Eva Jordan in conversation with retired nurse and author Joy M. Lilley

Eva in conversation with Joy

 

Today on my blog I’m very pleased to welcome the lovely Joy M. Lilley, author and former nurse.

 

Hi Joy, thanks for chatting with me today. Can you tell everyone a little bit about yourself? I understand you’re a retired nurse?

 Hello Eva, yes, I worked in the NHS for a long time. My nursing years were wonderful. I enjoyed every minute. Caring for others gave me much satisfaction. And I made some wonderful life-long friends.

Taking on three stepchildren along with one son of my own when I married, while working to train as a registered nurse was hard work. At that time I already had seventeen years under my belt nursing as a State Enrolled nurse. That training no longer exists. Looking back I wonder how I did it.

My nursing skills were required at home too. My husband was diagnosed with critical coronary heart disease aged 45. It was in 2008 I retired, when he needed his third major heart operation. Thereafter, I was able to get on with a goal I’d dreamt of for years, namely to write and publish my first novel.

I am a Grandmother of 6 and a great grandmother (gosh).

As well as writing, I also work as a voice over recording artist. I work mainly for the U.S. market, some European and the U.K. I have a British, mature voice and can manage most British accents and some others.

   

How long have you been writing? Did you always want to be a writer?

Seriously since 2008.And yes, I always hoped I’d end up writing novels.

 

What is the most difficult/frustrating part of being a nurse and how does it compare to the most difficult/frustrating part of being a writer? 

Interesting question. Nursing during the 60’s was hard slog compared with the modern era. Don’t get me wrong; nurses still have to work very hard, but there are a number of better systems in place now. We had to hand wash out the catheters of each prostatectomy every 30 minutes, with likely three patients having had the operation that day, along with 28 other patients to care for – it was exhausting. And wow betide any nurse who reneged on that duty as the patient could go into clot retention and need to return to theatre. There was only one trained nurse on night duty. Thankfully, that situation no longer exists as patients are now connected to a continuous infusion, releasing the nurses to cover all their other duties.

Perhaps not so much a comparison, but thinking through an appropriate, readable story to tell is frustrating to me, along with the discipline required to sit down and write.

 

And finally, what advice would you offer anyone thinking of becoming a nurse or a writer?

If you are thinking about becoming a nurse the most important skills you need are compassion, empathy and patience. Be prepared for much study and a whole lot of giving oneself to others. Five GCE’S are required before the colleges will accept a student. The rewards are immense and as a Registered General nurse you will need a degree under your belt.

As for becoming a writer, similarly you’ll need empathy with your characters. Much patience is required when the rewrites take over. As is the need to go over the script, time and time again. I would also say it’s imperative to get an editor. They are often able to see the ‘schoolboy howlers’ we don’t.

 

Thanks for chatting to me today, Joy. 

 

If you want to know more about Joy’s books you can read about them here

 

What Midlife Crisis?… A Guest Post by author @BevHarvey

Today on my blog I’m very pleased to introduce friend, fellow author and all round lovely lady, Beverley Harvey, whose debut novel Seeking Eden was published by Urbane Publications in 2017.

 

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Beverley’s second novel, Eden Interrupted, described by bestselling author Gina Kirkham as, “Entertaining and addictive, this story of life, love and intrigue in the suburbs is a delight!” is due for release this Thursday 6th June. Here, Beverley tells us a little about her new book and, as a woman of a certain age, shares her thoughts about one of the themes running through it––the midlife crisis!

 

But first, let’s take a look at the blurb for Eden Interrupted…

 

90s popstar Ben Wilde and his bride Lisa return from honeymoon to find a cuckoo in the nest and a surprise European tour in the diary.

Lisa befriends neighbour Rosemary, who is also home alone while husband Nigel travels for work. But will the women’s grim suspicions be confirmed, or does absence make the heart grow paranoid?

In the village, Eden Hill’s coffee shop is under new management with the arrival of divorced Mum, Chloe, and troubled teen son, Jake. But serving flat whites leaves Chloe feeling, well, flat until she meets Caleb, a widowed father of two; if only Jake and Caleb weren’t at loggerheads.

New to Eden Hill are Jan and Martin Bevan, but a frosty reception leaves them wondering if they’ve made a huge mistake.

From the writer of Seeking Eden, Eden Interrupted is another sizzling slice-of-life drama where paths and swords cross, and misunderstandings abound. Perfect for fans of Fiona Gibson and Marian Keyes.

 

Ooh, sounds intriguing! Now Bev, over to you…

 

What midlife crisis?

Have you seen my waistline anywhere? I seem to have lost it. Perhaps I left it in the same place as my eyelashes, my shiny hair and my self-confidence. Joking apart, if you’re a woman of a certain age, you might get where I’m coming from. Aging can be a tough call, as we adjust to different life stages.

Lisa Wilde (née Dixon), a leading protagonist in my new novel, Eden Interrupted (Urbane, from June 2019) finds herself ruminating on the passage of time. At forty-five, although she’s still fit and incredibly beautiful, Lisa realises that she’s no longer in the first flush of youth. These feelings are compounded when husband Ben, a come-back-king Rockstar, heads off to the bright lights of a European tour with his band. Lonely and bored, insecurity soon sets in; are Lisa’s fears justified, or does absence make the heart grow paranoid?

As with Seeking Eden, its predecessor, Eden Interrupted is set in home counties suburbia and takes a wry look at family life. In addition to Ben and Lisa’s marriage glitches, we meet Chloe, the soon-to-be-divorced Mum of a teenage boy, Jake; Martin and Jan, a couple who find themselves in early, unplanned retirement, and about to become grandparents for the first time; and Nigerian stay-at-home Mum, Rosemary, whose workaholic husband Nigel has a penchant for prostitutes.

It’s fair to say that both Eden books have a thread of mid-life crises running through them – although the pages are filled with characters of all ages – and even several cute dogs! But whether you drive an Aston Martin and live in “the posh gated bit” of Eden Hill like Ben, or pootle about in a Vauxhall and live in a modest house in Constance Close like Martin, you can’t outrun time.

For Lisa Wilde, the aging process adds up to some serious soul searching, some very embarrassing moments and finally some big changes.

Now where did I put my HRT patches?

 

Beverley Harvey

 

Thanks Bev, great post, and definitely one I can relate to! I wish you every success with your new novel.

Eden Interrupted will be available this Thursday 6th June 2019 but can be pre-ordered now here.

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To keep up with Beverley you can find her at the following places:

Twitter @BevHarvey_

Website www.beverleyharvey.co.uk

Life Is All About Timing… A Guest Post by author @KiltieJackson

 

Happy publication day to Kiltie Jackson!

An Incidental Lovestyle

My guest today is author Kiltie Jackson who is celebrating the release of her third novel, An Incidental LovestyleDon’t you just love that cover – I actually own and drive a Volkswagen Beetle (my favourite car), although mine is black all over.

A bit about the author…

Kiltie Jackson spent her childhood years growing up in Scotland. Most of these early years were spent in and around Glasgow but, for a short period of time, she also lived in the Highlands.

When she was old enough to do so, she moved to London where she had many interesting experiences and most of which are now finding their way into her writing.

Once she had wrung the last bit of fun out of the smokey capital, she moved up to the Midlands and now lives in Staffordshire with one grumpy husband and six cats.

Her little home is known as Moggy Towers even though, despite having plenty of moggies, there are no towers! The cats kindly allow her and Mr Mogs to share their home as long as the mortgage continues to be paid.

Kiltie loves reading, watching movies and visiting old castles. She really hates going to the gym!

Her biggest desire is to one day give up the slave job so she can dedicate herself to writing full-time.

 

Kiltie has written fascinating post all about the importance of timing, but first, let’s take a look at the blurb for An Incidental Lovestyle

It only takes one small incident to change your life…

Jenny Marshall is your stereotypical, middle-aged, spinster. She works in a library, has two cats and likes cake. She has her dreams but not the courage to chase them.

Jeff Rowland fell in love at first sight with Jenny four years ago but hasn’t seen her since. When they bump into each other again, he realises his feelings haven’t changed.

When Jenny’s car breaks down on a cold winter’s day, it sets off a chain of events which brings them together in a way neither could ever have imagined. Both, however, have dark secrets in their past which begin to seep into their present.

Will these secrets bring them closer together?

Or will they shatter their relationship beyond repair?

 

Doesn’t that sound fab! It’s definitely going onto my TBR pile. Now, let me hand you over to the lovely lady herself.

 

Life is all about Timing.

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So much in life comes down to timing; being in the right place at the right time or the wrong place at the wrong time. We’ve all heard the stories of people who were late to leave for work one day and missed being involved in accidents which, had they left on time, they’d have been caught up in. Or, the kind people who let a person jump the queue only for them to buy the winning lottery ticket. And, for a writer, timing can be everything.

In 2006, I had an idea for a novel. This was not unusual – I already had a few ‘book ideas’ jotted down although I’d never taken any further action on them. This particular idea, however, really took root and I proceeded to write the first seventeen chapters of ‘a book’! When I read them back, however, I decided they were a bit rubbish, and consigned them, and memory stick they were typed on, to the back of the junk drawer!

Fast forward eleven years and, upon reading the bio of another author who became a writer simply to prove to her children that you can achieve anything you put your mind to, I suddenly felt a frisson of excitement run through me and I knew that ‘now’ was the time to blow the dust off that old memory stick in the drawer and have another go.

When I re-read what I’d written, I realised I’d been too harsh and critical on my younger self – those early chapters had potential. Within three months, I’d completed my first draft. Here, however, timing was the key. In those eleven dormant years, social media had exploded and mobile phones had become mini, hand-held computers. This technological progress enabled me to create a better story which was more believable. A long-distance friendship is far more sustainable now than it was a decade ago, thanks to these developments and a long-distance friendship was the back-bone of my story. I finally released my debut novel, ‘A Rock ‘n’ Roll Lovestyle’ in September 2017.

Since then, I have gone on to write and release a further two books and timing also had a hand in those. In my second novel, ‘An Artisan Lovestyle’, the essence of the story is focused on two people who are throwing their lives away. They have so much going for them but they have shackled themselves to events in their past and cannot move on to better things. They are wasting their time on earth. Luckily, however, they have other-worldly guardians looking out for them and, through a series of events, they learn just how precious time really is. Part of me identifies greatly with this as I do regret the time I lost between beginning to write my first novel and finishing it. Those sands of time are now gone and can never be recovered.

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My latest novel, on the other hand, is a reflection of my opening paragraph. ‘An Incidental Lovestyle’ begins when Jenny Marshall’s car refuses to start on a cold winter’s day and she has to take the bus to visit her friend. If Brian, her less-than-trustworthy Volkswagen Beetle, had been up for the task in hand, Jenny’s life would have continued to trundle down the same old path it had trundled for the previous twenty years. Instead, what was initially considered to be appalling timing on the part of Brian, actually turned out to be a very big blessing in disguise.

These are examples of how time and timing is addressed within my books but a different kind of time also plays a part in helping them to be written. As a lady of older years, I find my sleeping patterns have become rather skew-whiff and it is not unusual for me to be lying wide-awake at four o’clock in the morning. Unfortunately, I tend to be far less awake at four o’clock in the afternoon – much to my employers dismay but that’s another story and we won’t go there! Anyway, back to the four in the morning slot – this is when I solve my book problems. I’ve had so many inspired ideas at this time of the day and a great many plot holes and plot problems have been resolved in a far more satisfactory manner than when I’ve been mulling them over during normal and acceptable ‘awake’ times. Examples of this include the book title for my second novel. I’d tried everything in my head and nothing was right. I knew my second novel was a follow on from the first book but at no point had it occurred to me to carry on with the ‘Lovestyle’ theme. That is, until I was wide awake at four am and it suddenly hit me that, if this was going to be a series, then why not tie it down with a distinctive series name! Et voilà, my problem was no longer a problem. This morning, yes, at 4 am, I was awake again. I’ve had an idea for some time for a future book in the Lovestyle series but I couldn’t figure out how I was going to ‘fit it in’ – thankfully, the old four o’clock magic was there to do what I needed it to do and I can now say there will, at this time, be nine books in this series. I think writing those will keep me out of mischief for some time to come.

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So, you see, timing really is everything, in every possible way and probably more so than we ever truly realise. Thank you for giving me some of your time by reading this and a thank you to Eva for giving me this time on her blog.

Kind regards,

Kiltie Jackson.

xx

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Thanks for being such a fabulous guest today Kiltie, I wish you every success with your new novel.

To Keep up with Kiltie, you can find her at the following places:

If you’d like to buy a copy of An Incidental Lovestyle you can purchase it at Amazon.co.uk here and Amazon.com here.

Eva Jordan in conversation with… Heidi Swain

Eva Jordan in conversation with Heidi Swain - Post Header

Last month you may remember I read and reviewed Heidi Swain’s lovely Christmas story, Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at The Christmas Fair, set in Wynbridge, a remote, fictional town in the Fens. So for my column in this month’s edition of The Fens it seemed very fitting to interview the author who sets most of her novels in the Fens.

Heidi, can you please tell our readers a bit about yourself? How long have you been writing and did you always want to be a writer?

Originally from the Fens, I have lived in East Anglia for most of my life. I have been a Norfolk resident for around 16 years now and can’t imagine living anywhere else. Yes, I always dreamt of being a writer and have the stack of notebooks dating back to the eighties to prove it! However, it took a long time to pluck up the courage to take my writing seriously. I’ve been ‘writing with purpose’ for over six years now and by next summer will have had six novels published in three years.

I really enjoyed Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair but I must admit it is the first of your novels I’ve read, mainly because I’m a writer myself and my reading time is limited. However, from what I can gather, most of your novels are set in the Fens, can you tell us why? What is it about the Fens that inspires you?

Yes, the fictitious town of Wynbridge is entirely my own creation but very much inspired by my childhood. My family have farmed the flat Fenland landscape for generations and even though I moved away in my early twenties, when I began looking for the perfect setting my thoughts travelled back to the dramatic skies and far off horizon. I find the no-frills, raw beauty of the Fens both soothing and uncomplicated.

And finally, for any would-be writers out there, before they put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, what one piece of advice would you offer them?

That’s simple – If you want to be a writer, write. If you put it off until you ‘have more time’ you’ll never put pen to paper. Stop procrastinating and make a start. You won’t regret it!

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Many thanks to Heidi for taking part in my Author Q&A and if you’d like some more information about the lovely lady herself, links to her are as follows:

Website
Twitter
Facebook
Amazon

 

Eva Jordan reviews… Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair by Heidi Swain

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Published by Simon & Schuster UK

I met author Heidi Swain earlier this year, albeit very briefly, at an author/blogger meet up. Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair is the first of Heidi’s novels I’ve read and like the lady herself, it is absolutely charming. Whether you’re looking for something jovially celebratory to read in the run-up to Christmas, or something to curl up to with a mince pie and glass of your favourite tipple over the holidays, I can thoroughly recommend this festive, feel-good tale. 

Set in the fictional Fenland town of Wynbridge (with its very own Market Place not unlike my own home town) this is the story of Anna, who, for reasons not at first obvious, isn’t particularly fond of Christmas. A bit of a nomad, she pulls out all the stops to make sure she works every Christmas, preferably in a position that will keep her both busy, and as far away from the holiday festivities as possible. Anna spots and applies for what appears to be the perfect occupation, as companion to Catherine Connolly, convalescing after an operation. Catherine, along with her husband Angus, is the owner of the somewhat isolated Wynthorpe Hall, situated on the outskirts of Wynbridge, a remote town in the Fens, which sounds ideal to Anna. “Hunkering down in the barren and frosty Fenland landscape, without so much as a carol singer in sight, would be a much appreciated soothing balm to my troubled soul and I mulled it over with relish”. Only, as is often the case with most things in life, things are not quite as they seem.

When the Connolly’s youngest son, Jamie, arrives home just before Christmas, after spending time abroad, he finds himself faced with some difficult decisions. Ones that will no doubt affect his future and that of Wynthorpe Hall. Disillusioned with the family home, can Anna help Jamie fall in love with it again, and, more importantly, can Jamie help Anna, after years of refusing to celebrate it, help her fall in love with Christmas again?

Easy to read, the story is well paced, and, as one who lives in the Fens, the setting feels heart-warmingly familiar. The characters are well rounded and believable, although it is the rather eccentric, not to mention slightly mischievous, Angus, who really captured my heart. Full of festive cheer, love, laughter and hope, Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at the Christmas Fair is a pure joy to read, providing some light relief and escapism from, what at times, feels like a very troubled world at the moment. Definitely one I’d recommend.

Love Is In The Air!

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Love Is In The Air!

Celebrated on 14th February each year, the cynics among us could be forgiven for viewing upcoming Valentine’s Day in its current incarnation as a colossal commercial venture seized upon by big businesses to drive huge sales.

Flowers – red roses are by far the most popular, with estimates of around 110 million sold 2-3 days leading up to February 14th.

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Chocolates – more than 35 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate will be sold.

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Jewellery – estimates suggest us Brits alone will spend 58 million on jewellery.

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Cards – then, of course, there are Valentines Cards where an estimated one billion will be sent worldwide making Valentine’s Day the second largest seasonal card-sending celebration after Christmas.

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However, the writer and romantic in me prefer to believe there is more to it than that. So, straight from the heart, and in the true spirit of love and romance, here are a few declarations of love taken from several famous love letters.

Zelda Fitzgerald to F Scott Fitzgerald

Darling – I love these velvet nights. I’ve never been able to decide … whether I love you most in the eternal classic half-lights where it blends with day or in the full religious fan-fare of mid-night or perhaps in the lux of noon.

Vita Sackville-West to Virginia Woolf

I am reduced to a thing that wants Virginia. I composed a beautiful letter to you in the sleepless nightmare hours of the night, and it has all gone: I just miss you, in a quite simple desperate human way.

Katherine Mansfield to John Middleton Murry

My darling,

Do not imagine, because you find these lines in your private book that I have been trespassing. You know I have not – and where else shall I leave a love letter? For I long to write you a love letter tonight. You are all about me – I seem to breathe you – hear you – feel you in me and of me … 

John Keats to Fanny Brawne

My love has made me selfish. I cannot exist without you — I am forgetful of everything but seeing you again — my Life seems to stop there — I see no further.

Johnny Cash to June Carter Cash

We get old and get used to each other. We think alike. We read each other’s minds. We know what the other one wants without asking. Sometimes we irritate each other a little bit. Maybe sometimes take each other for granted.

But once in a while, like today, I meditate on it and realize how lucky I am to share my life with the greatest woman I ever met.

Eva Jordan reviews… The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft

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Originally posted in The Fens – A FREE lifestyle magazine with the heart and soul of the Fens (for further information follow the link here), this is my review of The Christmas Promise by Sue Moorcroft, published by Avon.

‘Hats off to Ava Bliss.’ The Christmas Promise promises, and delivers, a lovely Christmassy read with a little more to boot. Curl up with your favourite hot drink, or better still – a glass of wine, and settle down to the ups and downs of Ava Blissham in this modern, romantic festive tale.

Ava Blissham, milliner by trade, is struggling to make ends meet with her fledgling, bespoke hat making business. Christmas is fast approaching and as an only child, with both parents now retired and living abroad, Ava isn’t particularly looking forward to the festive season. Luckily Ava has a couple of good friends and a night out with them sees her being introduced to a possible love interest. However, the path to true love never runs smoothly, especially when there is a vengeful ex-boyfriend on the scene. Throw a spotlight on the pros and cons of the ‘instant sharing’ world of today’s internet based society, add some cyber bullying and revenge porn, not to mention the dazzling world of celebrities, including Ruby, the savvy wife of a famous footballer, plus an interesting insight into the cut and thrust world of viral marketing campaigns, and The Christmas Promise makes for a very modern day romance.

Set between London and the fictional Cambridgeshire town of Middledip, the narrative flows at a steady pace as does the storyline. As well as the two main protagonists, Ava and Sam, the author also introduces some other lovely, well-rounded characters, and Wendy was, without a doubt, one of my favourites – her strength of character and eternal optimism, despite the dark cloud hanging over her, at times reminded me of my own lovely mum.

Clearly well researched, The Christmas Promise also provides a fascinating insight into the craft of hat making. Add to that a liberal sprinkling of festive good cheer, despite Ava’s obvious dislike for Christmas (she has her reasons), readers will not be disappointed with a tale about romantic love, of family love, of friendships, old and new, and most of all, hope. A modern-day cautionary tale gift wrapped in a traditional love story.

PS – if you’re lucky enough to have a current copy of The Fens (thanks to Sue and her lovely publisher) you can win a FREE signed copy of The Christmas Promise. Just turn to page 44 and follow the instructions. Good luck! 

Another Wonderful Book Review and Shed Loads of Heart!

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After a not so brilliant start to my day this morning I was more than chuffed and cheered up tremendously when I read this recent lovely review of 183 Times A Year by writer Beverley Harvey.

Thank you, Beverley!

Book Review: 183 Times a Year 

Eva Jordan’s debut novel 183 Times a Year is the story of beleaguered mum Lizzie and angst-ridden teenage daughter Cassie’s relationship and their chaotic ‘blended’ family.

Thanks to a first person narrative by Lizzie and Cassie alternately, we get both sides of the story. There is never any confusion about who’s talking as the two protagonists have their own distinct tone of voice.

A rich supporting cast of characters speeds the action along and the goodies and baddies are clearly flagged from the outset. Other family members add depth to Lizzie and Cassie’s characters (for instance, Cassie’s empathy for her cancer-suffering Nan rescues her from being a monster), then there are friends, boyfriends and a loathsome ex-husband to contend with; all vividly drawn and believable.

It’s a book of two halves; the first is brimming with laugh-out-loud comedy – mainly due to Cassie’s utterly selfish take on the world, and her frequent malapropisms. In the second half, the book takes on a darker tone, becoming less slapstick and more thought-provoking. You’ll get no plot spoilers from me – but a shocking twist changes the direction of this novel entirely, adding layers and depth.

The complex (and often toxic) mother-daughter relationship theme will resonate with women everywhere and you don’t have to be a parent to get it; if you are child-free, just think back to your own teenage tempest. Expect a roller coaster of emotions that includes tears, laughter, anger and indignation. Above all, this book has shed-loads of heart.

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You can read the original review here on Beverley’s website.

Eva Jordan in conversation with… Amanda James

Summer in Tintagel

It is my great pleasure to introduce the lovely Amanda James, fellow Urbane published author, as guest author on my blog today. Amanda has written since she was a child, but never imagined that her words would be published. Then in 2010, after many twists and turns, the dream of becoming a writer came true.

Amanda has written many short stories and has four novels currently published. A Stitch in Time was published in April of 2013 by http://www.choclitpublishing.co.uk and has met with great success.

Also with Choc Lit are Somewhere Beyond the Sea and Dancing in the Rain (March 2014) and 
Cross Stitch (December 2014)

Her fifth novel, Summer in Tintagel, was released last month, July 2016, with Urbane Publications.

Blurb:

We all have secrets…… Ambitious journalist Rosa Fernley has been asked to fulfil her grandmother Jocelyn’s dying wish. Jocelyn has also passed on a secret – in the summer of 1968, fleeing from the terror of a bullying husband, she visited the mysterious Tintagel Castle. Jocelyn wasn’t seeking love, but she found it on the rugged clifftops in the shape of Jory, a local man as enigmatic and alluring as the region itself. But she was already married, and knew her husband would never let her find happiness and peace in Jory’s arms. Now as her days are nearing their end, she begs Rosa to go back to Tintagel, but is unwilling, or unable, to tell her why. Rosa is reluctant – she has a job in London, a deadline that won’t wait and flights of fancy are just not in her nature. Nevertheless, she realises it might be the last thing she will do for her beloved grandmother and agrees to go. Once in Tintagel, Rosa is challenged to confront secrets of her own, as shocking events threaten to change everything she has ever believed about herself and her family. She also meets a guide to the castle, Talan, a man who bears a striking resemblance to Jory. Will the past remain cloaked in tragedy, sadness and the pain of unrequited love? Or can Rosa find the courage and strength to embrace the secrets of the past, and give hope to the future?

Here, Amanda explains where she finds her inspiration to write.

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Thank you for inviting me onto your bog today, Eva. I’d like to talk to you about where I find my inspiration, a bit about Cornwall, and the idea behind my latest book.

I find inspiration for my writing in different ways. Sometimes I might overhear a snatch of a conversation in a shop or a cafe for example, and that sparks off my imagination. I have been known to jot down a few ideas right there and then! Sometimes ideas come from just people watching. I think it’s the ‘what if?’ questions. What if that man at that table has a dark secret? What if the waiter knows what it is and is blackmailing him? Is the man’s wife in the dark? What will she do when she finds out?

Other times I have absolutely no idea where inspiration comes from. My recently finished novel woke me up at three in the morning a few weeks into January this year. It gave me a title, the bare bones of a plot and a sketchy ending. I jotted it all down in a notebook that I keep in my bedside drawer and The Calico Cat was completed at the end of April.

Where I live is a huge inspiration of course. I have always felt a great affinity with the ocean. I feel alive, a sense of peace and at one with nature when I am on the beach or walking along the cliff tops. I especially love the north coast of Cornwall and am lucky enough to have realised a life-long dream and now actually live there! The people are really friendly too.

The inspiration for Summer in Tintagel grew out of my love for that area, but how the actual mystery behind the story of Rosa Fernley arrived in my head belongs to a visit to the ancient Tintagel Castle one cold but sunny winter’s day. I walked along the cliff tops by the church opposite and as I stood on the edge looking onto the rocks I thought how easy it would be to step off and end it all … if a person was so inclined. I’m not, in case you were wondering! Then the ideas kind of came to me from there. I visited Tintagel Castle again later and the sketchy parts became easier to see, bold and exciting. I thought that whole area was the perfect setting for a novel – full of history and mystery.

I loved writing this story and couldn’t wait to see where the characters would lead me. Jocelyn, Rosa’s grandmother has a big secret from her past which she passes on to her granddaughter. This secret and its consequences set a huge challenge for Rosa, and it was a challenge for me trying to keep the reader guessing about the mystery surrounding it all, yet enticing them enough to keep those pages turning! It was very tricky trying to resolve all Rosa’s problems too, but I loved every minute of it.

Mandy James

Amanda James on Social Media:
Blog
Twitter

Summer in Tintagel is available on Amazon here and here.

 

Eva Jordan in conversation with… Patricia Dixon

Pat Dixon BooksMy first guest author post today is by the lovely Patricia Dixon. Inspired by her second home, Patricia has published four novels that are all set in France. Born in Manchester, Patricia studied Fashion at Preston Polytechnic in the 80’s before starting her working life in London amidst the mad world of couture and designer tantrums.When the sparkle eventually wore off she returned to Manchester to a more sedate existence where she spent much of her time travelling the UK producing clothing for high street stores.
Twenty five years later, after swapping fashion for bricks and mortar and working alongside her husband in their building company, she found herself with an empty nest and her secret ambition to write novels could at last become a reality. Here, Patricia explains what inspires her to write and why she loves writing.

I Writing !

I Writing ! I also love everything it has brought to my life and I’m not talking about my earnings from book sales, it is so much more than that.

When I tell someone I’m an author, I can usually predict the next three things they are going to say, just after the look of surprise has worn off.

The first will be – Really! So what made you decide to do that?

The second – Where do you get your inspiration?

And the third – I’ve always wanted to write a book!

The answer to the first question is always easy – I decided to write because I knew I had to try and if I didn’t have a go, I would always regret it. I wanted to do something for me, that I was interested in and felt that I could do well. These were the simple building blocks on which to start my journey which up till now has been a huge learning curve, immense fun and a voyage of discovery which I never want to end.

And the inspiration? – That’s easy. Apart from my second home, France, which is a never ending source of ideas, tastes, sights and smells (I’m talking about the countryside and French cuisine here) what inspires me the most, is people.

I’m intrigued by the intricacies of their lives, not glamorous glitzy stuff or fame and celebrity, everyday things like marriage, divorce, birth, death, infidelity, jealousy, secrets….the list goes on. To me, the mundane aspects of our everyday existence which pass by largely unnoticed, those daily occurrences, familial interactions that make us tick, cry, laugh, rage, they all have substance, are tangible and real, utterly fascinating.

Our emotions too are complex, especially the more negative ones, and at whatever age, we can be thoughtless, indiscriminate, selfish and obsessed, blinkered and controlling. The good, bad and the ugly all make up the human psyche, have an impact on the lives of others with actions or words and combined, they have the ability to hurt or heal, make us sad or joyous, be labelled cruel or kind.

I’m a watcher of humans, wherever I may be. I’m the guest at the party who sometimes likes to sit in a quieter place and take in the scene before her, or maybe I’m the one being told a secret by the lady who has had far too much to drink and now, I’ll never look her in the eye again. Occasionally, you’ll find me in the middle of a debate, doing a bit of subtle stirring or listening to the views of others and naturally, putting my own ten pence worth in. I’m frequently reminded afterwards by my husband that it’s never wise to talk about football, politics, and religion in a social setting….but we’d never learn anything if everyone stuck to that rather limiting and boring rule!

What inspires me is a big old food mixer containing all of the above and even when it looks like all is lost, the fight is gone and the end really is nigh, all our foibles and strengths come into play, the human spirit rises up and triumphs, vanquishes foes, lays demons to rest and lives to fight another day. I admire people who try hard, have courage in their faith of whatever kind, help others, listen, have a desire to learn, show humility, kindness and understanding of those different to themselves. And in an odd way, I’ve found that these characteristics, the things which inspire me to write and form my stories, have a knock on effect, acting as a catalyst.

The incubation process takes place during the telling of the tale and by the end, I hope to have passed on some uplifting glimmer of happiness to the reader, a positive energy. I receive the most wonderful letters from all over the world, lovely people telling me how much they enjoyed my writing and that I have helped them, made them laugh, sometimes there’s even a bit of crying, too. Most say they can’t wait for another book which in turn, encourages me to continue, so in one way or another, the Angel of Inspiration is doing a fine job (yes, I am a believer in God and his celestial comrades).

As I said at the start, it’s not all about book sales, it’s the feeling I get when a name, familiar or new, pops up on my inbox, a letter from a happy reader. I have made so many new friends, some of whom I correspond and chat with regularly on Facebook or by email. It varies from weekly to maybe once a year, sending best wishes at Christmas, or just passing on snippets of news and catching up.

Some of them touch my heart, like the lady (I won’t mention names) who wrote to me from France during the winter months as she nursed her husband. Sadly, he was nearing the end of his life but she told me that the words in my Christmas story kept her going, and even now, she drops me a line and lets me know how she is getting on in her life without him. After reading À Bientôt, someone recently widowed got in touch to tell me that Anna’s tale gave her hope and encouragement, feeling now that all was not lost and she had the strength to carry on. I have so many other examples, some of them humourous, like the lady at the end of her tether with a step-daughter from hell, just like one of my characters, Lady Louise of Limousin, and I’d somehow persuaded her out of actual bodily harm. Many readers now want to visit France or make return journeys after catching the Francophile bug again, and on reflection, I reckon the French Tourist Board owes me a large chunk of commission! I might drop them a line next.

I’ve had to disappoint people too, by admitting that Rosie’s gîtes don’t actually exist and one lovely chap told me he was actually beginning to believe the people in the trilogy were all real. Knowing that readers can connect and associate with my characters really is such an honour.

Writing has given me so much, the most precious being new friendships (I met one of my closest, dearest friends through this process) a large injection of self esteem, something interesting to talk about, a sense of pride in myself and knowing that my family feel the same way about me. It has also brought me a sprinkling of confidence, something which, as you get older, can gradually diminish without you noticing it has packed it’s bag and is heading out the door.

For example, nowadays, I actually quite like saying the words ‘I’m a writer’ but not at the beginning, I was far too shy. I can remember the first time I confessed, under duress I may add, which was in the tinned food aisle at Sainsbury’s, just by the spaghetti hoops. A lovely lady was conducting a survey and looked quite flustered after possibly being re-buffed by one in three of the shoppers. Being a soft touch, I hadn’t the heart to walk by or make up some weak excuse so ended up answering each and every one of her multiple choice questions. When she’d finished, I was asked my age and occupation which is when I caught the beady eyed stare from my son, who was already bored out of his brains and ready to kill, so I took the hint and told the truth. Unfortunately for him, she then proceeded to ask the three questions listed above, to which I gave her honest and detailed answer’s and by the end of our chat, she’d jotted down the titles of my books and promised to buy them as soon as she got home!

After that I was on a roll and now take great delight in filling in registration forms and questionnaires, a task which has resulted in making a few unexpected sales and conducting book related conversations in some rather odd places.

Whilst having a procedure carried out at the local hospital, the chatty nurse spotted my job title on the notes and as they wired me up to the machine, I ran through my titles and even gave a quick synopsis of each. Suffice to say, while my heart went through its paces and the machine whizzed and whirred, the technicians on the other side of the glass were having a quick Google and checking me out on Amazon! The dentist was slightly trickier and I don’t know how they expect you to talk while they have those metal thingy’s inside your mouth. Still, both the nurses and dental staff seemed rather chuffed to have had their very first author on the reclining chair of torture, or strapped beneath something resembling a prop from the Star Ship Enterprise.

There are many advantages to being an author, the best is being able to disappear into a world of your own making, escaping to wherever you so wish and returning only when you have to cook the dinner (which is frequently burnt or overlooked completely if I’m engrossed). You can write your own endings, become another person, alter someone’s fate, and dish out punishments and revenge with a few clicks of the keyboard. I’m not power mad, honest!

I can’t say I’m in the league of authors where my name is instantly recognised or I am afforded special treatment, but my son actually got his car insurance quote much cheaper when he altered my profession online, so I assume authors are considered extremely safe drivers, or perhaps it’s just that they never stray far from their desks and laptop, thus leaving the roads of Britain less hazardous.

Being an author also gives me an opportunity to help others, by writing reviews for other writers (you will find that we are actually a very supportive crowd which in itself is comforting and uplifting) donating some of my profits to charity and offering my books as prizes.

The notion of passing on what I have learned from this whole process (good and bad) leads me to the final comment mentioned at the start. When someone says ‘I’d love to write a book’ my response is, just do it! I have quite a few acquaintances who, during our cyber chats, have expressed their desire to write and I hope I have encouraged all of them to have a go. If you think you can make people happy with your words, have a story in your head and you are burning to tell it, or there’s something you need to get off your chest, then write it down.

Don’t ever assume that your life is ordinary, we are all unique, have probably loved and lost, experienced sadness and pain, joy and heartache, witnessed life with our own eyes and battled on through whatever this world throws at us. If this is you, I hope that the Angel of Inspiration has gone a bit mad and sprinkled hope all over these words.

Maybe some of what inspires me, has trickled down the page and ended up here, at the end of my ramblings and will be the spark that sets you off on your own journey. Alternatively, if you are just happy to read the writing of others, then I do hope that should you chance upon mine, you enjoy my books and they leave you above all content and smiling.

Right, I’m off to finish book five, I’m on the home straight now. I’ll leave you with a couple of quotes which I think you may like. I try to keep them in mind each day.

Wishing you all the very best,

Trish x

*What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make* (Jane Goodall)

*Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try*

Patricia Dixon

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