Roving Romaniac: Laura Visits Sandworld

Roving Romanic: Laura Visits Sandworld.

 

Weymouth Seafront

Weymouth Sea front

Ever since I can remember, Weymouth’s had a sand sculptor producing beautiful works of art on the beach, and for the last four years, Sandworld has developed an off-beach site too, where it can create and keep the sculptures in a secure and welcoming environment for the summer season.

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On Saturday 5th April 2014, authors with connections to Weymouth, Kathy Sharp, Kate Kelly, Carol Hunt, Kit Berry and I, gathered for the Grand Opening of Sandworld’s theme for the 2014 season, Literally in Sand. We spent a wonderful day in an area we affectionately called Author’s Corner, enjoying the hospitality of our lovely hosts, and the chatter with those who came to view the incredible sand sculptures and take a look at our books.

Laura E James, Carol Hunt, Kit Berry, Kate Kelly and Kathy Sharp

Laura E James, Carol Hunt, Kit Berry, Kate Kelly and Kathy Sharp

I gave my first-ever reading – an extract from Truth or Dare?, and aware there would be children at the venue, I opted for a family-friendly section. It was quite a challenge finding a passage that wasn’t dark, gritty, or containing too much dialogue, which I figured would be more difficult to follow as a listener. I chose a scene near the beginning of the novel, and including my introduction, spoke for ten minutes.

As someone who has been known to take the stage for a song, it was great to be performing once more.

It was an excellent event, and we hope to return in the summer and do it all again.

Here are a few teaser photos to illustrate the sheer brilliance of the international band of sand sculptors who’ve worked on Literally in Sand.

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Can you name the books?

I recommend a trip to Weymouth to see these, and more, in all their glory.

Thank you Sandworld for the fab day, beautiful art, and friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

I will see you soon.

Laura x

 

 

 

Book Review: The Elephant Girl. Henriette Gyland.

Book Review: The Elephant Girl. Henriette Gyland.

 

9781781890202 (4)

 

Today is Purple Day - National Epilepsy Awareness day. I am wearing purple in support of the cause. The statistics regarding epilepsy astound me. Approximately 1:103 people in the UK have the condition. Epilepsy Action is a great source of information, if you would like to know more.

The heroine in Henri’s The Elephant Girl, Helen Stephens, is a person with epilepsy. As a five-year-old, Helen witnesses her mother’s murder, and with no one from her extended family prepared to look after her, Helen is taken in to care. As she grows older, she keeps her condition hidden as much as possible, and learns to rely on herself. It’s when her mother’s killer is released from jail twenty years on that Helen sets about seeking vengeance, and life as she knows it, changes forever.

I like Henri’s treatment of Helen – it clearly depicts a person coming to terms with many issues. It’s not an easy journey for the heroine – she has enough to manage with epilepsy alone, but that, along with Henri’s well-researched description of Helen’s seizures, is what makes it believable.

The hero, Jason Moody, is warm, caring and sees people for who they are, and not by the label given to them by society. He’s no push-over, and stands up to his mob-style father time-after-time. He is true to his beliefs, courageous and loving. A great hero.

It’s an excellent romantic suspense, with well-drawn characters and a plot that kept me guessing until the reveal.

And thank you, Henri, for writing a strong, positive heroine with epilepsy.

Henri is taking part in Choc Lit’s Round Robin Mother’s Day story today at Laura’s Little Book Blog (not me), continuing the story of single mother, Kelly. Parts one, written by Alison May, and two, written by me, are at Chick Lit Reviews and News, and Jera’s Jamboree. Enjoy our free read.

Henri’s new book, The Highwayman’s Daughter will be published in May.

Click here to read our Tuesday Chit Chat interview with Henri.

 

The Elephant Girl:

Peek-a-boo I see you …

When five-year-old Helen Stephens witnesses her mother’s murder, her whole world comes crumbling down. Rejected by her extended family, Helen is handed over to child services and learns to trust no-one but herself. Twenty years later, her mother’s killer is let out of jail, and Helen swears vengeance.

Jason Moody runs a halfway house, desperate to distance himself from his father’s gangster dealings. But when Helen shows up on his doorstep, he decides to dig into her past, and risks upsetting some very dangerous people.

As Helen begins to question what really happened to her mother, Jason is determined to protect her. But Helen is getting too close to someone who’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth hidden …

Laura x

 

Guilty: Jane Bidder

JANE BIDDER

Guilty Jane Bidder

Before I ‘went to prison’, so to speak, I’d heard all kinds of things about love behind bars. According to various newspaper reports, prison officers were frequently jumping in and out of bed with criminals. Lonely women would correspond with Death Row inmates and – at the other extreme – prison could completely change a man or woman’s sexual preferences.

But all these myths were completely de-bunked when I took a job as a writer in residence of a high security prison. The truth, as I discovered, was that love did indeed flourish. But it was the love between the man behind bars and the woman (or women) he had left behind.

Time and time again, while helping men write life stories, novels or poems, I heard heart-rending tales of regret. Not, ironically, towards the victims. But towards wives, mothers and children who were suffering because their husbands and fathers were Inside.

You might well question my use of the word ‘heart-rending’. After all, criminals are usually Inside for a reason (although there are apparently a number of prisoners who are actually innocent). Surely separation from the family is, quite rightly, part of the punishment?

True. But that doesn’t help the families themselves who might not have done anything wrong. I say ‘might not’ because, during my time as writer in res, I came across at least one man whose wife knew exactly what he’d been up to – but kept mum. It made me wonder what I would do in that situation. I’d like to think I’d do the right thing. But love can make you do some daft things.

Intriguingly, I met one man who was Inside for a crime of passion. According to his version, – which he was happy to relate to anyone who would listen – he came home one day and found the missus in bed with another man. He clunked him one and, as a result, was taken to court by his rival. The French would no doubt have applauded him instead of handing out a sentence.

Indeed, when I started my job, a psychologist friend warned me to erect boundaries. “It might be easy,” he said, “to get too close.”

What? Fall for a prisoner? What a ridiculous idea. Yet when I started forging working relationships with ‘my men’ as I came to see them, I began to understand why members of the prison staff might indeed fall under the spell of a convicted man. The intense environment of a prison makes the rest of the world unreal. It’s also easy to forget that the men you are working with, have done something wrong. Instead, you’re concentrating on a mutual love of writing – something which tends to flourish in prisons as a way of releasing emotions.

You’ll be glad to know that I didn’t fall for anyone. But I was aware that some men in my group would come down for my writing sessions, smelling of freshly-applied after-shave….

After three years of working in the prison, I felt it was time for a change. But it was hard to get it out of my head. The result is ‘Guilty’, my first social crime novel. It’s about Simon, a solicitor who goes to prison for a driving offence – along with the voice of his victim. Joanna acts as a funny, witty commentator. At first, she berates him for her death but then she walks with him through the prison (in his head), pointing out areas where he needs to be careful. The novel is also written from the point of view of Simon’s new wife Claire, who begins to wonder how well she knew her husband. And there’s the voice of Simon’s stepson who hopes to get his parents back together while Simon is Inside. Meanwhile, Simon himself begins to have feelings for the artist in residence. In essence, it’s a complex love story that happens to have prison as its stage.

I will continue writing my romantic novels under the name of Janey Fraser. But, thanks to my ‘stretch’, I’ve discovered another voice too. In fact, my crime won’t stop here. My publishers have given me a three book deal. The next two books are called ‘The Witness’ and ‘’The Victim’.

I hope you enjoy them. They will open the doors to a different world – just as my self-imposed sentence did to me.

GUILTY BY JANE BIDDER IS PUBLISHED by ACCENT ON MARCH 6. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Guilty-Jane-Bidder/dp/1909624160

http://www.janebidder.com/

Thank you so much, Jane, for sharing this fascinating insight. I look forward to reading Guilty. It’s right up my street. Many congratulations on the release.

Romaniac Shorts – Out There For Everyone To See

Romaniac Shorts Cover

Now the Romaniac blog is 2 years old, we’re toddling around in Shorts.

Our cover depicts each Romaniac. Can you guess who has which shorts?

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Laura: This is stuff of fantasies, so I chose the red Daisy Dukes, 6th on the line. Remember Daisy from The Dukes of Hazard? I’m never going to get away with wearing tight shorts, so I’m dreaming the dream, baby. Oh yeah.

Jan: An easy choice for me. Turquoise is my favourite colour. Proud to be flapping on the Romaniac line … 

Sue: I opted for the pretty green flowery ones. Whenever I’m thinking up plot ideas, I always doodle flowers, so it seemed the obvious choice.

Lucie: I’m a red head … so naturally I went for orange shorts!

Debbie: It has to be the plain green ones for me, to go with my old green wellies for when I’m ‘at one with nature.’

Celia: Mine are the denim cut-offs – one of my friends’ mums once asked me if I was dressed by Oxfam when I was wearing my best pair. Um … yes, actually …

Catherine: Mine are the yellow polka dot shorts for two reasons. 1) Excellent for the cabaret shows I perform for the twins. (The most effective way to keep two girls happy.) 2) They disguise the milk deposits.

VanessaMy daughters helped with suggestions when I was colouring up the shorts on the cover and they chose the red with white polka dots for me!

Did you guess correctly?

Romaniac Shorts is available as a download from Amazon, at £1, here. We hope you enjoy our briefs ;-)

xx

Birthday Celebrations in Romaniac Shorts!

The Roms Logo

You won’t believe it, really you won’t. I still can’t quite believe it myself. But … The Romaniacs are TWO YEARS OLD today.

Two! Our blog has been running for a couple of years now and still every day, we pinch ourselves at the immense support we receive from you all.  Thank you SO much.

We are celebrating today in usual Romaniac fashion. Can you guess how? Go on, have a go …

Yep, you guessed it – cake! And lots of it, too! The diets have been put on hold and we plan to devour our weight in cake, biscuits and chocolate. Oh, and then there’s the champagne. Got to have a bit of fizz on our blog birthday.

We’re even having a ‘bring your baby to work’ day, just so that we can make it more of a party. So, we have all the Romaniac children having a boogie, too.

I’ve got to say, it’s a lot of fun here and we would be so happy for you to all join us in a celebratory toast – go on, take a glass – and raise it up high.

To all things writerly, what a wonderful two years it has been. And also (no, don’t drink yet, there’s a second part) to our wonderful support network of friends, without whom, we would not be where we are today.

*CHEERS*

Oh, wait! In all the celebrating and, ahem, drinking, I almost forgot to tell you about our other exciting news. As from today, you will be able to purchase an anthology of short stories and flash fiction penned by none other than our lovely team. That’s right, we have all pooled together our creativity and have created an anthology for you. For those who missed our blog last week about it, let me explain …

Romaniac Shorts Cover

Romaniac Shorts is a collection of short stories and flash fiction that stretch across a number of different styles and genres. Each member of The Romaniacs has included at least two pieces for you to enjoy. We feel this anthology is fresh, exciting and most of all, a bargain at the mere price of £1 and it is available to purchase for your Kindle as from today.

We each believe that the Romantic Novelists’ Association has played a major part in getting us writers to where we are today – it was even how we met in the first place. We are so thankful to the RNA and especially to the New Writers Scheme which has seen us all as members at one time or another. Some of us even going on to be full members! *fanfare and confetti*

And so, to show our appreciation for such a wonderful and encouraging organisation, we shall be donating a percentage of our proceeds from this anthology, to the RNA, to help encourage and grow other writers. The remainder of our proceeds shall be passed to Dyslexia Action.

We know how isolating, frustrating and difficult writing can be at times and there are some people out there who have the additional struggle of dyslexia and such like. So we are very keen to help those who need it the most, which is why we have chosen the RNA and Dyslexia Action.

We hope you will help us help them by purchasing Romaniac Shorts and most of all, we hope you enjoy it!

Please do get in touch with us and let us know what you think.

Now, where did I put my cake …

Lucie x

Romaniac Shorts: Fashionably Brief

Romaniac Shorts: Fashionably Brief.

There has been much excitement at Romaniac HQ, but in keeping with today’s title, we’ll be brief.

Next Thursday, 13th February 2014, our blog will be 2 years old, and we have a very special celebration planned.

Romaniac Press has gone into production, and we are releasing our first anthology:

Romaniac Shorts

It’s a diverse collection of short stories and flash fiction, ranging from romance, to crime, to fantasy,  and we are thrilled to see one of our early ideas finally come to fruition.

Romaniac Shorts will be available as an eBook, through Amazon.

All profits from the sale of Romaniac Shorts will be divided between Dyslexia Action, and the Romantic Novelists’ Association .

We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have received guidance, advice, and friendship from the writing world, and we always aim to give something back. We hope this goes a little way to saying thank you.

Please enjoy our briefs.

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Romaniac Shorts Cover

Teri Riggs and her Resolutions

Teri Riggs

Today, we are delighted to welcome to Romaniac HQ, Romantic Suspense writer, Teri Riggs.

Please come in and put your feet up. It’s very informal here. Earl Grey? Breakfast tea?

Breakfast tea, please with a pinch of sweetener.

As we settle into our chocolate cake, tell us about Teri Riggs.

I live in Marietta, Georgia, with my husband and have one daughter still living at home. My other two daughters live within five minutes of my home. Life is good. I have been writing for almost 15 years. Writing is my third career. First, I was a NICU nurse, and then a stay at home mom.

Please introduce the Romaniac readers to Resolutions, and fill us in on the hero, ‘Mac’.

Resolutions is about a strong-willed female DEA agent, Eve, who joins forces with her alpha male ex-lover, Mac, to stop a drug lord who has teamed up with a group of terrorists. Old feelings of love, and hate, resurface. They must learn to trust each other again in order to stay alive.

Mac is an alpha male driven to protect the woman he loves. His mother died while doing dangerous UN work and he tries to shelter Eve from harm until she finally reaches her breaking point and leaves him. Two years later, Mac has a chance to show Eve he’s changed—or has he?

Do you have a clear idea of your heroes before you write?

With Mac, I did. I wanted a strong, alpha male type. I had to have a hero Eve could butt heads with.

How do you then go about developing their characters?

I write a pretty detailed character description, both physical and emotional, and start there. I always end up adding to the list as I get deeper into the manuscript and the character leads me in a few more directions.

In terms of traits, what are your must-haves for your heroines, and why? 

I like my heroines to be strong and independent enough to play off the hero. But at the same time, I think they have to have some vulnerability. Without it, how would the hero ever get under their skin?

What draws you to the romantic suspense genre?

There’s nothing like a little suspense mixed with a good dose of romance to keep me on the edge of my seat.

Do you find writing a book is as exciting as reading one?

Yes. Writing is a lot more work than reading, but every bit as fun. Plus, I get to have the ending I want!

Quick Fire Round:

Opera or Rock?

Opera.

Ocean or lake?

Ocean.

New Year resolutions or anytime resolutions?

To keep perfecting my writing. I’d love to push myself to write a little faster and put out 2-3 books a year.

Thank you so much for joining us today, Teri, and congratulations on Resolutions. We look forward to hearing more from you in the future.

Thanks for having me.

Teri Riggs Resolutions cover

Honor Guard Series

Resolutions

by Teri Riggs

DEA agent Eve Taylor has had her fill of alpha males. When Resolutions’ operative and former lover, Dillon “Mac” McKenna, threatened her hard-earned independence, she ran. On a mission to gather evidence against a Colombian drug-lord, Eve discovers the drug-lord is helping terrorists plan an attack on American soil. Before she can escape with the vital information, she’s captured and comes face to face with her mortality…

As a teen, Mac watched his family fall apart after his mother died doing dangerous U.N. work. The possibility of losing Eve to a mission ignited an overwhelming need to protect her. When he forced her to choose him or her job, she walked away. Two years later, it seems all his nightmares have come true and he’s tasked with rescuing her from a Colombian prison. Mac has never stopped loving Eve, but does he dare risk his heart when he’s so terrified of losing…

On the run, Mac and Eve must learn to trust each other again in order to stay alive.

Note: Resolutions is a private black ops agency specializing in the near-impossible extractions of kidnap victims, hostages, and all forms of intelligence other agencies have failed to retrieve.

Resolutions

Romantic Suspense

Honor Guard Series

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | All Romance eBooks | Decadent

What Readers are saying:

“I love the sexual tension between Eve and Mac. The hot, steamy Colombian jungle makes a great backdrop for a love story that begins with two ex-lovers on the run.”

-K. Kishpaugh, Amazon

“The action and suspense were nonstop. Eve was believable as a tough and persistent female protagonist. And I liked how she and Mac’s characters developed throughout the story.”

-Marie, Amazon

“Nonstop action and plenty of sexual tension between the lead characters. A quick, suspenseful read. I would recommend this to my friends.”

-Lady A, Amazon

“A good read with plenty of action. I liked the gun battle scenes. They were well paced and for fairly accurate. Mendoza was played well and I enjoyed Mac and Eve’s determination to stop him.”

-Cooper, Amazon

About the Author:

Teri Riggs was destined to be a writer. As a small girl she didn’t read bedtime stories, she made up her own. Who needed Little Red Riding Hood or The Three Little Pigs when there were so many great tales bouncing around in her head? When she grew up and became a mother to three little girls, she continued the tradition of making up bedtime stories. On the occasions she chose to tell conventional fairytales, Teri usually gave them a bit of tweaking here and there or added a new ending. Her girls loved it.
After her daughters had the nerve to actually grow up and leave home, Teri discovered she had a passion for writing and jumped right in. It came as no surprise she chose to write mysteries and happily-ever-after’s since that’s the genres she loves to read.
Teri lives in Marietta, Georgia with her husband, one of her daughters and two dogs that seem to think they rule the world. And some days Teri thinks maybe they do.

Contact Details:

Website: http://teri-riggs.com/

Email: teririggs@gmail.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Teri-Riggs/329379907142621

Twitter: @TeriLRiggs

Blog: http://teririggs.blogspot.co.uk/

Enjoy the following excerpt for RESOLUTIONS:

Beefy hands wrenched Eve awake from a fevered sleep, pulled her from the cell, and shoved her into a musty-smelling hallway. I’m being moved? A guard pushed her with one hand, keeping a tight grip on an AK-47 rifle with his other.

Her shoulder throbbed in perfect cadence with the pains shooting through her broken wrist, and she had one badass headache from being punched in the face a few too many times. Using her good hand, she walked fingers across one cheek, then the other. The right side was totally numb. Her eye had swollen shut, and she couldn’t see a damn thing out of it. She ran her tongue across her teeth and tasted the tart, copper flavor of blood. Three teeth loose. Well, at least they’re still in place.

In spite of the relentless pain, she stayed determined to survive whatever Mendoza dished out. She wasn’t a quitter. No, sir. Duncan Falls, Iowa didn’t grow quitters. Eve ignored the constant ache in her ribs, courtesy of a guard’s overzealous kick, and took in a deep breath. She willed herself to stay alert, to keep pushing. Escape. Third times the charm.

Eve slapped the guard’s dirty hand. “Hey, Pedro, stop being so damned pushy. Where we going anyway? We got a hot date I’ve forgotten about?”

He looked puzzled then shoved her again.

“Don’t understand English, do you, Diego? Bet you understand this.” Eve drove her elbow into the guard’s face. Thick rubbery cartilage gave, and she whooped triumphantly.

Blood squirted from his nose and he screamed.

Eve stepped back. “Yep, I’m pretty sure you understand that.”

Unable to grab the guard’s assault rifle, she clutched her injured shoulder, and took off in a slow jog, no longer able to push any harder.

Her escape was short lived.

Price: 2.99

Resolutions was a finalist in the prestigious Daphne Du Maurier contest.

Tag! You’re It!

At Romaniac HQ, we’ve been discussing author tags.

Without turning into Violet Elizabeth, (Just William), I would really like one. The problem is, I’m yet to come up with something that captures the overriding sense of what, or how I write. It needs to be catchy, relatable and relevant.IMG_6365

Truth or Dare? has been cited as ‘Romance with bite’, ‘A love story with oomph’, and ‘A love story without the soft edges’. In one review, the style is likened to one of my all-time favourite authors, Jodi Picoult. I do enjoy a gritty, thought-provoking read. I love stories that challenge perception. Jojo Moyes’ Me Before You is a fine example.

First and foremost, I write romance, mainly coastal, but having completed two novels, and planned my third, I can see trends appearing. Family relationships are extremely important to the story, I enjoy strong female leads, and at the book’s heart, there is always an issue. It’s dark in Truth or Dare?, a shade lighter in Follow Me, and pitch black in What Doesn’t Kill TOD_FRONT largeYou (book 3). But … I love a happy ending. I like all the loose ends tied neatly and tucked away, and I believe good must ultimately defeat evil. What I hope to achieve is to guide the characters and the readers through the cold shadows, out into the brilliant sunshine.

Romance by torchlight? Hmm.

As I continue to ponder, I would love to see your author tags and learn how they came about. Or perhaps it’s not something you find necessary. Should the book do all the talking?

Tag! You’re it!

Laura x

Tagless.

Romancing The Soul – Sarah Tranter

Sarah Tranter

Today is publication day for Sarah Tranter’s second Choc Lit novel, Romancing The Soul. This is one of the books I am desperate to read, and listed it in our recent Romaniac Reading Resolution blog, No More Butterfly Reading.

I am a huge fan of Sarah’s, and her debut, No Such Thing As Immortality is up in my top ten favourite reads. It stayed with me long after I returned it to my bookcase. It has a gorgeous cover too.NSTAI Cover

We have a little longer to wait before finding out what the sexy, kind-hearted Nate has in store, as Romancing The Soul is not part of the No Such Thing trilogy.

RTS is a story of past-life regression, soul-mates, and love.

There are people with whom one instantly connects – have you ever wondered why? Perhaps you’ve met in a different life? I was told my daughter and I were together in a past life, as mother and daughter. Apparently, it is extremely rare for two people to reconnect as family. I’m open-minded, and if nothing else, it’s a lovely and pleasing idea. I feel no need to test the theory. I can tell you we have a fab relationship, and often communicate without words. We simply know. Kudos to Sarah, however, who underwent a past-life regression in the name of research for RTS. That’s dedication. And I know it will shine through her story.

Sarah Tranter Romancing

I do have a theory that we are meant to meet certain people in our lives. Gajitman and I met in the early nineties. We were in our twenties, living in Bedfordshire. Early in our blossoming romance, we discovered our grandparents used to live in London, in the same road as each other. Not only that, they were but a few doors apart. Gajitman and I were toddlers then and didn’t know of one another’s existence, but I’m pretty certain we’d have met, as we both knew and played with the children who lived in that road.

But that’s a whole different story.

Sarah – wishing you enormous success with Romancing The Soul. I cannot wait to get my hands on the paperback. In fact, it’s on pre-order …

Laura x

You can follow Sarah on twitter: @sarah_tranter

and on facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sarah.tranter.73?fref=ts

The Blurb

Sarah Tranter RomancingRomancing The Soul:

Your Soul Mate is out there! Let a past life lead the way
Rachael Jones hasn’t exactly chosen an average career path. She’s a ‘past-life regressionist’ and is now hoping to help her clients find their Soul Mates through reconnecting them with their past lives. But despite her best intentions, there are problems. Rachael made the mistake of regressing her best friend, Susie Morris, who has since been haunted by events that occurred in her past life.
When Susie meets Hollywood actor, George Silbury in unlikely circumstances, she is completely unprepared for her reactions. There’s an intense mutual attraction that neither can explain nor ignore.
Can George help Susie to overcome the sense of desolation she feels as the result of her past-life regression or will history’s habit of repeating itself ruin all chances of her finding happiness?

Memories and Traditions with Georgia Hill

A very warm welcome to Georgia Hill, author of  ‘Say it with Sequins : The Rumba‘ which is published today through Harper Impulse

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Huge thanks to Sue for asking me on here!

My Christmas Stocking: full of memories and traditions and even things to do!

Not surprisingly, given the time of year, I’ve been thinking about Christmas. So this blog post is a sort of Christmas stocking: full of all sorts of different things.

I always think Christmas makes special memories. I know it’s over-hyped and seems to last longer every year but it still works its magic if you let it. I love this time of year, maybe because I’m a late November baby. Some of my most treasured moments have happened during this season.

My father adored Christmas, perhaps because, as a boy, he had a fairly Spartan upbringing; a tangerine and a toy car was the most he could expect from his Christmas stocking. So, for us, he always tried to make it as magical a time as possible. I remember thick snow on the day itself and my aunt and uncle struggling up the steep hill to our house, to visit, my aunt stubbornly insisting on wearing stiletto heels. Leaving out carrots and a glass of sherry – for them to be gone in the morning. The tangible expectation in the air. I also remember Father Christmas managing to squeeze my very first bike down the chimney. The real miracle being how my parents scraped together enough money to buy me one.

Some good friends of the family lived in the middle of a forest and it was a tradition to visit near Christmas and take presents and cards. The house sang with the smell of the pines trees they’d cut down.

I’ve celebrated Christmas away from home too. Once, in the middle of the Atlantic, on a geography field trip and once in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Strange, disorientating times. Christmas and yet somehow not.

When first married, my new husband and I saw Love Actually on Christmas Eve afternoon and came out, feeling all loved-up, to be greeted by a spectacular sunset. The sky was orange and pink and violet and the air cold and fresh. Wonderful.

For some years I taught in primary schools. In mid December we’d all troop off to the carol service in a local minster. It was packed with children and parents, teachers and friends, all singing the old favourites.

Father Christmas has updated his image nowadays – who else tracks his progress across the globe with this?

http://www.noradsanta.org/

and another lovely site for small children is:

http://projectbritain.com/Xmas/calendar/

For me, a real tree is a must. We get ours from a local farm. When I first met ‘Dave’ (as I’ll call him, to spare his blushes), who runs the business, I developed the most enormous crush. Largely due to the fact he was enormous. And gorgeous. With a fetching dimple in his cheek. He even inspired a short story. It’s one reason to buy a real tree every year; I get a once a year treat of seeing ‘Dave’ again!

spaniels

Traditions necessarily change, according to circumstance. A new one for me is to sit down on Boxing Day afternoon, with husband out at a football match, and watch While You Were Sleeping. I have a selection of Christmassy leftovers (why are they always yummier than on the day itself?), light the wood-burner, grab a dog or two to cuddle and settle down. Guaranteed bliss every year.

This year we’re making a new tradition – a doggie walk on the beach on Christmas Day. I’ve tried taking cute pictures with them wearing those felt reindeer antlers. No good, my two just chew them! Spaniels have no respect for tradition.

Afterwards, I’ll be sitting down to watch the Christmas Special of Strictly Come Dancing as usual. With Say it with Sequins: The Rumba being inspired by the show, how could I not?

Whatever you’re doing this year, whoever you’re spending it with, may I wish you a very Happy Christmas and a peaceful and prosperous New Year.

Love,

Georgia x

new_author_pics_082Georgia Hill writes contemporary romance, written with love.

Say it with Sequins: The Rumba is out with Harper Impulse on 19th December.

Find her at:

www.georgiahill.co.uk

Twitter @georgiawrites and on Facebook.