A Lover of Books

Archive for the day “December 24, 2014”

Guest Post by Valerie-Anne Baglietto


Book Blurb

Christmas in Fools Castle will never be the same again.

Nothing much happens around here, but that suits Antoinette Ellis perfectly. She wants the cocoon the village provides. Fate has taken too many of her loved ones, and all she has left is her brother, and their late sister’s daughter, Tabitha. Antoinette gave up her future to look after her young niece, but her sacrifice hasn’t gone unnoticed.

When a stranger called Rufus moves into the grim, grey house opposite her cottage, odd things start to happen in Fools Castle. He admits he’s not the person he appears to be, but he won’t reveal who he really is. And what secrets lie within that little old book of his, which no one is allowed to look inside?

A miracle is long overdue, but the season for miracles is just around the corner…

THE LITTLE BOOK OF LOST HEARTS is an enchanting, festive, contemporary novella perfect for fans of Cecelia Ahern and Sarah Addison Allen. 


Valerie-Anne Baglietto has kindly written a guest post for my blog….

When I set out to write a festive story, I instantly homed in on the quote by Calvin Coolidge: ‘Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind.’ The season ought to be about kindness and generosity and selflessness, yet those things shouldn’t be reserved only for December. So I wrote about a heroine who’d made a huge sacrifice in her life and how a little magic from an unusual source might help put things back in perspective for her. I also hoped I could capture some of the essence of those Christmas movies we all love to watch year after year, over and over. It’s a Wonderful Life, Nativity!, Elf (fast becoming a classic!) We all have our favourites. I wanted something almost cinematic for an ending, a grand gesture, a glittering homage to my own feel-good mini ‘movie’… Possibly I was being ambitious, but I sincerely hoped it worked (even on a small scale)!


About Valerie-Anne Baglietto


Valerie-Anne Baglietto wrote her first fairy tale at the age of four. A story about a little boy whose mother’s nose was incredibly long and spiral shaped. It should have been obvious where her predilection lay. Fast forward a couple of decades, when she won the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writer’s Award for her debut novel THE WRONG SORT OF GIRL. After three more romantic comedies – with no magical elements whatsoever – life with her young family took over.

But on Christmas Eve 2011 Santa brought her a plot to play with. It became ONCE UPON A WINTER, which reached #1 in both the Fairy Tale and the Contemporary Fantasy Charts on Amazon UK. This was followed by THE TROUBLE WITH KNIGHTS IN SHINING ARMOUR and two short stories in the Belinda Jones’ Travel Club SUNLOUNGER anthologies.

Valerie-Anne’s Christmas novella THE LITTLE BOOK OF LOST HEARTS is a standalone story but introduces the village of Fools Castle, where her next full-length, modern day fairy tale will be set (due out 2015).

Guest Post by Gina Henning

How_to_Bake_The_Perfect_Christmas_Cake How_to_Bake_The_Perfect_Pecan_Pie

Gina Henning has written an interesting guest post for my blog about how she researches for her books.


Research: Scoping out the Scene

I’ll let you in on a secret-one of my number one resources is: Google. Oh, I guess that wasn’t that big of a secret. True enough, however if you looked at my internet browser history you would find an array of searches. Including but not limited to various languages, restaurants, trees, architectural styles, cars, and the list goes on.

When I’m writing a story I research everything. I create a Pinterest board (I’m @henningland) of outfits, food, decorations, restaurants, trees, you name it. I look up weather history to determine what the temperature would be like during the time of year I’m writing and if snow is possible like in How to Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake. I also research stores and what they sell.

In How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie, there are few scenes that include being in a car. As I was writing I looked at dozens of images of the interior of cars, their buttons, stereo controls and dashboards. I needed to be in the car with my characters. How close would they be? Would their hands touch at any point? What roads would they encounter during their trip? What would they see?

In How to Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake, Lauren goes to a few restaurants, for these scenes I checked out places where each scene is set and what types of food they serve. Sometimes I might take something from a menu and other times I’m inspired by what I see or the characters let me know what they would prefer to order. Jack is not the kind of guy who likes having food ordered for him!

In both How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie and How to Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake, the readers get to enter the homes of Lauren and some of the other characters. While writing these scenes I checked out the architectural designs in the area and how it would look from the inside. What type of bedding does my character have? Does Lauren like to keep her home warm or cool?

Kitchens are important in both How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie and How to Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake as they revolve around baking. I had to decide what the kitchens looked like. Were they warm and sunny or cold and bleak?

Sometimes I have to determine the plausibility of a situation, could this happen in real life? Yes, in a fictional world anything can happen, but I want my readers to have confidence that whatever takes place in my stories is actually possible.

Besides the Home for the Holiday Series I have written a few other stories. One in particular revolves around an invasive species and how it happened. This story took a lot of research to determine if the plot could be possible.

In addition to the internet, I also use daily life in my stories. Some events or character traits that pop up in my books are pulled from things I or someone I know has experienced. When I’m watching a movie I take down notes about facial expressions and body movement. If a person is sad, how do they look? What do their shoulders do? When someone is nervous how do they act? Does their speech change? What do they do with their hands?

There are two funny quotes, I have recently seen about writing: “Yes, I am writing about you” and “Oh, this is so going in my next novel.” I think these both pretty much sum up the way I research things for my books.



How to Bake the Perfect Pecan Pie

Amazon US   Amazon UK     Nook US   Nook GB   Google Play   Kobo   iBooks

How to Bake the Perfect Christmas Cake

Amazon US   Amazon UK   Nook US   Nook GB   Google Play   Kobo   iBooks

Guest Post by Nicola May

Book Cover

The lovely Nicola May has kindly written a guest post for my blog.


All I want for Christmas….. by Nicola May 

Writing a Christmas novella is not always easy as you have to get your head into a sparkly, snowy mood way before the actual event.

However, for someone who loves Christmas this is not a problem at all. I even went out and brought some mince pies and mulled wine whilst writing Christmas Yves to get me in the mood. 

My perfect Christmas requests are very simple – Family, friends, snow, sherry, scrummy food, and ideally someone to cuddle up to in front of the fire. Mr Right is on my Christmas list. So come on Santa, push him down my chimney!


About Nicola May


Nicola May lives in Ascot with her rescue cat Stanley. Her hobbies include watching films that involve a lot of swooning, drinking bubbles and eating flapjacks. Christmas Yves is her first novella. She has written 5 novels and a non-fiction guide on How to Create & Maintain your author profile, plus increase Amazon Sales.

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