Sunday, 29 June 2014

Fairy Tales and Elderflower Fizz

Thanks for visiting the 'start the week' edition of Home Thoughts Weekly. This week I'm starting with something to read and a drink to go with it.

I’m thrilled to bits to share the news that my novella, Only True in Fairy Tales, is available now, a week before the paperback publication of my full length novel, Follow A Star on 7 July. And just look at that cover (another stunner from Berni Stevens)!

My stories, long or short, always begin with an image. For many years now, I’ve been watching a black rescue greyhound, Gracie, in my mind’s eye. Add to this image a house, a Gothic curiosity on the edge of the Downs where I grew up. And another house, a Victorian cottage, the house I really did grow up in, also on the edge of the Downs. Go to the front bedroom, the one I shared with my sister, where I would sit for hours staring out the window, watching the thoroughbred babies in the racing stables opposite being put through their paces. And snuffling round the house somewhere is a very naughty miniature dachshund who hunts and destroys discarded footwear, shoe laces, coat buttons, boxes of Maltesers and an entire dolly family. Allow these images to swirl around until they settle, then add a sleeping beauty – who has a very good reason to believe love is only true in fairy tales and a handsome stranger… but is he a prince or a beast in disguise? And those are the foundations for my novella, Only True in Fairy Tales.

And now some fizz to go with it. You can find lots of recipes for Elderflower champagne but here's how ours went in pictures:
Gather elderflower heads

Lemons, water, sugar, yeast

Add the washed flower heads. Do the steeping and fermentation bit.

Strain (the mixture - not yourself) Then add a little more sugar.

Leave for at least a week.

And enjoy!


Home Thoughts Weekly has been neglected this year, left on the shelf while I’ve been busy with other projects both professionally and personally. At the same time I’ve also noticed that the longer I’ve left it, the easier it is to put off writing the next post. Thinking about it, the slump probably means that somewhere along the line, the blog’s gone a bit stale. 
What to do? Well, 'Home Thoughts' has brought me a publishing contract and new friends, it’s served as a mini newsletter for further-flung family and been lots of fun. So, rather than ditch it, I’ve decided to shake the mix up a bit, to blog weekly, on a Monday – a sort of Start the Week blog if you like – to widen the themes and invite some guests along too. The revamped blog begins tomorrow with some news I’ve been waiting to share, please join me when you can.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Seeing Stars

The country lanes have been especially beautiful this year. Despite cool temperatures and frequent heavy showers, we’ve been able to get out and about running, cycling and walking with friends.

A combination of Romantic Novelist Association business and pleasure took us to Hereford last weekend. Our travels were somewhat curtailed by the car exhaust falling apart but thanks to the lovely folks at Kwik Fit who patched us up for no cost, we were able to visit Hereford Cathedral and see the wonderful Mappa Mundi. It’s one of those treasures I’d known about but hadn’t quite put myself out to see – and I’m so glad we did! It’s truly amazing and so touching.

'Beyond Limitations'. John O'Connor's sculpture in the Lady Arbour Cloister Garden

A rather less well-known document also went on view to the public this week. My third novel, Follow A Star has just been released on Kindle before its paperback publication in July. It’s the second in my Little Spitmarsh series, linked but not a sequel as such, to my debut novel, Turning the Tide (which is featured in June’s Kindle Monthly Deals for 99p). I really enjoyed writing this – I know I’ve given it my all, so it’s a case of waiting to see what everyone else thinks. If you’re moved to do so, please leave a review… unless, of course, you don’t like it in which case my family will thank you if you spare me your full and frank opinion – they’re the ones who have to persuade me to come out from under my desk. And with Follow A Star very much on my mind, I’ve started seeing it in all kinds of unlikely places…