GUEST POSTS




What's in a Name? by Eve Devon
I have to admit one of my favourite things about plotting a new book, is coming up with the names of characters and places.From the age of nine, my bestie and I would sit in my room with piles of my mum’s Mills & Boon books and read out all the hero and heroine names and choose our favourites. They were always gorgeously exotic names like Cadence and Carluccio or Farrah and Farouq and somehow I’d form an impression of what the person would be like based on their name. Continue reading

***


Inspiration for The Whisperer by Elsa Winckler
I have always been fascinated with the idea that people are able to ‘talk’ to animals. I have to admit, I prefer animals to most humans and I had a dog, a cat and a budgie when growing up.☺ I couldn’t wait to get animals when we got married, but hubby is not a lover of cats, so the compromise was to get a dog. We’ve always lived in town so unfortunately horses were never part of my life. But I love watching them, reading about them, in fact, I think there is a horse whisperer trapped inside me! :) Continue reading

***


I have wide tastes in reading. If you were to view my bookcases, you’d notice that historical fiction, spy and commercial women’s fiction sit happily alongside crime, psychological thriller and non-fiction books on forensics and guns. There’s also a smattering of odd titles, which were sent to me as a result of writing book reviews for the Cheltenham Standard before it folded. These include some fabulous novels for children. Continue reading

***

Naming Characters by Jennifer Joyce 
Whenever I start plotting a new book, I always have my faithful baby names book on hand. I bought the book years ago for 50p – and it’s certainly earned its money back since! It’s a little tatty now, but I can’t imagine not having it by my side to help with naming characters. I use it in several ways: simply searching for the perfect name that suits my character, scouring the meanings for the ideal fit, or opening a random page and selecting a name from the list (I do this more often for minor characters). Continue reading

***


When I began to write the crime scenes for my thriller, All Is Not Forgotten, I knew I was walking a very fine line. On the one hand, I wanted the reader to understand the severity of the crime my young protagonist survived. On the other hand, I was writing about the one crime that causes extreme discomfort – rape. How do I do this? I struggled with the question. How do I describe the rape of a fifteen-year-old girl? Continue reading

***



I have a confession: I never actually studied history at school. As an author of historical fiction this is something I probably shouldn’t be sharing with you… You see, I had a history teacher who not only was close to retirement and slightly worn out with this teaching lark, but was clearly a frustrated artist. I remember having to draw endless pictures of castles, and being told ‘vertical lines are always vertical’ and ‘remember which side your light is hitting when you do your shading’. Realising that I wasn’t learning much history in history lessons, and thinking that I’d rather learn drawing skills from an actual art teacher, I swapped History for German in my third year of secondary school, and that was that. Continue reading

***

1) Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me - The Smiths
This might not be considered the most uplifting track as it's about the lack of love within life rather than the pleasure and security of requited love, but it's a song that perfectly captures an overwhelming sense of longing and loneliness. The haunting melody combined with this songs poignant, heartbreaking lyric never fails to stir my emotions and makes it one of my favourite songs of all time. Continue reading

***

All of the Harry Potter books into all of the Harry Potter movies 
I love them all and still watch them frequently. My children don’t. My seven year old said ‘They’re for little kids, Mum’ with a disdainful glance down his not-yet-lost-the-puppy-fat nose. But that doesn’t stop my sister and I sitting down with Harry, Ron, Hermione and a family sized bag of Maltesers whenever we get the chance. Continue reading

***


I love historical novels because I’m fascinated by the way people lived in the past, and by the life-changing events that took place over the last century. Often it’s an image from the era, or a person or event I read about that first ignites the creative spark, then I let my imagination take over. My first novel (The Girl Who Came Home) was inspired by the Irish connections to the Titanic, my second (A Memory of Violets) by the flower sellers of Covent Garden in Victorian London, my third (The Girl From The Savoy) by the Great War and 1920s London and my fourth (The Cottingley Secret) by ‘alleged’ photographs of fairies at the bottom of the garden. I’m nothing if not diverse! Continue reading

***


At the heart of Searching for a Silver Lining is an incredible journey that vintage shop owner Mattie Bell, former 1950s star Reenie Silver and club owner Gil Kendrick embark upon to try to reunite a once-famous singing group for a final gig. When I started to write the story, this epic adventure was what I was most looking forward to portraying – so I asked my lovely Twitter followers where they thought the road trip should visit. The answers took me to the four corners of Great Britain! Continue reading


***
 
Early Influences by Catherine Law
Fellow writers of a certain age will remember the 1980s children’s TV programme, Why Don't You Just Switch Off Your Television Set and Do Something Less Boring Instead? It was a great show, possibly a little low-key for today’s audiences, but in a roundabout way it led me to become first an avid reader, and then by natural evolution, an avid writer. Because, as a child, when I switched off my television set, I would dive headfirst into a book. Continue reading

***

5 Writing Commandments To Live By by Rory Dunlop
Make the reader laugh, especially at the start. This is personal taste, no doubt, but I will forgive a writer a lot if they can make me laugh. I read the whole of Moby Dick, persevering through all the long bits about the whaling industry etc., simply because the first chapter was funny. There are very few novels I like that don’t contain any humour. Continue reading


***

The Inspiration Behind Learning to Speak American by Collette Dartford
My inspiration for Learning To Speak American was the idyllic Napa Valley in Northern California, where the story is largely set. My husband and I celebrated a wedding anniversary there and fell in love with the beauty of the place and its warm, welcoming people. So much so that when we found a derelict house for sale, we impulsively snapped it up and spent the next two years transforming it into a wonderful contemporary home. Continue reading


***

Houses in Historical Fiction by Iona Grey
I’m currently hard at work on my second book, and taking a welcome break to drop in to Alba’s fabulous blog and say hello! I’m at the stage of the book where it feels a bit like living underground and coming up for air every now and again, blinking stupidly in the daylight, but I can’t really complain as the (imaginary) place where I’m spending my days is a huge and beautiful eighteenth century house in the rolling Herefordshire countryside. There are far worse places to be! Continue reading

***

Bringing the Past to Life by Kate Thompson
Hello Alba,

Firstly, thank-you for including me in your historical fiction week. There seems to be so much talk these days of the loss of community. The days where you could leave your door open, kids played out on the street and everyone in that street knew your name are alas, for the most part, long gone. Continue reading

***

The Inspiration Behind Florence Grace by Tracy Rees
My second novel, Florence Grace, published on June 30th, is the tale of headstrong Florrie Buckley, who lives on the wind-blasted moors of Cornwall. When Florrie is fifteen, she discovers that she is related to a wealthy and notorious London family, the Graces. Moving from country to city, from poverty to wealth, Florrie goes to live with her proud and dysfunctional new family, which includes Turlington Grace, a man with many dark secrets of his own. Continue reading

***


Hello Alba! Thank you so much for inviting me along today to talk about my favourite books for reading on those long, lazy summer days in the park. I readily admit that sticking to just 3 has proved almost impossible and that I would have preferred to add at least another 33 but I’ve given it my best shot!
First up simply has to be The Darling Buds of May by H E Bates. Continue reading


***

My Favourite Rom Com Movies by Zara Stoneley
I love watching romantic comedies, so this could have been a very long list. Here are the ones that came into my head first!
Love Actually – I love Richard Curtiss films, I want him to turn the Tippermere novels into one, or a TV series, I’m not fussy! (So if anybody knows him, can you mention it please?). Continue reading



***

How to Be the Perfect Wedding Guest by Jennifer Joyce
Weddings can be stressful – for both the bride and groom and their guests. So I’ve put together a few little reminders to ensure you – and the happy couple – enjoy the big day.
RSVP ASAP
Check your diary (and note down the new entry if you can make it) and let the bride and groom know whether you’re able to attend their wedding or notContinue reading



***


Capturing the Castle by Hannah Emery 
When I was thinking of ideas for The Secrets of Castle du Reve and considering the setting, I knew straight away that I wanted to include a castle. Castles and stories are bound together so often in history, fairy tales and myths, it seemed the perfect choice for the backdrop to my characters’ lives. Continue reading



***


1. Let’s Twist Again – Chubby Checker
I had this song in my head when I was creating Dolly’s Diner. I could imagine so perfectly the food being served, the chatter, and the jukebox playing this song. It depicts everything that the diner’s about and is capable of putting anyone and everyone in a fantastic mood. Have a listen and tell me, honestly, that it doesn’t make you want to dance? Continue reading


***


It’s interesting to see how the same book is marketed differently depending on where its fans are based. Michele Gorman’s Match Me If You Can is published by Avon (Harper Collins) in the UK and by Notting Hill Press in the US. Avon took the lead in designing the marketing package for Michele’s UK chick lit fans, with a pretty teal cover, fun font and firm focus on the online dating/romance storylines in the book. Continue reading


***


When I started writing my debut novel, The Dead Dog Day, I was very rigid about how and where I did my plotting and planning. It was always at my desk at home, on my laptop. But as time has passed, I find that plot ideas come to me in the strangest of places, and if I don't write them down immediately, they can often disappear, never to return. Continue reading



***


The Art of Baking Blind, my novel about why we bake, is stuffed with recipes that have emotional resonance but if there’s one that sums up the spirit of the book it’s for gingerbread girls and boys. Easy to make and personalise, they encapsulate the novel’s theme of nurture and of baking at the heart of the family. Continue reading



***


The Cherry Tree Café Book Themed Pinwheels by Heidi Swain
So here we are mid-way through The Cherry Tree Café Blog Tour and what better way to celebrate than with a pretty crafting instruction? Head over heels in love with the fabulous Book Themed Bunting I made earlier in the year, I thought it would be fun to share another simple make that can brighten up any celebration whether it’s a summer party, a spooky Hallowe’en gathering or a Christmas family get-together. Continue reading


***


Kitchen Disasters by Emma Hamilton
Cooking has always been a pleasure for me and generally it goes well. I mean, I’m not too gifted at the presentation side of things, or, in fact, at producing anything calling for a “light touch;” soufflés are definitely not my bag. But if you want a dish to pack a punch and fill you up, then I’m your woman! -Having said that though, I’ve been responsible for some notable disasters. I once got together with an Italian guy who also loved food. A match made in heaven you might think. Continue reading



***


Historical Book Boyfriends by Joanna Courtney
It was lovely to read Alba’s Q&A with Kerry Fisher, author of The Island Escape, and her pick of a ‘book boyfriend’ really got me thinking. I’m a happily married woman but although I’ve long know that everyone is allowed a crush on actors (Eddie Redmayne – gorgeous!) the thought that I’m also allowed to fancy book heroes is a fantastic one and something I should have acknowledged and embraced ages ago. Continue reading



***



My First exposure to Rodeo by D.R. Graham
Hi! My name is Danielle. I write about bikers and cowboys as D.R. Graham. RANK is a new adult contemporary drama about two brothers on the rodeo circuit in the aftermath of their dad's death. Although RANK deals with serious issues like mental health, and is set against the rowdy backdrop of the rodeo, RANK is also a sweet love story that everyone with a country side will hopefully enjoy. Continue reading




***


Online Dating Inspired Click: An Online Love Story, Double Click and Right Click by Lisa Becker
I first met my husband while wearing my pajamas. Really! No, we weren't at some kinky singles party. I was sitting comfortably in my apartment and he was hanging out in his. But, I will never forget his email introduction via an online dating service, which invited me to check out his profile. Continue reading




***

 
The Meaning of Valentine's Day by Nikki Moore
When I agreed with my HarperImpulse editor Charlotte that one of the #LoveLondon short stories would be set on Primrose Hill on Valentine’s Day, I was really excited. I mean, where and when better to set a romance, than in a truly beautiful place with a breathtaking view, on the most romantic day of the year? Continue reading





***

Most of you remember your first crush, right? Probably your first kiss, too, and your first boy-girl dance. But do you remember your first book boyfriend? I definitely do! And I'll bet you experienced your first swoons over some of these book boys, too. Continue reading




***


Christmas Feature 2014
During the month of December several authors and book bloggers talk about their Christmas favourites:



Cautious talks about the 5 things she loves about Christmas.

Emma's Christmas Favourite
Star Crossed Reviews talks about her favourite Christmas food and book covers.

Simona's Christmas Favourite
Sky's Book Corner talks about her favourite Christmas memory.

Lisa Dickenson's Christmas Favourite
Author Lisa Dickenson talks about what she loves about Christmas: Books.

Jo's Christmas Favourites
Comet Babe's Books talks about her favourite Christmas movie, Christmas song and Christmas night out.

Agi's Christmas Favourite

Agi - on my Bookshelf talks about her favourite Christmas food.

Rachel Brimble's Christmas Favourite
Author Rachel Brimble talks about her favourite Christmas present as a child and as an adult.

Suzanne's Christmas Favourite 
Librarian Lavender talks about her favourite places to visit during Christmas.

Emma Louise's Christmas Favourite 
Emma Louise talks about what means Christmas to her.

Jennifer Joyce's Christmas Favourite

Author Jennifer Joyce talks about her favourite Christmas movie. 


***


Romance in Reverse by Samantha Tonge 
Wannabe celebrity and aspiring cupcake maker Kimmy is the main character in Mistletoe Mansion, and her love life really represents romance in reverse. Many of us start off falling in love with the riskier, more unpredictable men but, as we mature, learn to recognize different qualities in partners to value, such as loyalty and long-term commitment. Continue reading




***

 
vicki_cover_smallThe role of animals in Vicki’s Work of Heart by Rosie Dean
My heroine, Vicki Marchant, is a vegetarian. Now why is that? Well, I have a huge respect for vegetarians. I’m almost one myself but sadly, like an alcoholic, I need help. It’s not easy living, as I do, with a red-blooded, dipped-in-the-gravy, omnivore, whose face drops in disbelief when I present any kind of meal that doesn’t have animal protein in it. Continue reading 






***

As the debate about printed versus digital books rumbles on, I feel compelled to wade in and offer the following shocking opinion: I like digital books.

There. I’ve said it.

But before you fetch your pitchfork, flaming torch and a dozen assorted librarians to try to talk me round, let me offer another shocking revelation: I like printed books too. Continue reading


 ***
Why is Love Me for Me the perfect beach read? by Jenny Hale
In Love Me for Me, I thought it would be fun to take my favorite spot in Virginia and ask myself, “What if someone thought this was the very worst place to be? What would that be like?” Continue reading.