I’m a Very Inspiring Blogger!

I’m a bit stunned to tell you all that I’ve been nominated for another award! This time it’s the Very Inspiring Blogger Award and I was nominated by fellow RNA NWS member Heidi-Jo Swain. Heidi-Jo is currently running a weekly feature called Our Path to Publication where various NWS members tell us about their writing journey. Look out for my contribution on August 8th! Read Heidi-Jo’s blog here.
Here are the rules for accepting the award:
  • Thank and link the person who has nominated you
  • List the rules and display the award
  • Share seven facts about yourself
  • Nominate 15 other amazing blogs, comment on their posts and let them know you have nominated them
  • Optional, follow the blogger who nominated you, if you don’t already do so


Seven Things About Me
  • I have more books on my Kindle than I can probably ever get round to reading but I still keep buying more
  • I am Yorkshire born and fiercely proud of it, but I am rather in love with Cornwall and feel guilty because of it
  • I deliberately give my husband the wrong directions when we go anywhere because I like to take “the scenic route”
  • I have made the decision to self-publish my novels and will be publishing my first novel There Must Be An Angel early in 2015
  • The first time I visited Glastonbury I was so moved and overwhelmed by the place that I actually cried in the street *blush* 
  • I love researching my family tree and have developed a huge affection for my ancestors and would love to be able to talk to them
  • I absolutely love visiting new places and I especially love pretty villages and stately homes and castles.

Now, having revealed a little too much, my 15 nominees are:

Jill Marsh, inspirational indie writer of crime novels featuring a fabulous heroine, Beatrice Stubbs. Jill writes as JJ Marsh. Find Jill’s blog here

Jane Lovering, whose blog is consistently funny and cheering. Find Jane here

Jane Badger, who never ceases to amaze me with her knowledge and passion for her subject and the hard work she puts into her blog which you can find here

Jessica Redland, a fellow NWS member who charts the ups and downs of her writing life with real honesty and humour. Find Jessica here 

Alys West, another NWS member whose fairly new blog has already made an impact on me. Alys writes urban fantasy and has some great tales to tell! Find Alys here.

Novelistas Ink: a bunch of fabulous women writers – some traditionally published and some indie – who co-exist peacefully and seem to have lots of launches and cake and alcohol! Find them here

Rosie Amber: This blog is making a big impact lately and is really helping to get readers involved with reviewing books. Find it here

Lizzie Lamb: Lizzie is a complete whirlwind, a social media star! Her indie publishing path is totally inspirational. Find her here

Jane Wenham-Jones: Jane’s book Wannabe a Writer? re-awakened my dormant writing ambitions and her blog is funny and inspirational. Find it here

Famous Five Plus: The tagline on this blog says “Indie authors working together to make a difference” which says it all really…Find it here

WriteMindWritePlace: “Women chatting about their writing world” – five members of the RNA, some full, some NWS. Find them here

The Romaniacs: More members of the RNA with a great blog featuring advice, interviews, reviews and friendly chat. Find the Romaniacs here 

Moonlight and Hares: A really lovely blog featuring “art, craft and things that inspire” from the talented Karen Davis. Find it here

Sally Quilford, Intriguing Romance: “Blog of the independent and traditionally published writer of romantic intrigue, Sally Quilford, AKA ‘Quillers’ ” Find it here

Ailsa Abraham: Ailsa is the author of Shaman’s Drum and Alchemy, published by Crooked Cat, and is a very inspirational person. Find her here

Feel free to check out these blogs, and nominees, please don’t feel obliged to take up the baton. I know you’re all very busy!

Have a great week xx

The Ghost House by Helen Phifer

The first thing to say about this novel is that I love the cover. It really does lead you into the book and you’re immediately longing to know what’s through those gates, while at the same time being a little afraid of what you’ll find.
This is Helen’s debut novel and a gripping read it is, too. I honestly couldn’t put it down, desperate to know what was going to happen next.
Police officer Annie Graham is not your typical heroine. She’s recovering from a very nasty injury and has been wounded both physically and emotionally at the start of this book. Recovering at her brother’s house while he is away, she becomes embroiled in a mystery surrounding the old house that he is caretaker of and, at the same time, finds herself in the middle of a missing person investigation that rapidly becomes more sinister. With ghosts, two serial killers and a medium bearing messages of warning, it’s lucky for Annie that she has such good friends who are willing to look out for her. A budding romance with one of her colleagues brings some respite from the tension, although both Annie and her new love are in increasing danger.
As past and present collide, a horrific revelation and a gruesome discovery leads to a terrifying confrontation and a life-or-death struggle.

I honestly loved the story and if you are looking for a real page-turner this is one for you. The author can certainly tell a gripping yarn! 4.5/5

Buy The Ghost House here

The Ghost House


Work, Weddings, and Waiting…

Hello, lovely people! So what have you been up to this week? Please don’t all shout at once, I’m not deaf. Really? Well, that all sounds very lovely, but now back to me. 😉

Actually, before we go any further, can I just say a belated happy birthday to Benedict Cumberbatch? The divine Mr C turned 38 on the 19th July, and yes I did wish him a happy birthday on Twitter, (birthday greetings for him were actually trending. See, it’s not just me!) and on Facebook, (to the embarrassment of my eldest daughter) and I know he probably won’t read this or any of the other birthday messages I sent but hey, you never know, and anyway it’s my blog and I can do what I like, so there!

I’ve had a busy few days. After a fortnight’s holiday it was back to work for me. Is there anything worse than that first day back after so many days of freedom? I can’t really complain as I only worked for four days.  I had Friday off as I was going to my brother’s wedding. You would think, since this event has been planned for roughly a year, that I would be totally organised for the big day, wouldn’t you? Well, you’d be very wrong. I’m the sort of person who thinks everything will be fine and we’ll have plenty of time, so on Friday morning I was sitting quite happily in my little room, browsing Facebook and flicking through Pinterest, thinking how jolly it was not having to get ready for work and to have so much time to spare. It came as something as a shock, therefore, when I remembered that I’d forgotten to try on my outfit. Of course, I’d tried it when I bought it, but that was months ago, and it might not actually have fitted me any longer, given that I’d just got back from a holiday where ice cream, doughnuts, hot dogs, creamy pasta and burgers were eaten freely.

I also realised that I needed to straighten my hair, that I’d forgotten to write on the card, and that I hadn’t even wrapped the wedding presents. This led to some frantic moments as I tried to accomplish all these things while DH scowled and muttered about getting stuck in traffic and wondered aloud why it was always the same fiasco every time we had to be anywhere. Luckily for me, he’s very good at wrapping presents and came to my rescue while I wondered how to break it to him that I’d forgotten to buy a gift bag to put them in and had to rummage under the bed to find an old birthday one that didn’t look too birthday-like and would do for wedding presents (and if you’re reading this, dear brother and new sister-in-law, I’m sorry, but you know you should expect such things from me by now. There’s a price to pay for creative genius…)

As it turned out, we were on time and the day was lovely. The sun shone, the bride and groom had a brilliant time and laughed a lot, we all ate and drank and chatted to people we hadn’t seen in ages, the buttons didn’t ping off my trousers and there were hardly any arguments at all. Always a bonus at a family wedding. 10371524_605108592939717_6089114391174858455_n

The downside was that I didn’t get to taste any of the cake – although if it was fruit cake I don’t care, I really hate fruit cake – and having Friday off means I’m working a double shift next Friday. Boo. 😦

In other news, I’m still waiting for my manuscript to come back from the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. That’s a nerve-wracking thing, I can tell you. I was late last year, sending it off approximately two days before the deadline, and everyone said I’d be waiting ages for it to return. However, it only took three weeks. This year it was (I thought!) ready to send in early June, but I haven’t had my report back yet. Of course, as you’d expect, the minute I sent it off I thought of lots of things that I could have done to make it better. In fact, there are at least two scenes that I think I’m going to cut when it comes back, and I’ve thought of ways to make my character a bit more sympathetic, too. I’m dying to know if my reader thinks the same as I do, or if she’s spotted something else entirely that I ought to be more worried about. Gulp!

While waiting for the verdict on A Kiss from a Rose, I’ve been busying myself writing the short story for the anthology that I told you all about. It’s the brainchild of The Write Romantics and they’re publishing it in aid of two very worthy charities. You can read all about it and also about a great competition to name the anthology here. Anyway, I’m not confident about writing short stories so I was a bit worried about it, but I was so honoured to be asked to take part I was hardly likely to refuse, was I? As it turns out, after a few false starts and bitten nails, I quite enjoyed the process of writing it. It was quite refreshing to have to think about telling a story in so few words and deciding how best to tell it – which viewpoint to use, which tense, where to start it, how to finish it. It’s very different from writing a novel and fairly daunting, I have to say. I’m impressed by those writers who create short stories all the time. It’s by no means easy and I wasn’t convinced that I’d mastered the art. I sent it to Alex, one of The Write Romantics, to proofread and to get her opinion. Luckily, she liked it, and I don’t think she was only saying that because she’s my friend. In fact, I know she wasn’t because she told me “I’m not just saying that because you’re my friend”. See! So, apart from a few minor edits, that’s that job done and I can breathe again. At least, until the manuscript of my novel turns up on the doorstep complete with report.

I’ve been scouring the blogs and Facebook pages of fellow writers this week and trying not to feel jealous as I read all about their fantastic weekend at the RNA Conference in Shropshire. There are some great stories, fab pictures, and enough information to make anyone eager to take part in next year’s event. I admit, I did have a wobble when I read it’s to take place in London. I’ve never been to London, and it seems like quite a scary place to a northerner like me! It seems very noisy, very expensive, and very big! Even the thought of getting a train down there is a worrying thought. There’s no getting away from it, though. I can’t have another year of feeling left out and envious. It’s just not on. In fact, I’ve already started saving for the fees so there you go. London, here I come!

Finally, I’d just like to thank The Write Romantics, Tracey Scott-Townsend, and Heidi-Jo Swain for being so supportive this last couple of weeks. I did a guest post on The Write Romantics’ blog last Saturday which you can read here. I  was also invited to do the Meet My Character blog tour by Tracey (whose own post you can read here) and passed the baton to Alys West, whose post you can read here. On August 8th I will be on Heidi-Jo’s blog. She is a member of the NWS and is running a summer Path to Publication blog tour featuring fellow members. You can read the first of her guest’s post here. Don’t forget to look out for mine on August 8th!


So, it’s back to the grindstone for me. A week at the day job beckons, including two ten hour shifts instead of one. Oh, the glamour. I bet Barbara Cartland never had these problems!

Have a great week xx

Meet My Character

Meet My Character Blog Tour

Tracey Scott-Townsend, author of the fabulous novel, The Last Time We Saw Marion, has invited me to take part in the Meet My Character Blog Tour. Find out more about Tracey over on her blog and you can buy her wonderful debut novel here.

So, here goes with my attempts to answer the set questions about a character of mine.

1. What is the name of your character? Is s/he fictional or historical?

My character is the heroine of Book One and her name is Eliza Jarvis. She’s completely fictional – although, having said that, she does have some of my character traits. Not least her passion for Maltesers.

2. When and where is the story set?

It’s set in the present day and takes place in the fictional village of Kearton Bay on the North Yorkshire coast. Kearton Bay isn’t real, but it was inspired by the real-life village of Robin Hood’s Bay which is around five miles south of Whitby.

3. What should we know about her?

Eliza is in her early thirties, married to television presenter Harry Jarvis and the mother of a three-year-old daughter called Amy. She was brought up by her Uncle Joe, and when the story starts she lives in Chiswick, till a life-changing event – involving a toy laptop, a mobile phone and a strawberry gateau – leads her to North Yorkshire and a new “career” as an undercover agent(!) She copes with the things that life throws at her with the aid of a sense of  humour, cake and an indecent amount of Maltesers.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up her life?

Eliza’s life is messed up when Harry betrays her and she is forced to face up to how her childhood has affected the way she behaves in her adult life. This leads her to a new location and puts her on an entirely different path. Essentially she’s a decent person, but her mission to discover the identity of her father causes her to behave in an underhanded fashion and delve into people’s personal lives – people she grows to care about, even to love…how will these people react if they discover that she has ulterior motives for befriending them? And is finding her father really worth all the pain she may end up causing to the one person who comes to mean the most to her?

5. What is the personal goal of the character?

Eliza’s personal goal is to discover who she really is and step out of the shadow of other people. She needs to forge her own identity and become a person in her own right. Her lack of self-esteem, her worries about her daughter, her confusion over her feelings about her marriage and her growing attraction to a man who seems completely out of reach, are all obstacles to her achieving this.

6. Is there a working title for this novel and can we read more about it?

The book is called There Must Be An Angel. You can see the people and places who inspired me while writing this novel on my Pinterest board here.

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

That’s a good question! I’m really hoping that it will be some time between Christmas and Easter. It’s ready to go and I’ve also just about completed the second in the series (it’s part of a series of four that I’ve provisionally named The Kearton Bay Chronicles). It’s mainly a question of finances. I want to do a good job with it and that takes time and money but it will be worth it in the end! 🙂

…and the tour carries on
I’m passing the baton to two fellow NWS members: Contemporary women’s fiction writer, Julie Heslington, whose blog you can read here and urban fantasy writer, Alys West, whose blog you can find here. Look forward to reading their posts!

Shadows and Echoes

I’ve been hearing voices in my head all week and it’s been quite an emotional experience. Before you back away and make that call to the authorities, I should probably explain. I’ve been on holiday. Yay! Where did I go? North Yorkshire. Yay! And did the sun shine? Yes it did, every single day! Yay, yay, and thrice yay!

Now, I know that for someone who lives in East Yorkshire, holidaying in North Yorkshire is hardly an epic journey. Truthfully, it took us less than forty-five minutes to reach our destination but that’s not the point. In recent years we’ve taken to holidaying in the South West – Devon, Somerset and especially Cornwall. We love that area and will no doubt be heading back there, if not next year then certainly the year after. However, DH and I were not travelling alone. Oh no. In our wisdom we’d decided to take with us not only our son, his partner and their two-year-old daughter, but also our daughter, her partner, her six-year-old son and their ten-week-old baby. Yes, you read that right. Ten weeks old! Were we mad? Possibly.

The thing is, with three very young children on board, we didn’t fancy a six-hour car journey to the west country, so we got all nostalgic and decided to take our grandchildren back to the holiday park we used to stay at when our own children were small. It lies between Filey and Scarborough and has spectacular countryside around it as you can see below.blog2

I wasn’t prepared for the fact, however, that everywhere we went we heard echoes of our holidays past. Talk about haunted! It felt like the ghosts of our long-ago summers were following us around. Every time I heard a child shout for its mother I automatically looked round. I could still see my two youngest boys climbing on the ropes in the adventure playground. I could see my eldest son doing a Baywatch-style slow motion run along the cliff top to our howls of laughter. I could see my eldest daughter desperately trying to avoid being splashed in the swimming pool (she still does!) and hear my youngest daughter wailing as her sister tried to nudge her off a ride. I blinked away tears when I saw that the old pub, in which countless drinks had been knocked over by our over-enthusiastic youngsters, had been changed to a much smarter restaurant/bar. The old food court was now a Burger King and a pizza place. The Donkey Derby had disappeared entirely. It was far more emotional than I’d expected it to be and I gulped as I looked at those same little children now all grown up with children of their own, wondering what happened to all those years. Where had all that time gone?

Equally surprising was our trip to Robin Hood’s Bay. Regular readers of this blog will know that the series of books I’m currently working on are set in the fictional village of Kearton Bay, which is based on this very location. I haven’t been back to the bay since I started writing the novels and it was astonishingly moving to go there and imagine my characters walking around and living their lives among those beautiful little passages and alleyways. the inspiration for keartonbay 2

There is a very steep hill in Robin Hood’s Bay which is the main route down to the beach, and several of my characters moan about it. It was funny to walk down it and see for myself how much of a struggle it is to get back up! I reached the bottom eventually and stared out over the beach and imagined my characters doing the very same thing. I could visualise scenes from the novels and could even hear their voices echoing around me as they played out the key moments of their lives.

Robin Hood's Bay

When I eventually made it back up to the top of that hill (and believe me, it took a while) I stared out over the sea and thought about how far I’d come since the last time I visited this very place and realised how much my characters meant to me and how real they seemed. It filled me with an enthusiasm to get back to the laptop and start work on the third in the series. I’m keen to get going but also rather dreading the day I write The End on book four as I will be saying a final goodbye to my fictional world and the lovely people I met there. One thing’s for sure, Robin Hood’s Bay will always hold a special place in my heart.

Have a great week xx

The view at Robin Hood's Bay

The view at Robin Hood’s Bay