Away For Christmas?

Away for Christmas Cover MEDIUM WEB Jonathan Jones has written a novel. Losing his job a few days before Christmas means the pressure is on for his book to become a bestseller, but when his partner drops her own bombshell, the festive holiday looks set to be a disaster. When he’s bequeathed a failing bookshop in their seaside town, it seems that some of his prayers have been answered, but his publishing company turn out to be not what they seem, and when his ex-wife suddenly declares her romantic intent, another Christmas looks set to be complicated. Is everything lost, or can the true meaning of words, a dog called Frodo, and the sheer magic of Christmas be enough to save Jonathan’s book, and his skin?

Away for Christmas is about the joy and pain of publishing books, the joy and pain of fractured relationships, and of course, the joy and pain of Christmas itself. The festive period is not always fun for everyone, but most of all, this is a story about staying true to oneself and looking for the real Christmas spirit beyond the baubles and the glitter. 

The story is set over three Christmastimes, and because I feel sure you’ll be looking for a few hours of warm and cosy escapism at this time of the year, I can assure you that there’s a happy ending by the time Jonathan makes it to 2017. 

Regular readers will know that my characters tend not to be in the first flush of youth, and that the joy and pain of relationships are often par for the course. Christmas is very much a family time and can unearth a multitude of unwelcome emotions and in the case of my character, present plenty of troublesome hurdles before the festivities can be enjoyed. His ex-wife doesn’t always make life easy, but Jonathan is determined to be a better dad, against all the odds. 

Facebook Xmas promoAnd finally, the joy and pain of publishing books! There are some great publishers out there, ones who achieve results, look after their authors and understand the industry from the ground up. This story isn’t based on them.

A story for readers and writers. It’s no secret that I’ve been round the houses and back again with regard to writing and publishing. Thirty years ago I used to believe that a good book would always be snapped up by a publisher regardless of genre, style, and content. In the real, commercial world, this just isn’t true. I see on a regular basis, writers excited by offers from vanity publishers, or those who operate under the guise of assisted publishing, not realising the implications until it’s perhaps too late. Even contracts from those real publishers with seemingly no pitfalls or upfront costs, can dissolve into a horribly disappointing experience. Of course, my poor character thinks he’s landed lucky when a small publisher offers him a three-book deal. What could go wrong? If you’ve ever dreamed of writing a book or maybe you’ve just typed THE END to your manuscript, you might think twice about your next step…

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Bookmuse Magazine: “If you’re a writer you will laugh, despair and sympathise with Jonathan Jones, and the trials and tribulations he faces as he battles to become a published author. And if you’re a reader, you’ll be captivated by the excellent story-telling that weaves Jonathan’s complicated life into a page turning drama. A real feel good novella, perfect to curl up with on a stormy winter’s afternoon…” You’ll enjoy this if you like: Jojo Moyes, Jill Mansell, Erica James. Ideal accompaniments: Hot chocolate with marshmallows and a plate of shortbread.

Away For Christmas: myBook.to/Away4Xmas

In The Chair 65: Ruby Barnes

Merry Christmas, Ruby Barnes!

SantaToymakerChairHow would you describe your Christmas in only three words? 

Ruby: Bloated, lazy, flatulent
 …

If you could have a relationship with a literary festive character who would it be and why?

RubyI would have to go for Mrs Claus because I know the window of opportunity when Mr Claus is going to be away from home. And I know she gets neglected in the run up to Christmas as Santa is too busy minding his elves and petting his reindeer.

If you had to exist for a week in a Christmas story … which one would it be?

Ruby: A Christmas Carol. I’ve always been a bit of a Scrooge and I like having the bejayzus scared out of me.

hannibal_lecter_by_crisvector-d6rnj2aDead or alive literary Christmas lunch: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

Ruby:  I’d invite Hannibal Lecter and serve up a few “friends” who have done me disservice, plus a nice Chianti. Skip the fava beans as I’ve always found them a bit sour. If Hannibal the Cannibal is busy then I would go for a more orthodox Yuletide invite list with Thomas Hardy, Agatha Christie, John Irving, John Fowles, Ian Banks and Emily Bronte. I’d still serve up a few “friends” but would cunningly disguise the meat as local Irish cuisine.

If you had to write a Christmas themed story in your current genre, what would the title be? 

Ruby: 2015 has been the year of the zombie for Ruby Barnes so it would be something biblical but undead – Return of The Baptist.

What do you dislike the most about Christmas?

WP_20140622_003Ruby: Being trapped in a cold and draughty house for days on end with the Outlaws.

Favourite Festive Word?  

Ruby: Crumble. Christmas is one of the few times of the year that there’s always apple or rhubarb crumble available with custard. I like it cold so the whole thing gets kind of stodgy. I also like the word crumble as it sounds a bit like Christmas, but mainly because the “cr” sound makes Mrs R cringe like a crazy cry-baby. Actually now I’m really looking forward to Christmas.

Ruby Barnes was in the Christmas chair: Ruby’s work can be found at http://Author.to/RubyBarnes and he has a little something for ya at http://www.rubybarnesbooks.com/

In The Chair 64: Caroline Dunford

Merry Christmas, Caroline Dunford!

SantaToymakerChair

How would you describe your Christmas in only three words?  

Caroline: Champagne, Children, Challenging…

If you could have a relationship with a literary festive character who would it be and why?

Caroline: I’m sure there was a bit about Mr Darcy at Christmas, wasn’t there? (Actually I’ve always thought that once wedded Mr Darcy would be difficult and grouchy to live with.) I can’t say I have a thing for men with white beards nor am I particularly interested in sitting down and discussing accounts with the charitably challenged. Did Conan Doyle ever do a Sherlock Holmes Christmas story – or can someone write one, please? I’ve loved Sherlock since I was a little girl.

colnut2-blog480If you had to exist for a week in a Christmas story … which one would it be? Caroline: Oh dear, I think I am showing my sad lack of knowledge of Christmas stories from the modern era. I can think of lots set in the past, but honestly if you like your creature comforts like staying warm and having enough to eat an awful lot of those Christmas stories are not where you want to spend time. I think I’ll cheat and go for a ballet – The Nutcracker. I’ve love to see everything coming to life on Christmas Eve.

Dead or alive literary Christmas lunch: who would you invite, and what would you serve? 

Doctor-Who-Christmas-Special-2014Caroline: Steven Moffat (so I could get him so drunk he’d write me a promise I could write for Dr Who), Jane Austen (for wit and incisiveness), Conan Doyle (I bet he’d tell the best Christmas Eve ghost stories), Robertson Davies (the late, incredible Canadian novelist), Dorothy L Sayers (because Lord Peter Whimsy is wonderful). I’d also let my husband and children come too – because Christmas is about family.

I’m vegetarian so I’d be having some kind of dead plant loaf, but I never try to enforce my diet on anyone else, so there would also be turkey (free range), loads of veggies, particularly fine roast potatoes, my signature onion and red wine gravy, followed by profiteroles filled with cream and lavishly coated in chocolate sauce, followed by after dinner mints and a cheese board. There would be Champagne at the start, a good full bodied red for the main and cognac and fresh, black bitter coffee for afters.

image1If you had to write a Christmas themed story in your current genre, what would the title be?

Caroline: I’ve done two. They are both short stories, The Mistletoe Mystery and What the Dickens? I much prefer the second. If I were to write another I think I’d call it – ‘It will all be over by Christmas’. But then my series, The Euphemia Martins Mysteries,is shortly going to crash headfirst into WW1.

What do you dislike the most about Christmas?

Caroline: I love the build up to Christmas. Christmas Eve is my favourite time. I hate the moment Christmas is over – whether that feels like the moment I swallow my last mouthful of Christmas pudding or the end of the holidays with the kids going back to school. For me Christmas is all about the preparation, people embodying the season of goodwill (why not do this all the time?), the buying of gifts and of course the Christmas parties. I love sharing food and presents with the people I love on Christmas, but eventually it’s over and at that point the next Christmas is soooo far away and I hate that!

Favourite festive word? Caroline: Pudding!

Caroline Dunford was in the Christmas chair: Author of The Euphemia Martins Mystery Series.

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Published by Accent Press

Web: http://ow.ly/VCsoO

In The Chair 63: D.J. Bennett

Merry Christmas, D J Bennett!

SantaToymakerChair

How would you describe your Christmas in only three words?

Debbie: Indulgent, family and television. I’d like to say relaxing – but really it isn’t! Wine helps…

If you could have a relationship with a literary festive character who would it be and why?

Debbie: What kind of relationship? And I don’t know any literary festive characters apart from the obvious ones like Scrooge – and who on earth would want to have a relationship with him? Altruism would definitely take a back-seat here – unless of course the BBC decide to do a re-make and cast Aidan Turner as the lead, in which case I’ll be first in the queue! What about one of the ten-lord’s-a’leaping? One of them must be sexy and rich, surely?

If you had to exist for a week in a Christmas story … which one would it be?

Debbie: Oh I think it would have to be The Christmas Story. I’m not particularly religious, but imagine being there – in Bethlehem. Being able to listen in and witness the story first-hand. Imagine having the comfort of that level of belief in something spiritual, something bigger than the world we live in? Right now, that’s a strangely comforting idea at the end of 2015.

tumblr_m8za06Cg9e1qf53zzo1_500Dead or alive literary Christmas lunch: who would you invite, and what would you serve?  

Debbie: The Grinch, of course! And I’d serve green eggs and ham and hand out thneeds as presents. Maybe I’d invite the Cat too, as he has a certain outlook on life … We’d debate Truffula Trees and the existence of Whoville, and at the end of the evening Thing One and Thing Two could do all the tidying up.

If you had to write a Christmas themed story in your current genre, what would the title be?

Debbie: Five Gold Rings. It’d be a Christmas serial killer, and each murder would relate to and happen on the twelve days of Christmas. Urban mayhem – cold and dark, icy canals and  everybody’s too busy celebrating to have time to figure out what’s going on. Hmm. I can work with this…

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What do you dislike the most about Christmas?

Debbie: Disruption and mess. I’m very much a creature of habit, order and routine. Typical Capricorn, really!

Favourite festive word? Debbie: After resisting the obvious it’d have to be TINSEL, because it’s just pretty and sparkly!

D. J Bennett was in the Christmas chair: author of the Hamelin’s Child series 

Web: http://ow.ly/UV6Ml

In The Chair 62: Christina Jones

Merry Christmas, Christina Jones!

SantaToymakerChair

How would you describe your Christmas in only three words?

Christina: Cosy, sparkly, snug

If you could have a relationship with a literary festive character who would it be and why?

Christina: Bob Crachit from A Christmas Carol (I’m a bit obsessive about Dickens…). But Bob Crachit, while possibly not my physical ideal – I tend to think he’s a bit of weed and looks nothing like Jonathan Rhys Meyers, but this is fantasy and a girl can dream! So, bless him… Such a cheerful, positive, hard-working chap despite the drudgery of his poorly-paid job, and the sadness at home (Tiny Tim – not a well child, and to be honest, possibly a bit of a goody-two-shoes – and no doubt getting *all* the attention). Sorry, Mrs C – but I’d like to spend a little festive time with your husband and show him the joyous side of Christmas – long before old Ebeneezer sees the light and sends you the turkey and gives you the pay rise etc. Bob and I could walk the snowy Victorian streets, hand-in-hand, peeking through the lighted windows of the houses we passed, watching the children decking the halls and dressing the new-fangled Christmas trees… And in the lamp-light, as the snowflakes fell, we’d listen to the angelic voices carried on the icy air as the choirs sing Christmas carols in the street for the very first time. And then, in the darkness we’d share a kiss under the mistletoe – and I hope he’d go home to his tumultuous family a happier man.

snowglobe-peppaIf you had to exist for a week in a Christmas story … which one would it be?

Christina: Peppa Pig’s Christmas. I adore Peppa and her lovely, cosy, happy family life. And I’ve read and re-read this story to my granddaughter, and it’s just perfect. Everything about The Pig’s run-up to Christmas is just perfect. Old-fashioned, amusing, chaotic, a little crazy – just like home! I’d be so happy there!

Dead or alive literary Christmas lunch: who would you invite, and what would you serve?  

Christina: Peppa Pig and Charles Dickens and the whole cast of A Christmas Carol for the above reasons. James Stewart so he can give us all the inside info and gossip on the making of It’s A Wonderful Life. And J Jefferson Farjeon who wrote some gorgeous-to-curl-up-with Christmas mysteries back in the 1930s. I’m a rubbish cook but a good hostess, so I’d get them nicely warmed-up and relaxed with whisky-macs and my special snowballs, then serve the full traditional roast dinner – turkey with all the trimmings, and a big Christmas pud made by my mum who was an ace cook – oh, and as I’m a veggie, there’d be a nut roast as well…

redfaceIf you had to write a Christmas themed story in your current genre, what would the title be?

Christina: Christmas Stockings!

What do you dislike the most about Christmas? Christina: Commercialism. And the fact that it all starts so early. I don’t even think about Christmas until Advent. And the fact that the TV advertisers seem to think a sofa or a flat-screen telly is going to make Christmas soooo much better.

Favourite festive word? Christina: Mistletoe!

Christina Jones was in the Christmas chair: author of several award winning novels. Published by Accent Press.

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Web: http://ow.ly/UycOE

In The Chair 61: Joanne Philips

Merry Christmas, Joanne Phillips!

SantaToymakerChair

How would you describe your Christmas in only three words? Joanne: Snuggly. Sparkly. Relaxing.

If you could have a relationship with a literary festive character who would it be and why? Joanne: I think it would have to be a deep friendship with the Ghost of Christmas Present – I have a tendency to live either to much in the past, worrying about what I did or didn’t get right, or too much in the future, worrying about what’s yet to come. At Christmas I need to learn to live in the ‘now’ and just enjoy the moment.

MiracleOn34thStreet_1947_315x236If you had to exist for a week in a Christmas story … which one would it be? Joanne: Something uplifting like the film A Miracle on 34th Street for me, with snow and tinsel and New York streets and people rushing home for the holidays with armfuls of brightly wrapped presents.

Dead or alive literary Christmas lunch: who would you invite, and what would you serve?  Joanne: Sorry, but it’s just me and my family for Christmas lunch, I don’t care how literary you are. This year I’m serving traditional turkey with all the trimmings – yummy!

If you had to write a Christmas themed story in your current genre, what would the title be? Joanne: Maybe ‘The Tinsel Tragedy’? or how about ‘The Fairy Light Fiasco’? Yes, I think I’ll incorporate that into my Flora Lively series – Flora Lively and the Fairy Light Fiasco. Perfect.

What do you dislike the most about Christmas? Joanne: Travelling. My husband’s family live a long way away and although it is, of course, wonderful to see them, it is a horrible time of year to tackle the motorways.

Favourite festive word? Joanne: Sherry

Joanne Phillips was in the Christmas chair. Author of several romance titles and the Flora Lively mystery series. 

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Web: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Joanne-Phillips/e/B0083UEG86/