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.

Catching Up!

Hello to you, dear readers! (I sounded a bit Miranda-ish then, didn’t I? Sorry. Not that that’s a bad thing, I hasten to add. Sounding like Miranda, I mean, not being sorry. Shall I start again?)

Hello! I hope you’re having a lovely weekend, whatever you’re doing. I thought I’d pop up this post because we haven’t had a chat for a while, have we? And I think we are well overdue a catch up.

It’s been a busy few weeks, as you can probably imagine. Once Upon a Long Ago was published on the 26th once-ebook-cover-3September, and it was a massive relief to push Lexi and Will out into the big, wide world. It was as if I’d had the longest pregnancy in history and had finally given birth. (I’m back to Miranda again, aren’t I? In her “what I call” Call the Midwife role.) Their story did start back in 2011, after all. At least in my mind. It’s been a long time…

baxter-ebook-coverJust a couple of weeks after that, I published my Christmas novella, Baxter’s Christmas Wish. That started life as a People’s Friend pocket novel, but it’s now a cosy festive story, all brightened up with tinsel and glitter, and is on sale for just 99p so, really what have you got to lose? And it’s also available in paperback, which is lovely. Actually, all my books are available in paperback. I think we forget that, sometimes, because the modern publishing industry seems geared to ebooks, and I have to be honest and say the Kindle versions of my books massively outsell the paperbacks, but it’s always lovely to have a copy for my bookshelf and, besides, my mother doesn’t do ebooks.

So, what else have I been up to? Well, today, I’m over on Helen Pollard’s lovely blog, chatting about the Kearton Bay books, the pros and cons of writing a series, and those gorgeous Yorkshire settings. You can read our conversation here.

sharon-booth-1I’ve also just published a short story on Wattpad. It was something I wrote ages ago, and I didn’t quite know what to do with it, but today I thought, why not put it up for anyone and everyone to read for free? I’m kind-hearted and generous like that, you see. You can read Lilac Wine here.

Finally, I’m hard at work on Skimmerdale 2. Aren’t I just! Do you know, I was actually up until half past three this morning, tapping away at my laptop! That’s dedication for you. I have to admit, it’s lovely to back in the Yorkshire Dales, and even lovelier to be back in the company of my gorgeous sheep farmer, Eliot. I am completely smitten with him. I can’t imagine why. Just because he’s got gorgeous black curls, and dark chocolate brown eyes, and a smile to die for. Funny, I seem to be hearing the Poldark theme tune in my mind. I wonder why? Life is a mystery…

I’m hoping Skimmerdale 2 – which currently has two possible titles and I’m not sure which, if any I’ll choose just yet – will be out in spring 2017. Then I have an idea I’m working on for another Christmas story, but this time it will be a full-length novel, and quite different from anything I’ve published so far.

So you see, I’m quite busy, and yet I still made time to have this cosy little chat with you. I’m a star, aren’t I? I may 14656275_1099993676784537_180263359679327718_nsound a bit deranged, but I’m currently fuelled by  coffee, crisps and Cadbury’s Creepy Cake Bars, which have a cinder toffee filling and are much tastier than you’d expect with that name. (This author would like to point out that other cake bars are available, and not just from Cadbury’s. And I should know…)

Have a great week!

Sharonxxx (3)

 

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)

 

Why I Need Those Happy Endings More Than Ever

Two things happened this week which made me think about the value of books, the pleasure of writing and inventing new worlds and new characters, and the delights of escaping into the fictional landscapes that other writers have created.

The first was watching a video doing the rounds on Facebook. It dates back a few years, to when JK Rowling made a speech at a Harvard graduation ceremony. The short clip I saw concerned failure. (You can watch the full speech here.) She told her audience about the time she’d reached rock bottom, and was considered, by all conventional measures, a failure. Her marriage had broken up, she was a single parent, unemployed and poor. All she had was an idea. She had no way of knowing how long she would remain in that dark tunnel before she would glimpse some light, and indeed, could only hope that there was some light at the end. There may not have been. Yet, she considers that time a gift. She discovered who her true friends were, learned to treasure the good things she had – not least her precious daughter – and realised that, having faced the worst, she was capable of dealing with anything else that life could, and would, throw at her. She took her idea and went with it, and against all the odds, she turned her life around.

I watched the video, and was moved to tears. I could relate to it so well, as someone who has been at rock directory-466935_1280bottom on several occasions. There were times in my life when I couldn’t see any way out of the darkness. Times when I felt alone in a crowd of people, knowing that I didn’t belong with them, feeling a failure because I wasn’t like them. I tried desperately hard to fit in, to be what they wanted. It never occurred to me, back then, that maybe I shouldn’t even try to fit in – that I didn’t have to be like them. I was unemployed, my marriage was in tatters, I was a single parent, struggling to cope. I had depression, severe anxiety, social phobia and chronically low self esteem. I was so full of self-hatred that I wouldn’t even step outside into my back garden, in case the neighbours saw me. I felt so ugly, so full of self-loathing. I was completely lost, with no idea of where I belonged, let alone how to get there.

cb13During those times, I would escape into books. They’d always been my consolation. During difficult times in my childhood and adolescence, books kept me sane and safe. Those fictional worlds were my refuge, and I will be forever grateful to the authors who created such reassuring and wonderful places. As a troubled adult, books were no less vital to my sanity. If I hadn’t been able to get away from real life for a few snatched hours every day, what would have become of me? I dread to think.

Throughout my schooldays, I used to write stories of my own, but life had become hectic and scary. I stopped writing. It was something else that I would never be any good at. Something else I would fail at. So I put away the notebooks and pens, and ignored the stories that swirled around my head, for years and years.  Until one day, on a journey to Somerset, three characters popped into my mind and absolutely refused to leave. Arriving at our holiday destination, I bought a notebook and began to jot down the people I could see, and what I already knew about them. Those characters became Will Boden-Kean, Lexi Bailey and Joe Hollingsworth, the first characters I created for what would become the Kearton Bay series of novels.

It took me a while to find the courage to start to write. Then much longer to be brave enough to show my writing to anyone. Each step I took gave me a little more faith, and led me a little further along the path to where I find myself now – a published author with three full-length novels, a People’s Friend pocket novel, and two short stories in print. More than that, those steps led me to new friends, a writing group, an online community, a growing belief in myself and a gratitude for everything I’d been through. Because all those awful times led me here, to this point, to a place where I’m happier than I’ve been in decades, and where I can look back and appreciate the people I’ve met along the way, and the lessons I’ve learned from my epic “failure”.

I will never achieve the dizzy heights that JK Rowling has managed, but it doesn’t matter. Through writing, I can heal old wounds, write myself the happy endings that I never got in real life, work out sadness and pain that I never exposed in reality, but can share and cure in the pages of my novels. Writing has given me back my sanity, it’s brought me new friends, new understanding of myself, and self-acceptance. It’s saved me.

The second thing that got me thinking was the tragic murder, on the 16th of June, of Jo Cox, the Labour MP who did so much to try to heal the divisions in our communities. No words can express how horrific this is, nor how desperately sorry I feel for all her friends, family and colleagues – particularly her husband and young children. Her death left me reeling. I was already feeling pretty low about the state of this country. There seems to be so much anger, hatred and bitterness everywhere, and I genuinely fear the direction in which we seem to be heading.

When the world seems too bleak to contemplate, and real life is too much to bear, I need the happy endings I find in heart-81207_1920books. I need to escape to a place where I know there will be a positive outcome, where good will triumph, and where people are kind and caring and full of love. I once read an article in which a journalist dismissed romance novels as a waste of a good writer’s talent. I strongly disagree. In a world of political mud-slinging, prejudice, ignorance and fear, books that remind us that people are capable of loving one another are more essential than ever. I can’t drown out the negative forces that attack me every single day. I can’t ignore the state of the world. I can’t pretend that things out there aren’t pretty damn dire. But I need to believe that in this world, there is still hope, there is still beauty, there is still kindness, there is still love. The fact that people still write of such things, and that people still want to read them, is proof that we’re not lost yet. There are good people out there. Deep down, I know that. I just need reminding every now and then.  That’s why I need those happy endings.

I hope you all have a wonderful week. xxx

Step Away from the Delete Button!

Today, I honestly feel as if a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. No, it’s nothing to do with dieting. If

I'm not going near them!

I’m not going near them!

only! That’s a whole different story. Suffice it to say that I was doing quite well, until I spent a week at my daughter’s house, pet sitting and house sitting, without my husband keeping his beady eye on me. Left to my own devices, I skipped gaily around the aisles of the supermarket (I’m lying, I couldn’t skip to save my life) and filled the trolley with all the treats I have been deprived of for the last few weeks. I daren’t get on the scales now. I’m my own worst enemy, as my mother frequently points out. Thank you, Mother.

 

Anyway, I digress.  Today – as I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself – I feel a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Today, I got the urge to work on Kearton Bay Book Three. I have been avoiding it for so long that I can’t begin to tell you what a relief it is to be able to say that. Well, write that, but you know what I mean.

Before I found the razor...

Before I found the razor…

I have procrastinated for so long over this book that I’ve grown a beard. Hey, it’s not my fault – it’s my hormones. Or lack of them. Or something. Anyway, I’ve shaved it off now. But the point is, I didn’t want to write it. Why? You tell me. Maybe it was because I was afraid that I couldn’t write it. You see, There Must Be an Angel took simply ages to write – two and a half years, actually. When I’d finished it, I immediately began work on A Kiss from a Rose, and although that had its ups and downs, once it got going it was a joy to write. By the time Angel was published, Rose was already finished and ready to send to the editor. There was no pressure, no worries, no stress.

 

A little snack to help me think

A little snack to help me think

When Rose was being edited, I knew I had to get on with the third novel in the Kearton Bay series. So what did I do instead? I panicked. I came up with plot lines and characters. I even wrote several scenes. Then I thought, this is rubbish. I can’t use this! So I put it all in the recycle bin, and paced up and down a lot, and ate a ton of chocolate, and lost the ability to sleep, and decided I was a total fraud who only had two novels in me. I knew I had to write something. Anything. So I wrote another story which, thankfully, was accepted by DC Thomson and published as a People’s Friend pocket novel.

 

Rose was published. People loved it. They wanted to know when they could read the third instalment. I sat staring at my computer in a daze. I had nothing. So I wrote another novel, with a completely different cast of characters, and a whole new setting – the Yorkshire Dales. Then I wrote a short story and that was published in The People’s Friend, this time in the magazine. And still I panicked whenever I thought about Kearton Bay. What if I couldn’t do it? What if the third book wasn’t as good as the first two? What if I couldn’t get back into the “feel” of the series? What if, what if, what if. In despair, I picked up my Kindle and read There Must Be an Angel all over again for the first time since it was published. It felt great to be back among my old friends. It was almost a family reunion!

My only bin not full of chocolate wrappers

My only bin not full of chocolate wrappers

Then, this morning, I woke up and I just knew. I wanted to write that book. I wanted to go back to Kearton Bay. I wanted to know what was going to happen next. I went into my office, cup of tea in hand, switched on my computer, and began to type.  As I wrote, it occurred to me that one of the scenes I was writing was similar to one I’d written all that time ago. Out of curiosity, I went into the recycle bin and dug out the thousands of words I’d written and ditched. I sat, engrossed, as I read through them. My cup of tea went cold. (It’s okay. I have a very understanding husband and he made me another one!) I enjoyed myself so much that before I knew it, it was time for lunch, and my brilliant husband brought me up something to eat. I sat there, thinking, why did I ditch all this? It’s the story I wanted to tell. It’s the story I still want to tell. What was I so afraid of? So now, those pages have been drafted back into Scrivener, along with the new words that I’ve written this morning.

There are some amendments to be made, and I still have a long way to go, but it’s looking good. Better than that, it’s feeling good. It feels right. It’s working. So the moral of the story is, never, ever delete your old work, because even if you think it’s rubbish, there may well come a time when you look at it and realise it’s exactly what you need right now. And even if it still isn’t right for what you’re working on now, it may well be just the thing in the future. Believe in yourself, believe that you can do it. And, for pity’s sake, step away from that delete button!

zjcb4

Sorry, but I haven’t mentioned Doctor Who in AGES!

Have a great week! xx

October’s Swings and Roundabouts

I can’t believe how fast the year is moving on, and that it’s almost November already. I’ve had a bit of a mixed October, truth to tell. You just never know what’s in store for you, and maybe that’s a good thing.

Hull Fair (Wikipedia)

Hull Fair (Wikipedia)

The month started in its usual fashion. October isn’t my favourite month. I don’t look forward to the clocks going back an hour, and leaving work in the darkness isn’t my idea of fun. Even the prospect of Europe’s largest travelling fair arriving in Hull doesn’t cheer me up much, because I rarely go these days. Hull Fair was only something to look forward to with great excitement when I was a child. As a parent of young children it was something that had to be budgeted for – those rides did not come cheap, and nor did the food and toys that inevitably had to be purchased before we could leave, trailing five tired but happy children behind us. Now I’m older, I can’t stand the thought of shuffling down a jam-packed street, full of stalls and caravans, barely able to move forward for the crowds of people. Not to mention all the noise and bright lights blaring from  the rides. No thanks. The only thing I like about the fair is the brandysnap, and since my daughter was going she offered to buy me a bag of it, so no need to venture anywhere near, thank God.

I’d been cutting out sugar all October, so I asked her to hang on to the brandysnap until November. I was surprised how easy I was finding it to give up the sweet snacks. DH and I had decided to do our own version of Stoptober, giving up junk food instead of cigarettes (I don’t smoke and the chances of him quitting are zilch) and we were doing well, but the best laid plans and all that…

One morning last week, I woke up at 3am, and realised I was in pain. It was right in the middle of my tummy, and I wondered if it was something I’d eaten. I don’t like taking painkillers if I can possibly avoid it, so I struggled to get back to sleep for half an hour, but it wasn’t going away. Reluctantly, I headed downstairs, took two paracetamol and filled a hot water bottle and went back to bed. I eventually fell asleep, but within a couple of hours I was awake and in pain again. DH was awake by then, so we went downstairs and I topped up the hot water bottle and tried to pretend it wasn’t happening. By 7.45 I felt bad enough to ring work and tell them I wouldn’t be coming in. By lunch time, I was in enough pain to start panicking. The pain had moved to the lower right hand side of my abdomen, and I had a horrible feeling I knew what was happening. When I couldn’t get upstairs without crying out in agony at every step, I knew I couldn’t mess around any longer.

flowers from mum and sister

flowers from mum and sister

By some miracle, I managed to get an appointment with my GP that afternoon, and a quick examination later, I was on the way to A & E with a letter from my doctor clutched in my hand. I was in that department for five and a half hours, during which time I had bloods taken, a canula fitted, tubes carrying IV antibiotics and painkillers attached, and had been examined and prodded by three further doctors, who were all pretty certain it was appendicitis, but felt it necessary to jab me right on the site of the pain, just to make sure. Eventually, I was admitted to the ward. By this time it was midnight, and I was nil by mouth, as it was thought I would be having an operation the next day.

The following morning, after reluctantly donating what seemed like an armful of blood, and having been turned into a human pin cushion, I had a CT scan which confirmed the diagnosis, and I was told I’d be operated on that day. I waited and waited, signing a consent form and continuing to be nil by mouth while my “ward mates” drank tea and scoffed their meals, and finally, at half past eleven at night, the anaesthetist came to see me, to talk me through the procedure, and explain the risks. She’d just gone off to see the ward sister when the surgeon arrived to tell me that the operation was being cancelled. He said that, due to a shortage of staff after midnight, they didn’t like to carry out these procedures, unless it was life or death, at that time of night, but would schedule me for the next morning. I could have something to eat and drink, and then be nil by mouth again from 2am.

The nurse brought me a cup of tea and some cheese and crackers, and it was the finest meal I’d ever had. By then I was starving. Due to our attempts at Stoptober, I’d fasted the day before the pain started. On the day I went to the doctor’s, I’d only managed a few spoonfuls of cereal first thing that morning, as I felt sick, and then I’d been nil by mouth. All told, I’d not eaten or drunk anything for around forty-two hours, and believe me, the intravenous fluids were no match for a cream cracker and a chunk of Cheddar!

I was taken down to theatre at around three in the afternoon, and text DH to let him know. Unfortunately, an emergency came in, and I was told the operation was being postponed for a couple of hours, so I was left on the trolley waiting. I couldn’t let anyone know but I assumed someone would have told them back on the ward. They hadn’t. My “ward mates” were chewing their nails wondering what the hell was taking so long, and poor DH and my kids were having nervous breakdowns. I, meanwhile, was having a nice chat with a friendly little nurse and a rather lovely New Zealand ex-rugby player with a broken leg, who was lying on the trolley next to mine, while we flicked through the channels on the television remote, arguing about what to watch. He wanted to see some cookery programme, which personally I thought was just cruel, considering how long we’d been starved. We both agreed that Jeremy Kyle was the one thing we’d never want to see. We eventually settled on The Big Bang Theory, although he got carted off for his op and missed it, and the friendly little nurse talked all the way through it, but hey ho. I finally had my operation at half past five the following evening, and by eight o’clock the next morning I was having breakfast and, apart from a headache, I felt absolutely fine, if a bit sore.

Write Romantic flowers

Write Romantic flowers

I was discharged that afternoon, and headed home feeling a bit shell-shocked at how quickly everything had happened, and how suddenly appendicitis had come on. I’d been fine all day, and gone to bed feeling perfectly well. It was astonishing how quickly it flared up – although, looking back, I had been a bit nauseous for a couple of days. On the plus side, I’d had a lot of fun playing with the electric bed and recreating the scene in The Simpsons – “Bed goes up, bed goes down” – and I was home in plenty of time for Doctor Who.

So, unexpectedly, I had a sick note for two weeks off work. I’m still sore, and don’t feel a hundred per cent, but it’s not been as bad I expected. I was lucky. I know two members of my family who really suffered badly when they had appendicitis, so I feel I got off lightly, all told. I also couldn’t have wished for kinder, calmer, lovelier nursing staff. They were absolutely delightful and I’m so grateful to them.

I was treated to a lovely bunch of flowers by my mum and sister when they came to see me the following day. As if that wasn’t enough, the next day, a gorgeous basket of flowers arrived, with love from my Write Romantic buddies. I was so touched and they really cheered me up. Then, just yesterday, another huge bouquet arrived, complete with a  box of chocolates, from all my mates at work. They’ve all been really lovely, considering how short staffed they are, and how much pressure they must be under with me adding to their burden.

flowers from colleagues

flowers from colleagues

With my wounds healing and my discomfort lessening – in spite of the rather fetching surgical stockings that I have to wear for six weeks – I thought October would settle down. But no. The next thing was that our daughter’s little Cavalier, Rosie, was taken seriously ill. At eleven years old, she’d done very well for a dog of that breed, having no weight issues and only starting to have health problems in the last year. She has heart failure and has been on medication for some months, but has always kept her inquisitive nature and been almost as lively as ever. I’d bought Rosie when she was just eleven weeks old, but when my daughter left home, she took her with her, as she couldn’t bear to be parted from her, and she took our other dog, Jake, with her, too, as Rosie couldn’t bear to be parted from him, leaving us with our German Shepherd. However, we still see Rosie and Jake whenever we visit our daughter, who doesn’t live far away, and she’s still very much part of our family. So when we heard that Rosie had been rushed to the vet’s we were very worried. The news wasn’t good. The vet explained that she had only days to live, and it would be kinder to put her to sleep. My daughter and daughter-in-law brought her round to say goodbye, and we all cried. It was hard to believe she could be so ill, as she was still wandering round the living room, sniffing every corner, wagging her tail at us. But the vet had found a very feeble pulse, and her gums had been white. He said that her heart couldn’t physically do the work it was supposed to do any more.

Rosie

Rosie

Rosie went back to the vet at 7pm and DH and I watched the clock with tears in our eyes, feeling sick. Imagine our amazement when, just twenty minutes later, Rosie was carried back into our living room, and we learned that she’d made a miraculous recovery. The vet thought she must have had a heart attack that morning, which had caused the problem, but she was now trotting round, with her pulse back to normal and her gums pink again. Unbelievable! This time we all cried for joy. Personally, I think it must have been the steak that they treated her to as her “last supper”.

Since then, Rosie has had a couple of days of feeling tired, and she’s wearing special doggy nappies due to the tablets she’s on making her incontinent, but she went to the vet again today, and he’s happy with her. She’s tucking into scrambled egg and enjoying all the fuss. We know she may not have long, but for now she’s had a reprieve, and we couldn’t be happier.

Finally, my last news for now is that, on Thursday 22nd October, my first pocket novel for People’s Friend appeared in the shops. All Because of Baxter is on sale right now, and it’s about how a dog can change your life for the better, in the most unexpected ways. That has never seemed more appropriate!

I had dreamed about going to WH Smith and seeing my book on the shelves,

All Because of Baxter

All Because of Baxter

but, unfortunately, I wasn’t up to going into town. However, it was great to see it in our local supermarket, and I snapped up three copies. My mum went to WH Smith and bought the very last copy! She then went to Asda and bought another three copies, and to another shop where she got the last two copies. These have been duly distributed to her neighbours and some of our relatives. Bless her, she’s my biggest fan. She was pretty disgruntled to discover, however, that no matter how many copies she sold for me, I wouldn’t be paid any extra! I can’t explain the sense of achievement I felt, seeing my name on a People’s Friend pocket novel. I don’t know if it’s because People’s Friend is such a big and well-respected brand, or if it’s because I could finally see one of my books on an actual shelf in a physical shop, rather than on screen in Amazon’s virtual store. Maybe it was a combination of both. I know it delighted my mum that she could go into a shop and see a novel with her daughter’s name on it sitting there.

So that was my October, and there’s still a week to go! Stoptober went out of the window, as I’ve eaten loads since getting home from hospital, so I may have to do it all over again next month. I hardly dare think what may happen before I turn the page of the calendar and we head into November. Let’s hope the eleventh month will be a bit quieter all round! 🙂

Have a great week xxx

Books, Writing, and the pull of Penny Dreadful

So here we are in July already! I fully intended to write a post a week ago, but it’s been a busy time, what with the writing, family stuff, and the day job. It was my birthday (twenty-one again), and my husband’s birthday (much, much older!) so that preoccupied us quite a lot. And there have been some really good television programmes on lately. I’m not keen on most of the stuff that they churn out, I have to be honest, but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed The Syndicate lately, and I’ve been captivated by Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. Not to mention my addiction to the amazing television programme, Penny Dreadful.

Penny_Dreadful_S2_Cast-16x9-1What a weird and wonderful show that is! I mean, on paper it sounds fantastic initially. Take the characters from those old gothic stories and mix them all up together in Victorian London – or is it Edwardian? Anyway, populate the dark and gloomy streets of London with Dr Frankenstein and his creature – a tortured, beautiful monster with the soul of a poet; Dorian Gray – utterly perfect, physically, but capable of truly dire deeds; a werewolf (with the surname Talbot – a fabulous homage to the Lon Chaney Jr Wolfman films); an explorer who has lost his daughter Mina to the dark forces; and a woman who seems destined to become the bride of the devil himself. Then, when you think about it properly, you wonder how it could ever work. Especially when you add in evil witches, vampires, The Bride, and a house of wax. Ridiculous, eh? Maybe. But it’s mesmerizing and I love it!

Anyway, I haven’t just been watching Penny Dreadful. Oh, no. I’ve been reading a lot, too. Some of the books have been purely for pleasure, as you can probably tell if you follow this blog regularly, since I’ve posted a flurry of reviews lately. I’m also reading a lot of books for research. Because…drum roll…I’m immersed in writing again!

After a bit of a lull, I’m currently working on two books together. The first is the third Kearton Bay story, and it’s taking shape very nicely. The second is something completely new, featuring a whole new setting and a brand new bunch of characters who are slowly but surely winning me over. It’s a new experience, writing two novels simultaneously, but it seems to be working out well at the moment. The nice thing is, I can choose each morning which story I’m in the mood for pursuing that day, and it’s fairly evenly matched right now. Maybe writing two at a time is the way forward for me. I often have two books that I’m reading at the same time, so why not writing? It seems to see off the “writer’s FZVQfx_B_FHq5Mc5XuvOdg_rblock” anyway.

In other news – not entirely unrelated, I suppose – Book Two in the Kearton Bay series is now with the editor, and we have a publication date. A Kiss from a Rose will be released on 26th September. Yay! I’m so looking forward to sending it out into the world. I had a lot of fun writing it and I really hope you enjoy it. It follows the fortunes of Rose MacLean and her relationships with her mother, her two daughters, her best friend Eliza, and the rather gorgeous Flynn Pennington-Rhys – a hero I fell totally in love with.

If you remember, I mentioned that I’d completed a forty thousand word novella. Well, that’s been cb7accepted by The People’s Friend as a pocket novel, and will be on the shelves in supermarkets and W H Smith in October! I was very excited about that!  When I was a child, I used to spend every Saturday in W H Smith, browsing the shelves for a pony book, my one pound pocket money clutched in my eager little hand. Now, a story that I’ve written myself will actually be on those shelves. It’s an incredible feeling. I never would have believed that when I was trying to decide between Jill’s Gymkhana or Punchbowl Midnight, I can tell you! It just shows, you never can tell what’s in store for you. And as Penny Dreadful reaches its finale this week, I’m biting my nails with anticipation. After everything those characters have experienced, what can be in store for them? What can the writers possibly have come up with this time? Ooh, I can’t wait!

Have a great week xx