Paula Martin talks about her new novel and a beautiful part of Ireland

I'm delighted to welcome Paula Martin to my blog. Her latest novel in the Mist Na Mara series is due to be released this week.  Paula tells us about why she loves writing her 'Irish' novels.

Where did the inspiration for Irish Shadows come from?
I knew I wanted to write a fifth Irish story and, as my other four ‘Mist Na Mara’ books are all stand-alone stories, with different heroes and heroines, I needed a new hero and heroine. Fortunately, one of the minor characters in Book 4, Irish Deceptions was nudging me to write her story. Then I realised it was five years since I wrote the first of my Irish books, so what better than to have an anniversary celebration at Mist Na Mara Arts Centre, and bring in an a rather gorgeous American event manager to organise it? I also wanted the story to include an aspect of Irish history, and it didn’t take me long to realise that the Irish Civil War in the 1920s would give my characters an unsolved mystery to deal with, in addition to their relationship issues, and the other shadows from their pasts.

I know you like to have a person in mind when picturing your main characters. Who did you choose for Rose and Liam?
Rose is a figment of my imagination. I can picture her in my mind, but I didn’t base her on anyone in particular. I have to confess, though, that I soon realised Liam bore a rather striking resemblance to the Canadian Prime Minister!

Do you enjoy the research you do for your novels? You must have done a great deal of research about the civil war. Do you find it difficult to pick which parts you want to include?
As a historian by profession (and a long career as a history teacher), I enjoy researching anything! However, as with all background research, I invariably end up with far more information than I actually need for the story. There’s a fine line between too much and not enough info, and I (eventually!) pare it down to what I think is absolutely necessary. Probably 95% of my research doesn’t appear in the story, but that 95% is necessary in order to ensure that the 5% I actually use is correct.

Many of the characters in Shadows are old friends. Are you particularly fond of any of them?
As you say, they are old friends now, and I feel as if I know them better than some of my real-life friends! I always become very fond of my heroes and heroines while I am writing their stories, and several of them live on, in minor roles, in the later novels. Other characters in the stories also became very real, and very dear, to me. One of my favourites is Alice Vernon, an aged actress, who featured in Irish Intrigue. To begin with, I imagined her as Maureen O’Hara, but somehow she morphed into Maggie Smith! Sister Gabriel, in Irish Secrets, is another favourite – stern and uncooperative to begin with, but mellowing into a gentle and loving soul who goes out of her way to help the heroine of the story. And, of course, I must mention Finny – Adam Finlay – a cheeky, streetwise thirteen-year-old. When he was first mentioned in Irish Deceptions, I had no idea he was going to capture my heart! But he did, and so I had to bring him into Irish Shadows with a bigger part to play. Even my editor, after she read the manuscript, said, ‘I LOVE Finny!’ And so do I.

As ever in all the Mist Na Mara series, you take us to some beautiful places. You must know this area really well? Which is your favourite place?
I fell in love with the wild, unspoiled area of Connemara when I first saw it eleven years ago. I’ve been to the west of Ireland about eight times since then, and I always smile when I see my first view of the Twelve Bens as I drive along the N59 road from Galway to Clifden. The mountains aren’t especially high (none of them over 2,500 feet) but they are stark and dramatic, and I love them. I’ve featured several other favourite places into the books, notably the Sky Road, near Clifden, which has wonderful views of Clifden Bay and the Atlantic, and, of course, the small town of Clifden itself. Other favourites include Galway Bay, the Cliffs of Moher, and also the small town of Dalkey and nearby Killiney Bay on the east coast of Ireland.

Is Skelleen based on a real place?
Partly! I actually amalgamated two places I have visited to ‘create’ the village of Skelleen, and my imagination added more details. I ‘located’ it in a real place, and have given a few clues in a couple of the books. Probably only people with a knowledge of the area can pick up on those clues and work out where ‘Skelleen’ actually is!

I love the cover for Shadows. Are you pleased with it? Who designed it?
It was designed by Elle J. Rossi, who designed all my Mist Na Mara covers, and I love it. I think it’s my favourite of all the Irish covers. The characters are perfect, and I feel that the background, with the grey clouds over the bay, represents the shadows of the past which Rose and Liam have to deal with in order to find a future together.

Many of your readers have been eagerly waiting for Irish Shadows, the fifth book in the series. I understand you thought this may be the last. What is your current WIP?
Good question! I really thought Irish Shadows would be the final book of the series, and I started to write another novel set partly in the English Lake District and partly in Yorkshire. Eight chapters in, and I wasn’t happy with it. This has actually happened before, first with Irish Intrigue and then with Irish Deceptions. I tried to set them somewhere else, but Ireland pulled me back – and it continues to do so! So I have just relocated my current WIP to Ireland, which has also necessitated changing the hero’s research from 15th century England to an aspect of Irish history. After some thought, I decided on An Gorta Mórthe Great Hunger, sometimes known as the Irish Potato Famine.

If you weren’t writing the Mist Na Mara series, what sort of novel would you like to write?
Before the Mist Na Mara series, I wrote five books set in different locations – London’s theatre world, the English Lake District, Paris, Iceland, and Egypt, so maybe someday I’ll suddenly decide on a new location. However, as I’ve been writing romance stories since I was in my teens, I doubt I will change genre now. Over the years, I have changed slightly from stories centred on the relationship between the hero and heroine to stories with one or more subplots interwoven with the romance, and I do like the challenge of introducing (and then trying to work out) more intrigue or mystery.

I find thinking of titles quite difficult. How do you come up with your titles?
Sometimes I know the title as soon as I get the idea for a story. Other times I ask my beta readers for ideas, and eventually the title jumps out at me!

What is your typical writing day?
For day, read evening, because that’s when I do my writing. I can edit, critique, write blogs, answer interview questions, etc during the day, but my ‘creative muse’ is a night owl, like me. Maybe that’s a throwback to when I was working full-time, and evenings were ‘my’ time – or maybe that’s an excuse, because I took early retirement about twenty years ago! I usually start by reading and doing some editing of the chapter I’m currently writing, which helps to get me into the right mood to continue.

Irish Shadows
After a heart-breaking experience, Rose Finlay has vowed never to give another man a chance to hurt her – until Liam McKenna arrives at Mist Na Mara Arts Centre to organise an anniversary celebration event. Liam has his own reasons for not wanting to embark on a new relationship, and both fight the mutual magnetic attraction.
Shocks await them when Liam meets the boy his sister gave up for adoption twenty years earlier, and Rose’s ‘ex’ makes contact with her thirteen-year-old son. Rose also discovers a betrayal which has divided her family since the Irish Civil War in the 1920s.
Will Liam and Rose be able to resolve all the shadows from the past in order to find a future together?
Irish Shadows is available for pre-order at 99c/99p, prior to release on June 27th. Link for purchase is, or visit my Amazon page

Please welcome my new guest Poppy Blake

Poppy's novels are based in the Windmill Cafe. Not only are her stories lovely and heartwarming to read, the book covers are a real pleasure to look at!

Hi Poppy.
Welcome to my blog.

Hi Carol, it’s great to be here. Thank you for having me as a guest.

I love the idea of the Windmill series.  Are you working on the ‘Spring Edition’?
Thank you! I’ve just finished editing the Christmas edition – The Windmill Café – Christmas Trees which is out on the 20th September and features a fun Christmas tree decorating competition. There’s everything from trees with painted woodland animals, to tiny wooden windmills, to hand-made leather purses and bags. I love dressing our Christmas tree – I tend to overdo it, to be honest, but there’s nothing better than a thick necklace of tinsel to brighten up a room, is there? I’m not planning a spring edition at the moment, but you never know….

Where did the inspiration for the series come from?
My two favourite genres are romantic comedy and cozy mysteries, so when I sat down to create the community surrounding the Windmill Café I knew it had to have both these elements – an uplifting, fun-filled story with a twist of surprise thrown in for good measure. I’d had a fabulous holiday in Norfolk, visited a couple of windmills and the idea sprang from that – although I didn’t find one with peppermint coloured sails!

Do you have anything in mind for your next novel?
I’m busy planning my next series. It’s a great excuse to take a weekend break in a gorgeous part of the country in the name of research. For a change, I already have a title - for the first book at least. I usually leave that job to the last minute as I find it so difficult.

So many new writers are interested in how an author found a publisher.  What is your story?
I was really lucky! I’m not sure what to call it – fate, fortune, the alignment of the stars? When I finished The Windmill Café – Summer Breeze I decided to take a chance and send it to my first-choice publisher – the fabulous people at HarperImpulse. Would you believe that when my manuscript landed on my editor, Charlotte Ledger’s desk, she had just attended a relative’s wedding at a Windmill in Norfolk! What a coincidence!

What is your typical writing day?
I tend to write in the mornings, often long-hand in a notebook – any excuse to indulge in lots of pretty stationery. Then in the afternoons, I type up what I’ve written and edit as I go along. I don’t have a strict daily word count goal, but a good day would be around 1000 words.

Do you have a dedicated place where you like to write?
Much to my family’s irritation, I like to write at the kitchen table because it’s nearest to the kettle. I love to have a plentiful supply of tea and biscuits to fuel my imagination!

What would be your advice to new writers who wish to be published?
I think every writer is different, and what works for one person might not work for someone else. The best advice I was given when I started writing was ‘read a lot, write a lot, and persevere’. There’s lots of rejection associated with the life of a writer, new or established, you just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself down, and try again. There’ve been many very famous authors who had lots of rejections before they went on to make their name in the literary world.

Many thanks Poppy for coming along today. Good luck with your novels.
Thanks Carol, it’s been great chatting with you.
Love Poppy x

Welcome Kemberlee Shortland, author and publisher.

I'm more than delighted to welcome Kemberlee Shortland as a guest on my blog. Kemberlee is a committed and well known author of several novels.

However she is also very well known as a publisher, running her publishing company Tirgearr Publishing. Through Tirgearr she has used her knowledge and expertise giving many authors, including myself, the much needed boost and support to get their first foot on the rung of the publishing ladder.

Hi, welcome Kem.  Please tell us a little about yourself. You’re obviously a California girl at heart, so how did you come to live in Ireland?
I’m originally from the Central Coast of Northern California, but I’ve been living in Ireland since April 1997. I’d wanted to see Ireland since I was a little girl. I finally decided the time was ‘now’ to make the trip. I had the savings and set out to make an extended visit. Originally, I had planned to stay a year, but I could only get permission for six months. While here, I met a man I’d eventually marry. After a short visit back home to sort out my affairs, I moved back full time. This year, the hubs and I will celebrate 19 years of marriage, and my 21st anniversary of coming to Ireland.

Have you always worked in the publishing business? Why and how did you start Tirgearr Publishing?

Like most writers, I’ve been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil, but I started working when I was 13. One of my first ‘industry’ jobs was working in bookstores when I was in my early 20s. It gave me great insight into the retail side of the industry, from sales and marketing, to ordering, warehousing, and book-picking. I loved it all.
I also worked for one of the first digital publishers, Dreams Unlimited, as a first reader and in editing. As well, I was also a founding member of a wonderful reviewers group called Reviewers’ International Organization/RIO, c 1996-2006. I served two terms as president, worked on the newsletter, helped educate new reviewers, and worked on the acclaimed annual RIO Award of Excellence. And today I continue working with authors who set their books in Ireland, advising on historical accuracy and doing line edits.
Tirgearr was first established in 2000. For the first 15 years after coming to Ireland, I worked as an Irish travel specialist. Tirgearr Publishing was set up as part of my job, which included writing bespoke travel guides for visitors to Ireland, and publishing dozens of travel articles.
Tirgearr Publishing was re-imagined in 2011 when we decided to expand the company into a proper commercial genre fiction house, which opened February 2012.

Tirgearr is obviously an Irish name, does it have an English translation?

Tirgearr is what’s known as ‘maky-uppy Irish.’ It’s not a real Irish word but one made up from two real Irish words: Tir = land, gearr = short. Our name is Shortland and Tirgearr is a made-up Irish word for that. Tir is pronounced as teer and gearr as gar. I always get a laugh when I say it rhymes with ‘beer bar’.

As things become increasingly tough in the publishing world, and some indie publishing houses fall by the wayside, how do you maintain Tirgearr’s success?
First and foremost, we have an amazing team…authors, editors, proofreaders, formatters…even the accountants. This is a team and as such, everything is a team effort.
Also, we’re available. By this I mean, we maintain an open communications policy and operate transparently. We work with our team to learn the ropes of promotion and marketing education, as well as assistance in helping pay for some paid promotion services.
And we stage-publish. We’re a digital-first house, which enables us to offer more contracts to deserving writers. Other formats are then made available to successful books.
Openness, honesty, availability, support…all ideal things to run a positive team. Our team is happy and we all enjoy working with each other and supporting each other. All good things for success.

How can authors help themselves and their publisher in the current climate?
Taking the time to learn the business serves everyone well. It’s not as easy as just writing a book. A lot goes into what comes after, such as promotion and marketing. Also realizing that not only does it take time, but that things are constantly changing. We all must be adaptable. It’s frustrating, but we’re all in it together, so there’s some support from that. Peer support is invaluable.

What is your typical day when at work?
Email. Starts with email and ends with email. In the middle…email. It’s my main source of communication with our team. We’re all over the world so email is the fastest and most affordable form of communication in this information age.
That’s not to say there aren’t a myriad of other tasks. There are: from accounting and royalties, to web design and managing sales, to working with vendors and specialist services to promote our books, and much more.
Typically, Monday I catch up from the weekend…email, check weekend sales figures, adjust pricing from promotions, etc. We publish a new book most Wednesdays, so Tuesday I’ll be prepping and setting up promotions. On Wednesdays, there’s release promotions to add to regular daily tasks. Thursday is probably the most ‘normal’ day of the week. Friday is the weekly wrap-up for the weekend. Occasionally, I’ll work part of Saturday if I’m off during the week for any reason, but I’m pretty good at prioritizing and getting everything done by close of Friday. Of course, I’m always available to our team in the event of an emergency, but like everyone, we all need some down time and the weekend is mine.
Kemberlee's writing muse

What would be your advice to a new author looking to be published for the first time?
The first thing would be to understand the business, and that these days, barely 1% of the top 1% will ever make a living off it, especially in small press publishing. Every other author has a ‘day job’ or some form of income that supports their writing time. Or they have someone in the house who works full time to pay the bills. Very few make enough these days to quit that day job and write full time. And it will almost never happen with your first book.
Which leads me to my next piece of advice: develop a following. To do that means learning the ropes of promotion and marketing. It takes time and effort and consistency. And knowing the difference between the two. And sometimes that means spending money.
As well, be friendly with your reviewers. A reviewer who liked your first book should be the first person you contact when book two is ready…either on preorder or newly-published. They’ll say yes faster than a new-to-you reviewer.
Probably most importantly, love what you’re doing. If you don’t love writing, it will show in your work. Publishers will see it, as will readers. Write because you *must* tell your story. Sharing it with others should also bring joy to your life. A financial reward is always nice, but developing a following—readers who love your writing too—should always make your insides feel warm and fuzzy.

You are also an author yourself, with quite a few novels published. When do you find the time to write?
Ha! What time?! I reserve weekends for ‘me time’. I also schedule breaks during the year when I spend larger amounts of time writing. Aside from our winter break (Xmas through New Years), I’ll take a week off in the spring for my birthday, then another week between that and Xmas. I don’t always write, but I always make sure to do as much research as possible. Unless the weather is exceptionally nice for Ireland, then all bets are off!

Do you have a favourite novel that you particularly enjoyed writing?
It’s always the current book on my screen! I always try challenging myself with each new book, and if I succeed, I’m quite happy. My last project was writing a story set in a place I’ve never been—One Night in New Delhi, book 27 in Tirgearr’s City Nights series. I’ve never been to New Delhi, let alone India, so it was a huge challenge. Other challenges include writing style. If I feel good about the results when the story is done, I’ve done my job well. If readers also think I did a good job, I get that warm and fuzzy feeling.

Have you a current WIP? What is the storyline and where is it set?
My current WIP is another challenge. I’ve put aside my romance writing to pursue a thriller series—Jack Slaughter Thrillers—which is set in San Francisco, California. I’m billing the series as Dirty Harry meets the Streets of San Francisco.
Book one is called Slaughtered. Three years ago, decorated homicide detective Jack Slaughter came home to find his young daughter had been murdered and his wife missing. As book one opens, Jack has left the force before he was fired, and he’s now working as a private investigator and takes local cases to help fund his own investigation. Department investigations having gone cold. Jack wants answers, even if he has to find them himself.
As much as he hates cheating spouse cases, Jack agrees to take a case to find a man’s missing wife, but only because her disappearance seems similar to that of his own wife. Jack also has a stalker who sends him texts every three months, like clockwork, telling him where to find his wife. Each time, there’s only a dead body and it’s never his wife. While looking for his client’s wife, Jack discovers an even deeper crime in the city and he wonders if his missing wife is somehow involved.
I’m hoping Slaughtered will be available later this year. Readers can follow my website or the socials to get the heads up about publication and associated events:
Readers may wish to also follow Tirgearr Publishing on the socials. We publish every Wednesday, and we have a monthly newsletter:
Join our newsletter from the homepage on our website, or through our Facebook page.

Thank you so much, Carol, for inviting me onto your blog.

Introducing the lovely Andi Ramos

I'm delighted to meet fellow Tirgearryan author Andi Ramos. 
Andi's debut novel 'Gumshoe Girl' is released on 30th May. It's a very exciting time for her.

First of all I'll let Andi tell you a little about herself.

I grew up in central Massachusetts where I still lives today with my family, goat, and Boston Terriers. My love for reading grew into a passion for writing. I dabbled with pen and paper for a long time and eventually stopped pushing such amusements aside and started developing those stories into novels. One of my favorite things to do is to hop into our motorhome with the family and write while traveling down the road as they journey to various destinations.

Gumshoe Girl is released by Tirgearr Publishing, on May 30th. Tell us a little about the book.

Sheagan O’Hare got more than she bargained for when her newly inherited detective agency lands its first case; a missing person, embezzlement, and murder. Sheagan’s out to prove she can hang with the pros, despite the constant reminder of her amateur status from an annoyingly attractive FBI agent, Colin 'Mac' MacEvine, who’s forced himself into her life.
How does she feel when an old high school friend hopes to ignite a new romance?
Will she be able to discover if detective work and love can mingle before someone gets hurt?

I love the cover, Andi, which I understand was designed by the talented Elle Rossi.

Here is an excerpt 

Sheagan blinked back the sting in her eyes as sweat drizzled from her forehead. Her shoulders and forearms cried out as determination inched her body forward through the tin walls that framed her slender figure. The narrow shaft rendered her legs useless as they dragged behind her like dead weight. She made a vow to start working out as she approached her destination, the metal grate that looked down into the sweetheart suite of the Eliot Hotel.

She shimmied her binoculars out of her bag and clutched them in her sweaty palms as she readied herself to delve into the world of private investigating. The friction of her movements caused her mahogany mane to cling to all the surfaces of her temporary confinement. Perched behind the filigree frame, peering like a caged animal, she was a mere 20 feet from her target. Her target? The Rat Bastard, who up until this very moment she’d called boyfriend.

She wasn’t there to kill him, even though the thought had crossed her mind; no, she was there to catch him in the act. She suspected he had been cheating on her for some time, so proof would end her suspicion or the relationship. Spying on her significant other through an air-vent of a swanky hotel room was hardly a promising start to her so-called glamorous career as a private detective. But it snapped her back into the reality that her new chosen profession would often be messy and difficult.

She peered through the grate and envied the spacious room below, but her viewing angle was no good for the task at hand. She could feel the heat in her cheeks rise along with her anger as she scanned the room and soaked in the extravagance–the hardwood tables, the Italian marble fireplace, the opulent sheen of the fabric on the overstuffed furniture that glimmered in the soft candlelight. The Rat Bastard was not known to overindulge on frivolous expenses, unless it was on her dime. Thoughts of killing him resurfaced.

What is wrong with me? Why did I wait so long?

She immediately regretted the fleeting question. She knew why. The answer brought back the pain and significance of her father’s sudden death. He had been the only family she had left, and he was gone. All that was left behind was his detective agency. She had thought about giving it up, but she couldn’t; it was her only connection to him, to her family.
She closed her eyes briefly, realizing that now she was facing more loss–even if he was a lying, cheating Rat Bastard.

No! It’s better this way, stay focused.
She choked in a breath and turned her attention back to the room. His secret love nest was finished with soothing tones on the walls and thick, plush carpeting.

What is that on the end table?
Her gaze was drawn to the bottle label as it bobbed upside down in the melting ice. She sharpened the focus of her binoculars, and her eyes widened in recognition.
Her cheeks flushed. Cristal, she scoffed. Who is this Bimbo, anyway?

As if she had room to criticize this girl’s intelligence, when Sheagan was the one sweating her makeup off in a four-by-four-foot air-duct.
Yeah, who’s the stupid one?

She heard passionate sounds coming from the right of the room and recognized his tone. Leaning sideways, Sheagan pressed her face to the grate, but her limited view revealed only a portion of the bed and unable to make out major details, like faces.

Crap, I can’t see anything. Damn! She needed to get a better look
As she shifted her weight, the metal walls started to reverberate and Sheagan stifled a gasp, willing the rumbling to cease. Her breathing became labored as the musty air stole the aroma of the sweet perfume wafting up waft from the suite below. She stilled her movements and did the only thing she could think of… nothing. Nothing but stare at the heap of blankets and wait.
Come on, bimbo, come up for air. I know he doesn’t last that long.

Her discomfort increased as the noise from their passion became more intense.
Ugh, that’s it, I’ve had it!
She mashed her cheek and upper body against the grate.
I just need a peek to confirm.
She pressed harder, ogling the bed. Finally, she caught a tiny glimpse.

Just a little further.
She pushed and heard a chirring sound, then a scraping. She froze in place, but the grate gave way with a creaking groan and crashed to the ground. Time stood still as Sheagan realized there was nothing between her and the floor except air.


Publisher Page:
Amazon US:

I have many more buy links on my website if you don’t see the one you need here!

The Multi-Talented Claire Boley

I'm saying  hello to Claire Boley on my blog today.  Not only has Claire written a successful novel but this multi- talented lady has also published a book on the craft of hand spinning and natural
However more of that later.

So welcome Claire, tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

.When did you start writing?
 Ten years ago. I read an article by a friend and decided that perhaps I could write one about hand spinning as at the time I was running workshops plus having solo exhibitions on the subject across the South West of England. The article was accepted by Country Smallholder. A year later Good Life Press gave me an advance to write a book on hand spinning and natural dyeing. After finishing this book I thought perhaps I should attempt to write a novel. I never dreamt that a publisher would take it on.

That must have been really exciting for you. What is your novel about?
The story of If Only I’d Listened is based in 60s London when 16 year old school girl Samantha Smithson gets pregnant by Peter Knight a 6th form student from Samantha’s school. All this happened in an era when pregnancy outside of marriage carried a stigma.
Peter comes from a middle class family and is studying for his A levels with plans to go to university. These plans are scotched as soon as Samantha mentions that she is pregnant as he wants to stand by her and the baby, so he needs to find work and accommodation suitable for him and his young family.
Sam comes from a lower class background, lives in a tower block with parents that drink a lot and a father that is abusive. She spends most of the nine months in hospital worrying about her future and wondering if she should have an abortion.
Pete visited Sam in hospital most days but is encouraged by his mates to go out and about enjoying himself in both clubs and pubs.

Where did you get the inspiration for If Only I’d Listened?
      I lived and worked as a nurse in 1960s London for four years. I took most of the ideas from my life at the hospital.

         How did you research the book? 
     From the worldwide web where I found out about the buses and tubes – where they stopped and the London A to Z where I looked up the names of the roads.

     Did you plan the book? 
     I do not plan my writing. For me the first paragraph for writing  anything is the hardest. Once I have written that I am away until I get writers block – if I get that I find it hard to get going again.

How do you organise your writing time? 
My brain is at its most creative in the morning. I get up at 8am and start writing at 9am and finish at lunch time unless I am on a roll then I continue until about 3pm.

 Will there be a follow up? 
Most probably and I will send Pete to University. 

Having written one craft book have you continued with your creative lifestyle? 

For the last ten years I have been writing articles for the national magazines on different subjects including hand spinning, ceramics, cooking and gardening. 

Please tell us a little about the book. 
I have enjoyed many years of hand spinning and have been a full member of the Somerset Guild of Craftsmen where I showed and sold my designer knitwear. In the past I have held regular workshops for hand spinning along with solo exhibitions across the South West of England.
In 2011 I was offered an advance to write the craft book Hand Spinning and Natural Dyeing by the Good Life Press.
This book takes you through the complete process of hand spinning explaining how to spin wool using your fingers a drop spindle and a spinning wheel. It also guides you through spinning different types of yarn from the most basic to the elaborate. I also share recipes for producing wonderful colours from plants that I grow in my garden.

Thank you so much for coming along Claire.  I am in awe of such a talented lady. It takes me all my time to sew on a button!

.Links Amazon for If Only I’d Listened
                 for Hand Spinning and Natural dyeing

What is happening in my writing world?

Two things are on my mind at the moment.  Resolutions received an excellent review from InD'tale magazine.  If you can read it, sorry it's a little small, this is the review.

This has qualified it to go through to go through to their RONE awards. It's a huge surprise as I'm in the steamy category - well I never!

My fellow author Susan Clayton Goldner is also in the running , but for the much more respectable mystery category for her novel, Redemption Lake.

Voting happens during next week (21st - 27th May).
Apparently anyone can vote, after registering, but only once. I'm hoping as many of you as possible will go along and vote and coerce your family and friends to do the same. It would be amazing to get through to the last five.

Don't worry about finding a link. I'll be all over social media throwing them around like confetti, next week.  Maybe some will be left over from 'THE' wedding!

The second thing on my mind is my new novel.
I've been asked on a few occasions if I'm writing a second novel. Yes, I am...sort of. It's going painfully slowly. I know what I want to write, I have a good idea of the plot and characters but life and time don't always play fair.  I also have to admit I am a terrible procrastinator.

However, thanks to my friend, author Paula Martin, it does now have a title. I really needed one to focus on and despite throwing various ideas around nothing worked. However I have settled on...
 'Summer's End'.  I love it- it's perfect for the story.

The first chapter has been re-written quite a few times now, so I'm feeling a little happier with that. The book has a long way to go yet, I'm probably only a quarter of the way through the first draft. However here is an excerpt from the beginning.
What do you think?


Lyn narrowed her eyes and peered across the grassy expanse of the outer bailey. Were her eyes playing tricks on her, or was a man leaning against the castle wall, near the ruins of the medieval chapel? He was motionless, and seemed to be gazing out across the sea.
The castle had closed over fifteen minutes ago, and she’d watched the remaining few visitors heading past the stark ruins of the tall stone tower towards the exit. She was positive all the visitors had gone.
It was probably a trick of the light. In the past few minutes, ominous black clouds had rolled in over the bay, and it was difficult to see anything clearly in the gloom.
She squinted again at the shape in the distance. When the figure started to walk slowly along the wall toward the headland, she knew she hadn’t imagined him. But why was he still here? Hadn’t he realised the castle closed to the public at six o’clock?
Cupping her hands on either side of her mouth, she called out, ‘The castle has now closed. Please make your way to the gate.’
The man continued to walk. Obviously he hadn’t heard her. The only thing to do was to set off in his direction, and ask him to leave the castle grounds.
A rumble of thunder reverberated in the distance as she jogged across the grass. She waved to try to attract the man’s attention but doing so caused her to stumble over a clump of grass. Regaining her balance, she checked the ground in front of her. When she raised her head again to continue running, she frowned.
The man had vanished. She screwed up her eyes, scanning the length of the wall, but there was no sign of him. Confused, she swivelled in a half-circle. She’d only taken her eyes off him for a few seconds. Where on earth was he?
Another clap of thunder made her jump. At the same time, cold drops of rain fell on her head. Any minute now, the heavens were going to open, and she’d soon be drenched.
She wavered in indecision. Should she continue running to where she’d last seen the man in the hope of finding him? Or should she return to the café and tell Tom there was still a visitor somewhere in the castle grounds?
A cold gust of wind made her shiver, and whipped long strands of her dark hair across her eyes. As she struggled to push them back, the rain, already coming down more heavily, plastered them against her face.
Most of the outer bailey was now lost in the misty half-light, and she’d get soaked if she continued her search. Instead, she turned back toward the café, just as a jagged flash of lightning illuminated the area.
She blinked in surprise when she saw the man close to the stone wall of the Great Tower. How had he managed to get across from the outer wall so quickly?
But at least she could keep him in her sights now. He was walking toward the Master Gunner’s house, the eighteenth century building which housed the museum and café. Oddly enough, he didn’t seem to be in any hurry, even though the rain was hammering down.
Shivering as water soaked her thin jacket and dripped down her face, she increased her pace. She expected to close the gap, but somehow the man seemed to keep the same distance away from her. Maybe that was simply an optical illusion, created by the driving rain in front of her.
As he reached the wooden picnic tables in front of the house, she assumed he would turn left toward the exit. Surprise jerked through her when he continued walking to the house.

A light shone from the café window. She knew Tom was in there. He’d arranged to meet her, having promised to show her how to cash up the day’s takings. If the stranger had gone in there, he’d be able to deal with him.
Lyn ran the last few yards towards the café. After pushing the door open, she stopped for a moment while catching her breathe and shook the rain from her hair.
Tom stood by the counter and looked up, smiling at her. “At last! I thought you’d got lost.” His smile faded and he frowned. “You’re wet through.”
Lyn took a gasp of air. “Not lost, but trying to follow a visitor, or one of the actors, who’s still in the castle. He came in here a few seconds ago.”
Turning her head she surveyed the small room. “Where is he?”
Tom looked at her blankly, a look of puzzlement in his eyes. “No one has come in here, only you. I’ve not left here for the last hour or so. Are you sure you saw someone?”

Her shoulders slumped and she leaned against the window ledge. “He came through the door as clearly as I did. There’s a man around her somewhere, who doesn’t realise the castle is shut for the day. I saw him wandering over by the curtain wall across the headland but lost sight of him. Then I spotted him walking this way.”

Welcome Paula Martin talking about her latest release.

I'm delighted to have Paula Martin along today. Many of you will be familiar with Paula's 'Irish' series of books. They are also well known as the Mist Na Mara series. 

If you've not read them yet I do highly recommend them. The first in the series is Irish Inheritance.

Her readers are eagerly awaiting the fifth book called Irish Shadows. Paula's books combine mystery and history with a great romance, all set in wonderful Connemara scenery.

However today we are talking about Her Only Option, another of my favourite books which, is  re-released and currently available for pre-order. The links are below.

1. Where did the inspiration for Her Only Option come from?
From the Nile cruise I did in 2010, which had been on my ‘bucket list’ for many years. For most of the week, we were busy visiting many different ancient sites and temples, and I hadn’t even thought about writing, let alone the plot of a new novel. But on the final day of the cruise, we had a free afternoon to relax on the sundeck of our cruise ship at Aswan. The cruise ships are usually moored four abreast, and our sundeck was at the same level as those on the neighbouring ships. I found myself idly wondering if it was possible to vault across the three or four-foot gap from one sundeck to another. Not that I had any intention of trying it, you understand, but I had a mental image of the hero vaulting over the rails to join the heroine. In fact, it never actually happened in the story I eventually wrote, but that was the moment when the story was first conceived. Within the next twenty-four hours, I had decided that the heroine was a cruise ship tourist guide, and the hero was an archaeologist.
Moored cruise ships

2. Ross is an archaeologist. How much research did you have to do into ancient Egyptian tombs and hieroglyphics for example? What was the most interesting part of the research for this novel?
During the cruise, we visited several tombs in the Valley of the Kings, so I had plenty of memories to draw on. In the week following the cruise, we stayed at a hotel overlooking the Nile at Luxor, and I bought what turned out to be an invaluable book about the tombs in the Valley of the Kings. Having been a history teacher for twenty-odd years, I already knew a fair bit about Ancient Egypt, but I still needed to do a lot of fact-checking. I love researching, and it was fun to include throwaway lines like ‘early development of the offset axis’. Having said that, I think the most interesting part of the research was finding out fairly trivial details about modern day Egypt, such as ‘Are there any pizza takeouts in Luxor?’ and ‘How long is the train journey between Aswan and Luxor?’

3. Did you know who was going to be the ‘baddie’ and threaten Ross’s work all the time you were writing the novel?
When I first started thinking about this story, I didn’t even know there would be a baddie! Originally, it was going to be a ‘relationship’ novel i.e. a heroine torn between two lovers. The ‘intrigue’ side of the novel crept up on me and took me by surprise, and then I had to work out who was doing what and why. I actually thought about three different ‘baddies’ before I eventually decided who it was! Then it was a case of introducing a few ‘red herrings’ to keep the reader guessing, too.

4. Where did the idea for Wasim, the Elvis-singing boatman, come from?
A Nile boat similar to Wasim's
Actually, I have no idea, because he simply appeared! I was doing a ‘filler’ scene, where Ross takes Neve across the Nile to visit the Valley of the Kings. As they walk along to where the motorboats were moored, Ross says, ‘I always use the same private motorboat. Elvis should be moored along here.’ He then explains how the boatman sings Elvis songs – and I’m thinking, Where on earth did that come from? because I hadn’t planned it all! But I ended up loving my Elvis-singing Nile boatman and decided (or maybe he decided?) that he needed a bigger role in the story, which ended up as quite a pivotal role. It was one of those wonderful occasions when the characters take over the story!

5. If this was made into a film, the scenery would be stunning. Who would you like to see play Ross and Neve in a film?
Definitely Hugh Jackman for Ross! In the movie ‘Australia’,

 Hugh appears at a charity ball in a white dinner jacket – and I think there was a collective intake of breath in the cinema, because he looked so amazing. I’ve replicated that moment in my story when Neve sees Ross in his white dinner jacket!
As for Neve, I can picture her in my mind – and my cover artist found a perfect picture of her, but I’m not sure which actress would be right. Maybe the one who played Sybil in Downton Abbey?

6. You’ve just written your fifth book in the Irish Mist Na Mara series. Do you think you’ll ever return to Egypt for a sequel or a new stand-alone novel?
My visit there was just three months before the revolution in January, 2011, and since then unrest and also terrorist attacks have increased. Although I’d love to go to Egypt again, I don’t think I will get there. One of my reviewers did suggest a possible spin-off story about Joanne, Neve’s friend, which occasionally flutters through my mind, so – never say never!

7. How do you organise your writing day/time?
Organise? You must be joking! I have no excuses because I’m retired, my family (including my two grandsons) are grown-up now, and I live alone. But my muse is a night-owl, and so am I. So, although I can edit and write blogs etc. during the day, I tend to do all my writing in the evenings, as that is when my brain goes into creative mode.

Neve Dalton loves her job as a tour guide on a River Nile cruise ship as much as she values her independence. She isn’t ready to settle down with her Egyptian boyfriend, despite his repeated proposals and his father’s desire to see him married.
Nor is she ready to meet Ross McAllister, a compelling and fascinating archaeologist. She struggles against her growing attraction to him until she can no longer ignore what her heart is telling her.
When she starts receiving cryptic messages, and Ross’s work in the famous Valley of the Kings is threatened, Neve has to make a heart-breaking and life-changing decision which she feels is her only option.
Can they discover whose enmity is forcing them apart before it’s too late?

HER ONLY OPTION will be released on May 23, 2018, and is currently available for pre-order at only 99c/99p

Twitter: @PaulaRomances

Paula Martin talks about her new novel and a beautiful part of Ireland

I'm delighted to welcome Paula Martin to my blog. Her latest novel in the Mist Na Mara series is due to be released this week.  Paula ...