Thursday, October 24, 2013

"SEALED WITH A KISS" MEETS "IN NEED OF THERAPY" IN AUCHENMOR, SCOTLAND

"Sealed With a Kiss" Meets"In Need of Therapy" in Auchenmor, Scotland
by Rachael Lucas 



Hi Em,

Remember Mel, my incredibly brainy psychologist friend? Her (presumably also super brainy) American friend Pilar is looking for a bed for the night whilst she's visiting Scotland for a lecture tour. She's keen to visit a genuine Scottish island - I can offer her that, and a genuine Scottish castle, complete with grumpy Laird of the Island, into the bargain. Lucky girl (ha ha). Lovely to have a visitor, except the cottage looks like a bomb site and Willow - the bad puppy - ate most of the spare mattress the other day. Reckon I can probably patch it up a bit. Anyway, just wanted to ask if you could send me that recipe for Jambalaya? I need to feed her something other than cheese sandwiches and soup. xxx

PS: look at this! Took it the other day as I walked down to Scalpsie Bay. Gorgeous, isn't it?


From: emma@ITworks.co.uk 
To: kate@duntarviehouse.com 

Will mail it to you later. You get to host posh American visitors, I get Pampered Chef parties. NO idea how I got talked into this one. Apparently I get a free wooden spoon out of it. There's a joke in there somewhere but I don't have time to find it...children just landed on me - literally - ARGH x


From: Kate@duntarviehouse.com 
To: Emma@ITworks.co.uk 

Thanks for recipe! Have got everything ready, and she's coming off the boat at lunchtime. Will take her for a trip round the island, then back for something to eat. She seems really nice...bit terrifying from her photo, she's immaculately dressed and looks VERY glam compared to my scruffy island self. I must brush my hair, and make an effort to wear something respectable. 


From: Kate@duntarviehouse.com 
To: emma@ITworks.co.uk 

Oh, wow. Talk about appearances being deceptive. Y'know I said she looked really glam? Totally not what I expected. She was actually just like us. Only slight problem was she wasn't prepared for the way the weather changes on a Scottish island...one little coat and a pair of pretty little heeled boots! I gave her a spare pair of welly boots and a waterproof coat and she was still freezing cold. I took her straight off the ferry boat from the mainland, and on the same trip Jean took me when I arrived. You should have seen her face when we crested the hill and you could see across the loch towards the sea, and she fell in love with the Highland cows! I took some pics, look:

Then we went into town and had a coffee at Bruno's cafe. You can imagine how that went... a gorgeous American turns up and orders a double espresso and then croons over his mastery at making the perfect coffee? I thought I was going to have to leave her there. He's made her promise to come back for longer next time - and I reckon she would have, too, especially after Finn arrived in the cafe. He was in his KILT for goodness' sake, and his big Aran sweater, and big boots, doing the whole "oh HI, lovely to meet you, I'm so charming and just like a young Ewan McGregor" bit. I have no idea why he was all dressed up like that, mind you, but he certainly made an impression. And you'll never guess who we bumped into when we took a trip over to Scalpsie Bay? Yep, Fiona. She couldn't work out what to do with herself - she was trying to be a bitch to me and be utterly saccharine sweet charming to Pilar at the same time. It was hysterical. It's the only time I've ever been in her company and wanted to stay longer, just because watching her tie herself in knots was SO funny.

And then I parked the car and took her on foot back to the cottage - I wanted to see her face when she saw Duntarvie House (you know how impressive it is when you see it for the first time...funny how I live with a castle on my doorstep now and don't even think about it).

Loved her face when she walked down the lane and saw this:

And then Roderick pulled up in the Land Rover, dogs hanging out the window, sweater on, doing the whole 'Oh hi, lovely to meet you, you're welcome to come up for dinner tonight' thing. Pilar told me afterwards she was trying to work out whether she was supposed to be polite and say no, Kate's making us dinner back at the cottage, or whether it was a bit like being invited to tea with the Queen and you're not supposed to say no. Ha ha. Anyway, it was a bit awkward as you can imagine under the circumstances (more about that later . . . I'll call you) but I gritted my teeth and said oh yes, that would be LOVELY. Just as well we did, because when we got back to the cottage Willow, the fiend dog, had managed to get the fridge door open (no idea how...I swear she's got canine superpowers when it comes to food) and the bloody jambalaya was no more.

Anyway, the evening went really well. Tom and Susan came down, and Finn, and a couple of guests that are thinking of investing money into the island, and - best result ever - no Fiona. Thank god. And Pilar's invited me to South Beach! Eeeek. Anyway, better go, I've got to get some work done. Big kiss, K x


From: kate@duntarviehouse.com 
To:  therapistchica@aol.com 

Hi Pilar!

SO glad you came. Hope your flight back went okay, and I can't WAIT to come and visit. Will write more later - got to get this work done -  but just wanted to let you know I spoke to Finn and he wants your email address...! Shall I give it to him? Kate xx

PS: have sent you this pic as a reminder of your trip to the island...come back soon!







Book Blurb:  Kate’s dumped on her best friend’s wedding day by boring boyfriend Ian. She's mostly cross because he got in first - until she remembers she's now homeless as well as jobless. Faced with moving back home to her ultra-bossy mother, she takes a job on the remote Scottish island of Auchenmor. Her first day starts badly when she falls at the feet of her grouchy new boss, Roderick, Laird of the Island. Unimpressed with her townie ways, he makes it clear she's got something to prove.

Island life has no room for secrets, but prickly Roddy's keeping something to himself. When his bitchy ex girlfriend appears back on the island, Kate's budding friendship with her new boss comes to an abrupt end. What is Fiona planning - and can she be stopped before it's too late?


Book Excerpt:

Out of the shadows came the sound of bagpipes. The piper strolled forward, clad in a kilt and a thick, woollen sweater. The low bass drone filled the night air. Kate turned to a delighted Jean, who was flapping her hands in front of her eyes, trying in vain to stem tears.

'Go on then,' said Kate, pushing Jean gently forward. 'Enjoy your moment.'

The piper's tune changed; Kate realised with delight that the Highland melody had been replaced with Happy Birthday. Roderick turned to Murdo, who had reappeared, bearing a birthday cake. The night was clear and still. The flames flickered, lighting up Roderick's face. He looked across at Kate, caught her eye and smiled. He put the loudhailer to his mouth.

'Three cheers,' Roderick roused the crowd, who yelled in response. 'And now, Jean, if you'll do the honours?'

He passed her a wooden stake, topped with a petrol-soaked rag. Murdo struck a match. The crowd roared again as he leapt back, swearing, at the sudden whoosh.

Jean circled the bonfire, methodically lighting her way round, before throwing the lit torch onto the effigy of Guy Fawkes. She beamed at Roderick, who gave her a wink and smiled.

'Get yourself inside and I'll buy you and Hector a drink,' Roderick instructed her.

Kate turned, looking around for Susan now the crowd had thinned. Parents were carrying tired, protesting children away from the field, looking forward to sitting down and going off duty.

'I can't see Susan,' Kate stood on tiptoe, peering through the darkness. 'She said to wait for her outside.'

'Ah,' said Roderick, pointing into the darkness. 'I've seen her already – she's away with the fairies. You'll not get much sense out of her tonight.'

Kate looked at him, puzzled.

'Come a bit closer and I'll show you,' he explained. Torch in hand, he led her away from the bonfire and into the darkness.

As Kate drew closer to the edge of the field, she could see the outline of a twisted hawthorn tree, festooned with torn pieces of rag. She turned to Roderick.

'What on earth is that?'

'It's the clootie well. I won't take you any closer at the moment, in case we disturb the young lovers.'

'So why is the tree covered in bits of cloth?'

'Well, tradition says that if you tie a piece of the cloth to the tree and make a wish, it will be granted before the cloth wears out.' Roderick said. 'People used to do it when their family members were ill, but nowadays it's more likely to be teenagers making wishes about the person they fancy. And of course it's also a place where they can hide and nobody knows what they're up to.'

'Hmm,' said Kate, teasing. 'That's interesting. Maybe I'll be coming back here to make a wish myself one day.'

'Oh yes?' Roderick laughed at her.

'Morag says this island is magical.' Kate was thoughtful. 'It's certainly cast a spell over me. I love it here.'

Roderick stared at her for a long moment, a strange expression on his face. Kate felt a blush rising on her face, hidden by the moonlight.


Purchase Sealed With a Kiss:

Amazon US

Amazon UK


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

EARLY HOLIDAY FUN - Q&A WITH CHICK LIT AUTHOR JENNY HALE



1) Can you give us a brief overview of Coming Home for Christmas?

Coming Home for Christmas is a story about family, but it’s also about finding that one person who makes everything in life right.  Allie Richfield has grown up with her sister and mother in a lovely, but small, family.  She takes a job as House Manager for the Ashford estate where she encounters a larger and more dysfunctional family, The Marleys. 

Heading it up is the 92-year-old grandmother, Pippa, who has three grandchildren: Robert, who controls the Marley home and wants to sell it, Kip, a well-known playboy, and Sloane, a divorced mother of two children. 

They’re all coming home for one last Christmas gathering before Robert sells Ashford out from under them.  All Allie has to do is plan it.  What she finds out is that pulling off this last family Christmas might be harder than it seems, and the choices she makes while at Ashford may be the biggest ones of her life.


2) What's your favorite quality about your heroine/hero?

I like how Allie isn’t intimidated by the Marley’s money.  This family is extremely wealthy, and, while she feels some insecurity internally, she doesn’t treat them any differently because of their wealth.


3) What made you want to write Coming Home for Christmas?

I heard a song by The Frames called “Falling Slowly,” and Robert Marley was born.  From there, I wrote the story around him.


4) How long did it take you to write Coming Home for Christmas? What is your writing process like?

Well, I’d only just had my second son, so some days I was writing and many others I was tending to two boys, my eldest only being three at that time.  It’s a blur.  I’d say, it took about a year.

In terms of writing process, usually I get some sort of inspiration either from a song or a play on words, a picture… lots of things.  Once I get the idea, I play around with characters and build them.  Then, I put a loose plot together, set the characters in that plot, and watch them go!  How they handle a particular situation is related to each character’s personality.

If I get stuck, I listen to music.  I keep everything written down across tons and tons of spiral notebooks, whichever one is handy.  I use them like scratch paper almost.


5) Your book is about family and the holidays. What’s your favorite Christmas tradition in your family?

My favorite Christmas tradition is building a gingerbread house each year with my boys.  You may even find a reference to it in Coming Home for Christmas!


6) If Hollywood comes calling and asks you to sign over the movie rights for Coming Home for Christmas, who would you like to see play Allie, Robert, Kip, Sloane and Pippa?

(This was tough because I didn't have anyone in mind when I wrote the characters, so I had to search for people who looked like what was in my head.  Hair and eye color can change, but here are the closest ones...)  

Allie:  Emilie de Ravin



Robert:  Paul Walker or Chris Pine



Kip:  Alex Pettyfer



Sloane:  Kristin Scott Thomas (I know she isn't Sloane's age, but her face was almost exactly what I saw when I was writing Sloane.)




Pippa:  Ellen Burstyn



7) How do you think of titles?

I will sometimes find a play on words or other idiom to use as inspiration for the story, but this particular title was chosen by my publisher.


8) Tell us about your cover art design. How involved were you in its creation? Was the concept yours or did you rely on a professional?

The publisher handled the cover design.  



9) What are your thoughts on love scenes in books? Do you prefer to read/write sweet/romantic encounters between your heroes and heroines
or spicy ones?

I prefer sweet as I would rather leave it to the imagination, and I tend to be on the more conservative side personally.1


10) Why do you think Christmas is such a romantic time of year? Do you have a favorite holiday romance (book or movie) that you like to reread/rewatch every year?

I think Christmas is about family and coming home, and what’s more romantic than finding that one person who will love you enough to help you build a family and a home?  I think that’s why it’s only fitting to think of romance when we think of Christmas.

I don’t have a favorite romantic Christmas movie/book that I watch/read every year, but I do really like the movie Love Actually, which is set at Christmas.  I loved the idea of peeking into the lives of all of those random faces at the airport and seeing their relationships. 



11) What are you working on now?

Book two for Bookouture, about a city girl who comes home to her roots.


12) Who are the authors who inspire you?

I love Sophie Kinsella/Madeleine Wickham, Jill Mansell, Harriet Evans, and Emily Giffin to name a few


13) What genres do you like to read? Do you stick to one or are you eclectic in your reading tastes?

I tend to read all variations of women’s fiction, nonfiction if it involves travel in some way, but I’m a little eclectic as well, and I’ll venture out if the book grabs me.


14) What was the last book you read that really WOWed you?

An Offer You Can’t Refuse by Jill Mansell;  I just loved this book.  There wasn’t one thing in particular, it was a symphony of small things that just totally worked for me.



15) If you could invite any five people (living or dead) over for a dinner party, who would they be and why?

1.  Kate Middleton – She lives so far from me that she’d have to stay the night, and I’d get to rifle through her suit case. (She’s my fashion idol.)
2.  Ellen Degeneres – It wouldn’t be a party without her!
3.  Bill Bryson – I want to see if he’s as funny in real life as he is on paper.
4.  (Another Bill!) Bill Cosby – His stories are fantastic.
5.  Julia Child – I don’t cook, so we’d need some good food!


Fast and Flirty 

Who (besides your husband) would you like to kiss under the mistletoe?
Absolutely no one.  My husband is that guy.

Favorite holiday beverage?
Beer. (But not regular domestic; usually imported or microbrew.)

Which of Santa’s lists will you be on this year (Naughty or Nice?)
Nice, of course! ;)

Favorite holiday tune?
All I Want for Christmas is You, Mariah Carey

Favorite edible treat at Christmastime?
Chocolate Orange

Best holiday gift you ever received?
A six-pack of Hoegaarden

Dream place to spend Christmas?
London or New York

Author Bio:  When Jenny Hale graduated college, one of her friends said, "Look out for this one; she's going to be an author one day." Despite being an avid reader and a natural storyteller, it wasn't until that very moment that the idea of writing novels occurred to her.

Sometimes our friends can see the things that we can't.

While she didn't start straight away, that comment sowed a seed and several years, two children, and hundreds of thousands of words later, Jenny completed a novel that she felt was worthy of publication.

She is currently at work on her next novel.

When Jenny's not writing, I'm a District Teacher of English to Speakers of Other Languages, a mother of two boys, and a wife to a very supportive husband.


Book Blurb:  Christmas is a time for family... isn't it?

Allie Richfield loves Christmas, so when she lands a job as House Manager for the amazing Ashford Estate—which includes organizing the Marley family festivities—she is in her element. With a budget bigger than her life savings and a team of staff, how hard can it be?
  
As one-by-one she meets the Marleys, she’s about to find out...

Allie’s new boss, Robert, might be gorgeous, but he’s also colder than the snow outside and refuses to come home for Christmas. Robert’s playboy brother, Kip, flirts with her relentlessly; and his sister, Sloane, arrives home with baggage—both the divorce-kind and the Louis Vuitton kind. Their ninety-two year old grandmother, Pippa, spends her day grumbling at them all from her mobility scooter.

With Robert intending to sell Ashford, it’s the Marley’s last chance to create some happy memories in their family home—and Allie is determined to make it happen... even if it takes a little Christmas magic! With the festive spirit in full swing, she might even discover a little happiness of her own...


Buy Coming Home for Christmas:



Connect with Jenny Hale Online: 

Website  

Twitter

Facebook

Monday, October 21, 2013

THE UNITED AUTHORS OF CHICK LIT PROMO


Fasten your seatbelts and put your tray tables in the upright and locked position. Over the next few days, some of your favorite Chick Lit characters will be jetting across the Atlantic to visit with fictional friends on the other side of the pond.

The event kicks off on Monday, Oct. 21.

On Tuesday, Oct. 22, read about Stella from Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes and Chloe from Lying to Meet You as they travel across the Atlantic to visit each other.

On Wednesday, Oct. 23, it’s time to discover what happens when Emma from The Pollyanna Plan and Kim from Blogger Girl meet.

On Thursday, Oct. 24, Izzy from Izzy’s Cold Feet and Jamie from Finding Lucas will be taking you on a trip alongside their characters.

And on Friday, Oct. 25, Kate from Sealed with a Kiss and Pilar from In Need of Therapy will be chatting about their overseas experiences.

Here’s a little sneak peek at the fun, frothy books and sassy gals featured in our international promo, all of which are priced at $3.99 or less:

Finding Lucas by Samantha Stroh Bailey - Daytime talk show producer Jamie Ross is beyond fed up with her toxic bad boy turned metrosexual boyfriend. Spurred on by her gang of quirky friends, she goes on a hilarious, at-times disastrous, and totally life-changing hunt to track down the ”one who got away.” But are some loves best left behind? Available on Amazon, Amazon UK, and Kobo.
In Need of Therapy by Tracie Banister - Handling the problems of hysterical hypochondriacs, lovelorn neurotics, and compulsive man whores is all in a day’s work for super-shrink Pilar Alvarez. But can she deal with her crazy Cuban family, a trio of unsuitable suitors, and a threat to her practice without ending up on the couch herself? Available on Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble.
Lying to Meet You by Anna Garner – Overworked New York fashion girl Chloe Lane has no time for a real relationship, but when her childhood pal asks her to play the part of his girlfriend in order to test a theory, she decides to go for it. The lies start piling up and things start getting crazy. Will Chloe be able to keep it together? Available on Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble.
Sealed with a Kiss by Rachael Lucas – Kate breathes a sigh of relief when she's dumped at her best friend's wedding. When she takes a job on the island of Auchenmor, she's determined to have a year off men, but that's before she rescues Flora the seal pup with the help of Roddy, her mysterious new boss... Available on Amazon and Amazon UK.

The Pollyanna Plan by Talli RolandEmma Beckett has always looked down on 'the glass is half full' optimists. But when she loses her high-powered job and fiancĂ©, Emma makes a radical decision: from here on in, she'll attempt to see the upside, no matter how dire the situation. Can adopting a positive attitude give Emma the courage to build a new life, or is finding the good in everything a very bad idea? Available on Amazon and Amazon UK. 

Blogger Girl by Meredith Schorr - Kimberly Long has two passions: her successful chick lit blog and Nicholas, her handsome colleague down the hall. But when her high school nemesis pops onto the chick lit scene with a hot new book and eyes for Nicholas, Kim has to make some quick revisions to her own life story. Available on AmazonAmazon UK, Barnes & Noble, and Apple iTunes.

Izzy's Cold Feet by Sarah Louise Smith - Izzy is engaged to Greg, who is everything a girl could want. The trouble is – all she can think about is the men she loved before she met him. In the week leading up to her wedding day, Izzy is forced to ask herself who she loves the most. And, given the choice, who would she want to spend her life with? Available on Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, and UK Nook

Fat Girls and Fairy Cakes by Sue Watson – TV Producer Stella is over worked, over weight and under fire battling to balance family, career and those weighing scales. In the past she’s always found comfort at the bottom of her mixing bowl but now the most delicious lemon sponge with zesty frosting has no effect. However, life is about to get even tougher... and Stella has to face some truths about herself, her life and her future. Available on Amazon and Amazon UK.


SCHEDULE OF EVENTS:

Tuesday, Oct. 22
Stella will be on Anna Garner’s blog and Chloe will be on Sue Watson’s blog.

Wednesday, Oct. 23
Emma will be on Meredith Schorr’s blog and Kim will be on Talli Roland’s blog.

Thursday, Oct. 24
Izzy will be on Samantha Stroh Bailey’s blog and Jamie will be on Sarah Louise Smith’s blog.

Friday, Oct. 25
Kate will be on Tracie Banister’s blog and Pilar will be on Rachael Lucas’s blog.


Wednesday, October 16, 2013

CHICK LIT EXCERPT - FOREVER FREDLESS BY SUZY TURNER



BLURB:  Kate Robinson has spent the past two decades yearning to find her soul mate, the boy she found and then lost during a family holiday. 

Shortly after her twenty-eighth birthday, however, she inherits a fortune from an old family friend and becomes something of an overnight celebrity. Can her new-found fame lead her to him after all this time?

EXCERPT

Thank God for anti-perspirant, I thought as I sat on the couch and waited for the countdown to begin. I clutched at my hands until they were white and looked across at the two people sitting opposite, both completely at ease in front of the cameras. 

Five, four, three, two, one...

'Welcome back to this morning's edition of Good Morning GB,' announced Ireland Rothschild, the blonde-haired, blue eyed darling of morning TV.

'I'm here with Fergus O'Reilly and we've a special guest with us this morning. None other than Britain's love-struck multi-millionaire, Kate Robinson.

Welcome, Kate,' she said with a dazzling smile aimed more towards the camera than at me. 

As my cheeks began to heat up, I was so grateful to the make-up artist, who had insisted on caking on the foundation before the show had started. In fact, I had so much make-up on that I was hoping once I'd removed it, nobody would recognise me when I headed to the airport in my now rather stupidly chosen car. I couldn't exactly blend in driving a pink Mini could I?

'Good morning,' I whispered shyly. 

Fergus grinned back at me, tilting his head as if he was about to speak to a child. 'Now, tell us, Kate dear, how does it feel to never have to worry about money ever again?' he asked, his toothpaste advert  teeth twinkling beneath the heat of the studio lights.

'Erm, well, I guess it's... erm, kind of... erm,' I felt so bloody stupid. Great time for my brain to stop working. 'I - erm. Great,' I nodded. 'Great, really great.' Idiot.

Ireland glanced across at her grey-haired colleague and pouted before nodding. 'Tell us how you knew this man. This,' she glanced down at the iPad on her lap and continued, 'Samuel?' 

I cleared my throat and lifted my head, feeling like my brain was back in action. 'He was a very good friend of the family, some years ago,' I answered.

'Just a friend? Why did he leave you all his money and his property?' asked Fergus. 

'He didn't have any family and I guess you could say that my mother and I were the closest he ever had to a family.'

'Isn't that lovely?' pouted Ireland. 'You certainly are a lucky woman. But what about your mother? Didn't she receive any of his inheritance?' 

'No,' I said before swallowing hard. 'My mother lives a rather... nomadic lifestyle, in Africa. She doesn't want any of it. All she asked of me was to donate a sum to charity which, of course, I have done.'

'She lives in Africa? A nomadic lifestyle? That sounds intriguing. Perhaps we should interview her one of these days,' laughed Ireland and Fergus together.

'Have you splashed out on anything since receiving your inheritance back in June?' they asked, leaning forward eagerly awaiting my answer.

'Yes I have actually. I bought a car and a new house.' 

'Well good for you, Kate. But now, most of us are curious about this boy you lost. Tell us about him?'

Oh no. Why did I agree to this? 

Taking a deep breath, I knew I had no choice. Several articles had been printed since the one in Liberty; everyone wanted to know more and nobody was going to leave me alone until I told them everything.

'He was just a boy who I had a connection with when I was much, much younger. It was at Skegness. At an afternoon disco for kids. I was dancing and I felt someone touch my back and when I turned around there he was.  The most beautiful boy I'd ever seen,' I said, stopping and smiling as I reminisced. ‘It was one of the happiest memories of my life.' 

Sighing, I continued, 'We just looked at each other and it was like everything else just disappeared into the background. We stood staring, for what seemed like ages. I could barely move. And then, almost as soon as it had begun, my dad appeared and took me away. I couldn't do anything as we walked to the car. I looked around for the boy but he was gone. And then, just as we were driving away, I turned around in my seat and there he was. He had a daffodil in his hand. I always assumed he'd gone to pick it for me, but that's just a childish fantasy, I guess. The whole thing is probably nothing but a childish fantasy, really.'

Ireland was very carefully dabbing at her eyes with a tissue, pretending to be moved, while Fergus smiled sadly. 

'What a beautiful story, Kate. I don't believe for one second that this is a childish fantasy. It's romantic and beautiful,' Ireland said.

'Now, tell us, Kate. Why did you call him Fred?' asked Fergus. 

Smiling, I explained about the Right Said Fred song, just as the music began in the background.

'What a wonderful tale. Thank you, Kate, for joining us today. It's been a pleasure having you with us to share your story,' said Fergus. 

'Thank you,' I whispered before the camera moved back to Ireland as she straightened her skirt and looked alluring. 'Do you remember this moment in time?' she asked. 'Are you the elusive Fred? We'd love to hear from you. You can contact us at...' 

Before I could hear anything else, I was ushered off the couch and back behind the scenes where Jo stood, waiting patiently for me, with open arms.


AUTHOR BIO:  Suzy Turner has worked as a journalist, assistant editor, features editor and magazine editor. Early in 2010 however, she began writing full time and has since completed six books for young adults (the Raven Saga and The Morgan Sisters series) and one chick lit novel, Forever Fredless. 

Although Suzy is a Yorkshire lass at heart, she left her home town of Rotherham, UK, to move to Portugal with her family when she was ten. The Algarve continues to be her home, where she lives with her childhood sweetheart and husband of 15 years, Michael, and their two neurotic dogs and a cat who thinks she's a princess.

 
BUY FOREVER FREDLESS:





Find Suzy Turner Online:









Tuesday, October 8, 2013

THE BANISTER BUZZ 10/08/13 - A TREAT FOR AUSTEN LOVERS


My fellow Janeites, I have exciting news! The creators of last year's internet phenomenon, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, are back with a new web series called "Emma Approved," which debuted online yesterday! I've already seen the first episode, and I'm happy to report that it exceeded my expectations for awesomeness! I really can't say enough good things about how clever the writers of these Austen updates are. They have been able to reimagine Jane's characters in the most fun and interesting ways. For instance, our new Emma Woodhouse is an entrepreneur who runs the "Matchmaking & Lifestyle Division" of Highbury Partners' Lifestyle Group. Her motto is "I Make Your Life Better, and I Never Fail."


Emma introduces herself to us in this first episode of Emma Approved and huge kudos to actress Joanna Sotomura for bringing to life everything about the character that readers have always loved and found infuriating. Emma was Type A long before that was a thing, and in her current incarnation she continues to try and micromanage the lives of others via her job. Emma knows best (She sports fabulously fashionable ombre-colored hair, doesn't she?), and she will fix whatever's wrong with you. Need a man? Need a makeover? Emma's your girl. At least, she thinks she is. We'll have to wait and see how things go horribly awry for Emma in this new series. The first ep ends with a bit of a cliffhanger (Maybe one of Emma's perfect matches isn't so perfect after all?)

I should mention that in the first ep we, also, get to met Emma's business partner, Alex Knightley, who's in charge of "Boring Stuff" at Highbury. I was delighted and relieved to see Knightley on the scene so early. Anyone who's watched The Lizzie Bennet Diaries knows that Darcy didn't show up until about six months into the series. I can't imagine how torturous the wait must have been for people who were watching the eps in real time (I didn't discover LBD until the series was almost finished, but I was still wondering where the heck Darcy was as I binge-watched the episodes.) I'm already loving the playful relationship between strait-laced Alex and the vivacious Emma, and I can't wait to see where they go with it. I mean, I know where the two of them will end up, but the fun part is in seeing how they get there. 


P.S. The actor playing Knightley is Brent Bailey, and he is Tracie Approved. <wink>

One of the best parts of watching these modernizations of Austen classics is guessing how the writers will reenvision the characters. Darcy's cousin, Colonel Fitzwilliam, became his best friend, Fitz, in The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and Fitz was African-American, hilarious, and gay. My very insightful friend, blogger/author Laura Chapman, is already predicting that Emma's soon-to-be-hired assistant, who was referenced in Episode 1 of Emma Approved, will turn out to be Harriet, which is nothing short of brilliant! Harriet was taken under Emma's wing in the book, so it makes perfect sense that Emma would be her boss/mentor in the 21st century. This got me to thinking about what the new versions of other Emma characters will be like. We already know that Emma Approved's Mr. Weston is a 35 year-old CEO, which means that Frank Churchill can't be his son as he was in the book. As they have different last names, I'm thinking that Frank could be Weston's younger step or half-brother. Maybe Weston tries to bring Frank into the fold at his company, Cuddly Cupcakes? What about Mr. Elton? He was looking for the right woman to marry in Emma, so I could see him being a client of Emma, the matchmaker. That still leaves Jane Fairfax and the Bates ladies. Will they be included in Emma Approved? If so, how? 

And now I give you the first episode in what is sure to be another very entertaining series from Bernie Su & Co. Watch it, because I said so, and I'm bossy like Emma. I haven't steered you wrong yet, have I? Looks like new eps of Emma Approved will debut on You Tube on Mondays and Thursdays at 9AM P.S.T. If you want the full Emma Approved experience, be sure to check out her blog, where she posts pieces about fashion, romance, and how amazing she is. She's, also, got a Twitter account.


 
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the first episode once you've watched it, so leave me a comment below. And let me know what some of your favorite Austen adaptations are. Do you love Clueless aka "Emma Goes to High School" or are Lost in Austen and Austenland more your speed?

AUTHOR INTERVIEW - CHICK LIT WRITER CATHY BRAMLEY



1) Can you give us a brief overview of Conditional Love?

Conditional Love is my debut novel and it’s a romantic comedy with a property and design theme. Sophie Stone, the heroine, who works for the local newspaper, is a thirty-something, stuck-in-a-rut procrastinator. When she unexpectedly finds herself as the main beneficiary in a stranger’s will she is forced into action. But there’s a condition attached to the will which threatens to rock her world: this is the opportunity she has been dreaming of, but accepting the challenge will throw her safe and predictable life into turmoil. 

She doesn’t have to navigate these turbulent waters alone; she has two bickering flatmates, a manipulative Madonna-tribute-singer mother, an ex-boyfriend with dubious motives and an architect with as much social grace as Doc Martin.

As the story unfolds, Sophie learns that not all love is unconditional and finally begins to make a new life for herself on her own terms.


2) What's your favorite quality about your heroine/hero? 

I love Sophie’s determination; she keeps going even when times get tough. Towards the end of the book, she has gained a lot of confidence and when she is offered an easy way out of her problems, she finally shows her independence and I’m proud of her for that! 


3) What made you want to write Conditional Love?  

The initial idea for the story was born out of my own family situation when my husband inherited a bungalow out in a village miles from where we lived. The rest of the story is pure fiction though, well, all except one unfortunate incident when I used the wrong expression in a business meeting, I’ve used that in my book!

  
4) How long did it take you to write Conditional Love? What is your writing process like?

This book took me quite a long time to write as I was learning how to do it at the same time. I originally finished in the Spring of this year, but then was advised to re-write it in the first person. I’m so glad I did, it’s a much better book because of the point of view change. With my second book, I’m much more organized. I’ve written the first draft and I’m about to start going back, developing the characters a little more and adding some more tension to the scenes. 


5) If Hollywood comes calling and asks you to sign over the movie rights for Conditional Love, who would you like to see play Sophie and the men in her life on the big screen?

Well I’m so glad you asked this question, Tracie! If Nancy Meyer, Director of The Holiday one of my all-time favourite films was thinking about making Conditional Love - The Movie, I’ve already done the hard work for her and created a cast list on the IMDb website and you can see my choices here: Hollywood Cast List As you can see I’ve got Isla Fisher as Sophie and Jude Law squaring up to Ryan Gosling. Quite frankly, I’d go and watch those two in anything!





6) How do you think of titles?

I sit down with a notepad and pen and scratch my head, write down some nonsense and throw the page away. Then when I’m least expecting it, The Title just pops into my head! 


7) Tell us about your cover art design. How did you come up with the concept? Did you execute it yourself or have a professional do it? 

I love my cover design so much! I’ve had it printed onto mugs, onto a chocolate box and even onto a huge cake for my launch party! I used a British company called "Design For Writers," who specialize in covers for indie authors, that was recommended to me. They asked me to pick a memorable scene from the book and I chose the moment when Sophie meets Nick for the first time. It was raining…



8) As you have a background in marketing, do you have any advice for newbie authors who are trying to find an audience for their work? What do you think are the most effective ways an author can promote herself? 

Wow, that’s a tricky question as I’m still so new to publishing myself. Firstly, you need to know who your audience is. Who will buy your book? Then you need to target that audience through your marketing efforts.

I have divided my activity between online marketing: Twitter, Facebook, and blog tour and more traditional marketing: press releases to my local newspapers and radio stations and a physical event for the launch of the book.

I think it’s important to remember that books are launched every day so your book launching isn’t newsworthy. Also, journalists aren’t really interested in books, they’re interested in the person behind the book. Try and find an angle or a hook for your press releases to make capture their interest. 

For example, I have billed my book launch as the "World’s Smallest Book Launch." It’s a bit of fun as I’m using the iconic red
telephone box in our village as the venue for my launch and I’ve even applied to the Guinness World Records office! 


9) What are your thoughts on love scenes in books? Do you prefer to read/write sweet/romantic encounters between your hero and heroine or spicy ones? 

Oh sweet, definitely! 


10) What are you working on now? 

The working title of my next book is Holding Back. It’s about three women who meet in embarrassing circumstances at a funeral and then decided to help each other’s wishes come true – a sort of Bucket List caper! 


11) Who are the authors who inspire you? 

Irish Author Marian Keyes would have to be my favourite. Her Dublin accent comes through her writing loud and clear and I love her story lines. I also enjoy Jenny Colgan, Adriana Trigliani, Jodi Picoult and Tess Gerritsen! 


12) What genres do you like to read? Do you stick to one or are you eclectic in your reading tastes? 

Haha see above! I love women’s fiction, but like a good thriller from Jo Nesbo sometimes too. 


13) What was the last book you read that really WOWed you? 

Jojo Moyes – Me Before You. Warning: Kleenex required.



14) If you could be plopped down in the middle of any book, which one would it be?

Bridget Jones's Diary – I’d love to be one of Bridget’s friends who got served the blue soup and witnessed the Cleaver v. Darcy fight! 


15) If you could invite any five people (living or dead) over for a dinner party, who would they be and why?

Marian Keyes, the author, Miranda Hart, Catherine Tate and Alan Carr, British comedians. These four would make me laugh all night. And finally James McAvoy, because he’s gorgeous!


Fast and Flirty

Favorite scent?  West Indian Lime aftershave
Favorite color?  Green
Favorite food?  Chicken Tikka Saag
Favorite word?  Onomatopoeia
Favorite article of clothing?  Leather boots
Dream vacation spot? 
Barbados
Favorite time period in history?  When Robin Hood roamed the forest with his bow and arrows.
Favorite girl's night out drink?  Kir Royale
Favorite date night activity?  Dinner and drinks with my husband.
Favorite song?  "Don’t You Want Me Baby" – Human League. (I’m an 80s chick!)
Celebrity hottie on your laminated list?  James McAvoy!
Novel hero crush?  Austin Tyler in Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe.
 


Book Blurb:  Sophie dreams of building her own grand design, she just hasn’t got round to it yet...

Meet Sophie Stone, a thirty-something serial procrastinator. Tesco knickers, Take That and tea with two sugars is about as exciting as it gets. Sophie’s life is safe and predictable, which is just the way she likes it, thank you very much.

But when her boyfriend dumps her on Valentine’s Day and a mysterious benefactor leaves her an inheritance, even Sophie has to accept that change is afoot. There is a catch: in order to inherit, Sophie must agree to meet the father she has never seen.

Not a fan of surprises, Sophie would rather not; why not let sleeping dads lie? Besides, her mother would kill her.

With interference from an evil boss, bickering flat mates, warring parents and a sexy ex-boyfriend, Sophie has plenty to contend with without an architect who puts his foot in it every time he opens his mouth.

But it soon becomes clear that she will have to face the past and learn some uncomfortable home truths before she can finally build a future on her own terms.


Author Bio:  After growing up in Birmingham, Cathy went to Nottingham Trent University at the ripe old age of eighteen and five days to study European Business. Upon graduating she spent the next few years in the corporate world of marketing working on high-powered projects such as testing the firing range of SuperSoaker waterguns, adding hair extensions to Girls’ World styling heads and perfecting the weeing action of Tiny Tears. After making it onto Timmy Mallet’s Christmas card list, she realised it was time to move on and so in 1995 set up her own agency, Apples & Pears Marketing.

Avid fans of the TV series, Cathy and her husband realised their Grand Designs’ dream of building their own house in 2011. They now live in rural Nottinghamshire with their two daughters and a cockerpoo called Pearl. 

This project provided the inspiration for Cathy’s debut novel Conditional Love, although it is by no means autobiographical, apart from the unfortunate incident in the boardroom! She shares her time between her marketing agency, writing and taxiing the girls endlessly from one activity to the next. 

Cathy is a fan of Masterchef, strong coffee, chocolate brazils and Marian Keyes books. She is addicted to her Kindle and has an irrational fear of bananas.


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