A Lover of Books

Archive for the tag “relationships”

‘Away for Christmas’ by Jan Ruth

Congratulations to the lovely Jan Ruth whose novella, ‘Away for Christmas’ is out today as an eBook. Jan asked me if I would like to review her new book and provided me with a copy of it.

Set in Rhos-on-Sea, North Wales, this story starts off in December 2015. Christmas is meant to be the most wonderful time of the year but it doesn’t look as if it will be for Jonathan Jones. Losing his job just a few days before the festive period, Jonathan is really under pressure to get the novel he’s written published and for it to become a bestseller. But things aren’t that easy. To make matters worse his partner drops a bombshell of her own. The festive holiday already looks set to be a disaster.

Jonathan is bequeathed a failing bookshop in their seaside town and he starts to feel as if some of his prayers have been answered. However, it turns out that his publishing company are not what they seem. Then Jonathan’s ex-wife declares her romantic intent and he’s left totally confused as to what to do for the best.

Is everything lost or can the true meaning of words, a dog called Frodo and the sheer magic of Christmas be enough to save Jonathan’s book and his skin?

I firstly want to mention the cover which I adore. It is absolutely stunning and with its bright colours it looks so inviting. I almost wished that I could climb into it and walk into the bookshop. Somehow I think I would be stuck in there for hours.

This is the first Christmas story I have read this year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the opening paragraph and I really liked Jan Ruth’s style of writing throughout. The way she describes things is wonderful and you can really picture scenes in your head. I enjoyed reading about Beachside Books and the progress made to restore it.

Jan Ruth is an experienced writer and so she is able to tackle the subject of the different avenues of publishing and book promotion very well. Jonathan’s burning ambition was to finish writing his books and to get them published. In a way it was as if losing his job opened up other options for him. Thinking everything was above board with the publishing company, he found out the hard way that they weren’t what they claimed to be. As soon as I read about them I thought, dodgy! They didn’t even liaise with him properly with regards to the book covers.

As well as the issues Jonathan faced with getting his books published, he was also having problems in his personal life. I read on with great interest wondering what would happen. I absolutely loved Frodo the dog. He sounded just so adorable. The last chapter left me with a nice warm feeling. Things had changed so much for Jonathan and I was really happy for him. I like how everything came together. There was even a little unexpected surprise.

‘Away for Christmas’ is a lovely read. It is the ideal book to snuggle down on the sofa with on a cold winters day.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

About Jan Ruth

The real story began at school, with prizes for short stories and poetry. She failed all things mathematical and scientific, and to this day struggles to make sense of anything numerical.

Her first novel – written in 1986 – attracted the attention of an agent who was trying to set up her own company, Love Stories Ltd. It was a project aiming to champion those books of substance which contained a romantic element but were perhaps directed towards the more mature reader and consistently fell through the net in traditional publishing. Sadly, the project failed to get the right financial backing.

Many years later Jan’s second novel, Wild Water, was taken on by Jane Judd, literary agent. Judd was a huge inspiration, but the book failed to find the right niche with a publisher. It didn’t fall into a specific category and, narrated mostly from the male viewpoint, it was considered out of genre for most publishers and too much of a risk.

Amazon changed the face of the industry with the advent of self-publishing; opening up the market for readers to decide the fate of those previously spurned novels. Jan went on to successfully publish several works of fiction and short story collections and after a brief partnership with Accent Press in 2015, has returned to the freedom of independent publishing.

 

Links

‘Away for Christmas’ is available to buy from Amazon UK – http://mybook.to/Away4Xmas

Website – http://janruth.com/

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JanRuthAuthor/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/JanRuthAuthor

 

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Book Review – ‘Simon says’ by Daniel Gothard

‘Simon says’ was published by Urbane Publications at the beginning of last year. I read several different genres and as I liked the sound of this book I bought myself a copy.

Simon Templar was named after a suave and heroic man of action, but of course he’s nothing like him. Out with his future father-in-law who gets rather drunk, poor Simon really doesn’t expect the night to end the way it does. It seems his one chance of happiness has just been taken away from him. Everything has changed in an instant. Simon is determined however to rebuild his life, hopes and dreams.

With the help and support of his best friend Sean and some rather interesting dates, Simon goes on a personal journey of self-discovery. Can he learn to trust again and finally understand what the true meaning of love is?

I so like the cover for ‘Simon says’. It’s bright, it’s retro and it shouts out to you, saying “Buy Me!” This book is very different from any I have read in a while. I really liked Daniel Gothard’s style of writing and how text messages played a big part in the story. It did take me a bit of time to get into the story, but once in I found it enjoyable and couldn’t wait to get back to it. There were some really funny moments too. Surely only Simon could get into certain situations.

I really liked Simon and not just because he worked in a bookshop. When Simon learnt what he did from his soon to be father-in-law he was naturally angry and upset. There were two ways to look at things, but personally I didn’t blame Simon for feeling the way he did. He needed to go and lick his wounds, take some time out and decide what to do for the best. I was so glad that Simon had Sean to turn to.

‘Simon says’ takes an honest look at relationships, love, life, longing and friendship. It is proof that male authors can write really good rom-coms.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

‘Simon says’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/simon-says/

Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Simon-says-Daniel-Gothard/dp/1910692484/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451671468&sr=1-1&keywords=simon+says+daniel+gothard

 

Interview with Daniel Gothard

I can’t believe this is the very last day of my Urbane Blog Event.  Where has the time gone?  Today I have for you an interview with Daniel Gothard and then later on there will be reviews of both of his books.

 

You have so far had two novels published by Urbane Publications. For the benefit of my readers can you tell me a bit about them please?

“Simon says” is a book about youth, love and the value of great friends – classic tenets of a lot of romantic comedy. I think what sets the novel apart, or so I’ve been told by various readers, is this type of story being from a male point-of-view – heartbreak, starting over, strong friendship … A few people have referred to the novel as “male chick-lit”.

“Reunited” is set in 1992 and 2012 – the story is told in a first-person narrative by Ben Tallis (aged 16 in ’92, at school, dealing with the death of his dad, and being in secret love with one of his best friends. And then in ’12, at 36, a journalist, going to a 20 year school reunion). The chapters go between the 2 time frames and seem to have worked well – reviews have been very positive (to date!)

 

What led you to write them?

I’ve written in various genres – even a 16,000 word 2nd person Dystopian short story! – and I’ve always loved rom-coms: “When Harry Met Sally”, “Four Weddings And A Funeral”, et al. I had the ideas in quick succession and had a really good time writing the books. Writing can be genuinely hard work, but these were a pleasure and I found myself smiling and laughing at my own references and comedic scenes. It was a bit pathetic!?

 

Where did you get your ideas from?

Ah, the BIG question. Probably watching too much TV, too many films and listening to too much music in the 1970s and 1980s! My head is full of useless cultural markers – but they come in handy sometimes. The actual moment of inception, when the idea happens – for me – is just something I can create. That reads as a bit arrogant, but it’s just a thing I’ve done since childhood.

 

Would you like to see either of your books made into a film or TV programme?

Oh yeah! Money, money, money!! And for a wider audience. Artistically, of course, most books don’t translate that well on to the screen. But I love film and TV, and there are some brilliant actors and directors around these days. It would be fantastic

 

What would you do if a character from one of your books knocked on your door?

Pretend I wasn’t home! I mean that wholeheartedly … They are nice enough people, I’m the misanthrope.

 

Can we look forward to more books from you?

Yep. I’ve got 2 books out with literary agents and publishers, but the difficulty with success in the creative arts is always about ‘shifting product’. Quality naturally counts, but a publisher and/or a literary agent has to be VERY sure of you to take the financial risks. I’ve been hugely fortunate. YouGov found, in 2015, over 60% of the UK had writing as their dream-job. 98% of submissions are rejected – and there are, literally, thousands of submissions each week.

 

How easy was it to get published?

Not easy at all. 2013-present has been very busy and my publication rate looks very good. But I started learning the craft in 2000, got married, had a day job and have 3 kids. It’s been a very long process. You have to REALLY want to write, act, make music, etc. to succeed. And there are absolutely no guarantees.

 

Have you got any pearls of wisdom for anyone wanting to write a book?

Look at my answer from the last question. Keep writing, read great, ‘difficult’ books, learn from the best, take chances. Don’t give up. As one of my bosses used to say, “You’re a long time dead. So get on with getting on.” Morbid but true!

 

Has social media been of much benefit to you?

Undoubtedly. I wouldn’t have met Matthew Smith – MD of Urbane Publications – without it. I wrote, as an arts correspondent, for After Nyne Magazine and met the editor, Claire Meadows (another Urbane Publications author) through Twitter. It has changed everything for me.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Watch great TV/films. Read those ‘difficult’ novels.

 

Describe your writing journey in three words.

Long. Tough. Fulfilling.

 

If you could do all this again, would you?

Absolutely!

 

Links

Twitter – @bookslifelove and @GOTHARDDANIEL

 

Guest Post by Jared A. Carnie

The lovely Jared A. Carnie has written a guest post especially for this event.  His debut novel, ‘Waves’ was published in September last year and has been getting some really good reviews.

 

Island Inspiration

Waves, my recent novel, is set on the Isle of Lewis, where I used to live. Frankly, I find it amazing that anyone could live in the Outer Hebrides and not write a book set there. It’s hard to get across what a wonderful and unique place it is.

Here’s an example:

I was working for Western Isles Council doing admin work (the council is one of the only places up there for unskilled office workers to get a job). It was a Friday afternoon and I was nearly done for the day. I got a text from my friend Callum. It said do you fancy going out to Horgabost tonight? We can camp out. I’ll pick you up after work.

Horgabost is a beautiful, isolated campsite down on the Isle of Harris, which is actually the same bit of land as the Isle of Lewis. I know that’s confusing. I got told it’s like that because hundreds of years ago, when these places got named, the mountains in the middle of the two isles made it impossible to get from one to the other through any route except by boat, so they were in effect two separate isles, despite being connected by land. Today, they still have their separate names despite the fact that you can drive straight from Lewis to Harris. And if you’re ever up there, I recommend you do, as it’s an incredibly beautiful stretch.

Anyway, I told Callum I’d love to go camping and would see him in a bit. So, at half past four (because it’s an island and nobody has to work late) Callum picked me up outside work. We drove down to Horgabost, passing the sheep in the road, passing the glassy lochs reflecting the sky.

When we got there, unsurprisingly, we were the only people at this giant, white, impossibly clean, beach. Callum and I set up the tent ready for the evening. By the time we were done, a few of Callum’s other friends had started to arrive. One of them had brought some fireworks for later. He said he’d called the coastguard, and warned them that we would be setting off fireworks around 10pm, so that was when we would have to use them.

Callum had brought some burgers and after an hour or two of sitting around drinking we got a fire going to cook some of the meat. At that point, as it was starting to get dark, Mike arrived. I’d not met Mike before. Mike was just back from being out on his boat, and he’d brought some lobster he’d just caught with him. Now, I’d never had lobster before. So, this ended up being the way I had lobster for the first time: with six people, alone, on a vast, mediterranean-looking beach, by a roaring fire, with our own, private fireworks display.

And it was all pretty much free. And just down the road from my house. And at 3pm that day I’d expected to just be spending the evening at home watching TV. That’s the magic of the island. Things like that would happen all the time. My girlfriend and I would text each other at lunch sometimes and suggest a bit of the island we wanted to head to after work. We’d head out and find ourselves alone on other beautiful beaches or seeing whales off the top of the island or stumbling across deer on walks or eagles in the sky. Things people would pay thousands of pounds to do were just down the road for us. And that’s why, when people ask why I decided to write a novel set on the Isle of Lewis, I can’t help but think how could I not?

 

Links

‘Waves’ is available to purchase from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/waves/

Amazon UK – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Waves-little-book-beauty-escapism-ebook/dp/B01KP84V5G/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1488655553&sr=1-1&keywords=waves+by+jared+carnie

Jared A. Carnie’s website – http://www.jaredacarnie.com/

Twitter – @jacarnie

 

‘Silver Rain’ by Jan Ruth

Silver Rain

Jan Ruth writes contemporary fiction about the darker side of the family dynamic.  She very kindly sent me a copy of ‘Silver Rain’ to review a while back.

After failing to save his marriage, Alastair Black decides to return to his childhood home at Chathill Farm for a while.  His brother George isn’t very welcoming though and would rather that he isn’t there.

Kate has recently lost her husband and is finding that she is increasingly being put upon by her daughter, sister and mother.  At over fifty years of age she is already beginning to feel that her life is over, until she meets Alastair that is.  He is everything she isn’t but there’s definitely more to him than meets the eye and it is up to Kate to find out what that is.

I really enjoyed reading ‘Silver Rain’.  Told by the two main characters, Al and Kate, I found myself feeling as if I knew them both.  I loved the setting of this story.  Chathill Farm sounded lovely.

It was obvious from the start that Al and Kate were attracted to one another, but things weren’t that straightforward.  In fact it was all very complicated.  For a start off Al had lots of skeletons in the cupboard, one of which was a bit of a shocker.  Al had a great sense of humour, but he was a very sad and lonely man.  I felt sorry for him and wished that he and Kate would get together.

I thought Fran was just so lovely.  She doted on the animals she took in at Chathill Farm.  If money wasn’t an object I reckon Fran would have possibly opened an animal sanctuary.

I’m so glad that I read ‘Silver Rain’.  I think it’s great that Jan Ruth has written a novel where the characters are that little bit older and I will definitely be checking out some of her other books.

I give this book 4 out of 5.

 

‘Silver Rain’ is available to buy on Amazon:-

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Silver-Rain-Jan-Ruth-ebook/dp/B00GS87VW8/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453405859&sr=1-6&keywords=jan+ruth

To find out more about Jan Ruth and her books visit her website – http://janruth.com/

 

Book Launch – ‘Simon says’ by Daniel Gothard

Simon says

Happy New Year!  Daniel Gothard’s novel, ‘Simon says’ is out today, published by Urbane Publications.  Read on to find out more about it.

 

Book Blurb

Simon Templar was named after a suave and heroic man of action, but he seems to lack the finer points of his namesake. Slightly hapless, occasionally hopeless, and prone to being chased by angry strangers, he is the everyman who doesn’t fit. When his drunken father-in-law divulges a shocking truth about the love of Simon’s life and takes away his one chance at happiness, it seems the world will always kick him where it hurts. Yet in the aftermath of this revelation Simon is determined to rebuild his life, hopes and dreams. Or at least have a life, hopes and dreams. With the support of his best buddy Sean, and embracing a dating frenzy that would put a lothario to shame (albeit a not particularly successful lothario), Simon goes on a journey of self-discovery. Can he learn to trust again, and finally understand the true meaning of love? In the best traditions of Richard Curtis and David Nicholls, Simon says is a wonderful bittersweet comedy of love, life and longing, and the perfect read for any rom-com fan.

 

‘Simon says’ is available to buy from:-

Urbane Publications – http://urbanepublications.com/books/simon-says/

Amazon – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Simon-says-Daniel-Gothard/dp/1910692484/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451671468&sr=1-1&keywords=simon+says+daniel+gothard

 

Guest Post by Tess Rosa Ruiz

Book Cover

‘Freefall into Us’ by Tess Rosa Ruiz is a compelling collection of unique poetry and prose that provides an emotional mosaic of the path of relationships.  It was published by Urbane Publications Limited on the 11th September 2015.

Below is a guest post written by Tess Rosa Ruiz.

 

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In the 80’s, I wrote the author, Stephen King, a letter. You see, he is one of my favorite writers ever and I was a bit obsessed with him, had even thought of going to Bangor, Maine just so I could possibly catch a glimpse of him walking down the road or drinking coffee in his favorite café. The letter wasn’t very nice. He had disappointed me. I didn’t feel his recent work was up to par with the standards I had held him to, with the greatness that he was and is. To my utter surprise, he wrote me back. He told me he was under contract to write three books in a small amount of time and he agreed that his work may not have been his best. He promised me if I would stay with him and not stray, he would be back to his old self. I fell even more in love with him because now to me he was a real person, with real feelings and not just a writing machine pumping out book after book with disregard to his readers. He cared.

He cared enough to not only take the time to respond to me but to respond to me in an apologetic way. In a human way, in a way that I could grasp and understand, with passion. He could have easily told me to go fuck myself. So moved was I by his response, I would sit down a few days later and attempt to write my first short story.

In the early 90’s I became obsessed with the writer Anne Rice. I consumed her Vampire Chronicles and the lives of the Mayfair Witches. But her work as A.N. Roquelaure, The Sleeping Beauty Trilogy, would have a huge impact on me. The beauty of the erotica and the grace and elegance with which she wrote it was not comparable to any work I had ever read. She was in a league all her own. I would be further moved by her bout with alcoholism, her weight, the death of her child. I realized then her writing probably helped heal her, mend her, fill that void. I would have an ah-ha moment over this.

There would be many writers I would fall for over the years. Henry Miller, Raymond Carver, Tom Robbins, Joan Didion, William Styron, Charles Bukowski, Anais Nin, to name a few. They have all inspired much in me.

When I was 16, I took a creative writing class simply because the instructor was a beautiful man. I wrote a lot of poetry and short pieces in that class. My teacher was the inspiration for most of the writing, unbeknownst to him. On the last day of class he pulled me aside after everyone was gone and told me I had a gift, a true gift and that my destiny would be to become a writer. Although it would be many, many years later before I would dig my feet in and plant myself, he had been right.

You have heard many writers say they didn’t choose their profession, it chose them. I don’t choose to spend most days alone, holed up in a café or the confines of my small apartment. I don’t choose to watch every penny, or cancel hair appointments because I didn’t make enough last night waiting tables. I don’t choose to have fits of sadness, anxiety, angst, self-doubt or extreme loneliness. Yes, I miss my daughters and lots of social time with friends. I thought after my marriage ended I would miss being in a relationship, having a partner. I couldn’t imagine going without sex for more than a week. I have been constantly in a relationship since I was 14. I have gone this entire year without a man and the truth is I have never been happier. The truth is, I feel a pull, a need to write, a want, a desire. I feel this is my time. This is my call and right now it prevails over everything else.

Hell, I even took Stephen King’s advice and got rid of my television yesterday. I am excited and I look forward to what 2016 holds in store for me.

 

October 6, 2015
Tess Rosa Ruiz

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About Tess Rosa Ruiz

Tessa Rosa Ruiz

Tess Rosa Ruiz hails from a small town in Western Montana. She left for Seattle with two bags and a lot of passion at the age of 19. An established photographer, she met a group of writers from New York and through them, found her voice. Freefall into Us is her first published collection of prose and poetry. She currently resides in Seattle, and has been known to quote Kerouac and sling the finest of wine.

 

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Competition

Matthew Smith of Urbane Publications Limited has offered 5 paperback copies of ‘Freefall into Us’ for a giveaway.  To enter just leave a comment telling me what you think of the cover of this book.

Terms and Conditions 

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 22nd October 2015.

The winners will be randomly picked and notified of their win within 7 days of the closing date.  Their details will be passed on to Matthew Smith who will send out the prizes.

 

Good Luck! 🙂

Book Launch – ‘The Gingerbread Cafe Trilogy’ by Rebecca Raisin

Untitled

Today is a very exciting day indeed for Rebecca Raisin.  ‘The Gingerbread Cafe Trilogy’ collection published by Carina is out.  I’m just loving the cover! 🙂

 

Book Blurb

Enjoy the warmth, cupcakes and hot chocolate of The Gingerbread Cafe series, and follow Lil’s journey to happily ever after…

Lil has every recipe down, from gingerbread men to cinnamon muffins. So when gorgeous outsider Damon opens a shop opposite The Gingerbread Cafe, Lil refuses to let him steal her customers without a fight – no matter how much he makes her heart flutter.

When it comes to love, Lil’s never quite got the method right! But it looks like this time, deviating from the recipe might just lead Lil to the magic ingredient she’s been missing all along…

Don’t miss this delicious series from best-selling author Rebecca Raisin – the ultimate romantic indulgence.

 

Book One – Christmas At The Gingerbread Cafe

The icing on her Christmas cake!

Christmas is the season the Gingerbread Cafe in Ashford, Connecticut was made for…but owner Lily couldn’t be feeling less merry if she tried. She’s spent another year dreaming of being whisked away on a sleigh-ride for two, but she’s facing festive season alone – again. And, just to give her  another  reason to feel anything other than candy-cane perky, a new shop across the road has opened… Not only is it selling baked goods, but the owner, with his seriously charming smile, has every girl in town swooning.  But Lily isn’t about to let her business crumble — the Gingerbread Cafe is the heart of the community, and she’s going to fight for it! This could be the Christmas that maybe, just maybe, all her dreams – even the  someone-to-decorate-the-Christmas-tree-with  ones – really do come true!

 

Book Two – Chocolate Dreams At The Gingerbread Cafe

Chocolate…the most irresistible temptation?

The Gingerbread Cafe is all a buzz! This Easter, Lily and the rest of the town of Ashford, Connecticut are planning a truly decadent Chocolate Festival. Cooking up a storm, CeeCee and Lily are not just baking a batch of their sinfully delicious chocolate-dipped gingerbread men, but an excess of chocolate truffles, squidgy, cinnamony hot cross buns and melt in your mouth chocolate eggs. The Gingerbread Cafe staff have definitely enjoyed the tasting process!

Add in Damon’s cute-as-a-button seven year old daughter, Charlie, up for a visit and Lily’s perfect Easter may just be around the corner. Until her ex-husband Joel turns up demanding twenty thousand dollars… Suddenly the future of the Gingerbread Cafe is not so clear…and Lily finds herself eating far more of The Gingerbread Cafe’s treats than her skinny jeans allow…

Can Lily concoct a brilliant plan to save her beloved café, convince Damon she has no feelings for Joel and still throw a Chocolate Festival the town will be talking about for years? There’s only one way to find out…

Welcome back to the warmth, cupcakes and hot chocolate of The Gingerbread Cafe – your home away from home.

 

Book Three – Christmas Wedding At The Gingerbread Cafe

You are invited to the wedding of the year!

Snow is falling thick and fast outside the Gingerbread Cafe and inside, its owner Lily is planning the wedding of the year. Her wedding! She never dreamt it would happen, but this Christmas, she’ll be marrying the man of her dreams – in a Christmas-card-perfect ceremony!

The gingerbread is baking, the dress is fitted and the mistletoe’s in place – for once, everything’s going to plan. That is until her mother-in-law arrives… Suddenly, Lily’s famous cool is being tested like never before and her dream wedding is crumbling before her eyes.

In the blink of a fairylight, the Gingerbread Cafe has been thrown into chaos! Lily thought she had this wedding wrapped up, but with so much to do before she says ‘I do’, can Lily get to the church on time – and make this Christmas sparkle after all?

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About The Author

Rebecca Raisin is a true bibliophile. This love of books morphed into the desire to write them. She’s been widely published in short story anthologies, and in fiction magazines. And now she is focusing on writing romance.

Rebecca aims to write characters you can see yourself being friends with. People with big hearts who care about relationships and believe in true love.

 

Buy Links

AMAZON UK

AMAZON US

KOBO

NOOK

 

release+day

Guest Post by Virginia King

Virginia_King_Author_Portrait

The lovely Virginia King is back on my blog with a guest post.

 

Getting Inside her Head

How a Group of Real Women Became One Feisty Heroine

Reviewers are describing Selkie Moon as a character they can relate to – “charming, spirited, intelligent” as well as “enchantingly honest” with “a fine sense of humour”.  In ‘The First Lie’, Selkie’s got to dig deep to “take on the challenges that are literally haunting her steps.”  One reviewer says: “King gives the reader a perfect story on a silver platter that ties us tightly to the fate of this remarkable woman.”

As the creator of Selkie Moon, I’m delighted that readers are finding her fascinating and real.  I’d like to say she’s just like me, but for a start she’s thirty-four and I’m “somewhat older” 🙂  Here’s a glimpse into how I created her.

 

Food, Wine, Secrets

To make Selkie a multi-layered character, I needed to get into the heads of more than one modern woman.  I invited a group of thirty-something singles to have lunch with me.  I plied then with food and wine and got out my notebook!

They talked about their lives.  I got insights into different careers – from life coaching to copywriting.  They explained the challenges of short-term contracts and a freelance life.  I learnt about the meaning of ‘friends with benefits’ and the need to use your ‘gaydar’ with potential lovers.  We talked about the biological clock and their desires around career and children.

“If Selkie meets a guy she likes,” Emma told me, “she’ll definitely google him before dating him.  She doesn’t want any surprises.”

“She’ll have at least one gay friend,” Sally said. “Someone she confides in.”

 

Soul Mates Suck

“I’ve changed my profile on RSVP,” Kate shared, “to cut out the men looking for their soul mate.”  She pulled a face. “You’d be surprised how many arrange to meet you and when you walk up you can tell they’re waiting for lights to flash and an orchestra to play or they’re out of there.  I put ‘forget the fireworks and the violins’ on my profile and my responses dropped by fifty percent.”

 

Committed to Non-Commitment

As the afternoon wore on secrets were revealed.  Jules lived with a guy on and off and he was the one who wanted more.  “I was the girl who didn’t commit.  Life was frivolous and fun.  No strings.  I found out later that he married someone just like me – she even looks like me.  I’d treated his love way too casually.  I was … afraid.”

 

Not Passion, Control

Prue told us about her ex.  “I didn’t have any concept of emotional abuse until I met Ben.  I was smart, with a great job and a flat, and he was in a band, penniless and couch surfing.  I know now that he knew the only way he’d keep me was to control me.  He was ‘into me’ big time – telling me what to wear, getting insanely jealous over nothing, putting me down in a twisted way.  He systematically isolated me from my family and friends until I lost all my confidence.”  It was only when Ben went on tour with his band, that Prue suddenly saw his ‘passion’ for what it was.  “While he was around I believed it,” she said.

 

A Scream across the Table

The wine was doing the trick.  “I was so lonely one night,” Rosie said, “I actually took JJ back to my flat.”  “Oh God,” Sally screamed. “I’ve slept with him.  I didn’t want anyone to know.”  We dissolved in tears of laughter.

 

A Woman under Pressure

These real women gave me the background to make Selkie Moon a complex character.  If you read ‘The First Lie’ you’ll recognise snippets from that lunch.  It’s the qualities of her relationships that interweave to create this multi-dimensional story about a modern woman under pressure to unravel a frightening psychological mystery – to find out the truth about herself.  I’m very grateful to my lunch partners for their generosity and honesty.  Selkie is ‘real’ because of them.

 

 

About Virginia King 

Virginia King lives in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney. She’s been a teacher, an unemployed ex-teacher, a producer of audio-books, a writer of 50+ children’s books, a writing workshop presenter and an award-winning publisher. “The First Lie” is her debut novel for adults, the first mystery in the Selkie Moon series.

In The First Lie, Virginia combines her love of psychological mystery/thrillers with her fascination for mythology and fairy tales.  Her writing process is to work without a plot and let the book evolve and gain depth from the ideas and serendipitous happenings that turn up along the way.  She believes that if the writer is surprised by the twists and turns in the story, the reader will be too.  Book Two in the series will be published in early 2015.

Guest Post by PJ Whiteley + Competition

Close of Play

‘Close of Play’ is PJ Whiteley’s first novel.  Below is an interesting guest post from the author.

 

Men don’t ‘do’ romantic drama. Or do we?

Recently, I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association. As expected, there are rather more women than men. I thought that the ratio might be 85-15 or 90-10. In fact, it’s more like 99-1, and a few of the male card-carrying members use female pseudonyms. There is a similar story in the readership profile. The extent to which the cover and other aspects of marketing of my first novel Close of Play, a romantic comedy, have been tilted towards the expected female audience has been a fascinating learning experience, as my publisher applies the finishing touches.

If you read the mini-biographies on the Romantic Novelists Association’s site, many relate how they grew up as bookworms, typically devoted to fantasy tales and romantic melodrama. My CV is very different. I didn’t read Jane Austen or Jean Plaidy as a boy. I played sport, read about sport, made Airfix kits and watched war movies. The books I enjoyed usually had a male lead figure and a fair amount of sport or danger. So it was a long and very indirect route by which I came to pen a romantic novel in my early 50s. My childhood influences can hardly have had any impact at all.

Or so it would seem. But if one uses an expanded definition of romantic drama, my early years were filled with the most heart-rending, achingly emotional tales, often rendered by alpha males. Their names included Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan and John Lennon. There were a lot of tears and much insecurity; probably more direct soul-baring than any female scribe would dare, until Alanis Morrissette came along. Above all, these and other singers expressed an intense longing; this desire really to know a woman as well as love her.

So what is it about songs that gives blokes permission to get in touch with our inner feelings (or any other feelings, for that matter)? And why do we struggle when it’s on the printed page or at the pictures?

I’m afraid I can’t provide definitive answers, only a few observations. There is something about the ‘will they/won’t they’ drama that struggles to hold the male attention as the main or sole story arc; especially in a movie featuring Kate Hudson or Reese Witherspoon because, of course, we know they will in the end, after a break-up 20 minutes from full time as she discovers the secret that he had kept hidden (I still enjoy them, mind – guilty pleasure).

Humour helps. I might not have struggled with Far From the Madding Crowd at O-Level if Gabriel Oak hadn’t been so dour and earnest. Or a bit of political intrigue or philosophical depth. Or at least a car chase. Somehow, the question: ‘Is he The One for me?’ is not enough to hold our interest for 90 minutes or 288 pages. But for three and a half minutes, with a soaring chorus, and a macho guitar solo to come, we can give our passion a full-throated roar. We do have a romantic heartbeat, but it’s detected in different ways.

Close of Play has many ‘romcom’ features. I make no apology. It has a slightly different slant in that it’s from the man’s point of view. The two main male characters have been a bit sniffy towards love n romance n girly stuff in their early adult years. They prefer playing cricket and drinking beer. But each of them aches for the woman they really, really want, and fear that it might all be too late. I hope the female readers will be touched by their longing and forgive them their mistakes. And maybe, just maybe, the occasional bloke will read it, disguised inside GQ magazine, as he listens to Blood on the Tracks via his headphones.

PJ Whiteley, March 2015.

 

About PJ Whiteley

Author

PJ Whiteley, who writes non-fiction as Philip Whiteley, is an experienced author, principally about management. He has written extensively about how low wages are bad for business, as part of a bid to try to convince economists that society consists of people. Taking a break from this Quixotic task, he has turned his hand to romantic comedy, seizing on the potential of men preferring to play or watch sport than talk about their feelings and stuff.

Close of Play is the first novel, centring on perennial themes of the human condition: love, loss, hope, life choices and that nagging feeling in the back of the mind that you may not fully be up to date with how your team is doing.

PJ Whiteley’s boyhood ambition was to represent Yorkshire Cricket Club. He gave up playing as an amateur a few years ago when facing the quicker bowlers became a bit too tricky, but still plays five-a-side football. He works from home full time as an author and is married to a sex therapist, so things could have turned out worse.

 

Competition

To celebrate the publication of ‘Close of Play’ I am running a competition in which 10 lucky people will win a paperback copy of this book.  To enter just leave a comment telling me what you think is romantic.

 

Terms and Conditions 

This competition is open worldwide.

The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 16th April 2015.

The winners will be randomly picked and notified within 7 days of the closing date.  Their details will be passed on to Urbane Publications Limited who will send out the prizes.

 

Good luck! 🙂

 

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