All That is Left of Us Blog Tour: Meerkat Research

Creating Owerdale Zoo: The Research

atiloublogtour

When I first pitched this book to my editor, the zoo was always going to be central to the story. In essence it was going to be a tale of three mums who regular met at the zoo to catch up. This was the original pitch:

Never work with animal and children, but a weekly coffee can’t hurt, right?

When three old school pals meet at an antenatal class, they decide to support each other through motherhood and get an annual pass to the zoo to meet once a week. But as past secrets come out, and a meerkat becomes a changing bag stowaway, will they make it through their maternity leave as friends, or enemies?

The book evolved from the original idea to be focused on Dawn who is acting as surrogate for her sister-in-law, Rebekah. But the meerkat idea was still going to be central and turned into the best research I’ve ever had to do.

At the point of only having a story outline, I needed to do some research to find out as much as I could about meerkat behaviour. In All That is Left of Us, Dawn’s son, Archie, is obsessed with the Owerdale Zoo meerkats and spends every Saturday morning documenting what they’re up to so it was important to have as much knowledge as possible.

14285506_10157322020065386_284378935_o

When it came to research, books and documentaries weren’t going to be enough so I contacted Paulton’s Park to see if they could help. They have their own mob of meerkats so I asked if anyone would be able to answer some of the weird and wonderful questions I had in relation to the storyline. Thankfully, they were really helpful and I met with the livestock manager, Geoff Masson, and he helped answer all of my questions regarding meerkats and their behaviour. I’ve tried to portray them as accurately as possible and any mistakes are my own. I have to confess to this being one of my favourite parts of the novel. The friendship Archie has with the meerkats is very real and his relationship with animals reflects that this is a story of love in its many forms, even the ones we don’t understand.

I really hope any readers of All That is Left of Us enjoy the relationship between Archie and his meerkats as much as I enjoyed researching and writing about them.

ATILOUreveal

Now I just need to decide what research to incorporate into the next book.

Catherine xx

HONNNNKKKKKKK!

HONNNKKKK!!!

The fireworks are being lit, the cake is coming out of the oven and the glasses are overflowing with pop as The Romaniacs celebrate the paperback release of our lovely Jan Brigden’s As Weekends Go.

awg-roms-congrats

 

Laura: Many congratulations, Jan. What an exciting day! Your first paperback. And isn’t it gorgeous? I’m looking forward to getting my hands on a signed copy. I am thrilled for you. So well deserved, my lovely, hardworking friend xxx

Catherine: Congratulations, Jan! The honkometer cannot withstand such excitement! This level of celebration may be enough to put it into early retirement! Enjoy the day and we’ve stocked up on additional cake to mark the occasion! Xxx

Vanessa: HUGE congratulations, lovely Jan. I hope your day is filled with cake and champagne – I can’t wait to add the wonderful As Weekends Go to my Romaniac shelf!

Sue: Honkity-honk-honk-honk! Congratulations, Jan on the release of your paperback. It’s a fantastic story and I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. It will take pride of place on my bookshelf with the other Romaniac publications! I also get to stroke Alex Heath!! Well done, my friend, thoroughly deserved. xx

Celia: Sooooo excited for you, our lovely, talented Jan! Loved the Kindle version and can’t wait to see the book in paperback form, in all its glory. Massive congratulations and honks. Very, very proud of you and all you’ve achieved xxxx

Lucie: How amazing is this, Jan? I am SUPER proud of you, my friend! I cannot wait for this to be on my shelf. You are an inspiration and I hope you are celebrating in true Romaniac-style with plenty of fizz and HONKS! Love you lots xxx 

 

With love from The Romaniacs

xxxxxxx

 

 

Life Cycle Of A Writer: When It All Happens At Once

The writing life is full of waiting and I’ve discovered in more recent months that when it does happen, it all happens at once! Following a successful book launch for Waiting for You, I then had my deadline to reach for Book Two.

Sending the next book in was more than nerve-wracking. I’m so used to getting other’s opinions and I didn’t get the chance this time so I was thrilled when my editor informed me that it’s wonderful! So I’m delighted to be able to share the title and bio for my second book:

All That Is Left Of Us

One of My Own…

Dawn loves being a mother. No matter how Archie came into her life, or the fact he’s a little different from other children, he is precious and loved. He is hers, after all. Especially because she’s never told anyone who the father of her son is.

So when Dawn’s twin brother David and his wife Rebekah are struggling to have their own child, Dawn agrees to become their surrogate, as it is the one thing she can do to help.

However, creating the perfect family doesn’t always go to plan and when Dawn realises just how much her nephew needs his mother, she begins to wonder if the time has finally come to confront the past she has kept secret for so long.

It has gone up on Amazon for preorder today! So if you want to help me through this round of revisions please click preorder. It’s due out in September.

If that wasn’t enough excitement for the week (bearing in mind it is only Tuesday), I’m now able to share the news that Waiting for You has been shortlisted for the Joan Hessayon Award this year in a stellar list with 14 other friends and authors.

13043405_1061730760559852_4549109394533291572_n

The results for that will be announced at the RNA Summer Party on May 19th. I had my photos taken by the talented Chris Neaves of Neaves Brothers Photography and although I now have some super serious author shots, don’t be concerned, in real life it’s business as usual:

DSC_5840

With all that having happened over the course of a couple of months, I need a spa day to rejuvenate. It’s a shame my twin girls have other ideas! Why is it all the excitement is always clustered? Maybe it’s because the powers that be know I need a lengthy period to recover.

Catherine x

A CROSS-GENRE ROMANCE SET IN ONE OF AFRICA’S MOST VOLATILE HOTSPOTS

Today, we are very pleased to welcome Louise Rose-Innes to talk about her new novel A PASSION SO WILD.

Louise:

As I wrote A Passion So Wild I realised it didn’t strictly fit into the contemporary romance genre, but was more a Louise R-I A Passion So Wild - Louise Rose-Innescombination of suspense, adventure and romance. While there is no doubt the love story between gorilla vet, Lexi Carrington and the wildlife park’s benefactor, Sir Anthony Remy is the central storyline, the pace quickens in the second half of the book when rebels attack the park and Lexi goes on the run with a gorilla carer and an injured boy. With the rebels tracking their every move and Sir Anthony and his SAS buddies not far behind, the stakes are raised and the suspense escalates until the very last chapter.

The unpredictability of the setting provides a perfect environment for heightened tension, both sexual and physical.  The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a politically unstable, volatile country where rebels run riot, corruption is rife and daily life is fraught with danger. The wildlife sanctuary is situated in the tropical rainforest which provides risks of a different kind. The characters have to deal with limited internet connectivity, electricity from generators, no cell phone signal, scorching humidity, tropical thunder showers, and of course all the wild animals and creepy-crawlies one finds in a jungle.

In this book, the jungle seems to have a personality all of its own. I didn’t plan it that way, but when Lexi goes on the run, the lush foliage and dense undergrowth provide shelter and protection as well as limited movement and other hidden dangers. It is at times nurturing, and other times terrifying.

One of the benefits of being an indie author is the freedom to experiment with my novels, themes and genres. With my last traditionally published book, Personal Assistance, I was under the capable but inflexible hand of my assigned editor and my book had to conform to the style and requirements of the publisher’s imprint. While this is perfectly normal, it did limit my creativity somewhat, and at the end of the process the story had changed so much that I hardly recognised it.

With this book, I’ve stuck to my guns and woven the suspense around the romance in a way that I hope my readers will find appealing and exciting. I’ve also brought in aspects that I uncovered in my research which really moved me – such as the endangered mountain gorillas (only 880 left in the world!) and the terrible plight of the villagers who live in the jungle and are at the constant mercy of marauding rebels and government militia.

Louise R-I 973bc72b2b14f562a7750729f23ab0b1

The DRC is not all war and chaos, however. There are definite glimmers of hope. The creativity of the people shines through as they learn to cope and even prosper in the war torn environment. Children play in abandon airports, artisans sell homemade produce, rangers risk their lives to protect the wildlife and animal doctors spend hours in the field treating and healing wounded gorillas to ensure their survival.

Louise R-I 4414fcecc8c1de75ba5ba08883db9798

All of the research I did created an elaborate and interesting canvas on which to weave my story, but the overriding theme in the novel is one of love, hope and happily ever-afters.

A Passion So Wild is now available at  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01A4HA4HW/

Louise R-I A Passion So Wild - Louise Rose-InnesA Passion So Wild

Former socialite, Lexi, adores her new, fulfilling life as a gorilla vet in the Congolese jungle. Even the surrounding political volatility can’t dim her contentment – until she meets the sanctuary’s enigmatic benefactor, Sir Anthony. He’s wealthy and arrogant, appearing more concerned with his company’s image than the welfare of the sanctuary he’s endowed. He symbolizes the empty, pampered life she left behind – so why is she falling for him? When rebels attack the sanctuary, Sir Anthony is the only man who can keep her safe – yet he’s also the biggest threat her heart has ever faced.

A fast-paced, romantic suspense novel from Amazon Bestselling Author, Louise Rose-Innes.

Louise R-I profilepic

Biography

Louise Rose-Innes writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She lives in Surrey, in the United Kingdom and when she isn’t writing, is traipsing through the beautiful countryside or kahaking on the river Thames. Visit her at www.louiseroseinnes.co.uk.

 

No More Waiting! Catherine’s Debut is Here!

HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY, CATHERINE MILLER!

WFY Cover

Laura: The first time I met Catherine, she was waiting for me at an M3 service station. It was 06:00, it was dark and we were both heading to Watford for the inaugural Festival of Romance. It was October 2011.

We had no idea if the other person was a mad axe murderer, what we really looked like, or whether we’d get along. All we knew was our Twitter handles and the fact we were both in the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme.

By the time the car door had shut and we’d pulled away, leaving a rather concerned Mr Miller wondering with whom his wife had driven away, Catherine and I were friends. We did not stop chatting on that journey, or any journey we’ve taken together since. I can’t see us bucking that trend any time soon.

We became writing buddies, fellow Romaniacs, and family friends, and I am absolutely delighted to be able to say, Catherine, congratulations on the release of your wonderful debut, Waiting For You. You have written a gorgeous story that’s full of heart. Happy publication day, my lovely, energetic, make-me-laugh-out-loud, talented friend.

IMG_2116

Catherine & Laura

Sue: Happy Publication Day, Catherine! Waiting for You is officially out there – how fab is that? Since we first met, back in 2011, I have been in awe of your motivation and drive but that’ s not just with the writing, you do an equally awesome job with your twin girls too and I still have no idea how you combine the two roles. Anyway, my lovely friend, who makes me laugh every time we meet, who straight talks and keeps a cool head, here’s to Waiting For You. Sue xxx

Sue & Catherine, Festival of Romance, 2011

Catherine & Sue, Festival of Romance, 2011

Celia: Catherine’s effervescent energy keeps us all going – goodness only knows where she gets it from, but even when she’s been entertaining her lovely,  lively twin girls for hours on end, she can still manage to knock out a fabulous new book. We are now going to watch her fly – go, Catherine!

Celia, Debbie, Lorraine and Catherine

Celia, Debbie, Honorary Romaniac Lorraine, & Catherine

Catherine and Baby Amber

Lucie: I am so proud of you, Catherine, and everything you’ve achieved xxx

Lorraine The Honourary Romaniac

Laura, Vanessa, Debbie, Catherine, Honorary Romaniac Lorraine, Celia, Lucie & Sue

Catherine & Katie Fforde, with the Katie Fforde Bursary Trophy

Catherine & Katie Fforde, with the Katie Fforde Bursary Trophy

Vanessa: I’m so proud of our Catherine –  She’s such a talented writer and worked so hard for this day (even with the distractions of her lovely twins!) and deserves all the success in the world with her wonderful book, Waiting For You.

Vanessa and Catherine

Catherine & Vanessa

Debbie: Oh, Catherine, how proud I am to join in the celebrations of your special day! ‘Wonder Woman’ is the first name to spring to mind. I’m in awe of how you manage to juggle being a wife, splendiferous mummy to toddler twin girls and have achieved what you have writing-wise. You are the personification of the saying, ‘Make every second count!’ I don’t know how you’ve done it in between the sleepless nights, teething, weaning and daytime naps but I salute your energy, resilience and sheer dogged determination to never give in. I often refer to the Romaniacs as a tin of ‘Quality Street’ (each one different and every one someone’s favourite!) Catherine is, ‘the purple one’ – one of my writing besties with the nut (nutty??) middle, wrapped in smooth caramel and coated in chocolate. Purple conveys bold and brave, the nut middle says it all as let’s be honest; you are the nuttiest of the group, albeit you’re sweet with it. It’s as if having the twins has unleashed your potential. You’ve had so many successes; the Katie Fforde bursary was the pinnacle. I tip my hat to you and wish you every continued success because you have so earned this moment. Enjoy my friend. xxxCatherine Quality Street

Debbie and Catherine

Debbie & Catherine

Jan: I’m so pleased for Catherine, as is our faithful Romaniac Honkmeter, which is well oiled and firmly in ‘TOOT TOOT’ mode in celebration of her debut which I cannot wait to read. Congratulations my lovely talented friend. May you have much success and sales galore. Enjoy this special day to the max. You’ve worked so hard and fully deserve all the sparkle coming your way! Xx

Media Stars!

Sue, Catherine, Jan, Laura, Debbie & Vanessa

Many congratulations, Catherine,

and much success,

Love from

The Romaniacs xxxxxxx

Down on the Farm

Catherine Miller and the Girls

 

SFTW: AS Weekends Go

WAHOOO!

This is a very special Something For The Weekend.

It’s publication day for Jan Brigden’s debut As Weekends Go!

AWG_FRONT_150dpi HIGH RES

As Weekends Go won the Choc Lit and Whole Story Audiobooks Search For A Star competition 2014/2015, and we are immensely proud of and thrilled for Jan. It is a fabulous novel, with a stunning cover. Jan’s warmth oozes from the pages.

Under normal circumstances, Jan is custodian of the Romaniac Honkometer, but we liberated it from HQ so we could do this:

HONNNNNKKKKKK!!!!!

And now for a few words from the Romaniacs …

Laura: Jan, many congratulations on the release of your debut. It’s a huge achievement and I am absolutely delighted for you. Not only are you a wonderful writer, but a genuine, supportive and warm-hearted person, who I am very lucky to be able to call my friend. Have an incredible day – take it all in, enjoy it, have fun, and watch AWG fly :-) xxx

Vanessa: HUGE congratulations, Jan! I’m thrilled to bits for you and your wonderful book. Enjoy publication day!! xxx

Debbie: Woo hoo!  HONKETY HONK! Dearest Jan, I’m sounding the ‘honkometer’ on your behalf today. Our little treasure; you’re the first to encourage, support and congratulate our fellow writer friends. Today the spotlight is on YOU although knowing you as I do, I don’t suppose it will come easily being centre stage, seeing as you’re always one to hide your light under a bushel! However for today, I wish for you to bask in the celebration of your publication day, immerse yourself in the experience and revel in the celebrations our writer friends cast in your direction.

This is what you have been working for, Jan. It is so well deserved and I’m sending you, my lovely Romaniac friend, heartfelt congratulations and every success with XXXX. This is your moment!  This is the time …

Be happy for this moment. This moment is your life’s dream. And no-one deserves it like you! xxx

Catherine: I was slightly concerned that as chief honker in Romaniac HQ that the rest of us wouldn’t be able to use the HONKOMETER without Jan backing us up with some kind of IT support! Turns out we only needed to give it a jiggle to sound the honkets! And they are so well deserved after all your hard work and support! Like the girls said, bask my lovely, for today is your day! 

Sue : Ah, my lovely friend, I am so pleased for you!!!!!!  As everyone knows, you are such a fabulous supporter of other writers and here at Romaniac HQ we are thoroughly delighted for you. I absolutely can’t wait to read As Weekends Go and I definitely want a turn of the Honkometer – if I can wrestle it from the others! Have a brilliant day! xxx

Lucie: oh my goodness, Jan! Your debut novel is up, up and away! And fly it will! You are an incredibly supportive, genuine, kind hearted person who deserves every second of this. You are always there, bigging everyone else up. Now it’s YOUR turn to enjoy it. This is SO well deserved, I’m so proud of you. Love you millions xxx

Jan, our lovely supportive buddy – you so, so deserve every success in the world. You never fail to prop me up when I’m down, you’re hugely talented and I’m sure you’re going to be a honkmungous success as a published author (see what I did there?) Love you squillions, Celia xxx

 

424171_2997879859652_2014874345_n

Congratulations, Jan😀

Love from

The Romaniacs

xxxxxxx

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.

Waterlogue 1.1.4 (1.1.4) Preset Style = Soaked Format = 6" (Medium) Format Margin = Small Format Border = Sm. Rounded Drawing = #2 Pencil Drawing Weight = Medium Drawing Detail = Medium Paint = Natural Paint Lightness = Normal Paint Intensity = More Water = Tap Water Water Edges = Blurry Water Bleed = Intense Brush = Natural Detail Brush Focus = Everything Brush Spacing = Wide Paper = Watercolor Paper Texture = Medium Paper Shading = Light Options Faces = Enhance Faces

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