Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!

A day out at the seaside? We all know what that means,

A kaleidoscope of what must be uniquely-British scenes.

Embarrassing socks and sandals sported by your dad,

And sand you find in places that you never knew you had.

**

You pack a range of sun-creams to help your pallor wane,

But find yourself in what feels like a full-scale hurricane.

Instead you need a sleeping bag draped across your knees,

The windbreak at an angle of around fifteen degrees.

**

You decide to cheer things up by buying fish and chips,

Despite the fact the deck-chair can barely take your hips.

Seagulls descend like ninjas, they’re nothing if not plucky,

But being in their firing line feels anything but lucky.

**

Still too cold to take a dip you head towards the pier,

There you find a fun-fair and the kids let out a cheer.

Soon you’re several tenners lighter and then put out your back,

Flying down the helter-skelter on an old potato sack.

**

Heading to the arcades, you know it isn’t wise,

To do battle with the grabber that never yields a prize.

Next on to the pub and a pleasing little red,

Let’s do this again tomorrow, is what you somehow said.

**

Despite the dodgy weather and the seagulls on attack,

You love the British seaside and you’ll soon be coming back.

Just before you head off home, you brave a little wade,

An encounter with a jelly-fish is how memories are made!

**

SEB 3I thought I’d start off today with a tongue-in-cheek homage to the British seaside. Although given the weather we’ve been having in my part of the country this week, it’s got even more appeal and is apparently hotter than the Med.

Now I don’t want this little poem to give you the wrong impression, I LOVE the coast and can’t seem to stop writing about it. Maybe not the type of resorts with arcades, but those filled with the sort of uniquely British charm of places like Polperro and Southwold. But it’s the Kentish coast I love most of all and which features in my stories. Maybe it’s because I was born a stone’s throw from Dover’s white cliffs or because I live about five minutes from the pretty seaside town of Whitstable.SEB 2

I set my first novel, Among A Thousand Starsin the real Kentish seaside town of Sandgate, but my new series was inspired by the fictional town of St Nicholas Bay’s connection to Charles Dickens. As a result it combines the old world charm of Rochester’s quaint tearooms and quirky shops, with the steep high street at Broadstairs, which leads down to a golden bay lined with colourfully painted beach huts. Many people who’ve read the Christmas novella that sparked the series, and which will be re-released by Accent Press in November, tell me that St Nicholas Bay is a character in itself.

Somebody else's boy cover finalSo if you fancy a trip to a beautiful seaside town, with none of the hassle of getting sand in your unmentionables, I’d be thrilled if you checked out my new novel, released today – Somebody Else’s Boy. It tells the story of Jack, a young widower raising his baby son alone and the new life he finds against the odds in St Nicholas Bay, and his house-mate, Nancy, who’s struggling to keep a secret because of the promise she made to someone who no longer knows her name…

Either way, I hope you have some fabulous plans for the bank holiday weekend and maybe a little trip to the seaside is in order after all!

Jo xx

Somebody Else’s Boy is released by Accent Press on 25th August 2016 and available here.

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Jessica is Dreaming About Daran

What started out as a snippet of an idea thirteen years ago grew into something bigger. I had a protagonist, Sarah, who needed two best friends for her story to work. One of them needed to support her in her ‘quest’ and the other needed to think that the ‘quest’ was a “pile of bollocks”.

Whilst I loved Sarah and her supportive friend, Elise, her not-quite-so-supportive friend, Clare, really captured my imagination. Feisty and full of fun, she was a friend with a past and, as the words to my debut novel Searching for Steven poured out, it became apparent that both Elise and Clare had their own stories to tell. Stories that could not possibly be justified as a sub plot in Steven. They needed novels of their own! (Greedy characters!)

Dreaming About Daran CoverElise’s story  – Getting Over Gary – naturally needed to be told as the first sequel because I knew hers was going to be a bit gentler. Clare’s would be more explosive and bring a fitting climax to the trilogy.

Today is the launch day and I’m delighted to release Dreaming About Daran into the world to join my other boys. It’s my favourite cover of the three stories, my favourite character, and my favourite story… although don’t tell Sarah and Elise as I love them too and don’t want to upset them.  It’s also a bit deeper and darker that the two before so be warned!

I’ve had a few technical issues with my paperbacks so can’t include any pictures here of me dressed in blue to match the cover (I have colour coordinated myself for both of the other ones – does that make me a bit sad?) but I can put a picture of what they look like together before Daran got boxed up again and sent back to the printer.

I’m thrilled to hear that there are already three 5-star reviews on Amazon from reviewers who obtained a copy early for an honest opinion. And I mean honest opinion. If these reviewers don’t like a book, they will say so. Therefore, getting 5-star reviews from them is a dream-like thing!

Here’s the blurb about Daran:

Sometimes, you can run from the past, but you can’t hide. Since the age of sixteen, Clare O’Connell has lived her life by four strict rules:

  1. Don’t talk about Ireland
  2. Don’t think about Ireland
  3. Don’t go to Ireland
  4. Never let anyone in

And so far, it’s worked well. She’s got a great career, some amazing friends, and she’s really happy. The future’s all that counts, isn’t it?

However, when her boss insists she travels to Ireland to repair a damaged relationship with a key client, Clare finds herself drawn back to the small village of Ballykielty where she comes face to face with the one person she’d hoped never, ever to see again.

With the door to her past now wide open, the first three rules have gone out of the window. Can Clare stick to rule number four?

Happy reading!

Jessica xx

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The ‘Winter Tale’ with more to tell by Alys West

The Dirigible King's Daughter by Alys WestRegular readers of this blog will recall that in November 2014 the Write Romantics published an anthology called Winter Tales – Stories to Warm your Heart.  My contribution to the anthology was a steampunk story called ‘A Pistol for Propriety’ about a very independent young lady called Harriet Hardy and her encounter with the rather dashing Viscount Ripley.

After the anthology was published a few people said they felt I’d only told part of the story.  They wanted to know what happened next.  Did the police catch up with Harriet?  Was she arrested for trying to shoot the Alderman?  At the time I was busy working on a first draft of the next Spellworker Chronicles book but increasingly I found Harriet and Charlie (which is the name of the dashing Viscount) kept popping back into my mind.  I was supposed to be concentrating on druids and spellworkers on Orkney and I’d got these two very determined steampunk characters chattering away at the back of my brain.  In the end I decided that, as ignoring them wasn’t working, the only option was to leave the druids for a while and write Harriet and Charlie’s story.

shutterstock_278293358When I got started I expected it would become a novella but my characters had very different ideas (mainly because I couldn’t get them to stop talking!) and in the end I had a short novel of just under 60,000 words which is called The Dirigible King’s Daughter.  Let’s just say that things do not go smoothly for Harriet and Charlie and their full story is a far rockier road than even I’d anticipated.  But there’s some fun along the way with a trip to a fabulous steampunk version of Scarborough fair, a glamorous night on the town in London and a rather thrilling flight on a dirigible.  There’s an extract from The Dirigible King’s Daughter below and if you’d like to purchase a copy it’s available from Amazon here.

Extract from The Dirigible King’s Daughter:

‘Oh Charlie, I have missed you.’ The words broke from her.  A second too late her gloved hand rose to her mouth to stop them. 

‘Really?  Because I was starting to think you’d forgotten all about me.’

A half smile as his hand reached for hers. ‘Not all about you.’

‘Good.’ Gently, he took her hand, turned it, brought it to his lips and kissed the inside of her wrist just above her glove.   ‘Harriet.’  His voice was deeper, softer.

steampunk_girl_by_kiza_nya-d57n0s4She looked up.  There was a tremulous moment of hesitation then the space between them closed and he kissed her.  Beneath the prickle of his beard there was the unexpected softness of his lips.  So tentative and gentle on hers.  It was like breathing him in.  She’d dreamed of this so many times and it was better than anything she’d imagined. 

Too soon he pulled away. 

‘I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that.  Much as I want us to be, we’re not yet engaged.’

‘Oh, stuff and nonsense.  Don’t stand on ceremony with me now.  I’m glad you did and you can do it again if you want.’

And with that he took her in his arms and kissed her soundly.

‘You’ve kissed me in a church in the sight of God, Harriet Hardy,’ he said when they finally broke apart.  ‘You have to marry me now.’

Oh my! Why had no one told her kissing was that delightful?  And if they were married they could do it all the time.  Now wasn’t that an enticing thought! Grateful for the support of the door behind her as her knees had taken on the consistency of putty, she put a steadying hand on his chest and felt, beneath the leather of his flying jacket, his heart pounding as hard as hers.   ‘That’s poppycock, Charlie and you know it. Ask me again when I’ve cleared my name.  I can’t say yes when I might be arrested at any minute.’

3568764500_3bb84baa2c_bPushing his hair back from where it had again flopped into his eyes, he put his hand over hers.  ‘That answer will do for now.  In the meantime I shall do the proper thing and court you. Take tea with me tomorrow afternoon?’

‘I have to work, remember?’ she said, yanking the door open.  ‘I’m not one of the idle rich, you know.’

‘Take tea with me or marry me.  It’s your choice.’ 

‘When did you become so very persistent?’ The wind whipped around her, catching at her skirts, as she stepped outside.  Only a smattering of stars relieved the darkness. The lights from the town below shone across the harbour but the church, and the Abbey behind it, were engulfed by night. 

‘When I had to spend eight years looking for you!’

There was no answer to that.  Taking his arm, she said, ‘Tea tomorrow would be splendid.  If I’m not in police custody, you can pick me up at the office at four.’

You can read a review of The Dirigible King’s Daughter by author and blogger Barb Taub here

The Dirigible King’s Daughter is available to purchase as an ebook here and Winter Tales – Stories to Warm your Heart is still available here and continues to raise money for two charities doing vitally important work.

You can find out more about me on my blog www.alyswest.com, on Twitter: @alyswestyork and on Facebook: Alys West Writer. You can also check out my steampunk inspirations (and a lot of fabulous frocks) on Pinterest at Alys West Writes.

Photo of St Mary’s church, Whitby by Simon Gman