Book Blogger Showcase: Brook Cottage Books

Today I talk (belatedly, since I was away in London having fun at the RNA Winter Party) to JB Johnston of Brook Cottage Books!



1. How long have you been a book blogger?

4 years!

2. How old is your blog? Did you have any before?

I’ve been reviewing books for a number of years now, firstly on a personal blog I had at the time but then the requests for so many reviews were coming in that I set up Brook Cottage Books in 2012.

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2. Why did you get into blogging in the first place?

I won a copy of a book in an online competition and reviewed it on my personal blog which was a special needs / family blog. Lots of people saw it and authors started sending me in requests. Soon I realised that my personal blog was being overrun with book reviews and they weren’t really relevant to what the blog was about. So, I set up Brook Cottage Books to meet demand. I’ve always been a bookworm so this seemed like a natural progression.

4. Tell me about your blog, why the theme? Why is your blog different than the others?

My blog, which I had professionally designed, not only publishes book reviews, but it also offers a range of author services, mainly online book tours and promotions. It also offers a range of free services too. It’s always important to support authors and bloggers.  I think the thing that makes my blog different from other’s is that although it is now a business as well as a hobby, it has never lost that friendly, personal approach.  I don’t do the hard-nosed business woman. I tailor posts / services to meet what the author / publisher wants. I don’t view authors and bloggers as customers, but as friends and part of a wider bookish family.  If I don’t think I’ve done a good enough job I don’t invoice for some of the paid services. Ultimately however,

Brook Cottage Books shows a love and respect for the art of writing. That comes before making any money.

5. Talking books – what genres do you review/prefer?

Well, before I started blogging I was very closed in what I read. I only ever read horror or thrillers with the odd contemporary fiction book thrown in. However, thankfully I become more open minded and I review all genres, although I do find Sci-fi a little difficult. I also believe it’s really important to review book written by indie authors. As book bloggers, we need to support this often unrecognised wealth of talent. My favourite genre still remains thrillers.

6. Apart from blogs – do you blog about any other subject? If not, do you have plans to in the future?

I now no longer have my personal special needs blog. This blog centred around what it was like to have a special needs child. But, when a mother from my child’s school identified me as the writer I felt it was time to stop. I have tried my hand at a products review blog too but I have to say that hasn’t really held my interest. I do have another personal blog called The Debbie Diaries which is mainly about my own writing journey. I completed NaNoWriMo in 2015 and wrote a novel. I’m still in the process of editing and rewriting so its still a work in progress.

7. What is your favourite book so far this year?

Oh that’s an easy question. Although I have read so many wonderful books this year, the one I only finished last week was by a local author Lesley Allen. Her book The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir is an amazing and heart wrenching story of bullying and the effects it can have. It made me cry!

8. What is your favourite book?

That is a hard one but I adore Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier.


9. Which book are you looking forward to the most due to come out?

Well, I am P.A for author Karen Long. I was fortunate enough to read the manuscript for her new book, which is book 3 in the Eleanor Raven Series. I cannot wait for the reaction this book will get. It’s brilliant! Also, The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin has recently been released. I’ve been waiting ages for the final part of this trilogy and I’m looking forward to setting aside a bit of time for myself to read this tome of a book!

10. Tell me a little about you!

Well, I’m not terribly interesting! I’m 46 years old and I’m a social worker by trade. I’m happily married and have 2 children and 2 step children. I’m a vegetarian and have been since I was 15 years old. I still get cravings for bacon! I’m afraid of the dark and believe in ghosts, fairies and all things magical……………except God! I’m also a little obsessed with Zombies!

I am an aspiring writer and have my own parenting advice column called HOME HELP on I’ve contributed to some charity anthologies and co-wrote a children’s book Little Kitty The Cat Burglar, all the proceeds of which go to Alzheimer’s Research UK.

I have recently started taking yoga classes and dance classes. I can now do a mean Burlesque routine! Friendship and family means everything to me and I recently discovered I have 2 half-sisters which I am hoping to meet soon.  I love meeting up with my group of close friends. The six of us have known each other for about 30 years. We met in secondary school. I’m considered the slightly nutty one out of the group!

It’s my dream to make the book world into my full-time career so if anyone wants to offer me a job, I’m all yours! I’m hoping Brook Cottage Books continues to evolve and be successful to allow me to eventually do this.

11. Sweet or savoury?

I’m afraid I’m so greedy I like both!

12. Summer or Christmas?

Christmas but only because I keep wishing for snow!

13. Finally, if you could have written any book already in existence, which one would you choose and why?

Oh my gosh I think that’s the toughest question yet! Every time I read a great book I wish I’d been the one to write it! Maybe one day someone will read my book and wish they’d written it!

I have used Brook Cottage Books for a book tour before, and I loved the service – can highly recommend!

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Parenting Advice Column

Author Interview – Heidi Swain

Author Interview – Heidi Swain



Hello Rachel. Thank you so much for inviting me to visit your wonderful blog and on today of all days. I’m hugely excited as my third novel, Mince Pies and Mistletoe at The Christmas Market is out today and I can’t wait to go and see it sitting on the festive shelves!

Q1. Care to tell us a little about your path to publication so far?

I’ve written forever (or so it seems), but the actual path that led me to publication once I decided to take my writing seriously has been an absolute whirlwind.

My debut novel, The Cherry Tree Café, was selected by the wonderful Books and The City team at Simon and Schuster following their #oneday open submission day in 2014 and it was published in June 2015. There have been two more novels since then, Summer at Skylark Farm (July 2016) and Mince Pies and Mistletoe at The Christmas Market (November 16) and a fourth is now almost ready to be published next summer. Phew!

Perhaps that explains why I haven’t got around to looking for an agent yet, but I will soon.


Q2. Your festive novel – what time of year did you actually write it? What did you use for inspiration writing out of season?

 The first draft was written in the spring, but the editing was all undertaken in the height of summer.

There are quite a few special festive bakes gracing the pages of the book so having some oranges and cinnamon sticks on the table and a jar of mincemeat in the fridge to occasionally sniff really helped with the scents of the season and of course the obligatory festive tunes played a big part in helping extend Christmas into August. Writing a winter landscape in thirty degree heat is no mean feat so I was pleased the first draft was finished when there was still a modicum of frost around.

Q3. Can you tell us about the plot of your Christmas novel?

I absolutely loved writing this book. Returning to the town of Wynbridge is always a treat and this festive tale follows the story of Ruby who we first met working part-time with Jemma and Lizzie in The Cherry Tree Café. I always knew that with her sassy attitude and winged eye-liner she had a tale to tell and this is it…

Ruby has finished with university and is heading home for the holidays to save up for her trip around the world in January. Against her father’s wishes, she takes on a stall at the local market, and sets about making it the best Christmas market stall ever. There’ll be bunting and mistletoe and maybe even a bit of mulled wine.

But with a new retail park just opened on their doorstep, the market is under threat. So together with all the other stallholders, Ruby devises a plan to make sure that Wynbridge is the first port of call for everyone’s Christmas shopping needs.

The only thing standing in her way is Ruby’s ex, Steve. It’s pretty hard to concentrate on saving the world when he works on the stall opposite, especially when she realises that her feelings for him are still there…

Q4. What traditions do you like to follow in your home at Christmas?

Even though the kids are now grown (21 and 16), we still keep Christmas in much the same way as we always have.

The top of the tree is adorned with every wonky eyed angel creation which was expertly crafted at primary school and I bake mammoth batches of mince pies and sausage rolls which never make it as far as the freezer.

We all have a stocking to hang on Christmas Eve and I bemoan the fact that every year I try to sit down with a sherry to watch Carols from King’s and everyone talks through it. Always.

My husband reads The Night Before Christmas before bed on the 24th and we always stand together outside to track Santa as he mingles with the stars in the crisp night sky.


Q5. What’s next for you in 2017?

Having had two books published this year has kept me on my toes and I haven’t really had the opportunity to look too far ahead. My head is buzzing with ideas for novel number five but until the fourth is safely put to bed I’ll be striving to stop it from taking over!

So, for now, I’m focused on the summer 2017 publication day and I’m also going to dip my toe in the water and see if I can secure an agent.


Q6. Can you tell me the worst thing about being a novelist in your opinion?

Fortunately the good things outweigh the bad a million to one but the worst, for me, is the fear that I won’t be able to do the story justice. Some books are ‘easy’ to write. They just flow out of the end of the fingertips and on to the screen but there are some, which I know in my head are wonderful in themselves, but I worry I won’t be able to turn them into what I imagine? What if I literally can’t find the words or the right ones anyway?

I have spoken to lots of authors about this and no-one has the answer. Confidence is hard to come by whether it is the first book you’ve written or the twenty third and perhaps that’s how it should be. That fear of failure keeps us on our toes, striving to produce the best possible book we can for those much loved readers who are prepared to part with their hard earned cash to read what we have to say for ourselves.

 Q7. And the best?

There are so many good things about being a novelist and every time I take part in an event or reach a new milestone I think to myself, ‘this is it. It can’t possibly get any better,’ but of course it does.

I thought the author experience had peaked this year when I held my own paperback for the first time, but then I saw it sitting alongside JK Rowling on the Sainsbury’s bookshelves and then readers started getting in touch to tell me they had taken it on holiday… and loved it. After that came a magazine feature and some accompanying short stories and that was all thrilling and new and exciting!

I don’t honestly think I’ll ever know what the best thing is because for the most part it’s all brilliant!

Q8. Finally – do you have favourite Christmas reads of your own?

Every year, without exception, I read A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. Along with hanging the advent calendar, Mr Dickens provides that first hint of the excitement that’s to come and I know as soon as the book is added to the pile on the table next to the bed that we’re in for a fun few weeks.

Invariably I also turn to Trisha Ashley and cram in as many festive reads as I can into November and December.


Thank you!

Thank you so much for welcoming me. Merry Christmas everyone!

Read on to hear more about Heidi and her books…

A bit about me…

Although passionate about writing from an early age, Heidi Swain gained a degree in Literature, flirted briefly with a newspaper career, married and had two children before she plucked up the courage to join a creative writing class and take her literary ambitions seriously.

She now lives in Norfolk with her wonderful family and a mischievous cat called Storm and writes commercial fiction for Simon and Schuster.

Her debut novel, The Cherry Tree Café was published in June 2015 and Summer at Skylark Farm followed in July 2016.

Mince Pies and Mistletoe at The Christmas Market is available from today!


Mince Pies and Mistletoe:





Author Interview: Kathryn Freeman – A Second Christmas Wish

Today on the blog I chat to author Kathryn Freeman, who has a book out. Isn’t the cover beautiful!


Out now from Amazon and other retailers!

Hi, thanks for coming to chat to us today!

My pleasure – thank you for inviting me to chat. Most people I know ask me to stop talking…

Q1. Can you tell us a little about your latest book?

A Second Christmas wish is my first Christmas book – and the reason why I’ve started getting excited about Christmas very early this year. It features a mum and her son who’ve had some pretty miserable Christmas’s to date, leading seven-year-old William to doubt the existence of Father Christmas. But then Melissa enrols William for some tennis lessons, and they meet Daniel, a hunky ex tennis pro. Can he get them both to believe in Christmas again?

Q2.What’s next for the writing?

My next book is one I actually wrote years ago, before I was lucky enough to be taken on by Choc Lit. I naively sent it off to be critiqued, hoping it would come back with a few minor typo’s. Instead it came back thoroughly torn apart. Deservedly so, I might add (though I didn’t think it at the time). Because I loved the story so much I attacked it again last year with fresh eyes (and three added years of writing experience). Though it would probably have been quicker and easier to start again from scratch, thankfully after all that effort the Choc Lit Tasting Panel liked it. So next year vivacious model Lizzie, and her reserved accountant friend Nick, will finally have their story published.

Q3. In addition to your books, what kind of career have you had?

I’m a pharmacist by training, first working for Boots before joining the pharmaceutical industry where I worked in the medical department writing about medicines and disease. I still do it, though now I’m self-employed so I can fit in writing romance, too. Some days a heart is the centre of a cardiovascular system. Other days it’s the beating pulse between a boy and girl J

Q4. A typical day in the life of you – what does that look like?

After the school run I exercise – a swim or a jog – then head to my study. I tap into a computer, in between nipping downstairs for regular cups of tea and sustenance, until it’s time to do the school run again. As my kids don’t usually want to talk to me, I usually manage another hour or two until they tell me they’re hungry. The routine is the same whatever I’m writing, though if it’s a romance day, I do it all with a smile on my face.

Q5. I collect elephant ornaments (and books of course!) – do you have something you collect?

I love to travel and collect mementos from every place I visit. Sometimes it’s just a colourful fish for the bathroom wall, or a pretty bowl. On our trip to Thailand we came back with something you would love. A thigh high wooden elephant – or rather he came back separately, by cargo!

gift(I love him! Ed)

Q6. Women writers, and romance writers in particular, often see prejudice and a certain ‘pigeon holing’ when it comes to their books – what would you say about your own work?

I write the type of books I love to read – where the focus is on the romance rather than an intricate plot. I don’t really mind what others say because I’m actually writing for me. Though of course if anyone is kind enough to say they enjoyed my book, I feel ten foot tall for the rest of the day.

Q7. If you could branch out into a different genre, which one would you choose and why?

I’m a romance nut so that would have to still be a major focus of the story, but I’d like to go down the romantic suspense route some time. No aliens or vampires, I don’t have the imagination for it, though if it’s a romance between a sexy vampire and a kick ass alien, I’ll happily read it.

Q8. Do you have any tips for the budding novelists out there reading this?

They will have heard this a million times before but really it is the best thing you can do. Write, write, write. Also, I think about the book in my head a long time before I put anything on paper. Oh and writing biographies and plot outlines before you start – even though you might change things around – really helps. Especially if you’re writing round your day job and it could be a few days before you see your manuscript again.

Q9. What are you reading currently?

I’m reading The Goal, the latest of Elle Kennedy’s Off-Campus series. It’s as good as all the others and I can thoroughly recommend them if you love your romance on the hot side.

Q10. Finally, do you have a next goal or dream in life? If so, what is it?

To have one of my books made into a movie? Hey, you did say a dream… J




Author Interview: Rachel Brimble

I am delighted to have Rachel Brimble on the blog today. Here is a little bit about Rachel, and her path to publication so far…

Rachel lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small town near Bath in the UK. After having several novels published by small US presses, she secured agent representation in 2011. Since 2013, she has had six books published by Harlequin Superromance (Templeton Cove Stories) and recently signed a contract for two more. She also has four Victorian romances with eKensington/Lyrical Press.

She also recently signed with a UK agent so is represented both sides of the Atlantic.

Rachel is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association and Romance Writers of America, and was selected to mentor the Superromance finalist of So You Think You Can Write 2014 contest. When she isn’t writing, you’ll find Rachel with her head in a book or walking the beautiful English countryside with her family. Her dream place to live is Bourton-on-the-Water in South West England.

Hi Rachel, thanks for coming to chat to us today!

Q1. Can you tell us a little about your WIP?

I am currently plotting book 8 of my series with Harlequin (Templeton Cove Stories). This will be a mainstream romance and will feature a new hero to the Cove, but I’m giving an existing character the starring role of heroine. It is a story which will fill in the background of a favourite character of mine who has appeared in almost all of the books so far. Marian Cohen is the town matriarch and came to the Cove under pretty unexplained circumstances. All the books can be read stand-alone, but it’s fun exploring Marian and sharing more about her with existing fans of the series.

Q2.What’s next for the writing? What are you working on currently?

After Templeton Cove book 8 is done, I plan to either write the second book of an Edwardian series (my agent is currently reading book one). Alternatively, I have a single-title romantic suspense in my mind that is getting harder and harder to ignore!

Q3. In addition to your books, what kind of career have you had?

I have led a very sheltered existence workwise! I worked in a bank for ten years before giving up to become a stay at home mum to my two daughters. Once the youngest started school full-time, I had a ‘now or never’ moment and began to pursue my dream of becoming a published novelist. The Wild Rose Press published Searching For Sophie in 2007 and I’ve had at least one novel published every year since.

Q4. A typical day in the life of you – what does that look like?

On a good day, I am usually up by 7.15 am and packing the kids off to school and at my desk by 8.30am. I usually spend the first hour or so on admin, then the next hour on promotion work. I then take a break and walk my beloved chocolate Lab, Tyler. I usually read when I walk him so it’s always nice having a little time to enjoy other authors’ work! Then it’s on with the writing or plotting until I break for lunch around 1.30pm. I then work another hour or so before taking the dog out again and then it’s back to my desk until around 5.30pm.

As I am lucky enough to write full-time (not including the various demands of a husband, two teenage daughters and a dog!) so I am very disciplined and work all day as I don’t take my opportunity for granted. In the evenings, I spend time with my family whether we go out or sit in front of the TV.

Q5. I collect elephant ornaments (and books of course!) – do you have something you collect?

Not really – it’s books all the way! I am a complete bibliophile and terrible when I discover a new author that I love. I HAVE to go back and buy their entire backlist…much to my husband’s despair!

Q6. Women writers, and romance writers in particular, often see prejudice and a certain ‘pigeon holing’ when it comes to their books – what would you say about your own work?

The most infuriating aspect of pigeon holing for me is some people’s reaction when I tell them I write for Harlequin. People either assume the books are all akin to the 1970s bodice-rippers OR that I have been let in on some industry secret and churn books out with little thought because I know the ‘formula’. Drives me mad! Writing is a hard slog most of the time and it never gets easier. Right now, I am plotting my twenty-first book and desperately trying to remember how I wrote the others, lol!

Q7. If you could branch out into a different genre, which one would you choose and why?

It would probably be crime or women’s fiction – I read a lot of both genres as well as romance. Two of my favourite crime writers are C J Sansom and Alex Grecian so I think I would like to write crime set in an historical period. Most likely Victorian. As for women’s fiction, I love ‘dilemma’ type stories written so fabulously by Jodi Picoult and would love to tackle something like that one day.

Q8. Do you have any tips for the budding novelists out there reading this?

Write, write and write! The only way to learn the craft is by doing it over and over again until you find your voice and have the confidence to write the stories you want to write, not what you think you should write or what will sell. Also, the best piece of advice I ever received was ‘Give yourself permission to write a crappy first draft.’ This boosted my daily word count overnight.

Q9. What are you reading currently?

I usually have two books I am reading at any one time – one is usually a hardback for reading in bed and the other is a paperback for reading in the bath or when I’m walking the dog. I’m currently reading Black Magick by Nora Roberts and a biography of Queen Victoria called Victoria by Elizabeth Longford.

Q10. Finally, do you have a next goal or dream in life? If so, what is it?

My next goal is for my agent to sell my new Edwardian book and series to a big UK publisher for an astronomical advance, lol! Isn’t that what every novelist dreams of??


Here is more about the book, and where to buy!

How can she forgive him for what he didn’t do? 

Photographer Izzy Cooper feels as frozen as her pictures. Trent Palmer might be the hottest firefighter in Templeton Cove, but she can never face him again. Not after he failed to save her brother. But when they’re forced together by a calendar shoot, the sparks between them are undeniable. 

Izzy knows it’s not fair to blame Trent for the tragedy, but opening herself up to loss again isn’t something she’s prepared to do, no matter how determined Trent is to show her that pain is part of life and that love—their love—can make any suffering bearable.

 Buy Links:

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Barnes & Noble:


Rachel likes nothing more than connecting and chatting with her readers and fellow romance writers. She would love to hear from you!






Facebook Street Team – Rachel’s Readers

Book Blogger Showcase:

Happy November everyone! Today on the blog we have the lovely Petra! This blog was part of my tour, and the review was lovely!

sparkly word

1.    How long have you been a book blogger?

I have been book blogging for nearly two years. I had started a blog called Nest of Books Review in 2014 and then after a few months I have decided to run a whole website called Sparkly Word, and that is my little site full of book love.

2.    How old is your blog? Did you have any before?

My blog/website is nearly a year old. I had a Blogger blog called Nest of Books Review but now I only run my Sparkly Word. 

3.    Why did you get into blogging in the first place?

I love reading (as every book blogger out there!). I adore everything about books, writing, and I am in complete awe of authors and their way with words.  

4.    Tell me about your blog, why the theme? Why is your blog different than the others?

I think my blog is in some way similar to the other book blogs out there  (we all blog about books maybe a different gender but we all have the same love for books.

And here is a bit about my blog:

On the website/ blog, I will regularly write about all things bookish. Every week there is a review of a book or guest posts, interviews, my publishing picks, fabulous book fairs and book events around the block and lots more. I devour fab women fiction books and temporary romance literature. 

5.    Talking books – what genres do you review/prefer?

I enjoy women fiction, romance/humour and children gender as well ( as I have to read a lot of it at home.)

6.    Apart from blogs – do you blog about any other subject? If not, do you have plans to in the future?

At the moment I am concentrating only on a book blogging and spreading the book love into the world, but I might add to it shortly, who knows! 

7.    What is your favourite book so far this year?

The Very hard question I love books by Christie Barlow so it I would go with Kitty’s Countryside Dream and Lizzie’s Christmas Escape for this year –never fail to put a smile on my face. I love all the book I had read this year! ;)) 

8.    What is your favourite book?

My favourite book is Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner. Love, Love, Love this book!

9.    Which book are you looking forward to the most due to come out? Lyndsey Kelk – We are on a break

Helen Fielding – Bridget Jones’s Baby

Jenny Hale – All I want for Christmas

Penny Parkes – Practice makes Perfect ( June 2017)

Heidi Swain – Mince Pie and Mistletoe at the Christmas Market

Isabelle Broom – A Year and a Day

And the list goes on and on! 

10.    Tell me a little about you!

I was born in the Czech Republic but haven’t lived there for nearly two decades. My time is mostly split between Australia ( my husband is a real Aussie and so are my children) and The UK. We have recently moved back to the UK (hurray!!!) and living in a gorgeous little village in Oxfordshire! We love it! Since I was a little girl, I have been captivated by books and the stories within them. The stories that pull at my heart and stay with me long after I finished the last page. As you can tell, I am an avid reader,a blogger, a freelance copywriter and an aspiring children’s book writer ( maybe one day in the future).

I have also dipped my toe in film-making and enjoy anything to do with romantic books, movies, vintage tea sets, crafty artisan dark chocolate and coffee/tea (lots of it.) I have two fantastic and gorgeous little girls also known as “The Little Book- fairies” with a very BIG imagination. 

11.    Sweet or savoury?

It depends on the time of a day, but I love chocolate in any form and shape!

12.    Summer or Christmas?

Christmas, of course! 

13. Finally, if you could have written any book already in existence, which one would you choose and why?

It will have to be the Harry Potter series!

Thanks so much for coming to chat to us!

For further details please see below:-




Author Interview – Maxine Morrey

Happy Sunday everyone!

I am still clinging to half term here, with one lad at football and the other full of cold in bed. The weather has changed, Halloween is nearly here, and Christmas is on my mind!

Today we chat to the lovely Maxine Morrey, who is feeling the Christmas spirit herself!



Hi Maxi, thanks for coming to chat to us today!

Hi Rachel, it’s lovely to be here. Thanks so much for having me!

Q1. Can you tell us a little about your WIP?

We’re just doing the editing tweaks on my most recent one, ‘The Christmas Project’ (out in November). It’s about Kate, who is a Professional Organiser and likes her life, like the houses she works on, to be ordered and tidy but then she takes on her best friend’s gorgeous brother as a client and things start to get a bit messy…


Q2.What’s next for the writing? What are you working on currently?

I’ve got a couple of things I’m thinking about and playing with. Nothing set yet. It’s been a crazy summer with a family emergency and so I’m kind of just catching up with myself at the moment. But I’m looking forward to diving into something once I know where I am again.

Q3. In addition to your books, what kind of career have you had?

I’ve mostly worked in the admin field – I did motor insurance for five years for a Lloyds of London syndicate, then moved over to PA work, and did that until I was forced to leave the 9-5 world through ill health.

Q4. A typical day in the life of you – what does that look like?

I’m not really a ‘typical day’ kind of girl. There’s always something to be done but as I have Fibromyalgia/CFS, it can depend on how that is and how much energy I have as to when it gets done. I usually like to write first thing though, as it’s easy to get distracted and suddenly find half the day is gone. Everything else generally fits around that but I’m not really one for schedules. I take each day as it comes and go from there.

Q5. I collect elephant ornaments (and books of course!) – do you have something you collect?

Like you, books! I don’t really collect much else. It’s a case of space more than anything! If we visit anywhere I do like to get a pencil as a little memento, so I do have a little collection of those.

Q6. Women writers, and romance writers in particular, often see prejudice and a certain ‘pigeon holing’ when it comes to their books – what would you say about your own work?

From what I’ve read and seen, some of the people doing such pigeon holing haven’t always even read the books they’re so prejudiced against. I’d say that I write romcoms/chicklit/women’s fiction and that I’m not ashamed of any of those labels. I write what I enjoy reading and I think the time for such book snobbery is passed. As long as people are reading, surely that’s good?

Q7. If you could branch out into a different genre, which one would you choose and why?

I do enjoy a good thriller (rather than crime – I’m a little squeamish for those!) so probably something like that.

Q8. Do you have any tips for the budding novelists out there reading this?

Keep writing. Perseverance is key. It’s easy to give up – I’ve done it myself at different times for different reasons but I wish I hadn’t. Have faith in yourself, and just keep going. Also read – a lot! Keep writing and keep reading.

Q9. What are you reading currently?

I’ve just got the latest Harlan Coben novel, Home, so I’m part way through that at the moment.

Q10. Finally, do you have a next goal or dream in life? If so, what is it?

Apart from winning the lottery? Just to keep writing, and to get to the point where I’m actually making a proper living from doing what I love.

Thanks for coming to chat to us!

Read on for more info on Maxine and her work…

Maxine has wanted to be a writer for as long as she can remember and wrote her first (very short) book for school when she was ten. Coming in first, she won a handful of book tokens – perfect for a bookworm!

As years went by, she continued to write, but ‘normal’ work often got in the way. She had written articles on a variety of subjects, as well as a book on Brighton for a Local History publisher. However, novels are what she loves writing the most. After self publishing her first novel when a contract fell through, thanks to the recession, she continued to look for opportunities.
In August 2015, she won Harper Collins/Carina UK’s ‘Write Christmas’ competition with her romantic comedy, ‘Winter’s Fairytale’.
Maxine lives on the south coast of England, and when not wrangling with words, can be found tackling her To Be Read pile, sewing, listening to podcasts, and walking

More on the Christmas Project…

Christmas in the city has never been more magical!

 Professional organiser Kate Stone has never – NEVER – been tempted to hit a client over the head with a snow shovel, but Michael O’Farrell is the most obnoxious – and heart-stoppingly gorgeous – man she has ever met. If he weren’t her best friend’s brother, she would not have waited on his doorstep in the freezing cold for five minutes, let alone an hour.

 Kate knows, however, that her job isn’t just about tidying up, sometimes she needs to be part therapist too, and Michael clearly needs her help to declutter his heart as well as his home.

 But with the festive season just around the corner there isn’t much time to get Michael’s house ready for the O’Farrell family celebrations, but everyone knows that at Christmas anything can happen..

Buy now on Amazon or see her website 🙂



A Day in the Life of Bella Osborne, author of Willow Cottage

A Day in the Life of Bella Osborne, author of Willow Cottage

Today on the blog we have Bella Osborne, author of Willow Cottage! Happy publication day to Bella, Part 2 is out today!

A Day in the Life of…

I am eased from my slumber by the gentle sound of bird song, I float angel like into my writing den, a Zen space that channels my creativity. Perfect prose drips from my pen in an uninterrupted stream and at 3 o’clock the bluebirds tie my manuscript in ribbon and carry it away…

Perhaps that’s not wholly accurate. Sadly I don’t live in a magical house so my day goes more like this…

I am woken just after seven by a cup of tea, well, to be precise my husband brings the tea. Like I said – not a magical house. Having woken frequently throughout the night as genius plot developments have permeated the molten marshmallow that is my brain and I have scrawled them on a post it note in the dark I now discover that my illegible scribble makes no sense at all.

I check what’s happening on social media and the child usually appears for a cuddle and often shares an interesting question to be pondered such as ‘If people could fly would they have to take a test to do it, like a driving test?’

We eat breakfast together, which is usually followed by a frantic panic when we realise that the child needs something for school such as lunch, spelling book or drumsticks and a hunt commences (not for lunch, we don’t make her hunt and catch her own lunch, we are surprisingly civilised).

We join others on the walk to school and conversation is usually interspersed with yawns until the children are deposited and I head to my study. I say study (because it sounds writerly) but it’s actually our spare bedroom. If I am in the middle of something it may appear on first glance by untrained eyes that I have been burgled or subject to a pretty intrusive police search but believe it or not I do actually know exactly what all those pieces of paper, jotted lines and post it notes are. And the biscuit crumbs are simply the by-product of a productive session. In there somewhere will be a current To Do list (I love lists) which I will consult and most likely add to.

Then I crack on. If I’m writing a first draft I will have already mapped out my plot and written character profiles so I am usually able to read the last line from the day before and just carry on. If I am rewriting I may read and reread the same sentence multiple times, change it, streamline it before moving onto the next sentence and then realising the former isn’t actually required at all. This is the time consuming side of writing and the bit that has you pulling your hair out in clumps.

My alarm goes off at 3 o’clock giving me time to finish off what I’m working on before I join the ‘walking bus’ of parents that wander back to the school for pick up. There is usually a quick fire download from the child on the highlights of her day before I take her to that day’s afterschool activity where I sometimes have a chance to grab a few minutes to do some more writing.

Then it’s back home and time to cook tea. I try to cook something new once a week which always causes a lot of muttering and head shaking from both husband and child and although they would never admit it eight times out of ten they like what I’ve conjured up. In the evening I will watch a bit of TV, drink more tea and then go to bed and read before thinking how lucky I am to have this life and the wonderful people in it. I never imagined I would have the job and the family of my dreams so perhaps there is a little something that’s magical about my house after all.

Sounds lovely to me 🙂 Ed. 

Here is a taster of the book…

Willow Cottage is Bella’s third novel and is being released in four parts digitally before being published as a whole novel in June 2017. Part one is already available and part two is published today, 20th October.
Beth is running away. With her young son Leo to protect, Willow Cottage is the lifeline she so desperately needs. Overlooking the village green in a beautiful Cotswolds idyll, Beth sees a safe place for little Leo.
When she finally uncovers the cottage from underneath the boughs of a weeping willow tree, Beth realises this is far more of a project than she bargained for and the locals are more than a little eccentric! A chance encounter with gruff Jack, who appears to be the only male in the village under thirty, leaves the two of them at odds but it’s not long before Beth realises that Jack has hidden talents that could help her repair more than just Willow Cottage.
Over the course of four seasons, Beth realises that broken hearts can be mended, and sometimes love can be right under your nose…
How lovely is that cover!
To learn more about Bella and her books visit her website or Twitter.
Willow Cottage is out now from Amazon and Kobo.