It’s a mental thing!

read willingly

For some reason that I cannot explain I just find it easier to read on an ereader. I love my Kobo reader. I think when I die, please God many years from now, it should take pride of place in my coffin. While it takes me very little time at all to read a book on the reader it seems to take me an eternity to read when its an actual book. I hadn’t read a book in years when I started to read on an app on my phone. From that day I never looked back. I started a book yesterday and i have only read 55 pages. If I was reading this on my Kobo I have no doubt that it would be finished my now. I am however vowing to have it read by tomorrow evening.

i promise

The next review to come your way is Sarah Harte’s Thick and Thin. I promise not to take too long over it! There are way too many books out there to be taking my time over one!

too many books

The Pleasures Series Give Away

Would you like the chance to win the first two books in ‘The Pleasures’ Series? That’s right, I am giving one lucky winner the chance to win a copy of both The Pleasures of Winter and The Pleasures of Summer courtesy of Penguin Ireland.

The Pleasures of Winter

TPOS

All you have to do to be in with a chance to win is share on Facebook or Twitter and comment on this post to confirm that you have done so. A winner will be picked at random on Saturday! Good Luck.

The Pleasures of Summer

TPOS

No i don’t mean the weather and a good job too as in Ireland Mother Nature has decided to skip summer this year. No it is the new book by Evie Hunter. You will remember Evie’s first book, The Pleasures of Winter, a sensation last year selling over 50,000 copies. Well she is back with a brand new story – The Pleasures of Summer and it is sure to be, well a pleasure!

So whats it all about?
Summer O’Sullivan is an IT girl. She spends her life partying, shopping and then partying some more. She is a spoilt little rich bitch that is used to wrapping daddy round her little finger. Now she is in danger and daddy wants her protected. She manages to get rid of every bodyguard hired to protect her, but she hadn’t bargained on Flynn Grant walking through her door.

An Irish Ranger, Flynn is more than a match for all Summer tries to throw at him. He has dealt with the Taliban for heaven’s sake – no society girl is going to best him. It doesn’t take long for Flynn to set down the ground rules and Summer breaks them just as fast. She wasn’t however expecting to have to deal with consequences!

When they have to flee London for a safe house in the remote Scottish Highlands the two struggle for control. Days are long and Summer reveals there is more to her than sleek hair and perfect nails. As the lines become blurred and hearts become tangled will their ever-changing relationship cause her to be in more danger than ever? When the games are over and it’s a matter of life and death who will finish the victor?

I started this book on Monday afternoon and was finished it by Tuesday evening, I really couldn’t put it down. I woke with a start on Monday night as the book fell out of my hand and landed with a thud on the bedroom floor. When I woke at six the next morning instead of rolling back over for another hour I turned on the lamp and picked up where I had left off the night before. The story had consumed me. It wasn’t just a love story, it wasn’t just an erotic tale it combined both of these and then throw in a bit of an action story too with guns and explosives not to mention your Special Ops missions. The story was constant, always something happening but it was believable. That is the most important thing isn’t it? We all get lost in the fantasy, imagining it was us – but it has to be viable, I mean there is only so much sex a couple can have – right? Evie Hunter has a unique way of telling a story that you really don’t know whats going to happen next, she is certainly got the knack of penning a page turner! I cannot wait for book 3!

How lucky was I to get an interview with Evie Hunter?

This interview is a bit different to the norm. Evie Hunter is actually two authors Caroline McCall and Eileen Gormley who met at a creative writing workshop in Dublin in 2010. On discovering that they shared a passion for erotic fiction, they became the best of friends. In early 2012 they got a chance to co-write a series of erotic novellas for an American publisher. When they completed the second one without killing each other, they decided to take on something bigger. Eventually, they emerged into daylight, clutching THE PLEASURES OF WINTER, saying ‘Never again’ … until the next time.

So the questions have been put to both ladies and they will both answer all the questions. For Caroline McCalls interview clck HERE and for Eileen Gormley’s interview click HERE

Finally, to be in with a chance to win a copy of both The Pleasures of Winter and The Pleasures of Summer click HERE

Caroline McCall – The Interview

Caroline McCall is one half of the duo that make up Irish sensation Evie Hunter. I hope you enjoy reading her interview as much as i did. For Eileen Gormleys answers to the same questions click HERE.

Eileen Gormley(pink top) Caroline Mc Call (Red top)

Who is Evie Hunter?

Evie Hunter is writer of romantic fiction and erotica who lives in Dublin. Her life is much more exciting than ours. While Eileen and I are stuck at the laptop, Evie goes to wild parties, lounges around in lingerie and generally has a wild time with handsome cover models.

How did you come up with the name Evie Hunter?

Penguin asked us for a pen name. I came up with Evie Elliott and Eileen chose Helen Hunter – so they took half of each suggestion.

Is it difficult to write a book by collaboration?

It can be and to be honest, I don’t think it’s something that everyone can do. You need to be in tune with each other and it helps if you have the same taste in books. Working with another writer requires discipline and openness as well as the ability to get along well. Eileen and I have arguments, but usually only about the characters.
Before we start a new book, we agree the main outline and as we write, we have chapter by chapter plot meeting so that neither of us goes off on a tangent. But that doesn’t always work because sometimes creativity takes over. Your characters develop a mind of their own and you just have to go with it.
Occasionally, a secondary character really springs to life and wants to take over the book. If that happens, we rein them in and promise them a story of their own if they behave.
We also split the research. Eileen takes care of most of the physical research. I like doing the visuals: what the characters look like; what they wear and where they live.
Evie Hunter has a Pinterest page for each book. We use the page like a storyboard while we are writing and then ‘release’ a version of the board for our readers.
Reader Advisory: do not open Evie’s Pinterest pages while you’re in the office.

Was there a structure as to the direction the story would take?

Always. Eileen and I have written two full length novels and two novellas in the past ten months. With an extremely tight writing schedule, every word counts. We simply don’t have time for major rewrites at the end.
Our writing is planned to allow for editing and making sure that the copy as clean as possible before we submit to our publisher.

Were either of you ever surprised by the direction the other had taken the character?

Oh yes! Especially when writing the dialogue for the characters. We use yahoo for that and write dialogue at each other. In that way, the characters conversations remain fresh and sharp. I love seeing the expression on Eileen’s face when my character says something really outrageous to hers.

Were you excited to read what had happened since you last had the story when your turn had come back around?

It’s always fun to open up the latest version and see what the other one has been up to – especially when you’ve done something horrible to them in the last scene.
While working together, we write alternate scenes with split POV (point of view). I write the female character and Eileen writes the male and when we’re writing the sex scenes, there is a tendency to try and out naughty each other.

You ladies certainly seem to know your stuff when it comes to self-defence and weapons, how much research did you have to do?

We are very hands on when it comes to research. Our action scenes are tightly choreographed and we try to write what is accurate and physically possible. Eileen did the lion’s share of the weapons research. (She’s quite bloodthirsty!)
We owe a great deal of thanks to the wonderfully handsome sexy guys who bared all about guns, fighting and shooting people. A special thanks to Dave Hodson of Mircat Manufacturing, who advised us about archery for the house party scene.

What was your favourite part of the story?

That’s a difficult one because we had so much fun writing Summer. I love the fetish club scene where Summer gets into trouble and Flynn tracks her down. And the last scene between them, because it’s sexy and romantic.

Is this the end of the line for all characters in the story or did I possibly see a hint of another story between Andy and Sinead?

Good catch! And no, it’s not the end. Andy and Sinead will have their own stories. Both characters will appear in the next book – The Pleasures of Autumn – which is currently underway.
Sinead comes across as the uptight bossy cousin in The Pleasures of Summer, but in Autumn, readers will see a whole new side of her. As for Andy – mmmmmm. Let’s just say that we’re dying to get our hands on him. (laughs) Flynn’s boss, Niall Moore, will also be making a return appearance. Niall is about to find out that he’s not always in charge.

Did you ever imagine when you signed up for a creative writing course, that it might bring you to this point?

Never! Well, maybe not never, but I honestly didn’t think I’d see the word bestseller associated with my name.
Writing is something you have to do because you love it and you are utterly passionate about it – and not because you want success.

Why do you think women have become more open about wanting to read erotic stories in the last couple of years?

It’s a trend which has been happening for at least a decade. It’s no secret that women love reading hot romance, but the advent of the e-reader has made it more readily available. In the past Eileen and I have written for American publisher Ellora’s Cave. They sold less than fifty books in the first month they were in business. Twelve years later, they have sales of 190,000 books per month.

Do you have a motto that you live by?

Never give up!

The Pleasures of Winter sold more than 50,000 copies, were you surprised at all by its success?

Eileen and I are passionate about romance and erotica. We’re both avid readers and we write what we would like to read ourselves.
It’s wonderful that other readers feel the same about out book and we hope they enjoy Summer just as much.

What advice would you give other people who would love to start writing?

Write. Write every day. Join a writers group and get feedback on your work. Strive to improve by accepting criticism and reading other writers and most important of all finish it.
Get that first draft down – you can’t edit nothing!

What is the best advice you were ever given (any topic)?

Learn how to chop your own sticks!
That one is courtesy of my Dad. (laughs) Poor Dad – imagine the trauma of having six daughters (and one son). That, and would ye all ever elope and leave me in peace were two of his favourite expressions.
We were brought up to be strong, independent women. He is also a great reader and I inherited my love of books from him.

Do you get nervous as you are approaching release day?

Yes. There is a heart-stopping moment when the publisher tells you that the books have arrived from the printers. You go to the office to pick them up and there it is – your baby.
It’s ready to go out into the world and you hope that people will love it as much as you do. But yes, it is a nerve wracking time. It’s also pretty hard to launch one book while you’re in the middle of writing another.

Eileen Gormely – The Interview

Eileen Gormely is one half of the Irish senastion that is Evie Hunter. I hope you enjoy reading this interview as much as I did. For Caroline McCall’s answers to the same questions click HERE

Eileen Gormley(pink top) Caroline Mc Call (Red top)

Who is Evie Hunter?

That’s an easy one. Evie is Caroline McCall and Eileen Gormley.

How did you come up with the name Evie Hunter?

Penguin asked us to come up with a pen name. I used to work as Helen Hunter when I was reporting for the newspapers. Caroline’s grandmother was Evie Elliot. So we split the difference.

Is it difficult to write a book by collaboration?

It has its challenges, but it’s fun too. The big difference is making sure we have the same vision of our main characters. Of course, as with real life, the other character can surprise you.
Sometimes we end up yelling at each other over where the story is going or how our characters behave, but it’s never personal.

Was there a structure as to the direction the story would take?

Oh yes, with the insane deadlines we have, it’s essential we know where the story is going. As it is, the plot changes when we write, but we have planned out the structure of the story so we know where we’re going. We start by developing the characters and outlining the story, then we meet at least once a week to fine-tune what we will write that week. We can’t afford to write stuff we are not going to use.

Were either of you ever surprised by the direction the other had taken the character?

All the time. It’s one of the big differences that a co-writer brings. She has her own idea of how the characters will behave and how they will react in certain situations. Sometimes I write what Caroline has written and go, “You bitch, look what you did to my guy!”

Were you excited to read what had happened since you last had the story when your turn had come back around?

Yes, it’s a bit like watching a television program and you can’t wait for the next episode to see what happens next. You know where the story is going, but are dying to find out how it gets there.

You ladies certainly seem to know your stuff when it comes to self-defence and weapons, how much research did you have to do?

I love that sort of research. I get to meet experts in their field and ask them all sorts of questions and to try out their weapons. I’ve done some martial arts training myself, and grew up in the country where people had shotguns and rifles. My father had crossbows and bows and arrows. I learned the hard way that you do not shoot arrows straight up into the air.

What was your favourite part of the story?

Oh, I think that has to be the bits in the croft when Flynn expands Summer’s education. Hey, when you’re living in an isolated croft with no electricity, you have to find something interesting to do.

Is this the end of the line for all characters in the story or did I possibly see a hint of another story between Andy and Sinead?

My lips are sealed. But some of the characters in this story will ride again. Literally!

(Luckily for us Caroline forgot to seal hers 😉 )

Did you ever imagine when you signed up for a creative writing course, that it might bring you to this point?

When I started Patricia O’Reilly’s course, I was completely burned out. I felt I had no creative juices left at all. I would have been happy if I had managed to write a short story. I would never have foreseen a single novel, never mind this.

Why do you think women have become more open about wanting to read erotic stories in the last couple of years?

Yes, I think that’s the biggest contribution that 50 Shades of Grey has made. Women can now admit to reading erotica and not be considered weird. Of course, they’ve been reading this stuff for years. Ellora’s Cave sells 190,000 books a month, so it’s a huge market. But now it’s mainstream, not an invisible genre.

Do you have a motto that you live by?

If not now, when?

The Pleasures of Winter sold more than 50,000 copies, were you surprised at all by its success?

I was amazed by the numbers. It was odd, because we sweated bricks writing it, and it took over our lives for months, then when it finally appeared on the shelves it was almost an anti-climax. It looked so small beside all the other books, and we wondered if anyone would actually read it. Hearing that fifty thousand people have read it is astonishing.

What advice would you give other people who would love to start writing?

Just do it. Don’t wait for inspiration or the perfect time or the perfect office. Sit down and write and keep writing until you have written a book. But write because you love it, not because you think your book is going to make you millions.

What is the best advice you were ever given (any topic)?

I hate this sort of question, so many people have given me awesome advice. But I suppose the best one is the simplest one: Just get on with it.

Do you get nervous as you are approaching release day?
Not so much release day. The time I worry most is when we’re getting the story finished, so that we have it done on the date Penguin are expecting and then we’re on tenterhooks waiting to hear what Patricia Deevy thinks about it.

Mothers Curse

Mother's Curse Badge

Here at After The Final Chapters we are taking part in out first Blog Tour. The book – Mothers Curse by Thaddeus Nowark.

Mother's Curse (Book 1)

The synopsis
“Tradition holds that a mother who commits a mortal sin against the gods will be cursed with a daughter born a witch. Stephenie, the youngest princess of Cothel is just such a curse.

Hostage to her mother’s will while her father and older brother fight a war two countries away, Stephenie must overcome her mother’s plots if she is to save her father, brother, and the many soldiers she trained with.

Fearful of her mother’s growing traitorous behavior, Stephenie must escape Antar Castle. But to do so, she might have to rely upon her hidden powers, risking others discovering she is a witch…a risk that would most certainly result in her death by burning.

With the help of a select group of soldiers and an unexpected ally, she just might survive.”

Think it might be for you? Click here to preview the first three chapters

The following is an interview with the author, Thaddues Nowark. Unlike all the other interviews on this blog, this one was not carried out by myself.
Thaddeus Nowak

1. Stephenie surely defies stereotypes. Born a princess, but a tomboy. Cursed as a witch, but a likable relatable character all the same. How did you go about creating her character?

Stephenie was born in my imagination many years ago. It was during a time I was struggling with another story. To help “get my creative juices flowing,” I started to write random scenes with random characters. One scene I wrote was about a young girl who was alone in a public house where a conflict broke out, and she had to fight her way out.

Well, I kind of fell in love with the character and had to find out who she was, where she was going, and why she was alone in the world. In making that discovery, I crafted the current story arch that is the Heirs of Cothel Series. It took some time to work out her past and what her life would be like growing up as a witch and how the damaged relationship she has with her mother would affect her. Based on those factors, her break from what would be typical for a princess seemed natural.

Which then led me to think of the girls I had grown up with and the women I know today; many of them are tomboys and are not afraid of getting dirty and running about the woods. So it just seemed natural that Stephenie would be that way as well: a strong young lady who has her own motivations and agenda, but is compassionate and can sympathize with others, even if she cannot fix all of their problems.

As a bit of trivia, many aspects of that original scene are in Mother’s Curse.

2. Did you face any special challenges writing a female lead character, given that you are a male author?

Yes and no. I grew up surrounded by girls. My family had the only boys in the neighborhood for many years, so all my friends were female and that does give me something to draw from.

When writing Stephenie, I try to get into her head and see the world through her eyes. Occasionally, I need to refocus and make sure she would really react in a particular way. The good thing is I have had her in my head for so long that I usually have a pretty good idea of what to write for her. My bigger challenges come with some of the other female characters and making sure I am true to them.

3. The tension between Stephenie and Sergeant Henton is one of my favorite parts of the book. How did you develop their relationship using such subtlety and not hitting us over the head with cliché romantic dialogue?

I am glad the subtlety of their relationship is being noticed. I had one reader tell me they were worried that I might fall into one of the overused traps they see in so many YA novels. Once they realized I had not done that, they were ecstatic.

I can say this approach in the story is very much me. I am something of a romantic, but I don’t care for most of the stories dubbed as “romance”. Do people act in stupid ways when they are trying to attract other people? Of course, but too many stories seem to force stupid decisions upon the characters to ratchet up the tension. Too many times, that is done through obvious misunderstandings that could be resolved with half a minute of conversation that the characters work very hard to avoid.

My goal is to never have a character deliberately sabotage their relationships for stupid reasons (at least not a character I respect). If things work or don’t work, I want there to be more substance to the reasons. I want the investment in the relationship to be greater, and so the emotions stronger. Perhaps I’ve watched too many classic movies, but there is something very powerful about what is never said aloud between people.

4. The Kingdom of Cothel is at war. Could you tell us more about the front lines Stephenie is so desperately trying to escape to?

At the opening of Mother’s Curse, Cothel, and most of the other countries to the west, are fighting against an invading army that sailed in from the Endless Sea. These invaders have many witches and warlocks in their ranks and are overwhelming the holy warriors and soldiers of the people who live around the Sea of Tet. These Senzar invaders have killed royal families and left countries without rulers. Stephenie’s father was quick to join the battle because his oldest daughter was married to the crown prince of Esland and one of the first to be killed.

The Senzar spent most of their focus driving toward a prominent mountain range in the middle of the land between the Sea of Tet and the Endless Sea to the west. Their main forces have yet to cross over Cothel’s boarders. However, they are on the doorstep of the country and Cothel’s forces are low on supplies and reinforcements. Stephenie’s desperation is to reach her father and brother, the King and Crown Prince, because she fears her mother is plotting something that could put them and the people of Cothel at risk.

5. Although firmly rooted in the fantasy genre, Mother’s Curse and Daughter’s Justice remain quick-paced engaging reads not mired in the details of exotic lands or creatures. Why did you decide to depart from the genre with regards to this important aspect of storytelling?

While some fantasy novels feature lengthy descriptions and details about the various inhabitants, to me Mother’s Curse, Daughter’s Justice, and the subsequent books that will be in the series, are foremost about the main characters: Stephenie, Henton, and Kas. The backdrop of the world, while important, really is a backdrop and I have tried to embrace the idea of less being more.

I am proud of the world I have created, but I am also willing to let the nuances soak in over time as they become relevant to the story. For those who like to find out more about the lands Stephenie has to explore and the history I have created for those lands, I try to put some extra information up on my website. I’ve been adding to it slowly, but have had requests for more information and will work to increase the frequency of the postings.

6. Which authors, film makers, and other sorts of storytellers serve as your primary influences in crafting this book series?

This is a good question. In all my reading, I cannot recall consciously thinking I would like to expand on a specific idea in my own stories. I am certain all the things I have read have had significant subconscious influences. I grew up with a mixture of the classics (Isaac Asimov, Tolkien, Ursula Le Guin, and Arthur C. Clarke) and contemporary writers such as Joel Rosenberg, Barbara Hambly, Jane Lindskold, and Kate Forsyth. There are, of course, many more I did not list.

From TV and movies, I would tend to pull more influences from the scifi realm. For conscious influences, I would say I really liked the whit and humor of Farscape and how the characters got along. The only thing I can say I remember the actual spark of the idea was from the movie High Spirits. That movie lent me the idea that over many years ghosts would fall into a trance and continually relive an aspect of their lives, no longer aware of the world around them until something disturbed their environment.

7. How did you write the interactions between Stephenie and her mother without wanting to strangle the latter? And how did you craft such a formidable villain despite her maternal relation to our loveable hero?

Well, first off, I love my own mother, so no parental issues there. I do know she got a few questions when other people first saw the title and read Mother’s Curse, but having been an early reviewer of the story, she’s also a strong supporter.

For Stephenie and her mother, I wanted the interaction between the two of them to be very toxic and antagonistic. Years of mutual hate meant they knew how to push each other’s buttons and get under the other person’s skin.

Some of it I think I may have pulled from my experiences working in sales and dealing with difficult customers, but mostly it came from the number of years I worked in what was effectively the advanced support team of a crisis management center. Our job was to help people recover large computer systems that were in real trouble. It was high pressure work and not everyone could handle the customers who were themselves under incredible stress. A big part of the role was simply human psychology, empathizing with the customer and helping to make sure they knew you had their best interests at heart. It was really more managing the people than actually working to repair and troubleshoot the databases.

A natural side effect of learning how to help reassure people in a crisis is an insight into how one could hurt people. Hopefully, I’ve managed to put those years of experience to good use in making believable villains.

8. Have any experiences, personal quirks, or people you know worked themselves into your writing? If so, how and where?

Well, not so much in Mother’s Curse or Daughter’s Justice. There is a lot of me in the characters, especially when it comes to the pragmatic nature of several of them, but I did not really draw from any other people. As a kid, I spent a fair amount of time gaming with my friends and that has lent me the ability to quickly imagine another person, craft some personality traits, and put on a different hat to play that part.

However, the next book, tentatively titled Daughter’s Revenge, will feature someone close to me in the pages. I’ve had numerous requests to include a character for our horse, Dollar (original show name was Silver Dollar due to a white mark on his withers about the size of a silver dollar). So, in book three, look for Stephenie and others to spend some time on horseback, and Dollar to be along for the journey.

9. When not writing, what do you like to do with your free time? Tell us something whacky and cool!

Free time? I don’t quite understand the question.

I have had to narrow down my list of hobbies and “want-to-dos” considerably over the years. There is just not enough time in the day. However, the primary activities I keep up with include:

Hiking. Though we lack any mountains to make it challenging, I try to spend time on a couple local trails. It is excellent time for working out specific plot details in my head. This year I have two different vacations planned, both of them involve a week of hiking with my wife. One will be in North Carolina, and the other will be on the west coast.

I often mix photography in with the hiking. My wife and I are generally landscape photographers who want trees and mountains in almost every shot, though I do like shooting soft water. I’ll definitely post a few shots of my vacations online after each of those trips.

I also try to keep fit at the gym, but that unfortunately slips from time to time. However, I need to get back into proper condition to hike 15+ miles a day in the mountains with about 35 pounds of gear (cameras, lenses, and a tripod gets heavy).

And of course, I read a lot of novels when I can. Though lately that has also been hit and miss. I always feel guilty reading something else when I can be working on my own novels. But sometimes I just have to take a day or so of solid reading and knock out a book simply for the joy of it.

10. What’s next for the Heirs of Cothel Series, and when can we expect book three?

Book 3 is tentatively titled Daughter’s Revenge. I will let the title imply what it will. As I have already alluded to, Stephenie and others will be going on another road trip, this time using horses. She will learn more about herself and continue to grow as a person. There will be a couple of new characters introduced, but aside from that, I don’t want to give too much away.

Regarding the release date, the first two books have released in the first quarter of the year. I am am aiming to move that up some, but a lot of things have to come together with the proper timing to make that happen. I will definitely keep everyone posted about when to expect book 3 on my website as things get closer.

Things are about to get very busy!

All the exams have wrapped up and I am as free as a bird for the summer. A bird flying with her three chicks that is! Lets all pray for a lovely summer so we can sit outside and mammy can read while her little chicks are happily playing away.

Trophy husband

There will be a lot happening here at After The Final Chapters in the coming weeks. The very next thing coming your way is an interview with the fabulous Lauren Blakely. Lauren is the author of Caught Up In US and Pretending He’s Mine. Today saw her publish her next novel Trophy Husband which I cannot wait to read. Unfortunately that will just have to wait a few days though. I have a more reviews and interviews coming your way.

I decided that I was going to have an Irish Chick Lit Month, so I will be reviewing Irish books that are being published by Penguin in paperback in the coming weeks. Which books? I hear you ask.

Pleasures-of-Summer-3D

We will be starting with Pleasures of Summer. Do you remember Pleasures of Winter? Last summers sensation which sold over 50,000 copies. I will also be interviewing the author Evie Hunter. Evie Hunter is actually the coming together of two very talented ladies, Caroline McCall and Eileen Gormley. I am looking forward to interviewing these ladies.

Thick and Thin

I will also be reviewing Thick and Thin by Sarah Harte. After her debut novel The Better Half, Sarah was tagged as the latest sensation in women’s fiction. I will be sure to let you know if I agree!

I wished for you

Amy Huberman is next on my list. From the author of Hello Heartbreak comes I Wished For You. Described by Closer Magazine as “Witty, observant and very Bridget Jones like” it is sure to be a great read. I am looking forward to a change of pace as i am so used to (and love) books that are so full of angst and tension.

The herbalist

Also on my list of Irish fiction is The Herbalist by Niamh Boyce. Another new sensation for Irish fiction, Niamh Boyce is a recipient of the Hennessy Award. Set in 1930’s Ireland The Herbalist deals with serious issues, which are still surprisingly prominent in 21st Century Ireland. Scenery may change but the real issues stay the same. It is sure to be a compelling read.

Thanks to the lovely Cliona Lewis at Penguin Ireland, we will be giving away both The Pleasures of Winter and The Pleasures of Summer, so stay tuned for details of that competition. Who knows what other competitions may follow!

Oh to have the life of a writer!

Wouldn’t it be just fabulous to have the life of a writer. All glamour, showbiz parties, book launches and signings. So far away from the normality that the rest of us face. I invited writer Carmel Harrington over to do a guest blog for me, to let us all in on what life is really like. And you know what, it doesn’t sound so bad 😉

You may have heard of Carmel Harrington, Author of Beyond Grace’s Rainbow and Freelance journalist, if not find her on her Website, Facebook or Twitter.

I would like to thank Carmel for taking time out of her very busy life to write the following piece, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Over to Carmel:

Ever wondered what the life of a freelance writer is like? How about a freelance writer who is also a mother to two toddlers? I can sum it up in a four letter word for you all. Busy!
Like for example this morning. The H Household was woken up unceremoniously by Nate my 18 month old at 5.30 am. Yes 5.30 am. Now that would have been ok had I been in bed at 9.30 pm drinking my cocoa and watching the Late Late or Alan Carr. God I find him funny. I just have to look at him and he cracks me up, those teeth. And his voice. I think if Alan Carr and I met we could be great friends. Alan if you’re reading this, call me ok? Right, lack of sleep is making me sillier than normal, so I’ll get back to the point – there was no TV for me last night as there was writing to be done.
Just to give you an idea of what I’ve been up to in just one week as a freelance writer, I wrote and submitted two magazine articles to be published in June, did an interview with a book reviewer about my novel Beyond Graces Rainbow, completed my second play which is now on its way to a theatre in UK for consideration and also ran a challenge on my blog to get aspiring writers writing! This challenge has proven to be hugely successful, so much so that the challenge is about to turn into a competition. More information on that to follow on my blog I promise. And I’ve started a writers group on Facebook for all the newbie writers to chat together and support each other. If anyone wants to join incidentally, get in touch, I’m happy to add you. So it’s been busy. Just a tad.

writer housework

I was writing to the wee hours last night cos’ I was on a flow, so when Nate started to holler for attention this morning, I felt like a cast member of the Walking Dead. I simply could not lift my head from my pillow which in fairness was probably a combination of zombie like tiredness and the fact that Amelia, my 3 year old had crawled into bed at some point during the night and had one foot in my rib cage and the other in the crook of my neck. Nice. So Mr H was nudged awake and he brought Nate into bed with us and we all played a game of make believe that we might all get back to sleep. But four in the bed with the little one saying over and over again, ‘Mama, Dada, Juice!’ So at the ungodly hour of 6am breakfast was being served to the smallies and Mr H and I were drinking tea. The tea drinking was in fact further insult to our injured sleep deprived selves, as we had run out of coffee and the nespresso machine on the blink. Bad timing.

mother humour

After breakfast I started to clean the playroom and Mr H started to iron the mountain of laundry that never seems to deplete and we realised that it was in fact only 7 am. We were both probably feeling a bit hard done by. When all of a sudden Amelia shouts to Nate, ‘Come on Nate, lets fly to the moon.’ She plonked a bob the builder hat on his head, a cowboy hat on her own and sat them down side by side in their Mickey Mouse chairs and shouted ‘To the moon!’
And as they both squealed with delight as Amelia kept shouting we are going ‘Superfast!‘ my heart melted and I thought to hell with sleep, this is all that matters. Watching my children’s imagination take them happily to the moon and back more than makes up for every early start and kicked rib cage.
So here I am now at 9.30 am with the ironing done, (thanks Mr H) playroom cleaned, Nate napping because of his early start, Amelia happily playing on the moon, strong coffee in front of me (thanks Mr H again for the dash to the shops at 9am when they opened) and I’m taking the opportunity to write.
That’s how we roll in the H house these days and can I tell you all a secret? I kinda of love it.
—————————————————————————————————————————–

Carmel Harrington is a freelance writer and bestselling author of the eBook Beyond Graces Rainbow which recently won The Book Awards in March 2013. She is represented by the Trace Literary Agency where Beyond Graces Rainbow and her second novel Sleep of Dreams are on submission with publishers.
Carmel is also a playwright with her first play A Dunganstown Romance on stage in June 13’.
Carmel lives in Wexford with her husband Roger and two small children, Amelia and Nate.
Please visit Carmel’s webpage at http://www.carmelharrington.com for all the latest updates or follow her on twitter @happymrsh and on face book at http://www.facebook.com/happymrsh

carmel

Better Together

Better together

The latest offering from Sheila O’Flanagan is Better Together. The story of the girl who seems to have it all but then in what seems like the blink if an eye it’s all gone. Sheridan Grey has a job she loves as a sports journalist for a high-profile newspaper, shares a gorgeous flat with her best friend and has a steady boyfriend. However, the paper is in trouble and there are cuts to be made. Yeah you guessed it, her was right there on the chopping block. To make it worse, her best friend and flat mate – fashion editor at the same paper, well she wasn’t let go and still got the offer of a better job. As if that’s not bad enough the job is in Belfast, so Sheridan has now lost her flat mate. Then they have an idea – ask Sheridan’s boyfriend to come live with her. That makes sense – right? Wrong. She gets the I like you speech, I like you but I thought you knew this wasn’t going anywhere. Job – Gone. Flat mate – Gone. Boyfriend – Gone.

Sheridan strives every day to be a winner, she comes from a family of winners. Right now she feels like a loser. Despite sending her CV to everyone she can think of she is still jobless. Then a temporary job at a paper in the back water of Ardbawn becomes available. Sure it’s not what she is looking for, but the more she researches the job the more intrigued she becomes. This job might just present the opportunity to break the story that’s going to jump-start her career again.

Back in Ardbawn Nina Fallon owns a guest house. Unfortunately for Nina a recent turn of events has left her shattered and at a cross roads in her life. Does she continue to make a life without her philandering husband or does she listen as he begs and give him yet another chance? Avoiding her friends, the local gossips and most certainly the press Nina tries to keep it all together while being the perfect host. When Sheridan arrives on her doorstep looking for lodgings for a few months little did she know she was inviting the press into her life.

As Sheridan gets to work on the local paper – owned by the man she deems responsible for cutting her job she starts digging further. This story of opportunity as she see’s it is going to bring down the man she despises most. She didn’t realise though that as she settles in to life in Ardbawn and makes friends, and begins to fall in love that the story she is trying to uncover will hurt the people she comes to care about.

Will love conquer all? Is Sheridan’s ambition going to triumph? Will she leave Ardbawn even more unhappy than when she arrived?

Are the friends we make on the course of this journey Better Together or is it time for a change?

The legendary Sheila O’Flanagan is back and at her best. Though to be quite honest I am not sure if there was ever a time when she was at anything other that her best. Nineteen books is no mean feat! Nineteen books and no sign of slowing down!

I am proud to say I have read all 19 of these books too. I think 19 must be the magic number, this is the age I was when I started to read Sheila’s books. At the grand old age of 30 I feel like she has accompanied me through those first adult years as I was learning about myself, fell in love and went on to get married and have children of my own.

Many women are in the same boat as myself. Not only is Sheila O’Flanagan one of the top Irish authors but she is an international Best Seller. You will be hard pressed to find a woman who enjoys female fiction that does not have several of her books in their collection.

This most recent book was extremely enjoyable. I have read in a few reviews that people found it long. That is only a problem if the story isn’t any good. Suffice to say the length of the book is not a problem. What I really loved were the little crumbs thrown to us from the very beginning of the book. The way I was trying to work out the pieces of the puzzle but I only had bits for around the edges, when I got those missing all important middle pieces I was wrong. The story didn’t take me to where I thought it was going to go. I love this about a book. You know when you are talking to friends about a book and you say, “ah sure it was so predictable you knew how it was going to end by the second chapter”. That’s not going to happen here.

If you are a lover or female fiction this book really is a must. Please go buy it and come tell me what you thought of it!
Better Together is available from Kobo, Amazon, iTunes

SOF

When I tweeted Sheila O’Flanagan and asked her for an interview i honestly didn’t even expect a reply. Never mind for her to follow me on twitter (a dance around the floor moment for me) and then send me back the interview within an hour of receiving it. I was always a fan, but now im one of her biggest fans. The lady is a legend, though when you read her interview you will she doesn’t believe this of herself. She see’s herself just the same as you and me! There is no big head which is all to often the case, and she has time for her fans. Amazing!

Who is Sheila O’Flanagan?
Author, sports fan, a bit asthmatic, slightly paranoid, sister, daughter, auntie and other half of my other half.
When you wrote your first book did you ever imagine where it would take you?
All I hoped was that it would one day get published and that I’d see it on a bookshelf in my local bookshop! I might have thought that if it was successful I’d write another 2 or 3 books. I never ever thought I’d write 19!!!!
Do any of your books hold an extra special place in your heart?
That’s like asking me to pick a favourite child! For different reasons they’re all special. I remember them all by the names of the main character, so to me they’re part of the family. Whenever someone says the name of any of the characters I’m totally with them again.
What is your all time favourite book?
Impossible to answer. I have lots of favourites depending on my mood. But when I’m feeling really low I always turn to PG Wodehouse for a lift. His books are so funny and his English so perfect that I can’t help but end up smiling.
Do you have a preferred Genre to read?
Not really. When I’m writing myself, I like to read crime and thrillers because they’re so different to my own work. I’m also a fan of historical fiction, especially Phillipa Gregory’s novels. I like popular science and physics stuff too.

I’ve just read and immensely enjoyed Better Together. I was sure things with a particular character were going to work out a particular way and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I was wrong. Did you know at the beginning how the book would end?

I love it when I surprise a reader! Maybe that’s because I can get surprised by the characters myself. I have some ideas but once the characters take on a life of their own those ideas can change. The only book I’ve ever written where I was 100% sure of the ending was Isobel’s Wedding. And then lots of people wanted a sequel to it, because of the ending. I’m not keen on sequels but I understood why readers wanted more, so I wrote a long short story about what happened next for her (it’s in my Connections collection).

As a Best Selling author do you find there is a good support network within the industry, both for the well known authors and those starting out?

Generally I think that publishing is one of the nicer industries to be involved in because most of the people working in it are very passionate about books. The majority of authors that I know are supportive of each other and always willing to offer advice to new writers.

Do you have any advice for those starting out?

I know this sounds very unhelpful, but just write your book! Don’t spend too long worry about what it should or shouldn’t be. I sometimes see blogs about ‘the 10 things you need for a successful novel’ or ‘7 ways to make your characters more exciting’ but the truth is that if you tell a good story you are already 99% of the way there. So don’t waste time, just sit down and start and have faith in yourself.

Who or what inspires you?

Every other author who’s ever written a book inspires me. Especially when I hear them say that sometimes it’s hard work writing a novel. Because it is. But it’s hard work I love doing. I’m also inspired by great sportspeople who train hard and win events. Basically, most things that are worth doing involve hard work so I guess I’m saying that all hard workers – no matter what their job is – inspire me.

Is there someone you look to as a mentor – either now or when you were starting out?
To be honest, no. I’m very self-contained!

What would you describe as your career highlight?

Getting to Number 1 in the UK charts with Someone Special was fantastic. And so was winning the Eason Popular Fiction Award for All For You. (I’d been nominated 3 times before and hadn’t won so it was lovely to finally hear my name announced.)

Can you remember the moment you were able to say – ‘Yes I’ve made it’

Oh, look, I don’t think you ever really feel that! I’ll try to remember it when I do, though 🙂

What can we expect in the future?

I’ve just signed a contract with my publisher, Headline, for 2 more novels. I’ve also been working on a screenplay of one of my books, and I have thoughts about a series of YA books. So there’s enough there to keep me busy.

Quickfire

Sausage or Bacon?
They go together!!!!!!
Red or White wine?
Chilled white
Sweet or Savoury?
Savoury
Eat to live or Live to eat?
Eat to live
Tea or Coffee?
Green Tea
Champagne or Cocktail?
Champagne Cocktails!!

You know what i did tonight?

Carmel Harrington set a challenge with one of her latest blog posts. Write a piece of ‘Flash Fiction’, 500-100 words. She asked me to think of giving it a shot. So I thought, sure why the hell not. So I did. I wrote all about The Camels Back. The what? I hear you say, but no you read it right, The Camels Back. So to know what on earth I am on about you will just have to read it all for yourself. Be easy on me it was my first (and possibly last) attempt at fiction. Mind you judging by the night I just had I’m not so sure at all it was fiction. But that my friends is another story entirely.

And here is it: http://carmelharrington.com/2013/05/13/flash-fiction-feature-the-camels-back-by-tanya-farrell/