support myself through gentle reassurance instead of force and criticism. I treat my best girlfriends this way, why not myself? Each time the “shoulds” start, I will remind myself that I’m OK as I am. At this weight, with my house the way it is, and with the achievements I already have in my quiver. I’ll conserve the energy I used to put into struggle to be a different person, and put it into something worthwhile like my writing.

As a kick-off to this new way of behaving, I’m going to do something I rarely do: Go to a lot of trouble for myself. I love fancy cocktails when I’m out at a bar or restaurant. At home, I usually settle for a simple glass of Sauvignon Blanc. This year, I’m going to push out the boat and treat myself to a Sparkly Peach and Cranberry Cocktail. I hope you’ll do the same!

Sparkly Peach and Cranberry Cocktails

Of course champagne is lovely for toasting the New Year, but why not kick off 2014 with something a notch more special? Here’s a cocktail that would be equally at home at a winter wedding or a black-tie event.

Perfect for holiday gatherings, the visual “wow” factor of this simple-to-make cocktail would have even Carrie Bradshaw tweeting a selfie with her gorgeous glass. The cunning combination of evergreen rosemary sprigs and the deep, wintry red of the cranberries will leave your guests gasping! But art is not the only trick these sparklies have up their sleeves: They taste sublime. One sip of the silky peach, offset by the tang of the cranberry, and rounded out by the aromatic Prosecco, and you’ll swear you’ve heard angels sing.

Makes 8 flutes

2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1/2 cup / 118 ml peach nectar
2 750ml bottles Prosecco
8 thin sprigs fresh rosemary, each slightly taller than the bowls of your champagne flutes, washed and patted dry

Place the cranberries in a small, heatproof bowl, and cover them in boiling water. Soak the berries until cool, about 30 minutes. Drain, gently pat dry, and refrigerate until serving.
Divide the peach nectar evenly among eight Champagne flutes. Now, divide the cranberries evenly among the flutes. Pouring down the sides of the flutes, add the Prosecco.

Garnish each glass with a rosemary sprig, and serve.

Christmas at Thortnon Hall blurb

When Juliet Hill unwittingly discovers a most-definitely-not-hers-rhinestone-studded lace thong in her high-flying lawyer boyfriend's apartment, this usually feisty chef is suddenly single and facing a very blue Christmas - with only a ready meal for one to keep her company!

So when she's personally requested to cater for the family at Thornton Hall three days before Christmas, it's not long before Juliet's standing at the (back) door of the impossibly grand ancestral pile.

The halls are decked, the guests are titled, those below the stairs are delightfully catty, and all-American Juliet sets to work cooking up a glorious British Christmas with all the trimmings.

But other flames are burning besides those on the stove... Sparks fly with Edward, the gorgeous ex-soldier turned resident chef, and are those sidelong looks Juliet's getting from her boss, the American tycoon Jasper Roth?

As the snow starts to fall on the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, so does the veneer of genteel high society and there are more than a few ancient skeletons rattling out of the Hall's numerous dark cupboards!

CHRISTMAS AT THORNTON HALL is a country house romance for the modern age, a must-read for fans of the scandals and drama of Downton Abbey and the charm and wit of Helen Fielding.

Lynn Marie Hulsman is a novelist in New York City, where she lives with her husband and two children. You can find more about her on the links below!

Thank you so much, Lynn Marie! Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Written Fireside: His Way Home - Part 7

Written Fireside: His Way Home 

If you've not read all the parts yet, click on the links below to catch up! 

Part 1 by Lori Connelly on November 12th

Part 2 by Sarah Lefebve on November 19th
Part 3 by Zara Stoneley on November 26th 
Part 4 by Lynn Marie Hulsman on December 3rd
Part 5 by Romy Sommer on December 10th
Part 6 by Jane Lark on December 17th

And now for my part. This is my third time participating in the round robin organised by Lori Connelly. Initially, I'm always anxious when it comes to my part, I worry I won't get it done in time - as I can't think about my part until the one before is up. But when it comes to it, I focus on writing, and it's great to be back doing that, especially when I feel that all I do is edit at the moment. Enjoy! 

Part 7 by Teresa F Morgan 

“A time window?” Matthew said in disbelief. “Old man, you've had a serious bump to the head.” He made towards Walter, to help him to the chair, but Walter batted him away, already looking stronger.
“Don’t call me old, boy!”
“Don’t call me boy.”
            Beth rolled her eyes. These two were definitely related, their resemblance striking. Not only did they share the same piercing blue eyes and handsome features, they shared the same stubbornness. Walter was aged anywhere between seventy and eighty, Beth guessed. If his daughter, Matthew’s grandmother would be a hundred now, it didn’t make sense, unless there really was a time slip.
“We must go to Watchtower Hill,” Walter said, urgently. “I’m here to lead you to Alice. Then I can return... to my Rose.”
“There’s a snow storm coming!” Matthew said angrily. Beth took his arm, worried he was losing his temper and patience with the elderly man.
“We’ll get there in time,” Walter said firmly. “Beth, get that sled.”
Two hours later, all appropriately dressed and equipped to hike through snow and the cold, they trudged knee deep, towards Watchtower Hill. It was hard work, and tiring, gradually climbing. The wind was harsh, blowing a blizzard of icy snow that stung their faces, evident of a storm coming. Beth’s muscles ached with exhaustion; she dreaded what Walter felt, though between them, they’d pulled Walter some of the journey on the sled. Now, through the thicker woods they were all on foot.
“We’re nearly there,” Walter said, breathing heavily, pointing towards the ruined snow covered cabin.
To Beth’s surprise, Walter led them past the wrecked cabin, and a little further round, through a thick part of trees, and they found a smaller cabin, camouflaged with snow, almost like a cave in the hillside. Its only give-away was the smoke billowing out of the chimney. They could smell amongst the fresh pine of the trees burning logs.
“How many times I've walked these parts – I've never seen this other cabin,” Matthew said. Beth stumbled and he caught her, then kept hold of her hand. How had she doubted his love? Hesitantly, Walter pushed open the door. The three of them entered the small cabin and the warmth hit them, and inside there was an elderly woman, sitting in a rocking chair in front of a fire.
“Papa?” she said, hesitantly. “It can’t be you?”
“Alice.” Walter smiled. “You made it back.” Walter hugged his daughter, who looked similar in age, if not slightly older.
“I came straight back,” the old woman said.
“I know you did, and now you must tell Matthew what he needs to know. To protect the time slip, and the farm.”
She glanced at them, Matthew still holding Beth’s gloved hand, and frowned. “Who are they?”
“Matthew and Beth. He’s your grandson. ”
“But it can’t be.” She shook her head, anxiously ringing her elderly hands. “I left him at the farm with his father. He’s only twelve.”
Matthew knelt before her chair and took her hand tenderly. “Grandma, you've been gone twenty years.” 

To be continued.... 

You'll have to wait until 2014 for the next part... here's the rest of the schedule: 

Part 8 by Carmel Harrington on January 7th
Part 9 by Sue Fortin on January 14th
Part 10 by Erin Lawless  on January 21th
Part 11 by Mandy Baggot  on January 28th

About the Harper Impulse authors: 
Lori Connelly - Blog  Facebook  Twitter

Sarah Lefebve - Blog  Twitter  
Her book - The Park Bench Test

Zara Stoneley - Website  Facebook  Twitter  Blog

Lynn Marie Hulsman - Website Facebook Twitter Blog  

Romy Sommer - Website  Facebook  Twitter  

Her book - I Found You

Teresa F. Morgan -  Website  Facebook  Twitter  

Carmel Harrington -  Website  Facebook  Twitter  
Her book -  Beyond Graces Rainbow

Sue Fortin -  Blog   2nd Blog   Twitter
Her book -  United States of Love

Erin Lawless - Website  Facebook  Twitter  

Mandy Baggot - Website  Facebook  Twitter  Goodreads  
Her book -  Do You Remember?

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

The Goose Is Getting Fat...

Are we all getting excited about Christmas? I am!

I've got my presents all wrapped, the decorations are done, I'm impressed with my fake tree (I usually have a real one) and I finished icing the Christmas cake today.

I love making the Christmas cake, but don't actually eat much of it - partly because I know how bad for me it is! I think one slice contains your daily calorie allowance (okay slight exaggeration there). But I just love the idea of having home-made Christmas cake in the house.

The only thing I haven't done is written my Christmas cards. It's one of those things that I feel disorganised about, because I like to think about my son's birthday before Christmas, which is early December. Plus, now being a single mother, I just can't afford the stamps. It's not the cards. My mum has dutifully supplied me with a load of Christmas cards. You could argue that I should write the cards for the friends that I do see. But I do it every year. I have one person (or more) I write a card for and never bloody see before Christmas, so think what was the point?

Oh and the other thing I've got to do is my Written Fireside part - which will be posted on my blog on the 24th December! Eeek! That's this weekend's job to do. So catch up with the story here.

Ben and his Christmas Jumper.
I'm looking forward to the kids breaking up from school (although they were driving me potty this evening) and having a chilled out couple of days before Christmas Day.

For Christmas Eve, providing it's not raining, I want to take the boys down to the local church to do carol singing. (I'm not overly religious but this is a really lovely evening out - okay, you've got me, I go for the mulled wine.) Then, I've got The Polar Express for us to sit and watch before sending the boys up to bed. I'm hoping this will make them nice and sleepy - and they won't wake up ultra early Christmas Day! (Fat chance).

It will be our first Christmas in our new home. Christmas Day is exactly eleven months!

Today my 9 year old had his school party, so was allowed to turn up in party clothes. He wore one of his Christmas jumpers that seem all the rage this year. Very Bridget Jones in a cool way lol!
Garish jumper aka Bridget Jones

I have two Christmas Jumpers. I couldn't resist. I bought a garish one ready for wearing to work. (And when Ben saw it, he wanted one too!) And then I couldn't resist the more stylish, posh jumper from Sainsburys. I'll be wearing that one Christmas day.

Do you have a Christmas Jumper? Are you planning on wearing yours on Christmas Day? Or like Bridget, will your mum pick out an outfit that looks close to blending in with the carpet?

Posh jumper.
Please share your Christmas Jumpers... put links to photos in the comments if needs be. :)

Merry Christmas x x x

Monday, 16 December 2013

Fake Friday with Michelle Betham

Usually I have my Fake Friday posts on a Tuesday (not that I've had many lol!), but as we all hate Mondays at the best of times, and this day suited Michelle better, I've moved it - it is my blog after all!

Michelle Betham has joined Harper Impulse and her book, The First Christmas Without You will be published on Thursday 19th December! The cover is so lush, I love it! It's available to pre-order NOW!

Michelle allowed me to visit her blog (here) the other day, so I felt it only fair I return the favour. I send over the authors a list of questions, and they pick a few to answer... Here are Michelle's. Please give her a warm welcome!

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Pretty much so, yes. I’ve lived with my head in the clouds for as long as I can remember now, so I’m glad I’ve finally found the confidence I needed to turn some of those day dreams into stories. And I’ve still got plenty more ready and waiting to be written.

Did you manage to get the first book you wrote published, or is it tucked in a drawer somewhere?

I actually self-published the first book I wrote over two years ago now, followed by another seven after that! After a few rejections back in the early days knocked my confidence slightly, I didn’t really have the courage to submit to publishers again for a long while.

But I think that journey through self-publishing helped me learn a lot of quite invaluable lessons, and gave me the confidence to submit again. I do have about half a dozen unfinished books tucked away all over the place, though. But they’ll no doubt get finished, one day!

Which of your characters is your favourite, and why?

My favourite character has probably got to be hot and handsome movie star Kenny Ross, from my very first self-published Hollywood-based “bonkbuster” ‘No Matter What’, and the follow-up ‘Illusions of Love’. Mainly because I based him on my life-long crush Keanu Reeves, and it gave me a great excuse to use him for extended research purposes! Lol!!

What things inspire you to write? Location, music, film or even in a book?

Oh, I can get my inspiration from anywhere, believe me! I can be doing something completely random and a flash of inspiration can hit me right out of the blue. But I mainly get my inspiration from music, to be honest. Every single one of my books has been written with a “soundtrack”, a play list of songs that have inspired the story or the characters, or even just a particular scene in the book, and that’s the way I love to work. Music is incredibly important to me, and if I’m ever plagued with writers’ block I just stick the old iPod on, listen to some music, and something will usually inspire me to get back to that story. It works every time.

What advice would you give to new writers?

Don’t give up! And I think that’s probably the best advice anyone could give a new writer. Oh, and stick to your own style. Don’t try and copy anyone else, find your own voice.

Do you love or hate Facebook?

I think it depends on the day I’m having, but I err more on the side of liking it. I’ve met some amazing people through social media who have shown me incredible support over the past couple of years; people I would never have got to know if it hadn’t been for Facebook.

Cocktail or shot? If so, what one?

Cocktail – A Long Island Iced Tea. I became addicted to those on a cruise a few years back… they can be quite lethal, though!

Tea or coffee? 

Tea. All the way!

Dogs or cats?

Dogs. I have a little West Highland Terrier and I just love him to bits!

Thank you, Michelle! Good luck on Thursday with the launch of your book! The cover is so Christmassy and frosty and sparkly, it looks amazing. 

The First Christmas Without You – Blurb

A story of love and hope at Christmas, The First Christmas Without You is an emotional and poignant novella.

Young widow Jessie Collins has always wanted to visit Lapland. But this Christmas, more than any other, it’s the place she feels she really needs to be.

It’s time for Jessie to come to terms with a future she didn’t expect, but one she really needs to start living.

Author Bio

Born in the North East of England, I'm an ex-media technician turned author of sexy, steamy - but sometimes humorous - romance novels.

Having spent a couple of years living on the Spanish
Canarian island of Tenerife, I now live in County Durham with my incredibly tolerant husband and West Highland Terrier. I spend most days at my desk drinking endless cups of tea as I create more stories and new characters for future novels - and it's my favourite job!

I'm at my happiest with a large bar of chocolate and a glass of wine, but that happiness has been known to be magnified ten-fold if Timothy Olyphant's on TV.

Michelle's Links: 

The First Christmas Without You – Amazon UK / Amazon US

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

12 Days of Christmas Tour with Jane Lark

12 Days Banner Final
Welcome to the 12 Days of Christmas Tour with Jane Lark. 
After signing with publisher Harper Impulse, Jane, author of the smash-hit Marlow Intrigues series, has decided to end 2013 with a bang! She’s gathered together some of the industry’s best authors to create one enormous Christmas giveaway.
The huge prize is made up of more than 30 books, a combination of signed paperbacks and eBooks, and two gorgeous book bags. It’s the perfect early Christmas present for any bookworm and all you’ve got to do to win is feast your eyes on the details below and enter via the Rafflecopter . . .
To kick off the prizes, Jane is giving away copies of her much loved The Illicit Love of a Courtesan and its highly anticipated follow-up The Passionate Love of a Rake

 NEWBookCoverQuote_IllicitLove   NEWBookCover_PassionateLove
Jane's books have been a huge hit with fans, leading to an ever-increasing fan base and comments such as:
"Jane Lark has an amazing talent to draw the reader in from the first page onwards."
 - CosmoChickLitan
And to celebrate her upcoming December release of NA novel I Found You, you could also win a unique rucksack.
The book is already causing excitement among readers and looks set to be the must-read NA of 2014.

             IMG_1140[1]   NEWBookCover_IFoundYou

But that's not all folks! As if Jane's books weren't enough, check out the other amazing books included in the prize pot, you're sure to find one or two of your fav authors getting involved . . .

12 Days of Christmas TP

12 Days of Christmas TP2

Entry to Jane Lark's 12 Days of Christmas giveaway extravaganza is easy, just follow the authors on Facebook or Twitter, plus maybe give the comp a shout-out tweet (or two) all via the Rafflecopter below and you're golden. But don't forget to keep your fingers crossed too!

Please take a moment to read through the giveaway terms and conditions:
This is an international giveaway.
Signed paperbacks are to be sent from the authors themselves. Jane Lark, BestChickLit and/or any authors involved accept no responsibility for delivery failures. The winner must be open to accepting eBooks in any format i.e. Kindle copies and via iTunes voucher, from different sources. In the event of .mobi copies, the winner must have an Amazon Kindle account and be prepared to add selected addresses as approved emails on their Personal Document settings.
Some of the books involved in the giveaway contain adult and sexual content and this should be taken into consideration before reading. Jane Lark, BestChickLit, Harper Impulse and any of the participating authors are free to amend any of the giveaway details at any time.

Good luck!

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Where Has My Baby Gone?

Today my son turned 9. Next year we're into the double figures (eek!) but at times it feels like yesterday that he was a babe in my arms, or my cheeky, mischievous toddler. Now, he's sensible but can chat back as well as any teenager. I didn't realise the attitude would start to show so early.

It's funny how over the weekend, when my mum visited, we were discussing my sister, who had her 26th birthday yesterday. We both couldn't believe how time had flown and she was 26! With fourteen years between us, I remember Katie growing up from baby to toddler to teenager like I'm seeing Ben do now.

Ben took his time coming into this world - I went into labour on the 2nd December, and telephoned my mum to say it looked like my new baby would share its birthday with my sister. But oh no, the 3rd December came and went in a gas and air induced blur. Over thirty hours later, on the 4th December at 6.36am Ben emerged.

Things haven't changed with Ben. When talking to teachers about his progress at parents evenings, his last teacher in Year Three gave him such praise, then ended it with, "But he's soooo slow."

Ben does tend to go off into a dream world (like his mum), and then he can be a bit of a perfectionist (unless it comes to homework) and wants to make sure things are done correctly (like his dad).

Although he's not overly enamoured with some of the things he has to do in literacy, he does enjoy reading and he's even making up his own stories (so maybe he will take after his mum).

Too cute not to post again!
Ben is quietly confident. Last year (i.e year 3) he played Jacob in his year's production of Joseph. He put his heart and soul into his performance on stage. He's not afraid to get up and do something. He's already showing his independence. He's not clingy, in fact, it's totally uncool for me to expect a kiss from him as he goes off to his classroom at the start of school.

I used to get away with keeping his hair short, especially as he has a double crown (like his dad). But he's wanted to grow it all summer, and so it's now a mop! He has soooo much hair (like his mum). Shhh! Don't tell Ben, I've got a hairdresser's appointment booked for next week, where hopefully she'll add some style (to keep me happy) and keep the length (to keep Ben happy).

Recent visit to Cadbury Garden Centre
He plays wonderfully with his brother, and then they can fight well too. They know how to push each others buttons - and mine! Yet when in trouble, they do stick together. I can see them being the best of friends.

I know I am biased but he was a handsome baby, and I hope he'll grow into a handsome man.

Happy birthday, Ben.

Remember I always love you, even when I'm angry, stroppy and strict with you. I do it only because I want to make you the best you can be - plus I'm bringing up a future husband! I want my daughter-in-law to thank me! ...so remember toilet seat down, wash your hands, and put your dirty washing in the laundry basket...

x x x

p.s. You'll never be too big to have a cuddle with your mum.