SFTW: What Doesn’t Kill You.

What Doesn't Kill You Laura E James_FRONT_150dpi

I am excited, thrilled and nervous today, as my third novel for Choc Lit is released. What Doesn’t Kill You is published under Choc Lit’s new imprint, Dark Choc Lit – compelling, emotional, hard-hitting novels. Not your typical romance story.

Released on NetGalley for early reviews, I am delighted to say the novel has been warmly received, and I thank everyone who has taken the time to read and comment on the story.

Told from three perspectives, WDKY is set in and around the Jurassic Coast, making it the third in the Chesil Beach series. We meet our hero, Griff Hendry, as he stands on Portland Bill, watching the stormy sea. His life is as turbulent as the English Channel, with secrets and past torments threatening to drown everything he knows and loves. His wife, Evie, has pushed him away; he’s at odds with his fifteen-year-old step-daughter, Tess, and he struggles to understand his father’s past actions. Sometimes it seems as if his Old English sheepdog, Ozzy, is the only one he truly gets.

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Griff asks the question: Where did it all go wrong?

Here’s my book trailer teaser …

For an alternative version with a different feel and atmosphere provided by the music, please hop over to my blog.

I hope you love the story of Griff, Evie and Tess, and thank you so much for downloading.

Take care.

Laura x

Life Cycle Of A Writer: What Doesn’t Kill You

What Doesn’t Kill You.


On Thursday 29th October 2015, via my own blog, http://www.lauraejames.co.uk, and through social media, I had the sheer delight and pleasure of revealing the fabulous Berni Stevens cover for my third Choc Lit book in the Chesil Series, What Doesn’t Kill You. I am totally besotted with my new cover – not only is it stunning, not only does it capture the entire essence of the novel, but it features Portland Bill and the lighthouse. It’s an area that holds fond memories for me of my mum and visits to the Bill on warm, balmy days when my children were younger. There is a wonderful café there, called the Lobster Pot, which was a favourite place for birthday meals and easy Sunday lunches. At the end of the same building is an ice cream parlour, and no visit was complete without a vanilla cone for dessert.

My husband and I visited the area recently. It was a gorgeous way to spend the morning. I took video footage and photographs which I plan to use in the book trailer, but here’s a sneak preview.

Portland Bill lighthouse

Portland Bill lighthouse



Pulpit Rock - a significant obelisk in What Doesn't Kill You

Pulpit Rock – a significant obelisk in What Doesn’t Kill You

The lovely Lobster Pot

The lovely Lobster Pot

Thinking about it, I guess it was inevitable Portland Bill would feature in one of my books.

What Doesn’t Kill You has the honour of being the first novel to be released under the new imprint from Choc Lit, called Dark Choc Lit – an imprint for ‘…compelling, emotional, hard-hitting novels. Not your typical romance story.’

For those who like romance without the soft edges, What Doesn’t Kill You is the read for you. It’s available for pre-order, with an anticipated publication date of 26th November 2015.

My post from Thursday explains in more detail, but I feel so privileged to be in this position. What an amazing opportunity!

Here’s the blurb:

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger – but how strong can one person be?
Griff Hendry knows what it is to be strong. After a turbulent past, he’s dedicated himself to saving lives, working as a coastguard along the breath-taking shores of Dorset. It’s Griff’s belief that everyone is worth saving – which is why he can’t forgive his father, Logan, for what he did.
Griff’s future is plunged into uncertainty when his wife, Evie, tells him she wants a separation. The revelation is a shock and leads Griff to question what Evie could possibly be hiding – and she isn’t the only one holding back. Griff’s troubled stepdaughter, Tess, also harbours a dark secret.
As the truth is uncovered, Griff is forced to accept that perhaps he’s never understood what real strength is.

From Dark Choc Lit – compelling, emotional, hard-hitting novels. Not your typical romance story.

In between celebrating WDKY, feeding my children (because they keep on insisting I should cook dinner), and keeping clean, it’s head down and on with book four, as yet untitled. Now that WDKY is finding its way in the world, I can once again enter lives of my new characters and fully submerge myself in their world.

And the more I think about them, the more trouble they get into …

Take care.

Laura x





Renovation of a French Cottage

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks for me as I recently published my novella The French Retreat – the first in the Falling for France series.

Although I’ve had three books published by HarperImpulse (United States of Love, Closing In and The Half Truth) this one just had the edge in the excitement stakes. I think this was due equally to the fact I self-published and because it’s set in France; a country for which we, as a family, have a great affinity with.


boq oct 09 003

The French Retreat centres around a restored farmhouse which has been turned into a retreat for artists, photographers, writers and anyone who is looking to escape from the pressures of modern living. The inspiration behind the story came from our own home in Southern Brittany. We’ve been gradually restoring the cottage over many years and I thought I would share a few before and after photos. The renovation is a continual work in progress but it’s definitely come a long way since we bought it with no electricity, no water and an earth floor!

Rush hour

Rush hour

Early Days

cottage 2

More Recent Days

Cottage 1

The French Retreat


With Christmas on the horizon, losing her job and her home wasn’t on Marcie Grainger’s wish list. In a bid to reassess her life, she heads off to the only place she has ever felt truly content – her brother’s farmhouse retreat in rural France.

Marcie isn’t the only one looking to escape. Ex-soldier Will hopes the gentle pace of French life will help to banish the ghosts of his past and offer him the fresh start he desires.

However, all is not what it seems at The Retreat. Fuelled by a string of strange happenings and local rumours, Will and Marcie are pushed together as they try to discover who or what is behind it all. In so doing, they end up finding a lot more than they bargained for.

The French Retreat is a story of human compassion, hope and love.






Happy Publication of LIVING THE DREAM

It’s been such an exciting week for The Romaniacs, we’ve had the RNA conference and our Sparkle Spotlights, plus Catherine’s amazing book deal news but that’s not enough, we also have Celia’s new novel LIVING THE DREAM has been published by Tirgearr Publishing.

It sounds a great read and has already arrived on a Kindle or two – we can’t wait to read it.  Here’s the cover and the blurb …

living the dream

Longing to get away from her troubled marriage, the opportunity to cross America by train seems like a dream come true for Vita Craythorne. But charismatic travel agent Moriarty Miles has other ideas; by replacing their mutual friend Jack on the trip, Vita has unwittingly set herself up as a guinea pig for Moriarty’s mind-blowing and potentially dangerous virtual-travelling project. His plan is to give clients the holiday of a lifetime without ever having to leave the comfort of their own homes. It’s exciting. It’s time-saving. It’s innovative. Maybe this trip is just what Vita needs? That is, if she can avoid becoming trapped inside her own, miraculous dream world.

Amazon UK

Life Cycle Of A Writer: Learning How To Promote

This weekend at the 2015 Romantic Novelists’ Association’s Conference, we set up a corner for our Romaniac Sparkle Spotlight. It was a chance to put some of the talented writers we know in front of the camera to tell us about their high point, the toughest thing in their career and what they are currently working on. We had a tremendous amount of fun doing it, not just because there were bubbles involved, but because it was like the coffee break chats we might normally have at these events only we get to share them with the world. There was a theme of tremendous achievements despite the difficulties that get in the way and it was really a privilege listening to the answers people provided. It was also rather fortuitous that we were based outside the one-to-one rooms. It meant we managed to persuade an agent and editor to take part, so it gives a real flavour of the RNA conference.


Currently, the videos are being edited at a pace and we should be able to release them soon and it is with great thanks to those who took part. It was on a voluntary basis and all those who stood in front of the camera were complete naturals, even if they were nervous about doing it. We’re already planning to do the same again at the next conference so please do sign up next year if you want to take part.

We ourselves are all on a learning curve of how to best promote ourselves and we’ve loved doing this, this year. And behind the camera, doing most of the questions was our lovely, Celia J Anderson, who it turns out, is a brilliant interviewer  and she is currently on tour. Celia’s next book, Living The Dream is on a blog tour and if you pre-order either today or tomorrow it is only 99p! Then it comes out with Tirgearr Publishing later this week.

Celia and Lucie ready for ACTION!
Celia and Lucie ready for ACTION!

Have any writers out there been brave enough to stand in front of a camera yet? And do you prefer to read blogs or watch vlogs to find out about your next read?

Catherine x



Magical Weddings


About Magical Weddings-

15 Stories by USA Today, best-selling, and award-winning authors.

From sweet to spicy, the romances bundled into this set cross time and unite hearts, cast spells of laughter, battle wedding jitters and fight back tears, while weaving love’s hopeful magic throughout 1400 pages.


I’m Tamara Ferguson, award-winning author of the Tales of the Dragonfly Series, and top-ten bestseller, That Unforgettable Kiss.  I can’t tell you how excited I am to be included with this group of authors from all across the globe!

Our Magical Weddings headliner is Leigh Michaels, a national bestselling author who’s written over 100 novels.   Leigh’s story is a lovely historical romance – Her Wedding Wager – about a heroine whose future is dependent on a bet.  Aileen Harkwood’s contribution is The Last Wedding At Drayhome – an enchanting story about a witch and warlock – and a love too long denied.

Eve Devon’s captivating love story , The Dress, spans time – through a dress weaved with magic, while USA Today bestselling author Raine English has written Second Chance Bride, a charming story about a bride who might’ve chosen the wrong groom – as communicated by a telepathic rescue dog!

In Something Borrowed, Something Blue, Lynda Haviland’s heroine has a wedding to crash, before love gets in the way.  And Jody A. Kessler’s Heart Of The Secret involves a curse, and a witch who will do anything to marry her true love.

How can she fight a calling from her soul?  The heroine faces a dilemma in Jane Lark’s The Jealous Love Of A Scoundrel.  Bess McBride’s contribution is A Wedding Across the Winds Of Time – about a couple who’re ready to be married, after finding each other through time.

In Kiss This, written by L.L. Muir, the florist actually catches the bouquet!  Jennifer Gilby Roberts contribution is Caution is a Virture, about a heroine who’s afraid to take a risk with love.  And Loving Lindy by Jan Romes?  It’s a delightful story about a couple who pretend to be engaged, until real feelings get in their way.

Heather Thurmeier has written With This Kiss – about a kiss that could prove to be magical.  Real Magic is by Elsa Winckler.  Can a magical evening transform into reality?  And unexpected guests may forever change the lives of a soon-to-be married couple in The Wedding Guests by Sarah Wynde.

Finally, here’s a little about my romance-

twoheartssurendered2 (1)

Two Hearts Surrendered

Luke Bryant and Kelly Callahan met on the beach at Dragonfly Pointe when thirteen-year old Luke saved six-year old Kelly from drowning. He and Kelly shared an undeniable connection through their childhood. But with his tarnished past, Luke refuses to act on the attraction he begins feeling for her.

When Luke finally comes home on leave from the Air Force, and attends the Magical Wedding of Kelly’s sister Kate (That Unforgettable Kiss), he and Kelly spend an enchanting night together.  They simply can’t help themselves – they’ve loved each other nearly their entire lives.

College student Kelly has everything going for her – she’s beautiful, smart and intelligent. So when Luke eventually returns home from Iraq as a wounded warrior, despite the fact that he doesn’t appear to want anything to do with her, she refuses to give up on him. It’s not about his looks, or his past – it’s all about the connection they’ve shared since they were kids.  Fate has always meant for them to be together – she’s sure of it.  But will Kelly ever be able to convince Luke to surrender his heart?

Right now, Magical Weddings is available for pre-order at only 99c.  It’s already reached bestseller status at Amazon – at #3 for Hot New Releases and #14 for anthologies!

Magical Weddings is available at:

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/magical-weddings-leigh-michaels/1122015285?ean=2940151303484
Google Playhttp://bit.ly/1F7a8rY


All About the Setting – Samantha Tonge Guest Post

It’s always a pleasure to have guests on the blog and Samantha Tonge is no different. Here to launch her latest novel GAME OF SCONES, Sam is talking about settings.


Most of the settings of my novels are based on places I know. In Doubting Abbey, Applebridge Hall has similarities with a stately home local to me, that I visited whilst doing research for my fictional building’s interior and many times when the children were small. I lived in Paris as a young woman, so had many memories to draw on for my next book, From Paris with Love. And Mistletoe Mansion is set in Harpenden, a quaint Hertfordshire village I grew up in. As for Game of Scones, the story takes place on the Greek island of Kos. I went there with a group of girlfriends years ago. Plus my husband and I honeymooned on Zante.

So for me, I have so far balked at setting a book somewhere I have absolutely no experience of. Granted, my memories of Greece may not be sharp now, but I still have deep-seated sensual memories– the garlicky smells and sea breeze sounds, the rich taste of the food, the vibrant colour of the sea. From Paris I recall the stuffy odour of the underground, the universal soundtrack of busy tourists speaking in different languages and the delicious sweet smells wafting out of bakeries.

For me this basic, hands-on understanding of a location is important. I might get the overall “feel” of an alien place wrong, if I just go by information on the internet. Although online resources are fantastic for filling in the detail, and I don’t know how authors used to manage before the invention of the World Wide Web.

Before I became published, I had a number of editorial reports on my first novels done, and one pointed out that my settings just weren’t clear enough. I had a strong vision in my head of say a main character’s flat, but wasn’t transferring that to the page. So now I realize how important the smaller bits of information can be – some crumbling brickwork or the exact shade of that magnolia wallpaper. And the beauty of the internet is that the building blocks of your setting can be easily enriched. Thanks to photos and videos and tourist spot descriptions, you can create a realistic vision of a place you don’t actually have day-to-day knowledge of.

For Game of Scones I’ve read tourists’ reviews ad nauseam and studied town maps until I’ve got a headache; have scrutinized photo after photo of local food; then there’s hours of Googling the fragrances of certain local flowers and trawling gardening sites to find out exactly when they bloom. Plus I listen on Youtube to hear how a Greek person speaking English really does sound and also I studied local architecture, to get my descriptions of towns just right.

Doing all of this, in advance, helps the story just spill onto the page and hopefully, by the end of the book, the reader really has become immersed in your fictional world. However, by the same token, I try not to become too hung up on getting every single detail right. After all, I’m a fiction writer, not a tourist guide.

Wait a minute, though. Thinking about it, I did once write a book based in a country – and era – totally foreign to me. Lunchdate with a Tombrobber is set in Ancient Egypt. It is chicklit meets Carry on Cleo, and in my opinion my best book. Sadly no publisher agrees with me and it doesn’t fit neatly into any genre!  I had huge fun researching it, but didn’t get lazy about the detail. In fact I found a wonderful Egyptologist online, who agreed to answer any questions for £1 a pop, via PayPal. Is setting as important in historical fiction, as no one can say that they’ve experienced it and that your version is wrong? Probably more so, as you have to get the reader’s imagination working hard too.

Some people say “write what you know” and to a certain extent, I agree. However, I’m not one for setting anyone – myself included – boundaries, so who knows… Perhaps in the future, I’ll set a chicklit novel on Mars and find out if that really is where men come from!

Game+of+Scones_FINAL+(2)Game of Scones

 A story of icing and flour…and how love doesn’t always go to plan!

Growing up, Pippa Pattinson’s summers were spent in the idyllic Greek island fishing village of Taxos. There she spent many long hazy days determinedly ignoring thoughts of the life her parents had mapped out for her (a dreary-but-secure accounting job and obligatory sensible husband!) Instead she daydreamed of running her own tea shop – serving the perfect scones –with mocha-eyed childhood friend Niko by her side…

Arriving back in Taxos for the first time in years, with suave boyfriend Henrik, Pippa barely recognises the tired little town – but is relieved to catch glimpses of the quaint, charming village she’s always loved. Together Niko and Pippa put together a proposal to save Taxos from tourist-tastic ruin, and at the heart of their plan is Pippa’s dream project – The Tastiest Little Teashop in Taxos. It’s time for Pippa to leave her London life behind and dust off her scone recipe that’s guaranteed to win over both locals and visitors. And amidst the rolling pins and raisins, it seems romance is blossoming where she’s least expecting it…

If you’re a fan of Lindsey Kelk or Lucy Diamond then don’t hesitate to step into Samantha Tonge’s truly delightful tea shop.

DSCN4508About Samantha:

Samantha lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and two cats who think they are dogs. Along with writing, her days are spent cycling, willing cakes to rise and avoiding housework. A love of fiction developed as a child, when she was known for reading Enid Blyton books in the bath. A desire to write bubbled away in the background whilst she pursued other careers, including a fun stint working at Disneyland Paris. Formally trained as a linguist, Samantha now likes nothing more than holing herself up in the spare room, in front of the keyboard. Writing romantic comedy novels and short stories is her passion.

Samantha has sold over 80 short stories to mainstream women’s magazines. Her debut romantic comedy novel from CarinaUK Harlequin, bestselling “Doubting Abbey“, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award, 2014. Its fun sequel is From Paris With Love. Mistletoe Mansion is a fun standalone Christmas novel.