Kelly Florentia

 

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I'm an author of contemporary women's fiction. I love to chat about books, writing and daily, topical issues.

 

 

 

By Kelly Florentia, May 8 2017 03:33PM

On the bus the other day, a pregnant lady sat opposite me with her little girl - about four-years-old, blonde hair tumbling over her narrow shoulders, blues eyes, incredibly cute. Her legs dangled over the seat, feet almost touching my legs.


“We used to go to that park,” she announced suddenly, pointing out of the window. “The one with the brown gate.”


“Yes,” Mum replied, smiling, “Highgate Woods, and we’ll go there again when the weather warms up.”


“Yes,” said the girl, “Highgate Woods.”


She gazed out of the window for a few moments, swinging her little legs over the seat, then took a sip of water, ate a few gummy bears that her mum handed. It wasn’t long before her pink canvas shoes collided with my knees. She looked at me, eyes wide, clinging to her mother. “I kicked that lady with my feet,” she said warily. Mum looked at me, apologised, and I smiled warmly, said it was okay.


“The lady knows. It’s okay,” she told her.


The little girl studied me for a while, chewing on a gummy bear, then said, “Mummy, I think you’ve got bigger feet than the lady.”


Of course, I glanced down at mum’s feet, I think we all did, and yes, mum’s feet were considerably larger than mine. But I’m not sure she wanted to share this information with the entire bus.


“Yes,” Mum said dryly, “I think I have.”


And I smiled again because in that instant I recognised that little girl. She’s Lily from my second novel NO WAY BACK (Urbane Publications, September 21st, 2017). I took snapshots of her with my eyes and brought her to the forefront of my mind whenever I wrote a scene about her. And that’s how I create some of my secondary characters.


You can pre-order NO WAY BACK from Amazon or directly from Urbane Publications (free UK shipping)


By Kelly Florentia, Apr 23 2017 05:00AM

I'm thrilled to welcome back onto my blog today the lovely Amanda James. Amanda's latest novel, Behind the Lie, has just been released and I can't wait to read it!


Thank you, Kelly, and thanks for inviting me to your blog to answer six questions about my favourite things.


Favourite place to write?


In bed. I don't get backache as much as do when hunched over the keyboard at a desk.


Plotter or a panster?


A huge panster! I have an idea of where the story is going and the main characters, but that is about it. Oh, and the end is normally there somewhere-ish.


Favourite book read recently?


I am halfway through an intriguing story by Alice Feeney called Sometimes I Lie. I haven't decided exactly what is happening yet, which is unusual for me. I love not knowing and trying to guess what the outcome will be. That's why I like writing suspense too.


Favourite drink?


I do love a nice cuppa. I have been known to have the odd drop of Merlot too. I prefer red to white unless it is Prosecco or Champagne :)


Favourite savoury or sweet food?


Definitely savoury. I don't really get this obsession with chocolate and cake. Don't get me wrong, both can be delightful, but I am much more of a savoury person. Curry, spicy stuff and the like.... and cheese. Cheese is my cake. Oh wait, cheese and cake go well together...I wonder if a cheesecake has been invented yet?


Favourite film?


Now, this is very tricky. I love so many, but a special favourite is Stand by Me. It's set in the 1950s and about the early life of Stephen King. It's just so evocative of childhood, full of adventure, hope and endless summer days.

On the spot favourites:


Morning or evening person? Morning.


Season: Spring.


Dogs or Cats? Cats.


If you could own any car in the world, what would it be? Probably a silver vintage Rolls Royce with red leather interior. Or perhaps a black Lamborghini with one of those doors that open on the side and go up in the air...or maybe a Harley Davidson motorbike instead!


Fave type of music? Again, I like lots of different stuff. I adore Coldplay and saw them last year at Wembley, so I will say them.


Seaside or countryside? Seaside!


Holiday destination? Probably California and the deserts of Utah/Arizona.


Here's the blurb to whet your appetite!


Who can you trust, when you can’t trust yourself?


Holly West has turned her life around. She’s found a successful and loving husband in Simon and is expecting twins. She is definitely a woman who has taken back control of her future.

Until she gives birth, only for one twin to survive. Holly can’t let it go.


Holly’s world is in a tailspin and suddenly she can’t trust herself or anyone else. No one believes her, not her husband or her best friend. Because she thinks she knows the truth…her son is still alive and she won’t stop until she finds him.


Thank you so much for dropping by today, Mandy, it’s been lovely chatting to you.


You can buy Amanda James’ new novel Behind the Lie from Amazon and other online retailers.



Find out more about Amanda James at:


Blog: Mandy's Musings


Facebook: Mandy James Author


Twitter: @akjames61


By Kelly Florentia, Feb 27 2017 07:15PM

I'm delighted to welcome back onto my blog today the lovely Jennifer Bohnet.


Thank you Kelly for inviting me onto your blog to answer six questions about my favourite things.



Favourite place to write:


Currently I write in my office cum spare room which my husband converted for me from a store room at the back of our cottage. Before I wrote upstairs in the attic with very little space around me - now I’ve got shelves, a proper desk (usually with a cat or two sprawled across it) and space. And guess what, I miss that tiny attic space!


Favourite drink?


Living in France it has to be champagne. Although a nice cold glass of pinot gris at lunchtime never goes amiss. A gin and tonic evening aperitif always goes down well too.

During the day I tend to mainline black coffee in preference to tea.


Favourite Place


I’ve got two actually - Dartmouth in South Devon and Antibes on the French Riviera. I’ve lived in both and would return in a heartbeat to either of them - sadly everybody wants to live there too and property in both towns is too expensive to even dream about returning.

Both places inspire my writing.



Favourite book read recently?


I’m a fast reader and read a lot, 3 - 5 books a week usually. A recent book that I loved was Veronica Henry’s How to Find Love in a Bookshop. I’m currently reading the latest Katie Fforde, A Summer By the Sea.



Favourite savoury or sweet food?


My favourite savoury food has to be maigret of duck - with lots of caramelised onions to go with it. Sadly for my waistline I veer more to desserts than I do to main courses! My absolute favourite is Tiramsu - if it's on the menu when eating out I always have it. Or pavlova. Or crème brulée. If friends drop in for afternoon tea I usually give them scones, jam and cream - sadly not a proper Devonshire cream tea as I can’t buy clotted cream over here. I once saw a sticker on a friend’s fridge, ‘Life is short - eat dessert first’. That just about sums up my attitude to food.



Favourite film?


Paperback Hero, one of Hugh Jackman’s early films was favourite for a long time, before being overlooked in favour of A Good Year with Russell Crowe but Midnight in Paris currently holds the top spot. I won’t tell you how many times I’ve watched than one on dvd. You’ve probably gathered I’m into feel good, non-violent, films. Currently looking forward to the dvd of La La Land coming out because I love jazz.


On the spot favourites:


Morning or evening person: Morning


Season: Spring


Dogs or Cats? Both. Currently have a collie and two cats


Pop or Classical music: Jazz


Seaside or countryside? I miss the sea now I live inland


Holiday destination? South of France


Thank you so much for dropping by today, Jennie, and answering these questions for me.


You can buy Jennifer Bohnet's new novel Rosie's Little Cafe on the Riviera from Amazon and other online retailers. The paperback is also available in Sainsbury's.


Here's the blurb to whet your appetite!


A summer of taking chances!


Rose Hewitt's dream of opening a little French café on the Riviera is finally coming true. She's giving up on love and instead chasing her own perfect recipe for happiness...


Only, she never expected the oh-so-sexy, award-winning chef, Sebastian Groc, to set up a rival restaurant next door - or for his freshly-baked croissants to smell quite so delicious.


But with just a few days until she opens her doors and all her sugar-coated dreams crumble around her, Rosie isn't prepared to give up without a fight.


Competition time!


Win a signed copy of Rosie's Little Cafe on the Riviera PLUS a delicious slice of cake from The Lazy Cow Cake Company to enjoy as you read. Mmmm.. Yum! Both delivered straight through your letterbox.


There are two ways to enter, either leave a comment below or go on Twitter and RT the pinned tweet on my timeline to be in with a chance to win this fantastic prize. Competition closes on 01st of March at midnight. A winner will be chosen on the 2nd of March 2017. UK entries only. Good luck!


Find out more about Jennifer Bohnet at:


Webiste: Jennifer Bohnet


Facebook: Jennifer Bohnet Author


Twitter: @jenniewriter


By Kelly Florentia, Jan 6 2017 12:09PM

Some of you may know from my social media posts that I’m rather partial to a smoothie or two, particularly the ones of the green variety. You may have even seen several of my concoctions on Instagram or Twitter. I love being creative with my smoothies and have lots and lots of homemade recipes, some on scraps of paper, others flying around in my head.


When I first started making smoothies, my husband would often pad into the kitchen, coffee cup in hand and taunt me. ‘What’s in it this time?’ he’d say, peering over my shoulder. ‘Eye of newt, toe of frog, wool of bat.’ I must admit, it was a bit of a hit and miss in the early days and I did create a couple of unsavoury blends. However, I’ve become quite a connoisseur over the last two years and can now produce some great tasting, healthy drinks. Okay, I know that some people can’t bear the thought of drinking anything that’s green but I also believe in the saying, ‘Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it.’ It’s necking one of these lovely concoctions every morning that fuels me with energy and sets me up for the day.


So, what’s in these drinks that are turning me into superwoman? (Okay, that’s a lie, a slight exaggeration). Well, it largely depends on my plans. If I’m going for a 10k run or need extra energy then I’ll drink 300ml of a banana and flaxseed based smoothie, on other days I opt for a green one with a kale, spinach or broccoli base. One of these drinks provides a host of nutrients and fibre, which I probably wouldn’t get from scoffing a buttery croissant or an iced bun for breakfast, though I’d love to, of course. And I don’t know what it is, but as soon as I drink one I feel almost instantly rejuvenated and bustle around the house with a spring in my step. It’s probably because I know I’ve consumed something healthy and nutritious.


Speaking of nutrition, in a nutshell, a smoothie will provide:


Vitamins (a host plus lots of C which is excellent for iron absorption and boosts immune)


Minerals (bananas are high in potassium, an electrolyte which is good for muscle cramps and helps regulate blood pressure)


Fibre (keeps your gut in tip-top condition)


Phytonutrients (plant compounds, many of which are said to act as antioxidants)


Hydration (if using coconut water or filtered water to dilute)


I usually drink a smoothie for breakfast and store the rest in the fridge for the next day but sometimes, if I’m in a hurry or if I’m on a diet (almost always) I’ll have the rest for lunch! You don’t need an expensive smoothie maker to create your blends of magic (although you can if you want to!) I use a simple Breville (the one in the picture at the top of this post) and it produces gorgeous results.


What I get out of drinking smoothies:


Bags of energy


Fewer colds, or at least I’ve dealt with them swiftly and with a lot more control


Brighter skin


Shinier hair


Improved digestion


An easy way to add healthy seeds to my diet (you can also add protein)



Weight loss


One of my five-a-day (only one 150ml glass counts)


With regards to getting one of your five-a-day, the government’s advice is that only one 150ml glass will count towards one of your five-a-day, so you can’t just plonk five fruits and veggies into a glass and be done with it. This is because of the sugars that are released when they hit the blade! This said, smoothies do have the advantage over other sugary drinks in that they provide you with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fibre. Whilst I’m not suggesting for one moment that you exceed the recommended consumption, personally, if it’s a choice between a glass of fizzy drink or another smoothie, I’d go for the smoothie! Unless it’s champagne!


Smooth Operator (20 delicious and nutritious smoothie recipes) is available to download from amazon.


By Kelly Florentia, Sep 21 2016 11:14AM

The doorbell rang. “I'll get it,” I said, wiping my hands on a tea towel. An elderly lady stood before me in a red coat and a beret. She asked me if Mrs B was in, and I explained that I didn't know a Mrs B, that we were the new owners.


“Oh.” She looked stunned. 'Have they moved? Her eyes flitted towards the window. “Their curtains are still up, so I thought......” She trailed off. “Well, they might've told me they were moving. She IS my sister,” she complained, drawing her black bag closer to her chest and pursing her lips. And I agreed, concerned. How could her sister jut take off without telling her? Maybe they'd had a fallout. Sibling rivalry is common. I told her the curtains were only temporary. We were decorating, hadn't moved in yet.


Half an hour later there was another knock at the door. I saw her red coat and mop of white hair sprouting beneath her beret through the obscure glass. “Hello, is Mrs B in?”


Two years later, the doorbell rang. Mary asked me if her sister was in, even though we'd changed the curtains. We talked about her sister selling up and moving, even though I knew her sister had died 20 years ago.


“Do you want me to walk you home, Mary?”


“Yes, please,” she smiled, a little embarrassed. “I've forgotten where I Iive.”


And I walked her to her house up the road, told her to stay in, said it was getting dark now, and she promised that she would.


I walked her home about two or three times a week. Then one day she stopped coming. But I still think of her whenever I walk past her house and smile.


You can find out more about Alzheimer’s disease and Dementia, including ways of how you can help, by visitng Alzheimer's Society



By Kelly Florentia, May 7 2016 05:39PM

Here's a short extract from my debut novel The Magic Touch. Hope you enjoy it.


Is Harry having an affair, or is it all in Emma's head?


‘They’re in the garden,’ Caroline calls out from the sink. ‘Mas is having a sneaky fag.’ She stares out of the window. I didn’t think Mas had arrived yet. Caroline said he had some paperwork to do. ‘Thinks he can sneak in from the side entrance and hide behind the shed without me seeing him, the rat.’

Demi and I peer over her shoulder, she clutching her mobile phone and I all the cutlery, inhaling an infusion of Caroline’s spicy perfume and the aroma of kleftiko, which is resting in a pan on the cooling rack next to the sink. Harry is leaning against the shed, Mas semi-hiding behind him in a cloud of smoke. I wonder what they’re talking about.

‘I’ll go and ask him.’ Demi makes for the kitchen door.

‘No, wait.’ I hand her the cutlery. ‘You finish laying the table. I’ll go.’ She snatches the knives and forks from my hand and disappears around the door, all the while ranting on about her mother’s inadequacies.

I dodge the overgrown trees as I make my way towards the rear of the hundred-and-fifty-foot garden. They’re so engrossed in conversation, they don’t see me approaching from behind the fig tree.

‘Yes, but you know what she’s like,’ Harry sighs. ‘What will I do if …’

‘Just relax, Harry, yeah? It’s going to be fine. Why do you worry so much?’ Harry’s staring at his feet worriedly, hands on hips.

‘Stop stressing, for ****'* sake.’ Mas grabs Harry’s shoulder firmly, reassuringly. ‘It’ll be fine. I promise. I’ll look after you. OK?’ Silence. ‘OK!’ Harry covers his brother’s hand with his and nods.

‘What will be fine?’ I ask brightly, appearing from behind the fig tree like an apparition, arms folded.

Harry and Mas exchange a quick, sharp glance. ‘Nothing, babe,’ Harry takes a step towards me, his smile not quite reaching his eyes.

‘It’s just about work.’ He pulls me into the warmth of his arms.

‘Loves young dream,’ Mas says with a good dollop of sarcasm as Harry wraps his arm around my shoulders and drops a kiss on my head.

‘Really?’ I raise my eyebrows quizzically, stiff in Harry’s embrace. ‘Only it sounded quite serious to me.’

‘That’s because you’re a woman.’ Mas stamps out his cigarette with the sole of his brown cowboy boot, blowing smoke from his mouth, his nose. I narrow my eyes at him. ‘You women always misconstrue everything.’ I look at him expectantly. He’s not going to get away with it that easily and he knows it. ‘Calm down, Emma, will you? We’ve got Environmental Health coming in next week, that’s all.’ He scratches his bristly cheek then pushes back his greying, long, greasy hair with one swoop of his large hand. ‘They’re always meticulous, you know that. Remember what happened the last time we had them round.’ I do – he had to close the restaurant to carry out the repairs. We felt the ache in our pockets and that was only for a week.

Mas laughs, giving Harry a playful punch on the arm. ‘Harry’s got the heebie-jeebies over it, thinks they’ll stitch us up.’

‘Stitch you up how?’ I chew the inside of my lip, my eyes not leaving Mas.

‘Nit-pick.’ Our eyes lock as he readjusts the collar of his denim jacket. ‘Make us spend thousands on repairs.’

‘And?’ I ask confrontationally, wrapping my cardigan around me tightly, blocking out the cold wind that’s been dancing on my bare chest. I knew I should’ve worn my sweater instead of this flimsy, drape-neck top. What was I thinking? Harry, clearly sensing that we’re about to lock horns, jumps into diffuse the tension.

If Mas has to lay off staff to cover costs we might lose our jobs, babe. And then where would we be? How would we pay the mortgage?’ I twist my lips as my eyes flit between them. Losing our jobs at the restaurant doesn’t bear thinking about. But they’re lying. I’m sure of it.

‘I’ve told him not to be so stupid,’ Mas cuts in quickly, ‘he won’t lose his job, no matter what. Family comes first. Ain’t that right, bro?’ He pulls Harry from me and into his arms, and they hug like a scene from The Godfather. Then before I can question them further Demi appears at my side. Annoyed.

‘Emma!?’ I give her a puzzled look. ‘The charger?’

I forgot all about that. ‘Oh yes, sorry, Demi,’ I lay a hand on her arm, ‘we just got carried away.’

‘Well?’ She looks at Harry expectantly.

‘Well what?’

‘The charger? Did you bring it with you?’

As we walk towards the house, Mas engages me in conversation about the restaurant, boasting about how busy they are, how he’s thinking of taking on more staff if Harry can’t do the extra shifts, while Harry explains to a very disgruntled Demi that he left his charger at home.

‘Oh, Dad, can you go and fetch my charger for me?’

‘Sure, hun, but after lunch, yeah? I’m starving.’ Mas reaches into his jacket pocket and pulls out his phone. ‘Here, you can borrow mine for now, it’s fully charged.’

‘Noooo, Dad, your Motorola screen is way too small,’ she retorts, making to walk off.

Harry snatches her by the arm. ‘Here, Dem.’ He unlocks his phone and my eyes twitch as Alistair’s Scrabble move BKDACODE dances before my eyes. ‘You can use mine.’ He grins, handing Demi his handset.

I hadn’t thought any more about breaking into Harry’s phone since Alistair’s brainwave last Tuesday. Particularly as Ola had managed to more or less convince me that a password is prudent, that everyone she knows has one, including John, and that I should stop being so negative and suspicious all the time and concentrate on the positives in my relationship instead of trying to destroy it. But the conversation I just overheard between Mas and Harry has set my mind ticking like a time bomb.

‘Oh, sick! Thanks, Uncle Harry. You’re a lifesaver.’ Harry puts his arm around her shoulders and she leans into him as Andreas appears at the door hollering that lunch is ready. I can’t believe how quickly that boy has grown. Just a few years ago I was taking him to the cinema, and now here he is – a six-foot man with a forty-inch chest, dark curls sweeping his shoulders, and a long beard, which Caroline tells me he softens with conditioner.

We all shuffle inside to the ruckus of Mas grabbing a hold of Caroline and planting a loud, sloppy kiss on her lips, Demi gagging at the sight of them and shouting ‘gross’, and Andreas and Harry chatting enthusiastically about Oxford. I follow behind them, arms folded, head down, wondering how long it will be before Demi tires of playing Candy Crush on Harry’s unlocked phone?


THE MAGIC TOUCH is available to download from the following online retailers:


Amazon


Sainsbury's


WH Smith


Waterstones


Kobo




It's also available in paperback from Amazon and Muswell Hill Bookshop

By Kelly Florentia, Apr 24 2016 06:59AM

As part of The Wedding Date Blog Tour, I'm delighted to welcome author Jennifer Joyce to my blog today to tell us all about her latest novel and her writing in general.


1. Hi Jennifer. Thank you for joining me on my blog today. Firstly, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?


Thanks for having me! I’m a writer of romantic comedies who lives in Manchester with my husband and our two daughters, plus Luna the Jack Russell and bunnies Cinnamon and Leah. When I’m not writing, I love crafting, re-watching my favourite films and loitering on social media.


2. And can you tell us a little bit about your latest novel, The Wedding Date?


The Wedding Date tells the story of Delilah James as she dives back into the dating game to find herself a new boyfriend to take to her oldest friend’s wedding as her plus-one. Her ex-boyfriend – who happens to be the best man – will be at the wedding with his new girlfriend so Delilah wants to prove she’s moved on too.


3. I love the sound of it already! Can you tell me what inspired you to write it?


I’d been playing around with the character of Delilah for a while and had set up a blog to get to know her more. I was busy working on my previous book at the time but once that was finished, I knew I wanted to tell Delilah’s story.


4. Do you cast your characters, and if so who would play the lead roles in The Wedding Date?


I love casting my characters! For The Wedding Date I’d cast Jodie Comer (Delilah), Karen Gillan (Lauren), Ashley Taylor Dawson (Ryan) and Aidan Turner (Adam).


5. Are you a planner or a panster?


I’m a big planner! Depending on the book, I can have quite a detailed outline and structure or full-on chapter and scene plans in place before I start to write. But you never quite know what’s going to happen when you start to write, so I’m always willing to veer off plan when I need to.


6. What’s your writing process like, do you do many drafts, edit as you go along?


I write the first draft without editing at all. My aim is to get from chapter one to the end. Once that’s done, I’ll move onto the second draft. I know my characters more by now and I can see the whole story clearly so I’ll make any changes that are needed, whether it’s cutting big chunks or characters, writing new scenes or generally polishing. If I’m happy with the draft as it stands, I’ll send it to my editor. If not, I’ll go back in for another draft until I’m happy for somebody else to see it.


7. Do you have any tips or advice for aspiring writers?


Keep going! Write the story you want to tell and don’t worry if that first draft isn’t perfect. First drafts aren’t supposed to be the finished product.



8. Do you have any favourite authors?


I’m a massive fan of Dorothy Koomson as she writes with such emotion and intrigue. Within the romantic comedy genre, I’m loving Kirsty Greenwood and Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice at the moment and can’t wait to read more of their work in the future.


9. What can we expect from you next?


I’m working on another romantic comedy at the moment, which is part of a series. I’m really enjoying developing characters further and seeing what happens to them next.


QUICK FIRE QUESTIONS:


1. Last meal you ate?


Does jam on toast count as a meal?


2. Favourite drink?


Tea, with milk and two sugars.


3. Your biggest bugbear?


Rude people. Like when you hold open a door and fifteen people trail through without saying thank you.


4. Starstuck moment?


I went to a book launch last year, which was my first bookish event. I couldn’t quite believe I was standing in the same room as so many fantastic authors. For a bookworm, it was an amazing moment!


5. Motto?


As Stephanie from LazyTown says – there’s always a way.


Thank you so much for joining me today, Jennifer. It’s been a real pleasure talking to you.


Thank you for having me on your blog. It’s been a pleasure chatting to you!



Jennifer Joyce is a writer of romantic comedies who lives in Manchester with her husband and their two daughters. Her latest novel, The Wedding Date is out now. You can find out more about Jennifer and her books on:


Facebook - Jennifer Joyce Author

Twitter - @Writer_Jenn

Blog


You can download The Wedding Date by Jennifer Joyce from amazon.


Here's the blurb to whet your appetite:


Delilah James, singleton and smoothie-addict, has six months to find a date for her oldest friend’s wedding. Oh, and to prove to her ex, best man Ben, that she has totally moved on since he dumped her out-of-the-blue nine months, eight days and seventeen hours ago…


So, with her two BFFs playing Cupid, Delilah launches herself into the high-tech, fast-paced and frankly terrifying world of dating. Luckily there’s the hot new guy at work, Adam Sinclair, to practice her flirting on – even if, as a colleague, he’s strictly off-limits!


Yet time’s running out and date after disastrous date forces Delilah to tell a little white lie – and invent a fake boyfriend! But will her secret crush on Adam ruin everything? Does she even care about Ben anymore? And is it too late to untangle her web of lies and take a real date to the wedding…?

By Kelly Florentia, Apr 3 2016 11:30AM

I'm thrilled to share a guest post with you today by author Rachel Strong.


The Rocky Road to Self-Publishing


I’ve always loved a good book, a story that pulls you in, one that you just can’t put down, and I think this is where my love of writing came from, not to mention my very over imaginative mind.


I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write stories, I often used to write in the back of exercise books at school and was always getting pulled up for not keeping up in class. I was always the girl ‘off in her own little world’, thinking up a good storyline - and nothing’s changed, I’m still exactly the same - I drive my hubby mad, because I never listen to him.


I was always very secretive of my writing, I worried that my friends would laugh at me, or think I was a weirdo - don’t ask me why, because everyone seems to be majorly impressed that I have managed to write two novels. When hubby treated us to a new laptop, I just sat down and hashed out the first draft of my debut novel, Complicated Love.


Even at this point, I wanted to keep it a secret, the thought of Greg, my husband, finding out filled me with fear, but here I was, with a fully written novel, doing nothing but gathering dust! Then one day, to my absolute horror, my worst nightmare came true - he found it!


At first, I refused to even acknowledge the fact he’d found it, I was pretty quick at intercepting it and making sure he barely read a sentence, and every time he brought it up, I changed the subject - I was mortified! Finally, after days of him pestering me, I gave in and let him read it, though I wouldn’t let him have it until I was out of the house, I just couldn’t bear the thought of sitting there with him, whilst he poured over my words - I would have died!


And so off I went, to do a night shift at the local hospital, where I work part-time as a Health Care Assistant, feeling sick to my stomach. I could barely concentrate for the first few hours, I was constantly sneaking glances at my phone, eager, yet at the same time, dreading, what he would think. By midnight my stomach was in knots, it really was ridiculous. Just when I thought he’d decided not to bother, my phone buzzed in my pocket.


I could barely look as I pulled out my phone, I felt sick to my stomach, this was the first time ever that I had let anyone read something that I’d written. You haven’t written this! Is what he’d sent. I stood there for a good couple of minutes, stunned that this was his response to my novel. I didn’t know how to take it at first and convinced myself that this was his way of telling me what a load of rubbish it was. I was gutted!


Eventually, I plucked up enough courage to reply. Is it that bad? For the next few minutes I tried to busy myself, so as not to spend time agonising over what he was going to say, but I needn’t have bothered, his reply came back almost instantly. No, Rach, it’s f*****g brilliant! For the rest of the night I couldn’t keep the smile off my face.


Now, Greg is not a reader and so, whilst almost having a coronary at the thought, I decided to inflict my manuscript upon various friends and family, who all loved it - though I think they were all biased and amazed that I’d been hiding this for years.


Now this is where my decision to self-publish came in, I just couldn’t stand the thought of being rejected, the thought of all those rejection letters filled me with fear. I knew that if I received just one, it would knock me sideways and I would have given up at the first hurdle.


After sitting on Complicated Love for almost a year, I discovered Smashwords and Kindle Direct Publishing, and the hard work to polish up my novel, into a shiny book worth reading, began.


This has been a team effort between me and my hubby, it wouldn’t have been possible without him - at all. I didn’t know where to start. Yes, I suppose I might be good at telling a good tale, but things like formatting, or sorting out tax issues over in the States, well, I didn’t know where to begin!


Publishing Complicated Love wasn’t an easy ride, there were a couple of times where I could quite literally have put my hands around Gregory’s neck and strangled him, we disagreed on so many things, from how certain dialogue sounded in the story, right through to the title - and even the cover!


We got there in the end though, and on the 1st of August last year, Complicated Love hit the book shelves - well, virtual book shelves anyway. That day was probably one of the most nerve-wracking days of my life, all those people reading my book! I barely looked at Facebook and Twitter.


When I announced some months earlier, via Facebook, that I had written a book and was publishing it, I had an overwhelming response and support, I was worried my phone was going to blow up, Greg and I couldn’t keep up with all the notifications that were coming through, right into the early hours of the morning. Even so, on the first of August I was beside myself with worry that I was going to let everyone that had supported me down, that they’d think I was a rubbish writer. I couldn’t have been more wrong! Over the days that followed, I received message after message from people, telling me how much they loved Complicated Love and asking me when I was bringing out the next book - and even if I was writing a sequel!


Despite how nerve-wracking and terrifying that first experience of self-publishing was, it was also extremely exciting, and so I decided to do it all again with my second novel, That Girl, and I have to say it was a whole lot smoother than the first time, I didn’t contemplate strangling my husband once!


A little bit about Rachel:


Rachel Strong is a romance author and lives in Lancashire, England, with her husband, three children and little dog Daisy. Rachel works part time as a Health Care Assistant at her local hospital, but her real passion is writing.


Ever since she can remember, Rachel has been writing stories but didn’t really take it seriously until summer 2012 when her husband discovered one of her stories, read it and convinced her that it was good. She loves writing and creating characters, sometimes a whole day can pass her by, just sat at her laptop, typing away.


When she’s not writing, Rachel loves to read slushy romance novels, chick-lit and a good mystery. When she finds a spare moment she will be found curled up on the sofa with her nose in a book.

Rachel’s debut novel ‘Complicated Love’ is out now with her second novel ‘That Girl’ due to be released this coming June.


That Girl by Rachel Strong will be available to download from Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and iTunes


Follow Rachel on Twitter: @rstrong880 for news and updates.





By Kelly Florentia, Mar 5 2016 04:27PM

Marriage isn’t high on Emma King’s list of priorities in my debut novel The Magic Touch. In fact, she’s turned down her partner Harry’s proposals several times during their five-year relationship. Having been through a painful divorce, Emma’s feelings are plausible. Marriage isn’t for everyone, nor does it suit everyone. So why do some people crave it while others want to run for the hills at the mere mention of nuptials? Here are some reasons why some people want to get hitched and a few why some don’t!


Against


Divorce:


A report conducted by the Office for National Statistics states that there were thirteen divorces an hour in England and Wales in 2012. That’s quite a sizeable sum. Although the breakdown of a relationship may occur whether you’re married or not, it will be more complicated if you are married and, as in Emma’s case, it can get quite nasty too. During my research for The Magic Touch, I discovered that some people who’d been there and done it weren’t keen on going down the aisle again. The breakdown of a relationship sometimes dents the ideology of marriage and can make some people a bit cynical about saying ‘I do’ again.


Too expensive:


In December 2015, Brides Magazine estimated an average wedding to cost a staggering £30,111. Okay, it stands to reason that you can have a cheaper wedding, a budget wedding. However, most women have a vision of this once in a lifetime event and want their fairy-tale wedding, regardless of cost. One couple I spoke to, who’ve been living together for ten years, admitted that they would like to get married one day, but with a mortgage, household bills and children to feed and clothe, their perfect wedding remains a distant dream.


The shift


Some people think that their partners will change the moment they slip that band of gold onto their finger. Complacency and things going a bit stale came up a lot during my research. A few people were also concerned about possessiveness rearing its ugly head. Their general fear was that their partner would expect more from them – limit the time they spend with friends, expect them to give up hobbies to pursue DIY jobs around the home, visit the in-laws every Sunday. The list was endless. Sadly, Emma was subjected to a marriage with a partner who only showed his true colours once they’d made it legal.


For


Commitment:


Signing that piece of paper somehow brings an intangible sense of significance to a relationship. It’s a public declaration of your love and proves to the world, and to each other, that you’re in it for the long haul. One lady I spoke to told me that her boyfriend’s refusal to tie the knot created cracks in their relationship. She felt that while all those around her were getting married and having kids, she was stuck in limbo with her partner of six years. Their constant bickering made them drift apart, and their romance and intimacy dwindled. ‘For me it was marriage or nothing,’ she said, ‘It wasn’t that I doubted that he loved me, but I just thought that perhaps he didn’t love me enough, that we wanted different things.’


Security:


Marriage makes a couple feel more secure. It brings a sense of togetherness that dating alone may omit. Several people that I spoke to told me that marriage has made them feel more like a family. A unit. That it’s created a bond between them. ‘I feel like we’re more a team,’ one man admitted, ‘And when you have your ups and downs, it’s quite easy to just pack a bag and leave if you’re not married, isn’t it? Marriage somehow makes you want to try harder.’


Financial:


Making your relationship legal has many financial advantages. As a married couple Emma King and Harry Georgiades will benefit from pension rights, tax allowances, including inheritance tax, and, according to a recent report, a married couple may even pay a little less for house insurance!



So, there we have it - what do you think?









By Kelly Florentia, Feb 20 2016 05:34PM

Emma King, the protagonist in my debut novel The Magic Touch , thinks nothing of going for a ten mile run at six in the morning, even during those cold wintery months when I’m still tucked up in bed or shivering by the fire with a hot cuppa. Although I’m nowhere near as fast or efficient as Emma, I do enjoy running too. However, while Emma has been running for most of her adult life and has taken part in several half-marathons, I only started running about seven years ago.


I started from zero miles – zilch, nada. I remember turning up at my local park one spring morning in a pair of old jogging pants and a zip up hoodie, sporting a worse for wear pair of trainers. The park was buzzing with runners. I thought, ‘Yeah, I’ll do about a mile to start with and see how I go.’ The locals were friendly, smiley, supportive. A young woman with a ponytail and a pink sweat top tied around her trim waist gave me the ‘sisterhood runner’s wave’ as she sprinted past me, ponytail swinging from side to side. I reciprocated this gesture of solidarity with a confident arm raise. This is good, I thought, bustling with excitement. I’m a runner. Thirty seconds later (maybe less) I was holding onto a bench and gasping for breath. I didn’t realise it’d be so gruelling. I thought I was pretty fit! Once I’d caught my breath, off I went again. I walked most of that mile, to be honest, only starting to run when ponytailed woman was in sight (to save face). It was a horrendous experience. My jogging pants kept sliding down and I was boiling hot in that long sleeved top. I staggered out of the park, tripping over several uneven paving slabs in my haste. By the time I got home, red faced and exhausted, my feet felt like I’d walked over burning coal.


Needless to say, I needed a strategy. I wasn’t going to give up that easily. I bought a copy of Women’s Running Magazine and followed one of their 5k plans. Over the course of the years, I’ve kitted myself out with the right running gear. I must stress that running shoes are the most important piece of kit you’ll need. The correct ones for your particular foot shape and gait will protect you from injuries and improve your running experience.


Running has improved my stamina and well-being. But as a writer, I find it a great source of inspiration. When I’m stuck on a story or feeling frustrated, I hit the road. I often conjure up plots and scenes during my runs. However, there’s a lot more to running than keeping fit.


Here are 9 other benefits:


Lifts your mood:


Exercise releases the feel-good chemicals in your brain called endorphins, especially running.


Lose weight:


Depending on your speed and weight you can burn up to 103 calories per mile. *Based on a person weighing 136lb (9 stones) running 1 mile at 6 mph in 10 minutes).


Reduces the risk of illness:


It’s been reported that running reduces the risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.


Lowers blood pressure:


According to research, aerobic exercise is said to lower your blood pressure.


Healthy heart:


You’ll get a great cardiovascular workout, keeping your heart in tip-top condition!


Sleep:


Trouble nodding off at night? Regular running will help you get a good night’s kip.


Tones your body:


Consistent running or jogging will tone your legs and bottom!


Strengthens Immune:


Many studies indicate that physical activity strengthens your immune system, which means you’ll suffer less from colds etc.,


Boosting vitamin D levels:


Vitamin D is an important vitamin that most Brits are deficient in. If you’re running in the sunshine you’ll be topping up your vitamin D levels too.



Can anyone take up running? Sure, but if you have an existing health condition or if you think you’re particularly unfit then you should consult your GP first. If you want to start running or jogging then you may benefit from reading Running for Beginners on the NHS website.


So, seven years on I can now confidently complete 10k runs. Last year I took part in the 5k Race for Life at Hyde Park. It was an incredible and rewarding experience. This year I plan to do the 10k Race for Life in the hope of raising more money for Cancer Research UK. And who knows, maybe one day I’ll take a leaf out of Emma King’s book and go for a half-marathon.


The Magic Touch is available to download from amazon and other outlets supporting digital devices.






photo credit – matching pair - photopin license

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