Monday, 23 December 2013

How a little bit of Lapland magic inspired my Christmas novella...

When I visited Finnish Lapland back in Christmas 1998, I had no idea that, fourteen years later, I'd write and self-publish a little Christmas novella inspired by that trip. And what I certainly didn't expect was for that little Christmas novella to be picked up by the amazing Harper Impulse, and then go on to be one of three winning books in their Winter Wonderland Writing competition!

I loved writing that book, you see. I loved being able to remember that trip to such a beautiful part of the world. To experience those short days and the strange but incredible colours of a Lapland sky; to snow mobile over frozen lakes and sit around a blazing fire in a traditional Sami teepee drinking hot coffee in the middle of a snow covered forest. To witness the spectacular and magical Northern Lights. To have done all of that, and more, was something I will never forget. And to be able to use all of that and put it into that novella was something I just had to do.

A traditional Kata - a Sami tepee.
When I self-published it last year, the book went under the title Christmas Without Icing, and it received 36 lovely reviews on Amazon UK, most of them 4 and 5*. Here are just a few snippets from some of those reviews...


“What a lovely christmassy feel-good book.”

“Totally loved this novella. Such a warm story with fabulous, believable characters whom I connected with completely. Thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend to anyone.”

“The author transports the reader right into the heart of the Lapland skiing resort and the buzz at that time of year, complete with the stunning Northern Lights experience.”

“… yet another great read from Michelle!”

“The story itself is heart warming, with a touch of fate-filled magic.”

“Curl yourself up on the sofa, with the lighting slightly dimmed to set the mood, and read away. You'll soon be transported to Lapland and feel the magic in the air.”

“Lovely and heartwarming book - beautifully written and very engaging and I must admit to shedding a few tears in places!”

“Without a doubt this is a very special Christmas novella that will have you filling up your glass with mulled wine and drawing the curtains as you're transported to Lapland.”

“… perfect for a lazy afternoon.”

“A fabulous Christmas time novella for chick-lit and hen-lit fans.”

“This is a feel-good, sentimental, gorgeous story that was perfect for a Christmas afternoon tucked up on the sofa, shutting the world outside and taking a trip to Lapland!  It has also made me want to visit Lapland even more!”

The stunning Northern Lights

And now, complete with a stunning new cover and a beautiful new title - The First Christmas Without You  - my Christmas novella has been published through Harper Impulse and is still receiving lovely, positive reviews. And I couldn't be happier to see my book out there, and to know that people are enjoying it. 

Lapland can be a truly magical place, that's for sure, because I've been there. I've experienced it. And I hope others can experience it, too, by reading The First Christmas Without You. 

This morning I logged onto Goodreads (which is brave of me, considering my fear of that place!), to see a once-sentence review of The First Christmas... that has made my day -   "A beautiful novella that brought tears to my eyes and a smile to my face!" Something so simple, but it says it all for that reader. And that's what counts for me. 

To see more stunning images that inspired this Christmas novella, check out my inspiration board for The First Christmas Without You over on Pinterest.

And the book itself is available from Amazon UK and Amazon.com, and most other ebook outlets. It's also featured HERE in the Nook UK Christmas Books promo!

And if you're looking for some Christmas reads to take you through the holiday period then check out some of those on offer from my fabulous publisher Harper Impulse! They're all HERE!

And before I go, I just want to say the biggest thank you there could possibly be to everyone at Harper Impulse, especially the amazing Charlotte Ledger. One phone call from her back in October changed my life, and made my dream come true. Thank you!



Thursday, 19 December 2013

Afternoon Tea, darts at breakfast, and a book release... It's been a busy couple of days...

When I say darts at breakfast, I don't mean I was throwing a few arrows while waiting for the toast machine to do its stuff. God forbid! That's an A&E visit waiting to happen that is... No. I mean darts players at breakfast. Actually, this is getting a bit confusing now. Let's start at the beginning...

As the majority of you who read this blog are probably aware, the Christmas novella I self-published last year - Christmas Without Icing - has now been published through Harper Impulse with a brand new title and a stunning new cover! The First Christmas Without You was also one of three winners in the Harper Impulse Winter Wonderland competition, and the prize for winning that was afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason. Which is why, at the beginning of this week, I found myself down in London, still trying to believe that this was all really happening to me.


The Christmas tree at Covent Garden
And, of course, me being me, it wasn't just the thought of meeting my publishers over at the Harper Collins building and visiting the Harper Impulse offices that got me all excited. Or the idea of going all posh for an afternoon at one of the country's most prestigious department stores. Oh no. Finding out that we were staying in the same hotel as some of the darts players taking part in the World Darts Championship at the Alexandra Palace, that got me quite excited, too. So when I spotted Justin Pipe at breakfast on Wednesday morning, well, that started my day off pretty well that did. Unfortunately my celebrity spotting didn't extend much past that during my time in the capital, although I did spot Nick Hewer from The Apprentice in Leicester Square, so that took my total up to two! 

Me with the gorgeous Charlotte Ledger in the Harper Collins building
Anyway, my real reason for being in London was that afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason, a place I never actually dreamed I'd be setting foot in. I mean, come on, I shop at Lidl and adore Morrisons sausage rolls! I'm not your average Fortnum & Mason client. So to be able to experience afternoon tea there was something I was going to enjoy. And I did! And it was even more special to share it with the gorgeous Charlotte, Katie and Kim from Harper Impulse, and fellow competition winner Kathy. I was a bit taken aback when a tea menu was put in front of me, though - yes, that's a menu, for tea. The stuff we usually squeeze out of a bag. I swear, I had no idea there were that many different kinds of tea... 


And the sandwiches, cakes and scones we had were just beautiful! Everything from smoked salmon to coronation chicken sandwiches, all perfectly cut with the crusts off; to tiny chocolate squares and something that tasted very much like a mini banoffi pie - they were all gorgeous! It was just a truly wonderful experience, and one I'll never forget. The perfect way to celebrate the release of my first book published through Harper Impulse. I can't thank everybody enough. I just had a fantastic time. And Charlotte, Katie and Kim were so lovely, as was Kathy. So, so lovely. 


Cake!! And that's the lovely Katie Sadler there in the background.






Right now I'm feeling very lucky. My book is out there, I've just had two fab days in London, and I've had the chance to experience something I would never normally have had the chance to do. And it's all thanks to the amazing team over there at Harper Impulse. You guys really are the best, and I'm so privileged to be part of the Harper Impulse family. Thank you!



The First Christmas Without You is available NOW from Amazon, Kobo, and iTunes

Monday, 16 December 2013

London, here I come!

I'm off to London this week. And, apart from a one-night stopover in a hotel near Gatwick airport before we flew out to Lapland back in 1998, I haven't been to the capital for almost twenty years, and even that was a ridiculously quick day-trip down from Newcastle to Earls Court for a Pink Floyd gig. We did there and back in a matter of hours and were back at college the next morning after an hour and a half's sleep ready for rehearsals for a play we were doing. Never been so tired, but I was younger then. It was all an adventure. If I tried that now I'd probably need two weeks in Benidorm to get over it...

Fortnum & Mason - blimey! I'm going in there???
Anyway, yes, I'm off to London. Why? Well, for those of you who don't know yet, the little Christmas novella I released last year, Christmas Without Icing, was one of the winners of the Harper Impulse Winter Wonderland competition! And now it's been re-edited, got a fabulous new title - The First Christmas Without You - and a simply gorgeous new cover, and it's out on Thursday December 19th! But, the prize for winning that competition was also afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason, or a hamper if you couldn't make it down to London. But I decided to throw caution to the wind and make the trip down south because I think it's about time I had another adventure. And it's Christmas, and I wanted to meet the Harper Impulse team in person to tell them how grateful I am to them for making this author's dream come true. Well, one of them, anyway, because I doubt there's much they can do about the one concerning Timothy Olyphant and a box of Ferrero Rocher... 

Am I excited? Hell, yes! My book's out this week, I get the chance to "scrub up" and attempt to look just a little bit glamorous, and I'm actually starting to feel like an author! Even though I've been doing this for a few years. It just hasn't felt real, until now. I was always proud to be an indie author, and I had some quite incredible success in those early days (getting to #53 in the Amazon Kindle Chart with Bon Voyage was a pretty big achievement, believe me), but it was always, always my dream to have a publisher sit up and take notice of something I'd written. And now that that has happened, I can't tell you how much that's spurred me on to keep working even harder. I may be knocking on for the wrong side of 45 now, but it's never too late to follow your dreams. Never. As the lovely Sam Bailey proved in last night's X Factor Final, but that's a whole different blog post, that is...


Have I got an outfit sorted? I think so. But everything is subject to change. Am I confident my hair will behave on the day? No, not really. Not if the weather forecast is anything to go by. Am I nervous? Yes! I have a tendancy to witter on when the nerves kick in, and we Geordies can talk quite fast at times, believe me. Am I looking forward to it? Oh, you better believe it! I am long overdue a couple of days away from this desk. And I really can't wait to meet the wonderful Charlotte Ledger and the fantastic Harper Impulse team. So, I'll kick those nerves into touch, relax, and enjoy my little adventure as one of the busiest weeks of this year for me kicks off. And hopefully, come the end of the week, I'll have a few pictures to post and a story to tell of the day I met my publishers... and you have no idea how good it feels to say that...

Now, what was I saying about Timothy Olyphant and a box of Ferrero Rocher...?



The First Christmas Without You is released on December 19th, but you can pre-order it now HERE!


Friday, 13 December 2013

New release! 'Tabby & Kat' by Amanda Egan.

I'm popping open the virtual champagne today to celebrate the release of my wonderful friend Amanda Egan's brand new book, Tabby & Kat, and I am absolutely certain it's going to be another amazing success for her. Want to find out more about it? I'll let Amanda herself take over...



Thanks for having me, Michelle - today I'd like to hand over to my main character in my latest novel, 'Tabby & Kat'  and let her tell you a little bit about the plot.  Her parrot, Timothy, wanted to do it but his language can be a bit fruity at times so we bribed him with nuts and kept him quiet. 

Hi!  My name's Tabby and my life's about to get turned upside down just when I thought everything was just perfect - aside from the lack of male in my life, that is.
You see, I've been in a house share with my best friends Adam and Polly ever since we met at Uni - and when we came back to London we decided we'd carry on living together.  We're the 'Thunky Three' and, stupidly, I thought we'd be together forever.  Well ... Poll's about to get married and pop out a sprog, so Adam and I need to look for a new housemate.  He'd be quite happy to pay the extra rent and share with just me but ... well ... he's always had a bit of a thing for me and I'm not so sure it would be a great idea to give him false hope.  Don't get me wrong - I love him, just not like that!  He's just 'Adam' and not someone I could ... you know, get down and dirty with! Oooh, no - that would seem weird!

So my story starts with us interviewing prospective house sharers and Adam and I have to agree on who we choose.

What on earth made us decide on Kat and will my life ever be the same again?


Find out in 'Tabby & Kat' released on Amazon for Kindle and in paperback at Lulu on Thursday 12th December.

Watch out!  There's a cuckoo in the nest.

First chapter here.
 

You can follow Amanda on Twitter @mummy_misfit
 

And check out all of her books here!
Amazon Uk
Amazon.com
Lulu
 




Thank you so much, Amanda! And I wish you loads of success with 'Tabby & Kat'!


Monday, 9 December 2013

Cover Reveal - The First Christmas Without You

By me! Yes, it's finally out there, the absolutely GORGEOUS cover for my first book published through Harper Impulse, The First Christmas Without You.


For anyone who isn't already aware, this book is a re-edited and newly-titled Christmas Without Icing, a book I self-published this time last year. But, when I heard Harper Impulse were looking for Christmas-themed stories for their Winter Wonderland competition, I decided to submit the book, and see what happened. And it actually became one of the three eventual winners of that competition!

I absolutely loved writing this book, and I hope that people will love reading it, too...

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A story of love and hope at Christmas, The First Christmas Without You is an emotional and poignant novella.

Young widow Jessie Collins has always wanted to visit Lapland. But this Christmas, more than any other, it’s the place she feels she really needs to be.

It’s time for Jessie to come to terms with a future she didn’t expect, but one she really needs to start living.

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The First Christmas Without You is released on December 19th, but you can pre-order your copy HERE on Amazon.


Friday, 6 December 2013

Meet the Author - Teresa F. Morgan


It's been a while since I've had a Meet the Author post here on my blog, but today I'm delighted to be bringing this feature back, and kicking it all off by introducing one of my fellow Harper Impulse authors, Teresa F. Morgan. 

So, come and find out more about her, and her book Plus One is a Lucky Number...



When did you first realise that you wanted to be a writer? 

I’m not someone who’s known they’ve wanted to be a writer since the age of five, I discovered writing in 2006. In 2009, I decided I wanted to pursue it professionally. (Before that I was just dabbling in fan fiction).

What made you want to write romance?

I’ve always wrote romance, even in fan fiction. I think it’s because I like writing the conflict between two people fancying the pants off one another and not knowing how to deal with it. Plus, I don’t think I’m clever enough to write crime novels. Lol!  


Do you listen to music while you write, or are you someone who needs complete silence to work?
  
I usually need complete silence. Music inspires my stories, but while writing, I need to concentrate and so no distractions, even from music. 

Do you have a designated “work space”, and if so, can you describe it?

In my old house I had the ‘Study’. Now I’ve moved into a much smaller house, I’ve actually bought a bookshelf unit with a desk from Ikea. It does take up the corner of my small lounge, but I knew I needed an area dedicated to my writing. The idea is that when the boys grow up and move out, I’ll take over the small bedroom (my six-year old’s room). It might happen sooner if they can’t keep their rooms tidy – I keep threatening that they’ll have to share a bedroom ha ha! 

Do you get nervous reading reviews of your books?

Oh, gosh, yes! Obviously, the ones that say they loved my book make me smile and give me that warm fuzzy feeling. For the ones that are not so positive, I realise I will not please them all and the world is built by different people with different tastes, so my book will not be to everyone’s liking.
    
Paperback or ebooks – do you have a preference?

Both! I have to say that as my debut novel is in ebook. But I do love my kindle, and then I do love reading from real books too and having them line my bookshelf. 

Do you plan your stories before you start writing them, or do you just “wing” it?

Hey, the good thing about romance is that I know I’ve got to produce a happy ending. I am a bit of both. I usually have in mind how I want my story to end. Sometimes, I  have a blank page and I’ve got to fill it and the characters go off and do their thing – and sometimes I’m amazed by my genius of it all ha ha! Then, sometimes I know a certain scene needs to be written to make A get to B. But yes, I’m probably wing it more than I plan it. Is that good or bad? 


How did it feel the first time you saw your name on the cover of that book you’d written?

I think I’m still pinching myself even now! It was EPIC! Or as my nine year old would say, “Awesome!”   

What advice would you give to anyone just starting out on their writing journey?

Just write it! It doesn’t matter how good or bad it is, you can not edit a blank page.

Social media – friend or foe?

I love social media because I’m a sociable type of person. I love with Facebook I’ve found friends from years ago, and am now able to stay in touch. Twitter has allowed me to chat to people I never thought I’d be able to. I had a real fangirl moment when Liz Fielding (one of my favourite Mills and Boon authors) replied to me for the first time. Now we’re RNA Chapter buddies!
But I do find it is a time drainer and makes you very easily procrastinate, because before you know it an hours gone and you’ve not done any of the
jobs you were supposed to have done, i.e. writing... 


Plus One is a Lucky Number - The Blurb

Sophie’s going to a wedding where the invite is strictly plus one… but with her single girl status not exactly fitting in with the bridesmaid dress code, and the best man being none other than the ex she would rather forget, Sophie needs a date and she needs one fast! 

Luckily for Sophie, her dreamy but distant co-worker Adam Reid owes their mutual friend James big time…and his gorgeousness more than fills the role of the ‘Perfect Boyfriend’!
 

As they take off to the sunny shores of Cornwall for the wedding weekend, it’s not long before pretence leads to passion and Sophie and Adam must decide; is their relationship real or is it all for show?

Author Bio:

I live in sunny Weston-super-Mare, trying to hold onto my Surrey accent where I was born and bred.

For years I persevered with boring jobs, until my two boys joined my nest. In an attempt to find something to work around them, and to ensure I never endured full time boredom again, I found writing.
I am at my happiest baking cakes, putting proper home cooked dinners on the table (whether the kids eat them or not), reading a good romance, or creating a touch of escapism with heroes readers will fall in love with.
                   
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Contact Links for Teresa - Blog / Website / Twitter / Facebook


And for more information on Plus One is a Lucky Number, plus purchase links, check out the following sites -  

Amazon UK
Harper Impulse
Add on Goodreads




Tuesday, 3 December 2013

New release! Offside! by Jamie Tucker Dougan.


My lovely Twitter friend and fellow author Jamie T. Dougan's latest release Offside!
is the first in a series of novellas featuring fictional Premiership footballer Shane Henderson. You may remember I revealed the rather sexy cover for this book just a couple of weeks ago, but now you can finally get your hands on the book itself! 

 

Want to find out what it's all about? Read on...


Shane Henderson is not your typical premiership footballer. Fast cars, faster women, casinos, nightclubs and the likes are not for him. So it probably wasn't a good idea to marry an attention seeking, bed-hopping ex-topless model with a few secrets.
 

Shane is just a normal guy with a heart that's broken trying to settle with someone who deserves his heart. Sometimes his head has other ideas though.
 

Offside! is the first in a series of novellas about Shane's life that at times is more complicated than the offside rule in football.



Offside! is available to download now from AmazonUK and Amazon.com.

You can also check out all of Jamie's books HERE on Amazon. 

To find out more about Jamie, and his books, check out his BLOG, follow him on TWITTER, and you can also pop over and "like" his FACEBOOK AUTHOR PAGE!

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Wishing you loads of success with Offside!, Jamie. I can't wait to read it!  


Monday, 2 December 2013

Nicky Wells talks Spirits of Christmas...



Today I am absolutely delighted to be featuring the fabulous Nicky Wells - and her latest book Spirits of Christmas - here on my blog.

The festive season is now well and truly upon us, so read on to find out more about Nicky's rock 'n' roll take on A Christmas Carol, check out an excerpt from the book, and find out what inspired this rock chick author to write a Christmas-themed novella... 

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 Spirits of Christmas: A Rock’n’Roll Christmas Carol

At one time, up-and-coming rock singer Jude had it all: a great band, a platinum record, a loving girlfriend. This Christmas, however, he is well down the road towards spontaneous self-destruction.

Unwitting at first, Jude has progressively alienated his band and driven away the love of his life. Tonight, the night before Christmas Eve, he has broken the final taboo during a disastrous gig. Yet Jude doesn’t see how badly his life has derailed, not until a ghostly procession of legends passes through his bedroom with a series of vivid and powerful wake-up calls.

Will the Spirits help Jude put the friendship, love, and rock music back into his Christmas?

Spirits of Christmas is a modern-day rock’n’roll adaption of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. This novella will enchant romance readers, rock lovers, fans of ghost stories, and everybody who adores the festive season.




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EXCERPT



‘Hiya, Jude!’

The voice emerged from the door, and Jude’s head whipped round as if drawn by a string.

‘Hiya, Jude,’ the voice repeated cheerfully. Unexpectedly, it launched into the first line of one of Jude’s most favourite songs. Jude once again sank onto the bed, his legs refusing to carry him with the shock of this second apparition.

‘Is this really you?’

For a moment, Jude’s second otherworldly visitor abandoned his song and remained silent, motionless, allowing Jude to take a good, long look. The sideburns, the nose, the defined chin, the round glasses were clearly visible despite the spirit’s transparent appearance. Everything about this figure was familiar, yet nothing was quite as it should have been. It was as though Jude was looking at a hologram, a distorted, stretched vision where nothing quite fitted together.

Nonetheless, Jude found his voice. ‘Oh my God, it is you!’

Excitement made his exclamation strong and clear. The figure flinched at the sudden burst of noise, but Jude ploughed on. ‘This is…this is totally unreal. I mean, imagine this—here’s me in my bedroom, and there’s you, come to visit me.’

‘I’m not who you think you see,’ the apparition interrupted. ‘I’m the Ghost of Christmas Past.’


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Inspiration for Spirits of Christmas…

Writing this novella was a bit of an inevitability for me, all things considered. If you don’t already know me, you have to understand that I simply love rock music. Rock musicians are like Viagra for my soul. I’m also a sucker for romance and a good-old fashioned happy ending. Moreover, I love the Christmas season: the lights, the sweets, the laughter. Combining all those things ~ rock, romance, and Christmas ~ was one of the most delightful writing projects of my career so far!

The idea for this book came to me the very night after I launched my second book, Sophie’s Run, in February of this year. I was hyped up with excitement, I had finished writing my third book and was waiting for publisher edits, and I had already planned my fourth full-length novel. I was utterly and completely unable to sleep with everything that was going on, and quite unexpectedly, the whole story was in my head. Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is one of my favourite Christmas stories both in the original and its many varied adaptations. I suddenly thought… why not bring it into the rock’n’roll domain?

My wonderful husband, Jon, was somewhat taken aback when I presented him with this plan the following morning.

‘I’m going to write a Christmas novella,’ I said.

‘But you’ve got another book launch in September, and you’ve planned your fourth book already—how’s this going to fit in?’ he responded enthusiastically, if pragmatic.

‘I’ll figure it out.’

And so I did. It took me just over a week to write the first draft in May 2013, and another few weeks here and there to tweak, fine-tune and polish it over the following months. But here it is. Spirits of Christmas. I hope you enjoy!

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About Nicky Wells: Romance that Rocks Your World!

Hi! I’m Nicky Wells, your ultimate rock chick author. My books offer glitzy, glamorous contemporary romance with a rock theme ~ imagine Bridget Jones ROCKS Notting Hill! If you’ve ever had a crush on any kind of celebrity ~ rock, pop, movie or other ~ you’ll connect with my heroes and my leading ladies!

Like my first leading lady, Sophie, I love listening to rock music, dancing, and eating lobsters. When I’m not writing, I’m a wife, mother, occasional knitter, and regular contributor to The Midweek Drive show on Lincoln’s Siren 107.3 FM. Rock on!



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Nicky is also running a very special offer this month - you can grab yourself a copy of Spirits of Christmas for just $0.99/77p until 14th December! What are you waiting for?

  
Thank you so much for guesting here on my blog today, Nicky, and I wish you every success with Spirits of Christmas! Have a rockin' festive season!