A Cuppa and a Catch-Up

You can’t beat a cup of tea

It’s May! I can hardly believe it. Happy Bank Holiday to you all, and – as my good friend Rhiannon Bone would say – a very blessed Beltane, too.

Pull up a chair, grab yourselves a cuppa, and let’s have a good old catch-up, shall we?

I am very well aware that I haven’t been around much on here lately. I apologise – again. I have been incredibly busy, working on not just one, not just two, but three different writing projects.

The first of these is currently having a final proofread. I have had a gorgeous cover designed for me by the lovely, and very patient, Berni Stevens,  and I’m just waiting now to make any final corrections before things move on to the publishing stage.

New book coming soon!

There will be a cover reveal and a pre-order date coming very soon, but I can tell you that the book is due for publication around mid-June. It’s not a Kearton Bay book, nor a Skimmerdale book, but it’s very close to my heart. It’s set on the Yorkshire Moors, not far from Kearton Bay (!) and a scene takes place in Helmston, so readers of the KB series will feel on familiar territory. We have brand new characters, including a heroine I loved and a hero I fell completely in love with. I’m always nervous when I’m about to have a book published, but I really hope you’ll enjoy it.

I’ve also been working on the second Skimmerdale book, and it’s been great fun to be back in the Yorkshire Dales with my old friends. I’ve especially enjoyed renewing my acquaintance with hunky sheep farmer, Eliot, but that’s me. I’m shameless. I’m not sure when this book will be published but I will definitely keep you updated when I know more.

Thirdly, I’ve been writing a Christmas book, and that should be coming out in late October/early November. It’s set in and around Farthingdale and Moreton Cross – villages that also appear in the Kearton Bay series – but will feature completely different characters. I’ve been getting to know a very different sort of heroine in this one. She’s quite challenging, and she has a rather lovely fella whose life she’s about to turn upside down – or is she? Hmm…

Can’t believe my book’s in the libraries!

So, as you can imagine, it’s been all go lately, and that’s why I’ve neglected the blog and for that I can only apologise. Hopefully, you’ll all think it was worth it in the end. 🙂

What else have I been up to? Well, I sent off a story to the lovely folks at The People’s Friend, and it was accepted. It’s going to be published as a pocket novel on July 27th. It’s provisionally called The Doctor’s Daughter, although that may change. I’ll be publishing it on Kindle at some point in the near future, but it’s always lovely to see a copy of your work on the shelves of WH Smith or a supermarket – even if it’s only for a couple of weeks. My previous pocket novel, All Because of Baxter, has been published in large print format by Ulverscroft, and copies of that should be in various libraries right now. That’s made me very happy, as I spent practically my entire childhood in one library or another, and I never dreamt in a million years that one of my books would be on the shelves one day. It just shows you!

I’ve also been setting up a new website. You may notice that several pages of this blog have gone missing, and that’s because they’ve been incorporated into my new site instead. However, this blog will remain, as will the book reviews, and there will be a link to these pages on my new website. It’s been quite a faff for someone as technically challenged as me, I can tell you! Find me at http://www.sharonboothwriter.com

Me and Jessica in a very windy, cold Scarborough!

It hasn’t ALL been work, though. On Saturday I ventured out of my writing room into the real world. I caught the train to Scarborough to visit my lovely friend and fellow Write Romantic, Jessica Redland, who was giving a talk at the Seastrand Cafe on the seafront. We had a fabulous day, and even though the talk didn’t go quite as planned, we had a lot of fun. Mind you, the weather was a bit grim. My teeth were chattering! Of course, it WAS a British Bank Holiday weekend so I should have known. 🙂 You can read all about Jessica’s event here.

So, I think we’re all caught up for now. My cup of tea has actually gone cold, so I’m off to put the kettle on.

Have a great week.

S is for Series

Sis for series, which is what I’m currently writing. The Kearton Bay series, to be exact, which consists of four novels featuring different main characters each time, but with the same setting and with a backdrop of characters that have featured in all four novels.

There are obvious advantages to writing a series. For a start, you don’t have to think of a new setting each time, and you don’t have to create a whole new cast of characters. When you open the laptop and write Chapter One, you’re heading back to familiar territory. You’re visiting a place you’re familiar with, to meet up with people who’ve become great friends. You know the characters and their quirks; you have a soft spot for them and find it easy to write about them; you don’t have to sit there for hours on end trying to decide who is related to whom and working out a back story for your lead character because you’ve already done it. You’ve put in the groundwork right at the beginning.

On the other hand, there is the big issue of continuity. When I started writing Book Three, I decided to change something which meant amending Book One. I was lucky because There Must Be An Angel hadn’t yet been published, so it was easy to go in and tweak something to make it  correspond with the new twist. However, Angel is now officially out there, and I can’t change anything. Book Two, A Kiss From A Rose, will be out there in September, which means I really have to be careful with what I’ve written, and make absolutely sure that it ties up with Book Three before it’s too late. There’s an awful lot of checking and re-checking to be done, and I have long lists with characters’ birthdates, important dates in their timelines, even eye colour and favourite food!

The other thing, of course, is freshness. I have to confess that, after completing the first two novels, I needed a bit of a break from Kearton Bay. I’m currently writing short stories and working on a novella length one, just to do something different without taking too much time off. I’m on a schedule, after all, and can’t take too long a break, but a little time spent in a new location with new characters is a delight, and I think it’s essential to stop me getting too jaded.

And after I’ve finished Book Four? Well, I have an idea for a stand alone novel, but then I have plots for three more which I think will form a new series, set in the Yorkshire Dales. I’ve got just the place in mind as inspiration, and I have some lovely new characters who I’m dying to start working with. But for now, Books Three and Four are my priority.

61TROIi4YmL._AA160_I’m not the only Write Romantic writing a series. Helen Phifer is the author of the hugely successful Annie Graham books, published by Carina Uk; Jessica Redland’s Whitsborough Bay series is to be published by So Vain Books; fellow Fabrian author Jo Bartlett is writing a series 51RNIeU+KiL._AA160_set on the south coast in St Nicholas Bay, and the first – The Gift of Christmas Yet to Come – was published in November; while Alys West’s series is a brilliant urban fantasy collection, the first of which, Beltane, will hopefully be available soon.

I love reading series. There’s something so comforting about opening the covers of a book and finding yourself back amongst characters you’ve come to know and love.

51-Ea4e2iuL._AA160_Recently, I finished reading the third in the Heartfelt trilogy by Adrienne Vaughan. There was something wonderful about opening the covers of those books and heading straight back to the lovely island of Innishmahon to catch up with old friends like Marianne and Ryan, Dermot and Kathleen. I was very sad to finish Secrets of the Heart and realise that I wouldn’t be visiting the island again. Because, that’s another great thing about a series – the joy of loving a whole new group of characters and becoming part of their lives, and knowing that once a book is finished, you can always head back later to find out what they’ve been up to. My mother, upon finishing Angel, asked me quite anxiously, ‘This second book, are Eliza and Gabriel still in it?’ I replied that they were but the story was really about Rose and Flynn. ‘But Eliza and Gabriel are in it?’ she persisted. I assured her they were and asked, ‘Why? Do you like them?’ ‘Oh yes,’ she replied. ‘They’re lovely, and I want to know they’re all right.’

41XR2JYT0TL._AA160_I can’t tell you how happy that made me! I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve struggled with the third in the Bridget Jones series. In spite of loving the first two novels, I haven’t managed to get past the half way point in Mad About the Boy. I just can’t stop grieving for Mark Darcy! And I can’t quite get over the feeling that, as a reader, I’ve been cheated of the happy ending that was promised for the two lead characters in The Edge of Reason.

Characters like Rupert Campbell Black in Jilly Cooper’s fabulously naughty Rutshire series; the wonderful Merrily the wine of angelsWatkins in Phil Rickman’s mystery series; or, lately – for me at any rate, though I know they’ve been around for years – the delicious Ross Poldark and the delightful Demelza in the Poldark books of Winston Graham, are just some of the many, many characters whose lives I have followed and loved as I’ve read each book in the series. There are so many more. In fact, I’ve just reminded myself of a book I have waiting on my Kindle right now! Time to end this blog post and fit in some reading time…

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Have a great day xx

Remember, There Must Be An Angel is currently free on Kindle, but the offer ends on 23rd April so hurry! Click on the image in the side bar to get your copy.

Why not visit some of the other blogs taking part in the A to Z Challenge?

 

E is for Eat, Drink and Be Merry!

Eis for eat, drink and be merry! And that’s exactly what I did on Good Friday, along with my lovely pals and fellow Write Romantics, Alex Weston and Julie Heslington (aka Alys West and Jessica Redland).

Julie, Alex and I meet up every couple of months or so to have a good old catch up, and discuss our writing progress, problems and anything else that crossed our minds.

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Alex

Apart from the normal meet-ups, we’ve met up for Alex’s birthday celebration, to celebrate Julie’s book deal, and as a final catch-up before Christmas.  On Good Friday we met up to celebrate the launch of There Must Be An Angel. 

The first time we ever met – after I’d “met” Alex on an online forum and she asked me if I’d like to meet her in person along with her writing pal, Julie – was in a pub on a sunny June day in Bridlington. We were all members of the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers’ Scheme, and we discussed where we were with our manuscripts and how close we were to sending them off to be read. Julie had already submitted her novel the previous year, and was about to send it off again, having made some changes to it. Alex was working on her novel and was confident she’d be able to send it off by the deadline. And me? I thought about the tangled mess I had at home and shook my head, before confessing that I didn’t think I’d be sending it off at all. It just wasn’t ready. I’d taken lots of advice and now I didn’t know where I was going with it any more. I didn’t know what to do with it next.

julie blog

Julie

Alex and Julie were adamant that I must send it off, and after a stern talking to, I finally realised they were right. I left them that day and went home, feeling a new determination and confidence. I began to pull the tangled threads apart and wrote the book I wanted to write, shutting out all the voices and well-meaning advice that I’d been offered or had read in endless “how-to” books. Within weeks, There Must Be An An Angel – then called Angel in the Marble – was ready to send in, and I printed it off and posted it just before the August deadline.

I’m so glad I listened to Alex and Julie, because I got some fantastic feedback from my anonymous reader, who gave me great encouragement and pointed out some issues that needed fixing, giving me food for thought and helping me to shape Angel into the novel it is today.

It was a full eleven months before the three of us met up again and a lot had happened to us in the meantime. At our next meeting, they told me about their blog group, The Write Romantics, and their plans for a winter-themed anthology of short stories. When I got home, Alex messaged me, asking me if I would consider writing a short story for the anthology. Would I? Too right, I would! Within weeks, The Write Romantics had asked me to join their group. Cue another meet up with Alex and Julie and more celebrating! We now meet up fairly regularly, and we always have loads to talk about!10003910_760435337407041_3975376277172950120_n

On Good Friday we met up in our now regular cafe and had lunch and cake, and there was lots to talk about, as you can imagine! It seems very odd to me that I only met Alex and Julie less than two years ago. It feels like they’ve been part of my life forever. They are so excited for me that Angel is finally available for other people to read. Julie and Jo – another of our Write Romantic friends – had sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers on publication day, and on Friday, Alex presented me with a gift of a gorgeous little notebook, just the right size for popping in my bag and carrying with me so that I can jot down any ideas that may strike me, and a little bag containing an amethyst and a moonstone. 11041664_760434844073757_6255804575141140710_nVery appropriate for the Kearton Bay novels! Before much time passes, we’ll be meeting up again to celebrate the launch of Julie/Jessica’s novel, Searching for Steven, which is being published by So Vain Books in June. I am also certain that it won’t be long after that when we meet up to toast Beltane, Alex’s first book. Exciting times for all of us!

Alex and I are huge fans of the BBC television show, The Musketeers. Their motto, of course, is “All for one and one for all!” That feels quite appropriate for me and my Write Romantic pals, too!the-three-musketeers-and-the-need-for-role-clarity-and-allegiance-to-higher-educations-hcm-objectives-6-638

Have a great day xx

 

PS.  I know, I know…but what a great excuse for a pic of our handsome Musketeers! 🙂

B is for Beltane

Bis for Beltane – otherwise known as May Day. I’ve always been intrigued by the sabbats celebrated by pagans, Wiccans and other so-called “alternative” religions. The wheel of life, the celebration of new seasons, the connection with the earth and its natural cycles, has always interested and appealed. So when I was writing about Kearton Bay, it seemed only natural that I would include some aspects of that way of life.

Enter Rhiannon Bone – the beautiful Wiccan landlady of The Hare and Moon public house. Rhiannon is a wise soul, sometimes seeming far older than the forty-one years she actually is. Lovely inside and out, but with her own peculiar flaws, Rhiannon is a recurring character in the Kearton Bay series of books, and her life somehow manages to be entwined with the lives of quite a few of the villagers.

When Eliza first arrives in Kearton Bay, it is early May, and Rhiannon has organised a Beltane celebration. I had to research what exactly that means and it wasn’t as easy as it sounds. Different traditions seem to have different ideas and views about the sabbats and how to honour them. Some celebrate on 30th April, some on 1st May or thereabouts, but the one thing most of them seemed to agree on was that a fire was essential. So I made sure that Rhiannon’s Beltane celebrations took place around a big bonfire. One item that I read mentioned the tradition that the fairy queen’s bells may sound at Beltane, and that if you hear them and don’t look away from her in time, she will enslave you forever. I thought that sounded rather romantic (if you didn’t take it literally!) so that was included in the book.

The May Queen and the Green Man are also Beltane traditions. I have been fascinated by the Green Man for many years. His image is to be found in many churches, which always struck me as quite extraordinary. Of course, I had to have a Green Man and a May Queen in There Must Be An Angel.

Strange but true: The first of the Write Romantics I ever made contact with was Alex Weston (who writes as Alys West). It was through an online forum, and she told me she was writing a novel set in Glastonbury which immediately intrigued me. We arranged to meet up and the rest, as they say, is history. It was only later that I discovered her novel’s title – Beltane. It really did seem like fate because, through Alex, I met Julie Heslington, aka Jessica Redland, and later became a Write Romantic myself. Spookily, I later found out that Julie’s birthday is – May 1st! Without their encouragement and support, I’m not sure There Must Be An Angel would ever have been finished, so it’s all been quite a coincidence. Or has it…?

Having read Beltane, I’m absolutely certain that it won’t be long before it’s published, and you’ll all be able to enjoy it for yourselves. You’re in for a real treat!

Have a great day xxx

A-Z Challenge Theme Reveal

atoz-theme-reveal-2015So, as I may have mentioned previously, I took the plunge and signed up for the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Basically, this means that throughout the month of April (excluding Sundays) I have to write a different blog post each day, with the theme of each post beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. So April 1st would be about a subject beginning with A, April 2nd about a subject beginning with B…you get the drift.

Having decided to go for it – because I’m nothing if not completely insane – I then learnt there is another string to the A-Z bow. The great theme reveal. Or The Great Theme Reveal if you want to be a bit more dramatic. Participants in this choose an overriding theme for all twenty-six of their blog posts, rather than selecting random subjects each day.

At first I thought this was a step too far. But then, when I thought about it a bit more, I realised it could actually be a good thing. Having to focus your mind and concentrate on one theme would – possibly – be a useful thing. So I decided to go for it. The question was, what was my theme going to be?

There Must Be An Angel

There Must Be An Angel

Well, I then realised that the challenge was the perfect opportunity to tell you all a bit more about There Must Be An Angel. It’s my first book, and I’m very proud of it, and I am all too aware that a short blurb on the back of the book cover, or on Amazon, or here on my blog, doesn’t even begin to cover all the aspects of the story. There are lots of different elements to the plot, but there are also “behind the scenes” things going on, too. For instance, how much do you know about Beltane? Have you ever visited Robin Hoods Bay or Whitby? Have you ever tasted delicious gourmet marshmallows? What’s your favourite ancient monument or stately home? What do Jane Eyre and Jane Wenham-Jones have in common? And who exactly is Kearton Bay named after? These are just some of the issues I’ll be discussing over the course of the challenge, and by answering these questions and a whole lot more, I hope you’ll feel part of the Kearton Bay community and want to know more about what’s going 10462719_598312073619369_4215909891013464915_non there. I may even be giving away a free copy of There Must Be An Angel for you to discover for yourself!

Looking forward to seeing you here. April 1st. It’s a date!

Have a great week xx

Reflections

It’s my birthday! I have now reached the grand old age of fifty-one and, frankly, I can’t believe how quickly the last year has flown.

A few days ago I re-read my blog posts from last June: Embracing the Crone was all about my feelings on turning fifty, a truly milestone birthday. Seven Go Mad in Filey recounted my birthday weekend away with six female family members in a caravan. There was a lot of alcohol involved apparently. And cake, obviously. I honestly can’t believe how much has happened in these last twelve months and I find it scary how quickly time is passing.

Last June – and I can hardly believe I’m saying this – I met my lovely writer friends Julie Heslington and Alex Weston for the first time. I’d come across Alex on Romna when she introduced herself to the group (Romna is the online branch of the Romantic Novelists’ Association) and I was drawn to her post as she was writing a romantic suspense novel set in Glastonbury, called Beltane. The book I was writing at the time had a scene involving Beltane, and I’d spent some time in Glastonbury the previous summer and absolutely loved the place, and had just read three books by Phil Rickman set in Glastonbury (Marco and the Blade of Night, Marco’s Pendulum and The Chalice, if you’re interested. You should be. They’re fab!) Anyway, because of all this I contacted Alex and we exchanged a few emails and then she suggested we meet up and added that she’d like to bring along her writer friend Julie who was also a member of the NWS.

I was frankly scared stiff. Meeting new people was a real ordeal for me, but I desperately wanted to talk to others who were in the same situation as me and would be happy to talk about writing, so I agreed. Thank God I did, because that meeting led to a really supportive friendship and I honestly don’t know where I’d be without them now.  They encouraged me to finish the novel I was writing which was, to be honest, in a bit of a mess and submit to the NWS and with their support I completed it and sent it off just in time to beat the deadline.

Because of that very positive and helpful critique, I managed to pluck up the courage to send a revised version of the novel to five beta-readers, including Julie and another member of their group, The Write Romantics, Jo Bartlett. With their help and feedback, I finished the novel and then, at our last meet-up, I put a selection of titles to Julie and Alex and they helped me choose There Must Be An Angel. Since then, I have completed book two, A Kiss from a Rose which has gone off to be critiqued now and I have been asked to submit a short story to the Write Romantics’ charity anthology in aid of The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and the Teenage Cancer Trust. Incidentally, The Write Romantics are running a competition to name the anthology so if any of you have any suggestions here are the details.

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t answered Alex’s post on Romna that day, and all that stuff has happened to me in a year!

Not only that, but a year ago I was living in my daughter’s spare bedroom. I don’t know if I ever mentioned that? 😉 I tried not to talk about it too much…Since then, my daughter got married, I moved back in with DH, we moved to a new house and we have been blessed with two new granddaughters! No one can say that the year hasn’t been eventful.

I used to dread birthdays, seeing them as reminders of how quickly time was passing and how much of my life I was wasting. I seemed to spend a long time treading water, unsure of what it was I wanted and where I was going. This year has been so different because I have been doing things I really love doing and have found my confidence building and my happiness increasing.

I see this birthday as a landmark – a flag in the map of my life. This coming year will bring more major developments, I’m sure of it. One way or the other, by the time my next birthday comes around I will be a published author, and I’m incredibly excited and optimistic about that. I don’t know if I will ever be traditionally published or if I will choose the indie path; I’m not expecting to make a fortune from writing; I’m not dreaming of winning the Man Booker Prize or any awards for my novels. What I do know is that as long as I keep loving what I do, enjoying my writing, falling for my heroes and cheering my heroines on, I will keep doing this and that knowledge makes me look forward to the future with delight.  Maybe that’s what success is, after all, and who wouldn’t look forward to the future with that in mind?

Have a great week xx

So, Six Weeks Later…

Hello! Look it’s me! I’m back! 🙂

‘But, Sharon,’ I hear you cry, ‘where have you been? We’ve missed you so much.’

Then I woke up. Be honest, you didn’t notice I was gone did you? Did you? You fickle bunch!

To be fair, it’s been a while so I can’t really blame you if you’ve forgotten all about me. About six weeks since I last posted on here (shameful) apart from some book reviews. I do apologise. I am a very naughty blogger.

So what have I been up to that’s kept me away from the lure of this beloved blog? Well, quite a lot actually.

Firstly, and most importantly, I was at the birth of my fifth grandchild. Little Caitlyn-Rose arrived in the world at the end of April weighing 6lbs 15ozs, with big blue eyes and lots of dark hair and little fists that curled around my finger the very first time I held her – which was just moments after she was born. I even cut the cord! What a thrill. So you can see that, actually, I’ve been rather preoccupied – not least because one of the least likeable characters in my novel was called Caitlyn and I’ve had to change that now. Can you imagine the scene if I hadn’t? Sixteen or so years down the line and a tearful Caitlyn saying to her mother, ‘Didn’t Grandma like me? Why has she called that spiteful cow after me?’ It simply wouldn’t do so the name had to be changed, and it’s surprisingly difficult to do that when you’ve spent so long thinking of a character by a certain name because nothing else seems right! I warn you now, grandchild number six is arriving in the world in mid-June so I may be a bit pre-occupied all over again. I tell you, this family is expanding so much I will seriously have to think about cancelling Christmas or limiting everyone to a selection box as a gift.

A couple of weeks ago I met up with my two writing pals, Julie and Alex. Like me, they are members of the RNA NWS and, along with seven other ladies, they are part of the Write Romantics. As we all live within an hour’s drive of each other we decided to have a catch-up over coffee and cake. Both girls have been submitting their first novels and we had a lovely chat about rejection *sigh*, self-publishing, agents, the RNA, our own writing queries and thoughts – and Musketeers! Julie is writing a trilogy of books set in a fictional seaside town and has already sent Book Two to the NWS and had her critique back. She is now working on revisions as well as sending Book One out into the world. Alex is writing a series of romantic suspense novels – the first of which, Beltane, is set in Glastonbury and has had some very positive feedback. Fingers crossed for both the girls! We had a simply fabulous afternoon and I for one can’t wait to meet up again.

A few days later I got a message from Alex asking me if I’d like to submit a short story to an anthology the Write Romantics are releasing later in the year. This will be in aid of two very worthy charities – the Teenage Cancer Trust and Cystic Fibrosis Trust. I don’t generally write short stories – although, funnily enough, I did write one a few weeks ago completely out of the blue. It’s not really suitable for this anthology, though, which means I must put my thinking cap on. It’s truly terrifying. Not only are all the fabulous Write Romantics contributing a story, but also authors such as Zanna MacKenzie, Samantha Tonge and Alison May. And there’s little old me in amongst that lot! Crikey, talk about scary! I guess I’ll be brushing up on my short story skills, then. I’m lying, I haven’t got any short story skills. I’ll be developing them from scratch, crying a lot and eating chocolate in indecent quantities.

And, in case you’re thinking, well big deal. So she had a new granddaughter and met up with her pals, is that any excuse to ignore this blog which we love and treasure so much? Quite right, it’s not. But I have been incredibly busy on the writing front. Not only did I finish the first draft of Book Two but I have been working very, very hard on the edits for Book One. I have almost, almost, finally decided that I am going to self-publish it, and I’ve set myself a deadline. I want this book out in the big wide world before the year is out, and I’m now looking at cover designers and other services to see what’s out there and what I want to do. The name of the book has been changed – after running four different titles past Alex and Julie and asking which they preferred and finding they liked the name I’d given the book almost from the beginning and only changed a few months ago. So Book One of The Kearton Bay Chronicles is called There Must Be An Angel and, fingers crossed, you’ll all be able to read it this year! Gulp.

So, you see? I haven’t been wasting my time and ignoring you all for the fun of it. (The ‘F’ key on my laptop just decided to play silly beggars – you have no idea how hard it was to write that last sentence!) Anyway, the point is, I’m back. Did you miss me?

Oh God, just had a Sherlock flashback. The evil but compelling Moriarty…the striking theme tune…Benedict’s eyes. Nope, sorry, I’m done here now. There’s just time before I head off to the day job to watch that episode all over again. Me, waste time? Never!

Have a great week xx

Caitlyn-Rose

Caitlyn-Rose