Tuesday, 31 January 2012

'Bracelet of Bones' by Kevin Crossley-Holland

Release date:1st March 2012
Published by: Quercus Books
ISBN No:  9781780872100

One morning Solveig wakes to find her father, Viking mercenary Halfdan, has broken his promise to her and gone to rejoin his friend, Harald Hardrada, in Constantinople, where he is leader of the Empress's guard. Deciding to follow him, Solveig sets off in a tiny boat and into an adventure along the Baltic and through the river routes of Russia to the Black Sea, encountering Swedish traders, a ghost-ship and a Russian king, and braving arrow-storms and witnessing a living sacrifice along the way. Through it all, Solveig's belief in her father is unwavering. Will she ever reach Constantinople? And will her father be there? 

A glittering novel that explores friendship and betrayal, the father-daughter relationship, the clash of religions and the journey from childhood to adulthood.

Copyright: Quercus Books

Sunday, 29 January 2012

'Spur of the Moment' by Candace Bowen Early

Release date: 1st February 2012
Published by: Rhemalda Publishing
ISBN No: 978 1936850259

Exhibiting a lifelong passion for history and writing, Candace Bowen Early has written several novels.  Her novel 'Spur of the Moment' is a 12th-21st century paranormal romance novel that combines time travel, romance and mysticism.

Here’s a little bit about it:

Best-selling author Bronwyn Chase never quite fit in with the 21st century world around her. On a publicity trip to New York City, a mysterious woman claiming to be a mystic from Bronwyn’s past gives her a silver knight’s spur. Asked to save Euric, a man she never knew existed, Bronwyn finds herself transported to twelfth century Cornwall, England. Landing at the feet of an entranced Euric, she discovers the instant connection she feels to him comes from a midsummer rite gone horribly awry on the eve of her birth. Forced to face a dark wicche planning to use Euric for her own nefarious ends, Bronwyn summons her own mystical birthright to free him.

Candace would like to tell you in her own words a little about how 'Spur of the Moment' came to be.

My name is Candace Bowen Early. It is an honour to be included in the Rhemalda Publishing family. Currently, I am in a state of amazement that I have one book on the verge of being published, much less four.

Several people have asked me where the idea for 'Spur of the Moment' came from so I thought I would share the workings of my mind. I hope you are sitting down. Of the four complete novels I have written,'Spur of the Moment' is nearest and dearest to my heart. My often brutal critique team consisting of my mom and sister-in-law realized from the start why I related so well to the story. 

Unlike my first novel, where I had to put myself in the heroine’s shoes, Bronwyn Chase filled mine. If you like Bronwyn’s personality, chances are we will be great friends. Nervous by nature, I am known to hide behind humor. My mom believes I get my dry wit from my dad. Somehow, I do not think she means it as a compliment. I live in South Florida, but my heart is elsewhere. I have a young son who means the world to me and a husband who puts up with me. The best word to describe me is loyal. If I see a wrong, chances are I will leap before looking.

The idea for 'Spur of the Moment' came out of the blue. A collector of all things Medieval Europe, I purchased a pair of centuries-old religious medals. As I held them, a story formed in my mind. Tossing and rejecting several ideas that would believably transport my heroine to twelfth century Tintagel, a silver knight’s spur popped into my head. The rest of the story came to me as I was writing, sometimes faster than I could type.

I don’t use outlines and am completely lost when it comes to some of the terminology used by other authors. I simply come up with an idea and put it on paper. The fact that people seem to like my ideas is surreal and means a lot to me.

If you are interested in finding out more about Candace and her writing, here is the link to her website: http://www.knightseries.com 

Thursday, 26 January 2012

'Young Adult' Giveaway Hop (International Stop)

Welcome to the  'Young AdultGiveaway Hop which is hosted by 'I am a Reader, not a Writer' and 'Down the Rabbit Hole'. As usual my post is one of the first to go up as I am based in the UK and am governed by Greenwich Mean Time. As the majority of the other blogs that are taking part in  this hop are based in America and Canada, their posts will go up at 00.01 on the 27th January, according to their specific time zones.

To gain entry to this draw you have to be a GFC Follower of my blog and leave a comment (also include your e-mail address with your comment so I can contact you if you are the winner!) . You can also gain extra entries by 'liking' The Secret Writer' Facebook page and following 'The Secret Writer' via Network Blogs. Just let me know what you have done in your comment. Once this has been completed, you will have  been entered into the draw.

I usually only offer hard copies of books as prizes in my giveaway draws, but this time around I have decided to try things differently. As there is such a selection of 'Young Adult' books available these days, I am offering the winner a choice of either a $20 (US) or £15 (sterling) Amazon Gift Voucher/Certificate so the winner can choose their own  books! I will arrange that the prize is e-mailed to the winner on the completion of this draw!

One prize of either a $20 (US) or £15 (sterling) Amazon Gift Voucher/Certificate 

There will only be one winner from this draw. The gift Voucher/Certificate will only be offered in either US dollars or sterling. No other currencies can be catered for. Each entrant will be allocated a sequential number. After the closing date for this draw (Wednesday 1st February 2012 at 23.59GMT), the winning numbers entered for this draw will be chosen by Random.org. This is an International Giveaway Draw! 

To visit the rest of the blogs that are taking part in this great hop, just click on the 'Click Here' link below, to be taken to a page of participating blog links. 

Good Luck Everyone!
This draw is now closed

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

'Publishing the First Book—How I Did it' by Raji Lukkoor

Today it is with great pleasure that I welcome back to 'The Secret Writer' the author Raji Lukkoor. You may remember that Raji paid a visit to 'The Secret Writer' not so long ago, for an author interview with myself. If you are interested, you can view my interview with Raji by clicking on the following link:

When talking to Raji, I discovered that she had written a very interesting article on how she went about publishing her first book. Raji has very kindly agreed to share this excellent article with us all here at 'The Secret Writer'. The article will be published through a series of three posts, the first of which appears here today. The second and third parts that make up the complete article, 'The Pre-publishing Check-List' and 'Writing a Solid Book Proposal', will be published here over the next week.

All I have left to say now is a great big thank-you to Raji for sharing her article with us. It is very much appreciated. I hope you all enjoy reading this article as much as I did!

Publishing the First Book—How I Did it
“I am pleased to confirm the publication of your book.” A trip to space would have been less euphoric than the rush of emotions those words—that my would-be publisher conveyed in a single-line email confirmation—triggered in me. In fact, I’m still trying to absorb the fact that I am now a published author.

I started exploring publishing options for my spiritual memoir in January 2010. Just seven months into the process, I struck publishing gold…like they say. Nine months thereafter, my book was in print. With the book on the market, my concerns about acceptance dropped away. They were immediately replaced, however, by a whole new set of challenges connected to the marketing process—an issue I will capture in detail in a future post.

Every writer aspires to be a published author. And why not? A compelling story you’ve written has you utterly convinced of its publishing appeal and Harry-Potter-like potential. You contact publishers, only to receive rejection upon rejection. You question the authenticity of your talent; you examine the effectiveness of your storytelling; you lament on your bad luck. But what writers often fail to understand is that most publishers—and bookstores—are in it for the money. Publishers and bookstore owners want something that will sell, in terms of number of copies, and frequency and longevity of sale. Sustaining the business is their bottom line and as the publishing industry reassesses its future in the digital age, works that don’t meet their revenue projections get chucked down the rejection chute.

The first thing I acquired when I thought I had a somewhat-complete draft manuscript was the services of an editor. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area and, upon a friend’s referral, I contacted the Bay Area Editor’s Forum (BAEF)—an association of in-house and freelance editors from a variety of publishing and publications settings. A posting on their jobs line generated over thirty responses in just forty-eight hours. Then came the challenging task of narrowing the selection, followed by interviewing the individuals to determine the editor who was right for my manuscript and fit my budget. Buying membership at a local writers’ club and attending their meetings is also a way to access the editing circle.

Heed my advice and hire a professional editor as their feedback is worth its value in gold. My editor did a meticulous job, scrutinizing every word and sentence formation, correcting erroneous and inconsistent syntax, examining the logic of my argument, highlighting glaring gaps, and providing suggestions for improving my prose—all while retaining my original voice. Overall, her input enhanced my writing and gave it a professional polish. When the second draft was ready, my editor advised me to seek “wise reads” on my manuscript from subject matter experts in the community. As a result, I was able to connect with two outstanding individuals who willingly provided “wise reads” for my manuscript, free of charge, in a very timely manner. As an extra bonus, my editor shared a template to help me develop a book proposal, and then she reviewed my draft proposal. May be this is just her, but my editor also supported me during the entire “publisher hunt” process. She’d checked-in with me from time to time, offering a subtle tip or two that would change the direction of my search. She consistently made herself available to answer and/or redirect my questions. She genuinely rejoiced when I informed her of my finding a publisher. When I needed a read for my “About the Author” and “Author Bio” blurbs for my book jacket, my editor once again jumped right in, at a moment’s notice, and offered her insight. The bottom line is, get an editor!

So, the manuscript is now professionally edited, reviewed by subject matter experts, and ready to be moved forward. The next step is to either find a literary agent or explore publishing options on your own. A literary agent is the way to go, especially for works of fiction. The big publishing houses—Random House, Penguin, Simon & Schuster, to name a few— work almost exclusively with agents. A search on the Internet for literary agents should yield a list of agents. The Literary Market Place (the LMP) is a reference guide that contains a listing of literary agencies, available for purchase at any bookstore and for checkout at any library. Authorlink is another source for information. The Writer’s Market directory at www.writersdigest.com is yet another resource. Personally, I didn’t use an agent. I wanted to explore the industry on my own, but would have sought an agent had things worked out differently.

An aspiring author must prepare three things prior to establishing contact with publishers. That is an independent topic and is addressed separately as the second post in this particular series ('click here' to view).

Another point worth addressing is Copyright Registration. The author is the copyright holder of his/her work(s). Retain your copyright privileges for a small fee by registering your work(s) with the US Copyright Office.

Learn how a ten-day vipassana meditation retreat transformed Raji Lukkoor.

Watch the captivating book trailer on Raji Lukkoor’s YouTube channel.
© Raji Lukkoor, 2011-12. All rights reserved.

Monday, 23 January 2012

'The Gods of Gotham' by Lyndsay Faye

Release date: 15th March 2012
Published by: Headline Review
ISBN No: 978 0755386741

August 1845 in New York; enter the dark, unforgiving city underworld of the legendary Five Points...

After a fire decimates a swathe of lower Manhattan, and following years of passionate political dispute, New York City at long last forms an official Police Department. That same summer, the great potato famine hits Ireland. These events will change the city of New York for ever.

Timothy Wilde hadn't wanted to be a copper star.  On the night of August 21st, on his way home from the Tombs defeated and disgusted, he is plotting his resignation, when a young girl who has escaped from a nearby brothel, crashes into him; she wears only a nightdress and is covered from head to toe in blood. Searching out the truth in the child's wild stories, Timothy soon finds himself on the trail of a brutal killer, seemingly hell bent on fanning the flames of anti-Irish immigrant sentiment and threatening chaos in a city already in the midst of social upheaval. But his fight for justice could cost him the woman he loves, his brother and ultimately his life...

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Book Launch: 'New Beginnings' by Rebecca Emin

Release date: 23rd January 2012
Published by: Grimoire Books
ISBN No: 978 1908375063

Rebecca Emin lives in Oxfordshire, with her husband and three small children. Her first novel for older children, ‘New Beginnings,’ is being released by Grimoire Books today, 23rd January 2012! 

Rebecca enjoys writing flash fiction and short stories and has had several flash fiction stories included in fundraising anthologies, including ‘50 Stories for Pakistan’ and ‘Shambelurkling and Other Stories.’ She also had a short story published in ‘Literary Mix Tapes: Nothing But Flowers,’ (Emergent Publishing 2011) and will have short stories included in further Literary Mix Tapes anthologies during 2012. ‘A Knowing Look and Other Stories’ is a collection of Rebecca’s short stories which was published in November 2011. She has also finished her second novel (for young adults) and has started a third (for older children).

Rebecca is also an author for Ether Books, who publish short stories and essays to mobile devices via the Ether app. Rebecca's long term objective is to write many more books for children and young adults, and the occasional book for adults!

As today is the official publication date of New Beginnings by Rebecca Emin, join everyone over on Rebecca’s blog Ramblings of a Rusty Writer, to find out all the details of how she is planning to celebrate today! You can also read some reviews of the book itself on Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

About 'New Beginnings'
Sam Hendry is not looking forward to starting at her new school. Things go from bad to worse as the day of truth arrives and all of her fears come true...

When Sam meets a different group of people who immediately accept her as a friend, she begins to feel more positive.

With her new friends and interests, will Sam finally feel able to face the bully who taunts her, and to summon up the courage to perform on stage?

Sunday, 22 January 2012

'The Lifeboat' by Charlotte Rogan

Release date: 29th March 2012
Published by: Virago
ISBN No: 978 1844087525

I was to stand trial for my life. I was twenty-two years old. I had been married for ten weeks and a widow for six. In the summer of 1914, the Empress Alexandra, a magnificent ocean liner, suffers a mysterious explosion on its voyage from London to New York City. On board are Henry Winter, a rich banker, and his young new wife, Grace. Somehow, Henry manages to secure a place in a lifeboat for Grace. But the survivors quickly realize it is over capacity and could sink at any moment. For any to live, some must die. As the castaways battle the elements, and each other, Grace watches and waits. She is a woman who has learned the value of patience - her journey to a life of glittering privilege has been far from straightforward. Now, she knows, it is in jeopardy, and her very survival is at stake. Over the course of three perilous weeks, the passengers on the lifeboat plot, scheme, gossip and console one another while sitting inches apart. Their deepest beliefs about goodness, humanity and God are tested to the limit as they begin to discover what they will do in order to survive. The Lifeboat is a page-turning story of moral dilemmas, and also the moving and haunting story of Grace, a woman as unforgettable and complicated as the story she recounts.

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Maria V Snyder 'Touch of Power' Blog Tour Visit!

Release date: 20th December 2011
Published by: Harlequin (UK) Ltd
ISBN No: 978 1848450653

'Touch of Power' is the first title in the gripping new Avry of Kazan series by Maria V Snyder. In this story Avry must make the ultimate decision – use her healing touch to show the ultimate mercy or die a martyr to a lost cause…

What‘s the cost of a deal with the devil when you have the powers of a god? Avry’s power to heal the sick should earn her respect in the plague-torn land of Kazan. Instead she is feared. Her kind are blamed for the horrifying disease that has taken hold of the nation.

When Avry uses her forbidden magic to save a dying child, she faces the guillotine. Until a dark, mysterious man rescues her from her prison cell. His people need Ava’s magic to save their dying Prince. The very Prince who first unleashed the plague on Kazan.

Saving the Prince is certain to kill Ava – yet she already faces a violent death. Now she must choose - use her healing touch to show the ultimate mercy or die a martyr to a lost cause?

To survive in the Iron Realm, Ash must have a soul and a mortal body. But the tests he must face to earn these things are impossible. And along the way Ash learns something that changes everything. A truth that challenges his darkest beliefs and shows him that, sometimes, it takes more than courage to make the ultimate sacrifice. 

I am honoured to be able to say that Maria V Snyder is no stranger to 'The Secret Writer'. In December 2010, Maria very kindly agreed to undertake an author interview with me for this blog. This was very brave of Maria, as I had not been doing author interviews for very long before that particular time! Towards the end of the interview Maria actually shared her outline for 'Touch of Power' with us, although the book did not have a title at that time. My, how does time fly! Here we are now in 2012 and 'Touch of Power' has just been published. For those that may be interested, here is the link to Maria's previous interview with me:

'Touch of Power' is a beautiful book. The cover art is fantastic and provides the reader with an amazing visual picture of what is to come within this story. I particularly like Maria's dedication at the front of the book which says, 'For Jenna, I hope you enjoy your story!'

After reading 'Touch of Power' I can truly say that the particular 'magic' held within the story lines of this book comes out very strongly in Maria's writing. Maria's writing style is easy to follow and the story is fairly fast paced. This book is actually a page turner and it can be difficult to set down at times once started!

With a female lead character, adventure, magic and a little love, this particular combination works very well in providing another winning story for Maria's writing portfolio. I am predicting here that this book and eventually the series, will win many literary awards for this author.

Although written mainly for a young adult group of readers, I think this series of books will really be enjoyed as well by older generations that will include both female and male readers! 

I am absolutely delighted to be able to say that Maria has very kindly agreed to call back to 'The Secret Writer' today as part of her 'Touch of Power' Book Blog Tour, to answer a few more of my questions about her new book!

 Maria, welcome back to The Secret Writer! Can I start by asking what 'sparked' your initial idea for the story 'Touch of Power'?

 In my first fantasy series, the main protagonist, Yelena was able to heal, but it was only one of her many abilities.  I wanted to explore this magical power more in depth.  So I had this vague idea about a healer or an apprentice healer during an epidemic.  She was either going to be sought after for her powers – like everyone wanting her, or be hunted.  I wasn’t sure.  Then one night my daughter couldn’t sleep and she wanted me to tell her a story.  She knew all my other books, so I started telling her about this healer.  And every night, she’d ask, “What’s next?”  That’s why Touch of Power is dedicated to my daughter.

What type of character is Avry?

She's nurturing and self-sacrificing.  She also can be stubborn and tends to cling to her beliefs despite evidence to the contrary.  And she's smart.

What sort of research did you have to undertake for this story?

I researched the Black Death.  I was most interested in what the survivors did with the bodies and how they recovered from such losses.

How long did it take from developing your initial concept for this book, until it was actually published?

After I handed in Outside In in July 2010, my editor wanted me to write a new fantasy that wasn't connected to any of my other books.  I wrote three proposals, an urban fantasy, a fantasy set on a desert world, and the healer story.  She liked the healer proposal so I started  writing the book in October 2010. I handed it in in March 2011, and then we a series of revisions, line edits, galley proofs, etc... which we finished in September 2011.  It took about 14 months from start to finish.

From what I am hearing on the ground, 'Touch of Power' seems to be a very popular and successful story already!  Can you give the fans of 'Touch of Power' any hints as to what more has to come in relation to further stories about Avry?

I'm thrilled Touch of Power is getting such fantastic reviews!  I'm working on the second book now.  Scent of Magic is focusing on the war between Estrid and Tohon, while Avry seeks to reconnect with her sister.  The book will also have scenes from Kerrick's point of view as he deals with a new threat from the wildlands. 

Thank-you very much Maria for visiting The Secret Writer again and for answering my questions. It is very much appreciated! Good luck with writing the next book in this series and we will look forward to reading this too when it is published.

For those who would like more information about Maria and her writing, direct links to the UK Touch of Power website and to Maria's own website can be found below:

If you are a GFC Follower of this blog do not forget to enter my monthly book giveaway draw. This month's book is actually 'Touch of Power' by Maria V Snyder! Click on the 'monthly giveaway tab' at the top of the page for details!

Friday, 20 January 2012

'The House on Willow Street' by Cathy Kelly

Release date: 1st March 2012
Published by: Harper Fiction
ISBN No: 978 0 00 737361 1 

The warm and wonderful new novel from the natural heir to Maeve Binchy

Tess used to be happy with her lot: she lives in the idyllic Irish coastal village, Avalon, with her teenage son, Zach and nine-year-old Kitty, and works in the local antiques shop. Her only regret in life is that everything went so horribly wrong with her first love. Then her marriage falls apart and her first love returns to Avalon.

Suki, Tess’s sister, fled Ireland years ago to marry politician Kyle Richardon, but when Suki discovers that a biographer is planning to tell all, there is only one place she can go to ensure that her secrets stay hidden.

Danae is the village post mistress in Avalon and she’s worked very hard to make sure nobody knows where she came from or who she is… Her past is her business and that’s the way she would like to keep it.

In Galway, Mara sits with a smile glued to her face at a wedding; she only wants to ask the groom one thing: why did he tell her he loved her? Needing to put her past behind her, Mara packs up her life and gets ready for a fresh start.

Can these four women lay their pasts to rest? Or do they need to look back before they can begin to live for the future?

'The Lion at Bay' by Robert Low

Release date: 16th February 2012
Published by: Harper Fiction
ISBN No: 978 0 00 733789 7 


Scotland in turmoil. Robert Low at his best.

William Wallace fled to France after his defeat at the Battle of Falkirk, which ended his rebellion against the English King. He would have been slain at Falkirk but for the courage of Hal of Herdmanston, whose home was razed in reprisal by King Edward – but who has become a follower of the Earl of Carrick, known as the Bruce, now a friend of the English.

The Bruce is playing a dangerous game in submitting to Edward since his own ambition, fostered by his auld reprobate grandfather, is to be the King of Scotland. But bitter rivalry amongst the Scots nobility is as grave an obstacle to its independence as the forces of the English Edward Longshanks, and the Bruce has powerful rivals.

Wallace has returned home, though he still faces betrayal from his own. His loyalty is to the previous king, John Baliol, a prisoner of the Pope. Knights Templar, Cathar heretics, and a Curse laid on the Bruce’s family all conspire against Robert, as well as Edward’s forces. Murder and treachery will be crucial weapons in the long and bloody rise of the Bruce to his coronation.

'Wallis' by Rebecca Dean

Release date: 10th May 2012
Published by: Harper Fiction
ISBN No: 978 0 00 731573 4 

Two lovers. Two very different lives. One future together that will change history.

When debutante Wallis Simpson is growing up, she devotes her teenage daydreams to one man, the future King of England, Prince Edward. But it's Pamela Holtby, Wallis's aristocratic best friend, who mixes within the palace circle.

Wallis's first marriage to a dashing young naval pilot is not what she dreamt of; he turns out to be a dominating bully of a man, who punishes her relentlessly. But her fated marriage does open a suprising door, to the world of Navy couriers – where navy wives are being used to transport messages around the world. This interesting turn of fate takes Wallis from the exuberant social scene in Washington to a China that is just emerging from civil war.

Edward in the meantime is busy fulfilling his royal duties – and some extra-curricular ones involving married women. Until the day, just before he ascends the throne as Edward VIII, he is introduced to a very special married woman, Wallis Simpson.

Was Wallis Simpson really the monster the royal family perported her to be? Or was she an extraordinary woman who led an unimaginable life?

A dramatic novel, that crosses continents and provides a unique insight into one of history’s most charismatic and multi-faceted women.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

'Never Mind the Botox' with the Authors Penny Avis and Joanna Berry!

Release date: 11th January 2012
Published by: Matador
ISBN No: 978 1848766 624

Never Mind the Botox is a four book series, of which Rachel is the second, about four professional women all working on the sale of high profile cosmetic surgery business the Beau Street Group. Each book reveals how the women cope with one of the most glamorous but challenging deals of their careers and the dramatic impact it has on their personal lives. With a briefcase in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, can they navigate their way through a surreal world of cosmetic surgery by day and intrigue by night - and still keep their own love lives on track? The series can be read in any order.

In the second book of this series, Rachel Altman is a corporate financier with a prestigious accounting firm who's desperately trying to keep on the straight and narrow. Hopelessly led astray by her bar-diving boyfriend, she gets the chance to turn things around when her boss gives her the break she's been waiting for. But when the deal doesn't go as planned Rachel panics, sparking off a chain of betrayal and lies that threatens to ruin both her love life and career.

Rachel is a light, easy adult read. When being read it can be dipped in and out of quite easily. Recounting the 'highs and lows' of a city girl trying to develop her career in the business world, you get the odd chuckle with some of the situations that she finds herself in. This could be a book that you should have in your bag, so that when you find that you have some spare time on your hands, you can pull it out and have a good read!

Meet the Authors!

Penny Avis and Joanna Berry are the co-authors of Never Mind the Botox and have been friends for over ten years. Penny, an accountant, and Jo, a lawyer,  were tired of unrealistic role models in women's contemporary fiction and wanted to write a book where the main characters worked in the professions and cared about more than just shopping, shoes and searching for Mr Right! 

Joanna Berry is an Oxford graduate and a qualified solicitor, specialising in media and entertainment law. At 31, she became one of the youngest partners in her firm and career highlights include working with the Spice Girls and on the launch of Channel 5.  Joanna was a working mum for several years working full time, part time and flexibly, until finally taking a career break after her third child.  With her youngest still in nappies, and with the help of a nanny, Jo was able to renovate a house in Cheshire for her family to live in and start writing her first book with her best friend Penny. Jo now works part time for Children in Need, dedicating the rest of her time to her young family and writing the next book in the Never Mind the Botox series.

Penny Avis is a trained accountant, currently on a career break from her high flying job as a corporate finance partner at Deloitte. Career highlights include working on the acquisition of Body Shop by L'Oreal, being named as one of the UKs top ten accountants under 35 and being appointed to the UK Board of Deloitte. Penny is also a business coach for prospective female partners at Deloitte and has a wealth of career advice for working women looking to get ahead. Penny is herself a working mother and has spent years juggling the diary from hell with bringing up two young children, organising her nanny and life at home.  Penny lives in London with  her family and escapes to their holiday home in Majorca whenever she can. She is currently working on the next book in the series with Jo. 

Penny and Joanna agreed to answer some questions for me about their books, so here they are:

Penny and Joanna, how did you get your initial idea for your 'Never Mind the Botox' series of books?

We started with the premise that we would write about what we knew, being the careers of young professional women. We also decided that the business that they were involved with needed to be interesting, so we opted for cosmetic surgery as we felt it tapped into the current zeitgeist. 

Rachel is the principal character in the second book. How would you describe her character?

She’s a bit of a party girl who loves life, her boyfriend and her job. She’s very keen to get the next big promotion, so needs to do well on the cosmetic surgery project she is given. This is where her ‘Never Mind the Botox’ story starts.  But things don’t quite go to plan for her!

Can you give any hints in relation to the personalities of Alex, Stella and Meredith who are the principal characters in the other books that make up this series?

If you have a look at the four book covers, there is a secondary image next to the bag on each one, which gives you a clue. Alex has rose petals, Rachel has cocktail umbrellas, Stella has a credit card and Meredith has a hotel room key. We’ll let you make up your own mind as to what they mean!

Your books are written within a partnership between two authors. How does this partnership work to actually finish a story that you both agree on?

We designed the stories to all four books together before we started, so we made sure that we were both happy with all the key plot points and endings before we started. This really helped to make sure that we knew where we were going. 

What actor would you really like to play the part of Rachel, if this book was ever made into a film? 

We’ve actually recently signed a TV deal for the series with Future Films! So hopefully, with a fair wind, it will end up on the small screen. It is therefore more likely that we would have up and coming actresses, a bit like Downton Abbey did for many of their characters, so they are not already well known for something else and can create a fresh new image for viewers.

Thank-you Penny and Joanna for your very interesting answers to my questions and for visiting 'The Secret Writer today!

The books
Alex, the first book in the series, was published in June 2011 while Rachel was published in January 2012. Stella will be released in Summer 2012 and Meredith in Autumn 2012.

Further information about these books can be found on the authors website at:

Winners of the Dreaming of Books Giveaway Draw!

I would like to say a great big thank-you to everyone who joined my blog as a new follower or were already a follower, 'liked' my Facebook Page, Followed me on Network Blogs or Twitter,  and entered this draw. It really is appreciated. Some really wonderful comments were left during this fantastic event, so thank-you for these too!

As usual  I wish that I could send everyone who entered this draw a book, but within the rules, there were to be three lucky winners! For those of you who have not won this time, there are plenty more giveaway draws to come. Please keep visiting this blog and entering the giveaways. You never know your luck, you could be one of our next winners! If you are a GFC follower of this blog, do not forget to enter my monthly GFC Followers book draw. This month's prize is a copy of 'Touch of Power' by Maria V Snyder!

I visited random.org earlier today and the winners of this particular draw are, drum roll!!!

JEL - 'Switched' by Amanda Hocking

MARA80 - 'Legacy' by Danielle Steel

Nyle2 - 'Shatter the Bones' by Stuart MacBride

I will contact the winners for their mailing details. If I have not been able to make contact with a winner within 48 hours of this post, another winner will then be drawn. Thanks again to everyone who entered this draw and who follow my blog. Happy reading!

Wise Words!

Monday, 16 January 2012

'The Trader's Wife' by Anna Jacobs

Release date: 26th April 2012
Published by: Hodder and Stoughton
ISBN No: 978 1444711264

Singapore in the 1860s is exotic and yet terrifying for a penniless Englishwoman, alone and vulnerable after her mother's death. Too pretty to obtain a governess's job, Isabella Saunders accepts an offer from Singapore merchant Mr Lee to teach him English and live with his family.

Two years later Bram Deagan arrives in Singapore, determined to make his fortune as a trader. Mr Lee sees a way to expand his business connections and persuades Isabella to marry Bram.

Bravely, she sets sail for a new land and life. But the past casts a long shadow and together she and Bram face unexpected dangers. Will they find a way to achieve their dreams of a successful trading business?

And will their marriage turn out to be more of a love match than they ever could have dreamed?

Copyright: Amazon Synopsis

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Laptops and Lapcats with Free Amazon e-book Download by Grace Elliot

Laptops and Lapcats!

Hello, and another big thank you to Calum for indulging me here at The Secret Writer. Today I'd like to share my obsession not just for writing but for all things feline! I would suggest cats are like marmite - they polarise people! No prizes for guessing what side of the fence I land on! I'm a cat addict - which is just as well because by day I am a veterinarian.

I 'moonlight' as a writer and this takes place in a converted garage, sitting on an old leopard print sofa with a laptop on my knee… with a cat squashed between the keyboard and my tummy, or my elbow, or with a cat pressed against my thigh - but never, ever with no cat at all!

The thing about having a cat as a writing companion is that it makes me concentrate and work harder. Take Widget as an example. As I type she's curled up beside me, snoring gently, and yet, the moment I get up for a comfort break she'll be in the vacant warm spot quicker than blink. On my return, any attempts to dislodge her are met by looks of such utter hurt, that I don't doubt that if her paws could use a touch-pad she'd have the RSPCA on speed-dial. The result? I stay put at my post as long as possible to avoid the angst of disturbing her!

But whilst I perform my humanly duty of warming up the sofa, at least Widget is content to lie still and leave me in peace. Not so Noni, (Widget's daughter) who loves my youngest son to pieces. The trouble is she loves him too much! It's usual to hear cries of "Noni, no!" as he tries to do his homework. Poor Noni has no idea why a screen could be more fascinating than her and plants herself across the keyboard in protest.

Cats are an endless source of fascination. For instance, whilst researching my historical fiction works, I came across a reference to 'The Cats' Meat Men.' Apparently, the Victorian equivalent of Hills or Whiskas, were these pedlars who sold meat door to door for pet cats. Charles Dickens, aged six, wrote a play about 'The Cats' Meat Men"  and later on, in The Pickwick Papers gave a fascinating glimpse into the unscrupulous pie-man who put cats in his pies!

Over the years, I have assembled quite a dossier of such feline historical trivia. Recently I drew all this information together in a short book "Cat Pies." This non-fiction book is a collection of interesting (well, I think so) trivia such as: who invented the cat flap, why is cat-gut called 'cat-gut' when it's made from sheep intestine, do black cats bring good or bad luck , and why did Victorian veterinarians have such a bad reputation….and much more! 

Those fascinated by cats or trivia or history may be interested to know that you can download a copy of Cat Pies for FREE from Amazon as detailed below

Happy reading!
Grace x

Free Amazon Download of 'Cat Pies'!
Grace has very kindly arranged that you can download a free e-copy of her book 'Cat Pies' by clicking on the direct Amazon links given below. 

The free download will be available on  Amazon.com from midnight (U.S. EST) on 15th January and at 5am on 16th January (GMT) on Amazon UK, for two days only, so grab your copy as soon as it becomes available in your particular time zone! Thank-you Grace for providing us with this fantastic offer. It really is appreciated.

Click on the relevant link below for your free e-copy of 'Cat Pies'!

Amazon UK Link

Amazon.com Link

Author Bio - Grace Elliot.

Grace Elliot leads a double life as a veterinarian by day and author of historical romance by night. Grace works in a companion animal practice near London and is housekeeping staff to five moggies, two teenage sons and a guinea pig. She turned to writing as an antidote to the stress of modern life and believes intelligent people have the greatest need to read romance!

If you would like to know more about Grace please visit her blog or website (direct links)