Monday, 30 January 2012

Writing is Strictly Business!

A special thank you to Debbie & Paul at Strictly Business, who have, on a number of occasions, supported me and now support the exciting and dynamic Indie Group, Famous Five Plus.

As most of you know, I set up the Indie Author group, Famous Five Plus so that authors could share their writing experience and feel part of a group that has many things in common. So far it has been an exciting journey, bringing amazing and talented writers together from all over the world, but one thing I had not expected was that other people who were not writers, but offered services in marketing, publishing, designing etc, would be interested to offer support to the group.

Some of these wonderful people are now official Friends, to Famous Five Plus. One of these Friends runs an e-magazine, Strictly Business and their February edition, out today, includes a page highlighting six book covers from some of FFP authors, plus a link back to our FFP site. And there will be a new page next month showing more of FFP authors' publications. Now how kind and supportive is that?

To see the magazine and our page, click here

I will no doubt be sharing more of these stories with you, but please feel free to share your story too in the comments and I just might do a new post with all of them included!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Kimberly Menozzi, Italy & Writing!

Today I have the lovely Kimberly Menozzi sitting around my pool, originally from the USA, Kimberley now lives in Italy. Author of two publications, she is talking about the influences her new home has on her writing.... take it away Kimberly!

"I'm frequently asked if living in Italy has any influence on what – or how – I write. Naturally, the short answer to this is 'Yes, it does.' Of course it does – how could it not? I live in a country which I'd never even considered living in until I was actually here and preparing to do so.

The truth is, when I arrived here eight years ago, I knew nothing about Italy aside from a few menu items and a multitude of stereotypes. More importantly, since I've lived here, I've found myself viewing the world – not to mention my own home in the US – a bit differently, perhaps even a bit more clearly. Distance will do that for you, and I'm grateful for that.

The ability to look at things with some objectivity and clarity is a precious thing, I've found. This shift of perception is the thing which has had the biggest influence on my writing. I have always had a desire to educate and to entertain, and what better way is there than through a novel or short story?

When I started writing Ask Me if I'm Happy, I didn't intend to educate my readers about Italy. I just wanted to tell a story. As I wrote that story, though, I discovered certain themes and threads appearing in the narrative. I realized I was writing about people I knew in real life, and not the stereotypes I'd read countless times before. Along with the characters populating the novel, Italians and Americans alike, the Italy I described was as true to life as I could make it.

Early on, I understood this meant I would have to write about an imperfect Italy, and that, in turn, meant writing a story which might disappoint some readers. To say, albeit indirectly, that Italy is not the paradise we've come to consider it – particularly if you live here permanently – might not go over too well.

I'd already separated this story from those of many other writers by setting it in Bologna. While this is a city I love, it isn't a city most people think of when they think 'Italy'. I continued in this vein, writing as realistically as possible and doing my damnedest to make that city live and breathe as vividly and deeply as I could.

Any time I walked through my new hometown of Reggio nell'Emilia, I drew from the resources it provided: snatches of conversation, whether cheerful or heated; the clothing of the residents going to and from work; the way the gold-tinged sunlight slants downward on an early February afternoon; the fog which hangs low over the tops of buildings, never quite burning off before descending once again as night falls.

Just crossing from one end of town to the other could give me both a world clad in grey mist and a fragile, sunlit instant, depending on how close I was to the plain or to the mountains. That shift from one aspect to another is as mercurial as an Italian's disposition – perhaps even explains it – and it's something I'm still learning to get used to.

All of this made it to the page in one form or another, creating the atmosphere in which Emily and Davide meet, connect and, yes, fall in love. And in keeping with the story, they do this somewhat imperfectly. Which was only natural, I thought, since we're all affected by our surroundings – be they environmental, or cultural, or familial.

Ultimately, I wrote the story I wanted to write. I told the story I wanted to tell, the way I wanted to tell it. So far, it seems to have worked. I hope my readers are inclined to agree."

Thanks Kimberly for sharing this with us and wishing you great success with your life in Italy and your writing.

Kimberly is also an group member at Famous Five Plus for Indie Authors

Here are Kimberly's links
Website -
Blog -

Books: Ask Me If I Am Happy
US -

UK -

Alternate Rialto
US -

UK -

Monday, 23 January 2012

A Grain of Courage!

I don't know about you, but sometimes I wish I had little more self believe, particular when it comes to my writing. If I know who is reading my books I suddenly feel very critical and wonder if what I have written is interesting enough to keep them turning the pages to the end. I have this every time despite some wonderful reviews.
It is times like this that I know I would benefit from a pinch of  Henry Bryant-Smythe's character. Henry is not only ruthless, but totally absorbed in his own importance and gives not a jot for what others might think of him. He goes about his business and his life unconcerned about his impact on those who have contact with him, including family. Henry Bryant-Smythe is a powerful and rich Squire in my novel, Satchfield Hall. Of course I wouldn't or couldn't be like him, but maybe a tiny grain of his personality, the part that stops him dwelling on what others think about what he does or says would be very nice indeed.

As I writer, I know I am not alone at being sensitive about my work, but which character would you like to have a grain of personality from, either from one of your novels you have written or from a book you have read?

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Home or Home Sick?

I'm often asked if I ever get home sick? Particularly as many people who come to the island for a holiday dream of living in the sun, many know they never will and love to know if I miss 'home'. The answer is yes!

We have lived outside the UK for a number of years and as much as I love the adventure of learning about different lifestyles and learning a new language I sometimes miss 'home!'

So what do I miss? Well, I'm not a great one for shopping, but sometimes it would be nice to have big shops and lots of them to meander around and have a choice. Though the last time we were in the UK we did run amok in the shops, but compared to our little stores, we needed a Sat Nav to get round the mega stores...!

Also as a writer it would be fab to be able to talk over a cup of coffee or lunch with another like minded person. Then there is the language, of course we try at all times to converse in Spanish when required, but when I need to explain something technical or legal, I would be so much better doing it in English. Thank goodness for arms and facial expressions, worth a thousand words!

I could list a few more, nice to have and dos, but it would be pointless becasue most of the time, I count what I have not what I miss, but we all have off days even living in the sun! And as lovely as it all looks to others, it can be the simplest things that you occasionally miss being an expat. So if you are an expat living abroad or a person who dreams of living outside your country, what would you miss?

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Why Famous Five Plus?

Today I am over at the lovely Paul Anthony's Blog talking about a group we are both members of the Famous Five Plus.
In fact I am trying to answer the question everyone keeps asking:
Why Famous Five Plus?

I hope I've managed it!
Here is the link for you to find out...

Monday, 16 January 2012

Amanda Egan on how a phobia turned into a 5 Star Book

I have the wonderfully talented, Amanda Egan sitting at the side of my pool today talking about how a sad and terrible phobia set in place the foundations of her five star book, The Diary of a Mummy Misfit.

For as long as I can remember I’ve been a huge reader. As a child I liked nothing more than to escape into a good book and see it unravel in my head like a film. And I've always written - short stories, half finished novels and even a bad attempt at Mills and Boon!
I think the main reason I gave up on those attempts was because I'd got into the habit of over-planning and then, when it came to the actual writing, I was bored with the idea. Now I love to get the seed of an idea and see where the characters take me - much more exciting.

Diary of a Mummy Misfit came about five years ago when my son developed school phobia. At the age of eleven he left a small prep school and moved on to secondary school. He was, quite literally, unable to enter a classroom. The advice from child psychologists was to take baby steps with me constantly in the background. So for three long years, I remained either outside classroom doors or in the school car park.
Most days would see me reading at least ONE book and then, quite suddenly, I decided that I could use my more humorous prep school experiences and turn them into a work of fiction. My car became my office and I would tap away from 8.30 in the morning until school finished at 4. The book wrote itself within a matter of a few months - it’s amazing what you can do with no distractions. Then the hard graft of editing and polishing started. That wasn’t quite as much fun and seemed to take forever.

People often ask if the character of Libby is based on me and, I guess to a certain extent, she is. We made sacrifices to put our son through private education, we didn’t fit the demographic and met some larger than life characters along the way - some loveable, others intolerable. I took the whole experience and blended it into a story. Due to the nature of the book there are only six people from the school who are aware of the book (as far as I know) and I still live in fear that I could be run out of South West London!

The sequel, The Darker Side of Mummy Misfit, was written from the comfort of my home - son was flying solo by then. In some ways this made it more difficult as there were always reasons NOT to write - go on Twitter, put the washing on, make coffee, watch TV! But in lots of ways it also wrote itself as the stage had been set and the characters knew where they wanted to go.

Readers have suggested that there could be a third book in the series but I’m not so sure this would be the right move. I’m looking forward to writing other novels and moving away from the diary format.

So from my son’s sad and worrying condition, some good came - the birth of Mummy Misfit.

Thanks Amanda for talking time out to enjoy my bubbly and talk about your wonderfully funny book, which I loved.

You can read all about Amanda and her writing at

The Diary of a Mummy Misfit is available from Amazon

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Does a Name Make a Difference?

'Doreen Wilkinson is an unlikely name for a heroine!' I read this comment on one of the lovely reviews I received for Sometimes It Happens... So why did I choose this name?

Doreen's life had never been easy, her upbringing was nothing to write home about and by the time she was in her late teens, she was pregnant, married and living in a Council flat holding it all together as a cleaner when her hapless husband cleared off. With her strong Eastender accent, Doreen, soon became Dor, and despite her desperate existence, her sense of humour never deserted her.

As her daughter heads towards her eighteenth birthday, Doreen wins the lottery and is catapulted in to a world that makes no sense to her despite all her dreams of a better life for both of them.  For a start she giggles too much which masks her insecurities, her accent instead of softening is more pronounced as she tries to compete with the rich and posh, but as much as she is out of her depth she never loses her sense of humour or her roots.

So why did I give my heroine an unlikely name as Doreen, well to be honest, because I really believe it suits her and to me she will always be Doreen or Dor or even Doll! Oh yes, she is called that too, but you'll have read the book to find out why!

As for the future, I'm still in to different names, my work in progress as a Kitty and a Rupert!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Blowing the Cobwebs Away!

Phew what a start to the New Year and not all good, but to shake the gloom and cobwebs away, Saturday we got out our bikes and went for a fabby cycle ride.

We cycled along the wonderful cycle path that runs along the seafront at Puerto del Carmen through to Arrecife around15kms. The sea with its gentle waves lapping on the shore close by, the beach doted with sunbathers, the breeze in your hair and the sun on your face, now that is how to forget all your troubles.

Heading towards the airport we watched as silverbirds flew onto the island, bringing more tourists and taking the sun kissed ones back their home countries.

On the way back we parked our bikes and stopped at a lovely cafe /restaurant overlooking the ocean for a late lunch and munched into a mega club sandwich. Filled with roast chicken, bacon, egg, cheese, ham and salad we then pedalled along the seafront and up the very steep hill to home. Phew did I feel better...... Yay!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

January the month for Dreams!

As we start a new year, I am going to try and produce a poster each month throughout 2012 to reflect moods, emotions and whatever takes my fancy!
I confess to being excited about it all!

So to January, the month for promises, goals and dreams, this month's poster shows the sunrise taken this morning as we walked the doggies along the seafront in Puerto Del Carmen.

It was stunning and the colours breathtaking and I could not resist taking a picture.

To show off all my posters, I am going to create a page on this Blog and add each month's poster so you can see the mood changes as the year slips by.

Monday, 2 January 2012

January Book Cover Sponsors

To start the New Year, I have some fabby book cover sponsors who will appear on my Blog for the entire month of January. You will see their book covers in the top corner on the right hand side of my Blog.

If you would like to be a book cover sponsor you will be most welcome, all I ask is that you add one of my covers to your Blog for the same period your cover is on mine..... simples! Email to chat more at

Now to meet my lovely sponsors...

Janice Horton

Harvey Black

Harvey Black

Sylvia Massara

Sylvia Massara

Maureen A. Miller

Jan & Don Beasley

Romy Gemmell

The covers are gorgeous and I hope you will read some if not all of these fabby publications!