2014 New Year’s Eve

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New Year’s Eve… and the day is steadily marching onwards… never stopping for a moment… not even for a breather… just on and on it goes. A steady, unwavering pace. Seconds adding up to minutes… adding up to hours. And then… it is goodbye 2014, and welcome 2015.

Have you ever given some thought to the passage of time? One moment it is a beautiful summer’s day… a day to remember. And then it joins the queue of history. It’s gone forever. Not necessarily forgotten, especially if it was a memorable day of sorts, but it is gone. Never ever to come back. For we cannot turn back the march of time. Damn shame that. How often I wish I could. If not for myself, then at times for the world. With today’s knowledge, we could right the wrongs of yesteryear. But we can’t.

Was 2014 a memorable year? For some, yes, and for others, no. For me? Some aspects yes, and some aspects no. Fair to middling one could say. Do I mind saying goodbye to 2014? No.

Oddly, I’ve never been particularly interested in the new year’s celebrations. Of course there were times when I got swept along. But, I always by far preferred Christmas, and New Year’s… well, that was the inevitable partner shackled eternally to Christmas. A bit like the song “Love and marriage…”, “horse and a carriage…”. And thus it is with Christmas and New Year. So, saying that, for me, New Year’s has always been the less interesting member of this partnership.

Not being an evening person certainly does not help. If I am not in bed by 10pm, I feel like death warmed over the next day. Totally bonkers but true. I am the up-with-the-lark morning person. All bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed when a large percentage of the those in my part of the world still lie snoozing. My brain also tends to switch off at 6pm every single day. Can’t do a blasted thing about it. It just happens. It’s a right pain in the old-proverbial in more ways than one, but ho-hum… Writing in the evening is a lost cause, and when I have, I produced gobbledegook. In fact even my editor picked up on that, “What are you on about?” Uh, yes… uh… frankly, I haven’t a clue! What was I on about? Search me!

That brain-switching-off-at-6pm may be one of the reasons why I am not particularly enthusiastic about New Year’s Eve. Holding an intelligent conversation, or even any conversation at all, with someone who is falling asleep on her feet is rather off-putting, don’t you think?

There’s something immensely gratifying, and oddly also exciting, about crawling into bed, and falling asleep well before the midnight bells chime in the New Year. So peaceful being totally oblivious to the passing of time… and then waking up early, and fresh as a daisy, several hours into the new year. I’ve done it so often that I’ve grown to quite cherish it,

So, while many don their finest, I’ll don something thoroughly comfortable. I’ll pour myself a Rose, make me something really nice to eat. Watch some TV or select an entertaining DVD/film. And well before midnight, I will be snuggled up and asleep in bed. Of course I love a festive New Year’s Eve dinner… like the picture I posted – don’t you love the ambiance? and the gorgeous dinner service and matching glasses? I’d love a dinner in such a setting, but as long as I can be asleep well before the bells chime midnight.

Tomorrow will be the first day of the first month of that drooling, gurgling, and diapered new year. And by the end, that once upon a time new year, will  be as decrepit, tired, and ancient as 2014 is now. We just can’t turn back time. If only. But… nah, no good these “if only” musings. No use either. Time just steadily marches on totally unphased by the world surrounding it. Plod… plod… plod… never faster… never slower… always that same steady plodding rhythm. And in that same steady rhythm, time is now plodding this year to its end.

I don’t particularly mind to see the end of 2014. I have my memories. But I also have my hopes. And I have set these hopes now for 2015. Soooo…..

Happy New Year! May it bring all you hope for. May it bring happiness and good health!

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December already…

40d505aed2338d52cd7513eeeed84b39[1]I’ve not been around for quite a while. High time to rectify that.

But then, I do have a good excuse… I hope. I’ve been very busy writing.

It is strange how whilst writing, a book and its characters take on a life of their own. What I had planned initially changed as the book progressed. The Sheridan Mysteries have now been renamed The Belgravia Antiques Mysteries. And the initially two main characters have now become five main characters… hence the series’ name change, too.

And there’s more… finally, yes, FINALLY! a title was found. My editor/publisher and I did some considerable brainstorming, and the title is Vengeful Legal Deal. And, there’s more yet… almost simultaneously, my editor/publisher and I decided that the characters were too wonderful, colourful,  and in many ways endearing, to stop writing about them after one book. The plans have already been made for more books.

One of the greatest joys is weaving my many years of wheeling and dealing in antiques/collectibles/vintage/and decorative items into my books. What greater delight  than writing about my characters going on buying sprees at the world famous Portobello Road Antiques Market… and Bermondsey Square Market… and going to auction. Quite a vicarious thrill for me.

Vengeful Legal Deal is with the editor now… and will be released soon.

 

Discover more about a favourite character…

I was taggged by the lovely and wonderful Anabelle Bryant to participate in this blog hop, and tell a bit more about a favourite main character. Thank you, Anabelle.

Anabelle writes historical romance, and her latest novel is To Love a Wicked Scoundrel. Read more about Anabelle and her writing, and acquaint yourself with the lovable scoundrel, Constantine, in her blog…

anabellebryantauthor.wordpress.com

With my own love of and interest in antiques, as well as experience since many years, it was inevitable that I would one day write if not one then a series set in the antiques world. I’ve chosen to tell you about a character who sprang to mind several years ago. He started off in a short story… and once I’d finished it, I’d fallen in love with him, and decided that this (to me) delightful character was wasted on a short story. I’m now in the process of finishing writing the first book of a series about him, his father and friends…

1) What is the name of your character? Is he fictional or a historic person?

Michael Thomas Sheridan (regrettably fictional), is single – a confirmed bachelor in fact! – and heading for his mid-thirties.

2) When and where is the story set?

The story’s set in the South of the UK… London and the counties West of London… there’s a trip to Ireland included. The year… ah well, it’s contemporary… although there’s no mention of a year, it could easily be summer 2014.

3) What should we know about him?

Michael is an only child. He read law at Cambridge, which was followed by a successful but short career with a prestigious law firm. Then, like his father did too, he turned his back on the law. Upon which he joined his father (Thomas Maximilian “Maxim” Sheridan), and three friends, in running a respected antiques business in London. Besides antiques, Michael enjoys writing, and under various pen-names he’s done well with romance, thriller/adventure, and erotica novels.
Furthermore, Michael is psychic. A talent which has proven to be very useful in his line of work.

4) What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?

The bane of Michael’s life is his mother, Jessica. Just like she continues to be the bane of Maxim’s life. His parents were divorced when Michael turned 21. Jessica refuses to accept Michael’s (ditto Maxim’s) chosen path as antiques dealers. Truth be told, Michael hates his mother! Except for platonic friendships, and casual, mostly short term relationships, due to his experiences with his mother, Michael eschews any form of serious commitment. He acknowledges his mother has scarred him for life.
The domineering and manipulative Jessica has set her wicked heart on marrying off her son to Valerie Duke, the niece of Duncan Duke, a well to do London lawyer. Together with Valerie and Duke, Jessica is intent on tricking Michael into a binding contract with Duke’s law firm. Jessica’s reward for snagging Michael for the Dukes, will be Duncan Duke’s hand in matrimony.
Michael is not having any of this! And a cat-and-mouse “game” ensues between Michael, his mother, Duke and Valerie.
But things are about to get worse. His psychic gift is in overdrive, whilst at his best friend’s auction house. A dilapidated Victorian photo album “calls” out to Michael. He especially  becomes enamoured with the photo of a beautiful woman, and, although he proclaims himself mad, he has to have that album… whatever the cost. But he is not the only one who wants the album, for on auction day, an unsavoury little fat, bald man goes to great financial lengths to acquire the item. But luck is on Michael’s side as he acquires the album.
Danger accompanies his acquiescence of the album… danger for Michael, Maxim, their housekeeper, Grace… and potentially for their friends and business partners too.
But there’s more… as his investigations deepen, Michael discovers that there’s a direct link between the album and one of his Victorian ancestors.
But someone else wants that album, for whom there is too much at stake… for whom there is too much to lose.

5) What is the personal goal of the character?

In this story, Michael more so than ever before, embraces his special gift. He gratefully acknowledges his growing psychic abilities, which serve him well as he investigates, with the help of his father (and to a lesser degree his great aunt), where the album came from, and the people in it.
As danger lurks from whomever seeks to acquire the album by whichever means, Michael’s goal is to ensure he, his father and friends stay alive.

Throughout the story, it is Michael’s goal to sever the bonds with which his mother has tied him to her, and to stay happily and contentedly single. Will he?
6) Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

For now the working title is The Victorian Photo Album, and the first book in a series on the Sheridan antiques dealers.
7) When can we expect the book to be published?

In July this baby is going to the editor, so, all being well, the book will be available this autumn.

 

I’ve tagged two other lovely writers to continue this blog hop. Do check them out, and discover more about them and their great books.

Lavinia Urban:  http://laviniaurban.blogspot.co.uk

Georgina Hannan:  http:/authorworld.wordpress.com

 

 

Introduction…

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I adore the chocolate box charm which can be found in many of the market towns and villages of the Cotswolds. In fact, I just love the entire area! And this love resulted in my setting my Christmas romance The Snow Crystals in the Cotswolds.

The Snow Crystals is the first book of a series.

The story is of course typically British, as are my characters.

I loved writing it! I got the idea for the story, during the 2012 Christmas season. Funny how thinking about Santa Claus, and this ever present hope that he just might -we can but dream!- be real, was the trigger that got the whole process started. Although I hasten to add, that there’s no mention of Santa in this book.

After once again watching “Christmas with the Kranks” (based on Grisham’s “Skipping Christmas”), -which is a firm yearly Christmas favourite of mine-, two of the characters in Crystals came into their own. The annoyingly adamant Christmas carolers were quite an inspirational trigger. This is just one example that inspiration can come in many forms… in many ways. It can hit at any moment. And it usually is totally unexpected and out of the blue. For example, several years ago, the light fall in a film I was watching (OK, I confess, it was one of the Pirates of the Caribbean films), resulted in my writing a section of another book. It was just the light. Nothing more. Nothing less. Just that light fall…

Anyway, it is still the 25th of November here in Europe. Oh heavens! Today, one month from now, Christmas Day is well on its way towards its end. OK, back to the matter in hand (lol)… Tomorrow on the 26th of November, the lovely cover of The Snow Crystals will be revealed. I absolutely adore the cover, and it is all thanks to the wonderful and creative Patti Roberts of Paradox Book Cover Designs and Formatting. And then, two weeks later… tada! drumroll! the book will be available.

Tomorrow I will tell some about The Snow Crystals…

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The first of December already.

December, the month of Christmas, Yule… the month of the Winter Solstice and the shortest day. The month that winter officially starts.

It also heralds the start of Christmas or seasonal music on Classic FM. My all-time favourite radio station! The seasonally themed music slowly builds up across the days, the weeks, and always is a great inspiration. Actually throughout the year they’re a welcome inspiration. But now that I have to finish the last of a Christmas romance/suspense (to be released autumn 2014), what better time to finish it than this coming season?

As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved the December month and the Yuletide. Of course the gifts under the tree were nice, but… I by far preferred a beautifully decorated tree. Decorations dotted around the house. The atmosphere.  Perhaps I was a strange child. My late husband was totally gobsmacked that he could sit and wrap my presents while sitting in his easy chair opposite me, or even right next to me on the sofa. I assured him that I wasn’t looking. And I never did! His gifts were always a complete surprise to me. Knowing this he was glad he didn’t have to lock himself away in his study…. (lol). He placed them under the tree in the full knowledge that they’d be safe. Oh, I picked ’em up and put ’em on the coffee table when hoovering, and put them right back again., No prodding, no sniffing, no shaking. When I was a child, this lack of eager anticipation and curiosity used to baffle but also annoy my mother some. She expected me to pounce on the gifts… I didn’t. Across the years I’d lost count how often I heard “Don’t you think it is about time you open your gifts?” I loved the giving, as for the receiving, well, that could wait… and I was a pro at letting it wait.

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Didier and Delphine…

2 December 2013

This morning, as Delphine, one of my cats jumped up on the kitchen counter top to see what I was up to, the thought once again hit me that I gave her the perfect name. She was a howling, abandoned, still blue eyed kitten of some six weeks when she came into my life. The second I took the little terribly upset and squirming diddy thing in my arms, she fell silent… but only for a fraction of a second. She snuggled up to and into me as if I was her long-lost mother; next she’d started purring loudly. At one and a half years old now, she remains diddy. What she lacks in size she makes up for in character!  She’s an elegantly sleek, slim yet well filled, muscled, blue and white lady… there’s something Siamese about her physique. And within minutes of welcoming her into my home, and promising her that she had a forever home, I called her Delphine. From the word go, she listened to that name, and she answers me when I talk to her or call her. Sometimes the right name is instantaneous. Sometimes it takes weeks… or lots longer…

It’s ditto when naming the characters in my books. Or place names… or house names… or any names…

Sometimes I use real/existing places in my writing. Sometimes not. Sometimes trying to find the right name for a fictive village, town, house, pub, street name, and such, can be a right chore. Sometimes like with Delphine’s name materialising immediately, the same happens when writing. When the necessary inspiration for the above is temporarily (or for much longer) AWOL, I resort to ***. In The Snow Crystals, my editor, Ella Medler, pushed me to find village, lane, and house names. The document was ready for the beta-readers, but I still had not replaced the ***s with names. Rightmove (a UK property site) was helpful in finding a name for one character’s house. Rightmove also was useful for fabricating street/lane names. And the Ordnance Survey Road Atlas of Britain was useful in the fabrication of fictional town and village names. I wanted to make sure that they didn’t already exist somewhere else in the UK… I also wanted the names to be reasonably relevant to the area.

Those same blasted ***s still exist in my nearing completion Christmas romance/suspense which will be out next autumn (title… eh, not really sure of that yet). Up until just over a month ago, one main character remained ***. He’s now called Christopher, and it feels right. Ensuring that a name feels right, is very important to me. It’s been the same with my cats. Delphine was lucky that she had a name within minutes of joining the family. In fact I’ve never yet known a name was right for a cat so quickly. I usually have to live with them for a while… get to know them… their personality… It is the same with my fictional characters. Sometimes I need some time with them, too, to get it right. In that as-yet-unsure-of-the-title next Christmas romance, there is one character who never gets a name. Unless you consider The Nameless One a name, we never find out his name…

To a degree, for the next book (provisional title, for now – The Victorian Photograph), the names came remarkably easy. Michael and his father Maximilian. Yes, I know… double M. Shouldn’t really do that. But nothing but Michael and Maxim was right for these two characters. As for the name of the antiques business which Michael and Maxim run together with Maxim’s best friend, Adrian, and Adrian’s son Dylan, and his partner Clive, that remains up to now ***. I wonder how long it will remain *** Antiques? Really need to get my skates on for an appropriate name, for ere long Ella will be pushing me once again for a name… because *** just will not do! lol

Sometimes I’m surprised at my choice of names. Why oh why did I give two characters -two sisters- in The Snow Crystals the names Holly and Ivy? I tried to find other appropriate seasonal names, and even asked some friends, but no matter how much I played around, in the end I concluded that sometimes the first choice is the right and the best one. So, the girls stayed Holly and Ivy.  As for Aidan, there was never any doubt about that. Although I do wonder why I called the other man Donald… but nothing else was right for him. And the seasonal names also continued on in two other characters… Caroline and Christina… the “Christmas Carolers”. Perhaps a bit naff to give characters seasonal names, but sometimes nothing else seems right, or seems to fit.

As I type, Baby is curled up next to the keyboard. Baby… he’s a sizable, tabby and white boy, who will be 3 next late spring, I’ve tried to conjure up another, a more mature name for him… but, no, nothing. His papers state Baby Aristides. But he continues to be: Baby. And he will remain so forever. As I said, he’s lying next to the keyboard… and curled up on “A Dictionary of British Surnames”. Google is a great source for all sorts, but I’ve got quite a few name books, including for cats. I think I’ve even got one for dog names.