The Colonel and the Bee is a Victorian Age adventure novel about a young acrobat who meets a larger-than-life explorer and the journey they go on together. The idea for the book was as simple as people flying around in a hot air balloon, getting into adventures, and the characters and themes followed.
What’s your writing day like, where do you like to write and do you have any writing rituals?
I try to write every day (though admittedly little on Sundays). I write in coffee shops because there are too many distractions at home. I wouldn’t say I have any real rituals other than a cold brew or iced tea, and I’ll either listen to the ambience of the space or something instrumental in my headphones to really focus in.
Can you tell me a little about your writing process from idea to final edit?
I always have a long phase of gathering material for a particular idea, and once that becomes enough for an outline, make a fairly general outline. Whenever the schedule allows, the outline goes into a first draft (which usually takes a few weeks). Then it’s many rounds of rewriting, outside feedback, and whatever else is necessary to get the book out.
What music would feature on a playlist for this novel?
Any kind of whimsical classical music. The soundtrack for the movie The Brothers Bloom might work.
What is more important when writing a novel, character or plot?
I think it depends on the particular novel. Stories that are more firmly rooted in genre will probably have a more plot-dependent execution because there are certain reader expectations, but if something is a little more literary or unconventional, character might take the lead. The boring but true answer is that both are simultaneously the most important, and in some ways inseparable if done correctly.
How do you approach creating a character?by
Lena Szarka, a Hungarian cleaner working in London, is forced to brush up on her detective skills for a third time when her cousin Sarika is plunged into danger.
Sarika and her reality TV star boyfriend Terry both receive threatening notes. When Terry stops calling, Lena assumes he’s lost interest. Until he turns up. Dead. Lena knows she must act fast to keep her cousin from the same fate.
Scrubbing her way through the grubby world of reality television, online dating and betrayed lovers, Lena finds it harder than she thought to discern what’s real – and what’s just for the cameras.
I am very happy to be involved in the blog tour for A Messy Affair by Elizabeth Mundy.
Lena is an Hungarian cleaner who works in London. She uses the cover of her job to solve the murder of reality TV star, Terry Tibbs.
Whilst trying to figure out who killed Terry and keep her cousin safe, she’s struggling to determine what is real and what was for the cameras.
I had not read any of the previous books in the series but this didn’t seem to matter. I didn’t feel that I was playing catch up.
Lena is a feisty character and I immediately liked her. The supporting characters were all intriguing too.
Reality TV plays a big part in the plot along with revenge, obsession and murder. It’s a good study at how reality TV is blurring the lines between what is real and fiction and like Lena, I was desperate to find out what was what.by
Ash – the man she loves – will be arrested by the police.
Millie – her precious daughter – will be taken from her.
She will lose her friends.
She will doubt her sanity.
Someone is stealing everything Jo loves, and will stop at nothing.
But right now, Jo is laughing in her kitchen, eating dinner with her family, suspecting nothing.
It’s raining outside.
There’s a knock at the door. They are here.
When the police show up at Jo’s door saying they are arresting her partner, Ash, she doesn’t know what to think.
When Social Services are not that far behind, saying that they want to take her daughter, Millie due to complaints of abuse, Jo very reluctantly agrees when she thinks she has no choice.
When it becomes clear that things are not what they seem, Jo becomes frantic.
DCI Tom Douglas and DI Becky Robinson are back and they vow to help her but with Jo questioning which people she can trust, she doesn’t know whether she will see Ash and her daughter again.
I am always so happy when Tom and Becky come back again. They are one of my favourite crime fighting duos and I was intrigued to see what came next.
I don’t know what it is about these novels but I devour them. I race through them because I can’t stop reading and then I have such a book hangover once I’ve finished. Rachel Abbott has such a way of writing a compelling thriller and this book, like the others, did not disappoint.
Some of Jo’s decisions are questionable but overall, I felt sorry for her.by
Since a young age, I’ve always been fascinated with the Arthurian legend and, later on in life, the dark ages of the UK. My late husband shared this fascination with me and together we spent many years researching myths and legends across the UK.
From our research, we discovered that the roman era of the UK displayed strong possibilities that their gladiators who used two swords in their arena’s, could have extended this battle technique over to the UK. Thus, we drafted the series, ‘Shadows of a Phoenix.’
I’ve always loved reading and writing stories but over the years I’ve found that some fantasy stories, including historic ones, tell of the battles and feats of the heroes and heroines conquers but didn’t give a realistic feeling of how anyone would cope mentally to be a part of it, even if the characters are made up and can perform sorcery.
To believe you would be brave and just carry on with life as normal was completely absurd to me, the same as if the weight of a prophecy was placed on your shoulders which states that you are the one to bring peace, so that is where the idea came to me that there needed to be a story out there that showed the true effects these things could have upon someone and the mistakes they make along the way.
That a prophecy is nothing to be rejoiced about when you are the one prophesied.
I mainly write in the evening at home but most of the time it’s not in silence. I write with my headphones on and listen to music to connect to me with different scenes that I’m writing.
I begin with a playlist that I add different scores to, to fit each scene, character or specific occurrence, be it just a single track or numerous ones for the same scene I am writing.
If whilst writing my draft I believe the track is suited to another scene, or it no longer inspires me, I simply move the track up, down or delete it.
I am always adding more tracks to each scene and deleting others whilst writing the novel which by the end of it gives me a musical outline of the story
Which fictional character would you like to meet and why?
Daenerys Targaryen. Putting aside that she’s turned into a mad queen toward the end of the Game of Thrones, she started as a scared young girl and turned into an amazing leader who sought to abolish slavery. Ok, and she can command dragons! lol
What’s your favourite word?
Muppet — I can be one myself at times lol
What are the challenges of writing a series of books?by
When Leanne and Richard bought a dilapidated old seaside cottage to renovate together as their forever home, their future was full of hope and promise.
But heartbreak was just around the corner: fast forward a few months and Richard is gone. With his death, Leanne finds herself stony broke, faced with an uninhabitable home and lacking even the basic skills to do it up herself.
With the help of the friendly woman who runs the library and the reluctant assistance of the man who works in the local hardware shop, the cottage is lovingly restored. But broken hearts aren’t so easy to fix… are they?
I was so excited to be part of the blog blast for Make Do and Mend a Broken Heart by Katey Lovell.
When Leanne and Richard buy Sea Glass Cottage, they can’t wait to begin the new chapter of their lives and start renovating their new house by the seaside. When Richard dies before they have a chance to realise their dream, Leanne decides to go it alone.
She soon finds that the residents of Rockgate Bay pull together for her, especially the handsome, Harry. Can they help mend her broken heart?
First of all, can I move to Rockgate Bay please? Having grown up near the sea, this book really made me miss it so much.
The town sounds so wonderful (the setting is described so well,) as does most of the residents. There are a couple of them I didn’t care for. If you read it, you’ll see what I mean.
I loved Mary and Harry. Oh Harry Also, can I steal Milo?
Leanne was very easy to love. She’s been through a lot. I wanted to reach into the page and give her a hug.
She shows such strength as a character. She is well-developed and to me, she jumped off the page.
Katey Lovell’s style of writing made this novel hard to put down for me.by
It depends on what stage I am at. Before I start a project, whether it’s a novel or a short story, I plan it out. I think of the characters and their main story as well as the backstory.
This could take weeks or months with a novel, especially because I never start a novel now without reading at least 5 or 6 novels that I think might be similar.
With a story it could take an hour or so, and then I start writing. I like to get up before 6 when the house is quiet, and I work all the time I can. The re-write is my favorite part and its much easier to get up at 5 when I am there, because I have something to work with.
What’s the challenges of writing a collection of short stories?
For a collection, there needs to be a common thread linking all the stories together, so not every story might fit the collection.
For Were We Awake, the publisher didn’t think one story fit. It was a story about alcoholism and family dynamics, but Marc believed it was too normal and boring for a collection with ghosts, clowns, exotic birds and murders. So, I wrote a different story, and he was right. The collection was better for it.
What’s your favorite word and why?
I laughed when I read this, such a hard question. I like the word ‘pernicious’, though I can’t say I have a favorite word.
How do you approach the planning process when writing a book made up of short stories? What advice do you have for someone who would like to put together a short story collection?by
Before we reveal the cover, here’s a little about the book:
Zara Khoury believes in love – so much so that she flies from Dubai to Liverpool to be with a man she barely knows. It’s a risk, but she’s certain that uprooting her life for Nick is the new start she needs.
Jim Glover is stuck. Since his Dad died, he’s put his dreams aside and stayed at home in Liverpool to care for his mum. Trapped in a dead-end job, he’s going nowhere – that is, until he gets a phone call that just might change his life..
Zara and Jim aren’t supposed to meet. But then fate steps in, and when their worlds – and cars! – collide, the real journey begins…
A gorgeous tale about taking risks and living life to the full – perfect for fans of Beth O’Leary and Josie Silver.
OK, are you ready for the cover?
I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and New Year.
This month, I have picked On The Other Side by Carrie Hope Fletcher.
As usual, I have posted a question to start discussion. I look forward to seeing you in the comments. Anyone can take part too.
About the novel…
Your soul is too heavy to pass through this door,
Leave the weight of the world in the world from before.
Evie Snow is eighty-two when she quietly passes away in her sleep, surrounded by her children and grandchildren. I
t’s the way most people wish to leave the world but when Evie reaches the door of her own private heaven, she finds that she’s become her twenty seven- year-old self and the door won’t open. Evie’s soul must be light enough to pass through so she needs to get rid of whatever is making her soul heavy.by
Marjorie, Stacy, Raymond and Dora each hold a different story to their chest – lost loves, abandoned dreams, crippling self-confidence issues, and simply feeling invisible. For each of them, the thought of letting those stories out is almost as terrifying as letting strangers in, and that makes for a very lonely life indeed.
But when these four strangers who have struggled to “fit in” end up on the same table for an event at their local community centre, little do they know that their lives are about to be entwined and changed forever because of an Afternoon Tea club.
Cue an unexpected journey of self-discovery, some unlikely new companions, and plenty of tea and biscuits along the way…
This novel had me at the title. Tea is one of my favourite things. There’s a lot more to it than that though.
The Afternoon Tea Club focuses on Marjorie, Dora, Raymond and Stacy.
All vary in ages but all are harbouring their own secrets and insecurities. These four characters are also lonely in their own ways.
When The Afternoon Tea Club is announced in their local area, each of our main characters goes although some are more reluctant than others. Dora, Raymond, Marjorie and Stacy are four unique characters who have more in common than they realise. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because, as normal, I hope you will decide to discover this book.
Marjorie carries a lot of learned behaviour and has much emotional baggage tied into the relationship with her husband.
Dora also has a lot of hurt from her past and it’s been something she’s been running from for a long time.
Raymond is probably one of the sweetest fictional characters I have come across. He’s a simple man who is still in love with his wife ever after her death.
Stacy is missing so many aspects of love from her life and she almost has to hit rock bottom to find herself again.
I think out of all of the characters, I related to Stacy the most. She and I don’t share life experiences but there was just something about her. Although, I think she may be a little braver than me.by
Having enjoyed The Family, I can’t wait to read this novel. Before we reveal the cover, here is a little about The Beach House…
This vacation is about to turn deadly…
Cora’s on the island vacation of her dreams: a private beach in paradise, a romantic proposal, and an eight-figure cheque following the sale of her new fiancé’s business.
When their island turns out to be not so private after all, Cora tries to make the best of a bad situation by inviting their strangely friendly neighbours to celebrate with them.
But it doesn’t take long for her once-in-a-lifetime holiday to take a very sinister turn…
OK, time for the cover. Drumroll…..by
They say you should never go back, but glamorous Ronnie Percy did just that, to the home she ran away from with her lover.
But not everyone is finding it easy to forgive and forget.
Daughter Pax, fighting for custody of her small son as her own marriage disintegrates, is furious to have to spend New Year’s Eve waiting for some stranger her mother has invited to help run the family stud farm.
Even more annoyed is the staunchly loyal stud head groom, Lester. Does Ronnie think he’s lost his touch with the horses? And anyway, who is this so-called Horsemaker, Luca O’Brien? Why does he seem to be running away from something? And what is the true story of his relationship with grey stallion Beck, once destined for the Olympics, now broken and unrideable, screaming his anger from the Compton Magna stables.
Passionate, sexy, gripping, laced with her trademark wisdom and humour, this is bestselling Fiona Walker at her dazzling best.
To celebrate the release of Country Lovers, Fiona has shared an extract today. I hope you love it as much as I did.
*****beginning of extract*****
Convinced the stud’s revival would bring her family closer together, Ronnie refused to be daunted by the hard work needed to make it profitable by the trustees’ deadline. She just had to attract owners, generate stud fees and sell horses fast. Horse-trading was in her blood.
In the room behind her, Ronnie’s two small dogs were rooting round the skirting boards on the hunt for mice, sneezing at the dust. Tough, low-slung black and tans – mother and daughter Lancashire Heelers – their tails gyrated at fresh scent.
‘Catch ’em, girls,’ she urged. ‘Got to make this place habitable.’ She glanced round the room, part of a long-neglected staff flat. Blast the housekeeper for going AWOL just when they needed her most, a handwritten note delivered last week to say she was fed up working for nothing.
Well, she couldn’t afford to buy Pip back when she had a new work rider to pay.
Hired before she’d changed her mind about staying on, Luca O’Brien was an added expense Ronnie knew she must justify. Having poached him from a big Canadian showjumping yard, she’d vetoed both daughters’ demands to withdraw the job offer at the last-minute. No rider could make a horse look as good as Luca; added to which he wasn’t afraid to muck in and get his hands dirty, could manage a yard, and never stopped smiling. Lester had his teeth gritted too tightly in disapproval to muster much joy these days.
She watched the small, bowed figure in the distance, throwing open the gate to the winter turn-out then limping back to the broad-span barn to let out a stampede of yak-like woolly beasts, kicking and squealing as they charged into the field to shake off the straw, playfight and roll. Somewhere beneath all the matted hair and mud were some decent youngsters, she hoped. And whinnying furiously from his stallion box in the yard, trumpeting his superiority, her beautiful grey powerhouse would wow fellow breeders just as soon as she figured out how to defuse the bomb in his head.
Her phone face lit up on the windowsill, notifications pinging. ‘At last!’by
Hi there! Thank you for putting these fabulous questions together for me. So, first things first – I absolutely loved writing Christmas in Chamonix. I have recently fallen in love with skiing (although I have really struggled with it – Lily’s fear of heights echoes my own!) and I have always adored Christmas. My parents have always been huge fans of Christmas and made it such a special time of year for myself and my brother, with lots of traditions and magical moments – which I now carry out with my own children.
So Chamonix was mostly inspired by my absolute love of Christmas. But it was also the opportunity to take readers into a beautifully Christmassy environment – with falling snow, gorgeous, festive decorations and the delicious food and drink involved. Add skiing into that – and I was in writing heaven! Skiing is such an exhilarating sport…it’s amazing if you master even a small part of it, let alone manage to ski down a steep mountain and not fall over!
How do you approach the planning of a novel and how has it evolved since your debut novel?
I approach the planning of a novel with military precision – and always have done. With lots of creativity thrown in, of course, but for me, it’s about being organised and disciplined. So I begin with the idea. I expand it with lots of notes (I use a different, A4 sized notebook with a lovely cover for each new novel) and begin writing character notes to flesh out my main players. I then write a synopsis which will be two pages or fifteen, depending on how much of the story flows out at that stage, but the main point is to get down the beginning, the middle and the end. After that, I write a full version of this, which is where I will structure scenes and make sure each section moves smoothly on to the next one. With some cliff hangers thrown in here and there. I find this process easier and more fun than I used to in the early days and it also makes writing the novel itself fairly straight forward as I have a strong structure as a guideline and I’m essentially then delving into the thoughts and feelings and emotions of my characters.
Well, that’s a seriously good question! Ok. So even with a killer idea, if you don’t have the right personalities in place to play the story out, it’s going nowhere and it’s just a concept with no heart and soul. Equally, if you have fantastic lead players and strong secondary characters but no real idea of what the story is about or where it’s going, the reader won’t feel invested as there isn’t anything for them to connect with and relate to. For me, they are equally important. You need a killer idea and you need relatable characters your readers can fall in love with and care about.
What’s your favourite word and why?
My favourite word….I’m loving these questions! I love the word ‘serendipitous’. Which means ‘occurring or discovered by chance in a happy or beneficial way’. I just think it’s a really positive word and one which puts me in a strong headspace of believing that everything happens for a reason and that there is something to be grateful for everywhere you look.
Can you tell me about your typical writing day, where you like to write, do you need endless amounts of coffee and silence or do you prefer noise?by
The trees and lights are going up and the cold weather has certainly arrived so there is no better reason to curl up with a cup/glass of something and a book (I know I say this every month,) and I am hoping you’ll join me with reading this month’s book club.
I’ve chosen Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by David Levithan and Rachel Cohn.
This book sounds like a lot of fun and has an interesting premise. As normal, I have posted a question to kick off the discussion. Hopefully see you in the comments.
About Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares.
I’ve left some clues for you. If you want them, turn the page. If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.
At the urge of her lucky-in-love brother, sixteen-year-old Lily has left a red notebook full of dares on her favourite bookshop shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept. Curious, snarky Dash isn’t one to back down from a challenge – and the Book of Dares is the perfect distraction he’s been looking for.
As they send each other on a scavenger hunt across Manhattan, they’re falling for each other on paper. But finding out if their real selves share their on-page chemistry could be their biggest dare yet….by
Ruth “Ruthless” Harper is on the verge of becoming managing partner at her all-male consulting firm and she won’t let anything stand in her way. That includes men, relationships, and that dreaded F word, FEELINGS—distractions she eliminated long ago.
After the worst day ever (a near-death experience and a public wedgie, for starters), Ruth realizes she doesn’t want to live and die alone. She puts together a business plan to find the perfect man and dives head first into the murky online dating pool. All she wants is a high-powered executive who understands how important her career is. If only it were that easy.
Problem is most men are intimidated by Ruth’s confidence and shocked by her bluntness. The exception being her landscape designer, Nick, whose cool demeanor and unsolicited dating advice are driving her nuts. He’s the antithesis of the business-oriented man Ruth envisions for herself, so why do all signs keep pointing back to him?
Ruth is a workaholic and has been too busy for love. She’s about to become a managing partner in her all-male consulting firm and she is not going to let anything stand in her way.
However, after experiencing the worst day which includes a near death experience and a public wedgie, she makes a plan to meet the perfect man. She doesn’t want to end up alone.
Can Ruth’s perfect man be closer than she thinks?
I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. From the first chapter however, I knew it was going to be a book I was going to love. I couldn’t put it down. I mean, the title alone is brilliant.
Ruth is a funny, real, relatable character who doesn’t apologise for who she is and knowing what she wants.by
Say a big hello to RE McLean and the blog tour for her novel, Murder in the Multiverse. Thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me about your book, Murder in the Multiverse and what inspired the story.
Thanks for having me here! Murder in the Multiverse is a geeky mystery, the kind of thing you’d enjoy if you like Jodi Taylor or Douglas Adams. It’s about Alex Strand, a physics postdoc who finds herself recruited to the top-secret Multiverse Investigations Unit. The MIU is based in the parking lot of San Francisco PD (in a Tardis-like VW campervan) and investigates crimes by visiting parallel worlds where the crime hasn’t happened – yet.
What’s the challenges of writing something like Murder in the Multiverse? Do you have an idea of where you want the series to go?
The main challenge is writing a book where the solution to the mystery always has some kind of link to quantum physics, while not being a quantum physicist myself. I’ve dealt with that by making the physics very silly – hard science this is not!
I have a ten-book outline for the series storyline. Each book will be focused on one specific crime, and take place in a new parallel universe. But the twin threads of Alex’s search for her mother across the multiverse and her growing relationship with Sarita, the mysterious materials scientist, will drive the series plot.
What’s your writing day like, where do you like to write and do you have any writing rituals?
I like to write in my local library, and I have a Spotify playlist to help me focus. And Schrödinger the quantum cat sits on my desk while I write!
If you could go and investigate anywhere, where would it be and why?
Definitely Silicon City, the parallel universe in Murder in the Multiverse. It’s got an augmented reality version of the internet and you can conjure up a plate of cookies just by thinking about it. And all the doors go swish-thunk, like in Star Trek.
Good question! I’ve been putting together a playlist for Alex and her team, which you can find on Spotify. Alex is into retro tech (and music) and can only get to sleep to the sound of the Cheeky Girls. Her partner, Sergeant Mike Long, prefers easy listening. Alex wants to pull her eardum out with a fish hook when he puts that on the radio.
Do you think character or plot is more important?
I normally start a book with a concept, then decide who’s going to have to live with the consequences of that concept, then write the plot around that. Normally the characters come first for me, but I think both character and plot are equally important (and interwoven).
Which other authors have inspired/influenced you the most?by