Cover Reveal – The French Retreat

I’m really pleased to be sharing the cover and blurb for my novella The French Retreat which is due to be released on 15th October. I had great fun writing this, so much so, that I aim to write some more in the series. The French Retreat is set in Southern Brittany, an area of France I’m very familiar with as we have a second home there, and it was the inspiration behind the story. I’ll be blogging more about how we restored our cottage and sharing some photos in a couple of weeks time but, for now, I’ll leave you with the cover and blurb. Ta-daa!

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.






Cover : Amygdala Book Cover Designs

Something For The Weekend – Stylo Love

Last Friday we gave you notebook love.

This week it’s all about the pens.

No drooling, please.

Boom! No messing. Coming straight out with the Sharpies

Boom! No messing. Coming straight out with the Sharpies.

The Pentel EnerGel is Laura's favourite

The Pentel EnerGel is Laura’s favourite. Look at all those colours.

Lucie's not fussy, she'll write with anything she can get her hands on. Yes, even the One Direction pen!

Lucie’s not fussy, she’ll write with anything she can get her hands on.
Yes, even the One Direction pen!

Not a pen, but a very funky pencil, useful also as a catapult and for making rude signs - Celia

Not a pen, but a very funky pencil, useful also as a catapult and for making rude signs – Celia


Sue: A good old black biro medium nib will do me just fine, although I do quite like the odd ‘Frozen’ pen borrowed from my daughter.

Debbie: Ahh, ‘The pen maketh the writer …’

There’s nothing quite like gripping the cold, silky length of a Parker or Mont Blanc fountain pen, allowing the words to flow and then blowing or wafting paper until the ink dries. There have been three special ones in my life over the years but alas, each has succumbed to the special place in the sky where all the lost things go. For now, my trusty pencil, sharpened down to a two inch stump must do. The flow is still there and that is what matters.

Life Cycle of A Writer: Bananarama, Broken Bones and Back To School

I have an ear- worm, and the best way I know to rid oneself of an ear-worm is to share, so here it is: Bananarama’s Cruel Summer.

The six-week school holiday mostly passed by in a blur of grey skies, grizzly, drizzly and occasionally torrential rain, and dim light.

My children didn’t seem to mind. The damp days were an excellent reason to stay home and play computer games, draw, and read, and, bless them, they didn’t object to me spending some of that time in the edits cave with What Doesn’t Kill You.

Not upgrading until the edits are complete ...

Not upgrading until the edits are complete …

With the years whizzing by, I’m keen to spend as much down-time with my children as possible – their adulthood is lurking around the next corner – so I kept my daylight editing hours to the minimum. I saw 3:00 am a number of times, and worked right through until 5:30 am on the last night/day to ensure I returned my work on time. This is no reflection on my editor – she is lovely and actively encouraged me to spend time with my children over the holidays, but once I get stuck into edits, it’s better if I keep going, so I can keep a mental track of the changes. Last year I explained the process to my youngest in this way: Imagine you are calculating a sum with lots of different actions – brackets, additions, subtractions, equations – working out each sum as you go along, trying to hold all that information in your head so you can give a final answer – that is what editing is like for me, except with words, plot and structure.

Beach Shack

There were a few sunny days when we managed to nip out for a spot of fresh air and exercise. We live five minutes away from the beach, and although we’d hoped to make more use of it this year, it was not to be. Thankfully, I took lots of photos of our trips out – days that earned the hashtag #summerholidaysinoneday. (I now have another ear-worm going on – Crowded House – Four Seasons In One Day, which, by the way, we experienced in one morning.)

IMG_0674 IMG_0685 IMG_0599 IMG_0663

I purposely did no other writing during the holidays as I find it difficult to swap from edits and characters in one novel to the characters and plot of the work-in-progress, so book 4, as yet untitled, remained untouched. I’m panicking a little, as I’m only 15,000 words in, and I have six months to complete and revise. So far, a year is the shortest time I’ve taken to write a novel …


The plan was to return to book 4 once the children were back at school, but those plans have been put on hold a little longer, as my daughter fractured a bone and tore a ligament in her knee in a Tae Kwondo accident, three days into the new term. We have come through the first week, so it’s onwards and upwards now.

Such is the life cycle of a writer …

Take care,

Laura x


Vanessa Savage – Inspired by…

I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s in a small Gloucestershire village – back then, there were only four channels on the telly and as a teenager there was nothing to do and nowhere to go. My nearest library was ten miles away, my nearest bookshop twenty.

I was never one of the hanging-round-on street-corner kids, I preferred to stay in and read. As a teenager, I remember endless rainy Saturday afternoons when there was nothing but horse racing and darts on TV and my mum and dad’s bookshelves became my escape. Lack of access to bookshops meant I had to make do with what I could find and expand my reading genres – once I’d worked my way through the teenage reads in the school library, I read anything and everything we had at home. On my mum’s shelf, there was Mills & Boon and Catherine Cookson, Jackie Collins and Shirley Conran. On my dad’s, it was Alistair MacLean, Stephen King and James Herbert. I read my dad’s non-fiction books about nature and war, I read cookbooks, I read the bible. I read every copy of 2000AD stashed in my brother’s room and I even read the Watchtower magazines the Jehovah’s Witnesses stuffed through the letterbox.


I learned a lot from all of them, but most of all I learned not to be a reading snob: I appreciated a good thriller or a sweet romance as much as any of the classics we read at school.

Some of those books still sit on my shelves – all my old Enid Blyton and Noel Streatfield books, the Narnia books, What Katy Did and Little Women. But also my dad’s Stephen Kings and Alistair MacLeans, my mum’s Catherine Cooksons and Jackie Collins.

Now I’m all grown up and writing my own stories – whether it’s short stories, flash fiction or novels, I’ve written thrillers and romance, comedy, fantasy, sci-fi and horror. I like to think the access my parents gave me to all those wonderful fictional worlds has helped shape me as a writer and I want to thank them for that – I only wish they were still alive to see where their love of books has taken their daughter.


At the moment, my eldest daughter is only interested in books with horses in them and my youngest books about fairies, but I’m hoping they’ll find their own inspiration in my bookshelves as they get older – shelves that offer romance and crime and horror and fantasy, a fictional look into the past and the future, classic books and future literary classics.

I hope that some rainy afternoon when there’s nothing on TV will open up a whole new world for them like it did for me.

Vanessa x

Life Cycle of a Writer – Jumping in and letting go

I made the decision at the start of the school summer holidays to lock my work-in-progress away and leave it alone for a couple of months. Complicated editing left my brain aching and I was no longer sure if I had something good or the worst thing ever written in the history of the written word. I couldn’t look at it objectively – all I could see was a big, tangled mess. Definitely time to let go and walk away before I deleted the whole thing. So I did think my turn on LCOAW would be a very short and not-so-sweet ‘I’ve done nothing in the last two months’… but sometimes the down times can be productive in other ways.

  1. Progress has been made on the next book – I have a sheet full of post-it notes, a notebook slowly filling with character and plot notes.
  1. My house is tidier. (Not tidy – but tidier…)
  1. My garden has real flowers in it, not just weeds.
  1. I’ve caught up on a lot of reading – all ready to top up the TBR pile with lots of lovely new releases.

And most importantly, I’ve had time to spend with my daughters – trips to the park, the beach, the cinema – picnics and playtime and fun. Sometimes that’s as important for grown-ups as it is for kids!

Last week, I went on holiday – first week away in the sun for many years – and it was total bliss. A wonderful week of relaxing and reading. Mostly there was a lot of this:


But I did also put the work-in-progress on my kindle to take with me. Having rested it, I was ready to read it through again – away from the computer so I couldn’t edit as I went along, but armed with a notebook so I could make brief notes.

The time away from it worked wonders – as did the lack of access to a computer. I read it through in one go and could see right away the problem that’s been bogging me down for ages, and I could see how to resolve it. And as soon as the children go back to school next week, I’m going to sit down, re-edit and finally call the book finished!

On the first day of our holiday, the first thing my daughters did was jump straight in the pool with all their clothes on. I was more cautious – one toe at a time… that’s how it’s been with this book. Changing genre is scary and I’ve been nervous about jumping straight in – it’s definitely been a one toe at a time kind of book, nudged and encouraged along by my agent. Maybe by the time I get stuck into the next one, I’ll be braver – maybe I’ll even jump straight in :-)



Life Cycle of a Writer – Lucie

01470232f33482cb33ee7d57ab8b5ad58f27ea0fd5Wow, it seems like only yesterday that I was writing my last Life Cycle post, telling you all how my writing had slowed right down and how life had, as it always seems to, got in the way of things.

Whilst this is still very much true, I have made huge progress with my latest WiP. And I have the RNA conference to thank for that.

I attended the RNA conference this year, in London, and, as always, it was FANTASTIC! I loved every minute of it (well, maybe not the throat infection part and losing my voice, but the rest was huge fun!) Every year I attend the conferences, I always come home feeling hugely inspired and raring to go. The talks and workshops are amazingly informative and full of inspiration and self belief, the evenings are full of laughter and friendship and the atmosphere is something like I’ve never experienced anywhere else. However, this year, there was one difference for me. I actually got involved with the conference from a participants point of view – myself and my fellow Romaniacs presented all conference goers with the opportunity to speak about themselves and their writing, on camera, in our Romaniac Sparkle Corner. It was incredibly popular and not only did we fill all our slots, but we squeezed some additional people in as and when we could to help satisfy the interest. It was incredible! It was so lovely to give something back to the RNA and all our supporters – I hope everyone who took part (and those who watched/shared the videos) all enjoyed it.

Another thing I came away with from this years conference was self belief and motivation. And I suppose this was another difference to this years conference – I had some one-to-one industry appointment’s. For those who are not aware of what this is, this is a chance to meet an editor/agent on a one-to-one basis for a 10 minute ‘pitch’ with them. These are invaluable and they give us writers the chance to meet and ‘sell ourselves’ to some huge names in the business. I had always been too scared to apply for a slot in previous years but this year I just went for it – and I am so glad I did. I had two meetings and both were incredibly positive and encouraging. They made me believe in myself and my work and gave me huge hope for the future. I came away thinking, I CAN do this!

So I made a plan. I rang my agent and we discussed this plan. And now I am working to make this plan happen! This includes quite a re-write of my latest novel, however, it will *hopefully* make the novel more appealing to publishers. Both my one-to-one appointments gave me some very good advice on where my novel needed to be and so I am taking their advice and reshaping it.

At first I was a little frustrated and thought,  not another edit, however, as writers, we have to be prepared to do as many edits as it takes to get it right.

You only get one chance to make a first impression when submitting to publishers – I need to make sure it is a damn good one!

So it’s back to the desk for me and an overhaul on the book, but it will be worth it. Hopefully my next Life Cycle round up will be a little more exciting.

Watch this space…

Lucie x