Sunday, 21 September 2014

Welcome romance author, Jenny Kane...




Romancing Robin Hood by Jenny Kane (@jennykaneauthor)
Blurb
Dr Grace Harper has loved the stories of Robin Hood ever since she first saw them on TV as a girl. Now, with her fortieth birthday just around the corner, she’s a successful academic in Medieval History, with a tenured position at a top university.
But Grace is in a bit of a rut. She’s supposed to be writing a textbook on a real-life medieval gang of high-class criminals – the Folvilles – but she keeps being drawn into the world of the novel she’s secretly writing – a novel which entwines the Folvilles with her long-time love of Robin Hood – and a feisty young girl named Mathilda, who is the key to a medieval mystery…
Meanwhile, Grace’s best friend Daisy – who’s as keen on animals as Grace is on the Merry Men – is unexpectedly getting married, and a reluctant Grace is press-ganged into being her bridesmaid. As Grace sees Daisy’s new-found happiness, she starts to re-evaluate her own life. Is her devotion to a man who may or may not have lived hundreds of years ago really a substitute for a real-life hero of her own? It doesn’t get any easier when she meets Dr Robert Franks – a rival academic who Grace is determined to dislike but finds herself being increasingly drawn to…

Buy links
Ebook
Paperback

Excerpt
It was all Jason Connery’s fault, or maybe it was Michael Praed’s? As she crashed onto her worn leather desk chair Grace, after two decades of indecision, still couldn’t decide which of the two actors she preferred in the title role of Robin of Sherwood.
That was how it had all started, ‘The Robin Hood Thing’ as Daisy referred to it, with an instant and unremitting love for a television show. Yet, for Grace, it hadn’t been a crush in the usual way. She had only watched one episode of the hit eighties series and, with the haunting theme tune from Clannad echoing in her ears, had run upstairs to her piggy bank to see how much money she’d saved, and how much more cash she’d need, before she could spend all her pocket money on the complete video collection. After that, the young Grace had done every odd job her parents would pay her for so she could purchase a myriad of Connery and Praed posters with which to bedeck her room. But that was just the beginning. Within weeks Grace had become pathologically and forensically interested in anything and everything to do with the outlaw legend as a whole.
She’d watched all the Robin Hood films, vintage scenes of Douglas Fairbanks Jr and Errol Flynn, Richard Greene, Sean Connery, and Barry Ingram. As time passed, she winced and cringed her way through Kevin Costner’s comical but endearing attempt, and privately applauded Patrick Bergin’s darker and infinitely more realistic approach to the tale. Daisy had quickly learnt to never ever mention Russell Crowe’s adaption of the story – it was the only time she’d ever heard Grace swear using words that could have been as labelled as Technicolor as the movie had been.
The teenage Grace had read every story, every ballad, and every academic book, paper, and report on the subject. She’d hoarded pictures, paintings, badges, and stickers, along with anything and everything else she could find connected with Robin Hood, his band of outlaws, his enemies, Nottingham, Sherwood, Barnsdale, Yorkshire – and so it went on and on. The collection, now over twenty years in the making, had reached ridiculous proportions and had long since overflowed from her small terraced home to her university office, where posters lined the walls, and books about the legend, both serious and comical, crammed the overstuffed shelves.
Her undergraduates who’d chosen to study medieval economy and crime as a history degree option, and her postgraduates whose interest in the intricate weavings of English medieval society was almost as insane as her own, often commented on how much they liked Dr Harper’s office. Apparently it was akin to sitting in a mad museum of medievalism. Sometimes Grace was pleased with this reaction. Other times it filled her with depression, for that office, its contents, and the daily, non-stop flow of work was her life – her whole life – and sometimes she felt that it was sucking her dry. Leaving literally no time for anything else – nor anyone else. Boyfriends had come and gone, but few had any hope of matching up to the figure she’d fallen in love with as a teenager. A man who is quite literally a legend is a hard act to follow...
***
Author bio and links
Jenny Kane is the author of the contemporary novel Romancing Robin Hood (Accent Press, 2014), the best selling contemporary romance novel Another Cup of Coffee (Accent Press, 2013), and its novella length sequel Another Cup of Christmas (Accent Press, 2013)
Jenny’s first children’s book, There’s a Cow in the Flat (Hush Puppy Books) will be released later this year, and her third full length romance novel, Abi’s House (Accent Press), will be published in Spring 2015.
Keep your eye on her blog at http://www.jennykane.co.uk for more details.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Welcome romance author, Leigh Carron...




1.     What do you wish men understood about women?
That we can value our independence, yet still need a strong, steady male shoulder to lean on.
2.     Do you only work on one book at a time?
I tend to direct the majority of my focus on one while dabbling in other projects. Just that bit of variety breaks the routine and keeps the creative juices flowing.
3.     Who is your favorite fictional couple?
My new favorite fictional couple is Reagan and Derek from Jasinda and Jack Wilder’s Captured. I love perfectly imperfect characters and stories packed with heart, hope and heat!
4.     Favorite TV show?
Hell’s Kitchen for badass Chef Ramsay and Scandal for smutty drama. 
5.     Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?
Hm…goals might be a stretch, but I try to write something every day. I don’t do well with too much structure…my muse is more of a go-with-the-flow kind of girl.
6.     Who was the last person you hugged?
My 12-year-old daughter, J. She’s a riot.  Fun-loving, silly and very huggable.
7.     What are you working on now?  
Mostly A Naked Beauty, the conclusion to Fat Girl. However, I’m itching to tell Jordyn’s and Lexie’s stories. They are Dee’s friends, introduced in Fat Girl. Jordyn is fun to write. I love her feistiness. She will definitely meet her match in Color Blind



Fat Girl by Leigh Carron

Genre: Romance (Contemporary, Steamy, Adult Content)

About Fat Girl: Years after fleeing small-town Springvale, Illinois, Deanna Chase has picked up the pieces of her shattered heart and built a new life for herself as a child advocacy lawyer. Her food addiction is quasi under control, her secrets are buried, and she has even made a tenuous peace with her plus-size body. Until…
Micah Peters—the very sexy and now famous man she fled— walks through her office door and sends Dee reeling. His demand that she help a young boy caught in a custody battle will reunite her with the past she left behind. 
Torn between duty and self-preservation, Dee isn’t easy to convince. But when obligation wins, the former lovers get more than they bargained for—a searing passion that burns hotter than ever and startling revelations about what really happened the fateful night she left.
Will the truth set Dee free to love again? Or will past hurts and lingering insecurities destine her to walk away from her heart again, this time for good?
Fat Girl is the first book in this provocative two-part series about love and self-acceptance.

Now available at Amazon.com/Kobo/Smashwords

Praise for Fat Girl
An addictive, steamy read.” —Wynne Channing, best-selling author
“This is one of those books that sucks you in and keeps your interest until the very end.” —Jodie's W.I.N.E. List
“This was a refreshing, real story that had me captivated from the first page. Dee and Mick were wonderful characters full of real flaws, real strengths and real passion.”  — Beth S
“A brilliantly written, steamy, sexy, thought-provokingly wonderful novel.” — Olivia P
 “A MUST READ!!!” — Christine K

About Me: An American living in Canada. Chocolate snob. Recovering yo-yo dieter. Devoted mom and wife, blessed with a brilliantly witty daughter and unintentionally humorous husband. My wacky family feed my creativity and fuel my passion. Most nights, you will find me either curled up with a great book or, more often, sitting at my computer, tapping out the countless visions in my head. 
To me, there is nothing better in a narrative than perfectly flawed but strong characters and intense romance that is sexy, deep, and sensual. Mm…I liken such stories to a box of Godiva. Decadent and delicious! You can’t stop at just one. In fact, I’m now hard at work on my next novel—A Naked Beauty, the conclusion to Fat Girl.

Stay Connected at:
Twitter:@LeighCarron

Giveaway: An ecopy of Fat Girl at each stop, and four tour prizes: 1) A signed paperback copy of Fat Girl , bookmark, and $20 Visa gift card, 2) a $15 Amazon gift card, 3) $10 Body Shop gift card, and 4) $10 Starbucks gift card.


Excerpt #2: (PG)
The click of the front door, followed by the report of heavy footsteps, breaks my concentration.
My first thought: definitely male. My second: I’m not expecting anyone and walk-ins are rare. As I begin to rise from behind my desk, the thud of leather soles on the hardwood comes to a halt. Ah. My heart settles. Whoever is out there must see the toy box and Wii console in the waiting area, and realize he’s wandered into the wrong office loft. It happens sometimes. Even with Deeana Chase, Child Advocacy Services, embossed on the glass.
Lowering myself back into my chair, I’m about to return to the case I’ve spent the past hour prepping for mediation, except there are no sounds of retreat. I cock an ear and listen. Nothing. My nerves begin to buzz again as my mind swings back to something Lena, my assistant, said before she left for the day. A man called to ask if I would be in this evening but wouldn’t disclose his name or purpose. Strange for sure and I should have locked up. A rule I set for both Lena and myself when either of us was working alone. But, true to form, preoccupation with a case took over and I forgot. Now I wish I’d been more vigilant.
Imagination racing in time with my rapid pulse, I pull a can of pepper spray out of my purse and, slipping off three-inch heels, silently move across my office. I’m cautious by design, though rarely this jumpy. The only logical explanation is that last night I stayed up late watching The Deliberate Stranger, an old movie about a notorious serial killer who lured his victims with charm and good looks. In hindsight, probably not the type of program a woman living on her own should watch. But having worked in Chicago for all of my adult life without encountering a problem, I feel relatively safe here.
Still…
I angle my head and peer around the doorway into the reception area. The man standing with his back to me is partially concealed by a giant leafy ficus, but the parts of him I can see are impressively built. He has to be more than six feet, judging by the bit of dark hair peeking just above the leaves. And he’s broad and muscular, if the way one shoulder fills out half of a black leather jacket and one rounded butt cheek flatters blue-washed denim are any indication. Under different circumstances I might enjoy the view, but all I’m thinking is his fine ass isn’t going to matter much if he’s another Ted Bundy.
In sheer masculine volume, this Adonis would have no trouble taking me and my extra weight down without breaking a sweat. I tighten my grip on the metal trigger with a good notion to spray first and ask questions later.
Fortunately, logic kicks in before my imagination spins further out of control. Would any man intent on harm stand there all this time studying the corkboard on which I proudly display cards and drawings from my young clients? The rational answer is no.
I take a deep breath and chide myself for being ridiculous. “May I help you?” I ask, moving into the open doorway.
There’s a pause—a noticeable hesitation—before he steps from behind the plant and slowly pivots.
I know even before our eyes meet.
My breath stutters.
I freeze.
And the can falls from my numb fingers.

Comments?? Questions??

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Welcome romance author, Megan Whitson Lee...



Hi Megan! Great to have you here and to be a part of your ongoing tour - I am looking forward to learning more about you and your work. Let's get started...

1.    What do you wish men understood about women?
Ha! Wow! Starting this off with a bang! There are so many things that men don’t understand about women (and women don’t understand about men). My husband and I have been married nearly eight years, and one of the issues with which we still struggle is communication (like SO many couples). We have very different communication styles. At the end of a tough day at work, I might want to just come home and vent. I don’t expect any feedback or any solutions, but my husband wants to tell me what he would do or say in the situation. I hear this from a lot of other women, too, so I wish men understood that women don’t necessarily need them to come along and fix everything—sometimes we just need to unload.

2.    Do you only work on one book at a time?
Yes and no. I might start two (or even three) books at the same time, but ultimately the plot in which I’m most interested pulls ahead. At the beginning of this summer I had started writing three very different novels, but a couple of weeks in, I found my groove, settled on one that I thought had the most promise, and shot off with that one.

3.    Who is your favorite fictional couple?
This is a great question! Okay, so my favorite couple is not so because of their wonderfully functional relationship, but it’s because of the torment and pain they cause one another. No, I’m not a glutton for punishment in relationships, but let’s face it—dysfunctional relationships make for good reading!  I think Heathcliff and Cathy from Wuthering Heights are my favorite couple because they are the epitome of a relationship that cannot work out. Either because they are too much alike or because they are hell-bent on self-destructing, these two characters are doomed as lovers. Even though this novel was written in the 19th century, the characters can be found in modern society—in those relationships where people are selfish and controlling. I like seeing the parallels between the modern and the classic.

4.    Do you have a favorite quote that sums up how you feel about life?

 “To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves

I know it’s a long one, but it rings true for me. I used to live my life like that—not letting anyone in. I’ve found that allowing vulnerability—living and loving everyone knowing that they may disappoint, leave, or die, is how God really designed us to love.

5.    Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?
I do set writing goals and try to write every day Monday through Friday. During the summer, I try to write at least ten to fifteen pages a day; as a matter of fact, I try to complete first drafts during the summer months and spend the rest of the year revising, editing, polishing, etc.

6.  What do you like better, Twitter or Facebook? Why?
Definitely Facebook. I don’t know what I’m doing on Twitter… or why, really. Facebook is more relational. Twitter feels like a giant vacuum where I’m callously self-promoting. But I do both.


7.    What are you working on now?
My current work in progress is slated to be a little on the scary side. It’s a contemporary Gothic novel set in Virginia wine country. The story is narrated by Chassie, a woman who lived much of her young life in a cult, and now, newly married to vineyard owner, Nicholas Dunraven, she is experiencing all sorts of strange people and phenomena at the Dunraven Estates. Terrifying events unfold both inside and outside the house as Chassie discovers her husband’s past with a wife who was involved with witchcraft and strange occult groups, and who mysteriously disappeared four years earlier. I’m only about half way into it right now.

Publishing 1st August 2014

Attorney Landon Kingsley craves order and normalcy, and aside from his well-hidden vice of smoking, he lives the life that everyone expects from him in his hometown of Kingsport, Tennessee. Recently engaged to beautiful nursing student, April May, Landon’s new fiancĂ©e is everything he could want in a wife. She is devoted to her faith and family and truly loves him.

April’s cousin, Ella Casey, has returned to Kingsport after ten years of pursuing a career as a country music singer in Nashville. Ella’s failed career and affair with a married music producer scandalizes her in the eyes of the town, but her legal troubles drive her to Landon for help. Landon finds himself increasingly attracted to Ella and more discontent than ever with the path he has chosen for his life. Amid a firestorm of family and town gossip, Landon is tormented by his past and the complicated decision of whether to listen to God’s voice or follow his own desires.

SONG FROM THE ASHES, a modern retelling of the classic Edith Wharton novel The Age of Innocence, explores the dilemma between the pursuit of dreams and personal happiness versus contentment in God’s plan for marriage and love.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

The snow was already forming crusts on the unsalted parts of the road that January evening. The weathermen had talked of a dusting, or perhaps even showers, but the severity of the precipitation was wholly unexpected.  It was only a high school event—a talent show held at the local civic center. Even so, Landon Kingsley was upset with himself and his late arrival. Landon always made a point of being on time, but tonight he had lingered over the reading of a brief. At least that was how he rationalized it. In all honestly, he hadn’t wanted to stub out his cigarette prematurely. He always enjoyed a smoke when his mind was preoccupied.
            Landon knew his girlfriend and her parents would be waiting for him. He slipped into the rear of the auditorium and scanned the mass of people for April and her family. She had texted that they were sitting near the front, and he cringed thinking that would make his entrance all the more embarrassing—everyone would see him entering late.
            April’s two younger sisters were both in high school, and although he had not heard them sing, Landon understood they were talented. In fact, April’s Aunt Julia informed him that the entire family possessed great musical talent.
“On her daddy’s side of the family, everyone tends toward musical talent in piano and guitar. On her mama’s side, nearly everyone has beautiful singing voices—especially that Ella—she’s out in Nashville right now, you know. She’s been out there for years singing country music. I guess she does all right.”
Landon had never met Ella, but he had heard about her, and he understood that through some circumstance or other she would actually be attending the talent show that night.
            As he made his way down the sloping aisle, he saw familiar faces—many of them flashing him a smile and a wave. In a town of this size, people knew each other or at least knew of one another. Part of the tri-cities area in Northeastern Tennessee consisting of Kingsport, Johnson City and Bristol, Kingsport was the second largest of the three—a town of around fifty-thousand that had grown a little over the years but was no booming metropolis either. It retained a small-town feel, a place where people still smiled and greeted one another on the streets. A town where people spent their whole lives. Retirees from up north settled down there, and people who had lived there most or all of their lives called it home and heaven. The downside was that gossip spread like wildfire, and no one was ever free from the scrutiny of folks who wanted what you had or who didn’t think you had enough.
Mid way down the rows of seats, Landon glimpsed the face of Dora Feldman. He had represented her husband last year when he was sued for a property line dispute. A little further down, he saw the scowling face of Dawson McMurphy, who had never forgotten that Landon represented his arch rival in a nasty court case several years ago. Landon couldn’t even remember the specifics of the case now, but Mr. McMurphy had never allowed him to forget the outcome of it. Landon and his client had won—Mr. McMurphy had lost and exhibited sour grapes ever since.
            Sitting at the end of the third row, craning her neck to see him and then waving wildly was the lovely, smiling face of April. She looked relieved when she saw him and rasped in a stage whisper as he fell into the seat beside her, “I was worried you’d forgotten.”
            He shook his head, returning the whisper. “I got caught up with some business.” It was mostly true.
            Her forehead and nose wrinkled simultaneously. “Have you been smoking?”
            Desiring to avoid another half-lie, Landon simply smiled and patted her leg. “I haven’t missed your sisters have I?”
            April shook her head. “No, but you almost did! They’re up next.”
            Landon turned to the act finishing their pitiful version of an old Led Zeppelin tune, “Stairway to Heaven.” He couldn’t believe teenagers in this day and age knew and still appreciated the tune. The boy on the stage fumbled his way through an acoustic version of the song, interspersing his performance with “oops!” and “I’m sorry” and “I didn’t mean to do that.” Finally, the boy’s misery was over and the crowd applauded, more relieved than entertained.
            Landon cast a glance down the aisle to the left of him. April’s mom sat beside her daughter, and she smiled at him sweetly. It had only been this week that Mrs. May had said to him shyly, “I know it’s not really my place,” her Tennessee accent drawing out the vowel of plaay-ce, “but I just want you to know that April has so enjoyed the last few months ya’ll have been dating.”
Landon had been contemplating asking April to marry him, but not before he was absolutely certain of her answer. He was quite a bit older than her--thirty-seven years to her twenty-five—and his past was much more checkered. April had taken great pains to let him know of her purity and plan to stay that way until she was married. He wished he could come to her in the same state, but his life had taken him other places and there had been many women. Therefore, he was concerned his past might have scared her away, and he said as much to her mother.
To this confession, Alissa May sweetly patted his hand and told him if he and April ended up together, the family would be only too happy to welcome him as one of them. “April’s father and I are ten years apart, and things have turned out good for us. And I know April is not nearly as concerned with your past as she is with the man you are right now.”  
Landon looked over and smiled at the lovely dark-haired girl beside him. Beyond her he could see April’s father—a man of few words—quiet, but infinitely wise and well-read. Charles May had worked for Eastman Chemical Company his entire life. He rose up through the ranks to become an executive with the company—a career which had given him wealth and allowed him to approach his retirement with ease. 
Landon noted a few other relatives that he had seen at various family functions over the past three months while he had been dating April, but then he noticed the new face at the end of the aisle. She, too, locked eyes with him and waved a stilted salute.
            “That’s my cousin Ella,” April told him. “She’s just come into town from Nashville.”
            Landon nodded. “Oh yeah, that’s right. Your aunt said she’d be here tonight. She’s visiting with your family?”
            “Well, sort of. It’s a long story. But basically, things haven’t worked out so well for her in Nashville. Mama told me she’s back in Kingsport to stay for now.”
            “I see.” Landon thought Ella looked the part of the country singer. She was dressed in jeans and a suede jacket, but he couldn’t help his eyes being drawn to the top she wore underneath and all it revealed. Ella’s brown hair was highlighted with blond streaks and fell in soft waves over her shoulders. From the reflection of the stage lights, she looked like she had clear blue eyes and a straight, white smile. She reminded him a little of a country star he couldn’t put a name to at that moment. He could sort of see a family resemblance in the profile. Both April and Ella had straight sloping noses that turned up at the tip. They possessed strong chins and adequate cheek-bones, but the overall effect of their appearance wasn’t much alike.
            “Oh, here they go!” April said, redirecting his attention to her young sisters appearing on the stage. The oldest one held an acoustic guitar and the other stood close beside her. It seemed to take the two girls a long time to begin. One was still fiddling with the tuners on the guitar, and the other one giggled nervously beside her.
During this tense interval, Landon considered the possibility of proposing to April. It was early on, he knew, but it was certainly not unheard of. She had, at the commencement of their friendship, conveyed to him that she felt ready to marry and start a family. April had graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee in some generic discipline that he couldn’t remember, but now she was pursuing a nursing degree at East Tennessee State University, having decided that she really wanted to be in the medical field.
Landon found it attractive that his future wife should have some sort of profession. It gave him respect for her—that she had something going on in her life besides him. His own mother had a talent for gardening and writing, and for years she wrote articles for the magazine Gardens of America. Occasionally she had traveled, giving seminars on landscaping, gardening and planting, and dispensing advice on what kinds of flowers grew well in what types of soil, etc.
Landon did wish that April was a little more conversational on the matters that interested him, but one couldn’t have everything. And he assumed that it was this sort of pickiness in the past that caused him to remain single into his thirty-seventh year. Landon loved books—especially classical literature; he loved music of all kinds, but especially old seventies music and country; he also enjoyed wine and the occasional cigar or cigarette. Maybe April didn’t share these interests, but she was a wonderful and stunningly beautiful Christian girl who wanted marriage, a home, and a family, and at the end of the day, that was all that mattered.
BUY LINKS:



About the Author

Megan Whitson Lee grew up in Tennessee but moved to the Washington, D.C. area as a teenager.  She worked for criminal attorneys before earning her master’s degree from George Mason University’s MFA Program in Creative Writing. Previously she received a Bachelor of Arts in Music followed by a year-long residence in London where she worked as a Literary Assistant. Her self-published first novel All That is Right and Holy won second place in the 2009 Christian Choice Book Awards. Megan teaches high school English in Fairfax County, Virginia where she lives with her husband and two greyhounds.
Author Links

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The Giveaway is for an Amazon gift card for $25 / £15

Comments?? Questions??





Monday, 15 September 2014

Welcome UK romance writer, Julia Ibbotson...




1.    What do you wish men understood about women?

Oh, so many things (but we love them anyway!)! Firstly, that we like to tell them stuff without expecting a brilliant solution from them; if we want that, we’ll ask for it! Many men seem to imagine that women only talk when they want a resolution/decision/suggestion for action, when actually we just simply want to share. Men and women’s communication styles are very different: men’s are purposeful and task-directed while women’s are about building relationships based on sharing (you can tell I’ve done some research on this fascinating area, can’t you?!). Secondly, that we might say we can manage all the clearing up, washing up, preparing three-course meals and presenting them on the table while they watch football, but actually we are lying through gritted teeth. Lastly, that women NEVER untangle their feelings for their first love or the father of their children. All these come into my new Drumbeats trilogy.

2.    Do you only work on one book at a time?

Yes, I can’t hold more than one in my mind at a time, and really want to focus completely on my current project without distraction - although I do often begin to plan and research a little for the next one as a bit of light relief as I love the research bit of writing novels. With the trilogy I’m working on at the moment, I have had to scope out all three books but I don’t ever start the proper writing until I’ve finished the previous book.

3.    Who is your favorite fictional couple?

You know, it just has to be Elizabeth Bennett and Mr Darcy, because their story is so romantic, both strong wilful characters resisting what they see as weakness, but love wins through in the end. Whenever I read Pride and Prejudice again, or see dramatisations, I love it all over again.

4.    Favorite TV show?

It has to be Scott and Bailey because the characters are strong women but with personal issues that are the chinks in their armour, and I love the writing; it’s very realistic. I used to love Cagney and Lacey for similar reasons. But I have to add Death in Paradise too because I’m a succor for beautiful locations and cosy mysteries.

5.    Do you set daily writing goals? Word count? Number of chapters? Do you get a chance to write every day?

I write every day on something or other. Sometimes I get absorbed with the research and write loads of notes or semi-articles on the period or the context or the background culture (music, current events, and so on). For Drumbeats I was researching 1965-6 in both Ghana and England, and of course the culture of Ghana so that the story was authentic and established a real sense of time and place. I try to write three or four days a week as a novelist but I also work two days a week as an academic when I am also writing but in a different genre. I am now turning over a new leaf and making weekends work-free, although I don’t really see writing novels as “work” – perhaps I should say “away from my laptop”! I set targets like writing 1000 words a day and I think “wow I could write a whole novel in four months”, but it doesn’t really work out like that! Often it’s either much less or sometimes much more if I’m on a roll. If the latter, I just want to keep going while it’s flowing and my poor long-suffering husband has to cook dinner and bring me mugs of coffee.

6.    Who was the last person you hugged?

Hmmm … thinks carefully …my husband  -  but it’s a close call with a friend who was upset and needing comfort, and my daughters and grandchildren who I adore. I’m a hugger.

7.    What are you working on now?

I’m writing the second novel in my Drumbeats trilogy which is called “Walking in the Rain” and continues Jess’s saga into the 1970s and 80s. The final novel will be entitled “Before I Die” but is not about dying; it’s about Jess’s bucket list and how she goes about fulfilling her dreams.

Published by
July 2014
Drumbeats: can you ever escape your past?

Drumbeats is the first novel in a trilogy and follows 18 year old English student Jess through her gap year in West Africa. It's a rite of passage novel set in the mid-1960s when Jess flees her stifling home background for freedom to become a volunteer teacher and nurse in the Ghanaian bush. Apprehensively, she leaves her first real romantic love behind in the UK, but will she be able to sustain the bond while she is away? With the idealism of youth, she hopes to find out who she really is and do some good in the world, but little does she realize what, in reality, she will find that year: joys, horrors, and tragedy. She must find her way on her own and learn what fate has in store for her, as she becomes embroiled in the poverty and turmoil of a small war-torn African nation under a controversial dictatorship. Jess must face the dangers of both civil war and unexpected romance. Can she escape her past? And why do the drumbeats haunt her dreams?

Drumbeats Trilogy:
Drumbeats
Can you ever escape your past?

Walking in the Rain
How do you cope when your worst nightmare comes true?

Before I Die
Can Jess’s bucket list bring resolution to her life?
Excerpt

August 1965, Ghana

It was hotter than Jess had ever imagined in her eighteen years. Flying in from the UK bound for Accra, she had left the late August skies of the dull wet dreariness of an English summer. But as she stepped off the Ghana Airways VC10, she felt the heavy all-encompassing heat which shocked her system. Although it was only six o’clock in the evening, it was already dark and close.
The flight from London Heathrow had been a long and tiresome six hours and she had felt drained as she pulled down her cabin bag from the overhead and shuffled along the aisle behind the other travellers, nodding and swaying to the strains of the Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride” on the VC10’s tannoy system. Her mother would have a fit: her Rulebook said no pop music; it’s the work of the devil, and no dancing:  Jessamy, anyone would think you were a slut. So in the holidays, when she was home from boarding school, she’d listened to Pick of the Pops furtively in her bedroom, ear pressed to the radio.
Now, as she climbed down the steps in the heat-stifling darkness to take her first stride on African soil, she was recharged with excitement.
            She was aware of the male flight attendant standing at the foot of the aircraft’s steps, watching her with undisguised admiration as she climbed down. She navigated the steps as gracefully as she could in her tan wedge-heeled sandals. In the heat, she was glad that she had thought to scoop up her auburn-gold hair loosely into a ponytail.  She let go of the rail with her left hand for a moment to smooth her pale pink cotton mini dress over her slim figure. At least she wasn’t irritable and demanding like the other passengers who pushed behind her as if they were in a great hurry.
            The flight attendant watched her all the way down the steps and then wiped his palm on his trousers, and held it out courteously to steady her from the last step. She took it in her own cool soft hand for a brief moment.
            “Thank you so much, John. Bye now,” she smiled as she passed him and headed for the small wooden shack that served as an airport building.
            “No problem, miss. Welcome to Ghana.”
            “How did you know his name?” hissed Sandra, from behind her. Jess turned. She noticed that John did not take Sandra’s hand. His eyes and grin were still focussed on her.
            “It’s on his name label,” whispered Jess. They walked together across to the arrivals building. “OK?”
            “OK. Long flight. Tired,” answered Sandra curtly. She had been unusually quiet during the flight and, it seemed, almost close to tears on occasion. Jess put her free hand on Sandra’s arm.
            “It’ll be fine. Honestly. I know you’re missing Colin.” In the short time Jess had with Sandra after they were teamed up to travel to the same school in Ghana for their gap years, she had learned all about the chap Sandra was leaving behind for a year. Sandra showed her a photograph. Oh dear, he looked a lot like Maurie. Not fanciable. AT. ALL! She herself had said little about her own personal life, and the guy she had left behind. She wanted to keep him to herself. Her first real grown-up relationship. Simon. His name still tasted so new on her lips and in her head. Had she done the right thing in dutifully fulfilling the contract to come out here, even though they had only just got together? Would he wait for her? They were an item, weren’t they? She frowned and bit her lip.

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About the Author
Julia Ibbotson lives in a renovated Victorian rectory in the English countryside with her husband (four children, now grown up, having fled the nest), along with lots of apple trees, a kitchen garden and far too many moles. She is an author and academic, and loves choral singing, walking, swimming, gardening and cooking (not necessarily at the same time). She started writing as soon as she could hold a pencil in her tiny fist and has not stopped since, much to the bemusement of her long-suffering husband who brings her endless cups of coffee and sometimes even makes the dinner when she is distracted and frowning at her laptop.
She wrote her first novel when she was 10 years old, sadly never published and long since consigned to the manuscript graveyard. She loves writing novels with a strong sense of time and place and that is the basis of her latest, Drumbeats, the first of a trilogy which follows Jess through the trials and tribulations of her life. It starts with Jess on her gap year in Ghana in the 1960s.
She has also written the story of the restoration of her rectory in The Old Rectory: Escape to a Country  Kitchen, which also interweaves recipes from her farmhouse kitchen and which has won a number of international awards.
Recently she found an old manuscript gathering dust in her drawer, one she had originally scribbled when she was still at school, many years ago. It was a children’s story about a boy who slips through a tear in the fabric of the universe to find himself in a fantasy medieval world. She is currently blowing off the dust and redrafting it for her publishers to let it loose on the world in the autumn. It’s called S.C.A.R.S.
She loves to hear from readers (it’s a pleasant distraction from her steaming keyboard), so do get in touch via the links.
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Book Trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OYlEXhHvsc&list=UUP3hKZjeUBuTMoyvZmBXbow

Overall tour giveaway on tour is 1 x ecopy of Drumbeats (International), Postcards/Key Rings/Bookmarks (UK) and will be managed via Rafflecopter. 


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