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Louise Douglas: Guest blogger

 

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Dear reader today I have a rare treat for you.

Louise Douglas has very kindly agreed to appear on my humble blog, which although small has been lucky to attract some very big names and now includes her. I’m not quite finished her book but it is full of intrigue and surprises and do you know what I really don’t want to hurry towards the end like an express train, rather a little saunter with an sexy umbrella through dimly lit streets…

So over to Louise…

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?

The Secret by the Lake is the story of two young women, Caroline who died in her bedroom in a cottage in Somerset when she was 17, and Amy, who moves into the cottage 30 years later. Amy works for Caroline’s sister, Julia, and looks after Julia’s 10-year-old daughter, Viviane. The cottage overlooks a lake and Amy is drawn, constantly, to the water. Meanwhile, the door to the Caroline’s old bedroom keeps opening by itself, there are strange noises coming from that room and even stranger messages hidden beneath the vile wallpaper. It’s up to Amy to discover what secrets are being hidden in the cottage, in the village, and in the lake and to shine light on the terrible things that happened there 30 years ago, and that might still be happening now.

Oh dear oh dear oh dear and my TBR pile is already bulging…  So how did you get into writing?

I’ve always written. I was making little tiny books for my dolls when I was five.

I can see that in my minds eye now, I used to have a dolls house with tiny books when I was growing up too but I didn’t make them.

So if you had one piece of advice you’d offer someone that says they want to write a book?

The only way to write a book is to start with one word and then add another and then another and just keep going until you get to the end of the story. After that, go back to the beginning and make it better.

Where do you write?

Wherever I can. I still have a full time job (which is writing but for a company) so any time I have to do my book writing feels incredibly precious. I take my little laptop with me everywhere and write whenever I have a few minutes to spare.

A bit like me, any spare seconds are precious! Are you writing your next book?

Yes, actually the first draft is done and I’m at the stage (which I really enjoy) of going through and making it a better story. I love this process! Someone once described the first draft as putting sand in a bucket, and all the subsequent drafts as moulding that sand into the best castle you can make! That’s just how it feels!

What’s your favourite book of all time?

It’s so difficult to choose just one, but for the sheer joy of reading it would have to be To Kill a Mockingbird.

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

I love reading, drawing, painting, walking in the Mendip hills alone or with friends or family. Spending time with my three sons and my partner, Kevin, makes me happier than anything. I do agility training with one of our two dogs at least once a week. I run as often as I can. I wish I had more time for gardening, for photography, for reading more books, for exploring Bristol and Wells, the cities closest to where I live, and for visiting my friends. It’s such a beautiful life!

Thank you Lousie for guest blogging , and do you know it is a wonderful life. Just like the movie in fact – we see what we want to see but should only always see the best out of and in everyone.

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Guest Blogger: Lee Flewitt

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Main Street Sark, no cars – only tractors, horses and the odd sheep
Today I’d like to welcome Lee Flewitt to the hot seat.
Lee lives in Alderney, which is situated around 20 miles to the north east of Guernsey and about 10 miles from Cap de la Hague (peninsula in northern France). As an island it is surprising just how many ‘Guerns’ have never visited this little gem of the English Channel. They all know about Herm and its delightful beaches and even more delightful Mermaid lunches, just as they know all about Sark, famous for its Dairy Maid ice-cream and the horse and cart rides – but Alderney for many is a foreign land.
I’ve visited many times and I always make sure I make time to walk up its high street (in the singular) just as I always make time for a stroll along one of its fantastic beaches.
Alderney seems to have a knack for producing popular writers. Who can forget Uncle Bulgaria and all the other Wombles penned by Elizabeth Beresford and now we have both Rachel Abbott and Lee Flewitt – Apologies if I’ve missed any other lurking scribblers from the list!
Over to you Lee….
Hello Jen,
 
Thank you very much for your kind invitation to contribute to your blog. I accept happily.
 Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book, Lee?
“oDd” is available now from Amazon. It’s the tale of Oliver Dodd, a strangely gifted, autistic teenager who attends High School in California. Oliver – oDd – can halt the passage of time simply by holding his breath. For that duration of time he can manipulate his environment and the people in it, which brings him to the attention of The Facility, a secretive arm of the security services which looks for people with psychic abilities. What follows is a game of cat and mouse as hunters become hunted and Oliver starts to learn what it is like to be “normal”.
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What an amazing premise for a book, and I love the cover – So how did you get into writing?
I have always loved words and the power they have to change minds and shape opinion. They are a kind of magic, in that they can transform the physical world simply by being uttered and heard. I started with poetry as a teenager, leaning on Keats and Donne and Dylan Thomas. Then I wrote a play called “Is There Anybody There”, which was almost immediately published by Samuel French with hardly any changes. I have written songs and pantomimes for my local theatre group and a couple of years ago decided it was time to take the plunge, and embark on a novel which had been prodding my subconscious for some time. oDd was born.
 
I’m quite fond of Donne and Keats myself, although I’m more of an Emily Dickenson sort of girl – all the doom and gloom is more up my street than Ode to a Grecian urn! What’s the one piece of advice you’d offer someone that says they want to write a book?
Set a part of every day aside for writing. The greatest impediment to writing is writing itself. It’s hard work inventing an entire world populated with believable characters with real sounding lives, loves and ambitions. Then you have to make your imaginings read well. Too many good books are left unwritten because there was something good on the telly. There are no excuses, only reasons.
 
Where do you write?
I have a spare bedroom in my house where I can sit and quietly tap away without being bothered by the telly, the dogs, or – bless her – the wife. When we go away I take a small laptop with me and save to Dropbox, so I can pick up where I left off without worrying about losing my work.
 
Are you writing your next book?
Absolutely. I have 40,000 words of an adult novel which has the working title of “Patchwork”. It will be a thriller, with elements of the supernatural. Much of it will be set on the haunted Channel Island of Alderney, my home, and one of the most historically fascinating places you could ever hope to visit.
 
What’s your favourite book of all time?
The dreaded question! My favourite writer is easy – John Le Carre – but if I had to choose my favourite book out of Harry Potter, One Hundred Years of Solitude or To Kill a Mockingbird, it would probably be….The Shining, by Stephen King.
 
What do you do with yourself when you’re not writing?
I run a small building firm on Alderney with my business partner. We are called Tickled Pink. I do a lot of work in my office, but am most happy on the tools, painting or tiling or knocking things down. It’s great to be an improver.

Thanks Lee for taking the hot seat today and all the very best with your writing endeavours.
Dear reader you can find ODD here
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WIP (Work in progress)

Life is full of abbreviations isn’t it – And a writer’s life is as bad as the rest of the world. So for the non writer readers WIP is the current book and MC is the main character, in this case Mabel aka Freddie. 

This is the last in my trilogy although I’m tempted to carry on the model as frankly they’re enjoyable to write. Whilst I have great fun reminiscing about Ireland through my scribblings this time the story moves quite early on to North Wales, another place close to my heart. I decided at the start of my writing journey to never write about a place I hadn’t been and, as I’m quite well travelled this shouldn’t cause too much of a problem. But if you’re hoping for a book set in the USA I can just about manage Miame airport – it wouldn’t be much of a book! 

Rest assured for my Irish fans this move, although important to the plot is only temporary and the book will end in my beloved Dublin. 

My other romances in this trilogy end with a wedding or at least the inference of one – this book (as yet unnamed formally other than Girl 3) is in reverse as it starts with one. That’s the thing with series like this. Even though they are stand alone books in their own right there’s  timelines to follow and characters to remember. Just which one had green eyes (Liddy) and what did I call her BF again! 

Funnily enough naming my characters is one of the hardest things! Liddy is a family name (Lydia) whilst Sorcha is named after one of our cats, who in her turn was named after Sorcha Cusack, a well known Irish actress – in my opinion the best Jane Eyre ever. As for the boys I googled through hundreds of names to come up with one that fits. Mitch was Matt for a while, but Mitch suits him so much better. Ruari was always Ruari from day one, although I had sleepless nights as to which spelling to use. And for my new book, well the male MC has a name inspired by one of our kittens – I’ll give you a hint – it’s not Tiddles or indeed Thomas.

Jen xx

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Mid January blues

That’s January on the middle mark, and didn’t it go quick! I managed to get the decorations down by twelvth night but that’s about it.

I also decided on a dry January, which actually started on New Years Eve. It’s not that hard but I may get tired of bitter lemon by the end of the month, and of course I’m hoping on losing a couple of pounds too.

What did cheer me up somewhat was my latest review, from Amazon USA no less, simply because it compared me to Betty Neels, whom although dated is a writer I love.

Finally I’m back in the writing saddle after half of December off. I needed a break after publishing Girl Descending to recharge my writing batteries! I’m a quarter into the last of my trilogy, a book I’ve been wanting to write for ages now but I’m being strict with myself. I have to stick to the book in hand before starting the next one, that way I might actually get another one published sooner rather than later.

I’ve also read a couple of books, because although I’m a writer, i’m firstly a reader.

The Amulet recently published by Alison Thomas (Candy Jar).

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Book Blurb

Dion suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome. He is an intelligent boy who lives in the functional ordered world.

When he is kidnapped and taken to a place beyond the imagination, Dion finds that his disciplined mind becomes strength. But little does he realise his life is now in danger.

My thoughts

This is a debut novel by a Welsh writer experienced in looking after children with special needs. Unusually it is written in the third person voice of Megan interspersed with the first person voice of Dion. Unusual it may be but as Dion has Aspergers this is how the writer has chosen to  portray his unique voice, and very cleverly too. I enjoyed the way the story developed from an average family with big sis Megan having to put up with Dion and all his quirks to a magical fantasy with a hidden message. It was both well written, well edited and a good story – what more can you ask for!

The Vintage Cinema Club

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I really didn’t know what to expect with this one but I like vintage and with such a cute cover I thought I’d give it a go.

Book blurb

“A witty, warm-hearted romp through the lives and loves of three friends – with a cool retro vibe, and a sense of fun that will never go out of fashion.” – Debbie Johnson, author of the best-selling ‘Cold Feet At Christmas’ & ‘Pippa’s Cornish Dream’

Meet The Vintage Cinema Club….

Izzy is a wow at making unwanted things pretty, but with three brothers and her shabby chic furniture business to run she doesn’t have time to date. Could a fabulous French proposal change her mind?

Single mum Luce’s vintage bridal dresses are exquisite, but there’s no way she’s ever going to wear one or walk down the aisle for that matter. She’s a strictly no romance, one night kind of woman.

Dida seems to have it all – a chocolate and banana cake recipe to die for, lovely kids (most of the time!) and a great lifestyle. But what good is a fabulous home, when your marriage has more cracks than a pavlova and your husband is having it off with half of Lithuania?

This drew me in straight from the beginning. With laugh out loud skip scenes (what a way for the two main characters to meet, over rubbish) to flirty storylines set in Provence this kept me entertained on the school run and all the odd times in between my trusty Kindle helps me while away boring moments. A straight 5 star read and I’ll certainly be back for more.

You can find the book here