Stirred With Love – Marcie Steele

The Blurb (as per Amazon UK) An intriguing tale of rumour and tittle-tattle that will have the best of ‘gossipers’ dropping their cups into their saucers to hear more.

‘Would you like to be a waiter/waitress with a difference? Do you have the imagination and flair to help me set up a new business in Somerley and contend with the competition out there? Would you like a room of your own and money in your pocket in exchange for enthusiasm and pride in your work? If so, pick up the phone or email me. Excellent prospects for the right people.’

For widowed Lily, recently separated Kate, and school leaver Chloe, brand new Coffee Stop represents a fresh start. But opening a coffee shop is never as simple as it seems, especially when you add neighbouring competition, local heart throbs and the inevitable catfight to the mix. 

Can three such different women pull together to make the new business fly, or will Lily’s last go at life disappear down the drain along with yesterday’s coffee grinds? 

Combining strong bonding with the inevitable ups and downs, Stirred with Love captures today’s struggles to find the right path to follow and the everlasting friendships that form along the way.

My Thoughts

Stirred With Love packs a lot into one novel, but at the heart of it runs the central theme of love and relationships between three women; teenager Chole, thirty-something Kate and elderly Lily.  It delves into existing relationships and what has driven each of them to make changes in their lives, it looks at the relationships they form between themselves as they strive to make a success of the coffee shop business and it also looks at the new friendships they make along the way.

Stirred with Love is a gentle, heart warming story which although has some poignant and sad moments, is very enjoyable to read, leaving the feel good factor lingering at the end.  I really liked getting to know the characters and watching how they developed and grew through the story.

Marcie Steele brings together some of my favourite things, coffee, cake and camaraderie to make for a gentle and enchanting read.

I shall look forward to her forthcoming novel ‘Through With Men’ which is due to be released soon and has an equally fab cover.

To find out more about Marcie and her books you can visit her blog and follow her on Twitter.

 

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The Traz – Eileen Schuh

The Blurb (as per Amazon UK)  Katrina is thirteen, wealthy, grieving, and alone. But she is more than that. She’s intelligent, beautiful, and intrigued by the dangers of street life.

Shrug’s a giant of a man with a voice of thunder and eyes of granite. He has tattoos, The Traz gang patch, and a motorbike. When he asks Katrina if she wants a ride, she makes a decision that will change her life forever.

Katrina quickly discovers the violent side of life on The Traz compound. However, there is no way for her to escape until she meets Chad—an undercover cop with rich brown eyes, a gentle chuckle, and a plan to rescue Katrina from the clutches of the gang. However, there’s a problem.

Somebody is keeping dangerous secrets from them both.

My Thoughts – I enjoyed reading The Traz, although initially I was a little uncomfortable with how young Katrina was but maybe that’s because I’m a parent myself and was looking at it from an adult point of view, rather than that of someone who could more closely relate to Katrina in age.  That doesn’t mean, however, that adults won’t enjoy or even benefit from reading The Traz as much as the YA audience.  Through the story line, it addresses some interesting social issues, bringing to life some ambiguous and complex characters with realistic dialogue.

The plot is intriguing with some twists and surprises along the way and although it reaches a conclusion, I wasn’t quite ready for it.  However, the door has been firmly left open for more novels in the series and it will be interesting to see the characters develop further.  I definitely want to know more about them and what happened next.

Eileen Schuh is on Twitter as well as having her own blog and website

Eileen is also a member of the Famous Five Plus group

The Traz is Eileen’s second novel which is available in Kindle and paperback.

An Audience with an Author … Janice Horton plus book review

I have just finished reading Janice Horton’s latest novel, Reaching for the Stars (review at end of post) and today I am delighted to welcome her for a chat about her writing.

Janice , would you tell us how you promote your books and what tips can you offer to other writers?

In the past, I’ve hosted real book launch parties and book signings in bookshops, with nibbles and sparkling wine, but when I published my e-books I had to completely rethink promotion. First of all, I asked all of my lovely writer friends for ideas (promotional tip #1) and was advised to do a blog tour, host a virtual launch party, and advertise the events on social networks. Not easy when all I had to start off with was a neglected website.

Undaunted, I set up a blog, subscribed to Twitter and Facebook (promotional tip #2), and gave myself time to prepare (promotional tip #3 – I would say you need to allow six weeks at least for this). Then, having attracted a modest following, I advertised my ‘Wish I Was Here…’ themed blog launch party to bloggers and tweeters. I asked everyone to post up a picture or photo of where they would like to escape to – for a wee while or forever – a fun thing to do right in the middle of December!

This theme was directly linked to my new e-book ‘Reaching for the Stars’ because the story is about a celebrity chef who escapes the media frenzy surrounding his private life by going into hiding for a while. My final tip (promotional tip #4) would be to offer a prize draw to those who participate as a way to thank them for all their support and for being such great sports. The prizes I had on offer were celebrity chef aprons and chef hats!

Author’s Bookshelf

1. What is the favourite book you have read?

That’s easy. It’s ‘Riders’ by Jilly Cooper.

2. What are you reading at the moment?

I don’t currently have a book on the go but I plan to read lots of books over the Christmas holidays. I have a huge choice from my To Be Read list of both paper books and Kindle e-books.

3. What book should you have read, but haven’t?

‘Virginia Woolf – A Room of Ones Own’ – my son who is reading English Literature at University has insisted I should read it. I fully intend to do so but I’m not sure when!

Buy ‘Reaching for the Stars’ now at the special launch price of just 99p 

Janice Blogs at: www.janicehortonwriter.blogspot.com
Janice is a www.loveahappyending.com author
Follow her on Twitter @JaniceHorton
Facebook Author Page: http://on.fb.me/nbaWed


About the author: Janice lives in Scotland and writes romantic novels with humour which are, for the most part, inspired by the beauty of the heather-filled glens around her country cottage. When Janice is not writing novels, she write lifestyle articles and has had work published in national and international magazines and regional newspapers. She is also the bestselling author of ‘Bagpipes & Bullshot’.

My Review of Reaching for the Stars

THE BLURB – Scottish celebrity chef Finn McDuff is media stalked and disillusioned after winning his third star and losing his third wife. He decides he’s had enough of all the food campaigns, the TV cookery shows, the constant frenzy surrounding his private life and, after giving up all his accolades and closing down his restaurant, he disappears.

With the enfant terrible of the kitchen missing, two rival newspapers, having lost their media meal ticket, compete against each other to whip up further public curiosity in the missing chef. Love him or hate him, everyone is out looking for Chef McDuff. Who will find him first and whose side will you be on…?

MY THOUGHTS – This was the first novel I had read by Janice Horton and having seen rave reviews of her previous novel ‘Bagpipes & Bullshot‘ I was very much looking forward to reading ‘Reaching for the Stars‘.

I was drawn into the story from the first paragraph, no pussy footing around, Finn McDuff was brought to life immediately.  I loved the fact that he wasn’t perfect, that he had a bit of a bad boy reputation but at the same time underneath it all there was a different person to the one the press and public knew.  He had issues, past and present, that he had to overcome and/or resolve.  Not being the perfect hero really made Finn come to life and gave him that extra dimension.

Journalist Raine and her adversary Ross made for a great sparring team and even though Ross was working for a newspaper with few morals, you couldn’t help like him in a pitying sort of way.  Raine was great, sticking to her beliefs of fair representation and believing in McDuff when others doubted him.

Janice has a lovely style of writing, which flows along smoothly and makes for an easy, yet totally satisfying read.

An Audience with an Author … Stephanie Keyes

Yesterday saw the launch of Stephanie Keyes’ debut fantasy novel, The Star Child and Stephanie is here today to give us an insight into how she works.

The Tools Behind The Star Child

Hello to all of you! Sue, just let me say that I am thrilled to be a guest on your blog today. Thank you so much for having me!

When I was writing The Star Child, I used a few tools that worked for me. I wanted to take the opportunity to talk about them a little bit today. Admittedly, there are other approaches out there that might be more efficient, but these worked for me the first time around and I wanted to share them. I am also including feedback on whether or not I’d keep that approach for my next book. Here is my top five:

  1. Brainstorming session. So what does that mean? Well, we all have different styles and approaches that we like to use. For me, it was very important to start getting my initial ideas on paper or verbalizing them to my husband immediately. Once I got the concept formed in my mind, then I was constantly able to consider different angles within the storyline, even when I wasn’t writing. I would repeatedly arrange for these little pow-wows, so I could bounce ideas off of others.  Keep it or pitch it? Talking through my ideas is a big part of who I am, so I would definitely keep this approach. There were also several ideas that wouldn’t have worked if I’d chosen them.
  2. Index cards, index cards, index cards. I read an article once that recommended this. I took index cards and wrote down what would later become the chapters, on individual cards. I also included a basic premise around what was supposed to happen in each chapter.  Keep it or pitch it? Pitch it. I tend to lose pieces of paper and I once lost the index cards for about two months. I’ll probably go with a software-based approach next time, like a Mind Mapping tool.
  3. Use a quality writing software. The Star Child was written entirely in Microsoft Word, which was frustrating most of the time. The challenge that I experienced was that I would forget where I’d left off. Plus, I was running a Linux operating system on my laptop and using Word through a Virtual Machine and it started to crash after the file got over a hundred pages or so. Later, I invested in Scrivener, so it was much easier for me to work in than Word. Keep it or pitch it? I will definitely work with Scrivener again. However, I’d take the time to do some training on it first. With The Star Child manuscript it messed up all of my indents and I had to redo them. Horrors!
  4. Text To Speech Software. A friend of mine recommended this and I loved it. There are tools built into Windows and Mac OS that allow you to have your manuscript read to you aloud. In Mac you can create an M4P of the reading and put it on your MP3 player, iPhone, etc., via iTunes. I created the M4P and then edited in free software called WAVPAD to break each chapter into individual M4Ps. Then I loaded them onto my iPhone and listened to them while I read the manuscript at the same time. Keep it or pitch it? Keep it! This helped me identify so many errors in the manuscript before it went to editor, Kit Domino. In the end it was a major time saver. Just listen to it when you are very awake – the voices are a little robotic.
  5. Invest in a good laptop or personal computer.  The Star Child was written on a Sony Vaio with a keyboard and touch pad that were not highly conducive to writing of any kind. So I saved up and bought a Macbook. Now being a bit of a gadget freak, I’ll admit to going a little overboard pricewise here. Macs are extremely well made, but expensive. You don’t necessarily need to spend a fortune to get a great computer. Regardless of what you choose, make sure and test out the keyboard first. The keys should be easy to reach and have a light touch, meaning you don’t need to work to press the buttons. Keep it or pitch it? I will definitely stay with my Mac for my next book – I just love it.

So those were just a few of the tools that I found most valuable when writing The Star Child.

What tools do you use when writing? Tell us about them using the Comments section below. If Stephanie picks your comment, you could win an Amazon gift card! Only comments posted on December 16th are eligible.

The Star Child is available on;

Amazon Kindle US http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006GADZ1Y

UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Star-Child-ebook/dp/B006GADZ1Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1322888380&sr=8-1

Barnes and Noble

Nook http://www.barnesandnoble.com/c/stephanie-keyes

Paperback http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-star-child-stephanie-keyes/1037031019?ean=9780615566290&itm=2&usri=stephanie+keyes

About the author:

When Stephanie isn’t writing, she works full time as a Corporate Educator and Curriculum Designer. She holds a M.Ed. from Duquesne University and an undergraduate degree in Management information Systems from Robert Morris University. Stephanie is a clarinetist, saxophonist, and vocalist, and is always making music somewhere at sometime. She credits her loving husband of ten years and her two sons for the completion and publication of the Star Child.

Find out more about Stephanie at:

http://www.stephaniekeyes.com.

Friend her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephanie-Keyes/150860604966160

Follow Her On Twitter: http://bit.ly/jjneXg

Wish I Was Here …

Home is where the heart is – Brittany, France.

Today Janice Horton launches her new novel Reaching for the Stars in which chef McDuff escapes the media frenzy that has engulfed him and disappears into a self-imposed exile.  If I could go anywhere for my own self-imposed exile, our cottage in France is where I would head.

You can follow the fun on Twitter – we are using the hashtag #starchef

Janice will be visiting my blog on 22 December and Reaching for the Stars is available on Amazon UK and Amazon.com at the following links

Amazon UK

Amazon.Com

The Star Child – Stephanie Keyes

When seventeen year old Kellen St James graduates from Yale University he  finds himself in a position where he can make his own decisions and choices.  One of these choices includes going to Ireland and staying in his beloved Gran’s cottage which he has inherited and where he learns the truth surrounding his mother’s death.

For the past eleven years, Kellen has been visited in his dreams by Calienta and whilst he is at his Gran’s cottage he discovers that Calienta is more than just a dream.  He also learns that he has a huge responsibility resting on his shoulders, one that he knew absolutely nothing about and could not have begun to imagine what this would be.

Kellen and Calienta embark on a journey into another world, one of gods, faerie, wild dogs, angels, demons and more; moving across times and lands, battling not only for their own survival but for something far greater where defeat is not an option.

Up until this point I had never read a fantasy adventure before, so it was with some trepidation that I began The Star Child.  It was very different to my usual stuff but I found the adventure to be captivating and exciting.   Stephanie Keyes has an comfortable style of writing and creates a fantasy world that you can easily buy into and I found myself really involved with Kellen and Calienta, worrying for their safety, enjoying the development of their relationship and hoping that it would be a successful outcome for them.

So for anyone who enjoys fantasy adventures, The Star Child should definitely be on your reading list.

As part of her promotional tour, Stephanie Keyes will be visiting my blog on 16 December where she will be chatting about ‘the tools’ behind her writing.

The Star Child is available for download now at Amazon Kindle 

UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/The-Star-Child-ebook/dp/B006GADZ1Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1322888380&sr=8-1

US http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006GADZ1Y

You can find out more about Stephanie Keyes at   

http://www.stephaniekeyes.com.

Friend her on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stephanie-Keyes/150860604966160

Follow Her On Twitter: http://bit.ly/jjneXg