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

 

Follow Me, Follow You: Cover Reveal

Follow Me, Follow You

Helen Ellis Photography

Helen Ellis Photography

It’s a red letter day, as my mother used to say. The sort of day when she’d place a sticker on the page in her diary.

I am thrilled to announce that my second novel, a contemporary romance titled Follow Me, Follow You, is to be published by the wonderful Choc Lit, in both digital and paperback formats, and will be available in the autumn. This will be my first paperback publication.

In celebration, and to reveal the beautiful cover designed by Berni Stevens, I have created a short vlog. Take five, settle back and help yourself to tea and cake - our Celia’s been baking again.

Enjoy.

Laura x

Follow Me, Follow You:

Victoria Noble has pulled the plug on romance. As director of the number one social networking site, EweSpeak, and single mother to four-year-old Seth, she wrestles with the work-life balance. 

Enter Chris Frampton, Hollywood action hero and Victoria’s first love. His return from LA has sparked a powder keg of media attention, and with secrets threatening to fuel the fire, he’s desperate to escape. But finding a way forward is never simple. Although his connection with Victoria has lasted the test of time, has he been adrift too long to know how to move on? With the risk of them breaking, will either follow their heart?

Follow Me Follow You

You save me and I’ll save you

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.

The First Time I … Pippa Croft/Phillipa Ashley

Phillipa Ashley Pippa Croft

THE FIRST TIME I…

 WROTE A ROMANCE SERIES

Pippa Croft/Phillipa Ashley

In spring 2013, I was lucky enough to be given a three book contract to write a series of hot romance novels for Penguin Books.

This is the first time I’ve written a series featuring the same characters in each book. Prior to this all my books have been standalone, with completely new characters and settings. Each book in the Oxford Blue series is full-length at approx 90k words and I’ve just started Third Time Lucky – funnily enough the third book in the series.

Sorry that I’ve got to use a blatant plug i.e.the publisher’s blurb to introduce my findings, but this will hopefully put things in context! (Mmm, think the Romaniacs…)

The First Time We Met is the first novel in the sizzling new Oxford Blue romance series from Pippa Croft.

When US Senator’s daughter Lauren Cusack arrives at the enchanting Wyckham College of Oxford University, she hopes to mend her broken heart by throwing herself into her studies.

But then English aristocrat Alexander Hunt walks into her life and everything changes. Handsome, brooding, and with his own dark past to escape, Alexander is exactly what Lauren doesn’t need – but she finds herself helplessly drawn towards him.

Both Alexander and Lauren know that they should stay away from each other . . . but sometimes desire is so powerful that it conquers all else.

Pippa Croft Series (2)

THE VERDICT SO FAR

So here’s my report so far, on the challenges and joys of writing a series as opposed to single titles and some questions to think about before you embark on this epic journey.

THE CHALLENGES

  • Are your main characters compelling enough and can they develop sufficiently to sustain a series of books? Do the hero, heroine, and secondary characters grow and change with each book and over the series as a whole?
  • How are you going to introduce previous events for readers who pick up the series with Book 2 or 3? How much of their back story should you include while still keeping the new books fresh and exciting for the reader?
  • If it’s a hot and steamy series, how can you keep the love scenes exciting? You need to make sure that each sexy scene is part of the character development and moves the characters on in some way, and isn’t simply there for titillation.
  • You need to keep in mind the story arc of the whole series and of each book.
  • You can’t go back and change the story in earlier books, if you’re writing a series as you go along – which you probably will be.
  • However, you can’t plan too far ahead or you’ll be shoehorning characters into the plot of three books rather than letting them develop naturally. However, you do need a very good idea of their motivations and conflicts and these have to develop and change.

THE JOYS

  • Neither you nor your readers have to say goodbye to characters you’ve grown to love – or hate – by the end of the book.
  • You can take your time over each character’s development, get deep under their skins and set them new challenges to overcome.
  • If it’s a hot and steamy series, you’ll have plenty of opportunities for love scenes to show the characters growing and changing. Great fun…
  • You have time to get deep inside your characters’ psyche and develop their voices.
  • Hopefully, your readers will be so engaged with the characters they will be desperate to read each book.

That looks like more challenges than joys; however I absolutely love writing the Oxford Blue series and slightly dread it finishing it at some point.

I’ll let you into a secret: I still don’t know exactly what’s going to happen to Lauren and Alexander, but I can promise you that it will be dramatic, sexy and a big surprise (to me as much as the reader…)

Thank you so much, Phillipa, for this fascinating insight and advice. I’ve not written a series but can see how exciting it must be.  Please do visit again and let us know how things develop.

Laura x

Truly, Madly, Deeply – The RNA Anthology

TMD 24Truly, Madly, Deeply – The RNA Anthology.Author_Pose

I am delighted to announce the release of the Romantic Novelists’ Association new anthology, Truly, Madly, Deeply, published by Mills and Boon and available in paperback with 24 stories, and as an extended eBook, containing an additional 11 stories. A bumper selection of all-new specially-selected stories from the leading lights of commercial women’s fiction as well as some exciting new names!

My short story, Bitter Sweet is included in the digital extension, and I am thrilled, honoured, and privileged to be part of such a great anthology, alongside wonderful authors for whom I have deep respect.

The blurb:

24 specially selected stories from bestselling authors including Adele Parks, Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews, Miranda Dickinson and many more. From wedding days to special anniversaries, steamy one night encounters to everlasting loves, Truly, Madly, Deeply takes you on an exciting romantic adventure where love really is all you need. Plus, eBook edition includes 11 additional stories!TMD_eBook cover

It’s a must-have!

Please join us on Friday 21st from 09:00 at our Facebook Online Launch Party, and on Twitter, using #TrulyMadlyDeeply and #RNA

Here are the all important links:

Mills & Boon:

Facebook

Twitter

Mills & Boon: Truly, Madly, Deeply

Amazon:

Paperback

eBook

iBooks

Google Play

Kobo

Enjoy!

Laura x

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

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?