Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Author Interview: Annette Hannah

Today it's my pleasure to welcome blogger and author Annette Hannah to the blog to celebrate the publication of her latest book Poppy's Christmas Wishes which is published this Thursday.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how your writing journey started?
Hi, I’m originally from Liverpool but moved to Hertfordshire in the eighties with my husband. We now have three grown up children and a cocker spaniel. I’d always wanted to write but didn’t really know where to start and I’ve always been an avid reader. One day I saw a message on Facebook asking for fans of Milly Johnson to be part of a promotional team called #TeamMilly. I put my name forward and was one of the lucky ones to be chosen. I can honestly say it changed my life. I’d not long lost my Mum and was feeling quite lost at the time but then I was being invited to afternoon tea at the Grosvenor House hotel in London with Milly and all the team. Then I was invited to a Spring Blogger evening as Simon and Schuster Head Office. I didn’t know what to expect but I saw five wonderful authors launching their books, including Milly Johnson and Heidi Swain who was promoting her debut at the time. I went home and told my daughter about the event and she said I can set a blog up for you and that’s when Sincerely Book Angels was born and I became a blogger. It wasn’t long before my quotes were appearing on my favourite authors’ books and I just couldn’t believe it. I loved blogging because it was so exciting reading books well in advance of them being published and being invited to launch parties and meeting some absolutely wonderful people. The other thing with blogging was that it helped me to find my voice and to be brave enough to share what I wrote with others.

Having been involved with #TeamBATC over at Simon and Schuster with the lovely Sara-Jade Virtue I became aware of their #ONEDAY #DigitalOriginals where un-agented authors can submit to them. I plucked up the courage to write three chapters to send in but then I panicked and thought what if they want more, so I panic wrote the rest of the book in three weeks. It got rejected but that didn’t matter because I’d fulfilled my lifelong ambition and written a book. It was an amazing feeling and that book was actually Poppy’s Christmas Wishes which has since been through several rounds of editing.

I wrote a book a year after that and when Simon and Schuster asked for a full of my third attempt, I knew I must be getting close. That one was rejected too but last year I submitted it to Dash Digital who are now Orion Dash and I was offered my first two book deal. That book was Wedding Bells at the Signal Box CafĂ© and this year I’ve been offered another two book deal with Poppy’s Christmas Wishes being the first of those. It’s been an exciting journey and is a real dream come true.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Author Interview: Claire Handscombe

Today I'm joining in the publication day celebrations for Girl, Unstrung and it's my pleasure to welcome author Claire Handscombe to the blog. 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how your writing journey started?

I wrote a lot as a pre-teen and teenager, but for lots of reasons I sort of stopped for a long time after that. Then in 2008, I started watching The West Wing, and something about the way language is used in that show re-awakened that creative part of my brain. I started reading a lot of novels and a lot of books about writing and dived into my first novel!

If you had to give an elevator pitch for your latest book Girl, Unstrung, what would it be?
Girl, Unstrung is a YA contemporary about a teen violist with a big life plan and a distracting crush on a Scrabble geek.

Nothing's going to distract Clara from her burgeoning career as a viola player. 
Not her semi-famous dad. 
Not her new stepmom. 

Not her annoying sisters. 
And definitely not Tim, the swoopy-haired Scrabble geek...

You might think it's fun to grow up around Hollywood with semi-famous parents. You'd be wrong, and Clara Cassidy would be the first to tell you so.

She's fourteen, figuring out life with three siblings and a new stepmom, and navigating her freshman year at a stupid high school where she doesn't even want to be. She was supposed to be at arts school by now.

It's fine, though, totally fine: she's going to practice her viola extra hard and get into LACHSA next year. She's definitely 100 percent focused and not even slightly going to get distracted by Tim, the sophomore Scrabble champion with the swoopy hair and the chin dimple. Nope. Not her.

Where did the inspiration come from to include an aspiring classical musician as your central character? And how much research did you need to do into learning about playing the viola?
It was kind of by accident! Girl, Unstrung is set in the same world as my debut novel, Unscripted. In that novel, one of the main characters has four kids and I made the eldest a viola player because I wanted something a bit more offbeat than the violin. I wanted her to say in her pre-teen way, “Duhhh, it’s the viola, not the violin” at one point and then I ended up giving her her own story!

Monday, 22 November 2021

Author Interview: Lauren Emily Whalen

Today it's my pleasure to welcome author, journalist and performer Lauren Emily Whalen to the blog to talk about her latest book Two Winters

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how your writing journey started?
Sure! I am a writer, performer and Shakespeare enthusiast who lives in Chicago, Illinois, USA with my black cat Rosaline (named after a character I played in the Bard’s Love’s Labour’s Lost!). I didn’t start writing fiction until my late twenties, as I have degrees in theater and law and a professional background in nonprofit fundraising and corporate administration. However, I’ve always loved to read, and once I started writing, I found I couldn’t stop!

My short stories have appeared in three different anthologies, and I have written four books for young adults: one nonfiction and three novels. My latest novel, Two Winters, is now available in print and digital everywhere you buy books.

If you had to give an elevator pitch for your latest book Two Winters, what would it be?
Two Winters is a queer young adult reimagining of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, about birth, death, Catholic school, improv comedy and the healing nature of time.  

The winter of 1997 is a tragedy waiting to happen. Small-town life isn't easy for seventeen-year-old bisexual and closeted Paulina, especially when her best friend Mia becomes pregnant and doesn’t want to tell the baby's father, Paulina's other best friend, Tesla. Meanwhile, Paulina's secret relationship with volleyball star Ani is about to go public. One fateful night, everything changes forever.

In the winter of 2014, Perdita, bi and proud in Chicago, is weeks away from turning seventeen. She loves her two moms, but why won’t they talk about her adoption? When Perdita meets improv performer Fenton, she discovers both a kindred soul and a willing accomplice in her search for the truth. Will Perdita find what she's looking for?

Sunday, 21 November 2021

Emma's Review: A Cosy Christmas at Bridget's Bicycle Bakery by Alex Brown

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Finding yourself without a home in the weeks before Christmas would break most people, but for Bridget Carrington it’s a chance to start again. Mulberry-On-Sea has always been her happy place and she’s hoping it can work its magic this festive season and heal her family after a difficult year.

Now, as the community wraps Bridget and her children in its warm embrace, she starts to feel like herself again. With a new business, kids who are starting to smile, and the promise of a second chance at love, Bridget’s holiday season might just be a happy ever after…

Book Links: Kindle or Paperback

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Emma's Review: From the Dark We Rise by Marion Kummerow

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

1942, Germany: When a young woman calling herself Annegret Huber unexpectedly inherits a huge fortune, including a house and factory just outside Berlin, her first thought is to try to see out the war quietly, avoiding the Gestapo and SS as best she can.

No one needs to know her dark secret. She must focus on staying hidden. Because she can’t risk being exposed for who she truly is. Not really Annegret. But a girl living a secret life. A girl who was once called Margarete.

But then an encounter with an escaped prisoner changes everything, as Margarete discovers what is happening at the factory and its attached labor camp. Witnessing first-hand the suffering of prisoners—shivering, with faces gaunt from hunger, as they work in brutal and cruel conditions—she realises she must act.

If she can save just one life, she knows she has to. Because the truth is that Margarete resembles the prisoners in the camp in ways she daren’t admit. And on the other side of the fence, she has seen a face that is achingly familiar…

Book Links: Kindle or Paperback