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SISTERS AT HEART – my short story

Every now and again I get the urge to write a short story. Especially if there’s a competition (Aries competitive nature). Earlier this year Country Style magazine held a short story competition with the theme ‘Cooking from the heart.’ The $5000 prize was a big motivator to enter, but even though I didn’t win I enjoyed writing my story and am proud of the result.

When I heard what the theme was, it was the perfect theme to match to a story idea I’d had for a while, so with enthusiasm I sat down and wrote the story all in one go till the early hours of the morning.

2000 words doesn’t seem like a lot, but with short stories you have to plan the plot and create characters just like in a novel, in fact, sometimes short stories are more challenging because of the restriction in length. You have to focus on a moment in time with only a couple or a few characters and have a satisfying emotional ending to the story. Sometimes the ending is not an ending but the start of something new, but the event that takes place in the story is the driver for that new beginning.

My ‘cooking from the heart’-themed short story, SISTERS AT HEART, is now published on Smashwords. It’s set in the fictional town of Tarrin’s Bay where I am setting a series of novels, the first being THE JANUARY WISH which is completed and the second being FEBRUARY OR FOREVER which is a work in progress. SISTERS AT HEART is women’s fiction with a twist; there’s a little surprise at the end that some people may guess and others may not.

Here’s the blurb…

Grieving the loss of her sister and breakdown of her marriage, Carrie moves to the small seaside town of Tarrin’s Bay for a fresh start with her young son. When she volunteers for the school cake stall, a remarkable coincidence has her realising the incredible power of the human heart.

You can read the first page here, and if you like the sound of it and want to see what the twist is, the full story is only 99 cents 😉

I’d love to hear what you think about it! I might write more ‘Tarrin’s Bay’ short stories.

Do you have any short stories published? If so, let me know in the comments 🙂

Mouthwatering Moment by… Cindy Roesel

Today’s Mouthwatering Moment excerpt is by Cindy Roesel, an Emmy award-winning anchor, reporter, producer, and author of VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED.

“I’ll have the Pasta Telefono with extra mozzarella, along with a glass of the house white, please,” Charley smiled at the cute waiter. His nametag read Alfonso. Not tall, but handsome, with a sexy Italian accent. She thought she recognized the scent of Armani’s Gio for men as he walked by, but couldn’t be sure. All the waiters working at Carpaccio were gorgeous, appeared to have just walked off the pages of GQ, and spoke with yummy accents.

“Sauvignon Blanc or the Chardonnay?” he asked, leaning toward her. His skin was beautiful, not a wrinkle or blemish anywhere, just like most employees and patrons at Carpaccio.

“Is the Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand?” she asked.

He picked up and filled her water glass. “Yes, it is Cloudy Bay.”

“That’d be lovely.”

Charley and Rori were seated in a sea of beautiful, well-chiseled, surgically-enhanced South Americans and Europeans with a few loud, English-speaking New Yorkers scattered about. The restaurant was half indoors but sitting outside was preferable if you wanted to see and be seen. Watching people was the whole point of dining at Carpaccio. While the food was consistently good, the nearby luxury stores attracted an extremely wealthy international clientele. Everyone seemed to be dressed in designer fashions fresh off the runways of Paris, Milan, and New York, and there was a bountiful display of the latest in plastic surgery.

Charley had learned early on that the Shoppes in Bal Harbour were never to be referred to as a mall. She’d been getting her hair cut when she said she was going shopping at the mall in Bal Harbour. Her stylist had ever-so discreetly said, “They’re called the Shops, unless of course, you want to be seen as a tourist.” Being mistaken for a tourist was a fate worse than being seated inside and unseen.

~*~

Cindy’s favorite meal: Stone crabs. A seasonal May 15-Oct 15 South Florida delicasy

Cindy’s favorite drink: Diet peach snapple

Cindy’s favorite treat: M&Ms, plain …. for a SUPER YUMMY, Dairy Queen chocolate ice cream cake OMG!

 

Thanks for sharing your excerpt, Cindy!

To find out more about Cindy, visit her website here.

And remember, all comments will go into the draw for prizes at the end of the month, just make sure you also subscribe to the blog posts 😉

Novels with a Food-Theme: Part 2

Nothing beats a good book, or a great meal, or an irresistable treat…  so it’s even better when these are combined! Here is a selection of some novels with a food-theme. This is part two, so if you missed part one, you can see it here.

Sugar and Spice – Jules Stanbridge

A rich, indulgent treat of a novel – love, life… and chocolate cake

When Maddy loses her high-paying city job, her instant reaction is blind panic.

But after the ‘drowning her sorrows’ hangover has cleared, she realises that this is an opportunity to change her life and do what she loves best: baking cakes. And so she sets up her own cake company, embracing the highs and lows of getting a new business off the ground, while looking for love along the way.

Chocolat – Joanne Harris

In tiny Lansquenet, where nothing much has changed in a hundred years, beautiful newcomer Vianne Rocher and her exquisite chocolate shop arrive and instantly begin to play havoc with Lenten vows. Each box of luscious bonbons comes with a free gift: Vianne’s uncanny perception of its buyer’s private discontents and a clever, caring cure for them. Is she a witch? Soon the parish no longer cares, as it abandons itself to temptation, happiness, and a dramatic face-off between Easter solemnity and the pagan gaiety of a chocolate festival. Chocolat’s every page offers a description of chocolate to melt in the mouths of chocoholics, francophiles, armchair gourmets, cookbook readers, and lovers of passion everywhere. It’s a must for anyone who craves an escapist read, and is a bewitching gift for any holiday.

Chocolat was also made into a movie with Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche.

The Saturday Supper Club – Amy Bratley

Wanted: four amateur cooks to compete in a supper club contest Rules: four strangers, four weeks, four houses, four dinner parties

You might win: a cash prize You might lose: your heart.

Eve had her world torn apart three years ago, when the love of her life Ethan disappeared, and she never found out why. But now, her life is rosy. With a lovely new boyfriend, Joe, and a café opening on the cards, things finally seem to be falling into place. … until she agrees to take part in a supper club competition for a local newspaper. Eve is cooking the first dinner and who should turn up on her doorstep expecting a three-course meal, but her long lost love Ethan?

Eat. Pray. Love. – Elizabeth Gilbert

This beautifully written, heartfelt memoir touched a nerve among both readers and reviewers.

Elizabeth Gilbert tells how she made the difficult choice to leave behind all the trappings of modern American success (marriage, house in the country, career) and find, instead, what she truly wanted from life. Setting out for a year to study three different aspects of her nature amid three different cultures, Gilbert explored the art of pleasure in Italy and the art of devotion in India, and then a balance between the two on the Indonesian island of Bali.

By turns rapturous and rueful, this wise and funny author (whom Booklist calls “Anne Lamott’s hip, yoga- practicing, footloose younger sister”) is poised to garner yet more adoring fans.

This was also made into a movie with Julia Roberts.

Have you read any of the books I’ve featured today? What do you like about books with a food-theme?

Special Guest Author Interview: Jenny Colgan

Jenny Colgan visits today for a special interview…

1. Welcome Jenny! Can you tell us a little about your latest book, ROSIE HOPKINS’ SWEETSHOP OF DREAMS?

It’s about Rosie, a nurse. She has to go and look after her elderly great-aunt in the countryside, and wind up her affairs, which is when she realises that her aunt’s old sweetshop could be brought back to life.

2. You also have a book called MEET ME AT THE CUPCAKE CAFE. What do you love about writing stories with a food theme?

Oh I’m just greedy, really. It’s a nice way to incorporate two things I love to do; baking and books!

3. Did you always dream of becoming an author? When you were little was there anything else you wanted to be when you grew up?

Ha, I wanted to be a nun. Or a writer, yes. But I never really thought it would come true, I still pinch myself sometimes.

4. Is food a big part of your family’s life, and what do you love cooking the most?

I never used to cook at all, I was absolutely awful, until my first child was born and then I thought, no, I must cook for him, I don’t want him having too much processed food. So I have learned, but it’s been very touch and go. Some things are better than others! I make a great lemon chicken and my stews are good but the less said about my bernaise sauce the better 🙂 I am not a natural chef, that’s for sure, I have to work at it.

5. If you could name three essential ingredients that make up a great novel, what would they be?

Characters you care about is sometimes the only thing I think is important. If you like/ care about the people, it almost doesn’t matter what they get up to after that, you’ll follow them anywhere. If you don’t care about them, the cleverest plot in the world won’t help you.

6. If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would you choose?

Ooh does it matter if they’re alive? I would have LOVED to have met Douglas Adams, he was such an inspiration. Richard Feynman too. Alive, I suppose the Obamas would be SO interesting, if they could actually tell you anything. Ha, and Stephen Moffatt, because I want him to give me a job 🙂 .

7. Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?

YES! But no-one ever listens to me! The only thing that ever works is typing every day. Not research, not editing, not playing about on the internet. There’s no such thing as the muse and there’s no such thing as writer’s block. Bum, seat, words- 1000 is a good starting point- every single day. That’s the job. Doesn’t matter if you think it’s rubbish, fix it in the edit, that’s what editing is for. But until the words are on the page, you have nothing to work with, and you can’t get started. I always say this and no- one ever wants to believe me, but it’s a universal truth I’m afraid.

8. Are you working on another book, what’s next for you?

Yup, I am working on a book about lovers in Paris who work in a chocolate shop, and I have a book coming out in July for Doctor Who, called Dark Horizons. Then Christmas at the Cupcake Cafe comes out in October, and I’d like to write a sequel to Sweetshop, so we’re very busy!

Thanks for being on the blog, Jenny!

Jenny Colgan’s books have been described as ‘sharp and witty’ (Observer), ‘funny, magical, and moving’ (Time Out), and ‘hugely entertaining and very funny’ (Cosmopolitan).Visit Jenny’s website  and check out her books here .

 

…Remember, as part of the Mouthwatering May special event, you could win prizes simply by commenting below and on any of the posts during May. Be sure to subscribe to the blog too, to be eligible for prizes 🙂

Mouthwatering Moment… by Me (#2)

Today I thought I’d share an excerpt from my current work in progress, FAST FORWARD. Hope you enjoy!

“You’ve got to be kidding?” I stood, rooted to the ground as Ryan tried without success to usher me towards the ‘Ben’s Bungy Jumping’ sign. What did he expect me to say, “Oh yippee, just what I’ve always wanted!”?

“I’ve booked us both in for a jump, it’s gonna be awesome!”

“You can’t be serious? There’s no way I’m going to let someone tie rope to my feet and throw me off that thing!” I pinned him with a determined stare.

“Mum, remember at your birthday dinner last year you said you wanted to do something adventurous for your next birthday?” Ryan enquired. “You said you wanted to do something different, to feel alive again.”

I shook my head at him.

“Well, you did say it, and I listened, and I’ve had this planned for ages and it’s non-refundable so you can’t back out. Mum – you’ll thank me for this, it’s going to be something you’ll never forget.” He clamped his hands together as though in prayer.

“Never forget? This is THE thing I’d want to forget! I can’t do this. Besides, I’m f…f…fifty,” I stuttered, still in shock of my situation. “Surely they wouldn’t let seniors like me go bungy jumping?” I planted my hands defiantly on my hips and jutted out my jaw.

“Of course they do, it’s perfectly safe, and you’ve been given a clean bill of health by the doc, so there’s no reason you can’t do it. They can even jump people who are in wheelchairs, you know.”

Yeah. Probably adrenalin addicts who are in wheelchairs because of bungy jumping.

“What if the rope breaks? They could forget to tie it on properly, and only realise once I’ve plunged to my death!”

“They won’t forget. I know Ben, he’s a professional,” Ryan assured.

Professional what? Professional Idiot?

I looked at the huge purpose-built structure, completely out of place in the lush natural rainforest, and imagined myself launching off the edge to the water below. I shuddered as I saw all my saggy bits sagging upside down, my loose turkey-neck skin falling over my face, covering my mouth and nose and cutting off my air supply.

This could be fatal in more ways than one.

 

You can read more about this story here.

So, have you ever been bungy jumping? What’s the bravest thing you’ve ever done?

And remember, every comment left on this post and all others during May will go into a prize draw at the end of the month. 🙂

Mouthwatering Moment…by Monique McDonell

Today’s Mouthwatering Moment excerpt is from Monique McDonell’s ebook, MR RIGHT AND OTHER MONGRELS, released this month!

 

My mother however was going nowhere. Worse than that she kept leering at Teddy, which simply made me uncomfortable.

I really didn’t know what was going on with Teddy and me but I surely didn’t want anything going on between Teddy and Moonbeam.

“Teddy, do you want to help me get some dinner together?”

“No Allegra, he can stay and keep me company.” She was good.

“How about we both help Ally out.”  What a guy.

So we piled into my small kitchen with her standing a bit too close to Teddy for my liking.

“So what are we having?”

“Potato gnocchi with tomato sauce and a salad.”

“Cool, what can I do?’

I had already cooked the potatoes so I put Teddy to work mashing them. And I pulled down a jar of sauce I had made from organic tomatoes earlier in the summer and put it on to simmer.

Teddy looked at me quizzically “You jar your own sauce?”

“Uhmm yes”. I was always kind of embarrassed by my love of cooking. It makes me seem like a possessed potential housewife or something. I mean I know you don’t go to a club and discuss organic cooking; it doesn’t get the men flocking. Ultimately though I just like to cook and eat well.

“Well, Allegra, that being the case I may have to marry you.” He winked just so I’d know he wasn’t serious. “I’ll grow the veggies and you can make the sauce.”

I noticed Moonbeams dark eyes got a tad darker and flashed a bit wilder.

“I don’t know that there is room for a veggie patch in my flat or your designer terrace either for that matter,” I laughed.

“Well, we’ll just have to move to the country.”

“Sorry can’t leave the shop.”

“I’m heartbroken,” he feigned distress as he mashed. “I offer to give up my lucrative TV career and to grow veggies and marry you and you won’t leave the bookshop!”

 ~*~

Monique’s favourite meal – I really love my husband’s paella.

Monique’s favourite drink – Red wine but it’s hard to go past a nice glass of champagne.

Monique’s favourite indulgence – I am a sucker for a good cheese plate. I’m a bit like the Cher character in the movie Mermaids. I could happily live on finger food.

 

Thanks for sharing your excerpt, Monique!

Check out Monique’s website and all the details on her soon to be released ebook, here! She also has a cooking blog here.

 

 

Novels with a Food-Theme: Part 1

Nothing beats a good book, or a great meal, or an irresistable treat…  so it’s even better when these are combined! Here is a selection of some novels with a food-theme. And just so you don’t overindulge, I’ll share more next week:

The Way to a Woman’s Heart – Christina Jones:

Cooking the perfect menu for the perfect date always seems simple at the time…

Escaping from corporate city life into the heart of the Berkshire countryside, Ella Maloney had been expecting to find rural tranquillity and a chance to indulge in her favourite pastime – cooking. So when she meets a devastatingly delicious chef by the name of Ash Lawrence, Ella knows she’s died and gone to food heaven.

Things go from divine to celestial for Ella, however, when her favourite top-rated TV cookery programme – Midnight Feast – comes looking for a venue to film their latest show. But while Ella is pulling out all the culinary stops to become their most successful contestant ever, Ash is busy cooking up the ultimate recipe for winning Ella’s heart – or should that be a recipe for disaster…?

The Christmas Cookie Club – Ann Pearlman:

Every year at Christmastime, Marnie and her closest girlfriends mark their calendars for a cookie exchange.  Everyone brings homemade cookies and a bottle of wine to share, but this year, it’s their stories that are especially important—the passion and hopefulness of new romance, the betrayal and disillusionment some relationships bring, the joys and fears of motherhood, the stress of financial troubles.  On this evening, at least, the sisterly love they have for one another rises above it all. Celebrating courage and joy in spite of hard times and honoring the importance of woman’s friendships as well as the embracing bonds of community, the delightful novel speaks to us all.

In addition to laughter and tears, the book is sprinkled with delicious cookie recipes. The Christmas Cookie Club has been translated into German, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and Croatian becoming both an international and national bestseller.

Good Enought to Eat – Stacey Ballis:

She learned how to eat right….living right is the hard part. Former lawyer Melanie Hoffman lost half her body weight and opened a gourmet take-out café specializing in healthy and delicious food. But the first healthy morning muffins are still warm from the oven when her husband announces that he is leaving her…for a woman twice her size.

Reeling from her abandonment, she’s blindsided by a financial crisis. Desperate to relieve some of the money pressures, Melanie reaches out to a quirky roommate with a ton of baggage, moving her into both her home and her business.  Things begin to look up when Melanie becomes involved in a budding romance with a local documentary filmmaker, but she’s not so sure she is really ready for love. In this warm and often laugh-out-loud novel, Melanie discovers that she still has a lot to learn about her friends, her relationships with men, and herself…and that her weight loss was just the beginning of an amazing journey that will transform her life from the inside out.

Chocolate Wishes – Trisha Ashley:

Life is sweet for chocolate maker Chloe Lyon! Business is booming at her artisan chocolate-makers ‘Chocolate Wishes’ in the picture-perfect Lancashire village of Sticklepond – not least because all of Chloe’s sweet treats contain an inspirational prediction for each customer. If only her own life was as easy to read in the cards, perhaps Chloe could have foreseen being jilted at the altar!

But Chloe has long put thoughts of love behind her – after all, life is busy enough, especially as she tries to sort out her friends’ tangled love lives and the village welcomes its new vicar, Raffy Sinclair. However, the village rumour mill goes into overdrive when it is revealed that Raffy is the distinctly unorthodox ex-front man of rock band ‘Mortal Ruin’ – and also happens to be Chloe’s first love, who left her broken-hearted.Whilst Chloe tries to ignore this blast from her past, will she discover that wishes can come true when you least expect it? A charming novel for chocoholics everywhere, perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Jill Mansell and Carole Matthews.

And if you haven’t checked out my previous blog posts about the food-themed books, The Secret Ingredient, and Aftertaste, you can do so here and here.

Stay tuned for part two of this blog post!

Have you read any of the books I’ve featured today? What do you like about books with a food-theme?

Special Guest Author Interview: Dianne Blacklock

I’d like to welcome accomplished Australian author of women’s fiction novels, Dianne Blacklock to the blog!

1.       Welcome Dianne, can you tell us a little about your book, THE SECRET INGREDIENT?

Thanks for having me! THE SECRET INGREDIENT centres on Andie, who gave up her dreams of being a chef when she married Ross. He left a wife and three kids for her, so Andie feels she must put their relationship first – but in reality that translates to putting Ross first. After ten years she’s feeling restless and dissatisfied, Ross seems distant, and not a little secretive … After her marriage implodes, Andie sets about to take back her life, and fulfil her original dream, whatever the obstacles – one very large one being Dominic Gerou, the head chef in the restaurant where she finds work.

 

2.       What do you think attracts readers to stories with a food theme?

Perhaps it’s because it’s something we can all relate to – we all have to eat! Our lives revolve around food to a greater or lesser extent, we celebrate with food, families come together around food, people romance each other over food.

 

3.       How long does it usually take you to write the first draft of a novel?

Probably about  5-6 months of ‘real’ writing – now that I don’t have young children. But there can be anything up to 3 months of faffing about.

 

4.       Do you think there is a ‘secret ingredient’ to having a successful career as an author?

If there is, can you share it with me? Basically I think it’s a mixture of talent, discipline, and just plain luck!

 

5.       What do you enjoy most about being an author?

I love most when I’m totally in the zone, writing as fast as I can to keep up with my characters. Oh, and being able to wear tracksuit pants to work!

 

6.       Is food a big part of your family life? Do you have a signature meal or recipe that’s a favourite in your household?

With four boys, food was certainly a big part of family life, but it was generally about quantity not quality! Fortunately as they grew older they began to appreciate more variety, though on birthdays and special occasions they still always ask for a regular baked dinner. But I reckon I cook a mean baked dinner, exactly like my mum’s. My ‘signature dish’ would have to be the plum pudding icecream I have been making in vast quantities for extended family and friends every Christmas for more than twenty years.

 

7.       If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, who would you choose?

Gosh, only one? I had to go through a whole list in my head first: George Clooney or Brad Pitt, so that I could ask them all about their humanitarian work (translation: so I could stare at them); Meryl Streep because I adore her; Barack Obama would make an interesting dinner companion, I would imagine, and Jon Stewart (U.S commentator & comedian) would be fascinating and hilarious … Too many interesting, intelligent, stunning people to choose from! But if I must narrow it down to one, I think it would have to be Aaron Sorkin, who is my favourite living writer. No, he doesn’t write novels, he writes for film and television (most notably The West Wing). I would love to hear all about his process, gather any tips, and just hope some of the magic rubbed off!

 

8.       Do you find it difficult to keep coming up with new ideas for books?

It does get more difficult – there are plenty of ideas floating around my head, but executing them in an original way is the challenge. I am wary of writing the same characters, treading the same ground, repeating myself.

 

9.       Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?

Read and write. Read as much as you can, then think about what worked in the book, and also what didn’t work. Try to establish a writing routine. Timetable it like anything else – paid work, exercise, housework, whatever you spend time doing on a regular basis. If you can’t find the time to write regularly, you’re not really serious about it.

 

10.   Are you working on another book, what’s next for you?

Speaking of establishing a routine, I’m settling into one after an extended break spent selling up and moving house. I’ll be doing little else for the next few months. For several years now I have had a book out in the second half of the year, but the move made that schedule impossible. So I’m working towards a March 2013 release, all going well.

 

~ Dianne Blacklock has been a teacher, trainer, counsellor, check-out chick, and even one of those annoying market researchers you avoid in shopping centres. Nowadays she tries not to annoy anyone by staying home and writing. She is the author of Call Waiting, Wife for Hire, Almost Perfect, False Advertising, Crossing Paths, Three’s a Crowd, The Right Time, and most recently, The Secret Ingredient. Visit Dianne and check out her fantastic books on her website here. 

Thanks for visiting the blog, Dianne!

…Remember, as part of the Mouthwatering May special event, you could win prizes simply by commenting below and on any of the posts during May. Be sure to subscribe to the blog too, to be eligible for prizes :)

Mouthwatering Moment… by Darlene Fredette

Today’s Mouthwatering Moment excerpt is from KEEPING SECRETS by Darlene Fredette.

 

Matt dipped another berry, leaned forward and smiled. “Come on, you know you want to.”

He wiggled the strawberry in the air. Samantha couldn’t resist. She grinned and leaned forward. Matt scooted closer and brought the berry to her lips. She stared into his eyes, opening her mouth. Matt smirked and dabbed the cream cheese on her nose.

Samantha sat back, startled. “Two can play that game.” She dipped a finger in the cream cheese and wiped it across his nose.

Matt let out a hearty laugh.

She selected another strawberry, dipped, and then held it to Matt’s lips. He leaned in, his lips parted, but she pulled the berry away. Samantha slowly licked the cream before biting off the tip of the strawberry.

Matt cleared his throat.

Samantha seductively nibbled another berry, keeping her eyes riveted on Matt, who was watching her every move.

“I so want to kiss you right now.”

The strawberry fell, forgotten from her fingers, and landed on her lap. She swallowed hard and licked her lips.

~*~

Darlene’s favourite meal: roast beef dinner with all the fixings: gravy, mash potatoes, carrots, corn, and of course finish the meal off with warm apple pie and ice cream!

Darlene’s favourite drink: Kahlua, Coconut rum, and milk. It’s like a white Russian but I substitute the rum for the vodka, it’s much smoother.

Darlene’s favourite indulgence: Strawberries. I just love them!

 

Thanks for sharing your excerpt, Darlene! Keeping Secrets was a great read 🙂

Find out more about Darlene here.  And find out more about Keeping Secrets here.

Remember, you can win prizes by leaving a comment below. Make sure to subscribe to the blog to be eligible 🙂

Special Guest Author Interview: Trisha Ashley

I’m thrilled to welcome author Trisha Ashley to the blog today as part of my Mouthwatering May special event.

1) Welcome Trisha! Can you tell us a little about your new book, Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues?

It’s set in rural West Lancashire, like several of my recent books. I didn’t start out to write a series – they’re all stand-alone novels – but there’s some overlapping of places and characters.  The village in Chocolate Shoes and Wedding Blues is Sticklepond, where A Winter’s Tale and Chocolate Wishes also took place.

My heroine, Tansy, inherits a run-down shoe shop from her great-aunt and, when her life goes all Cinderella without a happy ending, she throws herself into recreating it as a bridal shoe emporium.

It is a huge success, which is a bit unfortunate for reclusive Shakespearian actor Ivo Hawksley, who has moved next door in search of some peace and quiet.  Like Tansy, he has a few demons from his past to deal with – it’s all about coming to terms with what has happened in the past and how it has shaped you, so you can move on.

I suppose I’d describe  my books as romantic comedy, though the humour arises from the characters themselves – I don’t try and write in a funny way, I just write.

2) You also have a book called Chocolate Wishes.  What do you love about writing stories with a food theme?

The research, of course!  The idea for the Chocolate Wishes of the title came about when I remembered making chocolate Easter eggs for my son when he was small and putting in a message from the Easter Bunny: I thought suddenly that fortune cookies would be so much nicer if they were made of chocolate…

Food is often a strong theme in my books because  it can be comforting, exciting, reassuring, celebratory or simply an expression of love.  I have no cookery training, it’s all just recipes I picked up along the way, or learned from my mother.

Other strong themes in my novels are gardening, especially roses and knot gardens, family (even if sometimes a little dysfunctional) and friendship, from which can grow all kinds of love.

 

3) How long does it usually take you to write the first draft of a novel?

On average, I suppose about four months, though the ideas for the next book will have been fermenting gently on the backburner while I was finishing off the last one.  I have twice written a first draft in a fortnight in an unstoppable outpouring, which was exhilarating even if a trifle exhausting.

 

4)  You share recipes in your books.  Do you have an all time favourite recipe?

The rich dark fruit cake recipe in Wedding Tiers: I use it for birthdays, book launches, Christmas… It’s easy and always works.  The very worst that can happen is that the edges catch a little, or the fruit sinks to the bottom, but it will taste wonderful anyway.

 

5)  If you could name three essential ingredients that make up a great novel, what would they be?

The obvious answer would be: a beginning, middle and an end.  By that I mean that a book should immediately transport you to a different place and then take you on a journey through it, with stop-offs to see the sights and have a few adventures.  If a reader writes and says that I have provided them with that escape hatch, that Alice-through-the-looking-glass experience, then there can be no finer compliment.

6)  What do you love most about being an author?

 I usually write in first person and I adore becoming someone else and slipping off into a different world.  But when all the characters have taken on a life of their own and start having conversations in your head when you’re trying to go to sleep at night, that can be annoying.  I know if I don’t put the light on and write it all down, I’ll have forgotten it by morning.

I also enjoy taking two very different people, building the chemistry between them and then finding a way to bring them together.  There have often been traumas in their past lives that make this outcome difficult to achieve, but I find that challenge exciting.

But the bottom line is, to quote Stephen King (I do love his book called On Writing!), writing is the most fun you can have on your own!

7)  Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring authors?

This may sound very obvious, but it has to be said: writers write, it’s in the nature of the job description.  You write every day and feel guilty and bereft if you have finished a novel and not started on the next.  So, don’t just think about it, do it. Get in the writing habit, if only for ten or fifteen minutes a day and then build on that.  However busy you are, if you really want to write, you will find the time.

1) If you can’t get started at all, read Natalie Goldberg’s book, ‘Writing Down the Bones’.

2) Once you’ve got into the daily writing habit, then do read Stephen King’s book, ‘On Writing ‘ – he really tells it like it is.

3)  Read my novel Happy Endings – the heroine, Tina Devino, is a novelist who also runs a manuscript critique service and there are letters  to and from aspiring novelists throughout the book.  You will learn a lot about what – and what not – to do!

4)  Read a lot of recently published novels in the genre you are aiming at.  Consider what length they are and what the readers of that kind of book expect from a novel.

5)  You will know your main characters are three dimensional when they start having conversations with each other in your head.

But if you never get beyond chapter three don’t despair and give up, but try short stories instead: some of us are built to be sprinters and others for the marathon, you just have to find the writing form that suits you best.

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Thank you so much Trisha for taking the time to visit the blog, you’ve given some valuable advice for aspiring authors, and your book cover is beautiful!

~ Trisha Ashley was born in St. Helens, Lancashire, and now lives in the beautiful surroundings of North Wales. She has written twelve romantic comedies and her last novel, The Magic of Christmas, was a Sunday Times bestseller. A Winter’s Tale and Wedding Tiers have been previously shortlisted for the Melissa Nathan award for romantic comedy. Every Woman for Herself was voted one of the top three romantic novels of the last fifty years.Visit Trisha’s website here, and twitter here.

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