Eva Jordan in conversation with… Kendra Olson

The Forest King's Daughter

It is my great pleasure to introduce the lovely Kendra Olson, author of The Forest King’s Daughter, as my guest author today. Taking place in 19th century rural Sweden, The Forest King’s Daughter, an epic coming of age story, is Kendra’s debut novel.

The year is 1886 and Swedish teenager, Ingrid Andersdotter, is about to face a series of life-changing events. When Ingrid forgets to close the barn door one freezing cold night, there will be dire consequences for her family. To make matters worse, her attraction to the new school teacher leads to ostracism and shame. Ingrid’s strong opinions and the pressure of the powerful village church to conform to ideas she doesn’t believe in put her at odds with her traditional community.
Her only option is to leave her home and family. But is she brave enough to make an ocean crossing to a strange new land on her own, leaving everything she knows far behind? And will she find the freedom she dreams of if she takes such a risk?
Told through the lens of a Swedish fairy tale, this epic coming-of-age story, is both a page-turning personal account of one feisty young woman’s determination to seek a better life, and the tale of many single women who emigrated from Sweden to America in the 19th century.

Inspired by the pioneering spirit of her great grandmother, Kendra tells us about her writing journey and how the idea for The Forest King’s Daughter developed.


My writing journey, by Kendra Olson

I remember loving stories as a kid—Goodnight Horsey, The Velveteen Rabbit and Sideways Stories from Wayside School, were some of my favourites. Later I fell in love with Anne of Green Gables, The Secret Garden, Charlotte’s Web and A Little Princess, amongst many others. I’ll never forget the scene in The Velveteen Rabbit where the little boy, after contracting scarlet fever, is forced to burn all his toys, including his best friend, the Rabbit. I found this scene deeply disturbing and never really got over it.

As a little girl, my dolls were very real to me and I was convinced that, once I went to sleep at night, they spent many hours talking to each other and having parties without me. So the idea that, were I to become ill, I would have to burn them—essentially killing them—traumatised me no end. As you can tell, I was a very imaginative child. I spent many hours—days even—involved in long, complex play sessions.

Then, when I was seven, I was given a diary by my grandmother—one of those old-fashioned ones with a hard cover and a tiny lock and key to keep your brother from reading your secrets (though he did anyway—the lock was easily breakable). I remember it was decorated in garish neon colours, as was considered stylish back in the 1980s. I wrote in it every day, trying to write smaller and less so as not to use the pages up too quickly. My grandmother had told me to write what happens to me, but I tended to write anything and everything in it instead and only rarely gave a true account of my day, instead preferring to record my thoughts, feelings, hopes, worries, dreams and, yes, the boys I fancied at school. After a little while I even ventured to write stories, and the outlines of stories, mostly involving little girls and fairies and often times little girls who’d turned into fairies, and mermaids, and fairy mermaids. Writing became a kind of release for me, a safe space from which to reflect, imagine and just be.

Fast forward a few years to my time in secondary school and my all-time favourite class: English. Our teacher encouraged us to write stories in response to our readings. As we’d recently finished Romeo and Juliet, and Halloween was coming up—a huge deal in the States, where I grew up—I wrote a ghost story with a romantic twist. My teacher made me read it aloud in front of the entire class—something I was terrified of doing—and they loved it! Kids who otherwise ignored me or made fun of me clapped heartily, and told me they’d actually been frightened by it. It was my moment of triumph in an otherwise fairly unhappy school life.

Later yet I enrolled in a writing programme, encouraged by my grandfather who’d worked as a children’s writer and editor for most of his life. I learned how to write fiction and non-fiction for the American magazine market. I then followed this up by taking a course in writing for children, which my grandfather also took. I realised the joy which could be gained from having a writing partner and submitted several stories and articles to publications, none of which were published, although I did receive some nice feedback from editors.

Then, when I was in university, working and helping out at home, I didn’t have time to write anything other than term papers. I sort of forgot all about writing stories. And this was how life remained for some years. After getting married and moving to London I had even less time–emigration is exhausting!

After a few years, life settled down and I enrolled for a simple, ten-week, online introductory creative writing class with writingclasses.co.uk. The course could be completed anytime, anywhere and, most importantly, every assignment was read by your tutor and given personalised feedback—a feature I loved. The assignments were fun too. One of my favourites was to write a story with each new line beginning with a consecutive letter of the alphabet. It was difficult but very worthwhile as it trained me to channel my creativity and make every word count. Another of my favourites was to write a modern day fairy tale. Somewhere in the midst of the many courses I took, I came up with the character of Ingrid, the protagonist of my now-published novel The Forest King’s Daughter.

The novel itself took me several years to write, with many false starts and a lot of research needing to be done—the story takes place in 19th century rural Sweden, a place I’d never lived in but was keen to write about. Eventually, I did visit Sweden and met my family there (the story was inspired by my imagining what life might have been like for women from my great grandmother’s generation who emigrated to America). And, when my novel was finished, I had it professionally edited and began the arduous search for agents. While I didn’t find one, I did find a publisher. On the 5th March 2015, The Forest King’s Daughter was published by Pilrig Press. It was the biggest triumph of all for me, especially coming as it did halfway through my Creative Writing MLitt at the University of Glasgow.

Since completing my degree and having my novel published I’ve been working on a second novel, also historical but taking place in a very different time period. I’ve also discovered a love for writing book reviews, which I write both for Lothian Life as well as for my blog, which I began as a way of promoting my first novel. I’ve found new literary avenues to explore, and new publications to submit to, as well as rediscovering some of my old favourites.

Recently, I even reread The Velveteen Rabbit and, while I still found it sad, it was no longer the tragedy it once was. In fact, I could now see the ending for what it really was: a sign of hope. In my despair at the perceived cruelty in the story, I’d failed to remember that, before the rabbit can be burned, the nursery magic Fairy takes him by the hand and rewards him for his love to the boy by turning him into a real rabbit. While I’d written for many years before having anything published, the act of writing continues to offer me hope and a space in which to explore, reflect and understand my life and the world around me. The publication of my first novel, The Forest King’s Daughter, served to validate this hope and, indeed, turn me into a real writer.

The Forest King’s Daughter is available from Amazon. 

Kendra Olson

Kendra Olson on Social Media:

Eva Jordan in conversation with… Karen King – Romantic Novelist

Also on my blog today, I’m very pleased to introduce the romantic novelist Karen King. A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, Karen King writes sassy, contemporary romance just right for reading on the beach. I DO – or Do I?‘ her first chick lit for Accent Press, was published in May. She has been contracted for two more. And she is delighted that Accent Press have republished her earlier romance novels, The Millionaire Plan and Never Say Forever. The Millionaire Plan was nominated for the RONE Award in 2014.

The Millionaire Plan

Love or money, what would you marry for?

Amber Wynters is on a mission to find a millionaire to marry – and fast. Her parents are nearly bankrupt and being forced to sell their family home, a beautiful Tudor house that has been in the family for generations, thanks to Amber’s ex-fiancé persuading them to invest in his dodgy shares. Armed with a self-help book and a ten-point plan, she sets off to hook herself a rich husband. On a millionaire’s yacht, she meets the drop-dead gorgeous Jed Curtess. The attraction between them is sizzling. It’s a shame that he is only a hired hand. Can Amber ignore her heart and follow her plan?

Never Say Forever

Do you follow your dream or follow your heart?

That’s the decision Kendall McKenzie has to make when she meets hunky businessman Jake Newman. He’s as attracted to her as she is to him – but Kendall has vowed never to get married, and it seems that Jake has too. When they are together, sparks fly. It’s obvious to everyone except themselves that they’re meant to be together. Can Kendall trust Jake enough to give him her heart? And if she does, will she have to give up her dream?

Karen has had several short stories for women’s magazine and 120 children’s books published.

When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.

Here, Karen tells us a bit more about herself in my quick Q&A followed by a sneaky peak of The Millionaire Plan with a brief extract from Chapter One.

  • What is the best thing about being a writer?

Getting a letter or email from someone who’s enjoyed reading my book. That makes my week!

  • What is the hardest thing about being a writer?

Finding time to write down all the ideas that are whizzing around in my head.

  • Can you tell us a fun fact about yourself?

It took me seventeen attempts and goodness knows how many years to pass my driving test. Seriously!

  • What is your top tip for new writers?

Stop faffing about and get that first draft down. Then you can go back and reread, revise and rewrite. If you don’t write something you have nothing to hone.

  • Thank you for being such a great guest.

Thank you for hosting me!


Chapter One

Rule number 1: Make sure you’re seen at the right places

Great. Here she was, dressed to kill and without a clue what to do, Amber thought, tugging self-consciously at the hem of her dress. Everyone else was walking around in groups, or at least in pairs, chatting and laughing together and making her wish that she’d taken up Callie’s offer to go sailing with her and Simon instead of wandering around Coombe Bay Marina alone. Honestly, dressed in this skin-tight, short white designer dress, high heels, and the pile of make-up Callie had insisted she wore, she might as well have the words ‘gold-digger’ written on her forehead.

Well, that’s what she was, wasn’t it?

Not for the first time she wondered how she’d let Callie talk her into coming here to try and hook a millionaire. It was mad. Insane. Immoral.

And her only option if she didn’t want her parents to lose their home as well as their business.

Spotting a café overlooking the marina, she bought herself a latté and was making her way over to one of the tables when a white yacht caught her eye. It wasn’t huge or brash, like some of the yachts in the marina, but it was definitely classy. The sort that a millionaire would have for his own use, to sail around in rather than show off and entertain his friends. As she peered over at it, trying to read the name painted on the side, she collided into something hard. Her coffee cup went flying off the saucer, emptying its contents over a pair of cut-off denim shorts that were hugging lean, definitely male, hips.

‘Whoa!’ Strong, suntanned arms held her steady. ‘You want to try looking where you’re going,’ an incredibly sexy voice drawled in an unmistakeably American accent.

‘Sorry.’ She looked up into a pair of twinkling tawny eyes that laughed at her from a ruggedly handsome face, topped by thick, light brown hair with sun-kissed highlights. Phwoarr! was her immediate reaction, but she quickly pulled herself together. She’d just spilt coffee over this guy, for goodness sake, the least she could do was apologise instead of drooling over him like a lunatic.

‘I’m so sorry,’ she apologised again. ‘I was looking at that yacht over there. It’s fantastic, isn’t it? I’ve never seen one like that before.’ Not the thing to say, Amber, she scolded herself. You’re supposed to be acting smart and sophisticated as if you come to these sort of events all the time, not twittering away like an idiot and letting the first person you bump into know that you’ve never seen anything bigger than a dinghy before. Then she remembered that she had quite literally ‘bumped’ into this man and drowned him in coffee in the process.

‘Gosh, I’m so sorry,’ she said, fully aware that this was the third time she’d apologised but unable to stop herself gabbling. She looked down at his wet denim cut-offs, trying not to let her gaze linger on the sun-tanned legs below them, then shifted her eyes hurriedly back to his face. ‘Er, I’ll go and get a cloth so you can clean up.’

‘No need. I’m working on that yacht you were admiring so I haven’t got far to go and get changed,’ he replied. ‘Perhaps you’d like to join me and clean yourself up too? You don’t want to leave that to stain. It’ll ruin your dress.’

What? She glanced down in confusion and saw that coffee was splattered all over the bottom of her – or rather, Callie’s – dress and running down her legs. How could she have not noticed? Because I was too busy gawping at him, that’s why.

She hesitated. He had said he was working on the yacht, which meant he didn’t own it – more’s the pity. So his boss could well be on board. And whilst the ‘How to Hook a Millionaire’ book Callie had brought and insisted she read from cover to cover had declared she should ‘seize any opportunity to mix with the seriously rich’ – and let’s face it, anyone who owned that yacht was seriously rich – meeting them with a coffee-stained dress and legs was not a good idea. ‘Always be perfectly made up and elegantly dressed’ was another rule.

‘Is your boss on board?’ she asked.

‘No, only me.’ He was looking at her intently. ‘Perhaps I should introduce myself, I’m sure your mother drilled it into you to never go off with strangers.’ He held out his hand. ‘Jed Curtess.’

She took his hand. It was strong and warm and his touch sent tingles running up her arm. ‘Amber Wynters,’ she told him.

‘Now we’ve been introduced, Amber Wynters, would you like to come on board and get cleaned up?’ he asked, a playful smile hovering on his lips.

She most definitely would but should she? She didn’t even know this man, although she had to admit that she definitely found him appealing. Should she risk going onto the yacht with him? He might not be as harmless as he seemed. She saw the teasing twinkle in his gorgeous tawny eyes and her heart flipped. Cancel harmless. This guy was a danger to her blood pressure if nothing else.

‘I promise I won’t try to seduce you,’ he said solemnly. ‘Unless you beg me to, of course.’ His eyes danced with humour and she thought there was probably a queue of women who would love him to do just that.


Both available on Amazon:
The Millionaire Plan Never Say Forever

Karen King

Karen King on Social Media:

Facebook Page Romance 
Facebook PageChildren’s Books


Eva Jordan in conversation with… M.A. Comley

I am chuffed to bits to have the wonderful Mel Comley as guest author on my blog today. Author of the Justice Series and the Intention series, Mel is one of the few indie authors listed as a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. Here, Mel gives us a fascinating insight into how she started her writing career.


Thank you for inviting me, Eva, it’s been a long time since someone has asked me to write a blog post for them. 🙂

Now, what to choose as a subject, I know, how about writing!

To me, writing and entertaining my fans and the general reading public is like a drug. I’m addicted to writing. I have over thirty titles to my name now, most of which are fast-paced thrillers, the rest are either romances or some erotic titles that I write under a pen name.

My love of writing started when I moved to France back in 2002. I began reading a Mills and Boon romance, the only book available in English at a French library at the time, about halfway through the book I threw it down in disgust and turned to my Mother and said, “I could do better than this!” That day, I enrolled in a home study Creative Writing Course and wrote two romances, but I felt something was missing, it was a chore to write them to be honest. A friend of mine lent me a James Patterson novel and the speed of that book blew me away. It was then that I began writing Cruel Justice, that first book took me over 18 months to complete, however it was the second book in the Justice series, Impeding Justice, that I unleashed to the world first.

Back in 2010 the ebook market was still in its infancy, so I picked up some valuable fans right from the word go. Impeding Justice made it into the top 40 in the Amazon UK chart and in the top 100 in the USA. It was such a thrill to see the book doing so well that I quickly wrote Final Justice, when I say quickly, it still took over 6 months to write. When I released Final Justice my fans started writing to me asking to see more of Lorne and Pete’s relationship. I revisited Cruel Justice, tweaked it a little and then released that book. It was simply amazing to see Cruel Justice romp up the charts on both sides of the Atlantic and accomplish a top 20 place in the UK and settle in the top 30  in the USA, but what pleased me even more than the high rankings on my babies, was the wonderful emails I received from my fans, it simply flabbergasted me.

Now, I just can’t stop writing. In the past few months I’ve released The Caller, written by my co-author, Tara Lyons and myself, plus I have two more titles on pre-order, although Mortal Justice will have been released by the time this post appears. The other title, Devious Intention is due for release in Aug 2016, this is a psychological thriller, the third book in the Intention series about a PI duo, Ellie and Brian.

The past six years have been incredible for me, I’m one of the few Indie authors out there who is  listed as a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author but having those accolades under my belt hasn’t altered me at all. I still work over 100 hours a week, why? Because I love writing and entertaining people.

To anyone thinking that this writing lark is a way to make a quick buck – it ain’t. Only people who are committed to their craft and determined to succeed will make it in this world. It takes stamina and a lot of willpower to keep coming up with great plot ideas and believable and likeable characters who the reading public fall in love with.

Thank you again, Eva, I hope I haven’t bored people too much. 🙂

MelMel Comley

M.A. Comley on Social Media:
Newsletter Sign Up
Facebook Page

Eva Jordan in conversation with… Anna Shenton

I am really pleased to have the lovely Anna Shenton as guest author on my blog today. Author of Seduced By Mind Tricks, Lust For Survival and Writing Spelled Out, Anna also runs the really friendly and helpful Facebook group The Writers Authors and Readers Group. As well as telling us a little about herself, Anna also explains how daydreaming helps her to write.

How daydreaming sessions helped me write! 

Thank you Eva, for the kind invitation to write a guest post. Having read many of your wonderful posts I realise I have my work cut out, and hope to make this fulfilling, interesting and joyful.

Anna Shenton (1954) – I was born in a small village in Staffordshire, England and experienced an interesting upbringing by my English father, and German mother. My two elder siblings Ilona and Steven, and later, a surprise brother from Germany helped fuel my imagination for writing. We lived in the real world in our new council house, metal window frames, freshly plastered walls, newspaper squares on a string in the bathroom, home-made ginger beer in the pantry, strawberries in the garden and lots of helpful neighbours!!! Woow!!!

My flair to create comes from my family, I think. I have a locally famous artist, Uncle Stan Richards, who has and continues to, paint and sell many beautiful paintings, often donating proceeds to the air-ambulance. My late father enjoyed pencil/cartoonist drawing which he occasionally contributed to the Daily Mirror. I spent many hours watching him sketch with charcoal; hence, I also like to dabble for fun myself.

My Late brother wrote his Debut Novel (Notes in the Margin) in Mumbai, which unfortunately hasn’t been published. I hope to look into this soon. And last but not least my Sister writes a very popular frugal blog (Mean Queen) she is amazing.

Always known as a bit of a daydreamer in class I was determined to put my vivid imagination onto paper someday.

Having left school at the ripe old age of fifteen I started work in a new Sainsbury’s store where I trained and became Senior Chief Clerk.

Ok, you want to know a little more about me today!!!

I live in Staffordshire with my lovely retired policeman hubby. We love to travel with our touring caravan – Any country goes!! Our favourite pastimes is walking, cycling, eating and enjoying a bottle of wine or two.

Ah yes… we do go to the gym and swim daily too, whilst not gallivanting!

We share a fantastic family of six sons and daughter-in-law’s, and millions of adorable grandchildren, so to say the least, there is no shortage of inspiration.

We fill the garden with vegetables to share with them and the toy cupboard overflows onto the bunk beds which they occasionally, in turn, sleep in, with the famous big ted!

Christmas is always a family affair!!

Always loved to write. Kids flown the nest! I ploughed into a home study course with the Writing School of London. Amazing stuff!  Success with Star Letter Pages and Fillers for Women’s’ Commercial Magazines was encouraging.

Venturing forward, my articles were soon published in Hobby publications, Practical Caravan, Caravan Magazine, Modellers World and Writers Forum International.

Poems didn’t go amiss either. Growin’ Owd – my pet poem – won World Book Day prize 2015 with Vind & Vag Publishing House, and, I loved writing short stories for writing group anthologies, where I used to be fund organiser.

Inspiration from life experiences and reading other authors helped me write Seduced by Mind Tricks, my debut romance novel and create short stories.

Want to share my love for writing, with – I wanna be a writers’ friend. My eBook Writing Spelled Out is devised and rewritten from my articles to help all budding authors.

Take a peek at an excerpt – How Daydreaming Sessions enriched my writing.

Whatever you’re doing take your characters, ideas, events with you. Adapting a habit of holding daydreaming sessions with yourself will compose a sketchy plan and actuate results.

The mind is a very powerful thing, daydreaming uses a complete range of images, feelings and sounds from your memory. It can conjure up an alternative life and outcome for your characters for instance.

Memory is not abstract, it’s built from bits and bobs and provides the writer with material, and all we have to do is probe every mortal strand possible. But with that, comes a word of warning, don’t allow yourself to slip into living in solitude as a hermit.

It is imperative to keep juices flowing and add to your personal memory bank getting as much on board as possible. So get out there and get involved in as many events, functions, and social affairs as possible with your eyes and ears wide open. You are probably thinking well how am I going to find the time to do all that in my already busy life? Don’t worry; your daily routine will also throw up a few ideas for good measure. Even half an hour sitting in the park or café can illuminate the exact situations or answers you’ve been looking for. Listen and watch! Then note! It works for me.

Everyone’s creativity is sparked by unique circumstances, so start searching deeply and laboriously into your subconscious with the following examples in mind which will throw out varying shades of sunlight. The power of daydreaming can transform rags to riches. So if you are sitting comfortably, close your eyes: slow your mind down and get ready to lift-off into the unknown.

Using characters for instance – to get the imagination revolving begin with a simple exercise by inventing lives for strangers you’ve seen in the park or café. You haven’t got a clue what this person does, no plots, goals or aims. So who is she? Where is she going? Why is she walking alone? Does she resemble someone you know? Give her a name to shape her image. This will add to or may conflict with your mental picture later.

Bait planted firmly, you can now expand on it. Exercise the imagination, turn your first impressions, thoughts around into different lights, hear what it’s saying, and play with it. Note down anything interesting, images perceived. The woman I saw in the park looked pale and fragile, her skin like tissue paper, her grey-hair greasy and thin – like rats tails. She will make a perfect third character in my short story, Family Inheritance, once I have taken her up to my domain, and dissected, with what if…? Or suppose that…?

A prime example of an exercise is to re-enact in mind an incident that has happened, imagine what the outcome would have been if things had gone differently.

The following example is taken from a short story in progress. The plot is a little sketchy at this point; I need to dress it up, add fire and colour, present my characters vividly and move the story forward. So I’ll take Jenna and her mum with me while I sprawl out on the sofa and gaze expressionless at the lounge ceiling.

Jenna and her divorced mum get on well, the dilemma being that Jenna wants to move in with her fourth boyfriend. Mum hit’s the roof, it won’t work.

What situation can I conjure up to make Jenna see she’s making another mistake?

Muddling it around in my head finding several conclusions I try to envisage every possible route by applying suppose that… or what if..?

I decide to let Jenna go, but in the meantime because of the upset she has caused, mum rents out Jenna’s room to a dear old friend.

On the other hand, mum could have sold up and moved north – or disagreed with Jenna entirely, disowning her – or insisted on moving in with the happy couple to make sure he doesn’t do the dirty.

My daydreaming session helped me visualise the most appropriate situation to move the story forward and entice the reader. Jenna and her mum in your head, what does your daydream reveal? Take your time, various scenes will appear and you may find that some elements you originally thought just don’t fit. You can then ask yourself; why did her mum do that? Or why is Jenna doing this? You will begin to think further ahead and the story will form into a plot as you guide it. Although, this doesn’t mean we should ignore the initial plot, as it is essential to have an early framework.

To refresh your daydreaming delve into your private fantasies, and keep your mind active. Read widely, observe details and study people. Daydreaming also creates ambitions and goals, setting you on the path to achieving these things. It really does wonders for the imagination.

Thanks for taking the time to read this fellow writers, authors, readers and friends. I hope you found it fun!!!

Currently, I am working on a Historical Novella early 1900’s I don’t intend to rush this as I want to enjoy the experience and create the book as I wish.

Also, The Writers Authors and Readers Group is my passion. A layman in Facebook skills landed me with the group accidentally, but hey it has turned out to be awesome. We have some fab people on there and I am happy to help others. You are welcome to join, send a request it really is inspiring!

Anna Shenton

Anna Shenton:
Facebook Page
Facebook Group
Amazon Author Page




Eva Jordan in conversation with… Amanda Saint – Author of As If I Were A River

As If I Were A River

I’m very pleased to introduce fellow Urbane published author Amanda Saint on my blog today. Only released in April this year,  As If I Were A River is Amanda’s debut novel and has already received some rave reviews. It was selected as a Netgalley Top 10 Book of the Month for May 2016 and included in the WHSmith Travel Fresh Talent promotion.

Alison Moore, Man-Booker shortlisted author of The Lighthouse, says of As If I Were A River: Amanda Saint’s intricately plotted debut novel is a juicy Pandora’s box of mysteries and revelations.” 

As well as being a novelist, Amanda is also a short story writer and features journalist. She also runs her own creative business, Retreat West, providing all sorts of writing events. A nomad at heart, her feet haven’t stopped itching yet so she keeps on moving. 

Today, looking at the idea of missing people, Amanda discusses some of her research behind her debut novel.

Missing People

The premise of my debut novel is built around people that have gone missing but also about missing people, both in the physical sense as they are not there anymore but also in the emotional sense of wondering what might have been if they were still around.

One of the narrators is Kate, the youngest generation of three women in a family who tell the story. The story starts when her husband, Jimmy, vanishes and she has no idea what has happened to him or where he might be. But this serves as a catalyst for her to confront the issues she has been holding onto since childhood when her mother left the family and was never seen or heard from again. How this has affected everything she’s done since and how her personality has developed.

In researching the novel, I read many stories and watched documentaries about people who had gone missing, spoke to volunteers at the Missing People charity, and questioned the police in the local missing persons unit where I was living at the time. This helped me to create a realistic scenario around how Jimmy’s disappearance would be dealt with on an official level.

For the emotional reaction, I spent a lot of time just sitting and thinking about how I would feel if it happened to me and suddenly my life was no longer going to be what I thought it was. But in order to really create a compelling story I needed more conflict for Kate, there needed to be something else from her past that would add more pressure and that’s when I realised her mother, Laura, had disappeared from her life too. Once this piece of the puzzle fell into place the story really took off.

But I realised that part of the reason I was so interested in missing people is that my life has this theme running through it too. I didn’t meet my biological father until I was in my thirties; at the time when I started writing this story my husband hadn’t seen his sister for about 15 years and, due to a family falling out I wasn’t a part of, I hadn’t seen any of my cousins, aunts and uncles for about 20 years. So I had done a lot of that wondering about what relationships might have been if people had stayed around.

All of this fed into each of the three women’s narratives who tell the story and although it is a very sad tale, there is also a strong vein of hope, optimism and redemption running through it. Now that I’ve had time to step back from the story and be a bit more objective about it – I think what it essentially boils down to is that all you really need is love.

Purchase As If I  Were A River here.

Amanda Saint

Amanda Saint on Social Media:


Eva Jordan in conversation with… Rachel Dove – A Day at Beaconlit

The Chic Boutique

Winner of the Mills & Boon Prima Flirty Fiction competition, I am very pleased to have the lovely Louise Dove, author of The Chic Boutique on Baker St. as a guest author on my blog today. Rachel is a mum of two from Yorkshire. She has always loved writing and has had previous success as a self-published author.

Having recently returned from the Beaconlit Festival of Books and Writing, Rachel gives us a fascinating insight into how it felt to be one of the members of the New Voices panel.


Saturday 2nd July was another first for me, in this year of being a published author. My first literature festival ever, and I was lucky enough to be a member of the New Voices panel, with Angela Clarke and Jeannie Waudby, crime and YA authors respectively. I arrived dressed up, nervous, armed with books and pens. I had spoken to the organiser Dave Sivers, an author himself, and the other panel members beforehand on social media, and was looking forward to meeting them and our moderator, author and tutor Morgen Bailey in person.

The experience was wonderful. I felt like I had stepped back into my mother ship, and all the other like-minded people there were book loving aliens, lovers of the written word, like me. I was home!

The panel session flew by, I even raised a few laughs (intentionally, I might add) and the other panel members were a joy to chat and work with. I chatted about books, writing, agents and publishers with gleeful abandon, and very much enjoyed other talks too.

I sat afterwards in my hotel room, sniffing my goodie bag full of flyers, contacts and signed books (don’t tell my husband I bought books, ssshh!) and I am already looking forward to the next festival or writerly event. They are by far the best places to go to chat books and be inspired. I shall be putting pen to paper this very night and making the most of the renewed enthusiasm I feel. Beaconlit, I salute you. Beam me up, Scotty.

Rachel is currently working on a new novel and still submits regularly to magazines and competitions. You can purchase her novel here or alternatively contact her via social media (see below).

Rachel Dove on Social Media:
Amazon Author Page

Eva Jordan in conversation with… Steven Hayward

It is my very great pleasure to introduce the wonderful Steven Hayward as guest author on my blog today. Steven is the author of the crime thriller Mickey Take:

In this complex criminal web, Mickey doesn’t know who to protect and who to fear. But with even those closest to him seemingly involved, who can he trust? A hapless pawn in a bigger game that’s playing out between local crime lords, all he knows is whatever happens, he’s not going back into that bloody chamber…

Mickey Take is Steven’s debut novel. His latest book Jammed Up: a Debt Goes Bad is a novella that is both a prequel and an introduction to Mickey Take and if you sign up to Steven’s newsletter (see below) you can actually obtain the ebook version for free! Now, read on for a fascinating insight into the research behind Steven’s writing.

Anatomy of a Rudeboy

A few years ago, not long after leaving the security of a structured job and a regular income in banking, I almost fell into the trap faced by many debut novelists when I started writing Mickey Take: When a debt goes bad… In the opening scenes of the first draft, Michael Field introduces himself as an ex-banker looking for a new direction. Several re-writes later he was to become the impetuous but slightly vulnerable Mickey, who, having kicked out his wife for cheating on him, stormed out of his job the very next day under dubious circumstances only to be lured back into the murky world of revenge and murder he’d barely escaped in his youth. So, thankfully, no other similarities there, then!

Having decided last year to develop the original novel into the Debt Goes Bad series, I wanted my latest book, Jammed Up: a Debt Goes Bad novella to act as both a prequel and an introduction to Mickey Take. Having set it a few years before, but against the same backdrop of feuding gangsters and police corruption, I needed a new central character who, much like Mickey, was likeable with a good heart, but was easily led and, through the circumstances of a misdirected youth, almost fatally flawed.


I only had to look a few miles west of where I live, to Croydon in South London, to discover a sub-culture emerging at the turn of the millennium that was (and likely still is) an underclass of youth, largely ignored by the media and, at best, misunderstood by most. Under-privileged teenagers, often from broken families and frequently of mixed race, perhaps in search of an identity, are drawn together by a common interest in a specific genre of music, and a love of American branded sportswear.

Enter the Croydon Rudeboy, with a cocky swagger, his back-to-front baseball cap doffed in homage to the gangster rap scene of the USA — but without the guns and the bling! Instead, a Rudeboy has to improvise to impress, wearing his flamboyant trainers (“creps”), with only the rungs of the laces visible beneath the oversized tongues thrust forwards like peacocks’ tails by the balled-up socks wedged behind them. And a Rudeboy is never without his hoodie in a brand to match his trainers: it has to be Nike.

He grew up in a deprived South London suburb — the self-styled “Jam” hails from the Thornton Heath (“Fornton Heaf”) area of Croydon. And he attended, sporadically, failing schools — Jam went to Ingram High, which years before had been a respected grammar school, but was later shut down for being one of the worst-performing state schools of the mid-1990s. For a Rudeboy, school was an unwelcome intrusion into the fun and meaning of daily life. It was “long” (boring) and “dry” (irrelevant) and engendered high levels of illiteracy and disaffection. However, don’t underestimate his intelligence. With a high IQ in street smarts, he is nobody’s fool. Likely to be the son of a white mother and an absent black father, he’s an outsider who, rather than rebel as a means of trying to fit in, effectively conspires to create an exclusive sub-culture with the primary purpose of keeping everyone else out.

The music scene is all about UK Garage (“garrij”), centring on MC rappers, like duo DJ Luck and MC Neat; DJ EZ (“easy”), N’n’G, The Artful Dodger and Craig David. On the radio, the Rudeboy listens to Kiss FM where DJs Tuff Enough Brown and Jam Lamont (aka. Tuff Jam) send out “big-ups” to the listeners’ crews: “Dis is goin’ out to ma man Jam in da Fornton Heaf Massif!” Between 1997 and 2001, the South London pirate underground radio station, Upfront FM pumps out UK garage, and when on the move, beneath his hoodie, the Rudeboy always has on his Walkman earphones.

“Grounded in the youth subculture of Lonjam, theirs was an intimidating mongrel of South London and Jamaican parentage; a patois rich with biting satire and linguistic inventiveness that continuously evolved.”

In addition to the music and the clothes, the Rudeboy is perhaps best characterised by his London Jamaican dialect. In the company of elders and non-hostile strangers, he tends to be polite and reticent, and unlikely to use excessive “LonJam”. When Jam first appears in the opening scene in Chapter 1 of Jammed Up, he’s with his new boss, a white man he would respectfully refer to as “cuz”. In contrast, he calls a fellow-Rudeboy “bruv”, or simply “rudeboy”. But even then, the older man is easily confused by some of his words and phrases as Jam describes a father-less upbringing of intimidation and violence, and the need to grow up fast and to quickly learn to defend himself. Later, when he speaks to his friend, a man-child he calls “Jabba”, the dialogue between them is unconstrained.

“Several years of living north of the river had dulled their edge and back home, they would now have been considered outsiders. But whenever the young men came together, they reverted to the Croydon Rudeboy personas of their teenage years.

‘It was mental, bruv,’ Jam said. ‘I’m meant to keep it on da d-low. Dat place is proper bait.’

‘Wh’appen, bruv?’ Although a couple of years older, Jabba spoke with the eager curiosity of a child, symptomatic of the mild cerebral palsy he’d suffered at birth. Their friendship was such that Jam no longer noticed.

‘Oh my days, blood,’ Jam said, ‘It’s a big-arse grimy house, all mash up wiv two room from breeze block.’”

Another characteristic is the casual use of drugs, particularly the smoking of marijuana. “Bunnin'” would be a regular activity. And so would “graffin” – as teenagers, Jam and Jabba would have been the scourge of the south London railway network as they left their tags emblazoned in graffiti across trains in the overnight sidings at Norwood Junction. Elsewhere, nightlife would include The Blue Orchid opposite The Fairfield Halls in central Croydon or, before the Tramlink was built in 2000, teenagers too young to make it past the bouncers there, along with the ones barred entry for wearing their creps, would frequent “the dive” that was Club Vision in Church Street.

One quality a Rudeboy nurtures on the street is the loyalty he retains towards one of his own. Unlike Mickey, when Jam is offered a questionable job by small-time gangster, Herbert Long, he jumps in with both feet. But for him, the challenge becomes almost too great when he can’t help involving his vulnerable friend…

“‘Okay… so I go dere, watch wh’appen, den what?’

‘Just do the job and I’ll be back in touch. And don’t bother saving any of the phone numbers – you won’t be able to ring or text me back. So, are you in or not?’

‘Yeah man.’

‘Good lad. One last thing.’


‘If you tell a living soul about this… or if you do anything stupid tomorrow, like being seen or worse still, getting caught… I’m not going to be able to guarantee your safety, understand?’

‘For real,’ Jam said slowly, his heart beginning to race. He’d chat it over with the punch bag first and look out for the text later. He pressed the red button on his Nokia 8210 and dropped it in his bag. Grabbing his Walkman on the way out of the room, he slipped quietly down the stairs and out the front door. He pulled up the hood on his new Nike top, and with N’n’G playing in his ears, jumped back on the tube to Bethnal Green, where he walked the rest of the way to the Boys’ Club on Cheshire Street.

On the phone, later that evening:

‘Jabba… ’s’Jam. Come to ma yard, now yeah.’”


My greatest fear as an author writing Jammed Up, was that the extensive use of dialect in the main character’s speech may alienate some readers. My hope is that there is enough context in which to follow the gist of Jam’s dialogue even when his words may not be familiar. I’m glad to say, since Jammed Up was published on 26th May, readers seem to be taking to him and enjoying his cheeky patois. But for those who may be struggling, here is a Rudeboy’s thesaurus* of common words and phrases:

Vocabulary of a Rudeboy

bait committing a misdemeanour, or danger/threat
balls it to hide drugs down boxer shorts
bang/merk have sex
bang up/bus’ up beat up or beaten up
bare lots of/excessive, or really
belly up laugh uncontrollably
big up embellish or applaud
skin up/billin’ up roll/-ing a joint
blatantly obviously/definitely
blood/bredder/bredrin/bruv friend/fellow rudeboy
blow job shiner
bruck up break or broken
bunnin’/bun smoking/weed, hash, grass, skunk
buff/fine/fit/tic pretty
butters ugly
buzzed/buzzin’/lean stoned
chirps/chirpsin’ chat/-ing up
creps trainers
crusty/dry/dusty/long boring, irrelevant, of no meaning or appeal
cuz a white friend or older person
dappy daft/silly
deep (“dat’s deep, man”) bad/serious
feds police
fraff nonsense talk
for real yes exactly/that’s true
frontin’ challenging/confronting
graffin’ spraying graffiti
heavy/hectic good
hood up feeling uncomfortable on the street
jack/jacked rob/robbed
keep it on da d-low keep a secret
lau dat/lau it leave it/let it go/don’t make a fuss
liber’ies taking liberties
likkle little/small
mash up destroy/destroyed
massif crew/gang
merk/shank stab
oh my days!/gosh!/life! oh my God!
on ma jays alone/on my own
our ends our area/patch/manor
proper really/exceptionally
pull a whitey get sick from too much weed
rudeboy friend
screwin’ angry
spark/tump hit/punch
tag/taggin’ graffiti signature/spraying to mark territory
touch a stroke of luck
trus’ believe me/trust me
uh-uh you know! the cheek of it!
vexed stressed
(ma) yard (my) house/place
yes-yes pleasant greeting
yoot unknown/rival young male
yer get me precisely/exactly/I agree
you know dat tell me about it/I hear you
zoot spliff/joint


* With my acknowledgement and thanks to Annabel, Roxanne and Jacqueline Andrews for providing many of the linguistic and cultural references that brought Jam and Jabba to life.

If you’d like to read more, Jammed Up: a Debt Goes Bad novella is available as an e-book from Amazon, Kobo and Nook, with a paperback edition due out later in the year.

Subscribers to the Followers of Fiction newsletter can obtain the ebook for free here.

Steven Hayward on social media:



Eva Jordan in conversation with… Lisa Hall

Today I’m very pleased to introduce the wonderful Lisa Hall as guest author on my blog. Lisa is the author of the very successful psychological thriller Between Me and You. Lisa’s next novel Tell Me No Lies is due for release in October this year and currently available to pre-order on Amazon. Lisa loves words, reading and everything there is to love about books. She dreamed of being a writer since she was a little girl – either that or a librarian – and after years of talking about it, was finally brave enough to put pen to paper (and let people actually read it).

They say every marriage has its secrets.
But no one sees what happens behind closed doors.
And sometimes those doors should never be opened…

Sal and Charlie are married. They love each other. But they aren’t happy. Sal cannot leave, no matter what Charlie does – no matter how much it hurts.

Between Me and You

It was supposed to be a fresh start.
A chance to forget the past and embrace the future.
But can you ever really start again?
Or does the past follow you wherever you go…

Tell Me No Lies



  1. The real work starts AFTER publication.

So, you’ve finished your manuscript, edited, polished and honed it to perfection before submitting to your agent/publisher (depending on how you’re going to do this.) Then, hurrah! Somebody wants to publish it! This is excellent news – but this also signifies the beginning of the real hard work. When writing Between You and Me I never gave a thought to what would happen if someone did decide it was good enough to publish – what actually happened (after the celebratory champagne) was months and months of re-writing and editing, slashing out huge chunks of the original manuscript and replacing it with stuff that I’d never even thought of when writing the original draft. Add in to that the constant promotion, tweeting and events that need to be attended, along with the next book that needs to be written and you’ll soon find it is far less exhausting to be unpublished. I may sound like I’m moaning, but I absolutely am NOT – I’m exhausted, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

  1. Not everyone will be happy for you.

Don’t get me wrong, the majority of people have been extremely happy for me – I don’t think you can get a prouder Dad than mine right now – but there will always be some that are less pleased. There will always be one person who will respond to your, “I got a book deal!” with, “That’s great. So yeah, my life is pretty shit right now…” There will always be someone who will congratulate you on your book hitting the Top 100, Top 10, Top whatever with gritted teeth. But you know what? Don’t let them rain on your parade – you got a BOOK DEAL, and that is pretty bloody amazing.

  1. Your editor is your best friend. Ditto, your agent.

I love my agent. She is just utterly fantastic, and I really don’t know what I would do without her. She holds my hand when I’m freaking out, battles her way through the minefield that is a publishing contract while I cower in the corner, whimpering, “but I don’t understand!’  and generally fights my corner. In addition to this, she makes me laugh til my belly hurts and makes me read books that I would never normally have thought to pick up. She is a legend.

Equally, I love my editor. It’s always hard to get your manuscript back with bits telling you what works and what doesn’t, but remember, the chances are your editor knows best. And if, in your gut, you don’t agree with their changes you should always be able to tell them so. My editor is fantastic – she tells me when I’m rubbish, but equally tells me when I’ve been brilliant. Chances are you’ll want a long, working relationship with your editor and your agent, so it’s best to have the kind of relationship where the admiration is mutual. (I love you guys!)

  1. One star reviews are not the be all and end all

So, my first one-star review was like a dagger to the heart. How could they say these things about something I’d put my heart and soul into?  Then I delved a little deeper into the reviewer’s profile (we all look, anyone who says they don’t is a liar!) – and it turned out that this reviewer had only reviewed books that they hated. All their reviews had one star. I figured that said a lot more about the reviewer than it did about my work. I stopped reading ANY reviews, and I figure that if someone wants to let me know how much they loved/hated Between You and Me, then they’ll tag me in their review, or contact me directly. No more daggers to the heart and I still get to feel the love.

  1. I didn’t realise how important writing is to me.

Yes, I always loved writing. Yes, I always wanted to be a writer. But life got in the way. I got married, had a family, held down a full-time job, but until I decided to take the plunge I never realised that writing would become as important to me as the air I breathe. Those of you that have always known it – I envy you. I’ve only just discovered that a rough day can be made easier by writing, that ideas and plots that swirl around in my brain stopping me from sleeping will settle if I just write them down. If you love to write, DO IT. Make the time. I’m still a novice, still on a steep learning curve, but I’ll tell you one thing – I’ll never look back.

unnamed Lisa Hall on social media:

Purchase Between Me and You from Amazon here or pre-order Tell Me No Lies here

Eva Jordan in conversation with… Christie Barlow

I’m really pleased to have the lovely Christie Barlow as guest author on my blog today. Christie is the author of three novels, namely, A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother and her current novel, Kitty’s Countryside Dream.

I had hoped that by the time this post went live I could proudly say I had actually met Christie in the flesh, so to speak, as I was due to meet her, along with many others, at a Blogger – Author meet up in London on Saturday. Sadly it wasn’t meant to be. With my train ticket booked I set off from home reasonably early with no reason to doubt I would reach my destination on time. How wrong was I! I won’t bore you all with the details as I know you are dying to read Christie’s post but needless to say, thanks to engineering works combined with football and rugby matches taking place in London on the said same day – my usual one hour trip to London actually took five hours and I missed the meet.

Oh well – I hope I get the opportunity to meet Christie at the next meet. In the meantime read how Christie, in a bid to prove to her children that you can achieve anything you set your mind to, became a successful published author.


Sometimes I wake up in the morning, open my eyes and think, ‘Is this real?’ But then I hear one of the kids shout, ‘Where’s my uniform, mum? Mum, can you check my spellings? Has someone let the dog out?’

Okay, my four kids, my mad cocker-spaniel Woody, the chickens, the horses and even my husband can jolt me back to reality pretty quickly but at the end of the day, it’s these characters in my real-life that got me writing in the first place.

One day, after I’d turned 40, my children were asking me what did I want to do? I found myself answering, ‘I’ve always wanted to write a book.’ I had spent years dedicating my life to being a full-time mum, and piano teacher, but now the kids were getting older, there perhaps was something more I could do for me. After making this bold statement, I thought I better try and see it through – and show my kids that you CAN achieve anything you set your mind to.

What to write about came to me pretty easily, as I was always fascinated with the dynamics around the primary school gates with mothers and playground politics. Of course, all my writing was fiction with a huge heaping of one-liners. After self-publishing A Year in the Life of a Playground Mother, I was amazed to see it rocketing up the Amazon charts reaching no 1 in its category and no 11 for Kindle downloads. The reviews were amazing, calling it ‘witty’ and ‘laugh-out-loud funny’. Before I knew it, my wacky village characters were appearing on the page in a sequel, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother.

This is when my life really took a parallel course with reality. One morning after the school run, I came home to find an email from literary agent Madeleine Milburn – I had just finished writing Misadventures, intending to self-publish again, when Ping! I not only had an agent but within a few weeks, I had a publishing deal with the fabulous Bookouture.

My third novel, Kitty’s Countryside Dream has just been released. It introduces a new set of characters centred on love and genuine friendship, with a few chickens added into the mix. And, I’m working on a completely different novel that’s due to come out in September.

It’s been an amazing experience – especially since signing with my agent and Bookouture. I’m attending events and meeting many authors whom I’ve admired for years. Through my social media presence, I was approached by the Zuri Project, a charity that supports development and community well-being in Uganda, working with the team to make a difference.

But, I have to say, my kids keep me grounded! I had an opportunity to take my two youngest to meet David Walliams at a book signing in Birmingham recently. I joked to them that I might tell David I kept him off the top spot for a few days. Their reply, ‘Mum, you can’t steal his thunder, this is his day, let him enjoy it!’ Okay kids, you’re right – but I still took the opportunity to take a photo of my book next to his in a Waterstones’ bookshop!

Now I’m about to pop my head on the pillow after a crazy day of writing and responding to reviews on Kitty and I think to myself, ‘Is this real?’

Luckily for me, the answer is yes.

Warm wishes,

Christie xx


You can purchase Christie’s latest novel, Kitty’s Countryside Dream here.

Christie loves to hear from her readers and you can get in touch via social media:

Eva Jordan in conversation with… Tara Lyons

In the shadows

I’m very pleased to have the lovely Tara Lyons as guest author on my blog today. Although we haven’t met (in the flesh so to speak) yet, I’m very pleased to call Tara a friend. Tara is the author of the crime thriller In The Shadows, and although only released in March this year, Tara’s debut novel has already received many brilliant reviews.

Detective Inspector Denis Hamilton is tasked with apprehending a brutal murderer stalking the streets of London—and leaving not a shred of DNA evidence. As the suspect list mounts, his frustration and pressure from his superiors intensify. Grace Murphy, who is dealing with the recent loss of her beloved grandfather, falls deeper into despair when her friends’ bodies are discovered. Fearing she may be the killer’s next target, she begins to question if her horrifying nightmares are the key to unravelling the murderer’s identity. How far would you go to uncover the truth? Would you venture into the shadows to unmask a killer?

Here Tara talks about her life and experiences since becoming a published author and how dreams really can come true.

Dreams can come true

It’s impossible to read that line without wanting to break out into song isn’t it – Gabrielle style, of course – so I apologise now if it’s stuck in your head for the rest of the day. I’m also sorry if it makes me sound like a cliché – but it’s true; dreams can come true. It’s happened for me, and if someone would have told me this is where I would end up, I wouldn’t have believed a word of it. So what’s not to say your dreams can’t come true too.

My whirlwind year

I won’t bore you all again with tales of my writing journey so far – I feel like that’s all I did for the first half of this year – but I will reiterate what an amazing year I’ve had.

We’re just a few weeks away from my 31st birthday (happy to receive chocolates and wine), and it’s that which has prompted the self-reflective mood. It will mark the year anniversary to when my writing career began, and it’s changed my life remarkable.

In that short space of time, I have collaborated with a fabulous author, M.A Comley – her series of books I devoured and enjoyed long before our writing partnership began. It still feels unbelievable at times. Together, we have written a novella (some parts of the story are based on true events) and are about to launch a new crime series. The Caller is the first book in the series which follows an Organised Crime Team seeking justice on the streets of London. I published my solo crime/thriller debut, In the Shadows in March and I’m pleased to say it’s doing really well. I’ve received some amazing five-star reviews on iBooks (Eek! Wow! I’m on iTunes!!) and it’s inching towards 100 reviews on Amazon UK. I’m overwhelmed.

The Caller

The network of people I connect with has blown wide open. On a daily basis, I speak to avid readers, crazy book lovers, bloggers and fellow authors. I’ve attended events such as author/blogger meet-ups, a Q&A with Jojo Moyes, book club birthday parties (which have been attended by some very fun and inspirational people) and I’ve just booked tickets to attend Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Festival in Harrogate this June. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about all these new opportunities.

I’ve made new friends, new contacts and have been welcomed into new social circles. It’s truly been an amazing year. I think if I tried to name all the influential people in this post you finger would ache from the constantly scrolling. But, I do thank each and every reviewer, buyer, blogger, friend, book club and fellow reader/writer who has made this past year one hell of a ride. I hope the next one is as successful.

I can do it, so can you

So, I’ll just leave you with this thought: Are you following your dreams? I’m no one special, a working-class girl who has never had much in terms of material things but am lucky to have a supportive family and dear friends. They pushed me to live my dream. If you don’t have that network, there is an amazing online community that can help you – just reach out. It’s easier to find excuses not to do the thing you love, but then, you only get one shot at this life, so live it doing something you enjoy.

Huge thank you to Eva for welcoming me onto her blog today. Eva is one of the lovely friends I’ve met online and I hope to meet her in person one day. I had the pleasure of reading her debut, 183 Times a Year – a book completely out of my usual reading genre – and I loved it. If you haven’t read it yet, get reading!

I love chatting online, so please feel free to get in touch.

Tara Lyons on Social Media:
Amazon Author Page