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 79: Gabrielle Mathieu

11102784_844407928976852_7866671121152746412_nWelcome, Gabrielle Mathieu

How would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Gabrielle: Brisk, suspenseful, seductive

If you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?

Gabrielle: I would love to get cozy with Tenzin, the tough but moral son of a Swiss missionary and a Bhutanese nurse. Tenzin is my heroine’s moral compass, a teacher, but yet, not without flaws himself. His greatest gift is his compassion, and his willingness to listen. He’s also hot!

If you had to exist for a week in one of your books … which one would it be? Would you be a central character or simply watch the story unfold from the sidelines?

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Gabrielle: My third book, which will come out in the summer of 2018, is set in Munich and the Himalayas, in 1967.  I would have loved to see Kathmandu then. It must have been a paradise. I’m not that interested in the availability of marijuana in the sixties, but I would have liked to see the city before its current infestation of vehicular traffic and homeless, starving dogs.

Dead or alive literary dinner party: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

TenzinGabrielle: I’d host all the Oxford dons: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Philip Pullman. I’d just have to hope that being upper-class British, Pullman wouldn’t fight with the other two, since he does have issues with their story-telling. Of course Lewis and Tolkien were products of their times, just as we are products of ours. We would have to dine in one of those delightfully old restaurants in London’s Fitzrovia or Bloomsbury, where the tables are crowded together in a small room, in a narrow building with creaky wooden stairs and a ceiling blackened by smoke. I’m not one for meat and potatoes myself, but I guess with that crowd, we’d have to have a traditional meal, washed down with some nice red wine. It’s true I might find the fellows a mite stodgy, but they influenced my writing. And I couldn’t bear to have dinner with George R.R. Martin, though I think he’s a fantastic contemporary story teller. His tortures are just too vile.

If you had to write in a different genre which would it be and why?

Gabrielle: I have a related genre I’ll be returning to in my next series: epic fantasy. I like creating everything from scratch: the names, the customs, the rules of magic. (There better be rules. I don’t like it when all problems are solved by magic. That should be a last resort, because magic exacts a heavy toll.) It’s an interesting challenge to create a complex background, and then extract what’s necessary for the story.

What do you dislike the most about being an author? Gabrielle: I dislike having to compete with the flood of books on the market.

Favourite word?  Gabrielle: Imagine.

Gabrielle Mathieu was in the chair, author of: The Falcon Flies Alone

Web: http://gabriellemathieu.com/

In The Chair 76: Kate Frost

Welcome, Kate Frost.

KateFrostHeadShotHow would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Kate: Moving, heartfelt, honest.

If you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?

Kate: Ooh, now there’s a question! I think it would have to be with Ashton from Beneath the Apple Blossom. As for why, not only is he good looking (imagine dark hair, defined cheek bones and a rugby player physique), but he’s also family orientated and wants to settle down, get married and start a family. However, I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t go for me over Sienna, his feisty, confident and striking (both in looks and personality) girlfriend.

11102784_844407928976852_7866671121152746412_nIf you had to exist for a week in one of your books … which one would it be? Would you be a central character or simply watch the story unfold from the sidelines?

Kate: It would be in my time-travel adventure series for children, the first of which, Into the Past, will be published in October. In real life I’m someone who would always watch from the sidelines – I’m quite happy not being centre of attention, but I think if I got a week to exist in my book I’d be twelve year-old Maisie, the protagonist of the story who is up for adventure, fearless and welcomes new and exciting experiences with open arms as she time-shifts between 1471, 1666 and 1940 along with class bully, Lizzie, and her best friend, Danny.

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Dead or alive literary dinner party: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

Kate: I’d invite George RR Martin, get him drunk on wine (or whatever his favourite tipple is) and see if I could get out of him how he plans to end Game of Thrones. I think Stephen King would be an interesting character to add to the mix and I would like the chance to pick his brains (so to speak) about writing. Geraldine Brooks and Leif Enger (who wrote two of my favourite books, Year of Wonders and Peace Like a River respectively) would complete the guest list. With such an eclectic mix of authors I think it would be appropriate to have a buffet where guests could choose what they fancied eating, although the focus would be on lots of Middle Eastern flavours (my favourite) – tagines, pita with homemade dips, salads, grilled meats and halloumi. 

If you had to write in a different genre which would it be and why?

Kate: It would be a dystopian novel. I love reading books and watching films about the end of the world and I like the idea of dropping a group of characters into a destroyed and dangerous environment and seeing how they would cope (or not).

What do you dislike the most about being an author?

Kate: Self promotion. I’m no good at talking about myself or my books but I know it goes hand in hand with being an author. I’m forcing myself to contact local radio for an interview and speaking in public fills me with fear. I think this is the hardest part of being a self-published author – having to make myself do these things, rather than have a publisher putting me forward for such opportunities.

13592599_1127236474014115_888177963847925978_nFavourite word?

Kate: Kapoozi. It’s actually the Greek word for watermelon (my husband is Greek and I’ve been struggling to learn Greek ever since we got together nearly sixteen years ago). I love the sound of it, and it reminds me of sunshine and happy times visiting family in Greece.

Kate Frost was in the chair, author of: The Butterfly Storm & Beneath the Apple Blossom.

Web: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-Frost/e/B00D8YJ1EG/ref=la_B00D8YJ1EG_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1468053881&sr=1-1

In The Chair 75: Sue Moorcroft

Welcome, Sue Moorcroft.

DSC_3417How would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Sue: Flowing. Attention-grabbing. Pacy.

If you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?

Sue: Sam, from my forthcoming book, The Christmas Promise. He surprised me a bit. He’s sophisticated and strong but his vulnerabilities are what make him unusual. He’s a real ‘go to’ ‘can do’ heroic hero. He’s highly imaginative and creative and that seems like it would be fun …

11102784_844407928976852_7866671121152746412_nIf you had to exist for a week in one of your books … which one would it be? Would you be a central character or simply watch the story unfold from the sidelines?

Sue: I’m going to say The Wedding proposal because it’s set in Malta and I love to be there! I’d watch the story unfold from the sidelines but it would be like watching a train wreck, seeing things conspiring against Elle. I’d want to warn her but I don’t know how she can act or react any differently as issues mount up against her.

Dead or alive literary dinner party: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

81f985c03b1cca527822783d2df8fcccSue: On my guest list would be Nevil Shute, Georgette Heyer, Stephen Fry, and some romantic suspense authors such as Suzanne Brockmann. I’m not too worried about the main course but I’d make a stonking chocolate dessert. (No calories at this dinner party, right?) And we’d drink champagne.

If you had to write in a different genre which would it be and why?

Sue: I always try and duck this question because all genres other than my own seem equally unlikely! I could probably pull together a fantasy because I like the idea of creating an unbelievable world for people to believe in.

What do you dislike the most about being an author?

Sue: My annual accounts. Sometimes I find first drafts hard but I don’t dislike them (much).

Favourite word?  Sue: Success.

Sue Moorcroft was in the chair, author of contemporary women’s fiction with occasionally unexpected themes. A past vice chair of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and editor of its two anthologies, Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles, writing ‘how to’ and is a creative writing tutor.

Web: www.suemoorcroft.com.

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In The Chair 73: Luccia Gray

Welcome, Luccia Gray.

11102784_844407928976852_7866671121152746412_nHow would you describe your writing style in only three words?

Luccia: Imagery. Dialogue. Multi-layered.

If you could have a relationship with one of your fictional characters who would it be and why?

Luccia: Michael, of course, but he wouldn’t be interested! He’s the main character throughout The Eyre Hall Trilogy, but he is so in love with and devoted to my heroine that he would never ever be unfaithful or disloyal to her. He’s an ‘I will but love thee better after death’ type of man. A mixture of Gabriel Oak (Far From the Madding Crowd) and Captain Wentworth (Persuasion) and Pip (Great Expectations).

Luccia Gray AuthorIf you had to exist for a week in one of your books … which one would it be? Would you be a central character or simply watch the story unfold from the sidelines?

Luccia: In spite of the harshness of a servant’s life in Victorian England, I’d love to be a maid at Eyre Hall. I’d enjoy listening to the gossip, taking part in daily routines and activities, and watching the masters’ lives unfold. It would be mind-blowing to experience first-hand knowledge of the characters upstairs and downstairs. However a week would be enough, perhaps even too much!

Dead or alive literary dinner party: who would you invite, and what would you serve?

shutterstock_140166406Luccia: I’d like to listen to Charlotte Bronte and Jean Rhys discussing Bertha Mason, the madwoman in the attic created by Charlotte Bronte in Jane Eyre, and whose life story was told in the prequel, Wide Sargasso Sea (Jean Rhys). Then I’d tell them about her daughter, Annette Mason, and the rest of my sequel. None of us have big appetites, especially when we’re chatting, so I’d prepare lots of varied, bite-sized ‘tapas’, which we would nibble while sitting in my sunny Spanish garden. We’d wash it all down with chilled Rueda (Spanish white wine). Finally we’d have some hand-made chocolates, ice-cream and champagne for dessert.

If you had to write in a different genre which would it be and why?

bronte charlotte edmund B20084 21Luccia: I’ve written a neo-Victorian Trilogy, which could be classified as a gothic romance, so my first three novels have been historical.
I’m not sure what I’ll be writing next. I’d love to write more Victorian novels, but if I had to write in a different genre, which I may well do, I’d write a contemporary gothic romance.
I can’t see myself writing a novel that doesn’t include mystery, suspense, romance, and a gothic aspect.
 

What do you dislike the most about being an author?

Luccia: There’s actually nothing I dislike about being an author.
There are aspects I enjoy more, like creating, imagining, research and writing. I have fun with my blog, Facebook, and Twitter, and I love interacting with other authors, bloggers and readers. There are other aspects such as editing, and re-re-editing, which I find more tiresome, but I love the end product, so in the end it’s satisfying. I suppose marketing, advertising and promoting are difficult, because I don’t know the ropes well enough, but it’s fun too.
My greatest challenge is finding the time to write and do all the things related to being a writer, such as research, networking, advertising, writing and editing.

Favourite word? 

Luccia: Kindle. I think this word, which is just a few years old, has transformed reading and writing. It’s affected what we read, where we read, and how we read. It’s also given self-published authors an opportunity to showcase and sell their work in the previously constrained publishing world. 

Luccia Gray was in the chair, author of the Eyre Hall trilogy

Web: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Luccia-Gray/e/B00K34F28I/

My Trilogy

In The Chair 62: Christina Jones

Merry Christmas, Christina Jones!

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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!

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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/