Follow Your Dreams

Woke up this morning and pinched myself, then checked Amazon, no, it definitely wasn’t a dream – my contemporary romance novel ‘United States of Love‘ was released by Harper Impulse last week.

It is set in the lovely historic towns of Chichester and Arundel, both local to me. I thought I’d take the opportunity to share some photos of the settings and scenes for my main characters, Anna, Tex and Mark.

ARUNDEL

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Arundel Castle where the creepy curator works

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Swanbourne Lake where Anna and Tex find themselves in a nightmare situation

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Arundel High Street, looking up towards the castle

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Public gardens alongside the River Arun, looking up towards the Cathedral

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Bottom of the High Street

 

CHICHESTER

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The Cross, Chichester centre, where Mark makes Anna an offer she can’t refuse

Chichester Cathedral inside

An unwelcome surprise awaits Anna in Chichester Cathedral

Chichester Cathedral from Bishop's Palace Gardens

Chichester Cathedral from Bishop’s Palace Gardens

 

I took the following photo a couple of years ago, which I think speaks for itself. It certainly worked for me and my publishing dream.

Follow your dreams

City Walls

 

Thank you everyone for your support.

Have a great week.

Sue

x

How You LeaveTexas by Alana Cash

HYLT cover

BOOK DESCRIPTION

How You Leave Texas is a volume of three short stories and a novella about four young women who leave Midland, Austin, Fort Worth and Mayville, Texas for New York, California, Jakarta, and in one instance, jail.  The young women seek escape from boredom and sorrow and they find it.  Hilarious, tragic, and revelatory, the stories are about extraordinary women with ordinary lives

Synopsis of individual stories:

Dam Broke – On the night of their high school graduation, Annabelle and Mickey ride a scooter in pouring rain as they reveal closely held secrets. (6 pages).

In sixth grade, I abandoned the reading glasses for a blond wig and a fake mole above my top lip. Mickey started wearing sunglasses indoors and carrying business cards.

Camille’s Net Worth – On the day she turns 40, Camille’s life goes from bored to worse in uncontrolled demolition.  She accepts an exciting job opportunity and travels back and forth to Indonesia.  The job isn’t what is appears, but the irony of how things turn out causes Camille to laugh until she has tears rolling down her face. (42 pages).

“I’m not going to spend much time repeating myself,” Camille said, “I want you to remove whatever you want to keep from this house. You can store your stuff in a rental truck if you need to until you find a new home, but you will be gone from here by midnight and never return.”

“You can’t do that!”

“If you are not gone by midnight, I will set fire to the house.”

Krystal’s Wedding – Krystal leaves her seriously flawed family in Midland, heading for New York City, where she takes a few slippery steps.  Krystal’s mother encourages her to find a husband in order to escape her loud roommate in Hell’s Kitchen and her boring job. However, Krystal actually gets her footing in New York and in life when she is offered a new, fulfilling direction (21 pages).

Krystal felt safer with Hudson there, but it must be as clear to him and his family as it was to her that theirs was a match of china and paper plates. As Krystal faked a sip of the champagne with a name she couldn’t read because it was printed in twirly letters in French, she wondered how hard his mother would try to prevent Hudson from getting too serious …

Frying Your Burger – Nicky and three irreverent friends spend mornings at a coffee shop tossing repartee on love, sex, and religion.  For a short while, Nicky is caught up with a sexy Hollywood player, becoming a pawn in the battle of egos between two movie directors trying to ruin each others careers.  The affair flares, then fizzles, but Nicky lands on her feet (108 pages).

I went into the room marked Cashier and got into a long line. And there he was. Grinning that grin. He should have had a license for it. It was that bright. I stood next to him in my white t-shirt and white pants looking like someone straight out of the “hospital orderly fashion catalogue.” It was all I had clean that day.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

alana cash

Alana Cash is an adventurer.  She’s been on ride-alongs in New York City patrol cars. She’s kissed a man inside Norman Bates’ Psycho house. She trekked alone through war-torn Serbia.  She’s used her experiences as inspiration for her work as an acclaimed writer and filmmaker.  Some of her favorite accolades are:

  • She was one of 60 US teachers profiled on the PBS series, “A Writer’s Exchange,” for her talent as a teacher at the University of Texas Informal Classes
  • Her feature film, “Tom’s Wife,” based on her novel of the same name, won awards all over the world
  • Her documentary “Anna Freud: Under Analysis,” part of documentary trilogy on women in science, was translated into German for broadcast in Austria, Germany & Switzerland

She’s a native Texan and makes great chili.

WEBSITE:   WWW.ALANACASH.COM

Wikipedia

IMDb

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Book Review : It Happened One Night by Phillipa Ashley

it happened one night

REVIEW

This is the first book I’ve read by Phillipa Ashley and wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I have to say I really loved It Happened One Night.

Initially, I thought this was going to be a story of young love between and 18 year old, Sophie,  and 21 year old, Adam, but that was just the first few chapters where the scene and background were set for the rest of the book. The ‘early’ years ended on a cliff hanger – all the reader knows is that something quite bad happened at a party. The next chapter starts 10 years later, where we catch up with Sophie and Adam and find out what happened and how their lives have moved on since then. The supporting cast had some great characters which all added to an entertaining, fun and relaxed read.

Phillipa Ashley has a lovely, fresh style of writing that is well developed, yet casual at the same time. It made me feel totally at home and once I started reading it, I didn’t want to put it down.

Definitely one to put in your suitcase alongside your flip-flops and sun cream.

DESCRIPTION

Sophie McBride has been in love with Adam Templar for as long as she can remember. Talented, brilliant and sexy, he shines like the sun over the tiny Lakeland village where she’s grown up. Now, at eighteen, she has her own big ideas and what’s more, Adam is home from university and has finally noticed her . . . really noticed her. When he asks her to a party, she dares to hope that all her dreams can come true, but what happens that night sets off a chain of events that bring heartbreak for Sophie – and lead to Adam leaving Langmere under the darkest of clouds.

Ten years later, no one is more shocked than Sophie to find him back in the village. Now an up-and-coming film director, he’s returned to make a drama about a notorious local poet and brought his glamorous cast, crew – and girlfriend – with him. As the on-screen drama plays out, can Sophie and Adam lay the past to rest or will history repeat itself?

Amazon UK

Amazon US

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

phillipa ashleyBritish author, Phillipa Ashley, loves writing lively, sexy, funny romantic fiction. After studying English Language and Literature at Oxford University, she worked as a copywriter and journalist. Her novels have been published by Headline Little Black Dress, Piatkus Entice and Samhain Publishing.

She started writing fiction in 2005, after being inspired by the BBC TV drama, North & South. Her first novel, Decent Exposure – titled Dating Mr December for the US – topped the Play.com Romance chart and won the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Award 2007. In 2009, it was filmed as a Lifetime TV movie called 12 Men of Christmas starring Kristin Chenoweth and Josh Hopkins. Having her novel made into a movie inspired It Happened One Night which is published in June 2013.

Her most recent book for Piatkus Entice is Miranda’s Mount which won Best e book at the Festival of Romance Reader Awards 2012.

Her books have been translated into many languages including Thai, Turkish, Bulgarian and Russian. In the US, four of her books have been published by Sourcebooks and reached the Amazon.com Romance Top 20. She was a judge for the RNA Love Story of the Year 2011 and has interviewed many interesting people during her career as a journalist including the writers, Ian Rankin and Sir John Mortimer and actors Richard Armitage, Robert Powell and Nigel Havers.

Phillipa lives in Staffordshire with her husband and daughter and loves Champagne, Jane Austen, hiking, surfing and body boarding. She also loves visiting her apartment in the Lake District as often as possible, the setting for It Happened One Night.

She is represented by the Wade & Doherty Literary Agency and Sayle Screen.

Phillipa’s Links:

www.phillipa-ashley.com

Twitter : @PhillipaAshley

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Phillipa-Ashley

Phillipa’s Author Page on Amazon

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Guest Post from Carol E Wyer

carol e wyerTrying to keep a grumpy old man amused is virtually impossible. Trust me, I know. After my own little Grumpy retired, he suddenly became far too interested in what I was doing, for my own good. I couldn’t move without him wanting to know what I was up to or asking if I wanted to have a cup of coffee (i.e. make him one.)

Eventually, after various attempts to keep him amused, I introduced him to blogging. I set him up a monthly column “Hubby’s Hotties” on one of my blogs: Fortifying Your Fifties. It was to allow him to rant about all those things he generally rants to me about, and give me a break. Of course, being technically incompetent he spent hours writing out his posts in biro then handing them to me to put into the blog. It gave me much more work than I anticipated but it amused him for a while. Five months to be precise. It’s a shame he gave it up because he attracted a lot of followers. Just to prove any old grumpy can blog, here’s his second post which amused quite a few people (I am known as Facing50 in the blogging world):

“My second post, and I have decided to type it all myself. After the grief I got (from you know who) for writing out so much last time, I thought I’d better have a go on my tod. (Facing 50 kept muttering about “A dog” and “barking yourself”.) Facing 50 is going to cut this out from my computer screen and glue it into the blog on hers. It remains a mystery to me, so I leave all that technical gubbins to her.

All of this brings me nicely onto the subject for this week – technology or mobile phones to be precise. I am not a fan of mobile phones. Even when I had to have one for work, I used to turn it off when I went out for the day. If I didn’t, the blasted thing would always ring just as I was in an important lunch meeting with a client. Note I say “lunch meeting”. I was usually on the dessert when the phone rang. Some idiot back at base inevitably wanted the answer to some asinine query that could easily be dealt with without disturbing my crème brûlée.

Even today, Facing 50 insists I carry a mobile with me whenever we go to the shops and split up for a couple of hours. She says it is to ensure I get back to the meeting place on time, and not leave her standing there like a lemon, as I have been known to do in the past. I feel it’s like having one of those bracelets that tracks your every move. Like the ones that released prisoners have. Don’t tell her, but I switch it off.  If she says she was trying to reach me, I claim I had no signal when she phoned. Ah, she’s probably just read that bit.

Mobiles irritate me. I detest people who pick up their phone and answer it no matter where they are. If they are in the bank talking to the cashier, they’ll suddenly answer a call and chat, oblivious to the person who is serving them. It’s downright rude. Worse still are those people who walk towards you speaking. You think they are addressing you and are just about to reply, when you notice that “thing” in their ear and realise they are conversing with Bob in the office, not you.

More than calls, I hate texts. I don’t know how to send them and I don’t understand the text language that youngsters use. Even Facing 50 thought our son was sending her “lots of love” for months until she found out “lol” meant “laugh out loud”.

Last post, I received a comment from one of you which read “ROFL”. I worried it might be the sound of her vomiting. I therefore, researched the web to find out what it meant, and in doing so, found some very good text abbreviations for older people to use. I thought I’d share them with you and hopefully, they’ll make you LYAO. See, I’m learning every day.

Try them out and start a new trend:

ATD                At the Doctors

ATGC             At the Garden Centre

BTW               Bring the Wheelchair

BYOT             Bring Your Own Teeth

CGU                Can’t Get Up

CGIU               Can’t Get It Up

FWIW              Forgot Where I Was

GGPBL           Gotta Go; Pacemaker Battery Low!

LMDO              Laughing My Dentures Out

OMSG             Oh. My! Sorry – Gas

ROFL&ICGU Rolling On The Floor Laughing And I Can’t Get Up

WAITT             Who Am I Talking To?

WTP                Where’s The Prunes?”

See, he had potential to be a good blogger. Pity he decided to revert to his old ways and stick to what he knows best; irritating me while I am trying to get on with something. Good luck. Hope you have better luck with your grumpies.

grumpymancover

Is your Grumpy Old Man getting under your feet? Is he wrestling with retirement? Are you wondering if you should bundle him up and entrust him to basket-weaving classes? Then this book could be the answer to your prayers. This light hearted guide is packed full of lively ideas, anecdotes and quips. Not only does it set out to provide laughs, but offers over 700 ideas and ways to keep a Grumpy Old Man occupied.

From collecting airline sick bags to zorbing, you will be sure to find an absorbing pastime for your beloved curmudgeon. There are examples of those who have faced extraordinary challenges in older age, fascinating facts to interest a reluctant partner and innovative ideas drizzled, of course, with a large dollop of humour.

Written tongue-in-cheek, this book succeeds in proving that getting older doesn’t mean the end of life or having fun. It provides amusing answers to the question, “How on Earth will my husband fill in his time in his retirement?” It offers suggestions on what might, or most certainly might not, amuse him. Ideal for trivia buffs, those approaching retirement, (or just at a loose end) and frustrated women who have an irritable male on their hands, this book will lighten any mood and may even prevent the odd murder.

The following is an excerpt from a recent article published in Men’s Health on NBC News

(http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/50305818/ns/health-mens_health/t/get-my-lawn-why-some-older-men-get-so-grouchy/

The look: A scowling face, a wagging finger, and a shaking head. The targets: The economy. Teenagers. Windmills.

Some informally dub it “grumpy old man complex.” British author Carol Wyer labels it “irritable male syndrome,” a spike in the outward crankiness of guys of a certain age.

“Women have friends and we talk about our problems and we take medication and all that kind of stuff. But for men, it’s something they suppress. It’s a male thing,” says Wyer, author of the upcoming humor book “How Not To Murder Your Grumpy.”

Feeling that they no longer are useful, especially, if a man has held an important position in employment prior to retirement, “can result in severe depression at worst and general grumpiness at best,” Wyer said.

Wyer’s husband of 25 years, John, turned 60 this year and became very grumpy just after his birthday, she says. “I have spoken to other women in the same position who have said exactly the same: Husbands, even those who have looked forward to a big birthday, have become morose soon after,” Wyer says.

John Wyer, who owned his own business and misses “the cut and thrust” of his work, has self-diagnosed his own occasionally gloomy anger as something of a byproduct of Western society’s collective view toward — and value of — people who are 60 or beyond.

“One of the things that really took hold of me was the fact that I was approaching a ripe old age, let’s say, and I felt society can cast you off as a little bit of a no-hoper. I just feel that isn’t right. I feel people in increasing years have a lot to offer. And they shouldn’t cast off to one side. And I suppose my grumpiness is a little bit of a protest against sliding down that particular route,” he said.

“You think, well, gosh, there’s got to be to be something a little more than this. Being grumpy is just my way of getting through it and laughing at myself.”

About the Author:

carolewyerAfter completing a degree in French and English, Carol E Wyer became a language teacher. She actually began her working life abroad, in Casablanca, Morocco, where she taught English as a Foreign Language in an American Language school. It was soon discovered that she could speak French rather well, and she became a translator and teacher to large organisations and companies such as ‘Regie de Tabac’, Morocco’s largest cigarette company, and the Mediterranean Shipping Company.

After a few years she was ‘head-hunted ‘to run the English as a Foreign Language department of a private school in the UK. (Imagine Hogwarts without the wizardry.)

Carol taught English up to, and including ‘A’ Level, along with English as a Foreign Language. She also qualified to teach pupils with Dyslexia and became Head of English for Special Needs.

In 1988, Carol set up her own language company called Language 2000 Ltd and worked in schools and for companies. She taught a variety of languages, including basic Japanese, to all ages and translated documents.

A recurrence of spinal difficulties that began when she was a teenager, forced her to give up teaching and choose a new direction. In order to deal with her health problems, Carol attended a fitness course (Premier), took the qualifications to become a fitness instructor and became a personal trainer. That led her to become a trainer for others, particularly for older people who, like herself, had undergone major surgery.

Thanks to older age, Carol now no longer trains people, but she is currently writing a series of novels, articles and books which takes a humorous look at getting older. It is her hope that they will educate through laughter and help others appreciate life.

Carol has written several short stories over the years, including humorous books for children which served to teach them French. She was not able to fulfil her desire to be a full-time author until two years ago when her son flew from the nest, leaving his bedroom which Carol turned into her office.

Since then, she has written two novels, Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines and Surfing in Stilettos, both of which have enjoyed media attention and success, becoming best sellers and winning awards.

Carol writes regularly for author websites and she has recently become a contributing author on a help guide entitled Tutorials and Tools for Prospering in a Digital Age.

carolewyerbooks

Carol’s links:

Amazon UK Author Page :  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Carol-E.-Wyer/e/B005U34XNM/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Amazon US Author Page :  http://www.amazon.com/Carol-E.-Wyer/e/B005U34XNM/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

FeedARead (Paperback version)  Surfing in Stilettos :

http://www.feedaread.com/books/SURFING-IN-STILETTOS-9781781764886.aspx

FeedARead (Paperback version) Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines:

http://www.feedaread.com/books/MINI-SKIRTS-AND-LAUGHTER-LINES-9781908481818.aspx

Website:http://www.carolewyer.co.uk/#

Thornberry Publishing:http://www.thornberrypublishing.com/page10.htm

Safkhet Publishing:  http://www.safkhetpublishing.com/authors/Carol_Wyer.htm

And:http://www.safkhetpublishing.com/books/select/9781908208163/How_Not_To_Murder_Your_Grumpy.html

Blog:http://facing50withhumour.com

Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/pages/Carol-E-Wyer/221149241263847

Twitter:https://twitter.com/carolewyer

Goodreads:http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5061207.Carol_E_Wyer

Website:http://www.carolewyer.co.uk

Member of Romantic Novelists Association:http://www.romanticnovelistsassociation.org/index.php/about/author/carol_wyer

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The Identity Crisis of a Book Cover

Everyone knows how important it is to get the book cover right. After seeing my book come up on Amazon alongside its contemporaries, the one thing I noticed was the other books shouted romance or chicklit loud and clear yet mine seemed not to be shouting but more talking quietly.  The title, of course, indicates it’s a romance but when flicking through thumbnails on Amazon etc, the title is not often the first thing that grabs the attention of a potential reader, it’s the cover.

Cathy Helms from Avalon Graphics designed my first cover, under my brief of  ‘nothing too girly, fluffy or pink’ – well, she took that on board and together we agreed on a cover that was very much ‘me’. The Texan flag design on a stable door, with the star being replaced by a heart. However, on reflection, it didn’t say a whole lot else about my book.

USoL-cover-HQ (2)

So in an effort to give more of a flavour of the story, ie. a woman at work, a bistro/restaurant, an American influence and a hint of Texas, I cobbled together a very poor Power Point representation – no, I’m not going to show you. Oh, all right then I will and, yes, you can laugh at my graphic design skills ..

usl_chicklit

That is what Cathy had to work with and the words ‘girly, pink and fluffy’ featured highly this time. Cathy did a great job and this was the first version.

USoL-1

We decided that the cursive script would be hard to read on a thumbnail, especially with my surname which, although an everyday  name in France, isn’t particularly common in the UK.  We made the pot plants smaller so they didn’t intrude, added the stars and stripes on the blinds, restricted it to three colours and added a border so that on a white background the cover didn’t just merge in.

USoL-Final

Although I am sad to say goodbye to my much loved original cover, I do think the objective has been achieved as there is no mistaking the genre of my book now and I have a theme I can take forward for future novels.

USoL-3D-Promo

Book Review : The Gilded Fan by Christina Courtenay

TheGILDED_FAN_front

REVIEW

I have always enjoyed Christina Courtenay’s books and this one was no exception. An adventure across continents, where different cultures meet, we follow Midori and Nico as they set sail from Japan to England.

Midori was a great character with mixed heritage, a Japanese father and an English mother, she could wield a sword as good as any man, if not better. She was fiercely independent and determined to deal honourably with the situation that forced her to escape from her beloved Japan and seek refuge with her English family in Plymouth.

Nico, captain of the ship that carried Midori to England, was simply delicious. A true leader, strong and well respected, fair and with a gentler side when needed. His meeting with Midori presented itself with all sorts of problems from the start and took him not only to physical places he had no intention of going, but to emotional places which he had long since buried.

Set in the 1600’s, with the English Civil War as a backdrop, there was lots of action and adventure in this book, together with a healthy dose of romance, I really enjoyed spending time with these characters.

BOOK DESCRIPTION

How do you start a new life, leaving behind all you love?

It’s 1641, and when Midori Kumashiro, the orphaned daughter of a warlord, is told she has to leave Japan or die, she has no choice but to flee to England. Midori is trained in the arts of war, but is that enough to help her survive a journey, with a lecherous crew and an attractive captain she doesn’t trust?

Having come to Nagasaki to trade, the last thing Captain Nico Noordholt wants is a female passenger, especially a beautiful one. How can he protect her from his crew when he can’t keep his own eyes off her?

During their journey, Nico and Midori form a tentative bond, but they both have secrets that can change everything. When they arrive in England, a civil war is brewing, and only by standing together can they hope to survive…

AUTHOR LINKS

'Promote Me!' portrait

www.christinacourtenay.com

Twitter : @PiaCCourtenay

Publishers : ChocLitUK

ChocLit-logo2

 

Book Review : Security by Mandy Baggot

Security_600

REVIEW

With a slight shift in sub-genre from romance to romantic suspense, Mandy Baggot’s books get stronger and stronger.  This is probably my favourite one to date.

We meet Autumn Raine, singing superstar and she is not instantly likeable, coming across as spoilt and self-obsessed. However, gradually the walls come down and you get to know the real woman underneath who is both vulnerable and determined at the same time. Underneath the celebrity exterior, there is a genuine likeable person. She’s had a lot of emotional obstacles to overcome and has not always had the best advice. Now she’s up against the biggest challenge yet with her life in danger.

Cue mean and moody, northern bodyguard, Nathan Regan. He doesn’t change his attitude or his mind for anyone, that is until he comes up against Autumn Raine . As if outwitting kidnap plots and extremists isn’t enough for one guy, he also has  demons of his own to battle at the same time.

With unexpected twists in the plot, Security, has suspense and tension all the way through, together with some great chemistry and tough romance, this really is my sort of book.

Description

Autumn Raine is a pop vocalist at the very top of her game. She’s a style icon, the paparazzi’s darling and everyone wants to be her friend. But when her safety is threatened, her whole life starts to unravel.

Enter Nathan Regan, an ex-elite soldier who is assigned to protect her. He’s a good man doing bad things but what drives him? Passion? Madness? Or grief? Demons from his past are threatening to consume him. Can he win the fight alone or will he have to admit he needs help?

As the threat deepens, Autumn starts to find out who she really needs in her life. Is there still room for personal assistant Janey or rapper boyfriend Rockweiler? When everyone around her is feeding her lies, how does she work out the truth? Does her record producer know more than he’s letting on? What is her mother, the British Foreign Secretary’s involvement in the situation? And can Autumn put her faith in a forty-something Jamaican woman who handles an automatic weapon as expertly as she cooks?

Eluding kidnap and trying to stay alive, can Autumn find the strength to be the person she longs to be? And can two people, poles apart, forge something strong enough to survive anything?

GIVEAWAY

As part of of the Security launch, Mandy is having a giveaway. Anyone who posts a review on Amazon up until the end of May can enter into the Rafflecopter draw to win a £25/$40 Amazon gift certificate. You will be able to enter via this link:

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/e42d6b8/

About the Author

Mandy Baggot brings you award-winning fiction! In 2012 she won the coveted Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance. Her novel Strings Attached was also short listed for Best Author Published Read!.

Mandy writes strong contemporary romance and characters you’ll fall in love with. Previously self-published, she was signed by US
mandy baggotpublishing house Sapphire Star Publishing in January 2012. Shortly afterwards she became a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Mandy is a self-confessed Twitter addict who also likes to show off her singing talents on You Tube – check out Lady Gaga! She has auditioned for X Factor, appeared on ITV1s Who Dares Sings and longs to duet with Bryan Adams. She also has a fondness for white wine, mashed potato, country music and World’s Strongest Man.

Mandy lives near Salisbury in Wiltshire, UK with her husband, two daughters and two cats called Kravitz and Springsteen.

You can find out more on Mandy’s website
http://mandybaggot.com

or check out her author page at Sapphire Star Publishing
http://www.sapphirestarpublishing.com/mandybaggot

mandy's books

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