Eva Jordan in conversation with #author @taralyonsauthor @bloodhoundbook #authorinterviews #Writer #Writerslife

My book review this month is the fabulous Written In The Stars which, released on 17th October, is a charity Christmas anthology and the brainchild of the very lovely Tara Lyons. Here, Tara talks to me about writing, her work in publishing as an editorial and production manager and the inspiration behind this brilliant collection of stories (including a short contribution by yours truly), explaining why she felt compelled to do it and why it’s so very dear to her heart.

Welcome, Tara. Can you start by telling everyone a bit about yourself?

Hi Eva, thanks for having me! I’m the author of the Detective Inspector Hamilton series and standalone suspense novel The Paramedic’s Daughter, as well as a few short stories. I’m the editorial and production manager at Bloodhound Books and have worked with the awesome team (including being published by them) for six years. I live in Hertfordshire with my son, Leo, my significant other, Daniel and our crazy cat Loki.

Did you always want to be a writer, and if so, what writers inspired you?

I wanted to be a writer from a very young age, and I was always jotting down little stories in a notebook, which I’d then wrap up and give to my mum for birthday or Christmas presents (sorry, Mum). I wrote my first article for my university magazine and went on to work for John Lewis on their in-house magazine for eight years. When my grandad passed away in 2015, my grief compelled me to start writing fictional stories as I found it very therapeutic. Life has always inspired me to write: watching the news, hearing people’s reactions to situations and that age-old question, what if? Since losing my daughter, Sofia, in 2020 I haven’t written anything new. It’s not so much about being uninspired, but more that my head isn’t in the game.

What is an editorial and production manager?

So, I’m not an editor or TV producer (as one person I met thought). My role at Bloodhound Books means I’m on the journey with every book we publish once the book deal has been approved. I liaise between the author, editor and proofreader to ensure the manuscript is where it needs to be, offering support to all those key players throughout the editorial process. Once we’ve signed it off, I then produce the final files; this includes creating and formatting the eBook and paperback files. I’ve made it sound quite simple here, but there’s a huge amount of work that goes into creating a book from its submission, and it’s a team effort.

Can you tell everyone what the inspiration behind Written In The Stars is and why you have chosen Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) and The Butterfly AVM charity as beneficiaries?

On what would have been Sofia’s third birthday, I wanted to turn my pain and sadness into something that could help other children and families. I approached Betsy at Bloodhound Books with my idea of a charity anthology to raise awareness of a life-threatening illness and charities that help children by raising money for families and research, and she gave me the green light. I just want to thank her, and the entire team, who have gone above and beyond to get my little idea off the ground: editing and proofreading the stories and shouting about it from the rooftops. We had an overwhelming number of short stories sent in, so a special thank you to all the authors who submitted; it wasn’t easy to choose. Both these charities are close to my heart. Sofia spent five days at GOSH before we had to say goodbye to her. Although it was during lockdown, the staff were amazing and showed Sofia so much love and care. They also helped us make hand and foot cast imprints with Sofia. I knew nothing about AVMs (arteriovenous malformation) before April 2020. I have since learnt loads, as you can imagine, and through this research I found The Butterfly AVM. They are the first UK charity to focus on raising money to fund research into AVMs and supporting families. Sofia passed away from a brain AVM, which we found out she would have been born with. However, she had no signs or symptoms and therefore it was a huge shock to us all. If Written in the Stars can help raise awareness and support other families in Sofia’s memory, it will mean the world to me.

Sofia with big brother Leo
Sofia with big brother Leo

And finally, for anyone thinking of becoming a writer, what advice can you offer?

There are so many great one-liners out there about writing and editing and dealing with rejection (I read that Harry Potter received 12 rejections), but one nugget I was given very early, and therefore always pass on, is: Don’t get it right, get it written. Writers are gods of procrastination and can be guilty of fiddling with the same opening line or paragraph for days because they want to get it just right. But that takes away from precious creative time. Just write your story, as raw as it comes to you. If you hit a stumbling block mid-chapter, write yourself a little note to come back to that bit and carry on. Once you have the full bare bones of your story, you can go back and edit, edit, edit. Good luck!

Thanks for being such a fab guest, Tara. We wish you every success with this wonderful anthology.

Click here to preorder your copy of this wonderful collection of stories which at the moment is only 99p!

#Bookreview Written In The Stars: A #Charity #Christmas #Anthology published by @bloodhoundbooks

“Perhaps they are not stars in the sky, but rather openings where our loved ones shine down to let us know they are happy.”—Eskimo Legend.

Written In The Stars is a charity anthology of Christmas themed short stories and the brainchild of friend and fellow author Tara Lyons. Sadly, Tara lost her beautiful daughter Sofia in 2020. In 2021, on what would have been Sofia’s third birthday, Tara, in a bid to turn her pain and sadness into something positive, came up with the idea of a festive anthology with all the net profits going to charity, which you can read about in my interview with Tara.

With a surprise bonus story, this delightful compendium includes twenty-three stories by twenty-three different authors and is divided into three parts: ‘A Christmas Crime’ – including the criminally twisted humour of bestselling author CJ Stone. ‘Holly Jolly Christmas’ – which includes a contemporary festive feel-good romance by former journalist Natasha Boydell. And last but not least, ‘It’s A Christmas Miracle’ (including a contribution by yours truly) – featuring, among many other brilliant writers, the haunting tale of a mother’s love by Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author Angela Marsons. So, whatever your reading taste, there really is something for everyone in this wonderful collection of stories.   

Released on 17th October, if you only buy one festive themed book this year, make sure it’s Written In The Stars. Whether it’s a gift for yourself or the booklovers in your life, not only will it serve as the perfect reading companion in the run up to, and during the Christmas holidays, but all the net profits go to two very worthwhile charities. Which means, that while this festive gem is getting you into the Christmas spirit, every copy bought will also help or enhance the lives of others, which, I’m sure you’d agree, is the epitome of the true meaning of Christmas.

Click here to order your ebook copy (currently only 99p) or you can buy it as a paperback from 17th October.

And look out for my interview with Tara, which I’ll post in the next few days,

Book Review – Coming Home by @pbadixon published by @bloodhoundbook

“The family is one of nature’s masterpieces.”–George Santayana

I absolutely adored this book. Set in the present day with flashbacks to the past, Coming Home is a beautifully written festive family drama full of secrets and lies, intrigue and deceit, but above all else, love and hope. The story opens on Christmas Eve 1969, where we meet six-year-old Carmen Appleton.

“A child is seated at the kitchen table, that’s me. My mother, Sylvia, with her blonde beehive and candy-pink lipstick is opposite. She’s beautiful… A sound distracts me… Dad. He’s home… my wonderful most perfect dad… All I have to do is close my eyes and go to sleep and it will be Christmas morning, the Christmas it should have been before the knock on the door that ruin[ed] everything.”

Fast-forward to the present day, 2021, and we meet Carmen as she is now, a mother, grandmother, and successful businesswoman and owner of Appleton Farm. Christmas is always a bittersweet time for Carmen, not least because of that fateful night during her childhood, but she loves her family and has always done her best to make it a special time. This year, though, everyone is coming home for Christmas and Carmen is determined to make it the best one ever, plus, she has an announcement to make, a secret to share. However, little does Carmen know, her three adult daughters, Rosina, Violetta, and Leonora, are all harbouring their own secrets. Secrets that are weighing them down but are too afraid to share for fear of ruining their beloved mother’s merry plans.

The characters of this festive tale are well-rounded, wonderfully human individuals with Granny Sylvia, in particular, providing some delightful moments of comic relief. Written with humour, pathos, and depth, Coming Home has all the ‘feels’ of a typical Christmas story with all the ‘chills’ of a compelling family drama.

A well deserved 5 stars from me!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

To grab your copy of this wonderful festive read click here

Silver Bells and Reindeer: A Short (very short!) Story for Christmas by Eva Jordan

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay 

Lauren stared at the crackling fire, comforted by the rhythmic rise and fall of its amber flames. She sighed. Jamie was upstairs cleaning his teeth and Matt was outside securing the horses for the night. Christmas was less than a week away and Jamie had been asking questions. Said the kids at school had been saying things about Santa, questioning his existence. Concerned, Lauren and Matt had talked. Matt suggested it was time to come clean. Lauren agreed. However, watching her son, who had now swooped into the living room, dressing gown flapping behind him like Superman’s cape, she wasn’t so sure; felt overcome with sadness. Thorax tightening, she swallowed the plumb now lodged in her throat and smiled. Jamie grinned back, pointing to her mobile, now busily buzzing on the coffee table.        

            ‘It’s Dad,’ he said, picking it up and passing it to her, Matt’s cheery smile filling the screen.

            ‘Hey,’ said Lauren, putting the phone to her ear. ‘Everything OK?’

            Matt sounded concerned, explained how; about to lock up for the night, he’d come across a small deer.

            ‘He’s injured,’ Matt continued. ‘So I could do with your help to get him inside. He’ll freeze out here, otherwise.’

            Lauren and Jamie shrugged on their coats and raced outside to help. Next to the stable door appeared to be a small deer with a broken leg. Trembling, it stared at them through huge frightened eyes; kept making a strange bleating noise every time Matt tried to approach it.

            ‘Here, let me,’ said Lauren. Jamie watched in awe as his mother got down on her hands and knees and crawled towards the little deer until, eventually, it allowed her to stroke him. ‘There, there,’ she whispered. ‘We only want to help.’

            Between the three of them they carefully carried him into the stable and made him comfy for the night. The following day the vet visited, said the deer’s leg was sprained, but not broken. She strapped it up and under her guidance, Matt, Lauren and Jamie nursed the little deer back to health. Jamie loved looking after him, and the little deer loved letting him. Plus, the only time Santa was mentioned again was when Jamie pointed to a shiny silver bell hanging from a collar around the deer’s neck, saying, ‘I think he belongs to Santa.’

            On Christmas Eve it was time to set the little deer free. Jamie knew it was the right thing to do, but still, it wasn’t easy. However, wiping his tears with one hand and waving with the other, Jamie watched how, with one last glance back, his friend disappeared into the woods behind their house.

            On Christmas Day, stuffed from eating Christmas dinner, huddled on the sofa next to the twinkling Christmas tree, Lauren and Matt asked their son what his favourite gift was.

            ‘The silver bell at the bottom of my stocking,’ he replied, without hesitation.

            ‘That was so sweet of you to do that,’ Lauren whispered to Matt.

            Matt frowned. ‘Wasn’t me… I thought you’d put it there.’

©Eva Jordan

Merry Christmas everyone! X

Book Review –The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse by @charliemackesy published by @EburyPublishing

“Sometimes,” said the horse.

“Sometimes what?” asked the boy

“Sometimes just getting up and carrying on is brave and magnificent.”

Well folks, we’re well into December. The final month of what can only be described as an interesting year! However, before we say goodbye and good riddance to 2020 let’s not forget, for those of us that celebrate it, Christmas is fast approaching. Therefore, this month, unlike previous years when I’ve read and reviewed some very lovely Christmas themed stories, I thought I’d take a look at something different. Something simple yet poignant, and something that, if you’re looking for gift ideas for the book lovers in your life––whatever the age of the recipient––might just be the perfect solution because, unlike most books, this one is both ageless and timeless.

As the title suggests, this beautifully illustrated hardback is a tale about a boy, a mole, a fox and a horse, with the author and artist being one and the same. For younger readers it’s easy to follow the journey of these four very different friends, sometimes across great mountainous landscapes or beneath vast star-studded skies. While at other times they venture into the darkness, or attempt to navigate the clouds, and at others still, the focus is on the simple joy of eating cake. For older readers, however, I see this more as a collection of unassuming, yet inspiring quotes. Especially during moments of uncertainty and self-doubt, particularly during these troubled and ambiguous times, reminding us that, no matter how dire or dark things might seem, when observed through the eyes of The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse, we know there is always love, hope, and friendship.

Five Big Stars from me!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Merry Christmas everyone, and remember, “Being kind to yourself is one of the greatest kindnesses”.