Saturday, 27 August 2016

My Monthly Book Review - Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle...

I am huge fan of historical fiction that includes real people, especially when those people are members of past British royalty. Having devoured novels by Philippa Gregory, Alison Weir and Hilary Mantel for years, I was thrilled to discover a new to me author of the Tudor period. And Elizabeth Fremantle did not disappoint!

As well as Queen's Gambit, I have also read Sisters of Treason and enjoyed both books tremendously, but Queen's Gambit really stands out to me. Why? One of the reasons is that I fascinated by all of Henry VIII's wives, but Katherine Parr especially. She is portrayed sympathetically in Queen's Gambit, but it is her relationship with her companion, Dot that adds a interesting twist to previous portrayals of Henry's final and surviving wife.

For anyone who loves the Tudor period as I do or, indeed, historical fiction as a whole, I highly recommend Queen's Gambit as well as Elizabeth Fremantle's other books. I am looking forward to delving into Watch The Lady as soon as possible!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Welcome fabulous Choc Lit author, Rhoda Baxter...

Hi, Rhoda! So great to have you here and the chance to catch up - I don't think we've seen one another since the 2014 RNA conference. Looking forward to hearing all about your latest release, PLEASE RELEASE ME - let's start with my questions...

1.)                What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an astronaut. I used to watch Star Trek with my Dad. Recently, we discovered that the original series was on Netflix, so Dad, my 8 year old and I sat and watched a few episodes together. It was lovely!
Somewhere along the line I realised that I was never going to be physically fit enough to be an astronaut (also, I’m not sure you get astronauts who are under 5 ft). After that I wanted to be a scientist or a writer. I do both of those now, so two out of three ain’t bad.

2.)                Coffee, tea or hot chocolate?
Tea. Hah! You thought I was going to say Hot Chocolate weren’t you? I do like a hot chocolate, but tea is marginally the favourite. Don’t ever give me coffee. It makes me totally hyper. You do not want to see that.

3.)                What genre do you typically read? Why?
Right now, I read a lot of contemporary romance because I can pretend I’m really doing market research. I also like thrillers and fantasy. Terry Pratchett is my favourite comfort read.

4.)                Share a favourite childhood memory.

5.)                Do you have any shameless addictions? ie. Tea, Books, Shoes, Clothes?
Chocolate. Also, cake. Chocolate cake is the best of both worlds. I have to ration myself so that I don’t end up humungous, but I do like to have a bit of chocolate every day.

6.)                What do you think is the biggest challenge of writing a new book?
I find heroines’ character arcs really difficult. It takes me ages to work that out (the hero’s arc usually comes out fairly early in the ‘thinking about a new book’ stage). Once I have the two character arcs sorted, I can usually figure out the rest while I’m writing.
I tend to write out of sequence and move stuff around at the editing stage, so I only need a very rough outline. That said, it’s quite hard to keep going. Who was it that said they didn’t like writing, they liked having written. That.

7.)                Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages a day?
No. I have kids and a day job, so I write in the evenings. My only rule is that I have to write at least 5 days in a week. I try to write an hour every day, but sometimes I have to take an evening off to do stuff like talking to my husband (who is a very patient man).

8.)                What are your thoughts on writing a book series?

My romantic comedies are a series of sorts. They came about because there was always a secondary character who was interesting enough that I wanted to know more about them. The heroine from my latest book Girl Having a Ball, is the little sister of the hero in Girl On The Run. The book after that (coming out next year sometime) is the best friend of the hero in this year’s book. They’re all standalone books. I hate it when a book ends on a cliff hanger and you have to read another book to find out what happens. There has to be some sort of conclusion, even if there is an overarching story in the background. The Harry Potter books do this very well - seven self contained adventures with an over arching storyline in the series. Amazing.


What if you could only watch as your bright future slipped away from you?
Sally Cummings has had it tougher than most but, if nothing else, it’s taught her to grab opportunity with both hands. And, when she stands looking into the eyes of her new husband Peter on her perfect wedding day, it seems her life is finally on the up.
That is until the car crash that puts her in a coma and throws her entire future into question.
In the following months, a small part of Sally’s consciousness begins to return, allowing her to listen in on the world around her – although she has no way to communicate.
But Sally was never going to let a little thing like a coma get in the way of her happily ever after …
Amazon link:

(very silly) Lego Animoto trailer:

Rhoda Baxter likes to write about people who make her laugh. In real life she studied molecular biology at Oxford, which is why her pen name might sound suspiciously similar to the name of a bacterium.
After trying out life in various places, including the Pacific island of Yap (it’s a real place!), Nigeria, Sri Lanka and Didcot (also a real place), she now lives in East Yorkshire with one husband, two children and no pets or carnivorous plants. She has a day job working in intellectual property and writes contemporary romantic comedies in whatever spare time she can grab.
She can be found wittering on about science, comedy and cake on her website ( or on Twitter (@rhodabaxter) or Facebook (

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Introducing My Fair Princess by Vanessa Kelly...

The Improper Princesses—three young women descended from royalty, 

each bound for her own thrilling adventure . . .


Improper Princesses #1

Vanessa Kelly

Releasing Aug 30th, 2016


Vanessa Kelly brought readers The Renegade Royals. Now, in a delightfully witty
new series, she introduces The Improper Princesses—three young women descended
from royalty, each bound for her own thrilling adventure . . .

Despite being the illegitimate
daughter of a prince, Gillian Dryden is happily ignorant of all social graces.
After growing up wild in Italy, Gillian has been ordered home to England to
find a suitable husband. And Charles Valentine Penley, the excessively proper,
distractingly handsome Duke of Leverton, has agreed to help transform her from
a willful tomboy to a blushing debutante.

Powerful and sophisticated, Charles
can make or break reputations with a well-placed word. But his new protégée,
with her habit of hunting bandits and punching earls, is a walking scandal. The
ton is aghast . . . but Charles is thoroughly intrigued. Tasked with taking the
hoyden in hand, he longs to take her in his arms instead. Can such an
outrageous attraction possibly lead to a fairytale ending?


Amazon | B
& N
 | Google
 | iTunes | Kobo 

Vanessa Kelly is an award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the
review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of
Historical Romance.” Her Regency-set historical romances have been nominated
for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single
Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Her
current series, The Renegade Royals is a national bestseller. Vanessa also
writes USA Today bestselling contemporary romance with her husband, under the
pen name of VK Sykes.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Introducing The Irish Inheritance by M J Lee...

Blurb: June 8, 1921. Ireland.
A British Officer is shot dead on a remote hillside south of Dublin.

November 22, 2015. United Kingdom.
Former police detective, Jayne Sinclair, now working as a genealogical investigator, receives a phone call from an adopted American billionaire asking her to discover the identity of his real father.

How are the two events linked?

Jayne Sinclair has only three clues to help her: a photocopied birth certificate, a stolen book and an old photograph. And it soon becomes apparent somebody else is on the trail of the mystery. A killer who will stop at nothing to prevent Jayne discovering the secret hidden in the past
The Irish Inheritance takes us through the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Irish War of Independence, combining a search for the truth of the past with all the tension of a modern-day thriller.

It is the first in a series of novels featuring Jayne Sinclair, genealogical detective.


She sipped her tea, enjoying the soft, warm smokiness as it swam past the back of her tongue. The laptop was sitting on the counter. She flipped the Mac open and clicked Safari. Her emails came up immediately.
The first two she deleted. She had no need for life insurance or penis enhancement at the moment. The third caught her attention, it was from Richard Hughes.

Dear Ms Sinclair,

Apologies for disturbing you this afternoon. And additional apologies for requesting a meeting at such short notice. But once you meet my uncle, you will understand the need for speed. In this email, you will find two attachments. My uncle's adoption file and his original birth certificate. We began the process of searching for his antecedents two months ago and have now reached an impasse.
I look forward to meeting you at six this evening at the Midland Hotel.

Richard Hughes

The language was quite formal and educated. Nobody used words like antecedent or impasse any more. But the job looked too straightforward for her skills. And besides, she should stay with Paul in case he needed her. Schlepping across Manchester in the rain held no attraction. She picked up her tea and sipped it, glancing at the address. An ordinary private Gmail, nothing too special about it.
She glanced at the message again, seeing the two attachments sitting at the top.
'Bugger it,' she said out loud, opening the first attachment. It was a notice of adoption stating that the child, John Michael Trichot, an orphan aged four years old, was being adopted by an American couple, Thomas and Glenda Hughes. It was dated October 4, 1929, and signed at the bottom by the Matron of the Ilkley Children's Home, a Mrs Glendower, and the Resident Magistrate of the town, James Whittaker.
A fairly standard adoption certificate, nothing out of the ordinary. She glanced through it one more time. It looked straightforward to her, with all the formalities required by the Adoption of Children Act 1926 fulfilled to the letter. What nobody realised was that from the 1920s to the 1960s over 150,000 English children were sent abroad as orphans, mainly to Canada and Australasia. It seems this man was one of those transported at this time. She checked through the adoption papers, no additional information. Under the Act, there should have been reasons for the adoption and statements from the Children’s Home, but there was nothing.
Strange. She made a note for herself to check out the Ilkley Children’s Home.
She clicked on the second attachment, the birth certificate. The baby's name was repeated: John Michael Trichot, born July 16, 1925. She immediately smiled. Not a common name, probably of French origin. The birth certificate was English, so it should make searching for ancestors relatively easy.
 'Thank God, he isn't a John Smith,' she said out loud. She often talked to herself as she investigated. She had done the same in the police, earning the nickname 'The Whisperer'. It wasn't a bad nickname for the force, better than most. One of her bosses went by the name of 'Lurch'. Not for his resemblance to the television character but for his ability to accidentally bump into the breasts of junior female officers when he was drunk. A quick sharp squeeze of his bollocks had made certain he never attempted another lurch with her.
She scanned across the certificate. The father's name came next. Charles Allen Fitzmaurice Trichot. Even better, three Christian names. She hoped he had used all three of them in the census or in the army as it would make him easy to find.
His profession was listed as Gentleman. Funny, I wonder how you got that job? Apply with a CV in triplicate or simply be born with a silver spoon in your mouth? Probably the latter.
The mother was simpler; Emily Clavell. Fairly straightforward and to the point. Her profession was Spinster. She loved the old descriptions that cropped up on birth certificates. So much better than Housewife.
Her favourite was a Night Soil Collector, the ancestor of a millionaire football client with a famous temper. She had told him his grandfather was a water dispersal operative. He was as pleased as punch.
She decided to start with the father as, with his rare name, he was probably going to be the easiest to find. Unlike women, men very rarely changed the names they were born with. She logged on to and typed in Charles Allen Fitzmaurice Trichot.
She restricted the search to the UK and eliminated the Allen and the Fitzmaurice, pressing return once more.
Nine results.
She clicked on the 1911 census. There he was, living with his parents in Hertfordshire. 21 years old. The only son of a father who was a vicar. A quick check of the 1891 and 1901 censuses revealed he had grown up at the same address. Not surprising, people moved around a lot less than they do today.
Then she clicked on the next section in the results headlined, Soldiers, died in the Great War.

First names: Charles Edward Fitzmaurice
Last name: Trichot
Service Number: 4267
Rank: Captain
Regiment: Princess of Kent's Own
Battalion: 1/5th Battalion
Birthplace: Sheppey, Hertfordshire.
Enlistment Place: London
Death Year: 1918
Death Day: 7
Death Month: 11
Cause of Death: Killed in Action
Place: Sambre Canal

It was the same man. The name and place of birth were exactly the same.
 But if he were dead, how did he manage to father a child seven years later?
She sipped her tea, the warm smokiness of it slipped down her throat and warmed her stomach. Her eyes scanned all the way to the last result on the website search list. A newspaper report from The Times for November 30, 1918. The full page of the newspaper opened up with a small article outlined in yellow at the top right corner with a headline that immediately excited her.

MM Awarded to Captain Charles Trichot (Posthumous)

It is gazetted today that Captain Charles Trichot of the First Battalion Princess of Kent's Own has been awarded the Military Medal for Gallantry. During the crossing of the Sambre Canal, Captain Trichot led his men with valour gaining his objective despite losing most of his company to shellfire. With a small detachment of his men, he held off repeated attacks by the enemy, despite being wounded in the leg and chest. Captain Trichot died of his wounds at No.23 Casualty Clearing Station, Auberchicourt on the morning after the engagement. He is the only son of the Reverend Charles Trichot of Sheppey, Herts.

It was the same man, it had to be. But how does a man father a child when he's been dead for seven years?
She closed the laptop. Perhaps, she would keep this appointment after all


Author bio: Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.
He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.
Whilst working in Shanghai, he loved walking through the old quarter of that amazing city, developing the idea behind a series of crime novels featuring Inspector Pyotr Danilov, set in 1920s and 30s.
When he's not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, practicing downhill ironing, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.

Author links:

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Welcome fellow RNA member, Sheila Norton...

1.)              What was your first job? Did you like or dislike it? Why?
My first job was with Hodder & Stoughton  (Publishers) in London, where I worked as a secretary to the Sub Rights editor. This was the 1960s and jobs were relatively easy to get for school leavers with A levels and secretarial qualifications.  I had no idea what I wanted to do apart from ‘being a writer’ and had a naïve idea that working in a publishing house would in some way turn me into a novelist. I didn’t dislike the work – to be honest it was an easy job – but I quickly realised it wasn’t going to be a magical route to anything! I was already engaged to marry my husband and decided the money spent on train fares to London would be better saved towards our first flat. So after a while I looked for a local job in Essex. I ended up working for the NHS for most of my life (and writing in my spare time of course!).

2.)              Do you have a pet peeve? If so what is it?  Hmm, I have a few! Probably the thing that gets to me most is people saying that they’d write a book too, ‘if only they had the time’.  I always point out that I wrote my first six published novels while working full-time at a demanding job, keeping house for a husband and three teenage daughters, a dog and two cats. I did my writing in the evenings instead of watching TV. To make time for something, you have to give up something else – we all only have 24 hours in each day!

3.)              Would you describe your style as shabby chic, timeless elegance, eclectic, country or ___­­­_?   To be honest, mostly shabby without the chic! Since retiring from the day job I only change out of jeans and Tshirts if I have to go somewhere that calls for any degree of smartness. I don’t go in for frocks or frills, make-up or even much jewellery. But I do have ‘best’ jeans and decent tops!

4.)              Tell me about your book Charlie the Kitten Who Saved a Life and where you got your inspiration for it? 
Charlie is a mischievous and loveable little tabby who adores his ‘human kitten’, Caroline, and would do anything for her. He’s not too thrilled about being taken away on holiday by his family, but neither is Caroline, who is bored and misses her friends. So when she disappears from the holiday home, he has no choice but to follow her and try to save her from possible harm.
This is a sequel to Oliver the Cat Who Saved Christmas which was published last year – and which was commissioned directly by my editor at Ebury Publishing. I’d been self-publishing contemporary women’s fiction for a few years (and before that, had eight similar novels published by Piatkus), so these animal stories are a huge change for me but I’m really enjoying writing them. The stories are told from the cats’ point of view and a lot of my inspiration comes from having had three cats of my own, and now watching my daughters’ cats. The seaside element of Charlie’s story is a direct result of spending lots of time at beautiful Torquay in Devon – which always inspires me!

5.)              Who is your role model? Why?  My mum. Not that she was a writer – she was actually a talented artist but didn’t take it up until she was retired. She left school at 14 and worked hard to rise out of a poor East End background.  But most of all, now that I’m a grandmother to my six gorgeous grandkids, I look back fondly to what a lovely Nanny she was to my own three daughters when they were little, and try my best to be as kind and patient as she was, now that I’m ‘Nanny’ myself.

6.)              How much of your book is realistic?  Well, obviously I have to accept that in real life cats don’t understand Human language – much as I’d like to believe they do! – and don’t communicate with each other quite as eloquently in ‘Cat’ as I portray my feline characters doing.  But apart from that,  I have tried to make their behaviour reasonably realistic. I have a local vet (Sharon Whelan from Clarendon House Vets in Galleywood, Chelmsford) who checks any ‘medical’ scenarios for me, which has been very helpful, and of course I check other facts from reputable animal care websites.

7.)              What are your ambitions for your writing career?  My current contract with Ebury is a 4-book deal, of which Charlie is only the first. So I’m working on another animal story now, and there will be another two to follow after that. This is keeping me pretty busy so I’m not looking beyond these books at the moment. But Ebury is a great company to be with so I’d be very happy to continue in a similar vein if I get the opportunity. Other than that, my self-published books (which include the back list of my original Piatkus titles) still sell well, so I’d have no hesitation in returning to write more contemporary women’s fiction at some stage. 

8.)              Share one fact about yourself that would surprise people.  I’m a vegetarian – that’s not particularly unusual, although it’s because I don’t like meat, rather than for any ethical reason. But I absolutely can’t stand fish, to the point where I can’t bear to look at it on anyone’s plate, the sight and smell of it revolts me so much. I have to control my disgust when eating with other people but I do find it hard.  However, I love swimming and snorkelling among fish in the sea – live ones don’t seem to worry me!  Writing about my cat characters eating their fish meals wasn’t the most pleasant part of my work!

Charlie the Kitten who Saved a Life by Sheila Norton - blurb

What could I do? I was just a little cat and nobody ever listened to me. I made a promise to myself that I’d do everything I possibly could to save her, whatever the danger to me, and no matter how many lives I lost in the process...

Charlie the kitten would do anything for his human. Just having recovered from a debilitating illness, eleven-year-old Caroline isn’t feeling her best, and the arrival of a new baby only makes her feel even more left out.

So when Caroline decides to run away, Charlie follows, vowing to protect her at all costs. But, for such a little kitten, it’s a big and scary world outside the comfort of the cottage – how far will he go to save his greatest friend?

Sheila Norton
Sheila Norton lives near Chelmsford in Essex with her husband, and worked for most of her life as a medical secretary, before retiring early to concentrate on her writing. Sheila is the award-winning writer of numerous women’s fiction novels and over 100 short stories, published in women’s magazines.

She has three married daughters, six little grandchildren, and over the years has enjoyed the companionship of three cats and two dogs. She derived lots of inspiration for Charlie the Kitten Who Saved a Life and its predecessor Oliver The Cat Who Saved Christmas from remembering the pleasure and fun of sharing life with her own cats. Sheila is convinced cats can understand Human and that we really ought to learn to speak Cat!

When not working on her writing Sheila enjoys spending time with her family and friends, as well as reading, walking, swimming, photography and travel. For more information please see

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Welcome historical romance author, Jane Jackson...

Hi Jane! Welcome to my humble blog - it's so lovely to have you here today - I am looking forward to learning more about you and your work and especially about your latest release, THE MASTER'S WIFE. Let's get things going with my questions...

  1. 1.What is my favourite thing about myself?  My curiosity.  I start off researching one specific subject then come across something that leads me down a side-path which reveals yet more fascinating facts.  The upside is that I learn all kinds of new and interesting stuff. The downside is that a couple of hours have whizzed past without me noticing.

  1. What do I wish I’d known before I started writing?  That getting my first book published wasn’t only the culmination of a lot of hard work, it was just the beginning of a lot more. Standards have risen and with so much competition out there, each book has to be better than the last. But when you love what you’re doing, it is often – always! - demanding, but never a chore.

  1. We’ve been married 24 years and my husband rarely remembers our wedding anniversary, but he always holds my hand when we’re out.

  1. The one subject I’d never write about?  S&M sex. There are authors who are brilliant at it. I’d be rubbish. That’s not a judgement. It’s an acceptance of my limitations as an author.

  1. Suggestions to help someone be a better writer?  First, read. Read as many different authors as possible within your favourite genre, but read other genres as well.  See how other authors structure their books, balance narrative with dialogue, achieve their effects, build up tension and create page-turning-quality.  Second, always go deeper when creating your characters.  People rarely do things for the reasons they state, there is always a deeper motive driving them.  Knowing what that is allows them make unpredictable decisions which make perfect sense to the character while the reader thinks, ‘Wow, I never saw that coming’ and has to read on.

  1. What did I do growing up that got me into trouble?  I questioned.  I just wanted to know why, but my parents and teachers said never mind why, just do as I was told.  I never forgot how intensely frustrating it was to be told ‘Because I say so.’  My children were encouraged to query and talk to me about anything and have brought their children up the same way.

  1. If you came to my house for dinner, I would ring you in advance to ask about your likes/dislikes/allergies, then I’d prepare cold salmon, chicken and quiche with a variety of salads followed by a fruit crumble and Cornish clotted cream.  All this could be prepared in advance so we’d have lots of time for talking – which is surely the point of inviting someone for a meal.

Thanks so much for having me as your guest, Rachel.


The second in The Captain’s Honour series by Jane Jackson, The Master’s Wife is a historical epic set in the 1880s. We follow Caseley and Jago’s voyage from Cornwall, England to turbulent Egypt as they undertake an important mission - but is their marriage strong enough to withstand the effects of loss, heartbreak, and danger that they both suffer? A powerful and impeccably researched novel by one of the most popular historical novelists around. 
'Exciting, mysterious, poignant and compelling. I highly recommend The Master's Wife.' Jodi Taylor, author of The Chronicles of St Mary's 
'I cannot praise this book enough. I particularly liked the details of life in Egypt both for the Europeans and Bedouin. Issues are raised within the plot which resonate today within Middle Eastern tensions. Other details are carefully researched and depicted- camel rides, desert plants, smells and sights and a prevalent sense of danger within an alien world. I was reminded of a novel I love - The Map of Love by Ahdaf Soueif.' Carol McGrath, author of The Handfasted Wife 

Jane Jackson   Biography

I have lived in the same Cornish village nearly all my life.
My first book, a romantic thriller, was published in 1982. After four medical and ten contemporary romances for Harlequin as Dana James published worldwide I began writing longer historical romances. Of the fourteen published as Jane Jackson some remained Cornwall-based, others - set in the C18th and C19th - ventured to foreign shores while maintaining strong Cornish links. After joining the RNA in the early 1990s I reached the shortlist for the Romantic Novel of the Year Award with Eye of the Wind in 2002, and was shortlisted for the Historical Prize in 2010 with Heart of Stone, and in 2016 for The Consul’s Daughter.  Crosscurrents published in 2016 was shortlisted for the Winston Graham Historical Prize. The fourth in my ‘Polvellan Cornish Mysteries’ series, Secrets and Lies written as Rachel Ennis was published in April.
Teaching the Craft of Novel Writing for over twenty years from Ad. Ed. to MA level has been both a pleasure and a privilege. Ten of my former students are now multi-published novelists.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Welcome fellow RNA member, author Sue Barnard...

Hi Sue! Great to welcome you to my blog today - hope you enjoy your time here. I'm looking forward to learning more about you and your work - let's start with my questions...

1.)              What is the strangest talent you have?

Having a mind which is so warped that it can compile questions for Radio 4’s fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz.  It once caused one of my sons to describe me as “professionally weird”.

2.)              What is the best Halloween costume you’ve ever worn?

I’m ashamed to say I’ve never worn one!  A sign of a deprived middle-age, I suppose.

3.)              Are the titles of your books important?

Oh yes – they have to be relevant, and ideally give some clue to what the stories are about.

4.)              If you’re struggling with a scene or difficult character, what methods help you through it?

I leave my desk do something else for a while.  This gives my brain time to work on the problem subconsciously, and the answer often arrives out of the blue when I’m in the middle of a non-writing-related activity.  I’ve had some of my best ideas when I’ve been mowing the lawn.

5.)              Do you prefer dogs, cats or none of the above?

I’m fond of both, although I don’t have any pets of my own.

6.)              Who’s your favourite author? Why?

It’s difficult to choose, but I think it would have to be Terry Pratchett.  I had the honour of meeting him once, and he was warm, kind and funny.  His writing is in a league of its own, and it breaks my heart to think that there will now be no more from the same pen.

7.)              Do you have a pet peeve?

Yes, lots (don’t get me started!).  But if I have to pick just one, top of my list is the dreadful expression “non-working mother”.  It’s a downright insult to all those women who work an unpaid and unrecognised 168-hour week raising their children.  If I had my way, the phrase would be banned from the English language. 

8.)              Do you remember your dreams when you wake up in the morning?

Hardly ever, unfortunately – and when I do, they usually aren’t dreams that I’d particularly want to remember.  I know some writers who can dream entire plot-lines and write them down when they wake up.   Sadly, I am not one of them – which could be one reason why my writing output is so much lower than theirs… L

The Ghostly Father:

Romeo & Juliet - was this what really happened?

When Juliet Roberts is asked to make sense of an ancient Italian manuscript, she little suspects that she will find herself propelled into the midst of one of the greatest love stories of all time. But this is only the beginning. As more hidden secrets come to light, Juliet discovers that the tragic tale of her famous namesake might have had a very different outcome...

A favourite classic story with a major new twist.

Nice Girls Don't:

Who knows what secrets lie hidden in your family’s past?

Southern England, 1982.

At 25, single, and under threat of redundancy from her job in a local library, Emily feels as though her life is going nowhere – until the day when Carl comes into the library asking for books about tracing family history.

Carl is baffled by a mystery about his late grandfather: why is the name by which Carl had always known him different from the name on his old passport?

Fascinated as much by Carl himself as by the puzzle he wants to solve, Emily tries to help him find the answers. As their relationship develops, their quest for the truth takes them along a complicated paper-trail which leads, eventually, to the battlefields of the Great War.

In the meantime, Emily discovers that her own family also has its fair share of secrets and lies. And old sins can still cast long shadows…

Can Emily finally lay the ghosts of the past to rest and look forward to a brighter future?

A tale of discovery, love and fate.

The Unkindest Cut of All:

Beware the Ides of March...

Brian Wilmer is God’s gift to amateur dramatics – and he knows it. So when the Castlemarsh Players take the ambitious decision to stage Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, there is only one man who can play the title role – even though Brian’s posturing ‘prima donna’ attitude has, over the years, won him few friends and many foes.

Rehearsals progress apace, and the production draws ever closer. But when another member of the cast has to drop out due to illness, local journalist Sarah Carmichael (a stalwart of the Players’ backstage crew) suddenly finds herself called upon to step into the breach at the eleventh hour.

Not surprisingly, Sarah finds that Brian is in his egotistical element playing the mighty Caesar. The fact that the final performance of the play takes place on the infamous Ides of March – the day when, according to tradition, Caesar was fatally stabbed – only adds to the excitement.

But tragedy is waiting in the wings. And when it strikes, it falls to Sarah – with the help of Brian’s personable, and fascinating, nephew Martin Burns – to uncover the incredible truth about what really happened…

The Ghostly FatherAmazonSmashwordsKoboNookApple iBooks
Nice Girls Don’tAmazonSmashwordsKoboNookApple iBooks
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 About the Author:

Sue Barnard was born in North Wales but has spent most of her life in and around Manchester. After graduating from Durham University, where she studied French and Italian, Sue got married then had a variety of office jobs before becoming a full-time parent. If she had her way, the phrase "non-working mother" would be banned from the English language.
Since then she has had a series of part-time jobs, including some work as a freelance copywriter. In parallel with this she took several courses in Creative Writing. Her writing achievements include winning the Writing Magazine New Subscribers Poetry Competition for 2013. She is also very interested in Family History. Her own background is stranger than fiction; she'd write a book about it if she thought anybody would believe her.
Sue has a mind which is sufficiently warped as to be capable of compiling questions for BBC Radio 4's fiendishly difficult Round Britain Quiz. This once caused one of her sons to describe her as "professionally weird." The label has stuck.
Sue joined the editorial team of Crooked Cat Publishing in 2013. Her first novel, The Ghostly Father (a new take on the traditional story of Romeo & Juliet) was officially released on St Valentine's Day 2014.  This was followed in July 2014 by her second novel, a romantic mystery entitled Nice Girls Don’t.  Her third novel, The Unkindest Cut of All (a murder mystery set in a theatre), was released in June 2015.
Sue now lives in Cheshire with her extremely patient husband and a large collection of unfinished scribblings.  You can find her on Facebook, Twitter (@SusanB2011), or follow her blog here.