Friday, 30 November 2012

Edinburgh Fog is FREE today and tomorrow!

To celebrate St Andrew's Day, Muse It Up is offering my short contemporary romance Edinburgh Fog completely free, today and tomorrow!  Go to the Muse It Up bookstore at and click on the Edinburgh Fog banner at the top of the page to download it.
You can also check out an excerpt at the Muse It Up blog here.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

The Next Big Thing - All The Boys of Summer

I’ve been tagged by writer Christine London as part of The Next Big Thing Blog Hop - thanks, Christine! In turn, I'm tagging three of my favourite writing chums - Carol A Spradling, Bess McBride, and R.R. Smythe, who also writes as Brynn Chapman.  With a little luck, you'll be able to read about their own 'next big things' next week on November 14th.
So, what IS all this about a Next Big Thing?  Well, here's all about mine.
What is the working title of your book?  'All The Boys of Summer,' but that may well change - not least because it makes no mention of the 'girls of summer,' who are just as important as the boys!

Where did the idea come from for the book?
  It started off as the tiniest germ of an idea after an event one summer afternoon several years ago.  We'd not long moved into a rented country cottage in an area I wasn't at all familiar with.  My kids and I were having a picnic lunch in the garden behind the cottage on a wonderfully sunny afternoon, the kind where the only sound you hear is the humming of the bees amongst the flowers, almost silent and quite idyllic, when we heard another sound in the distance, one quite at odds with the sunshine, Sussex afternoon - a low rumble, coming nearer and nearer, growing louder and louder.  The out of the clear, blue sky, the most extraordinary thing - three vintage WWII warplanes roaring over the roof of our cottage, across the garden and over the nearby forest, and headed towards the coast.  It was absolutely breathtaking, and at the time, I'd no idea why they were there or who they were.
I learned later they were part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, on their way to a nearby local airshow.  What we'd actually witnessed was a flypast from a huge Lancaster bomber flanked by two smaller planes, a Hurricane fighter and the iconic Spitfire.  In the evening, another Spitfire flew a solo flight along part of the coast, and I stood by the edge of the paddock adjoining our house, and watched him turn inland, dipping his wing in salute.  In contrast to the spectacle of the three planes from earlier, this was slow, peaceful, and incredibly moving.  I found myself thinking of all the other women who'd stood and watched, maybe in the same spot I was standing then, as the Battle of Britain was fought over the skies of Sussex and Kent.  Those women, of course, were watching for very different reasons to mine - perhaps they were worrying what the future might hold for them, or were longing for their loved ones to come home safe.  Many of them would have loved ones who would never return.  Standing there, with my young daughter in my arms, watching that solo Spitfire and thinking of those women is a moment I've never forgotten.  It planted the seed that's slowly becoming 'All The Boys of Summer.'

What genre does your book fall under?
  If it has to have a genre, it'll be a combination of romance and women's fiction, and it's part-contemporary, part-historical.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I wouldn't.  I never 'see' characters as actors, although I know some writers always have actors in mind when they're writing.  I've never been able to - or wanted to - do that.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? When it's finished, it'll most likely be submitted to my current publisher, Muse it Up.  I've had nothing but great experiences with them so far, so I'd be very happy to have another!

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?  It's still being written, but I abandoned a huge part of the first draft that I began about two years ago.  The whole direction of the thing was wrong, and I really hadn't got the male protagonist of the contemporary part of the story right at all.  He was in the wrong job in the wrong part of the world, and I drove myself to tears with the amount of research I was having to do for him.  I'd reached too far, and he wasn't working at all.  While I'm not a stickler for 'write what you know,' I decided this time I'd do exactly that and go back to my own background to get him right.  I'm glad to say, he's coming alive beautifully now!

Who or What inspired you to write this book?  The women on the 'Home Front' in WWII.  I've always had an interest in that period of British history, how it affected everyday life, and the lives of women in particular.  Dealing with a very new way of life, perhaps working in a factory or driving a tractor, working out how to feed a family on increasingly meagre rations, and the constant fear and worry underneath it all, the threat of air-raids, the ever-present possibility of an invasion by enemy troops, and then the desperate, personal anxiety about those who'd gone to war - is he safe, will he come home?  
On the other hand, for some women, the war held a strange kind of liberation.  Many of them relished the opportunity to do things they'd never done before - they learned to drive, and not just cars but buses, tractors, ambulances.  They worked in factories, earning a wage for the first time in their lives.  Some women volunteered for local support services - organising, managing, being creative, getting things done, providing both practical and emotional help to those who needed it, using their skills and imaginations in brand new ways.  Some went a step further and joined organisations like the Women's Land Army - the famous Land Girls - or the Women's Timber Corps, affectionately known as the Lumber Jills.  It was an incredible time to be a woman, for sure.
The other massive inspiration for the book is the courage and huge achievement of the pilots of WWII.  Those were the men Churchill famously called 'the few,' in his famous speech in the House of Commons in August 1940, at the height of what came to be known as the Battle of Britain, when he said those words that have such a resonance to us now: never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few
All along the coastlines of Kent and Sussex - where I now live - temporary airbases sprang up to repel the threat of Nazi invasion.  So many of the pilots (and bomber crews) were young men, and it wasn't uncommon for them to have had only a few weeks' training before they took to the skies to defend us.  Their achievement was truly remarkable - we really must 'never forget.'
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? I've brought an element of  a WWII story into the contemporary part of the book and woven the two goes! 
Jack Tyler is a young, talented actor-director born and brought up in Canada, but who's recently come over to live and work in London.  His grandfather, Harry, was a British WWII Spitfire pilot  who left the UK after the war and settled in Canada.  When Jack is given the task of sorting his grandfather's possessions after the old man's death, he comes across photographs and love letters from 1940 from a woman called Amy - not the woman his grandfather eventually married.  Harry often talked of the farm in Sussex near to where he was stationed, where he had good friends, and spent many happy days - yet he never mentioned Amy.  Who was she, and why did Harry keep her letters? 
Intrigued by the mystery, Jack decides to find out what he can about Amy.  Visiting the site of the old farm, he meets Lindy, the woman who now owns the house Amy lived in.  Lindy agrees to help Jack trace Amy and fill in the missing parts of his grandfather's story.  As Jack and Lindy become more and more entwined with Amy's story, they become more and more entwined with each other....and the rest is still being written.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?  Perhaps the prologue.....the beginning of Amy's story....

Sussex, England
15 August 1940

     You always hear them first. 
     I learned to tell the difference a while ago, and this was definitely one of ours.  All I could see were the tangled smoke trails from the dogfight, like a child had scribbled over the bright blue sky.  Then suddenly, he was coming right at us.
     I’ll never forget that sound.
     You see - I thought I was used to it, but there was something wrong this time.  For a moment I wondered if I was mistaken and it was one of theirs, not one of ours at all.  He twisted across the sky, around and around, and then I knew what sounded so odd.
     The plane was screaming.
     I couldn’t move.  You’d have thought the muck on my boots had merged with the stuff I’d just earthed up over the potatoes and I’d taken root, like I knew I would one day.  Then I heard Tom, racing from the top field.
     It’s a Spitfire!  He’s comin’ down!
     Tom vaulted the gate and hared across the paddock.  I had the fork in my hand from digging, and I held it up, like a spear; as if it was ever going to be any use when a plane landed on us.  Even if it was one of ours. 
     Tom stopped beside me, wheezing in the top of his chest, like he always sounds before he’s had his first ciggies of the day.  I thought the plane would pass us and land on the big house, and there wasn’t a thing we could do about it.
     Then it dropped.
     I saw a starling drop a snail once; up in the air one minute, then falling, fragile as an egg, and cracking open right there on the path in front of me.  The Spitfire came down, still screaming, and it hit the ground with the most God-awful crash.  Then, nothing.
     I hope I never hear that sound again.
     Or that silence.
     Tom gripped my arm – I’ve still got the half-moons from his nails – and we ran.  It’s hard to run fast in these big Land Army boots, and usually it’s away from aeroplanes, not towards them. I didn’t know why we were running; the way it came down there couldn’t be anyone still alive in it.  But the canopy slid back; a dark glove waved then fell away.  Tom leapt like I’ve never seen him move before, braced his foot on the side and hauled himself onto the wing.
     Give us a hand here, Amy!
     The pilot must have passed out the second he got the canopy open; pretty rotten timing, if you ask me.  Tom hauled him over the side, and I grabbed him tight around the knees. 
     An unconscious man weighs a lot more than you’d think.
     Bright red blood was seeping out from under his flying jacket and his trousers, and in a moment it was tricking down my arm too, like a tiny red brook.  I didn’t think I could hold him, but Tom had him under the arms and between us we lowered him onto the grass, or Tom did mostly, I just held on.  I heard shouts, and it was Debben and Billy running down from what we still call the rose garden, even though it’s all been turned over to beets now.  They’re big lads, and they scooped the pilot up.  His face was all grey and screwed up, like crumpled paper.  Tom was ready to jump off the wing when he half-turned his head, and I heard him sniff, like he had a streaming cold.
     Bloody hell – run!
     He didn’t have to say anything else.  We ran, Debben at the pilot’s head and Billy at his feet, and it was almost comical how they looked, like boys with a penny-for-the-guy on Bonfire night.  But none of us felt like laughing. 
     Tom pulled me again, and I’d wished he’d let go, because if anything was going to make me trip up, it was him grabbing at me.  I dashed ahead and opened the gate, and they ran down the path straight into the cottage.  Tom was last, and I don’t know why, but after him I turned around to close the gate.  Force of habit, I suppose, and just then I saw a huge fireball that shot up in the air as if to scorch the sky.  I heard later it took the top branches off the elms.  Now I’m writing this down I realise I didn’t hear the head was still full of the sound of the plane screaming.  Bits of burning metal fell everywhere, and then Tom turned me away from the gate.  Go on, see to the lad.   
     Billy came out, saying he was going to the big house to call the doctor.  Debben was standing there, squeezing his hands like men do when they don’t know how to help.  Truth be told, neither did I, but I told Debben to fill a basin and bring the clean sheets I’d stacked on the kitchen table this morning.  The least I could do was tie something around the chap’s leg and see if we couldn’t stop the bleeding – then I realised I didn’t know if there were bullets in his leg, or what I’d do if there were.  He was muttering now, the pilot, and starting to shake, so I took the blanket from the back of the settee and covered him. 
     He clutched my wrist, and it was like being clutched by a dead hand.
     “I’m cold,” he said, “I’m cold,” and I didn’t know what to do to help him get warm except put my arms around him.  Billy came in with the doctor, who it turned out had been up at the big house with the old man anyway, and had seen the whole thing.  Doctor Morris knelt beside the pilot, and said “what’s your name, son?  What’s your name?”
     The pilot opened his eyes and, oh, they were such a brilliant blue - just like the cornflowers in the border that I keep cutting back.  “Harry,” he whispered, all breathy and croaky, “Harry Tyler.”  Then he closed his eyes and didn’t say anything else.
    And all I could think was, I’ll never cut those cornflowers back again.
     At least, not this summer.

So there you are.  This is the beginning of 'All The Boys of Summer.'  I hope you enjoyed it, and you're looking forward to seeing it finished as much as I am!  It's a story about how the past and the present combines, about how your own past and the past of the your family combine to make you the person you are today - and it's very much a book about 'coming home.'

Thanks for sticking with me this far!  If you'd like to find out a little more about how I write, follow the links on my blog sidebar to my currently published works, A Different Kind of Honesty and Edinburgh Fog.

all the best,

Jane x

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Halloween and NOT Halloween!

There's an amazing fiction feature over at the British Romance Fiction today, all genres, great stories, and no, they're not all Halloween-themed either - but they're all definitely ones to cosy up with on a dark and chilly night.  My Edinburgh Fog is featured there, along with lots of others.  Head over to the British Romance Fiction blog to find out more.

Friday, 26 October 2012

Spiced Ham

Sadly, I'm not referring to the stuff of childhood that came in oddly-shaped tins to be sliced and fried in unctuous batter by school dinner ladies, even though it was probably some of the most, er, interesting stuff I've ever had to eat.  No, friends, it's the other Spiced Ham I'm talking about.  Am I the only person getting more and more junk in their in-box these days?  The spam merchants (note no upper case for it this time) are busier and busier, and ever more creative.  So I'm addressing them directly.  Just to save you the trouble of filling my in-box with stuff I'm never, ever going to respond to, guys, here's a few things that might help you decide whether or not to bother me next time.

1.  I know who I bank with.  Therefore, I am unlikely to open mails from other banks asking me to check the details of my non-existent accounts with them.
2.  Paypal only ever addresses people by their user names.  I may well be a 'valued customer,' but I'm valued because of the business I put their way, and not because I'm so dense I fall for the 'valued customer' line and instantly fill in an on-line form giving my personal info to any old Tom, Dick or Mary.
3.  I tend to remember where and when I booked hotel rooms.  It's not something that often slips my mind.  The chances of me exclaiming, 'bugger me, I clean forgot about those three days I booked in the Sunshine Inn in Uttar Pradesh, thanks for reminding me!' are pretty slim.  So I'm not going to respond to your dodgy email.
4.  I have never, ever been asked to fill in an online form from the Post Office, FedEx, UPS or any other national or international delivery courier you can name, just so they will deliver a much-anticipated parcel to me.  And if I ever had to, I bet they'd know my name and address.  May I direct you to 'valued customer,' above?
5. I have never played bingo, poker, dice, Happy Families or any other game for money on-line, and I'm not about to start.  So stop asking me.  What I may get up to in a darkened room in the back of a pub after last orders is another matter entirely, and my business alone.
6.  A special word for a particular pharmacy apparently based in Canada.  I won't be shopping with you.  If I ever need what you sell, I'll pop down the road to Boots.  And for a few of your more specialist items, well, here in the UK we have the National Health Service for that sort of thing.  Not to mention Soho.
 7.  I am sorry you're about to lose all your family millions due to a coup/revolution/change of government, but no, I won't be stashing it away for you for a cut in a year's time, despite the fact that all I have to do to take advantage of both your distress and generosity is fill in this on-line for with my bank details.....(etc etc etc ad nauseam.)
8.  Lastly, I've been around the block enough to know that 'an amazing opportunity!' from a complete stranger is anything but amazing.  Or it might be amazing, but probably for an entirely different set of reasons.

Okay, I know nothing I say or do will make any difference.  I'll still be cleaning out my in-box every morning until the day I die.  But I can't be the only one who finds herself fondly remembering the days when Spam was something your Mum had in the back of the cupboard for emergencies.  Sigh.  Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.


Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Christmas In October!

Wonderful author Penny Estelle is hosting a fantabulous Christmas In October blog festival, with gifts a-plenty for all up for grabs!  All you have to do is leave a comment and your name goes into the hat for the prize draw on November 1st. There are stories, bookmarks and gifts on offer, and today's goodies include a copy of my short contemporary romance story Edinburgh Fog, PLUS a sweet little ‘Winter Wonderland’ bracelet kit!

Come along to Penny's blog right now and leave a comment - and good luck!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

An Excerpt from 'A Different Kind of Honesty'

After more sleepless nights than a man can handle, Tony Valentino finds himself unexpectedly face-to-face with the woman he can't forget - the woman he never thought he'd see again.....
As he approached the meeting room, the door opened as one of Linares’ team agents came out and shut it quietly behind him. Tony raised his hand in greeting. He couldn’t remember the guy’s name. “Can I go in?” he asked, tipping his head toward the door.
“Sure.” The man wore a weird expression somewhere between a grin and a leer. “I’m just off to find me an application form for the London Metropolitans.”
“Excuse me?” Tony stared at the guy, who smirked all the more under his scrutiny.
“Lady cop that Linares brought over. Oh, she’s a honey.”
“That so?”
“Betcha. She can slap her cuffs on me any day.” Sniggering in a lecherous way, the creep nudged Tony’s side with his bony elbow like he was sharing some private, witty joke. Tony stared after him as he swaggered off down the corridor. Sleazebag.
Turning the handle slowly, he pushed open the door and went in, careful not to make any noise. Ramon Linares turned around and threw him a mock salute and Tony returned it with a nod as he perched unobtrusively on the edge of the table nearest the door. Scanning the room, he saw ten, maybe twelve, agents from Linares’ division spread around tables set out in a U-shape, but he couldn’t make out their faces in the near darkness. With the blinds closed and the ceiling lamps switched off, the only sources of light came from the photographic images on a projector screen and, nearer to him, a small lamp with a green metal shade angled to shine directly on the keyboards of two laptop computers. The desk they sat on formed the bottom stroke of the U. Behind it sat Ramon and to his left a young-looking slim guy. Their faces were uplit by the lamp, an eerie effect that made Tony think of the old trick-or-treat torch gags of his childhood. A woman stood to Linares’ right, her features obscured by a curtain of hair that swung across her face as she leaned forward to type into her laptop. The ends of her hair caught the light and twinkled with a coppery glow. It looked pretty, but that was about the only clue Tony could see with regard to her potential ‘honey’ rating. He turned his attention to the projector screen, but the face he saw there, head on and profiled in typical arrest photographs, meant nothing to him. The screen went blank for a second, and then another image appeared. This one showed two men emerging from either side of a car, probably on some London street, judging from the licence plates and the buildings in the background. Tony stared at it blankly. This one was lost on him too, and he folded his arms—a waste of his time. He breathed a silent sigh through his nose and sneaked a glance at his watch, wondering if this was just the warm-up or if he’d already missed the most riveting part of the proceedings. He found himself thinking of his sparse room at the efficiency building and the fridge with a much-needed beer in it.
The male detective to Linares’ left was reciting a list of names and misdemeanours as the images on the screen flicked by one after the other. Tony swept his gaze around the half-lit faces of his fellow agents. They were all doing the right thing, paying attention and diligently taking notes that would be impossible to read once the lights came on. Biting his lips together to stifle another sigh that threatened to turn into a yawn, he gazed back at the projector screen. This was a favour to Linares, he reminded himself; the beer later would be his reward for perseverance. He watched the images tick slowly by until one appeared that shoved his boredom roughly aside. Tony craned forward, narrowing his eyes in concentration.
“Wait a second. Can I get a closer look at that?”
“No problem.” The English detective passed his laptop over, the screen showing the same photo as the projection. Tony studied it closely.
“I think I’ve seen this guy. You got any more on him?”
“Um…yeah, some more here.”
The picture changed to another shot of the same guy, this time crossing a road. It had been taken from above, as if the photographer had hidden in a room a couple of floors up from the street, but the face could be seen quite clearly. Tony stared at it, trying to make the connection. “This is London, right?” He glanced up at the detective.
“Yeah, it is,” the man confirmed. “But this guy we think had a U.S. connection.”
“I think I might have seen him here, in New York City.”
Ramon Linares spoke. “What do you know, Tony?”
Tony frowned, trying to drag details from the recesses of his mind. “I never spoke to him. But if he’s the guy I think he is, I saw him a couple of times with a wiseguy name of Snowy Vincente.” He looked up at the detective. “Mean anything to you?”
The detective shook his head. “No. But we know he flew out here a couple of times during our investigations, though we could never check it out properly.” He flicked his head in Linares’ direction. “Now it looks like he might be a British contact for something Ramon’s investigating. Do you have a name for him?”
“No,” Tony admitted. “Like I said, I never spoke with him, only saw him with Vincente. Some of the wiseguys knew what he was into, but they didn’t give much away and I couldn’t ask.” He gave a short, humourless laugh. “They said, just the old double Ds.”
“Yes. Drugs and diamonds.” The lady cop spoke for the first time. Something in her voice made Tony lift his head, but he couldn’t place the feeling. He looked over at her, but she was partially hidden by Ramon and he still couldn’t see her clearly. He was pretty sure she wouldn’t be able to see him either; the light shining directly on her desk would make it hard for her to see much more than shadowy shapes around the room.
“His name is Matthew Branton. Matt,” she said. “Means nothing to you?”
It wasn’t what she said that pulled something deep out of Tony’s memory. It was the way she spoke; not just the accent, but something in the sound of her voice that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand to attention—the kind of low voice you had to lean forward to hear, and it would feel like you were being coated with warm chocolate. It brought Tony a recollection of a sweet breath against his ear, something he’d tried to forget in his waking hours but that had regularly slipped into his dreams and played with his senses until he’d woken with his mouth dry and his sheets soaked with sweat. He tried to concentrate and focus on the photograph, giving a single shake of his head to dislodge the crazy thought that poked at his memory like a stone in a shoe.
“Nope, I never heard a name,” he said. “All I knew was they called him
La Gazza.”
She laughed at that and Tony’s insides lurched as an overwhelming feeling of familiarity grabbed his guts. His fist went involuntarily to his mouth and he pressed it hard against his lips.
“Gazza?” repeated her colleague, furrowing his forehead. “What, like the soccer player?”
“No, Danny. It’s Italian for magpie, isn’t it?” The woman leaned forward, directing the question at Tony, and he saw her clearly for the first time. He lowered his hand and looked directly into her indigo blue eyes.
“You got it.”
“That fits. Branton likes shiny things.” She shook her head. “I’m sorry, I didn’t catch how you recognized him.”
Tony wished it didn’t have to be this way. But maybe it was better, here in this room while it was dark. If she was shocked or embarrassed like he expected, she might at least have a chance to collect herself before the lights were switched on. “I was deep undercover with an organized crime syndicate for four years.” Tony hesitated a fraction of a second before he took a deep breath. “I used the name Joey Pescolloni.”
The air between them seemed to crystallize into strands of fragile spun glass that might snap any second. His breath caught in his throat, Tony watched as the woman reached out a slender hand and held it above the desk lamp to mask the glare. As her eyes moved slowly across his features, he remembered her gentle fingers tracing feather light, fluttering touches over his face.
“Joey Pescolloni,” she said at last, her eyes fixed on his. “That’s a great name. One to remember.”
A Different Kind of Honesty is available in all e-formats - visit its page here at Muse It Up Publishing to find out more and buy.  And thanks for reading!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

How AWESOME is this???

Suzannah Safi totally does it again with this amazing cover for my re-release of A Different Kind of Honesty.  There's no end to this woman's talents!  I love it - it's sexy, sassy, passionate and just a little bit dangerous....just like the story.

Check out more about the book here at Muse It Up's bookstore, where you can also pre-order it should you feel so inclined.  There's an excerpt at the bookstore too, and just because I love you so much, I'll treat you to another right here.  Enjoy!

Leaning her chin on her hand, Maggie looked at him for a moment before she decided to take the plunge.
“Okay. Danny, when I was in New York, I, um…had a fling. A brief thing, a one-nighter.”
What?” Danny looked incredulous. “You told me you were only actually in New York for one night! Bloody hell, you didn’t hang about, did you?” He started to laugh. “I thought you gave up one night stands after the college days.”
 “I did,” Maggie squirmed. “But this was sort of…different.”
“Oh, I see. Different.” Danny nodded in an annoyingly superior, knowing way. “A head over heels, caution to the wind, never to be repeated, special offer kind of different, right?”
Maggie gave a short, embarrassed laugh. “Something like that. Actually, a lot like that.”
“Aw, so sweet, my little chicky!” Danny reached out a hand and patted hers. “But it’s not as if it was your first time, or your last, let’s hope. So why all the panting ingĂ©nue stuff?”
Maggie sighed, a mix of wistfulness and longing that surprised her. “Because here’s the thing,” she said, her thumbnail between her teeth. “And you are not going to believe this.”
“Ha! Try me, girlfriend.” Danny took a swig of Bud. “There’s something hot about this one, I can tell.”
“It was him.”
Danny creased his brow as he pretended to think hard. “Nope. I’m going to need a little more than ‘him’, I’m afraid.”
Maggie cleared her throat, suddenly feeling nervous. “Okay. It was the guy we met today. Valentino. Tony Valentino.”
Danny’s lips wiggled around an ooo. “You are kidding me! Absolutely no way!”
“Yes, way,” Maggie said miserably.
“I don’t believe it. Are you sure?”
“Of course I’m sure, it’s not like I do it every day!”
Danny was opening and closing his mouth like a demented goldfish. “Why the hell didn’t you tell me? You spend one night in New York, you sleep with the FBI, and you keep that to yourself? You selfish cowbag! I may never speak to you again.”
Maggie shook her head and kept her voice low. “No, Danny, listen,” she said urgently. “I didn’t tell you because I shouldn’t have done it.”
Danny’s elbows slipped off the table in mock astonishment. “What are you talking about, you shouldn’t have done it? What, with that hunk? Good God, I’d shag him, and I’m straight.”
Picking up her water, Maggie paused with the bottle at her lips. “Somehow, I suspect you’re not his type. What with you not being a girlie and all.”
“For a guy like that, I’d change. And I’ll pump you for the sordid details in a minute, Lawless, but what the hell do you mean you shouldn’t have done it?” He pulled a face. “C’mon, he’s gorgeous, even more gorgeous than me, if that’s possible. I’m not seeing the problem.”
Maggie flopped back on her seat and heaved a sigh that came right up from her boots.
“Danny, just think about it. I meet this guy called Joey Pescolloni. He won’t tell me what he does for a living, says he has bits of business here and there. The guys he knows
all have shiny suits and signet rings.” She peered at him to see if any of this was sinking in.
It wasn’t. “Look. He takes me to a place called, oh, I don’t remember, La Speranza or La Gondola or something. Everybody in the place is flashing big bundles of cash.” She tipped her head to one side. “Is this waving any flags at you yet?”
Danny did his worst Robert de Niro impression, lifting his shoulders right up to his ears, hands open in supplication. “So whaddya know, he’s Italian, he likes pasta? Badda boom, badda bing!”
“Exactly! Badda...whatever. That thing you said.”
Danny’s jaw dropped halfway to the table. “Oh, my giddy aunt,” he said, leaning on each word as realization began to dawn. “You thought he was Mafia! Some wiseassed wiseguy.”
Maggie covered her face with her hands. “Yes, I did, I did…”
“So why the hell didn’t you just walk?” Danny couldn’t contain his laughter now. “You know, ‘excuse me while I powder my nose’ and just leg it through the bathroom window?”
Maggie squeaked. She opened her hands a tiny gap and peeked out. “Danny, you know why, you said it yourself. He’s gorgeous!”
“Ah.” Danny folded his arms and looked at Maggie in smug satisfaction. “Oh, now it makes sense. You were already too far gone in lust and Lambrusco. Lawless, you total trollop!”
Maggie slumped onto the table, her head on her arms. “I’m not,” she said in a small voice. “I’m female and breathing. Any woman would have done the same.” She looked up, trying to retain what little dignity she had left. “And it was a rather nice Pinot Grigio, thank you, not Lambrusco.”
“Whatever. He plied you with booze and had his wicked way. Or you plied him. Stop kicking me under the table.”
“You deserve it. Anyway, it wasn’t like that. I just fancied him like mad, and when I realized he felt the same, well, you know…”
“There was no stopping you.”
“There was no stopping either of us.” A sudden pang of sweet memory made her gasp. “Oh, Danny, it was quite a night.”
The waitress arrived with their order and the sort of enthusiasm that would have her telling them to be sure and eat up all their vegetables because it would make them nice and strong. Maggie fired a look at Danny, telling him in no uncertain terms to shut up until they were done. She smiled her thanks at the waitress, who beamed beatifically at them one more time and went off to bestow her blessings on some other lucky customers. 
Danny attempted to lift a burger as big as the plate it sat on without losing any of it. “So, when are you going to spill the gory details? Coz I want to be sitting somewhere cosy with another beer in one hand and a ciggie in the other when you do.”
“I’m not telling you anything else, you dirty sod.” Maggie pushed her salad around the plate with her fork, stabbed a chunk of tuna and peered at it before she dropped it, appetite gone.
“Are you going to eat that or just torture it?” Danny asked, chewing happily.  “Anyway, there is one thing you absolutely do have to tell me.”
Maggie looked at him, eyebrows raised. ”And that would be?”
“That would be…what are you going to do about it now?”
“What do you mean, now?” Maggie stared at him in horror. “Nothing!”
“Aw, do me a favour.” Danny paused in his chewing to lick mayonnaise from the side of his hand. “I twigged the way he was looking at you when the lights came on in that room. I thought it was coz he was looking forward to an introduction. I didn’t know he’d already had the pleasure.”
Maggie dropped her fork. “You’re making that up.”
“I bloody am not. You think I don’t know how a bloke looks when he’s thinking about rampant sex? I see it every time I look in a mirror. Trust me, he’s got the same fond memories of your sordid little adventure as you.” He dipped a French fry the size of a house brick in some ketchup and munched, speaking with his mouth full. “Possibly even fonder.”

Monday, 16 July 2012

My summer break!

My blog - including The One-Link Lowdown - is taking a short summer break while I move house with my family and get settled down at last into our 'forever' home.  But keep checking in, as I hope to have news soon about my next release, a contemporary women's novel, A Different Kind of Honesty.
See you soon!

Friday, 13 July 2012

The One-Link Lowdown on...Linda Swift!

My guest today is Linda Swift.  Writing for 6 publishers, Linda has ten books of fiction and four short stories currently available, with two additional books and three short stories to be released this year.  She’s lived in many places throughout the world, and while living in the UK in 1999-2000, she visited many of the castles where Mary Queen of Scots was a "guest" and became fascinated with both castles and the queen.  The result of that stay was her latest release, Maid of the Midlands, which will soon  be followed by a sequel, Mistress of Huntleigh Hall.  Welcome, Linda!

What’s the naughtiest thing you've ever done? 
As a small child living in a rural area, I robbed a setting hen’s nest of all her eggs to make mud pies. I took them one at a time, stirring more dirt and water into the mix each time. When I had a pan full, I realized my “crime” might be discovered so I dug a shallow hole and buried the mixture. I didn’t get caught and never did confess until years later when pregnant with my first child. I suppose I was wondering what secret sins my own child might commit later on and I told my mother about the incident. She accepted my story as the unimportant act that it was but my belated confession certainly lifted a heavy weight off my conscience! 

What’s the worst job you've ever had? 
In the early days of my marriage I was a stay-at-home mother, my husband was in a work training program, and money was scarce. I didn’t want to take a regular job and leave my children so I sold cosmetics door-to-door for a few hours during the day while my mother babysat. I hated every minute of it. I am not a natural born salesperson and knocking on the doors of strangers was pure torture.

I think I’d hate that too, and I admire you for sticking with it!  So in complete contrast, tell me about the best job you've ever had.
I have it now. To be able to write books, have them published, and experience the response of people who read them is a dream realized. I enjoyed my work with children in public education in three states over a number of years, but always in the back of my mind was the desire to be a published writer. Creating stories, receiving new covers, the release of the finished product, having book signings, presenting programs about what I do, all are very satisfying. I even enjoy the editing process! Did I mention getting royalty checks? Okay, I’m working longer hours for less pay than any job I’ve ever had except selling cosmetics, but this not about money as any truly dedicated writer knows.

What would be your perfect day?
I would sleep until I woke naturally, have breakfast of my choice, take a walk, work in my study. I would meet a friend for lunch. In the afternoon maybe work for a while or read or nap. I’d go out to dinner with my husband, watch the evening news on TV, read the newspaper and/or a book. About midnight, I’d be ready for bed again. I am never bored staying home and doing simple things. Did you notice that cooking or doing housework was not included in my day? I would have paid help for that, of course.

It sounds like bliss, especially the bit about no housework!  Linda, what's your favourite sandwich, and where in the world is the best place to eat it? 
A chicken salad sandwich (with pecans and grapes in it) on rye bread would be perfect served at an outside cafe on Coronado Island overlooking the Pacific.

I might just have to try out that recipe, it sounds delicious!  Which household chore would you happily give up forever?
Only one? How can I choose a “least” favorite? I suppose cooking which seems so boring day in and day out. I don’t mind preparing special meals for holidays but the repetition of doing this over and over depresses me. But to my credit, I love to iron. Too bad almost everything now is wrinkle-free or else supposed to be worn with wrinkles!

What talent or skill would you love to have that you don’t have now?
I would love to be able to play piano and I took lessons for a few months as a child but they didn’t “take” on me. So I did the next best thing by marrying a man who played piano (and now electronic keyboard) beautifully. I also wanted to have a beautiful voice and be able to sing well but I only mouth the words when I sing in church to avoid those nearby wondering how a frog got into the building. Both my son, daughter, and son-in-law are musical and are working or have worked as professional musicians. All three were in a Broadway musical that toured the country for two years, so my wish has been granted in a convoluted way

Indeed!  And as I know you’ve said before, you make music with words, Linda!  Tell me, what drives you seriously nuts?
People who make fun of other people. I think this is the ugliest character trait anyone can have. To laugh at someone for whatever reason is probably an effort to cover insecurity and lack of self-confidence but that doesn’t excuse it.  People who don’t do what they say they will comes a close second. And people who don’t give credit to others for what they do or take credit for what they have not done is also on my list.

Which animal do you think you’re most like, and why?
I’m probably most like a cat. I am independent, and I love to curl up in a warm place indoors and do nothing. But I am loyal like a dog and so persistent that my husband says I am like a “dog with a bone” when I set my mind on something. I am also verbal like a mockingbird. So I suppose I’m really an enigma whatever species that is.

What’s the best review you've ever had?
My best review was actually a composite of four 5-star reviews (Long and Short Reviews/ Manic Readers/The Romance Studio/You Gotta Read Reviews) and Romantic Times  for my Civil War saga, This Time Forever. These reviewers compared the book to Gone With The Wind and the TV mini-series North and South. All of them “got” what I was trying to say, felt empathy for both sides of this tragic war, loved my characters as I did and validated my ability to research and create a story that was worthy of the subject. This was the “book of my heart” and in my heart I know it is the best work I will ever accomplish. It was rejected many times when submitted by my then-agent and I almost despaired ever seeing it published. Then, ironically, this US Civil War story was accepted by a Canadian publisher and through no planning on my part, it was released in the first year of the Civil War Sesquicentennial commemoration. Fate? I like to think so. 
A definite meant-to be!  Linda, it's been great getting to know more about you today, and I know my readers can catch up on all your news and books at your One-Link here to your website.  Thanks so much for visiting - good luck in all that you do!