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.

Merry Christmas

text-1892882_1280It’s Christmas Eve! I can’t quite believe that the big day is almost upon us. It seemed to be hovering in the distance for such a long time, and now it’s so close I can practically hear those sleigh bells. I think I say the same thing every year!

Christmas preparations are almost done. I don’t have children living at home any more, so it’s not as frantic as it used to be when I had five little ones, all with very high expectations of a perfect day. No pressure there, then! It’s a lot easier, now, with just the husband and the dog to think about. On the other hand, I can’t deny that it’s lost a certain something. I do miss having the kids around most at Christmas. They were noisy, chaotic and very messy, but Christmases with five children at home were also amazing, exciting, and rekindled the joy of the festive season in me every year.

How are your Christmas preparations going? This year, I actually managed to write all my cards and post them or presents-153926_1280give them out in time. I can’t remember the last time I managed that. The last of the food shopping is being delivered today, and I’ve already had an email to say there are no major substitutions, which for Christmas Eve, is pretty impressive. Even the presents are wrapped, and most of them have already been delivered.

Of course, not everything’s gone according to plan. Two parcels have gone astray. One was delivered to the sorting depot on the 9th December and hasn’t been seen since. Investigations are in progress but I’ve heard nothing so far, and I doubt I will now, this side of  January. The other was delivered to some mysterious person at some mysterious address. It was signed for, but no one has come forward to tell me they have it. Again, investigations are in progress…Hmm. I actually ordered the item again, as I couldn’t hang around while the company tried to figure out what had happened, but there has been no sign of that one at all. Can’t say I’m impressed with the delivery company. Amazon, on the other hand, have been brilliant. Everything ordered from them has arrived well on time. There have even been Sunday deliveries! Impressive.

quotes-933816_1920The thing is, whatever’s not here now isn’t going to be here for Christmas, and it’s no use worrying about it. I’m determined not to stress about all this stuff. It’s sad but true that the most wonderful time of the year is also the time when we lose sight of everything that matters, lost in a fog of panic, and a dreadful fear of failure. Today I’m seeing some of my kids and grandchildren, watching my favourite film, It’s a Wonderful Life, and maybe even treating myself to a festive snowball! Christmas is for enjoying, and I intend to do just that. It’s too easy to get caught up in believing you have to have the “perfect” Christmas, and thinking that to achieve that you have to tick off every single thing on your to-do list, when, really, none of it matters at all.  I think this poem by Sir John Betjeman sums it up perfectly:

Christmas

The bells of waiting Advent ring,
The Tortoise stove is lit again
And lamp-oil light across the night
Has caught the streaks of winter rain
In many a stained-glass window sheen
From Crimson Lake to Hookers Green.

The holly in the windy hedge
And round the Manor House the yew
Will soon be stripped to deck the ledge,
The altar, font and arch and pew,
So that the villagers can say
‘The church looks nice’ on Christmas Day.

Provincial Public Houses blaze,
Corporation tramcars clang,
On lighted tenements I gaze,
Where paper decorations hang,
And bunting in the red Town Hall
Says ‘Merry Christmas to you all’.

And London shops on Christmas Eve
Are strung with silver bells and flowers
As hurrying clerks the City leave
To pigeon-haunted classic towers,
And marbled clouds go scudding by
The many-steepled London sky.

And girls in slacks remember Dad,
And oafish louts remember Mum,
And sleepless children’s hearts are glad.
And Christmas-morning bells say ‘Come!’
Even to shining ones who dwell
Safe in the Dorchester Hotel.

And is it true? And is it true,
This most tremendous tale of all,
Seen in a stained-glass window’s hue,
A Baby in an ox’s stall ?
The Maker of the stars and sea
Become a Child on earth for me ?

And is it true ?  For if it is,
No loving fingers tying strings
Around those tissued fripperies,
The sweet and silly Christmas things,
Bath salts and inexpensive scent
And hideous tie so kindly meant,

No love that in a family dwells,
No carolling in frosty air,
Nor all the steeple-shaking bells
Can with this single Truth compare –
That God was man in Palestine
And lives today in Bread and Wine.

christmas-934177_1920I fully appreciate that not everyone believes that “God was man in Palestine”, but the Christmas message of love, hope, and forgiveness is relevant to everyone – and maybe it’s more important than ever in these troubled times.
So I’d like to wish you all a very merry, peaceful Christmas. Have fun, make memories, and remember to enjoy it – even if you don’t get the exact present you wanted, or the turkey’s too dry, or Uncle Bill gets completely sozzled and falls asleep with his head in the pudding. One day, you’ll look back on Christmas 2016, and you won’t remember the things you forgot to do, or the things that didn’t arrive in time. You’ll remember the love, the laughs, and the feelings. That’s Christmas for you.
Have a good one!
Sharonxxx (3)

A Christmas Romance by Amy Perfect (Lynda Renham)

As signalled by the fact that Lynda Renham is writing as Amy Perfect, rather than under her own name, this book is a little different to her usual romcoms. It’s still funny, but it’s set at a gentler pace, and is cosier, somehow. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I really loved it.
Little Perran is the sort of place many people would love to live in. A picturesque Cotswolds village where everyone knows everyone, and everybody cares what’s going on in their neighbours’ lives.
Frankie has been badly betrayed by her boyfriend Paul, so there’s a lot of sympathy for her. Everyone wants to see her happy. Frankie just wants to get on with her life and think about something else, and it seems she’ll get her wish, when news hits the village that famous film star Roux Lockhart is coming to stay in Little Perran. Everyone is buzzing with excitement, even though they’ve been sworn to secrecy.
Because Roux is staying at her Aunt Rose’s house, Frankie has reason to cross paths with him, and there’s an undeniable attraction between them. Roux has recently broken up with his actress girlfriend and he certainly isn’t looking for love. Frankie is still reeling from Paul’s betrayal and romance is the last thing she wants or needs. Or is it?
When the two of them go missing in a terrible snowstorm, the villagers fear the worst. What could possibly have happened to Frankie and Roux? And with the disappearance of a major film star in the news, it seems Little Perran won’t be having such a quiet Christmas, after all.
With a dodgy Christmas cake competition, a village flirt, and two publicity-seeking exes on the scene, as well as a lovely subplot involving Frankie’s mum and a nursing home, this book is a really fun and uplifting Christmas book, which is just the thing to help get you in the festive mood. I look forward to returning to Little Perran to see what happens there next.  5/5

You can buy A Christmas Romance here.

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A Holly Bay Christmas by Jo Bartlett

Jo Bartlett certainly knows how to tell a good Christmas story. A year or two ago, I read and reviewed her lovely novella, The Gift of Christmas Yet to Come (which, by the way, is being reissued by Accent Press with an absolutely gorgeous new cover) and I thought then that she really knew how to fill her readers with Christmas spirit. A Holly Bay Christmas, is, I’m delighted to report, just as enjoyable, and just as festive.
Holly Bay is an absolutely charming little village nestling on the Cornish coast. It’s full of those delightful little shops and businesses that you find in Cornwall, and it’s populated by a community of people who really pull together and care for each other.
Maddie’s entire world revolves around her bookshop/teashop, Basil’s Adventures, which is named after her beloved grandfather. He was the biggest influence upon her life, teaching her the wonders and delights of reading, and how to escape into the magic of a book. Although he rarely travelled outside the town, he had a whole lifetime of adventures in his imagination, and so, when he died and left Maddie an inheritance, she used it to fulfil her dream of opening her own business, naming it after him. She is devoted to her work, has a cosy flat in Holly Bay, and plenty of friends. She can’t help wondering, though, if it’s time she gave some thought to finding romance. Not that there seems much chance of that, when she’s so busy, particularly now that it’s almost Christmas and Holly Bay is a hive of activity.
So when the attractive and friendly Ben Cartwright arrives in town, it seems like fate. Ben seems very interested in her, in her business, and in her friends. Could he be the man of her dreams?
When he helps out with raising funds for a charity that is close to her heart, and even dons an elf costume to help out, she begins to think that, just maybe, he actually might be just that. But dreams don’t always come true, and secrets have a habit of being discovered, often at the most inconvenient times. What is Ben really doing in Holly Bay?
As a storm sweeps in, bringing destruction in its path, the residents of this little town must work together to help each other, and to make one little boy’s Christmas dreams come true. The key to it all is Ben, but can he be trusted? Is Maddie about to lose everything she holds dear, or is it going to be a happy Holly Bay Christmas, after all?
A heartwarming, cosy festive story that will really put you in the mood for the festive season. Merry Christmas! 5/5

You can buy A Holly Bay Christmas here.

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Meet Baxter, the Boisterous Boxer – It’s Christmas Novella Time!

baxter-ebook-coverSo, here I am, discussing my latest book. It seems like only a matter of weeks since I was talking about the publication of Once Upon a Long Ago. Oh, wait – it is only a matter of weeks! Heck, I’m not usually that fast, am I?

To be truthful, this Christmas novella was written last year, as a People’s Friend pocket novel, All Because of Baxter. Pocket novels only stay on the shelves for two weeks, and it struck me as a bit of a waste of a gorgeous dog, so I decided to release it myself later on.

As I was thinking about reworking it, it occurred to me that it would make an ideal Christmas story. It’s quite a cosy, romantic sort of book, about love (obviously), friendship, and belonging. I decided to give it a festive twist and the result is Baxter’s Christmas Wish.

It was inspired by my young work colleague, Leah, whose dog, George, is a real character. While Leah regaled us with tales of her naughty Boxer and his latest antics, my imagination was working overtime. Could a boisterous dog be the means of bringing happiness back to a lonely young woman and her little boy? It turned out that Baxter was more than capable, and this story is the result.

I hope you enjoy it. Here’s the blurb.

When Ellie Jackson’s marriage unexpectedly ends, she and her young son, Jake, seek refuge with Ellie’s cousin, Maddie. But Maddie soon tires of her house guests, including her own boisterous rescue Boxer dog, Baxter.
A trip to the park proves eventful, when Baxter literally bumps into Dylan.

Kind, funny, and not-too-shabby in the looks department, Dylan soon wins Ellie and Jake over, and Ellie dares to dream of a happy ending at last.

But as the snow starts to fall and Christmas approaches, Ellie realises time is running out for them. Dylan clearly has a secret that may ruin their happiness, Baxter’s home is in jeopardy, and she has no way of making Jake’s wishes come true.

Must Ellie give up on her dreams, or can Baxter lead her back to happiness?

Light the fire, switch on those Christmas tree lights, curl up with a hot chocolate, and enjoy this heart-warming festive story of love, home, and second chances.

You can buy Baxter’s Christmas Wish here.

Have a great week.

Sharonxxx (3)

 

A Post-Christmas Gift of a Kiss

Hope you all had a lovely Christmas! I had a hectic one and, quite frankly, I could happily sleep all day. I’m quite worn out, what with all those tears I shed for Doctor Who, Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey, and the perennial 8660533478_0b6f83f4ed_bfavourite, It’s a Wonderful Life.

So, before I nod off with a glass of snowball in one hand and a festive chocolate in the other, I’ll just let you know about A Kiss from a Rose, book two in the Kearton Bay series, which is FREE for five whole days, starting today (Boxing Day).

Catch up on the goings-on in this quaint old former smuggling village Featured Image -- 2087on the North Yorkshire coast, and find out what the straight talking Rose McLean has been up to, discover the secrets that her daughter Fuchsia is keeping, meet her appalling mother, and fall for the divine Finn Pennington-Rhys, who may just be harbouring a secret of his own…

You can get your free copy of A Kiss from a Rose here, and don’t forget, book one in the series, There Must Be An Angel, is just 99p!

Have a great final week of 2015!  xxx

Making a Baubles of it all…

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Picture: Sarah Ackerman: The Grinch’s Holiday Workshop https://www.flickr.com/photos/sackerman519/8139519263

Merry Christmas! Well, merry Christmas week, anyway. It’s the nineteenth of December, and this will be my last blog post before the big day, so I’m taking the opportunity to wish you all a very happy and jolly day, with lots of presents and enough food to sink a luxury liner, and enough drink to float a luxury liner, and loads of love and laughter and all the usual Christmassy things that people wish each other – even people they don’t particularly like, or people who have really, really annoyed them this year, like say, just for example, Grinch-like bosses who’ve scrapped the Christmas bonus and not so much as chipped in for a bottle of something festive, or a box of chocolates or even a poxy card for their hard-working employees. Just for instance. *Cough*.

Anyway, enough of that. I’m quite sure that I can leave them to their fate and that, one night, they will be visited by three spirits who will show them the error of their ways.  In the meantime, I am getting on with my Christmas. As usual, it’s organised chaos, and I’m left staring at a pile of Christmas cards that I bought weeks ago, remembered to write on weeks ago, even bought stamps for weeks ago, but somehow completely forgot to post/hand to relatives/give to DH to deliver. It happens every year! And the weird thing is, I never find them afterwards, so I can’t even reuse them the following Christmas. How does that happen?

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Even the Christmas tree looks dizzy!

I made an epic Christmas baubles of it all yesterday – even by my standards. I don’t know what’s going on in my peanut brain lately. I seem to be so distracted and forgetful and everything just slips away from me. I mean, I’ve known Christmas was coming for long enough. It’s not like it can sneak up on you unexpectedly, is it? Not when the tins of Quality Street are stacked up to the ceiling in the supermarket from the first of October, and you’re bombarded with Shakin’ Stevens wishing you a merry Christmas from the minute you step inside the store and have to endure him EVERY SINGLE TIME you shop for a whole twelve weeks. Anyway, I hate supermarket shopping so much that I’ve taken to ordering my stuff online. That’s not without its problems, but that’s for another post.

So, I decided that the Christmas shop would be no different. I’d book my delivery slot and the nice things would be delivered to my doorstep on Christmas Eve and all would be well with the world. Sainsbury’s even emailed me to tip me off that the delivery slots for Christmas week were being released, so as soon as I got the email, I went online and tried to book one. That’s when I discovered that deliveries weren’t made on Christmas Eve. Not only that, but some of the slots were already full, and the first one I could get was the twenty-second of December. Since that doesn’t coincide with pay day or my usual shopping day, I got thoroughly confused. Honestly! You know, years ago I would have taken all this in my stride. In fact, I wouldn’t have dreamed of doing my shopping online. (There was no such thing as online shopping. In fact, there was no such thing as online!) I would have taken all five of my children out with me and tackled the Christmas shop with a determined attitude and a list a mile long, and I would have got everything I needed with no problems. Now I just curl up in a ball and sob. It’s all too difficult! I can’t think straight!

Being unable to make sense of anything any more, I ended up booking a slot for the eighteenth, and then another for the twenty-seventh. I figured I could order my usual week’s shopping plus a few extras for Christmas Day and Boxing Day, and then have another week’s shopping delivered just after the big day to take me into New Year.  So why did it all go so wrong? What was I thinking???

I don’t know why, but for some reason I ordered lots of fresh food, like salad and fruit and pork pies and trifle, which all turned up yesterday on my doorstep. Sadly, I hadn’t taken into account the little matter of use by dates. It turned out that everything fresh I’d ordered would be out of date even before Christmas Eve. So that was useless. I’d also ordered a lot of frozen stuff, not thinking that I only have a fridge freezer these days, not my old chest freezer. So after the delivery man had left, I set to work putting everything away, only to sink onto the kitchen floor in a trembling heap twenty minutes later, after realising that I had a bag full of frozen food that I didn’t have any room for. I shoved the bag outside in the garden, hoping it would stay cold, while I tried to think what to do.

Luckily for me, while my brain cells seem to be diminishing rapidly, DH seems to finally have developed some. He came downstairs, saw the sorry state of affairs, and within ten minutes had completely rearranged the freezer and managed to put everything away. I could only look on and try to remember that once upon a time, I’d been the intelligent one.

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Four doors opened this morning!

I’m now sitting here writing this, when really, I should be wrapping up presents. I hate wrapping up presents, but since DH wrapped a third of them and DD1 wrapped another third, it seems only fair that I wrap some. Unfortunately, I didn’t buy enough wrapping paper either, so I probably won’t get to finish the job today. I haven’t even started wrapping DH’s presents, and every time he goes upstairs I scream at him, “Don’t go in the spare bedroom,” because that’s where they are. Since he doesn’t go in the spare bedroom I don’t know why I say it anyway. I’ve even taken to whispering about the dog’s presents so she doesn’t know what she’s got. And, after making a huge fuss about buying an advent calendar without chocolate, just like the ones I had as a child, I finally got one just in time for December, and have forgotten to open the doors every single time. The result is that, every few days, I look at it in horror and open about five or six doors, barely registering the picture behind them. Hardly the image I had in my mind.

Honestly, I’d love to say it’s the stress of Christmas that’s making me act so weirdly, but the truth is I’ve been declining for a few years now. I used to be so organised and so in control. Now, with all the kids grown up and left home, I’m completely losing track. Well, they do insist on breeding and this family is expanding more than the Von Trapps. I have so many people to buy for now I don’t know where I am or what I’m doing, and since DH is working all over Christmas again and I’m working up until Christmas Eve afternoon and back again on the Tuesday, there doesn’t seem to be much time to plan, prepare or enjoy the festivities.

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Ah, all will be well…

Still, the main thing is, I managed to get a bottle of advocaat, so the Christmas Snowball will be happening! There’s always a bright spot, and this is mine. A few glasses of that and I’ll be wearing a paper hat and singing Abba songs into a hairbrush and all will be well again. I’m easily pleased. Right, that’s my lot. I’m off to eat some pork pie and trifle. Hopefully, I’ll remember to put them on separate plates.

Have a great Christmas xxx