Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Guest Post - "Write What You Know" by Author Karen Ross

Hello Ellesea! Thanks for taking part in the Five Wakes and a Wedding blog tour, and here’s my guest post
***
Write what you know, they tell you. And one thing I know more than I ever wanted to is about what happens when the roof leaks.
At the time, I was living in a basement flat. So I wasn’t getting rained on, but my upstairs neighbours were, which made the leaking roof my problem as well as theirs. The repairs turned out to be hideously expensive and the experience was stressful, to put it mildly.
But when you’re a novelist, nothing is wasted. And in my new book, Five Wakes and a Wedding, I was able to give my protagonist, funeral director Nina Sherwood, the problem of a dodgy roof.
This was a bit unkind, because Nina already has problems. She’s opened her funeral parlour – Happy Endings – in a well-heeled London suburb where the locals seem to hate her from the moment they discover the new shop on the high street will force them to confront death on a daily basis.
Nina’s starting to feel she’s made a terrible mistake. Until finally someone does come into her shop:
I’m on my fourth cup of coffee, which means I need to run to the loo again, but before I can leave my desk, the door opens and a woman comes in.
She’s five foot nothing, dressed head to toe in a bright orange ensemble of blouse, skirt, tights and clumpy boots. Her outfit clashes magnificently with her thick, shoulder-length hair, dyed in that unfortunate yet ubiquitous shade Gloria and I always refer to as menopause red, topped by a purple fedora that adds several inches to her height.
Good morning,’ she says. ‘I’m Sybille Newman. Your neighbour.’
The shop next door to mine is The Primrose Poppadum – ‘Modern Organic Indian Classics, Free from Dairy, MSG, Wheat & Egg’ according to its sign – and Sybille Newman doesn’t fit my image of a restaurateur. Then again, I’m probably not her idea of an undertaker.
Very pleased to meet you,’ I say cautiously.
So you’re the owner, are you?’ Sybille Newman has a cut-glass accent and she sounds cross.
Yes, I’m Nina Sherwood. Today’s my first day and—’
Never mind that. I’ve come about the roof.’
Pardon?’
The roof. My husband and I live above the dreadful Indian restaurant.’ Sybille gestures towards The Primrose Poppadum with a flash of her Guantanamo orange fingernails. ‘Make sure you never go there – I’ve seen them arriving with carrier bags full of stuff from Asda. Organic my foot! We’re trying to get them shut down because of the dreadful smells. My husband has a respiratory disorder and they’re making it so much worse. But that’s not the point. The roof is leaking and we need a new one.’ She looks expectantly at me.
I’m sorry to hear that,’ I say. ‘But I don’t understand why your roof is any of my business.’
It’s a single structure that covers both properties.’ Sybille Newman frowns at me as if I’m being deliberately obtuse. ‘Ned and I have lived here for twenty-three years, and even when the betting shop was downstairs, back in the nineties, there was trouble with the roof.’ She leans on my reception desk and adds, ‘We’ve had it replaced twice, but now there’s water leaking into our living room again every time it rains. We’ve got a good jobbing builder who’s been patching it up, but we shouldn’t have to be doing that at our own expense. Not when it’s supposed to be a shared cost. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the purlin’s rotted. And there’s a ticking noise coming from the rafters that keeps us awake every night. Woodworm probably. Or beetles.’ Sybille smiles slyly. She seems almost pleased at the prospect. ‘So I’ll get some roofers round to supply estimates and let you have copies.’
Okay.’ I presume she wants me to pass them on to my managing agent.
And you need to complain to the council about the restaurant smell. Not that they’ll do anything about it.’
There’s something about the way she says this that makes me think Sybille Newman enjoys being a victim, that she’s the sort of woman who is happy only when she’s got something to complain about. I’ve already got a feeling that no matter how hard I try to be a good neighbour, nothing I do will be ever good enough.
Sybille Newman turns out to be an important character as the story progresses. As for that roof . . . it is destined to cause a great deal of grief before it finally gets fixed. (And as for me, I solved own my roofing issues by way of a change of address!)
Five Wakes and a Wedding has been described as romantic comedy noir, mixing light and shade. From the lovely feedback I’ve received so far, it will definitely make you laugh – and it’s made a few readers cry, although I think they’d forgiven me by the time they got to the end. If you decide to take a look, I’d love to know what you think: karen@karenross.online

Five Wakes And A Wedding by Karen Ross
Undertaker Nina Sherwood is full of good advice. For example, never wear lip gloss when you’re scattering ashes.
Nina is your average 30-year-old with a steady job, a nice home – and dead bodies in her basement. As an undertaker, she often prefers the company of the dead to the living – they’re obliging, good listeners and take secrets to the grave.

Nina is on a one-woman mission to persuade her peers that passing on is just another part of life. But the residents of Primrose Hill are adamant that a funeral parlour is the last thing they need… and they will stop at nothing to close down her dearly beloved shop.

When Nina’s ‘big break’ funeral turns out to be a prank, it seems like it’s the final nail in the coffin for her new business. That is, until a (tall, dark and) mysterious investor shows up out of the blue, and she decides to take a leap of faith.

Because, after all, it’s her funeral…
The perfect antidote to all those books about weddings, this book will make you laugh until you cry, perfect for fans of Zara Stoneley’s BridesmaidsFour Weddings and a Funeral and The Good Place.

Purchase Links:     Amazon UK      Amazon US 

Author Bio – As a former journalist, broadcaster and advertising copywriter, Karen Ross has followed a fairly traditional path into writing fiction. Five Wakes and a Wedding is her fourth book, and like its predecessors, the novel has two common threads: the setting is London’s Primrose Hill – Karen’s own neighbourhood – and one of the characters is a dog . . . this time he’s called Chopper and he’s almost the same size as a Shetland Pony
Karen has been self-employed for many years, and continues to work as a marketing consultant, in the absence of an offer to manage Tottenham Hotspur. By way of credentials, her other ‘job’ is trading profitably on the world’s first football stockmarket, a platform called Football Index, where you buy and sell players with real money.
Social Media Links – @ComedyKaren




Guest Post: Leading roles for baby Boomers? by Caroline James


Ellesea, thank you so much for hosting me on your blog. As my new novel, Hattie Goes To Hollywood, is launched, I want to share my thoughts on older protagonists having lead character roles.
I often write about older people in my novels and in my new novel, Hattie Goes to Hollywood, the lead character, Hattie, is a private investigator who is in her late 50s.
She is a ‘Baby Boomer.’
Baby boomers are people born during the post WWII baby boom and their current ages are 50-72. I’m a baby boomer and we are supposed to be the wealthiest, most active and physically fit generation in history, all currently reaping the benefits of a good lifestyle that peak levels of income bring. Baby boomers are said to be the luckiest generation having benefitted from free education, a buoyant job market and inherited property windfalls amongst other advantages.
But are they all so lucky?
Alcohol studies state that baby boomers, who grew up with more liberal attitudes to alcohol, are ruining their health with heavy home drinking and with the current financial uncertainties and pension crisis, many boomers fear for their future and find themselves working way beyond their estimated pension age. Western culture suggests that we become invisible to the younger generation as we get older. Middle agers are susceptible and can feel that they are no longer attractive nor have the confidence of their youth. None of this represents the picture that many baby boomers expected to paint in their middle years and beyond.
For me, growing older has never been more fun. I believe that we are able to be the best that we can at every stage of our life and that ageing means being comfortable in your own skin. Coming out of your comfort zone is daunting. Doing it at this time of life is doubly hard but I have found that stepping out of your day to day and testing new waters generates the energy to recharge your creative batteries.
With this in mind, I want to write novels that are uplifting for older and younger readers alike and to show that life can be wonderful as you age. Fictionally, if my characters can dodge the daunting media hype and face the ageing process with enthusiasm, they can embrace it. I hope that the personalities in Hattie Goes To Hollywood, reflect these thoughts. Especially Hattie, as she comes out of her comfort zone and starts a new career as a private investigator. I hope too that my books will encourage readers to embrace life, at whatever age.
Many thanks again Ellesea and happy reading to you and your followers,
Caroline xx
*****
Hattie Goes to Hollywood
A Cumbrian Village...
Three suicides...
A red-hot summer...

Join super-sleuth Hattie as tempers and temperatures rise in the Cumbrian village of Hollywood. With mischief and shenanigans aplenty, will Hattie discover the truth?

A funny and intriguing mystery – the first in a new series by Caroline James

When recently bereaved Hattie Mulberry inherits her aunt’s dilapidated cottage in the village of Hollywood in Cumbria, she envisages a quiet life. But retired hotelier Hattie is bored and when her neighbour asks her to investigate a suspicious suicide, Hattie’s career takes a new direction and H&H Investigations is born. During the hottest summer for years, Hattie discovers there have been three recent suicides in Hollywood and she determines to find out why. Temperatures rise as she throws herself into village life and, with mischief and shenanigans aplenty, Hattie has her work cut out. But will she establish the truth?

Purchase Links:
Amazon UK       Amazon US 

Author Bio –
Best-selling author of women’s fiction, Caroline James has owned and run businesses encompassing all aspects of the hospitality industry, a subject that often features in her novels. She is based in the UK but has a great fondness for travel and escapes whenever she can. A public speaker, which includes talks and lectures on cruise ships world-wide, Caroline is also a consultant and food writer. She is a member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association, the Society of Women’s Writer’s & Journalists and the Society of Authors and writes articles and short stories, contributing to many publications. In her spare time, Caroline can be found trekking up a mountain or relaxing with her head in a book and hand in a box of chocolates.

Books by Caroline James:

Coffee Tea the Gypsy & Me
Coffee Tea the Chef & Me
Coffee Tea the Caribbean & Me
Jungle Rock
The Best Boomerville Hotel
Hattie Goes to Hollywood

Social Media Links –


Friday, 14 February 2020

Travelling the World. A guest post with author Elaine Spires.


I have been very fortunate in that I have travelled extensively. My mis-spent youth was mis-spent first of all in Mallorca and then Ibiza followed by a short stint on Corfu. They were very different places then to the tourist hot spots they have now become. As you have probably spotted they are all islands. Much of the last decade was spent living on Antigua - another island so I think it’s safe to say that I do have a thing for them.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw Mallorca. I was on a school trip and we’d travelled overland - yes overland - from Dagenham via Calais, Paris, Port Bou and Barcelona. Our ferry pulled into Palma very early one late-March morning and we scurried up onto the deck to be literally blinded by the light. The sun was so bright; it reflected in the sparkling blue sea and off the white buildings that curved along the palm-tree fringed Paseo Maritimo. We thought we’d died and gone to Heaven.

And so my love affair with ‘Abroad’ began. Two years later I deferred my dance and drama course at Liverpool to take a gap year which ended up lasting sixteen years!

After a few years back in UK I became a tour manager for a UK singles’ tour operator which meant I spent the following thirteen years accompanying groups of single travellers all over the world and this life - and being a tour manager is a way of life not just a job - gave me a rich and deep well of resources for my Singles’ Series. The Single Best Thing, which is out on 14th February, is the sixth and final book in the series and is set in UK, Florida and Antigua.

When people know my background they often ask, “What’s your favourite place?”

The truth is “I don’t know.”

As you’ve already seen from the first paragraph, I am an Island Girl. And to Ibiza, Antigua, Mallorca and Corfu I have to add Bali as another special island, and Ireland and Australia, although that’s a large one! Cuba holds a special place in my heart; I love it because it’s a fabulous mix of the Caribbean, Spain and Africa. Iceland, too, is a magical place; a vast island that’s nothing like I’d imagined it would be. Mauritius and Hispaniola are unique and appealing. I love the Canaries, especially as they’re so different from each other. And Madeira is like holidaying in a floating flower pot. Just across from Ibiza lies the fourth, smallest Balearic Island, Formentera. It is the most wonderful place. I make it known that if I should ever go missing then look for me first on Formentera.

I’ll never forget visiting The Maldives, a country formed of 1400 tiny islands. And they are spectacular - it’s like holidaying in a giant aquarium.

So I think it’s safe to say I like islands, especially but not exclusively, warm ones with turquoise waters and silver beaches.

And it was logical to consider myself a Beach Person.

But travelling also took me through the majestic Norwegian Fjords and into the Arctic Circle (on a cruise along the Norwegian coastline right round to the border with Russia). I also went down to the other extreme - South America - to Patagonia one of the most stunning places on Earth. I was fortunate enough to go through the Canadian Rockies from Vancouver to Banff and so I decided I was really a Mountain Person after all.

Until I went to the desert. How stunningly beautiful is the Sahara? And Al Qudra? After a couple of back-to-back visits to Egypt and Dubai I declared myself a Desert Person.

But I also love being in a city. I’m never happier than when I’m sitting on an open-top bus doing a city tour. I love the buzz and the vibes of cities, the culture, the restaurants, the monuments, the music, the people. I didn’t want to leave New York or Boston or Buenos Aires. I adore Madrid, Shanghai, Dublin, Jaipur, Bangkok, Edinburgh, Amsterdam and not forgetting wonderful London. Perhaps deep down I’ve always been a City Girl.

The simple answer is that I found beauty in all these destinations. The world is a wonderful place. Everywhere has its own special beauty; its own charm and attraction. So I find it absolutely impossible to choose one favourite place. But I consider myself blessed to have so many.
*****

The Single Best Thing by Elaine Spires
Almost four years have passed since Melv followed Eve back to England refusing to throw away their long awaited chance of lasting love and happiness. Much has happened in that time. No longer a tour manager for Travel Together, Eve is enjoying unexpected success in her new career. Has she forgiven him for hurting her so deeply? Was her love for him simply enough? And what about her own dark secret?

Provoking smiles and tears this glimpse into Eve’s future brings the Singles’ Series to its final conclusion
Purchase Links -
Amazon UK       Amazon US 

Author Bio –
Elaine Spires is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter and actress. Extensive travelling and a background in education and tourism perfected Elaine's keen eye for the quirky characteristics of people, captivating the humorous observations she now affectionately shares with the readers of her novels. Elaine has written two books of short stories, two novellas and seven novels, four of which form the Singles Series - Singles’ Holiday, Singles and Spice, Single All The Way and Singles At Sea. Her latest book, Singles, Set and Match is the fifth and final book in the series. Her play Stanley Grimshaw Has Left The Building is being staged at the Bridewell Theatre, London in May 2019. Her short film Only the Lonely, co-written with Veronique Christie and featuring Anna Calder Marshall is currently being in shown in film festivals worldwide and she is currently working on a full length feature film script. Only the Lonely won the Groucho Club Short Film Festival 2019!  Elaine recently returned to UK after living in Antigua W.I. She lives in East London.

Social Media Links –
Twitter: @ElaineSWriter
Instagram: elainespiresauthor

Monday, 10 February 2020

Elly Redding's passion for writing second chance romances.


Thank you so much, Ellesea, for inviting me to write a blog post. I thought I’d tell you a little about myself and my passion for writing second chance romances.
It all started a few years ago now, when I was a teenager and had just finished reading ‘Gone With The Wind’. 1024 pages and no happy ending? I was desperate. Something had to be done. And before I knew it, I’d rewritten those final pages half a dozen times in my head. I was a fledgling author, full of enthusiasm, but lacking in about everything else. Undeterred, I went on to rework Little Women (where Jo ended up with Laurie) and Wuthering Heights.
It was only after the birth of my first child, some years later, that I started writing with a view to actually getting published. My daughter was delightful in so many ways, but she was a very slow feeder. So there I’d be, sitting on a sofa, thinking of all the things I should be doing, when it suddenly dawned on me there was one thing I could do. I had one hand free (very important) and my brain was still active (despite those hormones) and so I created ‘The Trials of Barney and the Hopeless Detective.’ I received such lovely rejections, that I began to wonder if there might, just might, one day, be a chance of success.
Winding on a decade or two, whizzing past the time when I had a London agent for my screenplays (so exciting), to the day when I decided I would write a novel for grownups. A story with romance at its heart. After all, isn’t that what makes the world go around? Our boundless capacity to love? Added to the fact that I’ve been hooked on the romantic element of any story since, well, forever, whether it is Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in ‘You’ve got Mail’ or Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds in ‘The Proposal’.
And what could be better than a story that gives our protagonists a second chance to make it work – a second chance romance? ‘True Colours’ was drafted, then redrafted, and then reworked again. I worked with a brilliant editor and was absolutely thrilled when I won The New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. It also gave me the push I needed to get it published.
And here I am, three years later, having just published my second novel, ‘In Too Deep’. A story of two thwarted lovers, it is set in the rolling hills of Devon, and tells the tale of one woman’s determination to win the trust of the man she’s adored since they were thrown together as children, by forcing him to confront the darkness of his long-lost past.
I do hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I’ve enjoyed writing it. After all, doesn’t everyone deserve a second chance to have their dreams come true?
In Too Deep by Elly Redding
Set in the rolling countryside of Devon, ‘In Too Deep’ is the emotional story of a woman’s determination to win the trust of the man she’s adored since they were thrown together as children, by forcing him to confront the darkness of his long-lost past.

One little lie. A guilty secret. And the man she mustn’t love…


It’s been six years since Isy Forrester left home. In that time, she’s strived to forge a new life for herself in London, away from Jack Mancini, her father’s adopted son, and his devastating betrayal of everything she thought they had.

Only now her father’s in hospital, and the house that’s been in her family for generations is at risk. Forced to return to Devon, she finds Jack as infuriating and stubborn as ever, and just as irresistible. Soon she realises the bright lights of London can’t hold a candle to him.

But Jack has a past, one which he refuses to share with her. And until he can trust her with these deepest secrets, how can she risk her heart? How can she even begin to help him, when he won’t tell her what happened all those years ago – before her father brought him home to Hambledon Hall?
Purchase Links -
UKAmazon     USAmazon

Biography
Elly Redding is an award-winning romance writer. Having originally written screenplays, her first novel, ‘True Colours’, won the Festival of Romance’s New Talent Award, and third prize in the Independent Author Book Award “Words for the Wounded”, as well as being voted Chill with a Book Readers’ Book of the Month Award and receiving a B.R.A.G. Medallion.
Born in London, she now divides her time, with her husband, between Bedfordshire and Devon, where she loves art, dancing and watching the waves.
Elly is a member of the Society of Authors and Alliance of Independent Authors, and would love to hear from you. She can be found @ellyredding on Twitter, Elly Redding Author on Facebook and Elly Redding on Instagram.
Her website is www.ellyredding.com