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Introducing Catriona Ward to the Hot Seat!

And now for something completely different.

I hope you can excuse me after a week of romance to delve into the darker side. I recently reviewed Rawblood and now I’m delighted to welcome the author Catriona to the Hot seat!

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Tell me a little about your book

Rawblood is a ghost story, told through the interconnecting narratives of the Villarca family, who live in a lonely house on Dartmoor, named Rawblood.

The Villarcas are cursed by a ghost, a white skeletal figure whom they call her. She comes in the night and kills them if they have children, marry or fall in love. So by the time the novel opens in 1910 there are only two Villarcas left: eleven-year-old Iris and her father. Iris swears to her father that she’ll remain alone all her life, but she breaks her promise. That choice has terrible consequences.

As Iris’s story unfolds, her narrative is interwoven with the stories of her family, who were taken by Her. Past and present converge as Iris discovers the horrific truth of who she is and what she wants.

Rawblood has classic elements of the gothic novel, and of the nineteenth century ghost story. But there’s a devilish twist.

Raw blood is available to pre order here

What inspired Rawblood?

My family moved from Kenya to Madagascar to Morocco, Yemen and the US while I was growing up. But we always came back to a cottage on Dartmoor for the summers. It was wonderful, a medieval stone Devon longhouse, with thick walls, little creaking stairs and huge hearths. There were old twisted apple trees in the garden and the back of the house sat flush against a great purple hill. At dusk the silhouettes of ponies could be seen, high against the evening sky. Raised in the tropics, to me this was an exotic place.

In that house I rarely lasted the night in my bedroom. My sister awoke, most mornings, to find me curled up on her floor.

I was continually troubled by something, or someone, in my room. A malign presence. It didn’t take any recognisable form, but was vaguely rhomboid and spun with colour. It would hover before my face, red and seething. An overwhelming intent emanated from it. The dark air was alive with its will, a vast sense of purpose; but no indication of what that purpose might be, or whether I myself was a part of it, or an obstacle to it, or irrelevant. Sometimes I would be awoken by a shove, pushed out of bed by a firm hand in the small of my back.

When I was fifteen we sold that house, and the nightly visitations stopped. I never made sense of the experience. I still haven’t. But the only other place I have encountered the feeling of abject terror which I felt in that room, in the dark, is in the literature of the uncanny – in ghost stories. I started writing Rawblood as an exploration of the questions raised by what I saw and felt.

Writing the novel was cathartic. The world and the characters quickly took on a life of their own. Though inspired by an experience of mine, Rawblood owes very little to that, in the end. The novel came from the other place, where stories come from.

How did you get into writing?

When I was young, I was always writing stories, songs and poems. Some of my childhood was quite isolated, and my sister and I were thrown on our own resources for much of the time. We were forced to rely on our imaginations.

Later my English degree gave me an understanding of how writing works in a technical sense. Perhaps it gave me a bit too much of an analytical perspective – I didn’t write much fiction during it, or in the years following. It seemed impossible to marry the instinctive and the critical. But in the long term the reading and thought that went into an English degree was invaluable. The more you’ve read, the better you’ll write.
I hadn’t thought of being a writer, at that stage. I had wanted to act since I was young, and after university I trained as an actor in New York. As for many people, it didn’t work out. I came back to London, disappointed, and drifted from job to job. After a time I found work with the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation, where I started to write speeches and articles. Writing again, though in a very different discipline, opened a door. The ideas for Rawblood began to emerge. It was wonderful – like a fire being lit in your head.

I wrote Rawblood over the course of five years, much of it evenings and weekends. It’s told by several very different characters, in different eras and disciplines. A lot of research went into it. Also, I took many wrong turns. I must have rewritten each section seven or eight times. And some of that time was spent learning how to write, finding a voice, as well as moving the book forward.

When I had completed about a third of the novel I decided I had to work on it more consistently, if I was to finish. I applied for the Creative Writing Masters at the University of East Anglia. That was a critical year for me. To have the luxury of time to write, feedback from a panel of your peers, and guidance from tutors, was a turning point. A Creative Writing MA doesn’t suit everyone but it happened to be exactly what I needed at the time.

It was a long road and it took determination to stick with it, at times. I’m really glad I didn’t know, at the beginning, how long writing my first novel would take – I often wonder if I would have had the courage to start, if I had. It was an extraordinary feeling, to finally finish Rawblood and send it out to agents.

What made you seek publication with Weidenfeld and Nicolson and Orion?

I was lucky that a few wonderful publishers wanted to buy Rawblood. But I made my choice based on the letter the Weidenfeld and Nicolson editor sent me, saying how much she loved and believed in the book. I am new to the publishing process and I felt I’d be in good hands with Weidenfeld, which has proved to be the case.

Weidenfeld offered me a two book deal, which was something I had wanted. I’ve been told that two book deals can be less financially advantageous to the author, as the publisher gets the second book at an early bird rate, as it were. But the world of my second novel was already very alive to me; the characters, the atmosphere, the plot. I’d had years, while working on Rawblood, for the second one to take shape and simmer away in my head. I wanted the security of knowing that novel number two had a home, so I could write it in peace.

Is there any advice you’d like to offer new writers out there?

I still feel like a new writer. The best advice I can pass on is what I told myself on the road to publication. And still do, many mornings…

Write, write, write. Then rewrite. Over and over again. You almost never get it right the first time and novel writing takes infinite practice. No one has ever written anything as long as a novel, until they’ve written a novel. Text has its own life, its own internal rules and rhythms. And each novel will have different ones. Find them out.

Find readers who are useful to you, have them read your work and listen to what they say. Your best readers won’t necessarily be the people who unquestioningly adore your writing. A writing group or workshop is a great proving ground. You don’t have to take every piece of criticism or advice as gospel, everyone has different tastes and affinities. But if eleven people out of twelve don’t like something, or don’t understand it… well, that’s really useful information.

Get a fantastic agent who loves your book. They will be your best ally. Research and reach out to agents who represent authors you love, who write or speak eloquently about writing and who are accepting submissions. Make your work as perfect as you can before taking that step and sending to agents. You only get one first reading.

The wonderful things about writing are the solitude and the strangeness. You lose hours and days in imagined worlds, with imagined people. No one else shares that creative moment, it’s yours. But equally, no one shares your responsibility as the author. No one else can fix problems, or write your novel for you. No one, including agents and publishers – though they may care very much indeed – cares about your novel as deeply as you do.

Lastly, don’t forget to enjoy it! Writing is a great pleasure.

Wow Catriona, you had your very own ghost as inspiration. Thank you for sharing your writing journey with us. I’m sure you will inspire many with talk of your journey. Writing isn’t the easy career decision many people think.

Finally thanks for inviting me to your book launch, I’m only sorry I can’t make it. September 24th will be here soon enough! 

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777 blog fest: Introducing Samantha Tonge

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Today we’ve got the delightful Sam Tonge, straight  from her success of Game of Scones, which you can find here

Hi Sam, thanks for popping in today for tea, cakes and talk – can you tell us a littlle bit about your latest book?
Game of Scones is a fun romantic comedy, with two very hot book heroes! Pippa Pattinson arrives in Greece with her suave executive boyfriend Henrik. They visit the the little village of Taxos on Kos island, the holiday destination of her childhood. There she hooks up with old friend Niko who has grown into one dishy fishermen! Together they try to help the villagers cope with the recession, despite Henrik’s secret – and potentially disastrous – plans…
How did you get into writing?
Cheesy as it sounds, I always knew that one day I would write. I finally found the head space to do it when my youngest started school. It was like a light being switched on and once I started, I couldn’t stop.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer someone that says they want to write a book?
Don’t talk about it, just do it! The first draft doesn’t need to be perfect, just get anything down even if you think it is rubbish. You can always, and most probably will, rewrite.
Where do you write? 
At a tiny desk which slips into a wardrobe, in our spare room! It isn’t glamorous but I love my cosy work space – even though I complain about the lack of space occasionally!
Are you writing your next book?
I am just finishing off my festive book, My Big Fat Christmas Wedding, a standalone sequel to Game of Scones. Then I shall plough on with a new project I am very excited about!
What’s your favourite book?
The Fault In Our Stars. A beautiful, moving, funny, so well-written book.
What do you do with yourself when you’re not writing?
I love spending time with my family, reading trashy magazines and watching rubbish telly… and eating. I make myself go cycling to counteract all the snacks I scoff at the computer!

Thanks Sam for taking the time to talk to me today and I’ll be sure to check out your latest book.

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Samantha lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and a cat that thinks it’s a dog. Along with writing, her days are spent cycling, willing cakes to rise and avoiding housework. Formally trained as a linguist, Samantha now likes nothing more than holing herself up in the spare room, in front of the keyboard. Writing romantic comedy novels is her passion. Her debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction 2014 best Ebook award. Her next novel, My Big Fat Christmas Wedding, is out 10th November 2015.

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777 Introducing writer Dena Rogers

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So at long last the 777 fest starts. I’d like to introduce you to romance writer, Dena Rogers

Dena can you tell me a little about your latest book?

Drive Me Sane is a second chance romance of army veteran Sera, who’s battling PTSD after an accident in Afghanistan. She reunites with her former fiancé, Tyler, who’s an up and coming country music artist. Both end up back in their hometown after finding out living their dreams isn’t always as easy as it looks. Sera is a little feisty, outspoken and quick tempered, while Tyler is the sensible one in the relationship. For the most part, he’s calm and collected. He uses his music as an outlet for his struggles, but he finds that there is only so much one can take.

And how did you get into writing?

I’ve doodled and plotted out stories in my head for as long as I can remember. About ten years ago I sat down and started writing my first book. To this day, it’s still sitting on my laptop and will probably be there forever. I won’t tell you that I’ve written continuously for the last ten years. At different times, things would take me away from it, but I finally made the decision about three years ago to make this writing thing happen and I haven’t stopped since.

What’s the one piece you would give to a newbie writer?

I usually steer clear from giving any advice because I’m still learning as I go, but if I had to say one thing, it would be, once you commit to writing, start putting your name out there. Don’t wait until you’re ready to release your book (like I did!) It’s never too soon to start making contacts or spreading the word about what your doing.

Who do you publish with?
I traditionally published Drive Me Sane with Crimson Romance and while I very much enjoyed working with them, I think at some point in the future, I’d like to try my hand at self publishing.

What are you up to now?

I am writing my next book. I actually have several works in progress, but I just finished up another contemporary romance titled When Love Goes South. It’s in the editing process at the moment and I hope to have it ready in the next weeks to come.

Its time for that impossible question – no apologies! What’s your favourite book?

My favorite book. Oh man, that’s a tough one. I have so many. My usual answer is Night Sins by Tami Hoag, because it jump started my love of reading again after a long hiatus, however I also love anything by Brenda Novak, Shannon Stacey, and Julie Garwood to name a few.

If you get any time what do you do when you’re not writing?

Read! I do, I read a lot. If I’m in the car and I’m not driving, much to the annoyance of my husband, I have my Kindle out. But, I also have two children, who play sports and my husband races dirt track, so I’m all over the place.

Thanks Dena for taking the time to be interviewed by me. If you’re looking for that next read why not check out Dena’s book here

About Dena

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Dena grew up in Central Texas, but has lived in the foothills of Kentucky, with her husband and two sons, long enough to consider it home. She enjoy road trips with her family, watching her husband race at one of the local dirt tracks, and a good cup of coffee. When she’s not doing one of those things, you can find her with my nose in a book (and 2 or 3 in her purse).

She loves writing stories of happily ever after and has an affinity for all genres of music, but is partial to her southern roots.

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777 Introducing writer Amanda Prowse

Today it’s the turn of the very successful writer Amanda Prowse, who’s latest book is available to pre- order Here

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Can you tell us a little about your latest book?
‘Christmas Café’ is out NOW! Bea’s is 53 and a recent widow. Her story is set in Sydney and Edinburgh and looks at how lives can be entwined across the miles and how events from your youth can continue to shape you in the most unexpected of ways…

‘Three and a Half Heartbeats’ out on September 10th; is the story of Grace and Tom who lose their little girl. It looks at how their world unravels and how they try to rebuild their lives, not knowing even if they can…

I have just finished ‘Another Love’ this is Romilly’s story and it’s heartbreaking but FAB!

How did you get into writing?

I had always wanted to write but didn’t really know how to get started. I became sick and that life-changing event made me realise that this was my one time around the block and so I quit my job, sold the house and all my possessions and started to write! I had never been so skint or so happy. Being in control of my own destiny was scary but life affirming!
What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer someone that says they want to write a book?
DO IT! Start right now! and never, ever, ever, ever give up! Every rejection, every no is one step closer towards getting your yes, and you never know when that yes is going to come, it might be tomorrow! Also, listen to all feedback you get, use it to shape your writing and learn your craft.
Where do you write? 
If I’m at home, I start early, 6am, and don’t bother changing out of my pyjamas. I sit on the sofa in my study and tip tap away all day, stopping only for the loo and cups of coffee! If I’m travelling, then I write on planes/trains anywhere I can grab five minutes, but I write every day. I have written every single day for the last 3 years, including Christmas and Birthdays – I am obsessed.


Are you writing your next book?

I am always writing my next book! I am about a third of the way through this one and I’m loving it, it’s Natalie’s story, she’s a smart girl and mum of two lovely boys, she keeps her little house tidy and visits her nan on Sundays. Oh, she also happens to be married to a bullying criminal and her life is about to change in ways she can only imagine…

What’s your favourite book of all time?
I HATE to choose one and have several that have shaped me, but today I will say The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.

What do you do with yourself when you’re not writing?
I’m ALWAYS writing! …but on the odd occasion I am not, I like to drink coffee and chat to my mum, watch my favourite movie Papadopoulos and Sons or sit around the table, listening to my boys and their friends. I am happiest by water – any water, sea, lake, river, pond, puddle… I see myself ending up by the seaside!

Thanks Amanda. For all you Indie writers out there this is how Amanda started so there’s hope for us yet! Xx

About Amanda

Amanda has always obsessively crafted short stories and scribbled notes for potential books. Six years ago, she quit her job as a management consultant and began writing full time. Her first book, Poppy Day is a contemporary novel following an army wife whose incredible love for her husband gives her the courage to set out to rescue him after he was taken hostage in Afghanistan. Originally self-published in October 2011, Poppy Day quickly became a bestseller and Amanda joined the prestigious Head of Zeus publishing house.

The second in the No Greater Love series, ‘What Have I Done?’ was an eBook sensation where women worldwide identified with the theme of domestic abuse in middle class households and it was subsequently voted a ‘Best Book of 2013’ by Amazon Kindle. Amanda followed this by joining the team of the ITV This Morning show as their resident author in 2013 when a series of her ‘Summer Shorts’ were featured on the ITV website.

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A little extra Romance for you : Nikki Moore

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So i’m breaking all my own rules, but as any good writer will tell you there are no rules to writing – just write and write good, then people will buy your book!

Nikki Moore is a writer and ‘she writes good!’

I was lucky enough to read Picnics in the Park over the weekend and it was good enough to interrupt my #777fest – but dear reader just view it as bonus material!

Book Blurb

The last story in the fun & flirty #LoveLondon series from exciting new chick lit author Nikki Moore! The perfect novel for reading in the sunshine … and falling in love with London.

Hot summer romance…or cold revenge?

Super nanny, Zoe Harper is mad! It was bad enough discovering her ex-fiancé Greg cheating on her just weeks before their wedding. But now she’s returned home to London to find her younger sister Melody has been left jobless, homeless, broke and dumped.

Zoe is determined to get revenge on the infamous Reilly brothers for her sister’s heartbreak. So when an unexpected opportunity gives Zoe a way in to uncaring—and dizzyingly gorgeous!—successful music producer Matt Reilly’s world, she jumps at the chance to make him pay.

But living with Matt as nanny to his two adorable, but complicated children, Zoe soon begins to suspect that not everything is as it seems… Matt insists on pushing everyone away including his children, but why? And if his delicious summer kisses are anything to go by, he can’t be that bad surely?

Can Zoe convince Matt to open up a little and help fix this family before she leaves…or worse, before Matt learns who she really is?

So what’s it all about? Nannies, not one but two, sisters no less. The added attraction of a drop dead gorgeous male lead and two cute as a barrel load of monkey kids!

I whizzed through at top speed and for me it ticked all the boxes of what a good romance should be.

  • believable
  • not too slushy
  • interesting plot
  • great characters that have flaws
  • perfect male lead
  • enough for the readers imagination to take flight

Thanks Nikki, I will be looking out for more.

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Nikki Moore lives in beautiful Dorset and writes short stories and pacy, sexy romantic fiction. She’s thrilled to be published by HarperImpulse, the digital first romance imprint of HarperCollins.
Be My Valentine, a collection of poignant short stories by Nikki and other HI authors was published on 13 February 2014 and has attracted 4 and 5* ratings on Amazon. Shortly afterwards, her short story ‘A Night to Remember’ was published in digital and print editions of the Mills & Boon / Romantic Novelists Association anthology Truly, Madly, Deeply, edited by Sue Moorcroft. Best-selling authors including Carole Matthews, Katie Fforde and Adele Parks feature. The anthology has attracted 4 and 5* reviews and has been an Amazon best-seller.
Her debut novel – Crazy, Undercover, Love – released as an eBook in April 2014 (paperback, September 2014) was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists Association Joan Hessayon Award 2015, for new writers.
The #LoveLondon series, a set of romances set in London, has attracted 4 & 5 * reviews from readers and bloggers and some have been in the Top 20 in the Holiday chart on Amazon UK. The last story in the series, a full length novel – Picnics in Hyde Park – came out as an ebook in August 2015, and will be available as a paperback from October 2015.
Nikki was a finalist in several other writing competitions from 2010 – 2012, including Novelicious Undiscovered. A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, she has contributed to their magazine ‘Romance Matters,’ has far too much fun attending the annual conference and has also chaired a panel and taken part in a workshop at the Festival of Romance.
She blogs about three of her favourite things – Writing, Work and Wine – at http://www.nikkimooreauthor.wordpress.com and believes in supporting other writers as part of a friendly, talented and diverse community.
You can follow her on Twitter @NikkiMoore_Auth or find her on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NikkiMooreWrites and she invites you to pop over for chats about love, life, reading or writing!
You can find all her books Here

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777 Helena Fairfax Writer interview

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Today I’d like to welcome Helena Fairfax to the hot seat.

How did you get into writing?

Like a lot of writers, I got into writing because I love to read. (In fact, I really do think I’m addicted to reading!) A few years ago I went through a patch where every romance novel I picked up felt disappointing in some way. That’s when I hit on the idea of writing my own – and that’s when I found out just how hard it is to write! I made several attempts at finishing my story, but none were successful. Writing a romance was very much harder than reading one. I knew I needed some help, and so I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme. After much writing and re-writing, that first story was published as The Silk Romance, and when I saw my book in print for the first time it was one of my proudest moments.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer someone that says they want to write a book?

Don’t give up on your dream, and keep on writing. You can do it, but you will need to work hard and have confidence in yourself.

Where do you write?

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I write sitting on the settee with my laptop, with my dog next to me. She’s me best critic!

My fav photo of the whole 777 contest, obviously! 

Are you writing your next book?

I’m writing two books at the moment: a novella for Christmas, and a YA time-slip novel. The first few chapters of my YA novel were shortlisted for the Exeter Novel Prize. I’m in the process of doing a lot of research so that I can finish it off.

What’s your favourite book?

Oh, that’s such a hard question! I love all of Georgette Heyer’s books – she’s my favourite romance author – but if I had to choose just one book over all, I think it would Be Tolstoy’s War and Peace. It has everything you could want in a sweeping and dramatic novel, and parts of it make me cry buckets. The BBC are making a TV series, due out this winter, and I’m really looking forward to it!

What do you do with yourself when you’re not writing?

Every morning I take my dog out for a long walk on the Yorkshire moors near where I live. It’s my favourite part of the day. I’m still writing as I’m walking, though – in my head! 🙂 Besides this I also love to knit, and always have a project on the go. But most of all I love to read, read, read!

My latest release is Palace of Deception: A Romantic Suspense Novella. Here is the blurb:
When Princess Charlotte of Montverrier disappears on the eve of her Investiture, Lizzie Smith takes on the acting job of her life. as her stand-in. But in the run up to the ceremony, all is not what it seems in the Palace of Montverrier. What danger lies outside the palace walls? As Lizzie learns her role, her only confidant is Léon, her quiet bodyguard…but what secrets is he keeping from her? And, most of all, what has happened to the missing Princess?

Mystery and suspense against the backdrop of a beautiful Mediterranean city.

Amazon link Here

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My website: http://www.helenafairfax.com

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777 Introducing writer Clare Chase

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Today I’m delighted to welcome Clare Chase who’s debut novel is out now

Thanks so much for inviting me on to your blog. It’s really great to be here!

You’re very welcome Clare 

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?

It’s a murder mystery set in the arts world: lies, passion and intrigue in London and the Lake District.

The story opens on Halloween, when journalist, Anna Morris, meets a stranger at a smart gallery party. She falls for him on sight, but soon finds out he’s given her a false name. Torn between backing off and allowing him to explain, she gets drawn in. Her search for the truth unearths long-buried secrets, and puts her in the path of a ruthless killer with everything to lose.

How did you get into writing?

I’ve loved making up stories since I was a child. I taught myself to touch type as a teenager, so I could get my ideas down more quickly. (I know, I probably didn’t get out enough…!) It took me a while to work out what genre I wanted to write in. I tried children’s picture books and rom coms before settling on mysteries and suspense.

What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer someone that says they want to write a book?

Planning ahead would be my top tip. I know some writers don’t like to plot in advance, but for me it’s the ultimate antidote to getting stuck in the middle. Nothing’s set in stone – I modify my ideas as I go – but having an outline gives me confidence. I’ve created a complicated maze, but I can see the way out! It also means I can write more quickly – and therefore smoothly – since I’ve worked out most of the twists and turns in advance.

Where do you write?

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Anywhere and everywhere! I’ve got a small laptop and cart it about with me in a slightly obsessive way. However, if I’ve got an hour or so clear, I either choose our dining room, which is lovely and sunny and overlooks the garden, or this room, which is cosier in winter. (Photo supplied)

Are you writing your next book?

Yes. I’ve got another murder mystery due out in December, set in my home city of Cambridge, and I’m writing a sequel to that. Meanwhile, my publisher’s reading panel are considering a novella that follows on from You Think You Know Me and features the same main characters.

What’s your favourite book of all time?

That’s such a hard question! Despite the fact that my favourite genre is crime, the book I’ve probably re-read the most is the wonderful coming-of-age story, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith. The observations are so perfect and honest, and it’s also very funny.

You, me and JKR too!

What do you do with yourself when you’re not writing?

I love spending time with my family when they’re around. When I’m on my own I enjoy reading (of course!), drawing, visiting galleries and exploring new places. I’m interested in architecture, so I find cities very appealing. I also work part-time in a fundraising role, which stops me from becoming a total hermit!

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Clare Chase writes mysteries and suspense. Her novels are inspired by what makes people tick, and how strong emotions can occasionally turn everyday incidents into the stuff of crime fiction.

Her first novel, You Think You Know Me (Choc Lit), is set in London and the Lake District.

Clare wrote dodgy whodunnits in primary school, read English at London University, and honed her creative writing skills whilst working in PR. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and the Crime Writers’ Association.

Amazon link for You Think You Know Me: Here

Website: http://www.clarechase.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ClareChase_
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ClareChaseAuthor

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777 blog fest: Introducing Annie Burrows

Today I’d like to introduce the lovely Annie Burrows. 

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Annie, can you tell us a little about your latest book?

My latest book is “A Mistress for Major Bartlett” which is the second book in a trilogy about a fictional artillery regiment that fought at the battle of Waterloo – published by Harlequin, and called Waterloo Brides. My rakish soldier hero is injured and nursed back to health by the sister of the Colonel of his regiment.

How did you get into writing?

I very naively thought I could fund my daughter’s university fees by writing a bestseller. I’d studied English at university, you see, and thought it would be a doddle. So I sat down and started to play with an idea I’d had, which I thought was brilliant, and discovered that creating great prose is a lot harder than you’d believe! But I couldn’t give up. I was determined to get something published. (It only took 10 years between deciding I could write a bestseller, and getting my first contract)

So I have five years to go then! Thanks Annie! So what’s the one piece of advice you’d offer someone that says they want to write a book?

Only one? Ok – this may sound over simplistic, but it’s to just sit down and start writing. So many people say they’d love to write if only…(insert excuse here). But the only way to get that book written is to just get on with it.

Where do you write?

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I have taken one bedroom for myself, and made it into my writing cave. I use a laptop, on my lap, as I get too much stress across my shoulders if I try to use a desktop at a desk, and end up with dreadful backache. I still do get backache, but nothing like as bad as before. I also have a little kitchen timer on the shelf at my side which I’ve set to go off after an hour, at which point I get up and stretch.
(Ok – I get up and make a cup of tea, or do the dishes, or hoover something, but at least it gets me out of my chair and moving around so I don’t seize up completely)
(I’ll inc a photo if you want)

That sure looks like a comfy chair and in my fav colour too! Are you writing your next book?
Yes – and I’m really enjoying this one which is very different from the rather more serious episodes that had to go into Major Bartlett, what with him having been so badly injured, and in such a brutal battle, too.
I’ve got a Duke in disguise, an heiress who has had all her luggage stolen, a pair of villains and a bad tempered horse, to name but a few of the characters.

What’s your favourite book?
I keep on going back to anything by Georgette Heyer. I just love her characters. Right now I could very easily sit down and read Friday’s Child again. And just the other day, when my husband asked me what I was thinking about, I had to admit it was Kit Fancot, from False Colours. I wonder what look I had on my face that made him ask?

I used to love Georgette Heyer, but it’s years since I’ve read one, perhaps I’ll have to revisit her again. What do you do with yourself when you’re not writing?

Read other people’s books, mostly! Reading is my favourite thing, next to writing.
I do try to keep fit by going to ballroom dance classes, as I get bored in the gym, and have too many problems with my joints to go running.

Thanks Annie for joining us on the sofa today. Guys and gals – thanks for dropping in – you can find Annie’s latest work Here

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Annie Burrows has been writing light-hearted Regency romances for Mills & Boon since 2007. Her first book, “His Cinderella Bride” was the top seller in the historical line that year. Subsequent books have gone on to win the coveted Reviewer’s Choice award from Cataromance.
Her books have charmed readers worldwide, having been translated into 19 different languages.
For more information, or to contact the author, please visit http://www.annie-burrows.co.uk
Or you can find her on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AnnieBurrowsUK

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777 Romantic Festival

Romantic fiction is the most popular genre – Interesting? It makes up for 55% of all books read (USA, via Wiki). That’s why I’ve chosen to feature it as the first genre in my 777 fest – 7 writers over 7 days answering 7 questions. There are of course more sub-genres to the romantic novel than you can shake a stick at and I don’t have the time to examine them all, we all have our favourites.

Finally I make no apology that the seven writers I’ve chosen to feature are of the female persuasion, after all ninety percent of the readers of this genre are women. There are brilliant male writers of this genre, but that’s for another blog post!

Mostly, but not exclusively written from the female point of view the romantic novel first exploded in the literacy scene with the birth of Pamela (male writer!) in 1740, of course plays coming first with the likes of both Shakespeare’s tragedies (Romeo and Juliet ) and comedies (The Merry Wives of Windsor).
There are probably millions of variations on this romantic theme, but all have one thing in common. What writer and Booker prize winner, Paul Scott termed ‘The Central Emotional Knock.’
It would be remiss of me to go any further without mentioning the influence of arguable the two most important contributors to our views on romantic love: Austin and Charlotte Bronte. Whilst near contemporaries ( They shared 1816 together) their writing is very different. Interestingly Bronte, as the later writer had the ability of studying Austin’s work – her derision in clear to see in the following extract from one of her letters.
“I got the book and studied it. And what did I find? An accurate daguerreotyped portrait of a common-place face; a carefully fenced, highly cultivated garden, with neat borders and delicate flowers—but no glance of a bright vivid physiognomy—no open country—no fresh air—no blue hill—no bonny beck. I should hardly like to live with her ladies and gentlemen in their elegant but confined houses. These observations will probably irritate you, but I shall run the risk.”
I wonder what dear Jane would have thought of Mr Rochester!

Our view today is heavily influenced by the likes of that mega giant of popular romantic fiction, Mills and Boon (Harlequin) who joined in the melee in the pre war 1930’s. An anxious time for all and certainly this must be viewed as a contributing factor to the success of this publishing star. Love them or hate them the majority of us have read at least one and they are as integral to our society as Valium.
A funny alliteration Valium and Mills and Boon, that is until we take into account that many women view them as useful as Advil (another common anti-depressant) in elevating the mood! As writers I’m sure we all have very strong views on this form of ‘pulp fiction,’ but to many women they are used a a crux to help them through their day – no one can or should argue with that especially if they have never read them. Harlequin is still around, which is the best argument of all.

The Twenty First Century woman is a very different person to the per-war one, although what they want from a romantic novel is probably the same. Women are demanding more from their writers and the writers are certainly delivering in spades – However how they are both delivered and indeed written is now very different. The male POV has become increasingly important as has the rise of that elephant in the corner of the Kindle – erotic fiction.

I surely can’t be the only woman in the planet that hasn’t read ‘that book’, but sometimes I feel like I am. The core of the matter for me is really a play on words. There is a fine line between erotica and hard core pornography and this line appears to be getting smudged with each subsequent publication of this sub-genre. As a reader I want the writer to leave room for my own imagination to take wings – as a writer I find these sort of scenes a non starter. So I’ll just have to put up with being left out of that particular conversation ‘Am I bothered!’

Anyway back to the purpose of this post, which is as an introduction to my 777 rom fest. There are so many books now to choose from, taking into account the rise of the Indie author. The seven writers I’ve chosen are very different as you will see but I’ve chosen them for that express purpose.

And my all time favourite romantic reads?
There are too many to write about. I loved AS Byatt’s Possession, as I do all the works of both Jane Austin and Charlotte Bronte (all keepers that I will read and relead again and again). I enjoyed One Day, but it’s not a book that I’ll read again for a variety of reasons. I’m going to mention Laura Barnett’s The version of us, but simply because it’s just arrived on my doorstep to read and this post will probably be all the shorter because of it. And finally a book I may never finish. Paul Scott’s After the Funeral. Probably one of the first in the many books out there that are the reworking of popular fiction, this time Cinderella. This book is now out of print, but I live in hope…..

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777 romantic Writers Blog Fest. Introducing Mandy Baggot

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Hi Mandy and Welcome. So can you tell us a little about your latest book?
My latest book is Truly Madly Greekly – a summer romantic comedy set on the gorgeous Greek island of Corfu. Sisters Ellen and Lacey are scoping out the hotel Blue Vue for Lacey’s upcoming wedding but Lacey has her eye on the animation team rather than the table settings.
I have a new novel coming out soon too. One Wish in Manhattan releases on 2 October and is the story of single mum Hayley Walker chasing her dreams and her daughter’s big wish all the way to New York just before Christmas. You can pre-order it now Here
How did you get into writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a child. I’ve always had a big imagination so I was always making stories up. Nothing much has changed there! I self-published my first book, Excess All Areas via an initiative set up by Feed A Read. After that came Kindle Direct Publishing. I’ve self-published six novels and currently have four traditionally published books. I hope there’s a lot more to come.
What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer someone that says they want to write a book?
My advice would be to go for it! If you’re passionate about your subject you should have no problems getting the words down, it’s what comes after that that’s the tricky part. It depends why you want to write a book. If it’s for yourself or for fun that’s great, if it’s to start your career in writing you’d better start thinking what comes after the first book.
Where do you write?
At the moment I write in my bedroom on my dressing table but that’s not going to be for long! I’m in the process of turning our spare room into a home office and we have plans for a garden room later on next year.
Are you writing your next book?
I’m playing around with a couple of books at the moment and waiting for edits to descend!
What do you do with yourself when you’re not writing?
I’m a big music fan so I love going to see live music. I’ve got some trips to London for gigs lined up this autumn, a country music festival in the spring and in April next year I’m off to Nashville!

Bio
Mandy Baggot is an award-winning romantic fiction author, writing hot heroes and emotional reads. She is represented by Kate Nash of The Kate Nash Literary Agency.
In 2012 she won the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance and has since scooped Top Ten Reads/Book of the Year places from a number of UK book bloggers.
Traditionally published by US publisher Sapphire Star, Harper Collins’ digital first romance imprint, Harper Impulse, and most recently, digital fiction specialists, Bookouture, a great story is never far from her fingertips!
A contributor to writing blogs and short story anthologies, Mandy is also a regular speaker at literary festivals, events and women’s networking groups.
Mandy loves mashed potato, white wine, country music, World’s Strongest Man, travel and handbags. She has appeared on ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and auditioned for The X-Factor.
Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband, two daughters and cats, Kravitz and Springsteen.
Visit Mandy’s website at http://www.mandybaggot.com/
Latest release: Truly Madly Greekly http://smarturl.it/trulymadlygreekly

Amazon UK: http://ow.ly/sjq4v

Amazon US: http://ow.ly/sjqbM

Twitter: http://twitter.com/mandybaggot

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mandybaggotauthor

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2968625.Mandy_Baggot

LLm Authors Cafe: http://loveahappyending.org/mandy-baggot/