Monday, 21 August 2017

Happy Publication Day Christie Barlow

Today I am absolutely thrilled to welcome Christie Barlow to my blog and as today is her publication day I invite you all to raise a glass and toast her success. Welcome Christie! Do please tell us all about your latest book, The Cosy Canal Boat Dream!

Thank you Heidi, for inviting me onto your blog!

 I am super excited it’s publication day for The Cosy Canal Boat Dream. I'm sure a lot of my author buddies will agree with me on this, but as authors, we are known to have ideas stewing in our minds longer than Brussel sprouts at Christmas, when in actual fact; all we want to do is shout about our new books!

My new book The Cosy Canal Boat Dream is a pretty special one as it will be my first published novel with Harper Impulse! How exciting! Well, and slightly nerve-wracking! That’s normal though, right? For this book, my inspiration was right under my nose - believe it or not! When I say under my nose, I also mean under Woody’s (my cocker-spaniel) nose.

Every day prior to the book idea, my sidekick and I would go on a walk route Barton marina which has this beautiful, old picture house and a rather mouth-watering deli. And, if that wasn’t enough, the marina is even a home to multiple craft shops. It didn’t take me long to link Barton marina with the deli and old picture house in a storyline capacity. After all, with such beautiful views, stunning buildings, and wonderful smelling food to drool over; I would be doing the marina a disservice by NOT using it as my inspiration for my new book.

Clearly I don’t want to give any parts of the storyline away, but, I can mention the main character, Nell and what inspired me to shape her character. You may have seen multiple posts online about women empowerment, yes? When I came to create Nell’s personality, I took my inspiration from women icons such as ‘Jane Eyre,' the suffragette movement, and the inspirational women who are in my life. When you read the book, you’ll find out more about Nell, her backstory, and what shaped her as a person. Just like my other characters from my previous novels, I aim to build their lives with my own personal experiences in mind, and I feel that it’s important to be able to relate to who I am writing about. You never know, you may find that Nell, or any of the other characters from, The Cosy Canal Boat Dream, might end up being and inspirational role model for yourself!

The Cosy Canal Boat Dream is out today - here’s the blurb:

Welcome to the Little Rock marina – where hearts are healed and dreams are made…

For the last two years Nell Andrews has been struggling to stay afloat. As her life tumbled down around her, the only safety net has been her cosy canal boat, The Nollie. Tucked away inside, Nell has found a place to heal her broken heart. And now she’s ready to move on and follow her dream…

Gorgeous Guy Cornish, with his easy Irish charm, makes him an instant hit with everyone at the marina, and the perfect person to help Nell with her project. But Guy has his own reasons for being at the marina, and a past that threatens to sink Nell’s dream…

Christie x

That sounds fantastic Christie! Thank you so much for dropping by today, especially when I know how busy you are with the celebrations and champagne. I wish you and your latest book every success!

Here's a link to Amazon folks where you can find out more about The Cosy Canal Boat Dream...

Follow Christie on Twitter

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Where do you get your ideas from?

Hello everyone and thank you for checking out this first in a new series called 'where do you get your ideas from'. This week I'm going to be kicking things off and sharing three places which have inspired my writing and over the next few weeks I have some fabulous authors and bloggers lined up who will kindly be sharing their own sources of inspiration.

More often than not I have found inspiration strikes when you least expect it, irrespective of where you are, however, I did plan the research trip to Happy Days Retro Vacations in sunny Saxmundham, Suffolk last summer.

I knew I wanted vintage-style glamping to feature as a main thread throughout the novel I was working on at the time, Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage, and Happy Days provided the perfect place to live, breathe and soak-up the experience.
I didn't settle on Airstreams for Lottie Foster to work with in the end, but the pretty polka dot and Cath Kidston inspired interiors and the classy and grass free shower rooms provided the level of luxury and comfort I was hoping she would be able to achieve and Lizzie and Jemma from The Cherry Tree Cafe certainly thought so, as any of you who have read the novel will know!

Next up on my list of inspiring settings is a place I came across courtesy of a bog standard bus trip into Norwich. Ordinarily I use the wonderful Park & Ride system to ferry me in and out of the city, however, on this particular day I had taken the regular bus all the way in and decided to sit on the top floor and thank goodness I did. The First bus takes a different route to the P & R and as we approached the city I caught a glimpse of some terraced houses set around a central green that I simply knew would have to feature in one of my books. And, surprise, surprise (in a slightly altered guise), they do.

I do have a photo of this fab place, but as I am currently still writing the book, I'm going to keep it under wraps. For now...

My third and final 'trip to inspire' only happened yesterday evening and, as with the last, it kind of fell into my head rather than came about as a result of going out and looking for it. An impromptu trip to the beach in Lowestoft, Suffolk helped me to string together some of the threads of what I am hoping will be the backdrop for my next book or possibly even the next two! Obviously I'm not going to reveal too much as I have nothing but the bare bones as yet, but I think this pretty little montage speaks for itself.

Thank you so much for journeying with me through this post to discover some of the places where I have got at least some of my ideas from. I hope you will enjoy the rest of the series and perhaps find inspiration from them to fuel your own creative endeavors.

Next week, Christie Barlow will be here to tell us about the inspiration behind her new book, The Cosy Canal Boat Dream.

Until then, wishing you all a wonderful week!

H x

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Where do you get your ideas from?

***Massive thanks to everyone who has been in touch! The slots are all now taken.***

'Where do you get your ideas from?'

I'm prepared to bet ready money that every author out there has been asked this question at least once, if not a hundred times. It always seems to be top of the list, vying for attention with that other old favourite, 'do you earn as much money as JK Rowling?' The answer to that is always a very firm 'no', obviously and not a little unfortunately, but the first question is harder to answer. 

'Where do we get our ideas from?' 

How do our plots, characters and settings descend until they feel so real that it's impossible to remember a time when they didn't exist? Obviously I can't answer for everyone, I can't even explain the answer of my own process all that succinctly for fear that if I pick it apart too much it may well disappear forever, however, I do know that holidays, mini breaks and even day trips can set off a chain of ideas that quickly transform into something far bigger and it is the results of those adventures that will form the backdrop of a brand new feature I am planning to run.

I'm going to be kicking things off myself as it was my week away in an Airstream caravan in sunny Suffolk last year that inspired one of the main threads in my current release, Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage, but after that I'm handing over the reins and inviting you, yes you, to sign up and share any memories of trips you have taken that have had a lasting and creative impact. The outcome doesn't have to be writing related - a new hobby or skill, anything crafty or baking related, a new job, a complete change of life, any seed of an idea that was the instigator for change or trying something new - I want to hear about it all.

I'm hoping that if enough of us are prepared to share our memories and experiences, then we might be one step closer to answering that tricky question - 

'Where do we get our ideas from?'

If you would like to take part, and I'm really hoping that you will, then leave a comment in the box below and I'll be in touch!

 H x

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Getting stuck in!

Hello lovely blog followers. Thank you for checking back in and making sure that I'm doing what I should be doing - writing!

I did wonder if I would have anything to tell you this week because I was so determined to dive into the first draft and do nothing else but of course, the writing life is always varied and there's actually been plenty of other things going on. The first draft of Novel Number 6 is coming along nicely now and I managed to write over 13,000 words in 5 days which hopefully means I'm out of the 'editing as I go' fug and finally cracking on.

On Friday (after I had finished writing of course), I took a trip to Norwich and was delighted to find Cuckoo Cottage on a great (colour coordinated) offer in The Works and then another copy, along with Mince Pies and Mistletoe on the shelves of the Millenium Library. They both appeared to be well thumbed which I took as a very positive sign!

I also popped into Strangers' Hall. I'm a little embarrassed to admit that I've lived in this neck of the woods for almost 20 years and this was my first visit. It was an inspiration and one of the portraits in particular gave me plenty to think about. You'll find out why next summer! The building itself was stunning and the rooms were beautifully dressed from the Tudor through to the Victorian era. Definitely worth a visit!

As if that wasn't enough excitement for one week I've also featured on the Books and The City website where I'm chatting about my inspirational trip to Happy Days Retro Vacations in sunny Suffolk. If any fellow authors, bloggers or readers out there would like to share an inspirational holiday story with me, do get in touch and we'll set something up.

Today I have been working on some notes for the Writing a Novel course I will be delivering in Lowestoft on November the 19th. I'm so excited about this event that I'm sharing the link again!

So, that's it for this week. Tomorrow I'll be heading back to the first draft and on Tuesday I'm off on my blogging travels. Details to follow soon. Wishing you all a wonderful book filled week!

H x

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Oops I did it again!

Hello everyone and welcome to my blog post for this week. I've allegedly taken a week off from living The Writing Life, but with no proper holiday booked and so much going on without my input, it hardly feels like I've had a break at all which is probably no bad thing!

So what have I been up to? As you may remember from last week, I was talking about tidying up my writing spot at the dining table and lovely Georgia Hill invited me to feature on her blog to talk about the Art of the Invisible Writing Cave. It was a fun, and hopefully inspiring, post. Here's the link if you want to take a look...

Next up popped the absolutely thrilling news that Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage has bagged the number 5 spot in the fiction Heatseeker chart this week. I'm absolutely over the moon, especially as that now means 3 of my 4 published novels have made that particular chart! A proud author moment indeed.

Hot on the heels of this excitement, and in line with my determination to challenge myself this year and broaden my horizons, I have accepted the opportunity to teach a Writing A Novel day course in lovely Lowestoft on Sunday November 19th.

This will be a first for me and I am very much looking forward to sharing my process with enthusiastic authors who are looking to make the leap. Hopefully I will be able to inspire them enough to go away and write the novel of their dreams! Here's the link to all of the workshops and courses fellow local author Suzan Collins has set up. There's plenty to choose from...

And with the course in mind, one of the top tips I will be sharing will be twofold -

Do not fall into the trap of editing a first draft until you have finished it  


Once you have started to write a first draft, don't stop. Plough on to the end.

Now, the reason I have highlighted all that in bold is because these two pieces of information are, in my opinion, paramount to productivity. So, knowing that I know this, could someone please tell me why I have yet again, started to write a first draft before I can commit to it AND why I've spent ages faffing about with the first few chapters? Answers on a postcard please because oops, I really have done it again.

The only thing currently saving my sanity is that this is exactly what happened when I started writing Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage - lots of stop starts and faffing - and that particular book is ticking all the right #summerread boxes, so fingers crossed all is not lost.

That said, I'm ready to dive back in on Monday and then it will be all systems go, so if you spot me lurking on social media feel free to come on over and kick my butt!

Wishing you all a wonderful week and massive congratulations to Tanya and Trish who have each won a signed copy of Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage!

H x

Saturday, 22 July 2017

Another wonderful week!

Hello everyone, thank you for stopping by! If you're looking for details of where to enter the Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage signed paperback giveaway you'll find them on the next post down. The closing date is fast approaching so do add your comment and watch this space as this is where I'll be announcing the winners.

As regular visitors will have noticed, I've made a couple of changes to the blog this week but you can still find all the usual stuff in all the usual places. What do you think of the new colour? I'll probably change it again when Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells is published, but this to me felt very summery and very Cuckoo Cottage. I hope you like it.

So how have you all been this week? It's been pretty busy in my neck of the woods and very exciting! I never thought I'd see the day when my face popped up in Heat Magazine, but here I am, sharing a top writing tip, giving away a FREE book and basking in the glory of a fabulous 5 star review. Not sure I'm going to be able to top that for magazine experiences!

I've also popped up on the blog of Chatty Cat author Suzan Collins this week. Suzan asked some fantastic questions in her interview and I even revealed what my first ever job was! Here's the link if you want to find out...

I will be appearing with Suzan at the East Anglian Festival of Culture 'Meet the Author' weekend in Lowestoft in September. I'll have more details soon and hope to see some of you there!

Along with all the excitement I have been working hard. I promise! I've been using some of the suggestions from the RNA Conference workshops and really getting to grips with the plot and characters of Novel Number 6 (title still under wraps), which will be published in time for your Summer hols next year.And I've been having a bit of a tidy up in the writing corner. This isn't a permanent writing spot - I still don't have one of those - and so consequently I have to keep on top of the mess. I found no less than 6 notebooks awaiting my attention and that's not including the pile of unused A4 pads. I suppose I better get cracking and get some words down.

And of course I've been looking out for Cuckoo Cottage on the supermarket shelves! The smile says it all.

Wishing you all a wonderful week!

H x

Monday, 17 July 2017

A cover reveal AND a competition!

When I began to think about what I was going to include in this, my second weekly round-up of life as a full-time author, I thought it would be fairly straightforward, but thanks to a timely email from my fabulous editor there's more excitement than I know what to do with, so brace yourselves folks!

First up, my writing week...

Last week I signed up to join a new writing group called Castle Writers. If there are enough attendees it will run on a monthly basis in the beautiful setting of Norwich Castle Museum. The tutor is the hugely talented local author and artist Amanda Addison so I have high hopes for the group and am looking forward to stretching my creativity and trying something new. Here are the details...

As you all know, Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage was published last Thursday and I am delighted to report it is receiving fabulous reviews and attracting rather a lot of attention! So thank you to everyone who has picked up or downloaded a copy so far. I am delighted you are enjoying this latest trip to Wynbridge.

Hot on the heels of publication day came the phenomenal RNA Conference. A 3 day trip to Harper Adams University in Telford and an itinerary packed full of wonderful workshops, inspirational speakers and informative seminars.

There may have been wine, there was certainly laughter and I arrived home Sunday night ready to head back to the keyboard and buzzing with new ideas! I would love at this point to list all of the lovely authors I spent time with but the post would never end. Just a couple of the standout moments include time spent chatting with Dame Milly Johnson and Jill Mansell and meeting lovely Susanna Bavin and Kristen Hesketh in real life for the first time. Huge thanks to my travel companions Jenni Keer and Clare Marchant for making sure I made it there and back safe and sound and apologies for not listing everyone else but I would be here literally adding names all day!

Now, on to the much anticipated cover reveal and competition

Drum-roll please...

I am absolutely delighted to finally be able to share with you the exquisite cover for my Christmas novel, Sleigh Rides and Silver Bells at The Christmas Fair. I hope you love it as much as I do? Personally, I think it could be my favourite but yes, I know I always say that. It encapsulates the story perfectly and the colours are simply stunning. Another beauty courtesy of the fabulous art department at Books and The City.

If you would like to find out more about the story, here's a link to Amazon which includes the blurb - 

So almost last, but by no means least, the latest competition! To be in with a chance of winning one of two signed paperback copies of Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage simply tell me, in the comments below, which is your favourite setting in Wynbridge so far and why. Good luck! The closing date is Friday 28th of July. UK only I'm afraid.

And finally, I promise, there are so many Wynbridge Book Bargains on Amazon right now, including The Cherry Tree Cafe e-book for FREE, I'm simply including a link to my page so you can take a look for yourselves! Happy browsing!

Thank you everyone for sticking with me to the end and reading quite possibly the longest blog post I have ever written. Wishing you all a wonderful week!

H x