Saturday, 1 September 2018

It happened on Dufferin Terrace by Melanie Robertson-King


I am delighted to welcome Melanie Robertson-King today with IT HAPPENED ON DUFFERIN TERRACE, a sweet romance that has just been released by King Park Press. There is a giveaway at the bottom of the post. Don't miss the chance to win a copy of the ebook!


Series: It Happened (book1)

Genre: sweet romance
Release Date: July 22, 2018
Publisher: King Park Press
Miracle on 34th Street meets Sleepless in Seattle.

Toronto business consultant, Serenity Layne, knew the only person she could depend on was herself. Married to her career, she has no time for other pursuits and life’s intangibles.

Widowed for three years, Roger Scott, a data security specialist in Quebec City, is a single parent to his ten-year-old son, Adam.

On a day out on the Plains of Abraham with their black Labrador retriever, Roger’s cell phone rings incessantly. Adam has played matchmaker and put his father’s profile on a number of online dating sites.

The week before Christmas, Serenity is heading up a series of meetings after a six-month study of the Canadian retail chain, jonathans. After an unpleasant encounter with one of the store managers, she escapes from the boardroom of the Ch√Ęteau Frontenac Hotel, only to be bowled over by Roger and Adam’s dog.

Guilty over the accident, Roger invites Serenity out for a drink by way of apology. Over the course of the week, and spending time together, feelings long dormant for Roger are re-awakened. At the same time, emotions foreign to Serenity fill her with contentment and happiness.

Will the couple get their happily ever after?
EXTRACT

The following morning, six months of gruelling work came to fruition. In the Place d’Armes conference room, Serenity turned on her MacBook Air with the PowerPoint presentation and ensured the projector functioned. In addition to the electronic copy, the hard copies she made in Montreal for the jonathans participants were placed them in front of each chair.

This was the first time her superior sat in on one of her meetings, making her more nervous than normal. Did he not trust her judgement?

Scheduled to start at ten a.m., a number of attendees were still missing. The time function on her Fitbit indicated three minutes to go. The managers had to arrive soon or her boss's trust in her abilities would be shattered. A brief assessment of her leather-bound notebook confirmed the time and date.

Gradually, men in three-piece suits, shirts and ties straggled in. They nodded at her as they took their seats. During her visits to the outlets across Canada, she came together with them. All were friendly and cooperative. Some stores performed well, while others struggled.

The head of jonathans made his entrance. Well over six feet in stature, with a stocky frame, his imposing size commanded respect and attention.

“Good morning,” she said.

The man acknowledged her with a nod of his head and moved to the head of the table.
Now, she and the other attendees waited for her missing employer and one last jonathans employee.

“We’ll give them another five minutes then we’ll start. In the meantime, feel free to look at the documents in front of you.” She lingered by the chair used by the director of the Vancouver location and smiled.

The door burst open, eliminating the opportunity to speak with the gentleman. In the gap stood the man from the Yorkville Avenue outlet, as unkempt as the first time she met him. When he looked up, his eyes bulged, and his jaw dropped. “You’re the hard-nosed, jumped up high and mighty who made trouble. You’re the reason we’re having this powwow,” he snapped.

The hairs on the back of her neck bristled. Coat plucked from the rack, she darted out the door putting on the garment on the fly. The man busted her straight away. No way could she head this meeting now. Where was Martin Thacker? He would have stood by her.

She left the hotel, turned right, and scurried through the arched vehicular entryway on Rue Saint Louis. From there, she stumbled to the boardwalk running adjacent to the spectacular architecture and overlooked the St. Lawrence River and the town underneath.

Snow, packed down from shovelling and plowing, made the boards slippery. High-heeled shoes were inappropriate for the conditions, but escaping that room was paramount.

Why did she allow that man to antagonize her? Any other time, any other meeting and she would have let comments like his roll off her. This action was out of character.
Struggling to maintain her balance, she picked her way to the hand rail. At least she had gloves in her pockets. After extracting the knitted mittens, she pulled them on her hands and tried to regain her composure so she could go back to the meeting. She would have to create an excuse for her sudden departure.

Arms resting on the bannister, she took in long, slow breaths. Each time she exhaled a puff of steam formed in front of her.

About to go back into the warmth of the hotel’s conference room, she let go and turned. A massive black dog charged at her with a man and a boy in pursuit. The ear flaps of the man’s trapper hat resembled wings. Stretched out horizontally, how he managed not to take flight astounded her.

“Tori, bad girl. Halt.” The man shouted commands to the canine, but the animal was oblivious to them.

Before she had an opportunity to react, the black Lab launched itself in the air and hit her square in the chest knocking her to the ground. The impact sent her eyeglasses flying and they crashed on the granite ledge beneath the handrail. The child dove for them but couldn’t get a proper grip. His fingertips brushed the frames and her eyewear skittered away from him on the icy rock and vanished.

BUY LINKS


ABOUT THE AUTHOR



Melanie Robertson-King has always been a fan of the written word. Growing up as an only child, her face was almost always buried in a book from the time she could read. Her father was one of the thousands of Home Children sent to Canada through the auspices of The Orphan Homes of Scotland, and she has been fortunate to be able to visit her father’s homeland many times and even met the Princess Royal (Princess Anne) at the orphanage where he was raised.


Twitter: @RobertsoKing

Goodreads Author Page: Melanie Robertson-King



GIVEAWAY
An e-copy of the book


Tuesday, 24 July 2018

A Plague on Mr Pepys by Deborah Swift


I am delighted to welcome Deborah Swift today and learn more about her new release in the Women of Pepys Diary Series - A Plague on Mr Pepys. There is a fantastic giveaway at the end of this post, so don't miss out!


Series:  Women of Pepys Diary Series #2
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: July 5th 2018
Publisher: Accent Press
The second novel in the series based on the different women in Samuel Pepys’s famous diary.

Sometimes the pursuit of money costs too much...

Ambitious Bess Bagwell is determined that her carpenter husband, Will, should make a name for himself in the Navy shipyards. To further his career, she schemes for him to meet Samuel Pepys, diarist, friend of the King and an important man in the Navy.
But Pepys has his own motive for cultivating the attractive Bess, and it's certainly not to benefit her husband. Bess soon finds she is caught in a trap of her own making.
As the summer heat rises, the Great Plague has London in its grip. Red crosses mark the doors, wealthy citizens flee and only the poor remain to face the march of death. 

With pestilence rife in the city, all trade ceases. 

With no work as a carpenter, Will is forced to invest in his unscrupulous cousin Jack's dubious 'cure' for the pestilence which horrifies Bess and leaves them deeper in debt. 
Now they are desperate for money and the dreaded disease is moving ever closer. Will Mr Pepys honour his promises or break them? And will they be able to heal the divide that threatens to tear their marriage apart?

EXTRACT

London, March 1663

‘Here’s the address,’ Bess said, pressing the paper down on the table in front of her husband. She patted him on the shoulder, which released a puff of dust. Will was a fine figure of a man – tall and blond, with arms muscled from lifting timber, and the fine-boned hands of a craftsman, but his clothes were always full of sawdust and wood-shavings.

He turned and smiled, with an expression that said he was ready to humour her.

‘It’s on the other side of the Thames, close to one of the shipyards. Big houses all round. A nice neighbourhood. Quiet.’

‘Where?’ Will asked, standing to pick up the paper, and stooping from habit because their attic room was so low.

‘Deptford.’ She held her breath.

‘Deptford?’ he said, throwing it back down. ‘We’re not living in Deptford.’

‘Oh, Will, it has to stop sometime. He won’t even know we’re there.’

‘You don’t know my father, he gets to know everyone’s business.’

‘That’s no reason. That terrible brimstone preacher lives just round the corner, and we manage well enough to avoid him.’

‘Ho, ho.’

‘We need never see your father. The Deptford yard is enormous. More than a mile end to end. Just think, you could work there fitting out ships, and you’d never set eyes on him.’ She tugged at his sleeve. ‘The workshop’s so fine – you should see the workbench. More than eight foot long, and it runs right under the window. You can nearly see the whole shipyard from there.’ She paused; she knew his weak spot well. ‘And the house will be perfect for your new commission. You won’t have to hire a work place again.’

‘It’s more than we can afford, love, to buy a house.’

‘You’ll get better commissions though, once people see Hertford’s chairs. You should see it! There’s room for your lathes and there’s already a wall with hooks for hanging tools. Just come and look, Will. That’s all.’

Will sighed. ‘Suppose looking won’t hurt.’

*

In the panelled chambers of Thavie’s Inn, Holborn, Will Bagwell lifted the quill and dipped it in the ink. His heart was pounding beneath the buttons of his doublet. The paper before him was thick vellum, as if to emphasise the serious nature of the agreement. Ten years’ of his wages in a good year. An enormous loan. He wanted to read it again, for it was a lot of writing to take in, in a language that took some fathoming. But they were all waiting.

Behind him, he could hear Bess breathing; feel the heat of her hand on his shoulder. He tapped the nib on the edge of the bottle to shake off the excess droplets of ink; Bess’s hand tightened. He swallowed. Just shy of sixty pounds. If he signed this, there would be no going back.

He hesitated, and looked up. Opposite him, the turtle-faced goldsmith, Kite, nodded and narrowed his eyes in a tight smile of encouragement. The notary, an official from the Inn of Chancery in a blindingly white cravat, was impatient, shifting from foot to foot. No doubt he’d seen such an agreement many times.

A deep breath. Will felt the nib touch the paper and suddenly, there it was – his signature flowing across the page. He had no sooner lifted the pen from the document than it was swiped out from under his gaze, and Kite the money-lender was scribbling his name under Will’s. Immediately, a serving boy came with a stub of smoking sealing wax, and even before Kite had time to press the metal die into the red puddle on the paper, the notary was adding his witness signature.

It was over in a few seconds and Will’s damp palm was gripped momentarily in Kite’s wrinkled one, before the duplicate loan agreement and the house deeds were thrust into his hand for him to sign.

‘My man Bastable will collect the repayments on the last day of each month,’ Kite said.

Will felt dazed. He wanted to turn back time, give the agreement back. But they were all smiling, Bess most of all. Her face lit up the room. She had her fine house now, and he couldn’t let her down, could he? But all he could think of was the feeling of his empty purse, like a lung with the breath squeezed out of it.

BUY LINK
Check out book 1 in the series!



PRAISE FOR PLEASING MR PEPYS

'Swift is a consummate historical novelist, basing her books on immaculate research and then filling the gaps between real events and real people with eloquent storytelling, atmospheric scene setting and imaginative plot lines' The Visitor

'Pepys and his world spring to vibrant life...Gripping, revealing and stunningly imagined, Pleasing Mr Pepys is guaranteed to please' Lancashire Evening Post

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

From Deborah Swift:
I write historical fiction, a genre I love. I loved the Victorian classics such as Jane Eyre, Lorna Doone and Wuthering Heights. As I child I loved to read and when I had read my own library books, I used to borrow my mother's library copies of Anya Seton and Daphne du Maurier. I have loved reading historical novels ever since; though I'm a bookaholic and I read widely - contemporary and classic fiction as well as historicals. 

In the past I used to work as a set and costume designer for theatre and TV, so I enjoy the research aspect of creating historical fiction, something I loved doing as a scenographer. Each book takes about six months of research before I am ready to begin writing. More details of my research and writing process can be found on my website. I like to write about extraordinary characters set against the background of real historical events.

I live in North Lancashire on the edge of the Lake District, an area made famous by the Romantic Poets such as Wordsworth and Coleridge. 
I took an MA in Creative Writing in 2007 and now teach classes and courses in writing, and offer editorial advice from my home. A Plague on Mr Pepys is my ninth published novel.

GIVEAWAY
1 paperback (UK only) & 1 ebook(international)

Friday, 22 June 2018

June Round Robin: Keep Writing


Why do you write or feel compelled to write even through the difficult parts?

This month’s round robin particularly appealed to me because experiencing difficult spells in my writing is something that I unfortunately seem to go through quite often.

Typing ‘The End’ on that first draft is one of the most exhilarating moments I have experienced as a writer. The sheer relief of having ‘stuck to it’ and brought my project to completion is incredible, even if it is still a very rough version at this stage. I am not even mentioning having the book accepted for publication, getting through the various rounds of edits, and of course seeing the book published and reading reviews.

Before reaching that wonderful stage however, there are many dark moments. Moments of doubt, loss of belief in the story and my skill as writer, and worst of all for me, the broken connection with the characters who suddenly stop ‘talking’ to me.

I love writing. It’s all I always wanted to do. I think about my story when I am driving, cooking, walking, ironing, washing my hair or drinking a cup of coffee; I dream about my hero (I know, it sounds silly and a little pathetic). I agonise about the twists and turns of my plot and subplots. I have conversations with my characters, laugh at their jokes, shake my head at their stupidity, or marvel at their ingenuity. I speak lines of dialogue aloud in different voices even when my children look at me in a funny way. When you do all that, you just don’t let those dark and difficult times defeat you. You don’t give up. You get on with it.

I find that when things get really tough, it’s usually because I cannot ‘hear’ my characters any longer, or because I got lost in an over-complicated plot. The best strategy for me then is to go back to the very beginning of the story, in order to add – or delete – layers and details, rekindle that precious connection with my characters, get the spark and the fun in writing again. 

There are many inspirational quotes from writers about dealing with writer’s block, self-doubt and dark and difficult moments, but I particularly like the ones below by JK Rowling.

“I just write what I wanted to write. I write what amuses me. It's totally for myself."

“What you write becomes who you are… So make sure you love what you write!”

Having fun and writing what you love is crucial, even if it means writing in a different genre or switching to short stories instead of writing a novel. A group of author friends and I recently released an anthology of feel-good and heart-warming short stories set in the fictional Yorkshire town of Haven Bridge (loosely based on the real town Hebden Bridge) in a bid to forget about the usual pressures and find 'the fun in writing again.' Miss Moonshine's Emporium of Happy Endings was released in May, and has since become a bestseller.


I may lose faith at times, and put a story aside for a few weeks or months, or go back to the beginning several times. I may even abandon a project for several years. But ultimately I cannot imagine my life without writing. 

Miss Moonshine's Emporium of Happy Endings is available for only £0.99 as an ebook and £7.99 in paperback  here.
Please click on the links below to read what these authors have to say about the topic!

 




Sunday, 25 March 2018

Is a Ghost Playing Cupid at Raventhorn?


The story of my contemporary romantic novel, LITTLE PINK TAXI, which was released by Choc Lit last month, is set in the magnificent Cairngorms of Scotland where my heroine Rosalie Heart runs a small taxi company, Love Taxis. Rosalie grew up at Raventhorn, a rundown castle and the ancestral home of the local laird, Geoff McBride.
Who is the mysterious cloaked figure hero Marc Petersen keeps glimpsing in Corby Woods, on top of the ruined tower of a nearby abandoned castle, or again near Loch Bran in the dead of night? Rosalie believes that it’s the ghost of Isobel McBride, one of Geoff’s ancestors, and that she is bad news… But is Isobel friend or foe, and is the raven that’s always by her side really a bird of ill omen?
We all know that Scottish castles are famous for their ghosts, and indeed the Cairngorms National Park has its fair share of haunted castles and ghostly legends. Inverness Castle as it stands today overlooking the river Ness was built in built in 1836 by architect William Burn on the ruins of several previous castles, among which the castle built in the mid eleventh century for King Macbeth. It is where Shakespeare’s Macbeth is said to have murdered Duncan, and Duncan’s ghost supposedly haunts the shores of the riverside beneath the castle hill.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Other local castles have witnessed much violence and death. The ruins of Raid Castle are said to be haunted by the daughter of Clan Cumming’s chief. The poor girl was killed by her own father because the man she loved belonged to rival Clan Mackintosh and she warned him that her father was intent of murdering him. 

The fearsome Alexander Stewart, who was nicknamed the ‘Wolf of Badenoch’ because of his cruelty, was said to practice witchcraft. He died in 1394 (although some say it was in 1406) when it is believed that he played chess with the devil at Ruthven Castle near Kingussie, and still haunts the place.

Castle Roy, a 12th century fortress built on a small glacial mound to the north of the modern village of Nethy Bridge, is not only haunted by a ghost that only appears during the Summer solstice, but is supposed to be home to a buried treasure too. The soil however is believed to be infected with plague and all those who have searched for the treasure have perished. Other castles, like Corgaff or Kindrochit have a troubled past and are rumoured to be haunted too.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
But ghostly encounters are not limited to castles. The shores of Loch Garten and Loch Mallachie, also known as Loch of the Curse, are haunted by a terrifying spirit with a blood-curdling screech. Loch Morlich has not one, but two other-worldly residents – the King of the Fairies on the West side, and the spectre of a giant warrior in full Highland dress and a hand dripping with blood on the East side.
So what about Raventhorn? Businessman Marc Petersen doesn’t believe in ghosts at all – at least not at first. Will he change his mind by the end of the story? You’ll have to read the book and find out for yourself!
In the meantime, here is an excerpt where Marc catches his first glimpse of the mysterious Isbobel McBride and her raven…
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Excerpt

Oblivious to the rain running down his face and soaking his hair and coat, he walked back along the road and cut through the undergrowth towards the pine tree where the woman had been standing. A huge raven, perched on a nearby treetop, stared down at him with beady eyes. The woman, however, had gone.
          Puzzled, he peered through the shadows and walked into the woods. If there was a path, he couldn’t see it. He breathed in mixed scents of rain and rotting vegetation. Above him the raven flew off with a shrieking call and a loud flapping of wings.
          ‘Monsieur Petersen? Are you all right?’ Rosalie Heart called from the road. She had put her hood up so as not to get drenched.
          He turned and walked back to her. ‘She’s gone, and yet I was sure she needed help.’
          Rosalie Heart smiled. ‘If it was who I think it was, she does indeed need help, but not of the kind you, or anyone of us, can give her.’
          ‘What are you talking about?’
          She sighed. ‘Forget it. You won’t believe me.’
          ‘Try me.’
          She took a deep breath. ‘You just saw the ghost of Isobel McBride.’
          He narrowed his eyes, and dug his fists into his coat pocket. His shoes were soaked and muddy. Icy water trickled down his face, his neck and the collar of his coat. He had the migraine from hell. And this small woman dressed in marshmallow pink was babbling about ghosts?
          ‘Are you serious?’ he asked, between clenched teeth.
          She nodded, turned away and walked back to the cab, leaving him behind. The woman was making fun of him, that much was obvious. He followed her back to the taxi, slung the door open and sat down. His wet clothes stuck to the pink plastic seat with squelching sounds. Water dripped from his coat and trousers and pooled at his feet. The windows steamed up, and it was like being enclosed in a cosy bubble of gum.
          Rosalie Heart pulled her hood off and shook her curly brown hair. As it tumbled around her shoulders he caught the scent of the rain and a deeper, fruity fragrance. She smiled again, and he couldn’t help but notice she had a very attractive smile indeed. In fact, he thought, looking at her properly for the first time, she was rather pretty with her eyes a warm chestnut colour, and her cheeks glowing pink from the cold.
          ‘It’s a long time since anyone reported seeing Lady Fitheach,’ she remarked in a thoughtful voice as she started the engine.
          ‘Lady Fitheach? I thought you said her name was Isobel McBride.’
          Fitheach is Scottish for raven. People call Isobel Lady Fitheach because of the raven that never leaves her side. You saw the bird, didn’t you?’
          There had indeed been that huge raven staring down at him from a nearby branch. He dismissed it with a shrug. ‘It’s a wood. There’s bound to be all kinds of birds there.’

Blurb

Take a ride with Love Taxis, the cab company with a Heart … 

Rosalie Heart is a well-known face in Irlwick – well, if you drive a bright pink taxi and your signature style is a pink anorak, you’re going to draw a bit of attention! But Rosalie’s company Love Taxis is more than just a gimmick – for many people in the remote Scottish village, it’s a lifeline. 

Which is something that Marc Petersen will never understand. Marc’s ruthless approach to business doesn’t extend to pink taxi companies running at a loss. When he arrives in Irlwick to see to a new acquisition – Raventhorn, a rundown castle – it’s apparent he poses a threat to Rosalie’s entire existence; not just her business, but her childhood home too. 

On the face of it Marc and Rosalie should loathe each other, but what they didn’t count on was somebody playing cupid …

Friday, 23 February 2018

February Round Robin: Creating characters


The topic for this month is all about creating characters. ‘Your characters come from your mind, from other people you've witnessed, but can you create their lives without them revealing something about yourself? Have they ever taught you something?’

For me, stories are first and above all about people and the conflicts and emotions between them, that’s why it is so important to create characters that the reader can relate to and want to follow through the pages of a book until the final resolution. But where do these characters come from, and how do they spring into life and become as real, endearing or infuriating as the people you meet in real life?

Before I share my ideas about this month’s topic, please let me introduce you to Rosalie Heart, the heroine of my romantic novel LITTLE PINK TAXI, which was released this week by Choc Lit.

Hi everybody! My name is Rosalie Heart. I live in Raventhorn, a beautiful but run-down castle in the Cairngorms of Scotland, together with Geoff McBride whom I love like the father I never knew, and housekeeper Lorna. Oh yes, Geoff says ‘others’ live at Raventhorn too, like the ghost of Isobel McBride for example, although I suspect that he’s must making it up to attract tourists. I love this place. I may not have been born here, but this is where I grew up, and I never want to leave.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Apart from my love for Raventhorn, there are three things I must tell you about me. Number one: I can’t cook, but I love cakes, especially my friend Alice's chocolate brownies. Number two: I set up my own cab company called Love Taxis after mum died, and there's no other job I’d rather do than drive my pink taxi.  And number three: when in my cab, I love singing – although I have been told that I sing as well as I cook!  

I believe in kindness, in helping others and staying loyal to your friends and family.

How much did I make up about Rosalie’s character, and how much is based on people around me, on chance encounters, life experiences and personal beliefs and preferences? Is Rosalie completely made up, a little bit made up, or purely fictitious?

The truth is, a bit of both. I have never driven a taxi – whether pink or of any other colour. In fact I don’t like driving all that much. I have never lived, or even stayed, in a Scottish castle, even though it would be my dream to do so. I do however share quite a few things with Rosalie. I can’t sing. I love chocolate cake. I believe in kindness and loyalty. And for many years I struggled with the loss of my mother.

So Rosalie is a little bit like me, but she is even more like the woman I would like to be. Her life is completely alien to mine, and yet she shares some of my dreams and the painful experience of losing a loved one. She is a lot braver than I ever was. In fact, when I recently had to drive back home on a deserted hill road in ice and fog late at night, I kept asking myself what Rosalie would do She is used to driving in the snow in winter, so she wouldn’t panic. And it did seem to help!
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

The topic for this round robin got me thinking about my process for creating characters. I have never based a character solely on someone I know, have met or heard of in ‘real’ life. However, I don’t believe it is possible to completely make up a character.

Ever since I can remember, I have always spent a lot of time observing people, listening to conversations, picking up bits and pieces of information. Every time I have been in a slightly comical or peculiar situation, I have always made a mental note of remembering all the details of how I felt, how the people around me reacted, in order to be able to write about it later.

Even though they are not based on me, my heroines have feelings, dreams fears and insecurities that I have had at some point in my life. In particular, now I think about it, they all have had to deal with the loss of a loved one – often their mother, which resonates with my own experience of having lost my mother to cancer very early on in my life. So the characters I feel the closest to have qualities and flaws I find funny or endearing, or have experiences I’ve had or would like to have.

On the other hand, the ‘villains’ or less sympathetic characters have personality traits I find irritating or unattractive. After all, you know the saying ‘if you annoy me, I will put you in my book (optional: and I will kill you!)
LITTLE PINK TAXI is available here.

Take a ride with Love Taxis, the cab company with a Heart … 
Rosalie Heart is a well-known face in Irlwick – well, if you drive a bright pink taxi and your signature style is a pink anorak, you’re going to draw a bit of attention! But Rosalie’s company Love Taxis is more than just a gimmick – for many people in the remote Scottish village, it’s a lifeline.

Which is something that Marc Petersen will never understand. Marc’s ruthless approach to business doesn’t extend to pink taxi companies running at a loss. When he arrives in Irlwick to see to a new acquisition – Raventhorn, a rundown castle – it’s apparent he poses a threat to Rosalie’s entire existence; not just her business, but her childhood home too.

On the face of it Marc and Rosalie should loathe each other, but what they didn’t count on was somebody playing cupid …


Please take a look at what these authors have to say about this month's round robin!