Blog Archives

LOVE CAN’T BE HURRIED, NOR CAN A SECOND NOVEL

 

book2My second novel Twins of a Gazelle is out, a mere six months later than my NR4 co-conspirators’ got out their seconds, the other fab three, Adrienne, June and Lizzie. My small band of readers are probably wondering, ‘So, what took you so long?’ Taking my cue from The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love”, I couldn’t hurry Twins of a Gazelle. No matter how hard I tried, I just had to take as long as it took. How(see below) will probably explain everything.

Way back in February, Sarah Houldcroft told us what every writer needs to know which is what readers want to know. I will do my best to answer her five questions.

What inspired you to write your novel?

Twins of a Gazelle began with a house nestling in the Leicestershire countryside. Over the years I have regularly driven past this house very much like the one in the picture. I thought, one day I shall write a story about the people who live there. Lonely, disillusioned, contrite Calista Blake and her charming, wealthy and manipulative husband Adam Burgess seemed ideal occupants. They began to haunt the house as they did my imagination. BUT, Calista needed to escape her comfortable prison and where better than to the enchanted Greek island of Ithaca where she becomes spellbound by PJ Wood.

????????????????????????

 

How, why and where do you write?

cat1 copyEasiest one first, where, here in my small back room. Not in a café, a library or on the kitchen table, an attention-seeking cat is distraction enough, though interruptions from The Long-suffering One with coffee or tea are always welcome.

 

Easier second, why, because I must or I would go ever so slightly madder.

How, slowly and with difficulty. I start with a character, to-date, a woman, clever, successful at what she does. Her flaw, to begin with, she is emotionally naïve. In both Twins of a Gazelle and Last Bite of the Cherry, the main character’s story-thread is interwoven with that of a second female character who started out as my heroine. On reflection, theirs was, for me, too straightforward, not so Calista’s in Twins of a Gazelle, nor Monica’s in Last Bite of the Cherry. I like to probe their character, their motivation, their psyche, find just the right words to convey their state of mind, their emotions, and the undercurrents beneath an-on-the-surface ordinary situation. All this is equally relevant to the men they fall in love with, the two or three or more ‘heroes’ before they find ‘the one’. To me all my heroes are lovable in their own way, even Adam. As a reader, please feel free to take your pick. My novels are so not boy-meets-girl, jump through a few hoops and then live happily ever after. For me, there are no endings, just new beginnings. At the end, I would like my readers to think, ‘Knowing them both as well as I do now . . .’ Maybe some do.

Afterthought: One of my reviewers of Last Bite of the Cherry wondered if the ending would have been ‘happy’ – to my mind it was more like ‘satisfying’ – if the main protagonist had been ‘poverty struck’. If I were to write about people struggling to make a living, feed their children, becoming homeless, that would be something quite else, which brings me to question 3.

Have you experienced first-hand any of the aspects in your books?

Well, I have been known to fall in love with unsuitable men, not unsuitable in themselves, just not for me. That’s character-building and informative. Makes you think ‘What do I really, really want?’ Answer: ‘Not this’. Also, many moons ago, I took myself by surprise by becoming pregnant. Now there’s a surreal experience. Anyone agree?

Did you base your character on a real person?

My characters come from my imagination based on many years’ observation of the way people are and behave towards each other. At social gatherings, events, meetings, airports, in trains, part of the time, most of the time I love sitting back people watching. Fascinating.

If so, was it you?

I suspect I do what most writers do which is imagine myself as the person I’m writing about at any given time, what they’re thinking, feeling, seeing and hearing, smelling, doing. I try my best to make it ‘real’. Then it’s me in so far as it’s what I may have thought, felt etc. in similar situations.

??????????Nuff said, I think. I shall now sail off into the sunset in PJ Wood’s sloop.

 

Mags, aka Margaret C.

 

LOVE CAN’T BE HURRIED…

…NOR COULD TWINS OF A GAZELLE, MY SECOND NOVEL!

Twins of a Gazelle MEDIUM (2)Twins of a Gazelle is out, a mere year and three months later than my New Romantics Press co-conspirators got out their seconds, the other fab three, Adrienne, June and Lizzie. My small band of readers are probably wondering, ‘So, what took you so long?’ Taking my cue from The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love”, I couldn’t hurry Twins of a Gazelle. No matter how hard I tried, I just had to take as long as it took. How (see below) will probably explain everything.

Way back in March 2014, Sarah Houldcroft told us what every writer needs to know which is what readers want to know. I will do my best to answer her five questions.

1. What inspired you to write your novel?

Twins of a Gazelle began with a house nestling in the Leicestershire countryside. Over the years I have regularly driven past this house very much like the one in the picture [insert jpeg of Calista’s house]. I thought, one day I shall write a story about the people who live there. Lonely, disillusioned, contrite Calista Blake and her charming, wealthy and manipulative husband Adam Burgess seemed ideal occupants. They began to haunt the house as they did my imagination. BUT, Calista needed to escape her comfortable prison and where better than to the enchanted Greek island of Ithaca where she becomes spellbound by PJ Wood.

The Old Rectory

2. How, why and where do you write?

catEasiest one first, where, here in my small back room. Not in a café, a library or on the kitchen table, an attention-seeking cat is distraction enough, though interruptions from The Long-suffering One with coffee or tea are always welcome.

Easier second, why, because I must or I would go ever so slightly madder.

How, slowly and with difficulty. I start with a character, to-date, a woman, clever, successful at what she does. Her flaw, to begin with, she is emotionally naïve. In both Twins of a Gazelle and Last Bite of the Cherry, the main character’s story-thread is interwoven with that of a second female character who started out as my heroine. On reflection, theirs was, for me, too straightforward, not so Calista’s in Twins of a Gazelle, nor Monica’s in Last Bite of the Cherry. I like to probe their character, their motivation, their psyche, find just the right words to convey their state of mind, their emotions, and the undercurrents beneath an-on-the-surface ordinary situation. All this is equally relevant to the men they fall in love with, the two or three or more ‘heroes’ before they find ‘the one’. To me all my heroes are lovable in their own way, even Adam. As a reader, please feel free to take your pick. My novels are so not boy-meets-girl, jump through a few hoops and then live happily ever after. For me, there are no endings, just new beginnings. At the end, I would like my readers to think, ‘Knowing them both as well as I do now . . .’ Maybe some do.

Afterthought: One of my reviewers of Last Bite of the Cherry wondered if the ending would have been ‘happy’ – to my mind it was more like ‘satisfying’ – if the main protagonist had been ‘poverty struck’. If I were to write about people struggling to make a living, feed their children, becoming homeless, that would be something quite else, which brings me to question 3.

3. Have you experienced first-hand any of the aspects in your books?

Well, I have been known to fall in love with unsuitable men, not unsuitable in themselves, just not for me. That’s character-building and informative. Makes you think ‘What do I really, really want?’ Answer: ‘Not this’. Also, many moons ago, I took myself by surprise by becoming pregnant. Now there’s a surreal experience. Anyone agree?

4. Did you base your character on a real person?

My characters come from my imagination based on many years’ observation of the way people are and behave towards each other. At social gatherings, events, meetings, airports, in trains, part of the time, most of the time I love sitting back people watching. Fascinating.

5. If so, was it you?

I suspect I do what most writers do which is imagine myself as the person I’m writing about at any given time, what they’re thinking, feeling, seeing and hearing, smelling, doing. I try my best to make it ‘real’. Then it’s me in so far as it’s what I may have thought, felt etc. in similar situations.

‘Nuff said, I think. I shall now sail off into the sunset in PJ Wood’s sloop.

PJ's sloop

Extract from Twins of a Gazelle:

‘PJ Wood.’ She took the hand he extended. Not used to callouses her turn to recoil except she didn’t. ‘Everyone calls me PJ.  Not even my mother has the courage of her convictions.’ He spoke clear, educated English with just a hint of mid-Atlantic. She refused to ask why he was known by his initials.

‘Calista Blake. I mean Burgess.’ He took the chair opposite. Whilst he discussed with Marcos what he would eat and drink, she could observe him without seeming rude. Beneath his polo shirt, he was lean and sinewy, the ideal shape for a long-distance runner. She wondered how he earned his living. ‘Are you eating?’ He smiled across the table. His face lit by light from inside the taverna, his eyes startled her. They were the deepest lobelia-blue. ‘I’ve already eaten.’ Not very much, her insides had been a tangle of knots. The thought of spending the night up at the villa alone . . . Anyone would think she was not used to being on her own, and Kioni was the least threatening of places. ‘Only a salad,’ Marcos said. ‘Why don’t I get Petros to prepare you the mixed fish dish for two? PJ would like that.’ He agreed he would. She was tempted. The wine had helped her relax and the mezedhes had given her an appetite. A meal would prolong the time she could spend in company. Her eyes met PJ’s, his look as guarded as she felt.

Twins of a Gazelle, by Margaret Cullingford, available on Amazon –http://tinyurl.com/qj2hzlf

A New Book from Georgina Troy

Georgina TroyToday we’d like to welcome Georgina Troy to the NR4 blog.

Georgina has a new book out on 2nd April and we are thrilled to share a sneak peak of A Jersey Affair. Georgina lives in Jersey near the sea – well, most people do in an island only 9 miles x 5 miles in size. She’s always wanted to write and being an impossible romantic is always falling in love with heroes both real (hopefully), in fiction (definitely) and those of her own creation (absolutely). 

A Jersey Affair is the second in a series of stand-alone romances based in Jersey, which Georgina hopes you’ll read, enjoy and maybe tell your friends about. The first book, A Jersey Kiss is out now.

book coverJilted by the man she was expecting to marry, Paige Bingham, a shoe designer from the tiny island of Jersey, decides to enjoy her honeymoon-for-one in Sorrento. What she doesn’t expect is to meet a mysterious entrepreneur, Sebastian Fielding, when she gets to Italy. Sebastian helps soothe her faith in men and gradually the pain recedes from her battered heart as he introduces her to the beautiful sites he knows and loves.

Unfortunately, not long after Paige returns to her small island home off the coast of France, she discovers that  not only is this charismatic man’s company taking over the struggling store where her business is based, but that her concession is probably going to be surplus to his requirements.

How can Paige stop her fledgling shoe design business from falling apart? And what can she do to restore her reputation now that the paparazzi have published their untruths about her romance with Sebastian, as well as the unwanted publicity they’ve generated about, A Jersey Affair?

If you’d like a taste of Georgina’s writing, read on!

Chapter One – A Dizzy Height

I hope you’re phoning to tell me you’ve arrived safely?” Olly asked, his tone willing her to confirm that she had.

Yes.” She blew her nose once again, wondering why she always felt the need to phone him every time she became too miserable. “Nothing awful has happened since you dropped me off at the airport this morning and I haven’t changed my mind about being here, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

Good. Now stop snivelling and go and search for an Italian bloke to take your mind off Jeremy.”

Surely you don’t seriously expect me to be interested in anyone after everything that’s happened?” She slumped down on the balcony chair conveniently placed under the ivy covered pergola, grateful for its shade from the midday Italian heat.

Don’t be such a drip,” he said. “Anyone would think your ex-fiancé was worth keeping. Now get off your bum, put on a pair of your more colourful sandals then go and explore Sorrento.

Fine, but if I can’t find something to wear that doesn’t make my bottom look the size of a small Shetland pony, I’m not going.” Paige glanced at the yellow shift dress she’d just dropped onto the bed and wished she hadn’t bothered packing it.

You’ll be back in Jersey soon enough, moaning about wasting your trip. If nothing else, you can get inspiration for your next set of designs.”

You’ve been talking to my sister, haven’t you?”

How can you tell?”

You don’t know anything about women’s shoes and I’ve never heard you say the word sandal before,” she laughed.

Clem’s worried about you. I had to stop her from racing round to Jeremy’s house and giving him hell for jilting you.”

Paige chewed her lip guiltily. She should turn to Clem before Olly, but worried about upsetting her sister further. Her one-person honeymoon had been the only good thing to come out of this mess. She still couldn’t believe she’d had the nerve to come alone to Sorrento. “I need time to think.”

A break up is always hard and it’s only been a week since everything happened. You’ll be fine though, I just know it. Once you’ve had time to recover from the shock I bet you’ll come back here and be ready to focus on your shop again.”

He was probably right, but it was still a little difficult accepting that Jeremy had changed his mind about their marriage and she hadn’t seen it coming. Then again, at least now she understood why he’d been acting so strangely recently, so much for pre-wedding nerves.

Paige, are you still there?”

Had Jeremy turned to Gretchen because she’d spent all her time thinking about future designs for her shoes like he’d said?

Stop dwelling on that jerk,” Olly shouted, interrupting her thoughts.

Ol, you’re the perfect best friend and always ready to listen to me.” She couldn’t help smiling, he knew her so well and she hated the thought that her situation was causing upset with those closest to her.

Probably because you don’t often moan about things,” he laughed, his voice sounding tinny down her antiquated phone. “When you get back we can spend time working on the new website designs. I’ve had a few new ideas that should perk it up a bit.”

Good, I know the one I have now isn’t nearly stylish enough for the image I want to project.” She brushed a fly off her ankle.

Never mind that now. You go and make the most of that incredible place and I’ll speak to you soon.”

I thought I’d have a look at the shoe shops here and see how their designs compare with mine.”

You see?” Olly laughed. “You must be feeling a little better because you’re thinking about your shoes. Right, I’ll put some ideas together while you go and mooch around Sorrento.”

Thanks Ol,” she said glancing towards the window and staring at the rays of white gold light filtering through the metal shutters.

Good, now get out and I don’t want you back in that room of yours until it’s time for you to go to bed.”

Okay, I’m going, but I won’t enjoy myself,” she teased before replacing the receiver onto the eighties-style phone.

Paige picked up her red clutch bag, slipped on the matching shoes she had designed to complement it, and set off toward the confines of the old town. Treading carefully along one of the narrow roads, she breathed in the scent of oregano from the spice-filled air. This was more like it. She walked down the steps from the back garden of the hotel, at times holding on to the handrail especially where they tilted away from the cliff face. She stopped and concentrating on not looking down, gazed across at the spectacular view across the sea to the other side of the Bay of Naples.

She gripped on tightly watching every step and breathed a sigh of relief as she reached the small supermarket at the beginning of the main thoroughfare. She was a little surprised to see so many designer shops dotted along on both sides of the road. Forgetting her nerve-wracking walk down there, she paid particular interest in the shoe shops and thought about the rumours her father had shared with her before her fateful meal with Jeremy.

What if her dad was right about De Greys? If the store goes bankrupt then she would have to start up her business elsewhere. It had cost most of her business loan just setting up her concession in De Greys, she didn’t think she would be able to afford to set up in another shop so soon after moving to King Street.

She stepped into the road, tripping over the pavement in her panic to avoid an oncoming car that almost hit her. Hands seemed to come from nowhere, catching her under her arms before her bottom smacked down onto the tarmac. She didn’t understand what her rescuer was saying to her in the confusion, but managed to regain her footing with his help.

Grazie,” she said smoothing down her skirt and taking her bag when he picked it up and handed it to her.

She went to say something else, but the immaculate hero smiled briefly, said something and pointed to indicate that he had somewhere to go. Then he was gone among the crowd of pedestrians passing her by. Paige didn’t want to know if anyone else had seen her reckless attempt to cross the road, so stopped to gaze at the closest window display while she gathered her senses. It dawned on her that none of the shoes in this particular shop had designs as quirky as her own. She could see the prices were similar to those that she charged and the shoes were beautifully made. Paige walked in.

Many thanks for sharing your first chapter with us, Georgina.

If you’d like to connect with Georgina, you may do so via her website, blog, Twitter, and Facebook. You can find our about her blog tour and buy her new book on Amazon UK and US.

 

SANTA BABY, PUT A NOVEL UNDER THE TREE

Happy ChristmasWhat would YOU like Santa to leave under the tree, apart from a food hamper and an army of staff to serve Christmas dinner for you? Maybe a nice armchair to curl up in with a good book . . .

Talking of which – here is the latest selection from The New Romantics 4: BOOT CAMP BRIDE, A CHANGE OF HEART, 20’s GIRL, THE GHOST AND ALL THAT JAZZ, TWINS OF A GAZELLE.

* * * * *

 Boot Camp Bride by Lizzie Lamb

Boot Camp BrideTake an up-for-anything reporter.  Add a world-weary photo-journalist.  Put them together . . . light the blue touch paper and stand well back!

Posing as a bride-to-be, Charlee Montague goes undercover at a boot camp for brides in order to photograph supermodel Anastasia Markova. At Charlee’s side and posing as her fiancé, is Rafael Ffinch award winning photographer and survivor of a kidnap attempt in Columbia. He’s in no mood to cut inexperienced Charlee any slack and has made it plain that once the investigation is over, their partnership – and fake engagement – will be terminated, too.

Soon Charlee has more questions than answers.

What’s the real reason behind Ffinch’s interest in the boot camp? How is it connected to his kidnap in Columbia?

In setting out to uncover the truth, Charlee puts herself in danger. And, as the investigation draws to a close, she wonders if she’ll be able to hand back the engagement ring and walk away from Rafa without a backward glance.

Buy Boot Camp Bride from Amazon

Twins of a Gazelle by Margaret Cullingford

Twins of a Gazelle Only fifteen months since her low-key wedding, anxious, lonely, Calista Blake begins to realize she should have followed her instinct and not been persuaded when Adam Burgess sweet-talked her into marrying him.  Feeling guilt for what she believes was her role in the break-up of his first marriage, she suspects Adam goes along with the premise, marry your mistress, you create a vacancy.   She hopes their holiday on the magical Greek island of Ithaca will banish her disenchantment. Instead there Calista is spellbound by P.J. Wood – ‘I take photographs. Tell stories . . . True ones. . . . Where-ever there’s trouble.’  Meeting P.J. added to what Adam reveals when she questions him,  makes Calista’s previous angst seem mild compared with the cauldron of trouble she falls into, the consequences of meeting P.J. Wood.

Read TWINS OF A GAZELLE to discover how Calista resolves her dilemma.

The Twenties Girl, The Ghost, and All That Jazz by June Kearns

The Twenties Girl, the ghost, and all that jazz1924. The English Shires after the Great War – all crumbling country houses and no men.

When her jazzing flapper of an aunt dies, Gerardina Mary Chiledexter inherits some silver-topped scent bottles, a wardrobe of love-affair clothes, and astonishingly, a half-share in a million-acre ranch in south-west Texas.

Haunted by a psychic cat, and the ghost voice of her aunt Leonie, Gerry feels driven to travel thousands of miles to see the ranch for herself.

Against a backdrop of big sky, cattle barons and oil wells, she is soon engaged in a game of power, pride and ultimately, love, with the Texan who owns the other half.

Buy The Twenties Girl, The Ghost and All That Jazz from Amazon

A Change of Heart by Adrienne Vaughan

A Change of Heart ‘Maeve Binchy meets Jackie Collins’ says one fan of Adrienne Vaughan’s latest novel A Change of Heart, the standalone sequel to her highly-acclaimed debut, The Hollow Heart.

Escaping to a remote Irish isle, journalist Marianne Coltrane had not bargained for a tumultuous affair with movie star Ryan O’Gorman.

When Ryan leaves to pursue his career, Marianne remains on the island to care for those who need her most, but Ryan soon realises he cannot live without her and returns to woo her back.

Tricky enough without his problematic ex-wife or the contract he cannot break, but when a good deed puts all they treasure in jeopardy, it’s time to take stock and fight for what matters most …or is time running out for this charismatic couple and everything they hold dear?

Buy A Change of Heart from Amazon

* * * * *

 Christmas TreeSo, tell us, what would YOU would most like to find under the Christmas tree.

The most amusing or original reply will win an Amazon voucher which will enable the winner to download one of our novels onto a kindle.

Books That You Would Never Lend?

photo (5)Just before to leaving school and throwing my hat into the canal, my English teacher presented me with a long list of books that he said I must read.

Half-way through, I came across The Dud Avocado, by Elaine Dundy. At that time, neither book nor author, were well known, but oh – I just loved it. It’s so funny and clever and heart-liftingly brilliant, and still my favourit-est book ever.

 

So, sixteen years later, with the book now well-thumbed and out-of-print, I was faced with my wonderful, unselfish sister-in–law asking to borrow it, for a holiday read.

I immediately felt shifty – (I don’t come out of this well) – huffed and puffed and tried my best to put her off, but in the end, grudgingly, I handed it over

So, the book was in a holdall in the back of the car, outside a French hotel. There was a smash-and-grab and horror of horrors, my precious paperback, (out of print! irreplaceable!) was now lost  for ever. And serve me right, too, you might say.

After ages of high-and-low searching, I managed to get hold of a second-hand copy and now that the book’s been reprinted, I keep spares – you know, just in case.

photo (6)Several years later, we went to the South of France, with my husband’s five siblings and assorted infants, travelling in convoy.

I’d never camped before; I was forty-six. At the first stop, after trolling up and down fifty or so steps, loo roll under arm, I lay on a narrow cot, watching flies circle overhead and thought – oh help, it’s like Tenko! – the TV programme about a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp for women. Ging Gang Goolie? No, thank you.

Then my sister-in-law (same one) gave me a copy of The Republic of Love, by Carol Shields, another quirky, funny, wonderful book. Outside our tent, next to lakes, on beaches, crossing the Pyrenees, my nose was buried in its pages.

It was the beginning of another love affair, with another author and books that I just don’t like to let out of my sight.

What are your absolute favourites? Do you ever let them leave the house?

 

NEVER LET ME GO

 We all have books we simply can’t bear to part with because, like the old friends they are, they’ve stuck with us through thick and thin.

2013-04-10 18.33.17

The oldest book in my collection is Clarendon’s History of the Great Rebellion (1858) followed by The Wild Bird – Margaret Stuart Lane, (1933) The Scarlet Pimpernel (1927), The Prisoner of Zenda and its sequel, Rupert of Henzua (1930).

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My other  ‘keepers’ are the books which saw me through from girlhood to womanhood: Greengage Summer, I Capture the Castle, Bonjour Tristesse and The Dud Avocado.

2012-07-13 12.21.03

With the fickleness of youth I abandoned these when I discovered Jilly Cooper’s novels (1976).  My love of rom coms  developing within their pages  before coming full circle with Bridget Jones in 1996. 

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I can’t let go any of my penguin classics or historical  romances by the likes of  Georgette Heyer, Daphne Du Maurier, Jean Plaidy, Margaret Irwin, and Anya Seaton. My particular favourite – Lady of Hay by Barbara Erskine.

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When I want to remind myself how to write humorously, I re-visit Wodehouse, Terry Pratchet, Tom Sharpe  – and the anarchic Catch 22.

I  also treasure my poetry books . . .  John Donne, W.B.Yeats, The War Poets, T.S. Eliot, Dylan Thomas, Ted Hughes and Philip Larkin.

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And in particular, The Mersey Sound – Adrien Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten which reminds me of when I was recovering after an appendectomy in Grantham General (1970).  I was reading poems to the other patients in my ward and causing such hilarity that it was confiscated by the ward sister until I was discharged. Honestly . . .

I have two comfort reads Tristan and Isuelt by  Rosemary Sutcliffe, (so beautifully written) and Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford which is great fun. I want to spend the afternoon with the Mitford gels in the Hons Cupboard discussing topics considered unfit for young ladies.

IMG_3060

Want to come with me?

So come on, trade – what’s your favourite book?

THE ONE YOU’LL NEVER LET GO.