A Taste of Reunion of the Heart

RotH-CoverI may not have done much writing or blogging over the last few months since Leo’s arrival but my writer friends have certainly been busy, not least of all my good friend, Elaine Jeremiah. Back in August I was one of the bloggers who took part in the cover reveal for Reunion of the Heart and now, after Elaine’s second book has been published for a few weeks, I’m delighted to be able to welcome Elaine back on to my blog to share an extract from it. In this scene, Anna is having a heart to heart with Will, the man she met at her school reunion who was once the boy who tormented her at school.

Anna hesitated, turning away from him. She wasn’t sure she wanted to talk to Will right now. What could she say anyway? She found herself blushing as she remembered how he’d made her feel at the party, and shivered a little. Footsteps sounded behind her getting closer. Taking a deep breath, she turned around. Will was standing there. He too looked unsure.

‘Hi, Anna.’

‘Hi, Will.’ Anna shifted from foot to foot.

‘Would you like a lift home? If that’s where you’re going? That’s my car there.’ He pointed to a smart looking VW Polo.

She thought for a moment. If she allowed Will to take her home, she’d have to talk to him. But she was freezing cold and the buses would be crowded and slow.

‘Yes, a lift home would be lovely,’ she found herself saying. ‘If you’re sure?’

‘Absolutely.’ He grinned at her, rubbing his gloveless hands together.

Feeling a sense of trepidation, she followed him to the car and climbed in, glad of the warmth. As they drove off, Anna wondered at herself for letting Will get anywhere near her, despite her body telling her otherwise. But perhaps her friends were right. Perhaps she should just let bygones be bygones. After a while, he broke the silence.

‘You know, I nearly didn’t go to the reunion,’ he said.

‘Oh really?’ Anna glanced at him, raising her eyebrow.

‘Yes. I wasn’t sure I wanted to revisit my past.’ He paused and took a fleeting look at her before returning his attention to the road. ‘I guess you felt the same way?’

‘What do you think?’ Anna couldn’t keep the bitterness from her voice.

Will swallowed at her caustic answer and nodded, his eyes never leaving the road.

‘I suppose you have me to thank for that.’

She didn’t trust herself to answer. But if he was going to ask her difficult questions like this, he’d just have to accept that the response he got wouldn’t necessarily be to his liking.

‘Well maybe…’ he began.

‘Maybe what?’

He didn’t reply. They travelled on in silence. As they got closer to her home, she directed him towards her road. Having pulled over and stopped the car, he turned to look at her, taking hold of her hand. To her own surprise she didn’t snatch it away.

‘Anna, I’m so sorry for what I did to you at school. If there was any way of making it up to you, I’d do it immediately.’ He sighed, his face downcast. ‘I’m not sure there is a way to make amends. But I just wanted to tell you that I care about you and if you ever need a friend, you have one in me.’

She looked at him, open mouthed. This was Will talking, the Will who’d stuffed food in her face in front of most of their year group. The person who, along with his friends, had constantly taunted her about how fat she was, to the point that she’d become suicidal and, for a short while, bulimic.

Now this same person was telling her that he cared about her, that he wanted to be her friend? She shook her head as if to clear her thoughts. Her friends’ words came to her mind, what they’d said about him liking her all along. Perhaps she shouldn’t discount Will as a friend. You could never have too many, that was for sure.

‘Thank you, Will. I’ll remember that.’ He let go of her hand. She managed to smile at him as she got out of the car. ‘And thank you for the lift. It was kind of you.’

‘No problem,’ he replied. He sounded relieved, almost as if he’d been expecting a slap in the face. She turned away from him.

‘Oh, Anna!’ She turned around. Will was leaning out of the car holding something out to her in his hand. ‘My contact details,’ he told her. ‘In case you ever need to chat.’

‘OK, thank you,’ she said awkwardly, taking the card and walked quickly to her house, dashing inside as fast as her fumbling fingers, searching for the keys, would let her.

If you’re interested in reading more, then Reunion of the Heart is available on Kindle here. To find out more about Elaine and her writing then head over to her blog or follow her on Twitter. Happy reading!

Cover Reveal for Reunion of the Heart by Elaine Jeremiah

Elaine JeremiahIt was only in September last year that my good friend and fellow author Elaine Jeremiah launched her debut novel, The Inheritance. Fast forward nearly twelve months and Elaine is back with a second romantic novel called Reunion of the Heart. Here’s the blurb:

After a messy breakup with her boyfriend, Anna is feeling fragile. So when her best friend Melissa suggests the two of them go to their school reunion, she’s reluctant as Anna’s school days weren’t her happiest. The evening is going well until she meets the boy who made her school life hell.

But the grown up Will is different and Anna is surprised by the direction her life takes. The reunion sets in motion a series of events that lead Anna to realise things will never be the same again.

Today is about the all important cover reveal and I’m delighted to be one of the bloggers hosting Elaine and her brand-spanking new cover. So, without further ado feast your eyes on this:

RotH-Cover

If that cover doesn’t say romance, love and passion, I don’t what will! I love the way it hints at a Parisian element to the novel with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Not only that reading Elaine’s blog this morning she’s just a week away from publishing it!

Elaine Jeremiah has always enjoyed writing, but it’s only in recent years that she’s begun to devote serious time to it. She’s written lots of short stories, one previous novel that will never see the light of day and a novel which has seen the light of day: ‘The Inheritance’ which she published last year. ‘The Inheritance’ is available on Amazon.

You can make contact with Elaine via her blog: elainejeremiah.co.uk and Twitter: @ElaineJeremiah

Celebrating Cupid’s Way Launch Day

Cupids Way cover smallCupid’s Way, the new romantic novel from Joanne Phillips is available today. Its release means she now has four novels (including bestseller Can’t Live Without), a novelette and a book of short stories to her name. That’s a pretty amazing feat in just over two years.

To celebrate the release of her latest novel Jo’s having a launch day party over on Facebook if you fancy joining in with all the fun. Otherwise Cupid’s Way is available to buy from Amazon and with a cover like that it looks like the perfect summer read.

 

When Evie Stone’s grandparents enlist her help to save their home in Cupid’s Way, Evie is happy to oblige. On the cusp of her thirties, and still disappointingly single, Evie’s so-called dream job with a firm of architects has been driving her crazy for months. What she needs, even more than a new man, is a challenge.

But saving Cupid’s Way won’t be easy. A perfectly preserved Victorian terrace, surrounded by modern estates and retail parks, the street is a proud oasis of quirky characters, cobbled pathways and communal gardens. Unfortunately, it also sits on prime development land worth millions.

Dynamite Construction have the deal in the bag, and soon the residents of Cupid’s Way will be forced to sell up and ship out – CEO Michael Andrews, charismatic and super-successful, has certainly never let sentimentality get in the way of business. At least, he hadn’t until he met Evie Stone.

Right, that’s another book to add to my ever-growing to read list, particularly as it’s set in my home town of Bristol.

Cupids Way cover small

Joanne Phillips lives in rural Shropshire with her husband and young daughter. She’s the author of romantic comedies Can’t Live Without and The Family Trap, and the Flora Lively series of mysteries. Can’t Live Without was an Amazon top 20 bestseller in 2012 and her books regularly appear on category bestseller lists. Before becoming a writer, Joanne had jobs as diverse as hairdresser, air hostess and librarian, but now divides her time between writing and finding creative ways to avoid housework. She’s a fan of super-dark chocolate, iced coffee and Masterchef. Joanne blogs about writing and publishing at www.writersjourney.co.uk

 

Estelle Wilkinson Guest Post – It Started With A Click

Estelle WilkinsonI’m delighted that my blog is being taken over today by a fellow author, the lovely Estelle Wilkinson. Estelle was kind enough to host me on my own blog tour in the summer so I was more than happy to return the favour when she contacted me a couple of weeks ago.

Estelle is the author of It Started With A Click: The Story of an eBay Romance and both her, and her book, have been on quite a journey during this past year. But I’ll leave it up to Estelle to tell you more.

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A big thank you to Kate for hosting me on my tour and allowing me the opportunity to talk about my new release. It is most kind and I am thoroughly grateful of your support. May I also take this opportunity to pass on my congratulations on your non-writing news! How very exciting. I look forward to seeing news in the new year of your new arrival.

A little bit of background…

I still find it quite odd being referred to as an author. Especially since my story was already there for me to work on. I fell into this publishing world quite by accident but have to admit I’m rather enjoying it. I never expected the support and camaraderie that I’m experiencing. Mostly from people I’ve never met too!

My book would not be here (as it is, revised and re-released) if it weren’t for some very honest and helpful beta readers, friends, and authors sharing their advice and experience to allow me to have the confidence to give this a shot.It Started With A Click

Ten years ago (almost to the day) I met a man through eBay. Bizarre as it sounds. I’m a hoarder and so have kept all the emails. Over the years people who heard my story told me it would make a wonderful book. Learning about self-publishing I decided to go for it. I’m very impatient by nature and rushed into things head first. I made many mistakes along the way but have taken the bold steps needed to rectify some of those errors. It Started With A Click: The Story of an eBay Romance is now reborn in its new, fictionalised version and is a much better read thanks to some hard work and great advice from others!

I’ve really enjoyed playing around with my story and filling in blanks on a mission to fictionalise it. I have felt rather proud to be told (by published authors!) that I have a very natural writing style and do it well. It’s been a bumpy journey, and I know I still won’t be able to please everyone, but I hope I’ve succeeded in creating the right mood within in the book so that people can experience the feelings and excitement as I did all those years ago.

The story is an incredible insight into Catherine and Damien growing in their knowledge and mutual attraction of each other. With Catherine narrating as the book moves on, the reader gets an insider’s view of the romance as it blossoms.

The blurb…

It’s not unusual to find romance online through internet dating – but who would ever think of finding a partner on eBay?

That possibility never occurs to Catherine, happily single and playing the field. Until she goes on eBay in search of tickets to an England rugby match and gets rather more than she was bidding for…

After winning an auction for a pair of tickets, she strikes up a friendship with their seller, Damien. Fuelled by their common interest in rugby, their relationship moves forward very quickly. The more they find out about each other, the more they appear to have in common. But having never met, and with over 200 miles between them, can this really be the start of something special?

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Thank you Estelle for a great post (and the congratulations!), plus sharing an insight in to how you came to write and re-write It Started With A Click: The Story of an eBay Romance. I have great admiration for someone who can be so honest in putting their hands up and saying that they rushed the initial release of their book. To use feedback, both good and bad, to work on and revise a novel to make it stronger is a gutsy thing to do and one that I very much hope will pay off for Estelle.

I’ve got my copy of It Started With A Click, and if you fancy the sound of it too then it’s FREE until tomorrow, Tuesday 19th.

You can find Estelle in the following places:

The Beloved Daughter Audiobook Blog Tour

front coverAlana Terry is currently on a very special blog tour and I’m honoured to be hosting her today. Having published The Beloved Daughter earlier in the year Alana has now released it as an audiobook. The Beloved Daughter audiobook is pretty special too as it’s a version of Alana’s bestselling debut novel narrated by Kathy Garver, a four-time Audie award winner and Lifetime Achievement Award recipient from the Motion Picture Council. For those of you who know the TV show Family Affair then you may recognise Kathy as Cissy from the programme.

The Beloved Daughter has an impressive 80 four and five star reviews and has been an amazon bestseller. The book has also been a winner in the Women of Faith Writing Contest and achieved 1st place on the Book Club Network Book of the Month. I read The Beloved Daughter not long after it was first published and reviewed it on amazon:

For 12 year-old Chung-Cha it’s her father’s Christian faith that rips her family apart when, in the middle of the night, her family are taken from their home and are subjected to humiliation and torture in a North Korean prison camp. And so begins an epic journey for Chung-Cha with the novel being surprising, uplifting and at times so very sad.

The Beloved Daughter has the feel of being set in a time long past and it’s shocking to realise that this is a story about modern day North Koreans. The author gives just enough details of the harsh and horrifying conditions that Chung-Cha and the other prisoners are subjected to in Camp 22 without being shocking for the sake of it. That’s a difficult thing to get right and Terry manages it superbly.

The Beloved Daughter is in turn heartbreaking and moving. It’s an important story about faith, love, hope, courage and survival. Terry writes in an engaging way and beautifully depicts the character of Chung-Cha and the journey she travels throughout the book. I highly recommend it.

Alana Terry

 

Alana Terry audiobook tourThere are plenty of ways to celebrate the release of the audiobook including the opportunity to win loads of prizes during the tour. For your chance to win enter the Rafflecoptor giveaway below. And if you want to join in with the party on Alana’s facebook page or get your own copy of The Beloved Daughter in paperback, on Kindle or as an audio book then simply follow these links:

JOIN THE FACEBOOK LAUNCH PARTY ($$$HUNDREDS-WORTH IN PRIZES)

SEE THE AUDIOBOOK HERE

SEE THE PAPERBACK HERE

SEE THE EBOOK HERE

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interview With The Inheritance Author, Elaine Jeremiah

Elaine JeremiahJust over a week ago Elaine Jeremiah kicked off her blog tour with a guest post on my blog about how she became a writer, which you can read here. After a whirlwind few days visiting a variety of other writers and authors I’m delighted to welcome her back for the final day of her tour and an interview about her debut novel, The Inheritance, plus a couple of questions regarding how her first week as a published author has gone.

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In an interview I did with you earlier in the year you said the inspiration for The Inheritance came from the ‘The Prodigal Son’, the parable Jesus tells in the Bible. Instead of two brothers you reworked the story with two sisters, Kate and Emma – was this always your intention or did you initially have any other ideas?

Yes this was always my intention. I was looking for inspiration for a story to write and I felt this was an interesting idea – to write a new take, if you like, on the famous parable. And I found it worked very well; I was able to develop the story in parallel with the one Jesus told, but add new angles to it to give it a modern feel, something that people can hopefully relate to as they read it.

Kate and Emma are very different and grow a lot over the course of the novel. Is there anything of yourself in either of them?

I see myself in Kate to a certain extent. I’m conscientious like she is and like her I tend not to trust myself. I’m a hard worker and I sometimes get it wrong in terms of what I should be focussing on in life as she does. I’m less like Emma but in terms of her self-confidence, I’d like to be more like her.

The novel is separated into chapters either told from Kate’s point of view on her father’s farm in Cornwall or Emma’s, living it up in London. Was the writing process more enjoyable from one sister’s point of view than the other and what challenges did each story thread present you with?

The writing process was equally enjoyable from Kate and Emma’s point of view.  I found that as I planned and wrote their separate story lines, new characters and situations developed. Emma’s point of view was harder to write in some ways because I don’t know TheInheritanceLondon that well and I’m not a party girl either, so I had to do research to ensure that I was being as accurate as I could. Although Kate’s story line was mostly easier to write as I know Cornwall quite well, I did have to research farming and finding the relevant information was a challenge.

The family dynamics in The Inheritance are fascinating – is this something that interests you, the relationships between siblings and parents?

Yes, I would say so. I think family relationships are very important; how you’re brought up and your family background can affect you forever so it was good to be able to explore that. Having grown up in a family where both my parents were together (and still are), I find it interesting to imagine what life is like for people growing up with only one parent. All families are different and it’s fascinating for me to write about fictional families where there is tension between siblings and parents for whatever reason.

If you could meet and have lunch with just one of your characters from The Inheritance who would it be and why?

I think it would be Kate because we’re alike as people and it’d be good to have a discussion about the latest book we’re reading, as well as talking about family relationships. I’d particularly want to ask her how she’s getting on with Emma now and if her relationship with Steven is still going strong.

What are your hopes and expectations for The Inheritance now it’s out in the big wide world?

Mainly that lots of people buy it and enjoy reading it. I would hope that people who do enjoy it spread the word. I realise not everyone’s going to love it – that’s impossible – but I hope that there’re plenty of good reviews of it as well as negative!

How has your first week as a published author been?

Interesting and exciting. I’ve had people I’ve never met buy the book and tell their friends they’re enjoying it which is wonderful. My own friends and family have been great. Many of them have bought the book and have helped me to promote it which is lovely. I’ve found myself working quite hard to promote my blog tour with mixed results. Some days have been a bit quiet, but I have gained loads more Twitter followers and more followers on my blog which is great.

No pressure, Elaine, but when can we expect the next novel?

I’m working on it at the moment. It’s going well, but quite slowly and there’s a long way to go before I finish it so I think it’ll be another year at least before I publish it. But I aim to work more on it and publish it as soon as I’m able.

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Congratulations Elaine on a fabulous blog tour and the continued success of The Inheritance!

If you’d like to find out more about Elaine and what she’s writing then you can find her at her blog or over on Twitter. More importantly if you like the sound of The Inheritance then it’s available on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk.

‘The Inheritance is a story about family and the intricate difficulties that siblings and parents can go through. There is more to the book than just that and I won’t spoil the plot by saying anymore but suffice to say I was taken on an emotional journey by both sisters as they struggled against everything that life threw at them. The Inheritance is a great first novel – enjoyable, engaging and easy to read.’ 5* review of The Inheritance.

 

Elaine Jeremiah Guest Post – How I Became a Writer

Elaine JeremiahI’m absolutely delighted to welcome my friend Elaine Jeremiah on to my blog today as part of her blog tour to promote her debut novel, The Inheritance, which launches today. Elaine has written an insightful guest post (the first on my blog I’m pleased to announce) about her journey from wannabe writer to published author and all that’s gone on in-between. So without further ado I’ll hand you over to Elaine.

How I Became a Writer

Although I’ve always enjoyed writing stories, I didn’t always want to be a writer. In fact when I was about eleven I wanted to be an actress and I would fantasise about winning the Oscar for best actress! But it didn’t quite turn out that way. I kept on writing but the acting fell by the wayside.

I come from a family that loves telling stories. When I was little my mother would tell me stories of her own childhood that began ‘when I was a little girl’. I used to listen avidly to her tales of life with her two older brothers and the scrapes they’d get into. So it was natural for me to start telling stories of my own. Travelling with our parents through France, me and my younger brother and sister would get bored, spending long hours cramped in the car. So I’d make up stories to tell them. Some of them were quite outrageous, like ‘heroic’ dogs that would make pesky cats go away or even die by planting itching powder on them without them knowing!TheInheritance

I began to write stories too, many of them as part of creative writing exercises at school. I wrote a story about a girl who’s subjected to racist bullying at school; another about a girl trying to cope during the Blitz and one about a girl whose mother is a prostitute. Quite serious stuff I guess, but I was constantly trying to experiment with my writing.

As I got older I had to focus on exams and essay writing as I did my GCSEs, A levels and my degree. For years I did so little work on my creative writing it almost dried up. Once I’d graduated from university though, I had time to focus on it again. I felt liberated now that I could write what I wanted with no constraints. A few years ago I completed my first novel, aimed at teenage girls. I sent it off to a few agents but it was rejected.

Discouraged, I decided I’d do something completely different and began a fantasy story for older children. It went well for a while and I used it to apply for an MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa University. I had an interview for it but unfortunately I wasn’t successful and I ran out of steam with writing the story. Different people had suggested I change different things and it all got too confusing.

I felt a bit down about my writing and unsure what to do next. My husband suggested that I put the story to one side and do something completely different. I wrote a few short stories which really invigorated my writing and I started to think again about writing a longer story, maybe a novel. I was searching for inspiration and then I thought why not take ‘The Prodigal Son’, one of the parables Jesus tells in the Bible, and update it to modern day England with two sisters as the main protagonists.

And it went from there. I’ve finished The Inheritance and I’ve published it. It’s available to buy now. My journey as a writer hasn’t been entirely straightforward. But I’ve got to the point where I have the opportunity to get my writing out there for people to read through the wonders of self-publishing and that is a truly wonderful feeling.

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I know how long and difficult the journey can be from writing the first word of a novel to being confident enough to publish it and make it available to the world. With that in mind I hope you’ll join me in congratulating Elaine on her accomplishment and more importantly head on over to amazon to buy The Inheritance! Not only will you be supporting an indie author at the start of her publishing career but you’ll get to enjoy an excellent story too.

The Inheritance is available on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk. Elaine is celebrating her launch day over on her blog today so do please drop by and say hello to her if you have the time. She can also be found on Goodreads and twitter @ElaineJeremiah.

Massive congratulations Elaine! Here’s to the success of The Inheritance!

The Beloved Daughter Free Until Thursday

front coverMy online writer friend and fellow indie author, Alana Terry, is currently doing her final free promotion for her novel, The Beloved Daughter, so if you’ve not read it and fancy a well written and very moving story then now’s your chance to download a copy here and it will cost you absolutely nothing.

So what’s The Beloved Daughter all about?

 

Behind North Korea’s closed borders, a young girl is dying for freedom. Her crime? Being the daughter of a Christian.

The Beloved Daughter is inspirational suspense and an amazon bestseller. It’s won awards from Book Club Network (1st place) and Women of Faith writing contest (2nd place).

I read The Beloved Daughter earlier on in the summer and wrote the following review on amazon:

For 12 year-old Chung-Cha it’s her father’s Christian faith that rips her family apart when, in the middle of the night, her family are taken from their home and are subjected to humiliation and torture in a North Korean prison camp. And so begins an epic journey for Chung-Cha with the novel being surprising, uplifting and at times so very sad.

The Beloved Daughter has the feel of being set in a time long past and it’s shocking to realise that this is a story about modern day North Koreans. The author gives just enough details of the harsh and horrifying conditions that Chung-Cha and the other prisoners are subjected to in Camp 22 without being shocking for the sake of it. That’s a difficult thing to get right and Terry manages it superbly.

The Beloved Daughter is in turn heartbreaking and moving. It’s an important story about faith, love, hope, courage and survival. Terry writes in an engaging way and beautifully depicts the character of Chung-Cha and the journey she travels throughout the book. I highly recommend it.

You can download The Beloved Daughter for free until Thursday from amazon.com or amazon.co.uk.

5 minutes With… Alana Terry

It was only a few months ago that I met Alana Terry thanks to the wonderful world of Twitter and the bloggersphere. We follow each other’s blogs and have got to know each other and our writing via our WIPpet Wednesday posts. This is all virtually of course as I live in the UK and Alana resides in beautiful Alaska.

What has impressed me the most about Alana is how proactive she’s been in getting her work out to the world with a true life story about her tube-fed son, A Boy Named Silas, followed by the first of a time-travel series for kids called, What, No Sushi?, and then most recently a novel for adults, The Beloved Daughter, which within its first month of being published became the number one Amazon bestselling Christian suspense novel.

The Beloved Daughter is a powerful and moving story – where did the idea for it come from and did you have to do much research for it?

I’ve followed cases of religious persecution for over a decade and a half. Since North Korea is often considered one of the most dangerous countries for Christians to express their faith, I guess it piqued my interest more than others. I spent about three months researching before I wrote it. The research was very difficult, not so much because it was tedious, but because the stories I read were so gruesome.

What inspired your time-travel series, What, No Sushi?

My boys are homeschooled, and when we started looking for books about other homeschoolers, we realized there weren’t many. I got connected to Do Life Right, a publishing company that exists exclusively to provide good fiction books about contemporary homeschoolers. I loved their idea so much I sent them my manuscript a few weeks later.

Would you like to write more children’s books?

Yes! What, No Sushi? is the first book in the Solar-Powered History series. Two more books in that series are being edited. I’d love to see the series really kick off! (I’m sure that’s what my publisher is hoping, too!)

As a writer what’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt so far?

Well, I can tell you what lesson I should have learned by now, and that’s to RELAX. Ever since The Beloved Daughter was published last month, I’ve been driving myself (and my husband) somewhat crazy by constantly checking my book sales, stalking my book reviews, etc. I take these things way too personally and am trying to stop.

How much time a day or a week can you put aside for writing and where’s your favourite place to work?

Funny you should mention that. I just got my own desk about half a year ago. Before that I had to pull out my laptop and set it up on the kitchen table whenever I wanted to work! I have my desk out in the living room so I don’t have to be a recluse in my own home. I write during naptime and in the evenings mostly. When I’m really going on a project, I can really get too single-minded. I still have to be a mom sometimes! I’d estimate I spend an average of two to four hours a day writing, but that’s been known to escalate when I’m really absorbed.

For those who haven’t read extracts from the latest novel you’re working on via your WIPpet Wednesday posts, how would you describe Saving Natalie, your new work in progress?

Saving Natalie is a contemporary family drama that centers around two college students, their critically ill newborn daughter, and their extended family that will do just about anything to keep baby Natalie alive.

You seem to be able to write about a diverse range of subjects for different age groups including your book, A Boy Named Silas about your tube-fed son, but is there a particular genre that you’re most comfortable writing and if so, why?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I’ve decided I would most like to be known as a suspense novelist. I also hope to write a lot more books like The Beloved Daughter that have international settings.

If you could be anything other than a writer or a full time mum, what would you want to do for a living?

There was a point I actually thought about becoming a doctor, believe it or not. I took the medical school entrance exams and everything. I do enjoy teaching (sometimes) and might have become a science teacher. I like hospital settings, too. I’ve thought at times that being a hospital chaplain would be a rewarding experience.

Describe your perfect day.

Well, how about I tell you about yesterday? It was gorgeous and sunny, so we headed out early to the park before therapy. While my middle son was in his therapy appointment, I took my other boys to the library and to the homeschool bookstore to get new workbooks. After Silas’ appointment was over, we had a picnic lunch on the beach and spent a few hours chasing geese and exploring the woods. We even saw a beaver. We came home for a quick nap time, and then we met some friends at a nearby field to climb trees. After dinner, I took my oldest to Tae Kwon Do, and the younger two practiced riding their bikes while we waited for his lesson to be over.

It wasn’t much of a writing day, but it sure was a blast! We even managed to throw in handwriting, math, and reading practice to boot.

That sounds like a pretty lovely day to me, especially the picnic lunch on the beach…

If you’d like to keep up to date with Alana Terry, her life and her writing then check out her fabulous blog, Lightly Salted. Alana can also be found on Twitter @ABoyNamedSilas. If you’re in the US then I urge you to buy a copy of The Beloved Daughter from which Alana is donating $5 per book to the Samaritan’s Purse disaster relief efforts for the Oklahoma tornado victims. Even if you’re not in the US buy it anyway – The Beloved Daughter is a powerful and moving story.

Hilary Mantel at the Bath Literature Festival

Two heavyweights of the book world were out in force at the Bath Literature Festival over the weekend with J K Rowling talking about her new adult novel, The Casual Vacancy, on Friday 8th March and Hilary Mantel discussing Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies  on Saturday evening. I have to admit that I’ve not yet read Mantel’s prizewinning books (they are on my ever-growing list of books to read) but my mum has recently finished Bring Up the Bodies after devouring Wolf Hall. So, as a Mother’s Day present I took my mum to Hilary Mantel’s talk at The Forum in Bath and, as my mum said, ‘it was a much better present than a bunch of flowers’. I couldn’t have agreed more. Flowers are of course lovely but Mantel’s talk with James Runcie was engaging, interesting, insightful, funny and, from a writers point of view, fascinating.

Prompted by Runcie, Mantel discussed her childhood and the fact that growing up she wanted to become a Knight of the Round Table. She talked about the influence Shakespeare has had on her writing and that like most writers her success has not happened overnight. (Aspiring authors take note, writing is something you have to work at, persevere with and hopefully get better at – I’ve been plugging away at it since I was seven.)

Written in the third person from Thomas Cromwell’s point of view, Bring Up the Bodies is told in the present tense to give immediacy to the story. That’s how I’ve written my novel, The Butterfly Storm, in the present tense but from a first person point of view (please note, I am by no means comparing it to Bring Up the Bodies!) I like the idea of the reader feeling like they’re a part of the action and that it’s unfolding before their eyes. It’s a clever technique that Mantel uses for historical fiction, writing it in a way that feels as if the story is taking place here and now.

The filmic quality to Mantel’s writing was beautifully illustrated in the scene she read out that involved Cromwell watching Henry VIII and Jane Seymour through a window at Wolf Hall. The attention to detail that she included in this scene, and the fact that the relationship between Henry and Jane was seen through Cromwell’s eyes from afar perfectly illustrated to me the importance of point of view and how it can affect and ultimately change the tone and style of a novel.

Mantel said that when writing she never really switches off from her characters, rather they live in parallel to her life. I found that to be an interesting idea and also true in many ways of how I inhabit my characters when writing, whether that’s a 28 year-old Sophie Keech in The Butterfly Storm or 12 year-old Maisie Brown in Time Shifters. I may leave them on the page about to head off to Greece or into a burning London in 1666, yet they most certainly remain in my thoughts as I go about my everyday life.

It’s a similar thing with acting, becoming a character throughout a month or so of rehearsals and then a run of performances. You take off the costume at the end of the night, wipe away the stage make-up and go and celebrate with a drink in the pub with the cast and crew, and yet until the play ends on the last night you never really shrug the character off, they remain with you on some level even when you’re not performing.

There is so much that writers such as myself can learn from other writers – not least from Booker and Costa prize-winning authors such as Hilary Mantel.

What valuable lessons have you learned from other writers and authors on your writing journey?