The Romance Reviews

The Romance Reviews

A Spell in Provence

A Spell in Provence

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

I Do or Do I? Karen King is my guest today!


I am delighted to welcome fellow Áccent Press author Karen King to the blog today to talk about her novel I DO? OR DO I?which was released by Áccent Press in May 2016.
Hello Karen and welcome. You are a prolific children author and have written several short stories and romance novels, but what did you want to be when you were a child? Did you always know you wanted to write? 

I wanted to be lots of different things, a ballerina (I have two left feet), an air hostess, a nurse, a teacher. I always loved writing, and have always written but never thought of a writer as a career.

I know that's a difficult question to answer, but where do you get your ideas for your stories?

Everywhere! Things I see, do, overhear, my family, friends (I hope they aren’t reading this!)  – I collect snippets of conversations, amusing scenarios, jot them down and file them away for future use.

And what is the one thing you absolutely need to write? (quiet, music, an empty house, coffee or chocolate?)

My laptop or pen and paper. I started my writing career when my four children were little so I don’t need a quiet, empty house (although it is nice!). Coffee and chocolate are nice bonuses but really as long as I have something to write on I can write anywhere.

What are you working on at the moment?

Áccent Press gave me a contract for two more books when they accepted ‘I do?-or do I?’ I’m now working on the third book. I won’t give much away but there is a wedding theme in this one too. I’m also working on a YA and a novel. I always have two or three projects on the go.

Very intriguing...I find the promotion side of being a writer very daunting and quite hard work. How do you promote your work?

I was published for many years without having to do any promotion at all, but that’s all changed now and it didn’t come easy to me at first. I felt like I was being ‘boasty’. Still do sometimes. My favourite platform is Twitter. I love the spontaneity, brevity and fun of Twitter. It’s a great place to connect. Second is Facebook. I use Pinterest, Instagram and Google+ too but not to the same extent.

What comes first when you are thinking of a new story - the plot or the characters?

Usually the characters. The heroine pops into my head and tells me her story then the hero interrupts and gradually I work out a basic plot.


Thank you for your great answers, Karen. And now for the word association fun test...Please tell me what comes into your mind when you see those words:

1. sun       happy, life, warmth

2. moon    stars, night, magical

3. winter       jumpers, snow, coal fires

4. summer     beach, sea, peaceful

5.  chocolate   bliss, relaxing, addictive

Hmm... I feel exactly like you about chocolate! Thank you very much, Karen, for being my guest today. Good luck with all your writing projects.

Author Bio

A member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, the Society of Authors and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists, Karen King writes sassy, contemporary romance just right for reading on the beach. 'I DO - or Do I?' is her first chick lit for Accent Press. She has been contracted for two more.

Karen has had two other romance novels, several short stories for women’s magazine and 120 children's books published.

When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.


Author links


Twitter: @karen_king







Blurb

Local journalist Cassie is getting married to hot-shot lawyer, reliable Timothy, and his mother Sylvia, who Cassie has nicknamed ‘Monster-in-Law’, wants to plan the entire wedding. When Sylvia books the exclusive ID Images to take photographs of the extravagant do, Cassie has no idea what she’s walking into. 
The elusive JM, ID Images’ newest photographer, just so happens to be Jared, Cassie’s first love and ex-fiancé, who broke off their engagement to travel and take photos of far-reaching wonders. He’s back to pay for his next wild adventure. 
Cassie decides it’s best to pretend not to know him, but when she’s asked to write an article for her newspaper, she’s tasked with a column surrounding all things wedding related. When Cassie jokingly writes a column meant for herself depicting her situation, a co-worker submits it in place of the real article and it’s soon making headlines, with readers asking the age old question - Who Will She Choose?



Extract

Jared must have seen the panic in her eyes because he quickly composed himself and shook Sylvia’s hand. ‘Delighted to meet you. And this must be the bride-to-be.’ He smiled at Cassie as if he’d never met her before. Never held her in his arms, kissed her, made love to her, promised that he’d love her forever and then walked out on her.

She’d often imagined seeing Jared again, wondered how she’d react. Now it all came flooding back and all she could do was remember how utterly devastated she’d felt when he’d walked out on her.

Get a grip, Cassie told herself. That was years ago. You’re over it now. You’re marrying Timothy. Jared is history.

She was suddenly aware that Jared was holding out his hand to her and Sylvia was watching her curiously. She forced a smile on her face and shook his hand, desperately hoping she showed no sign that his touch still made her tingle.

‘Miss Tyler,’ he said smoothly.

‘Call me Cassie,’ she told him. ‘Sorry I kept you waiting.’

‘Not a problem.’

How she wished she’d arrived on time. Jared used to tease her about being late. He probably thought she was still as ditzy as she was back then. If only she’d put on one of her power suits instead of a maxi dress, then she would have looked sophisticated and professional. Like she’d changed; which she had.

Oh God, she was still holding his hand. What must Sylvia think? She quickly removed her hand, tore her gaze from those big brown eyes, and tried to act as if her body wasn’t zinging at his touch. Just like it always had.

‘Take a seat, ladies, and tell me exactly what sort of photographs you’re looking for.’ He glanced down at his notes. ‘I see that the wedding is only two months away.’

‘Yes, we decided against a long engagement,’ Sylvia replied as if she was the bride. She sat down in one of the plush dark brown chairs and indicated for Cassie to take the other seat. ‘Timothy and Cassandra got engaged on Valentine’s Day and we thought a summer wedding would be lovely. Especially when we managed to secure Hollington Castle,’ she paused to make sure this announcement had the desired effect.

Jared nodded, looking suitably impressed, and Sylvia continued, ‘I know it’s short notice but Daniel assured me you’d be able to fit us in.’ She was letting him know that she was on first name terms with the director of the company.

Jared nodded again. ‘We’ve had a cancellation for that date, so yes, we can accommodate you both.’ His gaze flicked to Cassie then back to Sylvia. ‘Would you like a cup of coffee while we discuss the arrangements?’

‘Thank you. Black with no sugar, please.’

Jared raised an eyebrow questioningly at Cassie. ‘And for you, Cassie?’

‘Black with no sugar for me too, please,’ she replied. That would surprise him. She always used to have white coffee with two sugars. The Cassie he used to know had a sweet tooth. At least that was one thing that had changed. Except it hadn’t, really, she was only drinking black coffee to make sure she could get into her wedding dress. Well, to be honest she was drinking black coffee in front of Timothy and his mother because they would frown and remind her about needing to get into the wedding dress. When they weren’t around she still took her coffee with milk and sugar. She thought longingly of the iced mocha she’d be enjoying with Sam later.

Jared pressed the intercom and asked the receptionist to bring in the coffees, then he leant forward, linked his hands under his chin, and gave Cassie the benefit of his full attention. Devastating. She quickly averted her gaze. ‘Now, tell me about the wedding,’ he said. ‘It’s important that I get a feel of the atmosphere you’re trying to create so I know what tone to set with the photos. We aim to be professional but not intrusive. And please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you might have. We want our clients to be completely happy and relaxed on their special day. We won’t take offence at all if you decide that we aren’t the right photographers for you.’

You’re not! Cassie’s mind was screaming. You’re the very last person I want as my photographer. Ever. For a moment she feared she’d uttered the words aloud, but Sylvia was now talking to Jared, so clearly it was all in her head.


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Sunday, 4 September 2016

A stop at a favourite uncle's and inspiration...



People often wonder how authors get ideas about plots, characters and settings for their stories. I find my inspiration in many different sources - a holiday, a song, painting or road map (I love maps!), an old photo or even a strange dream... My short story SONS OF THE WIND was actually inspired by a holiday I took many years ago after finishing my university degree in Lyon University.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

I wanted a bit of an adventure and borrowed my mother's old Renault 5 to tour the South of France for a couple of weeks. I had a vague idea of where I wanted to go but no fixed plan.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

My first stop was Avignon where my favourite uncle lived. My uncle Roger was my mother's elder brother, and the most original - some may say eccentric - person I have ever met. I absolutely adored him. He had built his own house, dug his own pond where ducks and grandchildren dived and paddled together (no one ever mentioned germs and health and safety in those days), kept all kinds of animals on his small holding, including pigeons, dogs, vicious turkey cocks, and two parrots -Marco and Polo who warned him from the treetops of the arrival of customers for his bric-à-brac business. He also ran a house clearing business with two elderly gentlemen aptly nicknamed 'Les Deux Vieux' (the two old ones) who must have been a lot stronger than they looked and did not talk much. In fact, now that think about it, I don't think I ever heard them talk at all.

My uncle was a nature lover, and a poet. He would tell you to take great care not to damage a spider web as you went up the stairs. His house was a treasure trove, especially the ground floor where he kept all his bric-à-brac. How I loved looking through his collection of paintings, out of tune pianos and shields and swords, old typewriters, broken dentist chairs and - oh joy...hundreds and hundreds of keys. I think this is where my fascination with old keys must have started.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay

The day I arrived he and his two elderly assistants had just cleared over a ton of flour from a bankrupt mill and he was wondering what to do with it.

'You don't want any flour, do you?' he asked as we enjoyed a glass of rosé wine in the shade just before lunch.

'Of course not, I'm going on a tour of Provence! What would I do with bags of flour?'

Not in the least upset by my refusal, he suggested a few places for me to visit on my tour. Les Saintes Maries de la Mer in the Camargue was one of them. I had planned to travel to Arles, but not to Les Saintes Maries. I am glad I listened to my uncle that day and pushed a bit further.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
Les Saintes Maries de la Mer is a fishing village situated in the heart of the Camargue, between the Rhône river and the Mediterranean sea. It is surrounded by marshes brimming with wildlife. This is where you can find ranches (called 'manades') where bulls and horses are bred. The grey-white Camargue horses are renown for their speed and their beauty, and during cavalcades and 'abrivades' that take place throughout the year, the 'gardians' (Camargue cowboys) show off their skills.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay
The village is especially famous for its gypsy festival which takes place on 24th and 25th May. Every year more than 10 000 travellers come from all over Europe to celebrate their patron saint - 'Sara La Noire'. It is for them a time of celebration, of dancing and feasting, of religious worship and catching up with friends and relatives.

Les Saintes Maries is a beautiful and inspiring setting for my short story SONS OF THE WIND which was recently published in LETTERBOX LOVE STORIES, an anthology of romantic short stories by international bestselling authors.

I ended up staying several days there during my tour of Provence and I will never forget the evenings spent eating delicious seafood at the terrace of cafés, and listening to the 'gardians' singing and playing the guitar. It felt like a magical place.

Blurb for SONS OF THE WIND
Provence 1826. Ten years after her brother disappeared in the marshes of the Camargue, Venetia Rigby receives a letter suggesting he is alive. Will Philippe Dantès, half-gipsy master of Terres Mortes, help her find him when he has his own demons to fight?

LETTERBOX LOVE STORIES is available here