Saturday, 28 May 2011

Emma Shortt Triumphs again with 'The Kiss'

When Eva Diakou is offered a job on the Winterwood estate, she expects nothing but four months of back breaking work. Jobless and lonely, she has little choice but to accept. But things on the Winterwood estate are nothing like Eva was led to believe. Why has she been given one of the plushest rooms? Why is there nothing to do? And why is she so captivated by the strange statues adorning the estate?
Adam Winterwood is paying for a crime he never committed. Trapped for so many years, he is waiting for the one person who can keep him alive...or set him free. When Adam and Eva meet, sparks fly. Yet, neither realizes the sacrifice they will both have to make.
And it will all be decided by The Kiss.

 My Review:

This is the second book I have read by Emma Shortt and she doesn't disappoint. It was a real page turner and I really cared about the characters and what their eventual fate might be. It could have turned out in one of a number of ways, so the author kept me guessing until the end and I won't spoil that for you here.While the temperature certainly rises during some powerful sexy scenes, these are well written, believable and without a 'heaving bosom' in sight!

A thoroughly enjoyable read and one I would happily recommend (adults only please!) I look forward to her next story 

Find out more about 'The Kiss' which is published by Evernight Publishing. Follow this link:

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Hay on Wye - More Than Just a (Great) Festival!

  With the annual Hay Festival starting tomorrow, it seemed timely to talk about this little town (which is normally home to only 1500 inhabitants).

Nestling on the English/Welsh border, I remember this formerly sleepy little market town in my extreme youth when my parents and I would come down to nearby Hereford to stay with my grandparents.

This was before a gentleman by the name of Richard Booth decided to move there, buy a bookshop and create the world’s first Book Town – despite being told that, “No-one reads books in Hay on Wye”.
Richard Booth, 'King of Hay'
 The rest, as we know, is history. By a mixture of forceful personality, and a penchant for the outrageous, he proceeded to wake up the sleepy little town, put it firmly on the map and, in so doing, became something of a legend in his own lifetime.

Declaring independence from Great Britain and crowning himself King of Hay, he ensured maximum news coverage and the success of his project. In the course of his exploits, he bought the dilapidated 13th Century castle but, sadly, he has now decided to sell it and if you have £2million to spare, it could be yours. Mind you, he’s not leaving it entirely. It is reported that there is a stipulation that a portion of the land be kept spare for the erection of a statue of the man himself!

But Hay is much more than just a Mecca for book lovers and an amazing Festival. It lies in enchanting countryside and the picturesque River Wye winds its way through it. There are a number of charming pubs and excellent food and everyone I have met there has been friendly and welcoming. My husband and I always stay at The Start Inn and I would thoroughly recommend it.  
 Hereford is well worth a visit and there is a whole trail of ‘Black and White’ villages to explore.  You will see the famous Hereford ‘White Face’ cattle in nearby fields and you are also in the heart of cider country, so expect to see acres of apple orchards with many traditional varieties, and the largest traditional cidermaker in the country just a few miles beyond Hereford, in Much Marcle (Westons).

The Festival runs from May 26th-June 5th 2011 and among the headline guests will be Nobel Laureates VS Naipaul, JMG le Clezio, Paul Nurse and Mohammed ElBaradei, historians Eric Hobsbawm, Michael Wood, Bettany Hughes and Niall Ferguson, broadcasters Chris Evans, Jenni Murray, Kevin McCloud and Evan Davis, actors Vanessa Redgrave, Ralph Fiennes, Rob Lowe, Gillian Anderson and Simon Russell Beale, and writers Paul Theroux, Linda Grant, Malorie Blackman, Michael Morpurgo and Jacqueline Wilson.

Some links for you to view:

For information about Hay Festival:

On the town itself:

Monday, 23 May 2011

Ghosts and Stories

For all you fans of the paranormal out there, I have just stumbled upon this excellent site, full of stories, photos, downloads - you name it. If it's ghostly, this site is positively haunted by it.
You can find it at this link:

Probably best to sleep with the light ON tonight! Enjoy

Saturday, 21 May 2011

‘The Last Soul’ – An interview with author Carolyn Rosewood

Today, I am delighted to be able to chat to Carolyn whose sexy paranormal book, ‘The Last Soul’ is published by Evernight Publishing

If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a bit of background to the story:

Faina has been dead for one hundred and fifty years, but she’s about to become human again. All she has to do is seduce Jace Blackmon, the most honest financier ever to grace the city of angels, into signing away his soul.

Jace Blackmon has fallen in love with his fantasy woman. But when he realizes she was tricked by a demon to bring about his ruin, including the revelation of a long-buried secret to the media, he must choose between his heart or life without her.

Catherine:  Welcome Carolyn and congratulations on your success with ‘The Last Soul’.

Carolyn: Thank you for having me here today, Catherine!

Catherine:  What made you start writing and when did you begin?
Carolyn:  I’ve wanted to write since I was about 8 years old. I was the geeky kid in school who carried around a notebook filled with stories. I read my first romance novel at age 19. Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers. I was hooked. But it took a devastating tornado two years ago in the town where I live to spur me into action. Seeing the destruction first-hand made me realize how everything can change in an instant, and if I didn’t pursue my dream of being a published romance writer, I might not have another chance. I joined Romance Writers of America and attended their National conference last year in Orlando Florida. It was the first writing conference I ever attended, and it lit a fire under me that’s still burning. I also joined where I met mentors, including my Evernight editor, Emma Shortt. Last year I joined the local RWA chapter here in Nashville, the Music City Romance Writers, and the contacts I made there helped me toward my dream.

Catherine:  I know that you are a prolific author and have another book coming out (published by Etopia Press) in July called ‘Haunted Heart’. You’ve also just secured another publishing contract with Evernight for the sequel to ‘The Last Soul’. How much planning do you do before starting to write your first draft?
Carolyn: ‘Hunted’ took almost no planning because Jahi, the heroine, was Faina’s best friend in ‘The Last Soul.’ I knew I had to write Jahi’s story before ‘The Last Soul’ was even finished. I sketched out a bit more for her character, then went to work on the hero, Dagon. I wrote out their goals, motivation and conflict – both internal and external – and went to work on the story.

Catherine:  Tell us more about ‘Haunted Heart’
Carolyn: ‘Haunted Heart’ is the story of Rowena Sommers and Van Whitney. Rowena left her home in Creek Ridge Ohio at age 18 to pursue a career as a costume designer in Hollywood, despite strong opposition from her family. While there, she earned her degree and had a small measure of success, mostly because of her association with bad-boy Oscar-winning actor and all-around-creep Brett Fontaine. Brett cheated on Rowena every time he went on location, and she finally issued him an ultimatum. He chose to hack into her email account and doctor private emails between Rowena and her friends, to make it appear she was slamming her industry contacts, then he sent the emails to the media and other key people. Rowena filed a character defamation lawsuit and won twenty million dollars. Her beloved great-aunt Lunette died at the same time she won her lawsuit, leaving a Queen Anne home to Rowena. A home Rowena spent almost as much time in as her own, two streets over. As the story opens, Rowena’s return home is two-fold. To escape Hollywood and all its pretentions, and to restore the home she loves to live there.
The man she hires to restore the home is Van Whitney, ex-high school football star and former best friend of Rowena’s older brother, Jake. Van asked Rowena out in high school only to win a cruel bet. Now, Van avoids gossip because he has secrets in his past that, if exposed, could cost him his father’s home restoration business. His father is dead and Van’s crew depends on him for a paycheck. He and Rowena are drawn to each other, despite their awkward past in high school, but he gossip follows Rowena home. When someone tries to make it look as though her home is haunted, and Van realizes one of his own crew may be involved, the race to find the bad guys before they can hurt Rowena takes precedence over his aversion to gossip.

Catherine: That sounds great. I’m looking forward to reading it. What else are you working on now?
Carolyn:  Before ‘Hunted’ was even submitted to Evernight, the idea for the third book came to me while taking a walk outside one day at work. One of the characters in ‘Hunted’ just begged to have her own story, so Teresa (a demon who worked with Faina at Madame Lily’s when they were both human) will be the heroine of ‘Redemption.’ This story is plotted out and I hope to have it finished by the end of June.

Catherine:  Moving onto the ‘business’ of writing: There’s an ongoing debate about whether writers should just get on with the job of writing and leave all the marketing of their work to the publishers. How do you feel about that?
Carolyn:  I think marketing is part of the deal. If no one knows your book is out there, how can you expect to sell it? Promoting your work comes with the territory.

Catherine: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get their story published?
Carolyn:  Never give up. Keep writing. Learn your craft. Find mentors who write what you do, who are where you want to be, and who are willing to give of their time and knowledge, and learn from them. Don’t fall so in love with your own words that you close your mind to constructive criticism. We all can learn something new and improve our writing. Be patient, be persistent, and behave yourself online.

Catherine: Sound advice! Now for something light-thearted. If you had your own TV chat show and could interview 3 people (living or dead), who would they be and what would you want to talk about?
Carolyn:  Mark Twain, because his stories sliced right through a rough time in our country’s history and I’d love to hear how he worked through the writing process.
Harper Lee, to pick her brain about writing ‘To Kill A Mockingbird.’
General Robert E Lee. What were you thinking at Gettysburg??? I mean really.

Catherine:  I’d watch that show! Thank you very much for joining us today, Carolyn. Where can we find out more about you and, crucially, where can we find your book? 

Here’s an excerpt to give you just a taste of ‘The Last Soul’:

    Faina donned a Betsey Johnson flowered dress and wedge sandals, then materialized a few blocks from where Jace worked.
    It felt so good to be outdoors. The warm air was soothing, the traffic noises and bustling crowds reminding her of
New York City. Faina didn’t often get nostalgic for her human life, but today she did. If she succeeded in this mission, she’d be human again. Warm weather, noisy crowds and city life would be her reality, not simply the realm in which she was allowed to work.
    Unless Mastema had tricked her. No. She wouldn’t think about that now. She had a job to do. She took her time, peering in shop windows and trying to look like just another
California trust fund babe out for a stroll on a bright summer day. The fact nearly every man pounding the pavement tripped over his own two feet as she strolled past wasn’t lost on her. She didn’t have the baby face, long blonde curls, and legs up to there for nothing.
    She avoided eye contact. It was enough to leave them with her scent, they’d have trouble getting it out of their head for weeks, but to look them in the eyes would be downright cruel. Even when she’d been alive all she’d had to do was turn her baby blues in a man’s direction and he followed her around like a dog in heat. She’d made more money for Madame Lily during her first six months than most of her girls made over the course of two years.
    As she made her way to the entrance of the 770 Wilshire Building, she caught a whiff of burned toast. She ducked into the nearest shop and pressed her nose to the plate glass window, scanning the crowd for a familiar face. She’d only seen Mastema appear once in human form. He’d looked ridiculous dressed in a long coat and cowboy hat on the streets of Aurora Nebraska, population four thousand two hundred and twenty-five as of last year. His bad-boy Western get-up would have been more appropriate for
Arizona in the late nineteenth century.
    Either Mastema hadn’t been the demon she smelled or he’d already evaporated. The sidewalks were filled with six foot blondes and men who looked like they walked off the cover of GQ. Not a weird outfit or menacing swagger in sight.
    “Help you, Miss? You need mani and pedi today? We have new summer colors look perfect on you.”
    Faina whirled around to face the ancient Vietnamese woman. She’d ducked into a nail salon. Her senses had been so focused on the burnt toast smell and Mastema’s human form she hadn’t noticed the acrid smell of nail polish.
    “No, not today. I’m sorry. I’ve got to go.”
    Faina opened the door and strode to the parking garage entrance of the building. On the way a clock struck five. The smell of burnt toast wafted from a nearby taco stand. Had that been what she smelled? Tacos? She was jumping at shadows. That wasn’t like her.
    She made her way to Jace’s sports car by visualizing it. As the flood of workers poured into the garage, she hoped Jace would stay calm when he saw her. She was taking a risk as there would be plenty of witnesses if he wigged out.
    He was busy scrolling through messages on his phone as he sauntered to his car, and didn’t see her until she stepped in front of him as he was about to open the door.
    “Oh Jesus. Holy fu—” His warm brown eyes opened wide and he visibly swallowed. “How did you... you’re real. Holy shit.”
    “Get in your car, Jace. People are staring. One of them looks like he’s going to take a picture with his cell.”
    The lie snapped him out of his trance. He unlocked the doors and she slid into the passenger seat. “Start the car but don’t move yet.”
    He stared straight ahead as the engine roared to life. Beads of sweat pooled at his hairline. She could hear his heart pounding. When she reached up to wipe his forehead he moaned. “It’s all right, Jace. Just try to relax.”
    “I don’t understand.” His voice shook.
    “You don’t need to. Wait until the garage clears out a bit. Then we’ll leave.”
    “I... I have a dinner date. A family friend. I have to go. I don’t want to but… I… I should.”
    “Do you want me to leave?”
    He looked into her eyes with the most desperate longing she’d ever seen on a human face. A flash of apprehension shivered down her spine, unbalancing her. She was going to hurt him. Badly. He’d lose everything. His home, the Foundation, his dinner date, maybe even this fancy sports car. And some kid wouldn’t have a place to sleep on a cold, winter night, or a youth group to keep him off the streets.
    The men she brought to Mastema were bad-to-the-bone to begin with. They just needed a little help to push them in the right direction. The inevitable direction, as he liked to call it. But Jace Blackmon was a good guy.
    Then why does Apollyon want him? But what if he didn’t want Jace? What if Jahi was right and Mastema had forged the contract?
    “Faina.” His whisper pulled her back to the present. Until she had proof to the contrary, it was Jace’s soul or her eternal torment as one of Mastema’s sex slaves. This was self-preservation. Nothing more.
    She looked into his eyes and smiled “Yes, Jace?”
    “Please don’t leave, Faina.”

Saturday, 14 May 2011

From the City of Strauss and Sachertorte Comes - The Vienna Vegetable Orchestra

It is no secret to anyone who knows me that I adore Vienna.  I have been there many times and can testify that the more you explore this fascinating and cultured city, the more layers of diversity come to light.  It is a writer's paradise, full of beauty, history and majesty. As you wander through the narrow streets of the old city on a cold, dark night, the Harry Lime theme from 'The Third Man' plays in your head while, in Spring, in the Stadtpark, Johann Strauss glitters on his monument playing an eternal 'Blue Danube'.

 Vienna is full of tasty treats - and many of them quite unusual - so it is highly likely that this is the only city that could have produced such a curiosity as the Vegetable Orchestra: a band of talented, serious (yes, really!) musicians who play to packed houses and whose style of music, while it may not be to everyone's taste (sorry, couldn't resist that) offers an evening of entertainment you won't forget in a hurry. Not only that, but you won't feel hungry afterwards because you will have dined on hearty vegetable soup made from the instruments. Except in Britain, of course, where the Health and Safety elves won't let you.

 From time to time I'll take you to some of my favourite places in Vienna and tell you the stories you will find there. But for now, settle back and enjoy a morsel from the unique Vienna Vegetable Orchestra:

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Susan Roebuck is on Amazon!

I am delighted to announce that Susan Roebuck, whom I interviewed at the weekend, is now on Amazon!

Sunday, 8 May 2011

'Perfect Score' - An interview with author Susan Roebuck

Today, I am delighted to be able to chat to Sue whose book ‘Perfect Score’ is published by Awe-Struck Publishing.

If you haven’t read it yet, here’s a bit of background to the story:

Feckless, exasperating Alex Finch is a rich, handsome and talented singer/songwriter who longs for two things: a career as a professional rock singer, and to have his love for Sam Barrowdale reciprocated. But drifter Sam's two aims are simply to earn enough money to pay his sister's medical bills and to hide from the world his reading/writing and speech disability. At this time the word "dyslexia" is generally unknown so to most people he's just a "retard". From the severe knocks life's dealt him, Sam's developed a tough outer coating and he has no time for a spoilt, selfish guitar player.
Despite his defects, Alex's love for Sam never wavers and when Sam unexpectedly disappears, Alex begins a somewhat bungling quest to find him, only to discover that Sam has a fearful enemy: Alex's powerful and influential yet sociopathic uncle.
As Alex spirals downwards towards alcoholism, many questions need answering. Just why did Alex's evil uncle adopt him at age eleven yet deny him any affection? And what's the mystery behind Alex's father's death?
Both seem to face unbeatable odds. Are they doomed to follow separate paths forever? 

Catherine:  Welcome Sue and congratulations on your success with ‘Perfect Score’.

Sue:  Thank you, it’s great to be here.

Catherine: ‘Perfect Score’ explores the complex relationship between Sam and Alex and doesn’t flinch from confronting difficult situations and darker sides of human nature. It’s quite an intricate weave. How much planning did you do before starting to write your first draft?

Sue: LOL. No, I’m afraid I winged it all the way through which might explain why there are twenty-seven versions of “Perfect Score”! I paint like that too – dab a bit on, rub it out, paint over it, rub it out…you get the idea. The thing is, like my pictures, the plot suddenly all came together in a rush and I sat back and wondered how on Earth that happened!  I wish I could do it differently but I can’t. And my next novel’s going the same way. I suppose I’m just a terribly disorganised person.

Catherine: Why did you choose e-publishing and what was it about Awe-Struck Publishing that felt right? 

Sue: I’d never considered the e-publishing route because at the time (probably around 2008/9) of the submission process I was contacting all the big-houses and agents, certain they were going to snap me up. Of course that didn’t happen so I started contacting the American market where there seemed to be more opportunities with small publishers. I sent out some “pitches” (as they’re called in the States) and then two small presses contacted me on the same day. I found the submission circuit very dispiriting, almost inhuman in a way. I know agents and publishers are inundated by unsolicited submissions but there must be a better way to reject someone (just don’t ask me, because I have no idea of a solution). I chose the larger of the two presses and have never regretted it. It’s true the author must do a large part of the marketing – but so do authors from the big houses nowadays. I worked with the company’s art department so they could produce the cover and had a fabulous editor (Marie Dees) who went through my manuscript with a fine-tooth comb. We had an excellent relationship and I still keep in contact.  At no expense to me, “Perfect Score” was released as an e-book on the date Awe-Struck Publishing had scheduled and, now, it’s being released as a print edition. If I have queries or doubts I can contact them easily and I’ve always received quick replies and I can also say that I’m a published author – so what’s there to dislike about it?

Catherine: Those of us who have read ‘Perfect Score’ are looking forward to your next book. What are you working on now? 

Sue: It’s on its way. But due to my erratic way of working, it’ll be a while longer. Currently it’s entitled “When the Moon Fails” and it’ll be another suspense but this time with a character from Norfolk, UK and another from Alaska, USA. They’ll converge on Portugal for their own reasons, although both are searching for something different. They seem perfectly suited, but they follow their journey in parallel and never meet up (or do they?) Again, corruption and cruelty in this world will raise their ugly heads as main themes, as well two wounded people trying to find their worth in the world. Oh! And there’ll be a female bullfighter who is bad – oh very bad indeed.

Catherine: I’m definitely looking forward to that!  What advice would you give to anyone who wants to get their story published? 

Sue: Believe in yourself and let your confidence shine through in your submission but don’t, for goodness sake, brag or say you’re sure you’ve written the next best-seller. Do your homework: make sure the people you’re submitting to are interested in the type of work you’re selling. Get those first three chapters polished so they shine, but don’t over-edit because you can lose your voice that way. Try and decide when enough is enough.
I had my first ms professionally critiqued. It cost me over a hundred quid but it was well worth it because I had no idea if it was any good or not. But when this stranger sent word back to me and said it was, “outstanding” I cried like there was no tomorrow. I’ll never regret spending that money.
Be professional and polite. Don’t try any “swings and roundabouts” or hanging from chandeliers because it doesn’t impress anyone.
Go with your instincts in your story. If you think something isn’t quite right, I can guarantee it isn’t – so change it until you’re satisfied it works.
Try not to let rejection get you down. Take it on board and look to the future. Someone will pick it up – I had two on the same day in the end!
Start marketing your book before it’s published – get people interested so they can share your good news when release day arrives.

Catherine: That is really helpful advice, Sue, many thanks for sharing it with us. Now something a little more lighthearted:  If you had your own TV chat show and could interview 3 people (living or dead), who would they be and what would you want to talk about?

Sue: Nice question! OK – number one: Charles Dickens so I could find out where he got his writing Voice from and whether it was anything like his own speaking one.
Two: A corrupt politician (ahem – I’m not mentioning names and I don’t live in the UK, so don’t try guessing). I’d only allow him to answer every single question I put with ten words maximum. I’d have a big boot hanging above him that would stomp on him if he lied.
Three: Osama bin Laden to find out what on Earth he thought he was doing, if he had any conscience pangs and what he felt when he discovered there wasn’t a palace and a harem of virgins awaiting him in the after-life.

Catherine: Thank you very much for joining us today, Sue. Where can we find out more about you and, crucially, where can we find your book?  

Sue: Thank you Catherine! What lovely original questions you’ve asked, I’ve enjoyed answering them.

“Perfect Score” is here:

From 11th May it’ll be on Amazon in print and Kindle, but I don’t know the link yet. (Watch this space!)

Because “Perfect Score” offers two points of view, here are two short excerpts, one from Alex’s POV and the other from Sam’s.

Here’s a bit of ditzy Alex (from the beginning):

Bongo drums. How the hell did a guy like me, with straight As in
acoustic guitar and piano studies, end up on a stage playing bongo drums
for chrissakes? I had a reputation to maintain and being wild, woolly, and
wicked just ain't easy with those things wedged between your legs.

“It'll be a blast,” Jamil, who came from Arabia or someplace, had
said. “We'll conjure up the spirit of the shifting dunes, the limpid oasis.
We'll sock it to the judging committee—they've never seen anything like
this before. We'll be a first in the Academy's history.”

Damn straight. I'd been in half a mind to do something more
traditional along the lines of Floatin' Cornflake followed maybe by The
Lady Came from Baltimore with some pretty nifty acoustic guitar riffs.
But Jamil had pouted and lifted irresistible soulful eyes.

“You got great rhythm,” Jamil winked at me now, and I flashed a
bright grin back.

“If you reckon that's good, wait 'til you see my rhythm when the
action really gets started,” I sparkled. He raised his dark eyebrows in reply
which made me shiver in expectation.

While I slapped the drums with the knuckly part of my palms in an
attempt to sound like a lumbering camel, I admired his dopey, dark beauty
and his arm muscles rippling as he picked away at the strings on his oud.

He half closed his eyes and looked sultry. “Come on Alex, you're a
nomad, constantly on the move in mesmerizing, undulating, never-ending
sand.” He upped the plucking and created a sound like a pebble in a tin
can which was anything but mesmerizing. The vibration unhooked the
banner hung over the stage and Verdigris Music Academy—Graduation
Talent Contest wafted delicately to the ground where it lay in a heap.

Yeah, we were nomads all right, dressed like fatheads in tunics and
towels. We hadn't rehearsed, we weren't in harmony, and we had no idea
what either of us was doing. Jamil said improvisation was the name of the
game, that's how they did things where he came from, that's how they
captured that special tone. Special tone, my ass.

And here’s a bit of Sam:

“So, what do you want to hear? I can play anything,” Alex said.


“Well, how about something by Simon and Garfunkel?”
“Garfle and...?”

Alex strummed a chord. “Never heard of them? I thought they were as
famous as Jesus Christ. Never mind, perhaps you never heard of him
neither. Okay. Let's try someone else.”

He tried out a couple of chords, his head down, concentrating and
then settled in. The drifting lyrics and melody sent Sam into a dream. He
watched Alex's fingers stroke the frets, captivated by his long slim fingers
and neat nails on the strings.

Wasting time.

As the last chord echoed and faded, Sam blinked. “Did you w...write
that? It's good. Time w...w...wasting time.”

“Yeah right. And the fact nothing's ever gonna come my way. That's
not my song, old buddy, that's by Otis Redding, died a few months ago.
You not heard it?” He strummed a lower register. “Now if you want to
hear something by me, here's just some music—no lyrics yet. But this is
mine. Listen.”

He started out with a lazy scale, descending, tumbling and then
swelling. To Sam, who knew as much about music as he knew about the
Swedish Royal Family, the sounds that shimmered through the night air
were stunning, a kaleidoscope of notes that rippled rainbow-like, sparkling
into his mind.


Sam blinked and realized Alex had stopped with his hand in midair.
He was looking at him curiously.

“What?” Sam asked, his mind a dazed fug.

“You looked like you were focused somewhere between here and
there. Like you were watching something. What was it?”

“The pattern in...intri...cate?”

“Intricate pattern?” Alex took his hands from the instrument and sat
straighter. “Where?” He looked at the sky.

Sam sighed. He'd goofed up again. “No. I didn't see any...” He started
to get to his feet.

There’s another excerpt on the publishers site: