The Summer of New Beginnings

Dear Reader,

Welcome to the Write Romantics’ Blog!

Spring is well and truly upon us and so it’s time for some warmer weather and beach reading.

Today is publication day for my 7th book!  The Summer of New Beginnings is available as an ebook via Amazon and I hope to have it available in paperback within the next few weeks. I’ll be spending publication day with my family but I’m sure I’ll have time for some chocolate and fizz in the evening to celebrate!

For this book I’ve travelled back to Australia, at least in my head. Set in the fictitious suburb of Primrose Bay, the story promises plenty of sun, lots of conflict and of course, love. Read on for the blurb below…

I’m delighted to share this book with you all!

Helen J Rolfe x

The Summer of New Beginnings

Available from Amazon UK and Amazon

They say trouble comes in threes…

Headstrong and organised, Mia is a single mum who wants to fix the world – but the one thing she can’t fix is her family. Responsible older brother Will has fled Primrose Bay, unable to forgive and forget after the ultimate betrayal. And Jasmine, no longer the wayward baby sister, is determined to prove to her brother and sister that she’s just as capable as they are.

Together in the bay after years apart and a separation spanning three continents, it doesn’t take long for the siblings to clash when Mia calls everyone together in a family crisis. And with jealousy and resentment simmering between them, as well as faces from the past and new loves, the family ties could end up being severed forever.

Sometimes we need to lose ourselves in order to find each other again…

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Confessions of a Trolley Dolly (or something like that!)

It’s finally here, the day that I’ve been anticipating for so long, and I’m already bowled over by the support and good wishes from my fellow writers and friends, new and old.
I can finally understand the ‘Squeeee, my books have arrived,’ and ‘It’s launch day,’ posts on social media when in the past, the less charitable side of me wanted to say, ‘Calm down dear,’ all Michael Winner like, at their gushing. After all, it’s only a book and there are millions of ’em out there.

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See? Tons of the buggers!

Go into any charity shop and the shelves are groaning with them. The M6 toll road used two and a half million copies of Mills and Boon’s to keep it stable: http://bit.ly/1nlenrB That kind of says something, don’t you think?
So why do I want to use up even more valuable trees for the paltry words I have to offer? The answer is, I don’t really know. It just crept up on me, really, this desire to see my name on the front page of a book and to write a novel that makes people say, ‘Ahh, that was lovely.’
At about the same time as I started to take my scribblings seriously,  I met a few real writers. REAL WRITERS- with proper books on shelves and everything–and they made money from these books.
That was probably the moment when I thought, ‘I can do that.’
Only I couldn’t–not then. I wasn’t good enough. And I wasn’t good enough for years, much as I hate to say it. Because it’s like any other job that requires diligence, attention to detail, a modicum of talent and an awful lot of long, hard slog: it takes time.
But finally it is my turn, and getting back to the point I started on (that’s the thing with writers- we never run out of words!) I now totally get the ‘Squeee’ moment, because when I saw my book on Amazon, it made me want to cry–and laugh–and phone up every single person I’d ever met in my whole life and shout, ‘Look I’ve done it–go and look on Amazon!’

HERE IT IS : http://amzn.to/2jLPZsU

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Mine! All mine!

So, yeah, it’s out there now and I hope you want to buy it, and then I hope you enjoy it, and then I hope you leave a review on Amazon–cos they really count for something. And I don’t want one of those pompous Amazon reviews that says ‘I had to give it one star because there was a comma in the wrong place,’ which actually just shows that you need to get a life! But you aren’t like that, are you? You’re going to LOVE reading my book on your kindle so much that you buy the paperback that comes out in a couple of month’s time, and you are going to give me a wonderful review on Amazon. A perfect Valentine’s Day read.

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Five-star reviews- yes, please!

Aren’t you?
Go on- you know you want to.  http://amzn.to/2jLPZsU
Much love,
Jackie.
(Squeee!)

 

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Summer, chocolates & plenty of secrets …

Summer, chocolates & plenty of secrets … it’s almost time to return to Magnolia Creek!

The Chocolatier's Secret- KDP version

 

The Chocolatier’s Secret is book two in the Magnolia Creek series, and I’m delighted to say that it’s now available for pre-order on Amazon. With The Chocolatier’s Secret we return to the sun-drenched small town of Magnolia Creek, and this is a standalone story focusing on different lives. But … keep an eye out for a few of your favourite book characters from What Rosie Found Next!

I had a lot of fun writing this book. I enjoy the research side and had already completed a major research project on adoption as part of a Masters in Writing so I’ve been able to use my contacts and the information I had at my fingertips to shape this story. I also have my own personal experience of adoption which helped keep the emotions realistic.

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Of course my favourite part of the research was finding out all about chocolate! I spent the day with Lucy and Andrea at Creighton’s Chocolaterie in Leighton Buzzard and discovered what goes on behind the scenes. I was really excited after my visit because I was able to weave in so many details to my story to make it authentic.

Publication day is Tuesday 28th June so only 8 days away!

If you would like to pre-order The Chocolatier’s Secret, you can do so here.

I hope you like the story … best enjoyed with your favourite chocolate of course! Here’s the blurb…

Will one mistake ruin everything?

Andrew Bennett has an idyllic life in Magnolia Creek, Australia. He runs a chocolate business he adores, is married to Gemma, the love of his life, and has a close relationship with his father, Louis. But when Andrew receives a message from his high school sweetheart, it sends his world into a spiral, and the relationships he holds dear will never be the same again.

Molly Ramsey is looking for answers. After her last attempt, she believes the only way to get them this time is to face her past head-on. But to do this, she has to fly to the other side of the world – and she’s afraid of flying. Her search for answers lands her in an emotional tangle, not only with her past but also with a man very much in her present.

Family is everything to Gemma Bennett and she longs to have a house full of kids, but it just isn’t happening. And when Andrew’s past makes an explosive impact on the family, Gemma must decide whether she can accept the truth and open her heart in a way she never thought possible.

In this story of love, family ties and forgiveness, will past mistakes be the obstacle to a Happy Ever After?

A Year Without Pyjamas…

trifectaAnd what a busy year it has been!

February 24th 2015 signified my official launch as a published author when my debut novel, The Friendship Tree, was released. Since then, my writing life has become even busier and I couldn’t imagine it any other way.

I left the I.T. world in 2003 and began writing articles for Women’s Health & Fitness magazines and part of what kept my momentum was my routine of setting an alarm, having a shower, getting dressed, and eating breakfast before starting the day. I’d ensure I was at my desk well before 9 a.m. and I know it helped me to think of freelancing as a real job, even though I was working from home. I seem to have kept the same habit since I began writing fiction in 2011, and I think I work better when I’m up and ready to face the world, even if it’s the fictitious world I’m creating. Mind you, maybe I’ll think differently when my kids are old enough to walk themselves to school!

Author photo - Helen J RolfeSoon after I wrote The Friendship Tree, I planned and began Handle Me with Care and I went on to publish this title in June 2015, followed five months later by What Rosie Found Next. I enjoyed writing each of these books, going through the editing process, deciding on cover design and plotting the next story. I also love connecting with readers, authors and anyone else on social media. It can be lonely working away on a draft or editing, and when I hear from other writers, or perhaps readers in other countries who have enjoyed my novels, it really makes my day. I’ve had some lovely messages from readers in Toronto, Connecticut and Australia and it always gives me a buzz to know people overseas can read my books.

Book five is well underway now and I’m hoping to have the first draft finished within the next month… and then the hard work starts! I also hope to have some plans to publish book four very soon, and I will be sure to post my updates on Social Media as soon as I can.

So for now, Happy Reading!

Helen J Rolfe x

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The Way they Were.

On a recent holiday to St Ives we visited their small museum which houses many examples of the way life was for the locals many years ago. It showed a life of hardship and make-do for most of the inhabitants who were mainly fishermen or miners in the tin mines.
My daughter who is thirteen was fascinated by how incredibly difficult it was for women to get through the average day. She couldn’t believe the old dolly washing tub, mangle and washboard that was used for the weekly wash.‘They must have had strong arm muscles,’ Rosie said, as she tried to turn the large metal handle on the mangle that squished the clothes to squeeze out the water.
My first thought was that it must have taken hours out of the day to get through a family wash, especially if they had young children. There were photographs of woman carrying their clean washing down to the bay where they would hook up a makeshift washing line in the sand to peg out their sheets and towels. Young children would patiently hold on to the long wooden pole that kept washing line up, if it was exceptionally windy.
There were so many old photos of stout and stoic women, leathered and worn, sorting fish in a bucket of cold water, mending fishing nets and picking over the sand to find molluscs to cook and eat. How hard their lives were, looking after as many children as God sent them, and living in damp and dismal conditions, eking out the paltry wages that their husband bought home and working from dawn until dusk just to survive. I wish I had appropriate photo’s to show, but taking pictures was not allowed in the museum.

St Ives

Back street in St Ives

How lucky we are nowadays. Our clothes wash themselves once they are shoved in a washing machine, supermarkets prepare our food, that ovens then heat for us at the touch of a button and a dishwashers then cleans the dishes. Sounds like Utopia doesn’t it? Yet how easily we take it all for granted.
I wonder what those women would think if they could see the fast food outlets in their cobbled and narrow streets now, selling hot food ready to go, ‘boutique’ apartments with double glazing and central heating that are springing up everywhere, and the the rows of bobbing red fibreglass boats to hire for half an hour, replacing the lines of fishing boats that used to fill the harbour at the end of the day. I would love toIMG_3042 see the look on their faces!
Now if there was a time slip novel waiting to be written, that would be the one I’d choose. Hang on, let me just write that down in my notepad of ideas- I’ll earmark it for next year’s “novel to be written.”

Hope you are all enjoying your summer

Jackie

A welcome escape with Kerry Fisher

IMG_2046Today we are joined for a Q&A session by good friend of the blog, Kerry Fisher, who tells us why, this summer, we might hear her screaming from over ten thousand miles away…

What’s the best bit of feedback you’ve had about The School Gate Survival Guide?

I have been so lucky to have lots of lovely reviews but I think one of my favourites was from a Yorkshire postman: ‘Just finished The School Gate Survival Guide on my new Kindle, first book I’ve read in 10 years, bloody great read, thanks.’ I loved the idea of a little red van trolleying around the Yorkshire Dales with a Kindle and a copy of my novel on the dashboard.

How important was it for you to sign with one of the big publishers and what are the biggest differences to being self-published?

That’s an interesting question. I am so privileged to have self-published because what I learnt about marketing, promoting, networking during the process has been invaluable now I’m traditionally published – I have the confidence to suggest ideas and discuss decisions that I don’t think I would otherwise have had. However, I always felt that what I could achieve sitting at my kitchen table on my own would be more limited than the opportunities offered by a big publisher – foreign rights, audiobooks and of course, even paperbacks.

TescoHow did it feel the first time you saw The School Gate Survival Guide in your local supermarket?

I made a total fool of myself in Tesco by asking someone to take a photo of me with my novel. I blushed so hideously that the poor woman had to back away from the heat. Plus she managed to capture me at such an angle that I looked as though I had a couple of watermelons stuffed up my T-shirt. Not quite the glamorous composed author on publication day photo I had in mind. I don’t think the fact that my book was out there, available to buy, really sank in until readers started tweeting pictures from supermarkets all over the UK.

Your second novel is called The Island Escape. What do you do to escape from the pressures of writing and everyday life?

A couple of times a year, I leave my whole family behind and disappear off with my best friend from university. We walk, talk until the early hours and eat fab food – we both love cooking. Just for those few days we’re twenty again – but without the Silk Cut and lager black. On a day-to-day basis, I walk on the South Downs with my dog, a Lab/Giant Schnauzer cross. It never fails to relax me – unless she steals someone’s picnic.

Your new book was promoted as The Divorce Domino in our anthology. How did the name change come about?

Because the book is coming out on 21 May, I think the publishers felt that having divorce in the title was a bit gloomy for a summer read.

Can you tell us a bit about the plot for The Island Escape? tie 2

The idea behind it was ‘Can one woman’s marriage survive her best friend’s divorce?’

When Roberta finally divorces her bullyboy husband, her best friend and former wild child, Octavia, takes stock of her own life. She wonders how the carefree person she was at twenty ended up married to a man who cares more about opening milk bottles in date order than having fun. She begins obsessing over the ‘one that got away’ – until she ends up going back to Corsica, the place where it all began. But will he still be there and if he is, what then?

What’s your favourite holiday destination, island or otherwise, and why?

I love Australia. Pre-children, I was a travel journalist and spent six weeks writing a guidebook out there. There’s so much that’s different and exciting. This year we’re taking the children (13 and 15) – it’s the first time I’ve felt I could bear a 24-hour flight with them, though being together 24/7 for several weeks should pose its own challenges. I’ve booked to do the bridge climb over Sydney Harbour with my son, so you’ll probably be able to hear me screaming back in the UK.

Do you think it’s true that you should ‘write what you know’ and, if so, to what extent have your experiences influenced your writing?

I think there are some people who do an amazing job of writing about things they don’t have firsthand knowledge of – I’m always absolutely in awe of writers of historical novels. I always find so many inaccuracies when I’m editing despite the fact that my books are contemporary. I prefer to write about things I know, but that’s probably because I’m fascinated by ordinary people and their experiences. I always use settings I’m familiar with – I’m lucky enough to have lived all over Europe in my twenties, so I haven’t run out of locations yet!

What are you working on at the moment?

I’m in the process of editing book three, which is about how modest secrets become more toxic as they pass down the generations, intertwined with modern parenting dilemmas.

Do you ever think about writing in a different genre, if so, what would you choose?

I’d love to be able to write a psychological thriller but that would need careful plotting in advance. It probably wouldn’t suit the way I write – I tend to know the beginning and the end, but not too much in between. I would like to write a sit-com about modern families for TV, though I don’t think my teenage children would ever forgive me.

WP_20141002_11_49_02_ProWhat’s the hardest type of scene for you to write?

I find sex scenes absolutely mortifying, because I’m quite prudish and hate the idea that people I know feel that they have a window into a very private world (they don’t!). There’s a little bit of real – rather than hinted at – sex in The Island Escape. I wanted to staple those pages together when my dad was reading it. I’ve forced myself to take author Raffaella Barker’s excellent advice, which was ‘I’d never write another word if I ever thought about what people think about any aspect of my writing.’

Do you ever get writer’s block and, if so, how do you deal with it?

I don’t get writer’s block really because I treat writing very much as a job. I turn up at Starbucks every day and write 1000 words in three hours. If I worked in an office, I wouldn’t be allowed to sit there and wait to feel in the mood for work, so I just get on with it – though of course, some days it’s easier than others. Having said that, I do get plot block…I’m currently thinking about what to write for book four and feel as though I’m trying to catch ideas in a butterfly net before they flit off.

If you could have three writing-related wishes, what would they be? Waterstones

Probably the same as all writers, I suppose – to have my book made into a film and to make The Sunday Times bestseller list. In the meantime, a smaller and more achievable wish would be to stop stuttering when I utter the words, ‘I’m an author’.

What piece of writing advice do wish you’d known when you started out?

Where to start? I was so naïve about how tough it would be to get published. I thought writing the book would be the hardest part, so I probably needed someone to tell me: ‘You’ll have to believe in yourself for an awful long time before anyone else does.’ I don’t think I’d fully understood that rejection is an inevitable part of the process. However, the important thing is to allow yourself one day to rant (privately) then channel your energy into creating as many opportunities as possible to get your work in front of the decision makers.

Thanks so much for joining us on the blog Kerry and good luck with the release of The Island Escape – our Kindles are primed and ready!

Find out more about Kerry and her fantastic novels at the links below:

http://www.kerryfisherauthor.com

on Facebook 

on Twitter @KerryFSwayne

and Amazon

From Christmas Books to Literary Bikinis…

DebbieYoung_001Today we welcome author Debbie Young to the blog, who gives us the lowdown on writing seasonal stories.

Like Christmas jumpers in clothes shops, festive-themed books have been popping up all over the place during the last few weeks. But for those of us involved in their production, their advent (ho ho) will have been much sooner, because when planning to publish seasonal books, authors have to think like the fashion industry, designing festive sweaters in July and bikinis in midwinter.

My own collection of Christmas short stories, Stocking Fillers, began to take shape back in August,Laura in sea while I was soaking up the sun at the Homeric Writers’ Retreat in Greece. For someone like me, used to spending Christmas in the northern hemisphere, Ithaca seemed an incongruous setting in which to weave wintry words. Not so for the retreat’s organiser: as an Australian, Jessica Bell may have spent the week hankering after the traditional Christmas dinner down under on Bondi beach.

A little later in the summer, I found myself beside a rather colder beach, in Aberdeen, on the north east coast of Aberdeen beachScotland. The acres of pale sand were completely deserted, thanks to gunmetal grey skies, blasting winds and stair-rod rain. At night, in our camper van, snuggling down in my winter-weight sleeping bag was far more conducive to dreaming up the rest of my Christmas stories.

 

THE CHRISTMAS IMPERATIVE

 What is it about Christmas that compels us to write seasonal fiction? It has always struck me that by penning A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens made the rest of us redundant, for who could possibly write a more moving or memorable festive story than that? So many characters, phrases and icons have crept into our culture from the story of Scrooge’s redemption, taking root there as stealthily as the ivy from a Christmas wreath. Although festive traditions provide plenty of prompts, the more stories that are written about Christmas, the harder it is to produce something original.

But still those stories keep coming! Because for authors, the most natural way to share the true spirit of Christmas is not through sending Stocking Fillers Kindle Cover brightercards (I confess I have yet to write mine), but through penning feel-good stories. Every author’s story is different and interesting in its own way, as proven by the Write Romantics’ own Christmas anthology, Winter Tales. That book’s generosity of spirit oozes not only from the stories themselves but from the group’s decision to donate all profits to charity.

In Stocking Fillers, I’ve tried to be different and original in my stories too. Though all the usual suspects and situations are in there, there are also plenty of surprises, and I hope at least one icon that people will remember and hark back to in the Christmas yet to come. “I want one of those clocks!” one reader has already said to me. Which clocks? If you want to know, turn to the story called Christmas Time.

This Christmas I’ll be reading many new Christmas stories that I’ve been stockpiling on my ereader for the holidays. No doubt more will turn up under the tree on Christmas morning, because Father Christmas knows that bringing me books is always a safe bet.

Lighting Up Time cover for KindleOn the other hand, I hope he’ll also leave me a new notebook (A4 spiral bound hardback, please, if you’re reading this, Santa) – because my other big plan for the holidays is to get down to work on my summer collection. Now, where did I put that bikini…

PS If you’re still not convinced that you ought to be reading Christmas stories, here’s a seasonal and topical alternative: my single short story set at the winter solstice, Lighting Up Time, about a young woman’s fear of the dark – something to light up even the darkest, longest night tomorrow on December 21st.

 

Links:

My author website: www.authordebbieyoung.com

Stocking Fillers on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stocking-Fillers-Twelve-Stories-Christmas-ebook/dp/B00PF018YC/

Lighting Up Time on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Lighting-Up-Time-Winter-Solstice-ebook/dp/B00QFZDHGS/

Homeric Writers’ Retreat: http://www.homericwriters.com