Monday, 21 August 2017

Debut Spotlight: Ginger Black

Today it's my pleasure to welcome author Julia Thum, one half of the writing duo that makes up Ginger Black, to the blog to talk about their debut novel Riverside Lane.

Hi Sharon.  

I am really thrilled to be a guest on your lovely blog.  Thank you so much for having me. 

I have been writing in some form or other for my whole life.  With a librarian for a mother and a father who died young it seemed only natural to commit my thoughts and feelings to paper and I have never really looked back.  I have always been a keen diary writer and written children’s stories for over twenty years.

I left Somerset for London at 16, founded & ran my own consumer P R agency representing a range of international brands including many years with my favourite - Ladybird Books.  I sold the business and trained as a psychotherapist specializing in eating disorders & hosted a phone-in show on Radio Luxembourg.

A husband, five children and a few years later the Thum family moved from London to Bray and I took up writing fiction seriously.   As well as writing with Gaynor I now write and review children's books and am a regular guest on BBC Radio Berkshire’s Book Club programme.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing journey? 
I have been writing children’s fiction for over twenty years (a novel for each of my five kids) but had not submitted anything for publication until I met Gaynor and we wrote the cozy mystery Riverside Lane together.  Working with Gaynor, and the success of our first novel, has given me the confidence to submit some of my other work and The Witches Punchbowl, magical realism targeted at middle grade readers, will be published in 2018.  

Gaynor and I, writing under the pen name Ginger Black, are mid-way through our second adult novel together – more of that later – and I have embraced the middle grade fiction market by launching a children’s book website featuring story telling blogs and book reviews (Julia Thum).  

Beyond writing and reading, I keep myself busy caring for my family, working for a fabulous charity that takes disabled children out on the Thames, kayaking, yoga and walking my English Bulldog Rumpole who is the unofficial third member of the Ginger Black writing partnership.

How did your writing collaboration come about?
Gaynor and I met a few years ago through our kids.  We found we had a shared interest in writing fiction though she was a busy newspaper journalist at the time and I had just finished  twenty years in consumer PR.  It transpired that our early careers had been a series of sliding doors with us moving in the same professional circles but never meeting along the way. I’m glad we missed each other though, because when our paths finally did cross it was at a time we both felt ready to jump in at the deep end and give novel writing a go.  Riverside Lane is the result. 

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Debut Spotlight: Rose Servitova

Today I'm delighted to be shining the spotlight on Rose Servitova and her debut novel The Longbourn Letters which was published earlier this year.

Irish woman, Rose Servitova, is an award-winning humour writer, event manager and job coach for people with special needs. She has published in a number of literary journals as well as being short-listed in the Fish Flash Fiction Prize and at Listowel Writers Week. Other than PG Wodehouse, Rose is a lifelong fan of Jane Austen. Her first novel, The Longbourn Letters – The Correspondence between Mr Collins & Mr Bennet, described as a ‘literary triumph’, has received international acclaim since its publication earlier this year. Rose is also curating Jane Austen 200 – Limerick, a festival celebrating Limerick’s many links to Austen while nodding at its extensive Georgian heritage through literature, architecture, screen, theatre, fashion, talks and, of course, tea!! Her next novel is in the offing.

Twitter: @roseservitova

Saturday, 19 August 2017

The Write Stuff with... Karen King

This morning it's my pleasure to be handing the blog over to Karen King, author of The Cornish Hotel by the Sea, to talk about writing in different genres.

I’ve been a published writer for over thirty years now, and whilst nowadays I mainly write romantic novels and Young Adult books, in the early years I wrote solely for children.  Most people are fascinated to discover that I started my writing career with the iconic Jackie magazine way back in the early eighties but it was when I turned to writing for younger children’s magazines that I got my big break and was able to earn a living as a writer. I’ve written comic strips, stories, activities and quizzes for a variety of magazines – Rainbow, My Little Pony, Winnie the Pooh, Rosie & Jim, Barbie, Sindy, Postman Pat – and 120 children’s books. I’ve written for all age groups and in a variety of genres; pictures books, story books, activity books, joke books, educational readers, even a folder of 27 plays!

I’m often asked how I can turn my hand to writing for so many different genres, and the answer is that no matter what I’m writing my mantra is ‘know your market know your reader.’ I study the market, read other books in the genre I’m writing to get a feel of the characters and story plots that are popular, and I think about my reader. What are they expecting from the story? What age group are they? What are they interested in? This is especially important when writing for children, as the younger the age group the simpler the storyline and vocabulary, but it can also be applied to the different genres when writing for adults. Yes, people of all ages will read YA books, for example, but the average YA reader will be eighteen or under and the average chicklit reader will be early thirties or younger. So this is the readership that the storyline, characters and vocabulary need to be aimed at. If you write a story about the dating pitfalls of a thirty year old it’s no good marketing it as a YA, or a wartime romance as a chicklit. 

Friday, 18 August 2017

Cover Reveal: Christmas with You by Sheila O'Flanagan

This lunchtime I'm delighted to be taking part in the cover reveal for Christmas with You by Sheila O'Flanagan which is due to be published on 19th October.  As many of you know I have read most of Sheila's books over the years including this one when it was previously published as A Season to Remember but this has now been updated and new stories added so I know new readers are in for a treat.

So without further ado here is the gorgeous cover for this festive short story collection.

Books Read: Any Dream Will Do by Debbie Macomber

It’s never too late to start again. Two unlikely friends find the strength in each other to overcome their painful pasts.

Shay Benson adored her younger brother. She did all she could to keep Caden on the straight and narrow. But one day her best intentions got Shay into the worst trouble of her life. By protecting Caden, Shay sacrificed herself.

Drew Douglas adored his wife. But since losing Katie, all he could do was focus on their two beautiful children; everything else came a distant second.

Shay and Drew are each in need a fresh start, and when they meet by chance it’s an unexpected blessing for them both. Drew helps Shay to get back on her feet, and she reignites his sense of purpose. 

But when a devastating secret is uncovered, Shay and Drew’s new lives are threatened. It will take all of their strength, faith and trust to protect the bright future they dream of.

Amazon Links: Kindle or Paperback

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

The Write Stuff with... Jennifer Joyce

This morning it's my pleasure to hand over the blog to Jennifer Joyce to talk about writing a sequel.

When I self-published my first novel, A Beginner’s Guide To Salad, back in January 2014, it was supposed to be a standalone book. I had Ruth’s story in my head and I’d put it down on paper (or Kindle screen). Once the book was finished, I started to write a brand new book, but Ruth had really got under my skin. In the book, Ruth is invited to her high school reunion and decides to lose weight before she attends. I thought the reunion would be the end of Ruth’s story, but it turns out she had more to tell me. 

I felt like I’d really got to know Ruth while writing A Beginner’s Guide To Salad. She became almost real to me, as insane as that sounds, and I didn’t want to say goodbye. I’d also received some brilliant feedback after I’d published the book and I knew people loved Ruth as much I did. I knew she had more to offer and although I was writing the new, non-Ruth book, I started to think about what would happen to her after the reunion. I wanted Ruth to have a truly happy ending and for Ruth that would mean marrying the man she loves. And so I started to play around and plot A Beginner’s Guide To Saying I Do in my head.