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.

**********

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

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Summer in Tintagel is available on Amazon here and here.

 

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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

Where to find Patricia Dixon:
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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

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