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Darcie Boleyn

Heartwarming Romance

#guestpost – Adopting Sasha the three-legged lurcher #mondayblogs #dogs

ADOPTING SASHA

We are Val and John Ball and on 20th November 2016 we became the proud adopted parents of Sasha, the three-legged Lurcher, who we took to her Forever Home.

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With Sasha at Hillcrest, when we were told the date we could take her home

After losing our 19yr old Lurcher Beau in the April, we had decided we wouldn’t have another dog as his loss was so painful. After 6 months of no dog and our house feeling empty, we decided we would look around for our new friend. We had decided on a Greyhound as we had met some at a show and Val had had two before. We went on the Greyhound Rescue Wales website and looked at the various gorgeous hounds and read their write-ups. It was then we came across the picture and write-up of Sasha. We read her ‘Buddie’ Nicola’s piece about her and watched the videos. The lack of the fourth leg was not an issue as Val could associate with that, we just wondered why this beautiful girl had not been snatched up.

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Last morning at Hillcrest and all her friends

We filled in the forms, spoke to Paula and had the house check with Bev, who Val knew from when she had greyhounds before. Sandra rang from Hillcrest and we also spoke to Kerry about our interest in Sasha and they told us that she had a few issues, but that didn’t put us off. We went to see Sasha at Hillcrest and as soon as we saw her beautiful eyes our hearts melted. Yes she did have issues from her past to overcome, but then don’t we all? After five weeks of travelling from our home in Rhoose twice a week, to help enforce the work Sandra, Kerry, Nicola and the other volunteers at Hillcrest were teaching her, Sasha was ready to come home.

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Ready to go to her ‘Forever Home’

Sasha doesn’t travel well, but with time, that will be another issue for her to overcome with our help. Otherwise, she is settling in well. She is quick to learn new things, new noises and her new surroundings as well as finding out that dinnertime isn’t only at 4.30pm and that not everyone goes to bed at 7pm!

 

We had decided before she came home that it wouldn’t be a good idea for her to go upstairs as the pressure on her front leg when she came down might be too much. We were going to get a standard child gate, until at the assessment room at Hillcrest she showed us that jumping one was no problem, so we bought the extra tall one. Sasha has so far not attempted to jump it and has eyed up the stairs, but I think even she knows her limitations.

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When she goes out with her dad first thing, it is at quite a quick pace as she is rushing to check that no corner of the local field is missed or territory marked, she meets new dogs and people – some she likes and some she doesn’t, although the squeezy cheese is a good ice breaker with Sasha. When she walks with her mum in the afternoon, then due to both of their leg problems (Val has no feeling in her right leg and spinal damage, so uses a stick or walker) then it is a much slower pace and her whole demeanour changes. There is no continual sniffing and marking, the ears are up and she is in protection mode. When with dad, obviously he can look after the two of them. After her walk she is like any other sight hound, drink of water, mad five minutes and then sleep for a couple of hours.

Sasha braintrainOnce rested she is ready for her brain training and we do about 10 minutes of this a couple of times a day, and shows how really clever she is at the different tasks, You have to try and keep one step ahead so that she doesn’t get bored doing the same games. Her character and personality are now showing through, we saw bits of it at Hillcrest. We have enforced the ‘Touch’ before treats so that when she meets someone she is gentle in taking the treat. When it is someone new, although she is wary of them, the next time she sees them, it is like seeing a long lost friend. Losing her leg so young has meant that she has had to adapt and do things differently and if she faces a new challenge she will either stand looking at it, tilting her head from side to side working out how to do it, or walk away and come back to it again later, but she doesn’t give up. Jonathan, Kerry, Sandra, Debs and Nicola from GRW have all been to see her and couldn’t believe how relaxed she was. She remembered them all and had great fun showing off how good she was.

On Boxing Day, we took her out on a 50ft lead, which she thoroughly enjoyed as she was able to have more freedom. Her recall is good, and there is no jarring as she doesn’t like going off very far without you there. It is easier when there aren’t many out on the field as she worries about some of the other dogs.

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Relaxed Sasha

Sasha has made our house a home again; having dog hair on our clothes and having to hoover every day is great. She has brought so much into our lives and gives so much love, which we gladly return and can’t imagine it any other way. Yes she will snap at you if you tread on her paw or tail, but soon apologises afterwards, wanting to know that it is ok and that she is still your favourite girl. It really is cute

Anyone thinking of getting a sight hound and you see one with an injury or a limb missing, don’t ignore them, look past it and get to know the character and personality. Yes they need more of your time to learn things and you will learn from them, but apart from that, they are just the same and it is so rewarding when they learn something new and achieve it.

AN UPDATE ON SASHA

Since writing the above report, a lot has happened in the life of Sasha and us. Sasha has become so relaxed at home, and her anxieties on the lead have been overcome since going on the walks at Cosmeston Lakes that were organised by Emma and Jon. When being surrounded by 52 other greyhounds, lurchers and whippets, she realised it was great walking in a group of sighthounds, which we have enforced by going to every walk in our area. This boosted her confidence when meeting people outside of the home, which had been a problem. She has a lot of small dogs as friends that she sees every morning and a few her own size. Mostly liking male dogs to female, well why not!!

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Even though she is not very good in the car (ill wise), it now is not a regular occurrence, and all enjoyed a holiday in Somerset in April, with Sasha enjoying the fuss of lots of people, being given treats, being told how gorgeous she was and how well she had adapted. At English Heritage sights she was told she could wee anywhere she liked, whereas National Trust asked her not to wee on the grass, so we had gravel everywhere afterwards!!

Sasha has done quite a few visits back to Hillcrest and enjoyed seeing everyone, getting muddy after which Auntie Sandra gave her a shower and supervising her dad making the steps in the field.

Sasha has had a Cocker Spaniel around to her home, after a walk together and both being in the garden, Sasha initiated play, much to her annoyance the spaniel didn’t like to play!!Sasha 2

We will keep working on her interaction with dogs and giving her the home she deserves.

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Greyhound Rescue Wales – giving sighthounds the second chances they deserve.

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On Saturday, I attended the Greyhound Rescue Wales Last Hope Spring Fayre in St Athan, where I had a stall to promote the publication of my latest novel, Summer at Conwenna Cove.

The fayre was held to raise funds for Last Hope dogs. Last Hope was a greyhound found left for dead, badly injured and with both ears cut off, on a mountainside in the Rhymney Valley in South Wales. He was discovered lying on rubbish with a hole in his forehead, on 2 May 2004, and was later humanely destroyed. Greyhound Rescue Wales set up the ‘Last Hope Fund’ and holds an annual sponsored walk to raise money for it. This year, they held the spring fayre too. The money raised has been used to rescue, treat and rehome greyhounds or lurchers for whom the only other option would have been euthanasia. Therefore, this fund is extremely important.

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As a greyhound mum, I care a great deal about these beautiful, gentle creatures. I adopted my girl, Freya, from Greyhound Rescue Wales, and the rescue sanctuary in the novel is based on Hillcrest in Ammanford, where Freya came from. The employees and volunteers of GRW work tirelessly to care for the hounds and they deserve recognition for the wonderful work they do.

 

Gabe is the name of a real, and much loved, greyhound. He very sadly had to be put to sleep last year. I heard his story when I was writing the novel, and asked his owners if I could use his name. Therefore, Gabe’s name is significant for his owners and for all those who knew him. Summer at Conwenna Cove is dedicated to my girl, Freya, and to the real Gabe.

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Me at the spring fayre with some of the postcards featuring the gorgeous cover for Summer at Conwenna Cove.

 

To ensure that the greyhound details in the story were accurate, I contacted some of the very helpful people at Greyhound Rescue Wales, for their greyhound stories and advice. I wanted to portray Gabe and the other sighthounds in a realistic and compassionate way, and I hope that I have achieved that.

 

My publisher, Canelo, had a beautiful cover designed for the novel and it features Conwenna Cove and also a greyhound. The cover and the story have received some wonderful comments and I’m delighted that readers are enjoying the book.

If you’d like to read more about Greyhound Rescue Wales, then you can find them here. They’re always grateful for donations because it helps them to keep on saving sighthounds.

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Me with Freya wearing the beautiful fleece she won – from Emma Byrne at The Felted Badger – for reserve best in show.

 

If you enjoy Summer at Conwenna Cove, you can return there this autumn, because I’m currently working on Christmas at Conwenna Cove. I’m very excited about this story and hope you will be too.

 

Have a fabulous week!

Darcie Xx

 

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Love is in the air on Lovelace Lane – the fabulous bestselling series by @AliceRoss22 #bookreview

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This fabulous series from Alice Ross is available to purchase at Amazon now!

Here are my reviews of the three books in the Lovelace Lane series…

 

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This is a delightful story about the ups and downs of relationships, finding your dream home – but knowing it needs A LOT of work – and finding your way in life after a few false starts.

Alice Ross has a lovely warm author voice and a real talent for creating moments of comedy; I actually snorted out loud at some of the funny scenes in this novel.

If you want a sweet romance with moments that will make you giggle and some that will bring a tear to your eye, then The Little Cottage on Lovelace Lane is the book for you! I have already preordered the next in the series and can’t wait to read it!!

 

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I thoroughly enjoyed the second book in the Lovelace Lane series. This one is just as warm, funny and cleverly written as the first one.

The main character Ruth Dutton moves into the annexe of The Big House on Lovelace Lane, expecting to enjoy a peaceful existence. However, with a daughter and son-in-law, three grandchildren and a possible love interest on the horizon, Ruth’s life is soon far busier than she could ever have imagined.

I laughed my way through this heartwarming romcom, had something in my eye at the end, and am now eagerly awaiting book 3!

 

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What a perfect 5 star read!

The Wedding on Lovelace Lane is funny, warm and satisfying. It is delightfully romantic and left me smiling as well as a bit emotional.

Evie Lomax is a determined, resourceful character with a heart of gold. During the course of the story, her life becomes complicated in a variety of ways, and there are misunderstandings, revelations and reunions all round.

I hope Ms Ross decides to write another book set on Lovelace Lane because I have enjoyed reading this series immensely!

Amazon UK

Amazon.com

#bookreview – The Wedding on Lovelace Lane – by @AliceRoss22 #amreading

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What a perfect 5 star read!

The Wedding on Lovelace Lane is funny, warm and satisfying. It is delightfully romantic and left me smiling as well as a bit emotional.

Evie Lomax is a determined, resourceful character with a heart of gold. During the course of the story, her life becomes complicated in a variety of ways, and there are misunderstandings, revelations and reunions all round.

I hope Ms Ross decides to write another book set on Lovelace Lane because I have enjoyed reading this series immensely!

 

AMAZON UK

AMAZON.COM

#bookreview – Laura Lake and the Hipster Weddings – by @Wendy_Holden @HoZ_Books

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Wendy Holden’s Laura Lake and the Hipster Weddings is a fabulous laugh-out-loud romp of a story. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and look forward to the next book in The Laura Lake series.

At times, as Laura Lake lurches from one escapade to the next, I felt that I was holding my breath! Thank goodness for the dashing reporter Harry Scott, who has impeccable timing! 😉 I must admit though, I do not want to try their version of rose wine…

Laura is an adorable character and I just wanted her to succeed in following her dreams. She’s so sweet, determined and adaptable. The other characters are also deliciously described, from Laura’s French grandmother Mimi – with her fascinating advice about everything from fashion to positive mental attitude – to her new eccentric and fashionable friend, Lulu. Yes, there are some stereotypes, but that’s part of the fun and displays Ms Holden’s wit and sparkly sense of humour.

The book also made me long to visit Paris because of the beautiful moving descriptions that seemed to come right from Laura’s (and possibly Ms Holden’s) heart.

The three weddings are delightful and provide some very funny moments. My favourite was at the castle and involved naked flames and eyebrows. I’ll let you read it to find out what happens but it made me chuckle.

Read this novel for pure giggle-a-minute escapism with a deep and sweet underlying warmth.

 

FIVE FABULOUS STARS

*****

Links:

AMAZON UK

AMAZON.COM

WENDY HOLDEN

 

#authorinterview #amreading – Carla Burgess – @msbear123

Today I’m delighted to welcome the fabulous Carla Burgess to my blog!

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Hi Carla thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

 Hello, Darcie, thank you so much for having me on your blog. My name is Carla Burgess and I write romantic comedies for HQDigital. I live in Chester with my husband and three children and I like animals, the countryside and the sea. I’m originally from Solihull, but moved to Chester for university and ended up staying when I met my husband. It’s a lovely place and I’ve used it as the setting for both of my books.

 Why did you want to become a writer?

I’ve always had an urge to write. I remember being quite small when I realized that people actually wrote the books I was reading and thinking that was an amazing thing to do. As a bit of daydreamer, it’s the ideal job really. I was always reading as a child and often I’d carry the story on in my head after the book had finished. Plus I’ve always loved working with words. I studied English Literature at uni and I worked as an magazine editor for twelve years.

Tell us a bit about your recent release.

Stuck With You is about a girl that gets stuck in a lift with the guy she used to have a crush on in college. She’s horrified at first in case he spoils her perfect memories of him by being horrible, but it soon becomes clear that he’s still the boy of her dreams and a much better bet than the horrible boyfriend she’s already got. Hopefully it will make readers feel happy.

What genre are your books?

My books are romantic comedies.

What draws you to this genre?

I love an uplifting read and a happy ending.

Where do the your ideas come from? / What was the inspiration to write your most recent book?

I’ve never been stuck in a lift myself, thank goodness, but I heard someone screaming from inside a lift in a shop once and I just thought, how awful it must be. Also, the crush part of the story is a bit embarrassing because as a teenage girl, I used to have really intense crushes on boys where I’d be rendered speechless by their presence and just a glimpse of them in the hallway would make my day. Very sad, I know. I still have a leaf stuck into a diary from a walk I took past some poor unsuspecting boys house. I don’t keep it as a memento of him though; it’s more a reminder of how scathing and sarcastic my friend was during the walk. I still belly laugh every time I think of that evening. I dedicated Stuck With You to her because I feel like I owe her. She really needed the loo and I made her walk for miles.

How much research do you do? / How do you research?

Daniel in Stuck With You is a tree surgeon so I did a bit of research on his job, which mostly consisted of looking at pictures of manly tree surgeons on pinterest. My next door neighbours were quite helpful too because they had some guys round to do their trees while I was writing it. The curtains did a lot of twitching that day! For Marry Me Tomorrow I researched homelessness, and there has been lots of media coverage about this growing problem so there is lots of information about. The statistics are shocking and there are so many heart-breaking stories out there.

Plotter or pantser? – Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I’m more of a pantser really. I make an initial outline but once I have that I just want to get stuck in and write.

Describe what a typical writing day involves for you. / Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

I get the kids to school, do some chores, walk the dog and then I sit and down and write as much as possible. Social media is a big distraction, but it’s also incredibly valuable so I try to balance it out. I try to write a thousand words a day, but if a deadline is looming then I just write and write and write. I stop when the kids come home and make tea, and then I go back to writing in the evening.

What’s the toughest part of the writing process for you?

I suppose I find the end the trickiest. It has to do justice to rest of the story, plus it’s hard saying goodbye to your characters.

What’s the most enjoyable part of writing?

I like surprising myself with how the story evolves. I like being completely immersed in the lives of my characters and the feeling that anything could happen. And I like making those ideas boards on twitter where you get to look at lots of handsome men and wonder who would play the hero in the movie (I can dream!!).

Out of all the wonderful books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why?

It’s a bit random but I wish I’d written Richard Adams’ Watership Down because I adore it so much. A colony of rabbits leaving their home on the advice of a psychic bunny and his charismatic brother – it’s just amazing. I love how they have their own folklore, and Frith is their god, and the Black Rabbit of Inle comes to get them when they die. And they all have wonderful names like Hazel and Fiver and Bigwig and Blackavar. And General Woundwort is just terrifying.

If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character, who would you spend it with and what would you do?

I’d spend the day with Lucy Honeychurch from A Room with A View by E.M. Forster. We’d wander around Florence and I’d try to get her to talk about George Emmerson.

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading You Don’t Know Me by Mandy Lee.

 

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If you had a superpower, what would it be?

I’d like to be able to teleport. How great would that be? No more walking or driving anywhere. I’d just click my fingers and *POP* I’d be there.

What secret talents do you have?

I can wiggle my ears.

Are you a morning or night person?

I’m a night person. I love the peace of knowing everyone’s asleep in bed and I’m not required to be washing/ironing/cleaning/making food. I like writing at night too. Unfortunately, I have two teenagers who seem to think they’re night people too, so that peace is increasingly hard to find.

What fear would you like to overcome?

If I wasn’t afraid I would learn to ride a horse.

What is your favourite film and why?

I saw Beauty and the Beast the other day and I think it might be that now because it made me feel so happy and joyful. It was just lovely.

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How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon Author Page

Book Links –

Stuck With You

Marry Me Tomorrow

 

Goodreads

Pinterest

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One lift. Two strangers. Anything could happen!

Elena thinks today will be just like any other day… until the supermarket lift gets stuck! And she’s not alone. Also stuck is none other than Daniel Moore, her teenage crush, who seems to be just as gorgeous as she remembered… But Elena already has a boyfriend – though not a very good one!

So, when Elena makes some big changes in her life, she’s reluctant to give ladies’ man Daniel a real chance. Elena has had enough of players – she’s going to stick to being single, and resist Daniel’s brooding charms. But Daniel has other ideas.

 

He’s determined to show Elena how much of a perfect pair they could really make… if they stick together!

 

 

 

 

Writing Romance #amwriting #romance #mondayblogs

 
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I’m currently writing a story that features the good old friends to lovers trope. It’s one I’ve used before and one I’ll no doubt use again.

As I was writing this morning, I asked myself:

Why do I like this particular trope?

 Why is it a favourite amongst readers and writers of romance?

The main characters in my current story have been friends since school. They grew up together and liked and admired each other. But… they never got together. They almost did. They certainly knew that they cared about each other, but there were several reasons why it never actually happened for them. This is part of the layering of the story and I really enjoy this element of the creative process.

In the friends to lovers trope, there might always have been a spark between the characters; perhaps they even shared a kiss, but when they meet up years later, that spark becomes a roaring flame. It’s a form of Wow! You’re all grown up now and I like you even more than before!

But there must be conflict, otherwise the story would be over and done with far too quickly and where’s the fun in that?

The hero and heroine in a friends to lovers plot need to have a common past, however long or short it is, but there must still be things for them to discover about each other. If they’ve been apart and been through different experiences, this can enhance the journey for the reader. Perhaps they’ve been hurt by the loss of a loved one, shunned by a loved one, or even society, and this makes them doubt themselves.

Whatever happens, this lovely trope gives an author plenty to work with, as well as plenty of challenges.

As I plot then write, I constantly ask myself:

What does this mean for my hero / heroine?

How has it shaped their journey to this particular time and place?

At what point will they change / see things differently / re-evaluate what it is they want?

What will hold them back and create the ultimate emotional ‘black moment’?

The important thing about friends to lovers stories, is that the relationship needs to be built on more than just physical attraction. The characters might always have been aware that the other is attractive, but something got in the way – whether it was the importance they placed on their friendship, the fear of rejection (perhaps one of them didn’t feel the same, or they were both unaware of the other’s feelings) or there could have been a third party in the friendship, creating a kind of love triangle complication. But when the hero and heroine eventually get together, their shared past means that their whole relationship deepens.

So to summarise:

There should be tension and layered conflict.

There should be a lot to lose, otherwise the hero and heroine might get together too easily.

There should be depth to the relationship and to their shared past.

But ultimately, they have to be prepared to take the risk to lose it all… because if they get together and it goes wrong, then their friendship is on the line.

Then there’s the Happy Ever After.

Predictable? Maybe.

Desirable? Certainly.

Achieved through an emotionally satisfying journey? Of course.

And that’s why us romance readers keep coming back for more.

 

What are your favourite tropes and why?

HUGE HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY WISHES TO THE FABULOUS @HJRolfe #bookrelease

Today I am delighted to welcome the fabulous Helen Rolfe to my blog to celebrate the publication of The Summer of New Beginnings.

The Summer of New Beginnings KDP cover

Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

 I write contemporary women’s fiction with an emphasis on relationships and love. I enjoy weaving stories about family, friendship, secrets, and characters who face challenges and fight to overcome them. My stories tend to include some serious issues, but my books always have a happy ending.

I lived in Australia for 14 years and so some of my novels are set there, combining real and fictitious places. I’ve also set books in New York and the one I’m working on right now is set in Bath, UK, another beautiful city where we lived for 9 months.

 Why did you want to become a writer?

I always loved reading and writing but didn’t think about it as a career choice for a long while. In 2003 I left my I.T. job and began freelancing for women’s magazines, I studied journalism and then in 2010 I began thinking about writing a novel.

Tell us a bit about your recent release.

The Summer of New Beginnings is up for preorder and will be released 4th April 2017!

They say trouble comes in threes…

Headstrong and organised, Mia is a single mum who wants to fix the world – but the one thing she can’t fix is her family. Responsible older brother Will has fled Primrose Bay, unable to forgive and forget after the ultimate betrayal. And Jasmine, no longer the wayward baby sister, is determined to prove to her brother and sister that she’s just as capable as they are.

Together in the bay after years apart and a separation spanning three continents, it doesn’t take long for the siblings to clash when Mia calls everyone together in a family crisis. And with jealousy and resentment simmering between them, as well as faces from the past and new loves, the family ties could end up being severed forever.

Sometimes we need to lose ourselves in order to find each other again…

Where do the your ideas come from? / What was the inspiration to write your most recent book?

My ideas come from everywhere, the people around me, events that happen here and abroad, or they’ll strike, most annoyingly, as I’m drifting off to sleep! Quite often the overall book idea is a combination of a couple of smaller ideas, which is always fun to work with.

How much research do you do? / How do you research?

I do a lot of research. When I studied a Masters in Writing – I never finished it because I started writing novels! – one of the units was Research for Writers and I enjoyed it a lot.

I usually map out my idea and then research until I think I’ve got enough information, then I can plot some more and finally tackle the first draft.

Plotter or pantser? – Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

Bit of both! I think it’s important to have a rough idea of where you’re going but then to stay flexible and see where the book and characters take you.

What’s the most enjoyable part of writing?

I love all of it! But I’m not keen on all the promotion I have to do.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

I usually find going out for a walk or taking a break helps.

You’re hosting a literary dinner party, which five authors/celebs would you invite? (alive or dead)

Lianne Moriarty – so I can ask her about plotting!

Judy Blume – her books were such a good influence growing up.

Jane Green – because I love her books

Maeve Binchy – because her writing was simply beautiful

Nora Roberts – because the woman is awesome!

What are you reading at the moment?

I’m reading Nicholas Sparks’ See Me

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If you had a superpower, what would it be?

The power to heal

Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?

New York…I’m determined to get there this year or next!

Do you have any scars? What are they from?

A few on my jawline although thankfully they’ve faded. They were from a pretty serious car accident when I was 23.

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon Author Page

Book Links

UK

US

HelenJRolfe

#blogtour – Laura Lake and the Hipster Weddings – by Wendy Holden @HoZ_Books

 

Today I am delighted to welcome Wendy Holden to my blog as part of the blog tour for Laura Lake and the Hipster Weddings

 

Laura Lake blog tour

 

Hi Wendy,  thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background.

I was born in Yorkshire, went to Cambridge and then moved to London to break into journalism. It took a while but I managed it in the end! I was a journalist on Tatler, the Sunday Times, and The Mail on Sunday before becoming an author. I’ve written ten consecutive Sunday Times top-ten bestsellers including a Number One. I live in the countryside, in Derbyshire. I am married with two children.

Why did you want to become a writer?

When I was a child I had a book called ‘My Life’ by Enid Blyton. She lived in a huge house in a vast garden and had a dishy tennis-playing husband. She had achieved all this through writing and she described her authorial routine as sitting on a swing chair in the garden, closing her eyes and waiting for her characters to come to life and do things, like figures on a cinema screen. Then all she had to do was write it all down. Fool that I was, I believed every word.

Actually, the other reason was that I was working in glossy magazines and found it hilarious. I wanted to share my experiences with a wider world!

Tell us a bit about your recent release.

Laura Lake is my fabulous new heroine – glam, gutsy and with a great sense of humour. She’s a reporter, a kind of female Tintin. At first she is an unpaid intern at a glossy magazine – sleeping secretly in the fashion cupboard and living on canapés. But then she gets her first big break – to infiltrate three society weddings and write a juicy expose. Security will be tighter than a bodycon dress, but how hard can it be to get the skinny? She’ll disguise herself as a ballgowned billionheiress for the castle-partying aristocrats and a boho-chic pixie child for the posh festival nuptials. Oh, and a moustachioed lobster for the Shoreditch hipsters. But nothing can prepare her for disappearing brides, raunchy royals and a brush with the next James Bond. Or the fact that her jealous office enemy will do anything to bring her down. Will Laura get the scoop of the year? Or will she be out on her ear?

What genre are your books?

They get called chick lit, which is fine by me. They are comedies about contemporary life. I picked weddings for Laura Lake’s first outing because they’ve got so complicated and overstyled. I read an article in a brides mag telling you how to get a blue unicorn. You find a horse, dye it and get a cone for its head from Hobbycraft. Laura goes to three types of fashionable wedding, but they are practically infinite these days.

What draws you to this genre?

It was drawn to me originally; I wrote my first novel whilst writing a column for Tara Palmer-Tomkinson in the Sunday Times. It made her hugely famous and, as I’d done all the work, I was a bit resentful. But then I realized I had a novel plot and my first book, Simply Divine, was all about a downtrodden newspaper hack who writes a column for a socialite. It was an instant hit and that was it, I was on my way.

And it was exactly the right subject. I have an eye for the ridiculous and there are few things more ridiculous than the celebrity lifestyle. I’ve written fourteen novels since and they are all full of film stars and socialites and the incredibly funny and silly things they do. Laura Lake and the Hipster Weddings is the funniest yet. She’s a glossy mag journalist, which is the perfect novel setting. I absolutely love glossies as they’re full of hilarious lifestyle detail whilst taking themselves extremely seriously.

Where do the your ideas come from? / What was the inspiration to write your most recent book?

I was writing a novel called Honeymoon Suite, which was more of a romance. In it, the heroine, who’s been jilted at the altar, ends up working in the weddings department of a stately home. I went to some wedding fairs for research and it was then I realized how much weddings have moved on, with their ice-cream bikes and flashdancing bridesmaids. There is also a class element to it; I had noticed that posh weddings had changed from the old chinless- wonder-and-Chelsea-church template. Rich people now have boho weddings or arty weddings or weddings like the one Prince Harry just went to in Jamaica, with people singing Bob Marley instead of hymns and saying ‘yeah man’ instead of ‘I do’, I thought in Laura Lake And The Hipster Weddings that my heroine could gatecrash examples of all these.

How much research do you do? / How do you research?

Because my beat, as it were, is glamour and gloss, I read every glossy magazine I can lay my hands on. I get lots and lots of material from them, because the best and funniest details are the ones you can never make up. Or I will go to specific things like the wedding fairs, as above. But sometimes I will be somewhere and a storyline will just suggest itself. That’s especially handy!

Plotter or pantser? – Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I have a plot, because comedy depends on contrast; you need to know what’s coming next. Also, Laura Lake is a woman of action, as well as being very curious and a bit accident-prone. There are lots of exciting scenes as she foils her adversaries and gets into trouble.

Describe what a typical writing day involves for you. / Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

I am really happy if I can write 4000 words but my more usual total is half of that. I’m more concerned that I have moved the plot and the action on, as you can get stuck on particular bits for ages.

What’s the toughest part of the writing process for you?

Just sitting down and doing it! There’s no way round the fact that bum has to hit seat and finger must make contact with keyboard. I find all manner of displacement activities before I finally get going.

What’s the most enjoyable part of writing?

When you’ve done a really good day’s work, or even better, finished a book and it’s gone off and is someone else’s responsibility for a while!

How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I am more disciplined now and I have more confidence; I think writing comedy is good because it makes people happy. Some people think a great book is one that makes them cry but to me, it’s more of an achievement to make them laugh. I am proud to be an entertainer, someone who cheers people up and makes them smile.

Do you ever get writer’s block? If so, how do you get through it?

I have written 15 books and so far it has not been a problem. I think about having a proper job and that usually does the trick.

Out of all the wonderful books out there, which book do you wish you had written and why?

The Great Gatsby is my favourite novel. It is such a beautiful, sad, brilliant book. But it might be smarter to say I wish I’d written Harry Potter!

If you could spend the day with your favourite literary character,who would you spend it with and what would you do?

Sir Lancelot in Tennyson’s The Lady of Shalott. He’s the sexiest dude in all literature. I’d swing up on his jewelled saddle and we’d go off on his warhorse!

What can we expect next from you?

The next Laura Lake novel – Laura Lake And The Celebrity Meltdown! Laura moves her investigations to a fashionable village full of famous people. But the countryside is not as quiet as she first thought! I also have a short story coming out on ebook in the summer; Laura Lake And The Luxury Press Trip. In which Laura goes off on a magazine jolly to a palm-fringed paradise island, with unexpected consequences!

Have you ever had a book rejected by a publisher / agent? How did you deal with it? How would you advise other authors to deal with rejection?

My agent has rejected ideas I’ve had for books I wanted to write. He was always right; they were terrible! It has never stopped me having other ideas and trying again though. You have to be pretty thick-skinned as a writer and try not to take things personally. But it’s hard!

You’re hosting a literary dinner party, which five authors/celebs would you invite? (alive or dead)

I would invite Byron, Shelley, Keats, Shakespeare and T S Eliot. Then I would sit at the end of the table and just listen.

What are you reading at the moment?

P G Wodehouse’s Mike and Psmith. Psmith is one of my favourite literary characters. He is incredibly affected, but also incredibly funny, loyal and kind. He’s a bit like Laura Lake’s appallingly self-obsessed but hilarious actor friend Caspar

 

FOR FUN:

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Writing a brilliant book in one week and taking the rest of the year off

What literary character is most like you?

I passionately identified with the Ugly Duckling as a child. It was may favourite story. I loved the theme of transformation and that change from dowdy to glamorous has been my enduring theme as a writer. I’m not saying I’ve changed into a swan though!

What secret talents do you have?

I can draw cartoons and caricatures. I used to give caricatures of themselves to my friends for their wedding presents. It makes me cringe to think of it now! On the other hand, I met my husband when I was drawing caricatures of people at a university ball. He was in a jazz band and was playing right behind me.

 

How can readers discover more about you and your work?

Website

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Twitter

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