Sunday, 31 May 2015

Recipe: bookish burgers

For dinner last week the other half and I indulged in some mid-week burgers. They're fairly simple to make but can be just as delicious as some of the burgers you can get at high street restaurants if you take the time with the little extras. I thought I'd share with you our recipe. 



The mince

First of all, I shaped the mince into burger patties. I put the mince in the bowl with a pinch of salt and pepper, a finely chopped red chilli. I then mixed it together with my hands. Some recipes tell you to add some oil or even an egg to the mixture to keep it bound together, but I found if you kneed together well enough at this stage you don't need those extras. 



Once the mince was mixed together, I formed it into three patties (I have a constantly hungry OH so one for me, two for him!) and popped them on the tray while I heated some oil into the griddle pan. 

Potatoes 
I made some wedges to go with them. I opted for sweet potatoe and the OH had normal potatoes. To make the wedges I peeled the sweet potatoe skin off (but left the others with skin on them) and then chopped into wedges. I sprayed an oven tray with 1 cal spray, put on the wedges and then sprayed the top of the wedges again with the oil. Then they are ready for the oven - about 25 mins at 190 degrees. 


Onions 
To make the burgers a bit more special, we decided to add some fried onions and cheese on top. 
To make the onions, I put a few spoons of oil in the bottom of a pan and added in the chopped onions when the oil was hot. I stirred for a few moments before turning up the heat and adding a pinch of sugar and a glug of balsamic vinegar. Carry on cooking at a high temperature for a minute or so with the ingredients, then turn the heat down low and let the onions sweat it out while you cook the burgers. 




Then start on the burgers. Make sure the griddle pan is really hot before putting the burgers on. Cook them on a medium heat for a few minutes each side until they're cooked how you like them. 





I chopped up some cheddar cheese and once the burgers were cooked, placed it on top of the patties ready for the oven. When the wedges are almost done, put the burgers in the oven to melt the cheese - this should only take a few minutes. 



When the cheese has melted everything should be ready to serve up! 
I added jalapeños and the onions onto the OH's portion and gherkin, onions and tomato onto mine. 

Serve up and enjoy! 







Saturday, 30 May 2015

Guest post: Erin Lawless

Today I'm delighted to hand over this post to Erin Lawless, to talk about her writing and publishing journey. So without further ado, here's Erin! 



"I LOVED the book," the email claimed. Good start. "But," the sentence continued (the literally dreaded but) "I'm not sure who your market is. The book is almost too many things…"

The email from the prospective agent went on to suggest I rework the book into a BDSM erotica and think about resubmitting.

This is a completely true story.

It was 2012 and I had just finished writing my first novel. After a lifetime of fanfiction, blog posts and questionable short story writing, I had managed it, all 105,000 glorious words. Seven characters, spanning seven years, I had literally slaved over it, and was torn between wanting to make every single person in the world read it and deleting the document in a full-on panic. I settled for the middle ground, sending the PDF out to ten or so friends and acquaintances who had volunteered to be brutally honest. And they all liked it. "I was worried I'd hate it, and it would be awkward," admitted one. "But it was actually really good!"

Buoyed by that confidence builder I sprang into action, buying the requisite copy of the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook and researching the process from inspiration to publication. First, I needed an agent and so off went fifteen or so carefully cultivated and personalised submission letters – and my fingers very firmly crossed themselves. Months passed. I continued polishing my manuscript, checking my inbox constantly, ticking off the responses as they came in. I only had six responses and every single one of them said that book was good but that it was too cerebral to be a romance, too romantic to be considered general fiction, too X to be Y…

But I still really wanted to tell Adam and Harriet's story. So I shelved my dizzy plans for traditional publication and set about doing what I do well – sorting it out myself. I titled the book Little White Lies, pulled together an awful cover on Paint, whacked it up on Amazon and wished it well, my sweet, sad, cerebral romance.
By early 2013 I was knee-deep in a historical novella when I noticed a call out on Twitter from HarperCollins for a focus group of readers to attend their offices later that week to discuss a proposed new romance imprint. It was nearby, boasted free sandwiches and tea and I'd always wanted to see the inside of HarperCollins (high up on if not the pole position on my list of dream publishers) so I agreed to go along. Hours later, I walked out of HC Towers full of excitement about this imprint – it sounded fresh, innovative – I wanted to be a part of it.

So when Harper Impulse was opened for business later that year I dusted off my manuscript and submitted, still agentless, apologetic, eternally hopeful. By August I was signed to a two-book deal. And on 5th December 2013 the renewed, revamped, reworked Little White Lies was reborn as The Best Thing I Never Had. No BDSM necessary. 

In the last eighteen months Best Thing has had a torrid love affair with digital bestseller charts across all platforms, in several countries. I sat next to a stranger at a hen do dinner only to find she'd just finished reading it the night before, not knowing she'd be shortly sitting down to a curry with the author! It's been absolutely amazing – and something I clearly could not have done without the amazeballs team at Harper Impulse having my back. Knowing that I have shared – and continue to share – Adam and Harriet's story fills me up with pride every single day.

My second contemporary romance for the imprint is due out June 11th. Somewhere Only We Know might look like your typical boy-meets-girl story, but when that boy works for Immigration and that girl is a Russian national about to be deported, the tale is anything but typical. I'm so excited to start sharing a new story – Alex and Nadia's – another lovingly crafted "cerebral romance".


And I'm also reasonably smug to report that at least three of the literary agents who rejected me back in 2012 are currently following me on Twitter. 


*****
Erin's latest novel- Somewhere only we know, is available from 11th June. You can preorder here











Thursday, 28 May 2015

Book review: Evil Games by Angela Marsons



"When a rapist is found mutilated in a brutal attack, Detective Kim Stone and her team are called in to bring a swift resolution. But, as more vengeful killings come to light, it soon becomes clear that there is someone far more sinister at work. 



With the investigation quickly gathering momentum, Kim finds herself exposed to great danger and in the sights of a lethal individual undertaking their own twisted experiment. 



Up against a sociopath who seems to know her every weakness, for Detective Stone, each move she makes could be deadly. As the body count starts to mount, Kim will have to dig deeper than ever before to stop the killing.
 And this time - it’s personal."


Well, she's done it again. Angela Marsons has created yet another brilliantly written, gripping story that had me hooked from beginning to end. After the HUGE success of Silent Scream (the first novel in the DCI Kim Stone Series) Evil Games had a lot to live up to. But boy did it.

Like Silent Scream, the story flits between the narrative of the two main characters: DCI Kim Stone and Alex - the 'bad guy' for this story. Both these characters are absolutely remarkable and I loved reading about them, for very different reasons.

As an audience we already became acquainted with DCI Kim Stone in Silent Scream, and I loved her character as much in Evil Games as I did in the debut. She remains a gritty, hard-faced and, at times, difficult woman that is not to be messed with. I loved seeing her friendship with her colleague Byrant further develop- he is one of the few people she slightly opens up to and I enjoyed seeing a lighter side to Kim. She is still a work-a-holic, living and breathing the investigation at hand until it is resolved. Her strong work ethic warmed me to her as despite her abrupt nature you know she's doing things for the right reasons and I was rooting for her from the very start, willing her to solve the crime and cotton on that Alex isn't quite as picture-prefect as she appears.

That's brought me nicely on to Alex. What a unique, unusual antagonist to have in a story. Portrayed as a picture-prefect psychiatrist, Alex appears to be a completely normal, albeit glamorous, woman. What people don't realise is she is a twisted person with an interesting motive behind her selection of patients, choosing them specifically to work into her rather evil plan. I don't want to say too much else as it'll ruin it, but I thought Alex was a refreshing character that, although clearly the 'bad guy', isn't the usual, obvious murderer you'd expect in this kind of story. (Hopefully that should make more sense once you've read the book!)

The story develops at a fast pace and is gripping throughout, leading up to a huge conclusion that had me reeling for a few days. As with most stories, there is a big build up towards a final explosive conflict between the main characters and my, oh my, is that what happens. I won't say much more but the final few pages had me reading as fast as I could to find out what happens and it is so worth it. A satisfying ending with the only disappointment being that I'd finished! (boo).

I find it remarkable that an author can jump onto the crime-writing scene and provide an outstanding debut as well as an equally as brilliant sequel in the same year (well - half a year to be exact!). Angela is truly fantastic and I am so, so pleased she is firmly on the crime (writing) scene. She is a true expert at creating tension, providing just the right level of detail and creating characters that jump off a page. Angela firmly deserves all the success she has achieved with Silent Scream so far, and I'm sure that Evil Games will follow on and be a big success.  

If you haven't already gathered from this gushing review, I'd highly HIGHLY recommend this book. Just free up some time to read it as once you begin, you won't want to stop until you've read the very last word.

Now to start the wait for the third book in the series.....

Links:
Buy Evil Games 
Buy Silent Scream
My review of Silent Scream 
Author website 
Angela Marsons twitter


Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Blog tour: The Lost Child by Ann Troup, Author Q&A



Today I'm really pleased to be able to welcome Ann Troup to Little Northern Soul as part of The Lost Child blog tour! I read and devoured The Lost Child, it is a gripping story full of twists that had me reading as quickly as possible so I could find out what the conclusion would be. It was an absolute dream to be able to ask Ann some questions about the book, life as an author and her writing process. So, over to Ann... 



1) Hi Ann, welcome to Little Northern Soul! To start with, please can you tell us a little bit about your latest novel, The Lost Child?
Hello and thank you so much for having me here today. The Lost Child explores the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Mandy Miller in 1983. Mandy went missing from Hallow’s End, a sleepy Devon village populated by a mixed bag of characters that remain haunted by the tragedy. No one knows what really happened until Elaine, an outsider, arrives and becomes embroiled in the history of Mandy’s disappearance by getting to know the girl’s sister Brodie. As the two of them explore the area they stumble across a path that leads them to the truth of what happened to the lost child. What neither of them anticipate are the consequences of their discovery.

2) Where did the idea for the story come from?
The idea has been bouncing around in my head for a few years and began as a typical ‘what if…?’ scenario. Having been asked this question a couple of times I’ve started to feel that it isn’t a good enough answer, so I tried to think back to when the idea first occurred to me. I grew up in Gloucester and in my teens lived for a very short time in Cromwell St, anyone who has ever heard of it will know what the neighbours were like! As an adult I became a psychiatric nurse and ended up dealing with many of the people who were affected by what happened there. I think the idea stemmed from those experiences and the ‘what if…?’ questions that were raised. I certainly didn’t want to rehash those crimes, but I did want to explore what it might be like for a family and a community to experience the disappearance of someone who cannot be found. The Lost Child is not the story of what happened in Gloucester, but my experiences there were the catalyst for the idea.

3) There are many different characters in the story, all with differing values and personalities. Who was your favourite to write?

Over all I have to say Brodie, she is in that in between stage of growing up, not quite adult but not a child either. She never knew Mandy, but the missing girl has overshadowed her whole life. Brodie is tenacious, feisty, brave and funny. She is also hasty, sometimes thoughtless, and self-orientated, traits for which she can hardly be blamed. Brodie still inhabits my imagination and I have a sneaking feeling that she may turn up in further books, all grown up and still kicking ass for all she’s worth.
To be honest I enjoyed writing all of them, but I’d also like to mention Derry. He might, at first, appear to be a somewhat clichéd character however I tried to write him in such a way that he can be seen as someone who is greatly underestimated by everyone in Hallow’s End. I hope that he comes across as someone whose disability does not undermine his integrity and whose clichéd characteristics belie his importance to the story of Mandy.

4) The story is mysterious and gripping - do you have a process for building up such tension and mystery in your writing or does it just happen?

Hmmmm, I’ve never really thought about it. I do always know the story I want to tell but don’t have a strict process of building tension and mystery as such. I suppose it’s that old thing about putting your characters up a tree and throwing rocks at them, I imagine a scenario but the characters create the tension and mystery in how they react to it. Of course the characters are all products of my imagination too, however they do seem to take on a life of their own once they are formed. Just like real people they often make foolish judgments, fail to ask the right questions and get themselves into sticky situations, and just like real people they have to work the clues to solve their problems. So, building tension and mystery is almost an organic process.

5) How did you start your journey to be a published author?
I have pretty much always written but did nothing with it until a few years ago when I decided to self publish a novel just to see what might happen. The book sold reasonably well, but received some harsh and fully justified criticism. The whole experience taught me the absolute value of a good editor and the necessity to take the whole thing seriously. I took the book down, took the criticism on the chin and used it constructively. Until now I haven’t chanced my arm and I am determined to work hard, produce the best work I can and not embarrass myself   (or some poor unfortunate reader) by whacking out an unpolished, hard to read book. Learning curves are often painful, but always productive when taken in the right vein.

6) How was the publishing process for you? Can you tell us about the moment you found out you had secured a book deal?
I wrote The Lost Child last year, and decided to start submitting this year. In January I spent oodles of time researching agents and publishers that accept direct submissions. I made a list and decided to try two at a time, so at the beginning of February I sent out two query letters and the sections of the book that the agents wanted in their submission guidelines. I also stumbled across Carina at that time and submitted on a whim. Two weeks later I received an email from Carina offering me a two book deal. I was stunned, and thought it must be a scam! No one gets an offer that quickly, ever. I spent the entire night researching them and discovering that they are indeed a legit, well known publisher and an imprint of Harlequin who are now owned by Harper Collins – it doesn’t get more legit than that! To be frank it was a no brainer, their terms are straightforward so no agent required. I received my first agent rejection on the same day that I received my contract from Carina. I have to say that I’m not smug, and in no way see this as a measure of any perceived ‘greatness’ on my part – I just got really, really lucky. I still can’t quite believe that in four months I have a published book to my name.
The publishing process has been really enjoyable, even the edits. My editor’s comments were fair and have made a better book in my opinion. I did bristle at some of the copy edits, she didn’t always agree with my word choices but we compromised and everyone was happy.

7) What's your writing process? Do you plan or just start writing and see what happens?
I always plan out plot points and map a story arc before I start writing, but don’t always stick to it rigidly. Once the story starts to unfold the characters almost always dictate the pace and structure of the plot. The original plan is always useful as a reference and allows me to check that all the dots have been joined up to make a complete picture. Having big charts on the wall covered in sticky notes and scribbles also helps me to feel like writing is work. The truth is it’s hugely enjoyable and I’m not sure whether I am trying to convince myself or everyone else that I am grafting hard when I’m actually having great fun with it, but the charts look good and at least give the impression that I am profound and serious about it all. Though the main result of this ‘impression management’ is to guilt my husband into making me endless cups of coffee to fuel the muse…(needs must and all)

8) Where do you write your books?
My youngest child left home last year and we finally had a spare, spare room, I commandeered it as an office and it is fondly known as the Empty Nest. I do most of my writing up there, it’s a sunny, light room with a lovely atmosphere which is very conducive to beavering away at a keyboard for hours on end. The only thing missing is a coffee vending machine, or better still my own personal barista (one who would also agree to doing the housework would be great), my husband is getting fed up with the job and is on the point of throwing in the towel. As a compromise he has agreed to buy me a coffee maker if I will stop taking advantage of his good nature.

9) I'd love to know a little more about you. What's your favourite way to relax when you're not busy writing?

Crikey, relax? What’s that? I’ve forgotten how to do it in the whirlwind of the past few months (or maybe it’s all the caffeine?). I’ve never been much of a relaxer and am always happiest when I’m up to something. It’s rare to find me simply doing nothing, but I suppose reading would be the obvious choice. There’s not much time for it these days but I still like to wind down the day with a few pages of whatever I have on the go. I’m a bit of a book junkie; I came back from CrimeFest today and have managed to accumulate twelve books in three days…I don’t have a TBR pile, I have a mountain range!

10) The Lost Child is a brilliant read and I can see it being a big success. Can you share any plans or ideas for your next book with us?
Thank you for saying so; it’s always such a relief and a pleasure to hear that someone has enjoyed the book. Number two is underway, I’m waiting to hear what my editor thinks so far and if she’s happy I will happily plough on. This idea has a similar flavor and tone to The Lost Child, but completely different setting, characters, plot, crimes etc. These two books will be standalone novels, but I am also working on a series with a recurring character and in the future hope to bring Brodie back in a series of her own.

Thanks so much for coming over to Little Northern Soul, Ann - it's been brilliant to find out more about you and the book!

Thank you so much for having me on your wonderful blog Laura, it’s been fun answering your questions and a real pleasure to be invited.


Giveaway:

As part of the blog tour, Ann has kindly offered to run a giveaway to win a £5 amazon voucher! you can enter below to be in with a chance of winning.



Author bio:


Ann lives in Devon in a small house just a pebble’s throw from the beach. She shares her home with her husband and a small white dog, both occasionally allow her to be inattentive to them so that she can write. Her many skills include an unparalleled ability to consume coffee and the gift of being able to kill houseplants by merely admiring them. In addition to that she is a great proponent of the Miss Havisham method of housekeeping, which includes regarding cobwebs and dust as nature’s ornaments. 
Her debut novel The Lost Child will be published by Carina UK on 19/5/2015.

Monday, 25 May 2015

Blog tour: Castaway in the Caribbean by Janice Horton


Castaway in the Caribbean
More fun than you’ll find in any travel brochure…



 "Vacationing on the beautiful Caribbean island of Antigua, Janey Sinclair is persuaded by her magazine editor boss to do a quick island hop in order to supervise an impromptu photo-shoot for the front cover. With no flights immediately available, Janey is directed to the harbour.

Captain Travis Mathews hates tourists, although he’s not above making a bit of money off a prissy and sharp tongued young British girl when she’s desperate to get to the neighbouring island of Tortola.

After striking a deal, they set off together in Travis’s weather-beaten old boat. When the vessel comes to a sudden full stop in the sea, the mismatched pair end up as castaways on an uninhabited island.

In this fast moving romantic adventure about a vacation that turns into a tropical nightmare there’s more fun than you’ll find in any travel brochure.…"


My review:

Castaway in the Caribbean is a perfect summary read. Grab a cool drink, sit in the sunshine and devour this tropical romance. If I'm honest, I didn't expect the book to be so jam-packed with adventure, I thought it would be more a 'boy-meets-girl-will-they-fall-in-love' type story (which, to some extent it is) but I was surprised by just how much of the storyline is focused on adventure, not just romance, which made for an interesting and exciting story.

The characters in the story are great, especially Travis. Oh, Travis. He is gruff, handsome and just wonderful. I loved seeing his thoughts and feelings towards Janey develop and change as they got to know each other. Following Travis and Janey on their adventures on the island is really special, and I love seeing how different they are and how the island and goings-on changes them from how they were at the start of the story, to how they are at the end.

Of course, I can't talk about this book without mentioning the location which is absolutely brilliant. You can really tell how much research Janice conducted to ensure the description of the place is perfect, and it really pays off. Straight away you're transported to a hot, beautiful island that sounds idyllic (maybe minus the pirates!) It's left me craving a holiday and some sunshine!

Overall this is a great, enjoyable book that is perfect for summer reading. If you haven't already, definitely get a copy and prepare to be transported to to the sunny climes of the Caribbean.



Message from the Author


I was incredibly fortunate to spend the summer of 2014 in the Caribbean, writing and researching this novel. I found it challenging only in the respect of being continually distracted from the manuscript by the tropical sunshine, the white sand beaches, the warm aquamarine sea, rum cocktails, and the fabulous social scene on offer. Many of these distractions are well documented on my website, blog and Facebook page, if you are interested in reading the details and seeing the photos!
For the purposes of proper research for Castaway in the Caribbean, I travelled to and explored many Caribbean islands and, despite my tendency for sea sickness, I also spent a lot of time in boats. I even got to sail around Tortola, the larger of the British Virgin Islands, in a restored schooner that had been used in the filming of the original Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
The Virgin Islands inspired me with the modern day setting for Castaway in the Caribbean because, of this chain of around 90 small islands, islets, cays and rocks in the Caribbean Sea, many are uninhabited. 
I eventually settled down to write this romantic adventure story on the Caribbean island of Utila, the smaller of the Bay Islands, just off the coast of Honduras. Likened to the Key West of long ago, Utila is a quaint, unspoilt and laid-back little island. Sitting on the largest barrier reef in the western hemisphere, it is also a paradise for scuba diving, which is exactly was what my husband was doing every day while I was busy writing this story.
Research is a valuable tool for a writer, so I do hope all the fun and adventure I had in the Caribbean has found its way into the pages of Castaway in the Caribbean. 
Janice  xx


Janice Horton writes contemporary romantic fiction with a dash of humour and a sense of adventure. Look out for Janice’s new release for 2015 ‘Castaway in the Caribbean’ and her Amazon Kindle bestselling books 'Bagpipes and Bullshot' and 'Reaching for the Stars' and her fun ‘Voodoo Romance’ series of novellas. Her nonfiction guide to online promotion 'How To Party Online' is recommended reading for all authors and writers by publishers. Janice is a regular blogger from her website at janicehorton.co.uk and you'll also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

LINKS
Follow me on Twitter: @JaniceHorton
Friend me on Facebook Page
Link to my Amazon Author Page
Check out my page on Goodreads
My LLm Bookshelf




COMPETITION 

Prizes:
1st Prize Mermaid Necklace (UK only)
2nd Prize – ecopy of the book (international)
2nd Prize Shell box (UK only)
3rd Prize Caribbean spices Necklace (UK only)
4th  Prize  Purse & pen (UK only)





Saturday, 23 May 2015

Vlog: book haul

Hey there! 


Thought I'd post another Vlog - this time it's a book haul as I've bought plenty of books lately and wanted to share them with you.





Hope you enjoy and as usual do let me know what you've been buying recently and send on any recomendations! 

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Book review: Truly, Madly, Greekly by Mandy Baggot


"Sun, sea and a sexy stranger - a whole lot of fun just got a lot more complicated.
Capable, confident and career-driven, Ellen had her dream job and a marriage proposal from boyfriend Ross. Life was good, her future set. Until it wasn’t and everything fell apart… 
Whisked off to the beautiful island of Corfu to plan her sister Lacey’s big, fat, Greek wedding, Ellen is hoping some time out will help clear her head and heal her heart. But letting go of her past is not going to be easy. 
With Lacey in full on Bridezilla mode, Ellen is soon distracted from her own problems. And when the all-inclusive treats on offer at hotel Blue Vue include one gorgeous, brooding Adonis – Yan – Ellen finds him difficult to resist. 
But Ellen isn’t looking for love or lust, or anything involving too much ouzo…or is she? 
Fans of Lucy Diamond, Miranda Dickinson and Lindsey Kelk will want to escape to Corfu with Mandy Baggot this summer." 

My review: 


Truly, Madly, Greekly is a delicious, summery read! If you're going on holiday soon and are seeeking that perfect 'beach read' then look no further - you've found it right here! 

Straight away I was immersed into the sunny, relaxing climates of Corfu. Mandy's ability to describe a location is brilliant - I really felt like I was there. It made me crave for a holiday - cocktails, the pool, handsome workers... agh! I want to go to Hotel Blue Vue now! 

The story skips between the viewpoint of the two main characters, Ellen and Yan. Ellen is a work-a-holic accountant struggling to take a break and enjoy what Corfu has to offer, instead worrying about the office. It turns out, she isn't just worrying about the office itself though, she's harbouring a big secret. One that she hopes no-one will discover while she's gone.... mysterious, huh?! 

Then onto Yan. Oh Yan. How do I put into words what a delight he is?! Handsome, romantic but yet flawed, Yan is wonderful, swoon-worthy character and I enjoyed his journey throughout the story. He is a Bulgarian who has come over to Corfu to escape his rough past and hopefully, get a chance to succeed and do what he wants in life. I loved finding out all about him and his dreams. 

During the story we also meet Ellen's younger sister, Lacey. The point of the trip is to check out the hotel Blue Vue for Lacey's potential wedding venue, except things don't quite go according to plan. Lacey is a spoilt, selfish girl who had me wanting to scream at my book. At 23 she is younger than Ellen and so her selfish ways are put down to immaturity. But at 24 myself, I can say that it isn't the age - it's just her personality. She is a crucial and interesting element to Truly, Madly, Greekly and one that provoked a reaction from me (frustration!) Poor Ellen has an awful lot to put up with. 

Mandy is known for her romance writing and this book doesn't fail to deliver. Much like the blurb says it is 'sizzling summer reading' - and not because of the hot climate of Corfu! The tension between Ellen and Yan is noticeable from the off-set and as you follow them on their journey together it becomes even more electrifying. 

I really enjoyed Truly, Madly, Greekly - it is certainly a summer must read. So grab an apricot cooler, sit somewhere warm and sunny and devour this romantic, sunny read! 



About the author: 
Mandy Baggot is an award-winning romantic fiction author, writing hot heroes and emotional reads. She is represented by Kate Nash of The Kate Nash Literary Agency.

In 2012 she won the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK's Festival of Romance and has since scooped Top Ten Reads/Book of the Year places from a number of UK book bloggers.

Traditionally published by US publisher Sapphire Star, Harper Collins' digital first romance imprint, Harper Impulse, and most recently, digital fiction specialists, Bookouture, a great story is never far from her fingertips!

A contributor to writing blogs and short story anthologies, Mandy is also a regular speaker at literary festivals, events and women's networking groups.

Mandy loves mashed potato, white wine, country music, World's Strongest Man, travel and handbags. She has appeared on ITV1's Who Dares Sings and auditioned for The X-Factor.

Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband, two daughters and cats, Kravitz and Springsteen.

LINKS 

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Cover reveal: Dear Darling by Ellen Faith

Today I'm delighted to be able to reveal the FABULOUS cover for the new Ellen Faith novel, 'Dear Darling'... Isn't it pretty?! I'm so excited to get my mitts on a copy of this as it sounds brilliant, as you'll be able to see from the blurb below! 


DEAR DARLING

‘I’m 30 years old and sat celebrating with a greasy pizza and a bottle of cheap plonk.’

On her 30th birthday, Ellie Darling decides that it’s time to start a diary. Mainly as a reminder for when she’s old and living with cats that she once had a life that wasn't all bad. Even if it was one where at 30 years of age, she still refused to spend that extra £3 on the good wine instead of chocolate.

But when the only proposal she gets from her boyfriend on Valentine’s Day is that of a threesome, she decides that enough is enough! With a new, improved job as Personal Assistant to one of the most feared Partners at her law firm – one that she doesn't seem to be able to stop dreaming about – Ellie decides that this will be her year. And if she has to run errands for her boss’ neurotic Russian girlfriend or drag her best friend to a sponsored cycle with her now gay first love, then so be it.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ellen lives in the wonderful county of Yorkshire, England where she spends most of her time baking, eating, baking, and eating. Occasionally she does leave the house to go to the cinema or do some food shopping though.

After spending years with an overactive imagination, she decided to put all the magic in her head to some good use and put finger to laptop where The Story of Us was born and became her debut novel. 

She loves to travel, her favourite destinations so far have all been in America, hence the love of all things, and all people, American. The food rocks pretty hard too, she ate until her jeans begged her to stop whilst she was there. True fact.

Aside from day dreaming and eating, Ellen is a sucker for a lolcat, penguins and monkeys - she has never claimed to be normal. 

TWITTER   


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Promo Blitz: Life's a Beach and Then...

Banner made by Gina Dickerson: http://rosewolfdesign.wix.com/rosewolfdesign)


Blurb: 

"Holly Wilson has landed a dream job but there is one proviso… she must keep it secret, and that means telling lies. Holly hates telling lies.

Her latest assignment has brought her to the paradise island of Mauritius where she meets a British couple, Robert and Rosemary, who share a tragic secret of their own.

The moment they introduce Holly to handsome writer, Philippe, she begins to fall in love, something she hasn’t allowed herself to do for twenty years.

But Philippe has not been completely honest either and when Holly stumbles across the truth, she feels totally betrayed."



Life's A Beach And Then... by Julia Roberts was released yesterday - May 18th - and looks to be an absolute corker of a novel! To celebrate the upcoming blog tour, which begins next week and stops at Little Northern Soul on Friday 5th June, we are having a 'promo blitz' for the book to give you an insight into the interesting life of Julia, more details about the book and about the blog tour! A big shout out to Jenny in Neverland for organising this fab tour! 



Links: 






Author Bio:

Julia Roberts was born in Nottingham in 1956 and shortly afterwards, in 1957, contracted the deadly disease Poliomyelitis, more commonly known as Polio. After a five month stay quarantined in hospital she was discharged on Christmas Eve with her left leg in a calliper. Thanks to extensive physiotherapy, swimming lessons, and persistent parents, who wanted their daughter to be able to walk through her life unaided, Julia was out of her calliper by the age of 3.

It was at primary school that Julia’s creative and performance abilities began to shine through. Having started ballet classes at the age of three, again to help with strengthening her left leg, she was unable to attend for two years due to the death of her grandma and her mother’s ill health. Julia recommenced dancing lessons across multiple styles at the age of 9, and also began elocution lessons. She was very successful in the Nottingham Speech and Drama festivals and also in a variety of dancing competitions. At the age of ten she wrote her first play which was performed by fellow classmates at Jesse Gray School, and buoyed by that success she entered a short story writing competition, with her creation The Foundling, and was awarded second place.
Despite the challenges of a weak leg, Julia had decided that she wanted to become a professional dancer. Summer Seasons, pantomimes, a Caribbean cruise, and a stint at a theatre in Barcelona followed before Julia hung up her dancing shoes and moved into television. Initially she hit the screen as a TV extra before gaining small acting roles in TV shows such as Citizen Smith and many television commercials.  In addition to her on screen parts, Julia also secured a recording contract in the early 1980s with a band called Jools and The Fools.

As the 1980s fitness boom gripped the nation, Julia began teaching fitness classes to supplement her income before becoming one of the original hostesses on the game show The Price is Right in 1983. After 2 series of the show, Julia had a production of her own…her son, Daniel. He was followed 13 months later by her daughter, Sophie, which led her to take a short career break.

During this time, Julia decided to try her hand at television presenting, landing herself the role of chat show host for her local channel in Croydon. One of the shows she presented weekly was entitled Palace Chatback and this led her to become an avid Crystal Palace supporter. She also produced and presented features about her team for Sky Sports.

In 1993, she auditioned to become a presenter for a shopping channel called QVC and, having been offered the job, was one of the first faces to launch the channel on 1st October the same year. Julia has worked there ever since whilst continuing presenting roles for Sky Sports and several corporate productions.

Throughout her career, Julia has always wanted to write a book but, as a working mum, was time-starved. She kept her hand in writing for magazines and newspapers, and eventually started her first book – a memoir entitled One Hundred Lengths of the Pool - in 2011. The concept was a little different from a standard memoir, with Julia using the numbers of each of the chapters to relate to moments from her life.

Having battled against Polio as a young child, Julia had a new health challenge to face as, in April 2012, she was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia. CML as it more commonly known is a rare type of blood cancer which affects only 600 people per year in the UK. Julia responded well to the early stages of her treatment but in November 2012, her BCR/ABL results showed an increase in the levels of the disease. It was a frightening time for Julia as she feared she may have developed a mutation of CML called T3151 which is resistant to any currently available drug therapy. Fortunately, an increased dosage of her treatment drug, Imatinib, brought these elevated levels of the disease down and they have continued to reduce. It was in April 2015 that Julia received the news that there is now no recordable level of the disease in her body, although she has to remain on medication for at least two more years.

Throughout her battle with CML she has continued working full-time at QVC, attempting to keep normality in her life. She signed a publishing deal with Preface Publishing for her book One Hundred Lengths of the Pool and that was a sell-out success on QVC. As a result of the publicity surrounding her book she was approached by the British Polio Fellowship and asked to become an ambassador for the charity which she readily agreed to. In conjunction with QVC, British Polio and Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research, Julia organised a charity swimming gala where she set herself the challenge of swimming one hundred lengths of the pool while other participants took part in fun races and games. A percentage of the profits from her first book went to polio charities and a similar percentage of her latest book will go to Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research.

 Following the launch of her first book, Julia needed a well-deserved break and booked a holiday to Mauritius. Her children, now adults, had bought her a notebook with words on the cover that read 'Hold on people…  I’m having an Idea'. On the first morning of her holiday, Julia had just that – the idea for her first novel. 

Over the course of the ten days she was in Mauritius, she scribbled copious notes, thoughts and ideas. When she arrived home, she started writing.
Life’s a Beach is part one of the Liberty Sands trilogy.  Julia has already started writing book two, If He Really Loved Me… , which she hopes to finish in the Autumn.


Blog Tour organised by Jenny in Neverland: 

Monday, 18 May 2015

Blog tour: The Very Happy Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP) - Author Q&A with Kate Winter


Kate Winter's debut novel, The Very Happy Afterlife of Rosie Potter (RIP) was released for kindle last summer but the paperback version of this FANTASTIC read is being released next week (May 21st).
I've previously posted my review of this book and now I'm so pleased to be able to welcome Kate to Little Northern Soul as part of the blog tour! 


1.  Hi Kate and welcome to Little Northern Soul! This is your debut novel, how have you found the writing & publishing experience so far?

Long! There was a big space in between when I approached my agent and the book actually getting signed. I'm not the most driven/ambitious person in the world (to say the least), I tend to get carried away with all kinds of different ideas that are hatching in my imaginarium at any given time, so I only sent off my manuscript to a few randomly chosen agents at the time, before I got distracted and frolicked off to write a story about ghosts on the radio. One was very interested but in the end they all passed, thinking the slightly bizarre elements of Rosie Potter RIP were a bit too much of a risk. So it went on the backburner and just kind of sat there singeing for THREE YEARS. Then I got a phone call out of the blue from LBA (my agents) and they were like "Ummmm... Can we have your book now?" I played hard to get, honest.
That's a complete lie. I said "Ermagherd YES PLEASE!" and the rest is history...

2.    Where did you get the idea for an afterlife theme?
I love fantasy. And I love romance. And I absolutely LOVE comedy. I wanted to write something that read like a kid's book, but for grown ups. You know the way, when your mum was reading to you as a kid and at the end of each chapter you'd be squealing "One more! I want to know what happens next!" ..? Well that's the angle I was going for! So it made sense to make it magical, a little supernatural, a little spooky. And I think we all harbour weird thoughts now and then about what would go on in the aftermath of our own death... Don't we?!

3.    What would be the first thing you’d do if you woke up and realised you were a ghost?

I'm pretty sure I'd have a bit of a temper tantrum, to be honest. And then I'd probably go about destroying all my journals and diaries somehow!

4.    Your style is engaging and funny – does comedy come naturally when you’re writing or do you have to think it through?

I shouldn't tell you this, but when I'm writing, I'm rarely thinking! It really does come very naturally, and it flows fast when I'm in the zone. It's just a matter of prioritising that time and energy and not getting distracted by boys and booze and shoes (my main vices in life - as I'm sure you can tell from my plotline). I tend to laugh out loud a lot while I'm writing funny scenes. It's a well known fact among my peers that I absolutely crack myself up.

5.    What’s your writing process – do you plot the story or just start writing? Do you prefer to write in the day or night?

I absolutely HATE working after dark. I will only do that if I have a serious deadline. And usually if I have to write in the evening, I'll treat myself to a nice long dinner in my favourite little Italian restaurant, and I'll drink wine and flirt with the waiters while I work, just to make it bearable.
In terms of my process, I certainly don't just start writing, dear lord that would be chaos with my flittery little box-of-junk brain. I tend to have a brilliant idea - an entire story can come to me in one tube journey (that happened and will be written at some stage, a tale of a naughty nymphomaniac fairy with pink hair who falls in love with a human boy) but then that story has to germinate in my head (my imaginarium) for as long as it takes before I can actually write it. Sometimes I try to start too early and it completely flops. That's annoying, but essentially, it's ok as I can just pop it back in the oven a while and hope it comes right in another year! 
When it's time, I write out several plans, each longer and more detailed than the other. Then bulletpointed sequence of events. Character profiles. Chapter breakdowns. And then I handwrite the entire novel before I ever type a word, which means it flows freely and I can completely edit the sh*te out of it when I finally sit down at my computer!

6.  Who is your favourite character from the book and why?

I should think that's obvious...! CHARLES WALKER with a spoon of sugar and a splash of cream, please and thank you. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make my characters come to life. I blame Charles for the fact that I am still single and holding out for a real man!

7.    Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?

Unless you love to write, don't do it. And never underestimate the importance of preparation. And don't write books if you want to be rich. 

8.    Finally, How would your best friend describe you?

She would tell you all kinds of embarrassingly lovely things about me, none of which are true. But she would also tell you that I'm much softer than people think upon first impressions and that I am bloody hilarious (but we know that I agree with her on that, at least). She'd say that I throw a great dinner party, that I dance like my mum  and that I should really try not to swear so much when I'm around children.



Thanks so much for being on the blog, Kate - it's been a blast! 

You can buy a copy of this fantastic book here  and make sure to keep an eye out for other stops on this blog tour - it's going to be a corker!