Friday, 25 November 2011

The One-Link Lowdown on.....Christine London!

I'm delighted to welcome writer Christine London as my guest today. A native of Chicago, Illinois, you'll now find her spending her days in the Californian sunshine, where she write her contemporary romance novels. Her latest release, which goes by the beautiful and evocative title When We Were Amazing, is now available from MuseItUp Publishing. Read on to find out more about this highly accomplished and thought-provoking writer.

Tell us three surprising things about yourself, one of which is a fib - and we'll try to guess the fib!

I am the cover model on two of my book covers - Sunninghill Snow and Soul In His Eyes.

I never read a romance before writing one.

I surf in Malibu and have on occasion run into celebs doing the same.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I would turn up my metabolism, both physical and personality. The physical one ranks as low as you can get without needing thyroid supplements. The personality one is an introvert who struggles to be the kick-arse gal that does crazy stuff in the name of adventure and research. Just do it, is my aspiration!

What single invention would change your life for the better?

The Star Trek series had an invention on the starship Enterprise that allowed the crew to push a button and give a voice command ordering anything they would like to eat. It was called the replicator. Just imagine the time saved in planning, shopping and preparing. Serious R&D needs to be put into

What is your favourite sandwich, and where in the world is the best place to eat it?

It's true. The French make the best bread on the planet (closely followed by sourdough from San Francisco, but that is so good it needs to be eaten warm, crusty and alone--not as part of a sandwich) There are sidewalk vendors and pencil thin cafes that sell baguette sandwiches in Paris incorporating this life staple. Almost anything put on this bread tastes like heaven, so choose your poison. Walking along the Seine is not at all a bad place to partake of this wonder. Okay. I'll take one.

What would be your perfect day?

Sharing one of those baguette sandwiches, warm spring stroll along the Seine with Gerry Butler. Yeah, that Gerry Butler. I really need to speak with him, and not just the snippets we manage at too-crowded events. The man is often seriously over extended and could do with a bit of a slow down for a few hours to chat. Me too. Amongst the topics? Legacy: how, why, what. Evening meal of delicious Scottish food at a little restaurant I know that is all woodwork, dancing fire and charm. Good kind of tired from a long day's hike in the fresh air. Good conversation. Perfect.

What’s your favourite piece of music?

Instrumental (piano piece): the theme from the film Somewhere In Time. Ballad with lyrics: Have You Ever Really Loved A Woman. Now that lyricist 'gets it'. Can you tell I am a romantic? ;)

Which household chore would you happily give up for ever?

I should probably choose dusting because I am allergic to dust mites, but I will say toilet bowl cleaning. Need I expound as to why?

What’s your favourite fruit, and what's the best way to eat it?

Strawberries. Large, ripe, sweet, chilled - eaten by the stem out in the sunshine of a beautiful afternoon.

What drives you seriously nuts?

Ignorance. People who remain ignorant if they have access to information to alleviate that ignorance. People and circumstances that prevent the education that could alleviate ignorance. Most of the world's truly large problems and prejudices are a result of ignorance.

If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?

Remember that stroll with Mister Butler? Yeah, that. Anywhere without paparazzi, noise or interruptions would serve. Someplace peaceful and lovely preferred. How about along the shore of Loch Lomond in the shadow of Ben Lomond? A really beautiful place, that.

Thanks so much for being my guest, Christine, and for conjuring up so many vivid pictures for us. I'm inclined to agree with you about what drives you seriously nuts, and on a far lighter note, your perfect day sounds a lot like mine might be! Oh, and if you didn't guess, friends, Christine's fib is No. 3. She doesn't surf - though I have no doubt she could if she put her mind to it!

Find out more about Christine and her work here at her website, and if you're lucky enough to be in the Manhattan Beach area on December 4, pop into the Barnes and Noble store where she'll be doing a book-signing. Have fun, Christine!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Looking for a gift from Scotland? Edinburgh Fog!

If you're 'Black Friday' shopping tomorrow and know someone who loves e-books and contemporary romantic short stories, Edinburgh Fog might be just the ticket!

You can buy it on US Kindle, UK Kindle, or choose from a whole bunch of other e-formats direct from the publisher here at MuseItUp Publications.

Happy Shopping!

Friday, 18 November 2011

The One-Link Lowdown on...Rebecca J. Clark!

My guest today is contemporary romance author Rebecca J. Clark. Writer, mom and fitness trainer, she's published by Siren-Bookstrand and The Wild Rose Press. Read on to find put more about this smart, funny and very talented woman.

What’s the naughtiest thing you've ever done? I grew up in Olympia, home of the Olympia Brewery (that’s now closed down). One weekend when I was in college, I brought home two of my guy friends. My brother, who was in high school at the time, told us he and his friends knew how to sneak into the brewery and get beer. My friends were all over that. So we drove to the brewery in the middle of the night, climbed the fire escape to the third or fourth floor, entered through an unlocked door, reached into the huge vats and filled our thermoses with beer. For a “good girl,” that was really bad, wasn’t it?

What’s the worst job you've ever had? I was a ho-er one summer in college. It’s more fun to say than write. Go ahead, say it. J Yeah, I get some weird looks when I tell people how I paid my way through school… My college roomie’s family owned one of the big tulip farms in the Skagit Valley in Washington. I lived with them one summer and worked the rows, using my handy-dandy ho to make sure the pickers had picked up all the bulbs.

Sounds like the name was the best thing about that job! So let's turn the question round - what’s the best job you've ever had? My current job. I work as a personal fitness trainer and group exercise instructor at a small gym in the Pacific Northwest. I teach Pilates, yoga and Zumba®. It’s so awesome to work with people who originally hate to exercise, and show them how to make it part of their lifestyle. You might think it’s most rewarding helping people lose weight. And yes, that is rewarding, but it’s the little accomplishments that mean the most to me. Like when my 80-year-old client was able to walk down her driveway to get her mail without needing to stop to rest. Or when my client with a bad shoulder was able to lift her arm over her head for the first time in nine years. Or when one of my overweight clients was able to bend over to tie her shoes for the first time in her adult life. Or when a little 78-year-old woman in my Zumba® class hugged me and said, “Thanks for bringing dance back into my life.” Can you see why I love my job?

Sure can. That's amazing, and so rewarding. Aside from your super job, then - what would be your perfect day? Sleeping in, having the fireplace on and watching Bones reruns much of the day, and reading a great book on my Nook. Then a bacon cheeseburger and fries for dinner (just cuz I’m a personal trainer doesn’t mean I don’t like to indulge now and then).

What’s on your bedside table/nightstand? Bag balm (I rub it into my feet every night), my Nook, hand lotion, my alarm clock and KY jelly. Seriously on that last one. My teenage son saw it one morning when I’d accidently left it out and goes, “Really, Mom? That’s totally gross.” So now I keep it out on purpose just to freak him out. Because a mom’s job is to embarrass our kids, right?

Right - it's a major part of parenting! Which household chore would you happily give up forever? If you could see my house right now, you’d think I’d given up ALL household chores forever. I’m serious.

What drives you seriously nuts? People who think they’re better than others just because of the way they dress, the money they make, their jobs…whatever. And mosquitoes in my bedroom at night when I’m trying to sleep. Those little buggers also drive me crazy. Just sayin’.

You're given a time travel machine - where would you go, and why? I’d go back to my sophomore year in high school, back to the tech ed class, when a popular football player (who happened to be dating a friend of mine) said loudly in front of all of his friends, “Oh. My. God. You have the biggest thighs I’ve ever seen on a girl.” Yeah. I wanted to die. I would love to go back in time and respond, just as loudly, “Better big thighs than a little penis. Yeah. I’ve heard the stories.” Sigh. If only.

I bet we could all think of someone we'd like to go back in time to and hit with the perfect comeback, that's for sure. On to the good stuff, though - what’s the best review you've ever had? Long and Short Reviews said this of my first book, BORROWED STILETTOS, "It is one of the best contemporary stories I’ve read this year,” and they gave it a 5-book rating, their highest.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? My fat thighs. Seriously. That guy in high school wasn’t lying, just a jerk for saying what he was thinking out loud. But I’m working on a program right now for big thighs – if it works, I’ll put it together in a fitness e-book and self-publish it next year.

Thanks so much for being my guest today, Rebecca - your answers are a load of fun, and make sure you let us all know about that thigh book! Friends, you can find out loads more about this fun and talented (and super-fit) woman here at her website - where you can also read about her latest release, Her One-Night Prince.

Good luck with all your future projects, Rebecca - it's been a blast getting to know you!

Friday, 11 November 2011

The One-Link Lowdown on...SB Knight!

Today I've got the lowdown on writer SB Knight. His poetry and short stories have been published books and magazines, but his debut novel, the dark fantasy Born of Blood will be published by MuseItUp Publications in March 2012.

Currently working on the sequel for his novel, the first in the Blood Chronicles series, Brian is also the man behind the blog The New Author, which serves not just as a learning tool for writers, but also a community of friends and peers.

Brian, you're very welcome to Home Is Where The Heart Is - now it's time to get The Lowdown on you!

If you could retrieve one thing from your childhood, what would it be?

There are so many things to choose from. It could be the youthful energy, sense of discovery, the explosion of a new found imagination. The list goes on and on as whereas I still hold on to many of the above attributes I must admit that they have waned as I grow older. If I had to pick just one I would go with the youthful energy.

Tell us three surprising things about yourself, one of which is a fib - and we'll try to guess the fib!

Three surprising things about me:

1. my parents were told by the doctor that they would never have any more children after my oldest brother was born. Five years later, my middle brother and I were born.

2. I took a road trip from Virginia to Alaska and camped in a trailer for 4 months.

3. While surfing I swam with giant sea turtles off the coast of North Carolina.

What would be your perfect day?

It would start with the rays of the sun shining through the window. I wake to the sound of seagulls and the scent of freshly brewed coffee in the air. After a breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast I would sit on the porch swing of a little cottage located at the Outer Banks of North Carolina. There I would watch the slight ripples travel over the water as the salt tinged breeze blows over my skin. My family and I would pack a picnic lunch in the truck and travel to the beach. The surf washing over my feet as we look for shells and fish. I would be reading a book more than my fishing pole but then again, my boy would let me know if anything happened.

At the end of the day I would start a fire in the grill; surf and turf with all the trimmings. After dinner while my son still plays, my wife and I would get a glass of wine, sit on the porch and watch the orange and red colors of the sun extend over the evening sky and reflect off the water as it travels behind the horizon.

What’s on your bedside table/nightstand?

That would be the most annoying thing ever created – the alarm clock. Next to my clock is the single most important book I own – my Bible.

What your favourite sandwich, and where in the world is the best place to eat it?

That would be smoked pork, seasoned and spicy BarBQ with cole slaw on a toasted bun. That is a great sandwich. The best place to eat it is in a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant where you can talk to the owner. It is hard to beat that. Oh yea, you need to wash it down with either sweet tea or an ice cold Coke.

Oh, yeah - sounds like my idea of a great sandwich in a great location too! While we're on the subject of food, let me ask you this - who would you invite to your ultimate fantasy dinner party?

My family would be at the top of the list. Next would be everyone from MuseItUp Publishing but after that would be my favourite authors and artists. Authors would include Stephen King, Raymond Feist, and J.K. Rowling.

What’s your favourite fruit, and what's the best way to eat it?

I love fruit. Peaches, plums, grapes, oranges, the list goes on and on. I really enjoy peaches though. The best way to eat a peach is outside on a warm day so when you bite it the juice explodes from it and runs down your arm. The second best way is grilled and served over French Vanilla ice cream.

What drives you seriously nuts?

There are two things really. One would be the lack of common sense that we seem to see on a daily basis. The second would be individuals who completely avoid taking responsibility for their actions. If you think about it, these two combined played a large role in the economic mess we find ourselves in.

If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?

This is a long list because I love to travel. I would go to England. From there I would have the means to travel to France, and Ireland.

You're given a time travel machine - where would you go, and why?

I would go back to the year 1992, to my home town. I would find the teenage me and smack him upside the head because the younger me is, most likely, getting ready to do something stupid that will impact my life for a long time.

Ah....your perfect day sounds a lot like mine, Brian. Blissful. And I wouldn't mind being a guest at that dinner party, think you could squeeze me in on the corner of the table? ;-) It's been a joy and a pleasure to have you as my guest today. Thanks so much for coming along!

By the way, friends, Brian's fib was #3 - his dad swam with the sea turtles, not Brian himself. You can find out much more about SB Knight, his writing and his future projects here at his website, where you'll also find the links to The New Author writers' blog.

Good luck with Born of Blood and the whole Blood Chronicles series, sir - and here's to your launch date next March!

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Edinburgh Fog gets 4 Night Owl Review Stars!

Super review - I am so chuffed! Diana Coyle at Night Owl Reviews says....

'I really enjoyed this short story and was thrilled that Greg and Julia seemed to come back into each other’s lives for a reason. I was hoping they would get back together and use their past together as a stepping stone to a hopeful future with one another. If you’re looking for a feel-good story that will fit into your busy schedules, then look no further because this is the perfect short-story for you!'

If you want the lowdown on Greg Morton, Julia Brady and all the whacky staff at Tellers' Bar-Bistro, you can get the full review and all the buying info HERE! Enjoy!

Friday, 4 November 2011

The One-Link Lowdown On...Paula Martin!

My guest today is UK writer Paula Martin. Paula shares my love of theatre, and her latest novel His Leading Lady, set in and around that fascinating world, has been getting rave reviews. Read on to find out more about her and her work!

Welcome, Paula! Let's kick off with the question that almost all of my guests love to answer - if you could retrieve one thing from your childhood, what would it be?

I wish I still had all the notebooks in which I wrote my earliest stories (starting when I was about 8 or 9) and all my teenage stories (dozens of them). I can remember some but not all. My first published novel was based on one of my teenage stories, so maybe some of the others would give me inspiration for more novels - if I still had them. On second thoughts, maybe they’d made me cringe with embarrassment, so perhaps it’s as well that I no longer have them!

Tell us three surprising things about yourself, one of which is a fib - and we'll try to guess the fib!

I met the Queen at a Buckingham Palace Garden party.

I once flew all the way from the UK to Los Angeles for 3 days to see Martin Sheen in a play there.

The first novel I ever submitted was accepted by the first publisher I sent it to.

What’s your favourite piece of music?

Anything from Les Miserables which is my favourite show of all time. Songs like ‘Can You Hear the People Sing’ and ‘One More Day’ make the hairs on my neck stand on end though. Can’t really choose one special song, I love them all.

Who would you invite to your ultimate fantasy dinner party?

How many am I allowed? Martin Sheen would have to come because he’s been my favourite actor for 30+ years, and I’ve seen/read enough of his interviews to realise what a fascinating and complex man he is. Colin Firth would be my second choice, not just because he’s eye candy but also because he’s an intelligent, articulate man. Oh, who am I kidding – he IS eye-candy! Third choice – Hugh Jackman (eye-candy again?) – love his smile and laugh, and he can entertain the guests after dinner with his wonderful singing voice. Female choices would be author Sharon Kay Penman, the writer of the best medieval novels I have ever read. Her knowledge of all things medieval is amazing. Also British actress Julie Walters, because she’s so down-to-earth and would make everyone laugh.

If you could go anywhere in the world right now, where would it be?

Luxor in Egypt. I had two weeks there last year, and loved it. So much history to see everywhere you go. I’ve set my latest novel there, a lot of it in the famous Valley of the Kings, burial place of many of the Pharaohs. Going into the Valley was a long-time dream, and I’d love to see more of the tombs there.

You're given a time travel machine - where would you go, and why?

To London in 1483, to find out the truth about the ‘Princes in the Tower’, allegedly put to death by their uncle, Richard III. I’m one of the many people who believe Richard was maligned by Thomas More and Shakespeare, and was not responsible for the deaths of the princes. There are various theories about who had them killed, so I’d interview them all and find out the truth!

What’s the best review you've ever had?

This review of His Leading Lady came from someone who admitted she did not usually read romances: 'If you had asked me a few months ago if I read `romance' novels, I would have replied with a definite no. But after coming across the first chapter of Paula Martin's His Leading Lady online, I wanted to read the rest....Paula Martin expertly weaves a tale of not just romance (though there's plenty of heat!), but also of family, intrigue, drama, and ultimately, of the choices we make in the name of love. The story takes a handful of turns, leaving readers with just a spot of uncertainty as to whether or not this character is as sweet as she seems or that character is to be trusted. The journey through this book was utterly enjoyable and the conclusion satisfying. Ask me today if I read romance novels and I'll answer, "If Paula Martin wrote it, you bet'cha!" '

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

As a child, I always wanted dark curly hair instead of my straight mousey-brown hair. But these days, it’s my weight which I wish I could change i.e. lose some of it! When I was younger, I could eat whatever I wanted and not put on any weight. Even after having my two daughters in my twenties, I soon returned to my pre-pregnancy weight. Sadly that changed when I got to my mid-thirties and gradually the extra ounces became extra pounds. Although I’ve had several attempts at losing weight, I manage to shed about 5 pounds (over 3 months) and that’s it, even though I continue eating ‘sensibly’. So frustrating and soul-destroying!

What single invention would change your life for the better?

Since I hate ironing, I’d love a robot which could do the ironing for me, and hang up all the clothes afterwards!

Aside from writing achievements, family, etc - what are you most proud of?

In the 80’s and 90’s, I directed two shows each year with the junior section of our local Musical Theatre Group, and I’m proud of being able to give so many young people the opportunity to develop their talents, especially those who started as shy chorus members and had gained enough confidence a few year later to take lead roles. Many of them are still involved in amateur theatre, and I know of about five who went on to the professional stage.

Thank you, Paula! I agree with you about the Richard III issue, much as I love Shakespeare, I think he did give Richard a bad rep, and it's a pity that what we 'know' about the man nowadays is most probably myth.

By the way, Paula's fib was about meeting the Queen. She told me, "Yes, I did once go to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party (along with about 6,000 others) but no, I didn’t actually meet her, just saw her from a distance!" Ah, well - one day, maybe!

You can find out more about Paula herself plus her contemporary romance His Leading Lady HERE at her website.

Paula, thank you so much for being my guest today, and good luck with all your future projects - or should I say, 'break a leg!'

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Announcing A Very Special Contract!

I'm so pleased to tell you that last week I signed a contract with MuseItUp Publications to re-publish my contemporary novel, A Different Kind of Honesty.

I had the rights for this book returned to me at the start of the year - disappointing at the time, but as often happens with these things, it turned into a whole new opportunity. I didn't want to leave a novel that had received 5-star reviews languishing on my hard drive, so I had a choice - offer it to another publisher, or self-publish. I love the idea of self-publishing, but right now I don't have the wherewithal to do it properly. The other option was to continue with the revision of the book and offer it elsewhere, which is what I did. I'm SO glad my first choice of publisher snapped it up!

I'm especially pleased that it's going to be with Muse. Out of the many thing I like about them, the main thing is the way they don't pigeonhole writers. They don't say 'if this story is to be considered as part of this ABC genre, then it must have elements X, Y and Z,' but instead, they allow the story itself to shine through, as well as allowing the author's individual voice to be heard. What's more, the two editors I've worked with at Muse already have been beyond amazing, and I hope to work with them again on this project.

A Different Kind of Honesty will be released sometime around the end of summer 2012, but in the meantime, you can have a sneak peek with this unedited excerpt. Hope you enjoy it - and now it's back to work for me!

'Tony slowed the silver Taurus to a halt and killed the engine. The clock on the dash showed ten after one. He glanced in the rear and side view mirrors, but didn’t see any other cars on the road; besides, he’d done a couple of tortuous circuits of the area before finally pulling into the Linares’ driveway.

He got out and walked up the path in the full afternoon sun, noting Ramon’s old station wagon in front of the garage. Behind that, parked in front of his own Taurus, stood a brand new red Ford Fusion he hadn’t seen before. He checked through the driver’s side windows. A map lay open on the passenger seat, and on the backseat, a light blue sweatshirt with a faded surfer logo and a woman’s red jean jacket. Next to those, a couple of small mineral water bottles with sports caps, one empty, and a copy of the week’s Time Out. As he walked around the car, he saw a sticker in the rear window that read ‘Star Car Rental, NYC, NY.’

Tony thought a moment. Ramon hadn’t mentioned any houseguests. It occurred to him the car might be a set up, but he dismissed the idea almost immediately. The types who might have wanted a couple of short-and-to-the-point words with him weren’t that subtle.

Shrieks and yells burst from the garden behind the house and he jerked his head up. A woman’s laughter and shouts of encouragement floated over sounds of children squealing, and he recognized Nina Linares’ voice. Letting out a long breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding in, he closed his eyes and ran a hand over his forehead, wondering when the hell he’d forgotten how children’s games sounded. A knock on glass startled him and he looked up to see Ramon wave from the window and jab his finger towards the front door before he disappeared from view.

Tony walked over to the porch steps and turned to look back along the road he’d just driven. Very few houses sat out here and those that did were mostly obscured by bushy shrubs and mature trees. He didn’t see anyone, and it was doubtful anyone could have seen him. There were no cars parked on the street.

Despite the sunshine, a misty blue haze hung around the top of the hills beyond the valley, the way it always looked every time he’d visited. He’d last been here a couple of months back; before that, several years ago, before he’d gone undercover. The landscape had a Mediterranean look about it, the reason Ramon and Nina had chosen it as the place to make their home and bring up their three children.

Ramon sauntered down the front steps, relaxed in his weekend clothes instead of one of his tailored office suits. “I heard the car. Glad you made it, my friend.” He clapped Tony on the shoulder. They shook hands and then Tony returned his gaze to the view.

“Always looks so peaceful out here. And the air tastes so good. Makes you think about what you’re breathing in the city.”

Ramon nodded his agreement. “Nina chose well. It reminds her of the mountains she knew as a child in Spain.”

“She still want to go back?”

“Ah, maybe one day.” Ramon shrugged, stroking his neat beard. “When we’re old and grey.” He looked at Tony. “What about you? You going to make that return trip to
Italy you keep telling me about?”

“Sure, soon as I can. You know my folks went back there for good?”

“No, I didn’t know. To be near your brother and his family?”

“Paolo the hot-shot Rome lawyer, yeah. Seemed like the right thing for them to do, this time of their life. My dad decided he wanted to die where he was born. He’s not dead yet, though,” he added with a smile. “I’ll visit soon. When this case is over.”

“Relive a bit of your youth, huh?”

“Yeah. Last time, I was seventeen. Worked on my uncle’s farm a whole summer. Drove my aunt crazy, running around with the village teenagers at night.” He gave a short laugh at the memory. “She was all for sending me home, but my uncle bailed me out.”

Ramon nodded. “She’d be proud of you now, though.”

Tony turned to him in surprise, but Ramon kept his gaze directed at the distant hills. Tony looked at them too. “Something else about that summer...I fell head over heels in love with the village beauty. Infatuated. She’d have nothing to do with me, though.” He smiled. “I don’t think she ever knew.”

“And it broke your foolish teenage heart?”

“Into a million pieces. And you know what? I can’t even remember her name.”

Ramon laughed. “C’mon. Nina is cooking a celebration paella to die for, and there’s a cold beer out there with your name on it.”

“Sounds good to me.”

Ramon headed up the steps to the front door. Before he followed, Tony took one last look at the distant blue hills. He thought about the village beauty all those years back. Now there was another girl in the picture, and it looked like she didn’t want to know either. Only this time, he hadn’t forgotten her name. This one was inked on his heart like a tattoo. And removing it would hurt like hell.'