Monday, 28 January 2013

Dating Dilemmas - Shaz's Book Blog

It's late in the day, but better late than never. Check out my Dating Dilemmas post over at Shaz's Book Blog - enjoy!
http://www.shazsbookboudoir.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/guest-post-susan-buchanan-talks-about.html
Tune in on Fri for an interview with EJ Greenway, author of Party Games
Sooz

Friday, 25 January 2013

Book review of Party Games by EJ Greenway

Morning everyone - it's snowing again here. I really must watch the forecast more often...
I have something a little different for you today - a novel about politics and Westminster, so this one is much more for both sexes, than my usual fare.

So, without further ado, here's Party Games

Rodney Richmond, the young, charismatic yet ultimately insecure Leader of the Opposition, is at a critical time in his leadership. But once his Shadow Cabinet reshuffle turns sour, leaving a sacked Chief Whip out in the cold, events begin to spiral out of his control. Richmond’s leadership rival and deputy sees his opportunity to seize power through a ruthless game of manipulation and blackmail, leaving Richmond battling for the heart and soul of the party – and the woman – he loves.

Will the loyalty of Richmond’s most trusted allies be enough to stop his enemies, or will their attempts to save him lead to tragedy? Set in the heart of Westminster, Party Games is a hotbed of ambition, treachery, friendship, love and passion. Nobody is safe, and everyone must play...





And here's what I thought of it:-

A glimpse into life in Westminster - bet it's all true!

This is not a genre I would usually read, as I don't follow Politics. I do, however, like legal thrillers and courtroom dramas, so it wasn't such a stretch. I am so glad I read this book. I had real problems putting it down and found myself getting annoyed when my Other Half came home and interrupted me! I could easily visualise all of the characters and although the novel deals with backstabbing, deals, dodgy journalists, scandals, switching allegiances and downright skulduggery, there is a strong romantic theme running throughout the novel, as we see the relationships behind the politicians. How the past shapes the future is also important, as is trying to keep any sort of private life private. The balance of power between politicians, journalists and other 'players' is also very interesting to see unfold. The novel really made me wonder about matters I hadn't given much thought to before. I found Colin odious, although I empathised with him to some extent because of his past. I liked the dubiety over the relationship between Rodney and his close colleague, as well as the eventual relationship between that colleague and another who had been recently sacked. I could well believe that life in Westminster is very similar to this. Also, people stealing their colleagues' thunder and taking the credit themselves is another concept I could clearly see happening on a relatively regular basis. Jeremy having to be placid and keep everyone in line, reminded me a little of a mother hen, trying to keep the peace. I believe there will be a sequel to this novel and I am very much looking forward to it. The pace of the novel and the multitude of events which happened and secrets which were unveiled, made for a compelling read.
I have rated this novel 4 stars, as it would have benefitted from a professional proofread. I understand this is now being rectified. Had it been, and if I were rating on storyline alone, I would easily have rated it 5 stars. An author I am delighted to have discovered.

You can buy Party Games from Amazon at http://amzn.to/12WLQAc (UK) or http://amzn.to/12WLQAc  (US) - £1.02 and $1.65 respectively - an absolute bargain in my opinion.

Tune in on Monday for an interview on dating with Shaz's Book Blog.
Have a great weekend everyone
Sooz

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Winner of the Girly Book Blog Hop Grand Prize

Morning everyone
Just a quick note to say the winner of the Grand Prize is Valerie Mitchell. The blog organiser will be in touch directly. Congratulations!
Tune in tomorrow everyone for this week's book review, EJ Greenway's Party Games.
have a good one
Sooz

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

An interview with Holly on Travel - Louise Wise Blog

Morning everyone. Hope you all enjoyed the Girly Book Blog Hop's second instalment. I've just picked a winner for the ecopy of The Dating Game and the lucky winner is Tara F. Congrats, Tara, I'll be emailing you shortly.

Now to today's event! The lovely Holly, from Sign of the Times, has agreed to an exclusive interview on her favourite topic - travel. Here she is on Louise Wise's blog - enjoy!
http://www.louisewise.com/

I'll be announcing the winner of the Grand Prize from the GBBH just as soon as I hear the news from the organiser.

And don't forget to tune in on Friday for this week's book review.
We finally have snow here in Central Scotland - yay!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Girly Book Blog Hop - Part Deux!



Hello everyone and welcome to the second Girly Book Blog Hop, back by popular demand. Once again we have a whole array of fabulous prizes for you to win. And the topic today is Location, Location, Location, so choosing Sign of the Times to work with, which will also be part of the grand prize, here's why I chose Italy for part of the setting.



I’ve been really lucky that I’ve travelled all over, but I am often asked why I chose to set part of my first book Sign of the Times in Italy. Simple. I love Italy, Italians and the food. What’s not to like? (apart from the honking car horns!)

When I wrote this part of Sign of the Times, I’d already visited many cities and towns in Italy, but as a region, Tuscany has always appealed to me. Now unfortunately it is vastly overrun by German and British tourists and is very expensive, but there are still small towns, like Bibbiena, where the novel is partly set, which have laughed in the face of progress.

Of course, I prefer to picture Bibbiena as it was 10 years ago when I visited it. Undoubtedly now, there are fewer teenagers on mopeds, slouching in outdoor caf├ęs, perhaps the old men playing chess outside the bars have gone to meet their maker and who knows if the town still boasts the prize-winning olive oil.  But in my mind, Bibbiena will always be a small town in the Tuscan countryside, surrounded by rolling hills, vineyards and olive groves. How much of that is in my memory and how much in my imagination is now unclear!

I wonder if the granddaughter of the salumeria owner has taken over her delicatessen. I mistakenly asked for 800g of salami instead of 8 slices...thank God there were 8 of us staying at the villa, but even so, it took us 3 days to eat it all!

I also wonder how Giampiero, the owner of Casa Dovizi, where we stayed, and his family are. They practically adopted us, simply because I was the first person to rent their villa who spoke Italian. Each day he would bring us a little gift  (they lived next door) - coffee, Amaretto biscuits, wine, Sambucca and so on.  I also wonder what kind of teenager his little son became, who he would hoist with ease onto his shoulders, as he chatted with me.

The truth is, I could have written about many parts of Italy. I have friends in Turin, Milan, Rome and Genova, but Bibbiena made such an impact on me, that it had to be the setting for Holly’s stay,   The small hotel with the two Italian sons who were besotted with her and the Italian matriarch, who doted on Holly, were a combination of fiction and a trip to Praiano on the Amalfi coast. The wedding they attended, where a key meeting occurs, took place in a fictional  house, on land I could see from my bedroom window during my stay in Bibbiena. It was such a beautiful location , it deserved to have a wedding set there!

My only dilemma now is do I revisit Bibbiena in a future novel?  After all, there will be a sequel to Sign of the Times in 2014...
And now for the prizes. I will be giving away to one lucky reader an ecopy of my new novel, The Dating Game.  To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter form below. You can enter each day to give you more chances of winning - the blog hop is on until the 21st! a Rafflecopter giveaway

 
BUT, that's not all. Visit the other blogs to see their posts and enter the Grand Prize Draw (check the loot below - for logistical reasons the Grand Prize is only available to US residents)






Have fun, good luck and hope you enjoy discovering some great new authors!
Sooz 





Interview with Libby Mercer

Yes, well, Libby's interview is up earlier than our usual Friday slot this week, as we are both participating in the Girly Book Blog Hop from 17th-21st, so I wanted to keep the blog free. Don't forget to tune in for that, on Thursday, when I will have a very special post for you, as well as links to all the other amazing blogs, giveaways and articles.

Anyway, Libby kindly agreed to be grilled by my good self, so here goes!


When I was reading Unmasking Maya at the start and was tweeting about it on Twitter, I kept forgetting the title and calling it Discovering Maya and Uncovering Maya. Clearly this was a Freudian thing, to do with what is revealed about her past later. Was Unmasking Maya always the title, or did you have a few which you batted around? If it was always the title, what other title could you have given it and why?

How interesting about Discovering Maya and Uncovering Maya. Actually this book was sans-title until the very last minute. For some reason, the only thing I could think of was But Robots Can’t Cuddle, and that was stuck in my mind for quite some time, but I knew it was way too flippant for this story. A couple of weeks before I needed to start sending out emails to reviewers, I got some help with brainstorming, narrowed it down and then called in the big guns – posted the contenders on my blog and asked anyone and everyone to weigh in. The clear winner was Masquerading as Maya, but one of my author friends who had also been one of my readers said that Unmasking Maya was more accurate. She was right and I finally had a title!
 Unmasking Maya is classed as a Romance and length-wise that is definitely the case, but to me it seemed more like a sweet chicklit, which worked better for me, as I don’t read Romance.  What should we expect from you in the future and how does UM differ in genre, from your first novel, Fashioning A Romance (which I downloaded at Christmas, as you know, but haven’t had time to read yet!)
Technically it’s a chick lit/romance hybrid, or at least that’s what I’ve been calling it. Fashioning a Romance was the same kind of hybrid, but it tended a bit more towards romance because I wrote it in third person, alternating between the hero and heroine’s POVs. That’s also how my third novel, The Karmic Connection, is structured (to be released this spring) and so is my fourth novel, which is not yet finished. After I release KC and possibly my current project – depending on how long it takes me to finish – I plan to release my two completed chick lit novels. They’re very different from my chick lit/romance hybrids and I plan to release them under my real name – Anna Garner. So I’ll need to come up with a good strategy to do so. Lots to think about!
 I love the idea of Fashion meets IT. Uber-fashion conscious people meets geekdom. I believe you’ve worked in Fashion, but have you worked with any geeks and/or had any geeky jobs? I worked in IT for years, so I could easily relate to the geeks, but equally knew that nothing is ever as black and white!
Nope. The closest I’ve come to working in IT is when I worked the telephone switchboard at various temp jobs I’ve held. My mom worked in IT though – she actually started working for IBM way back in 1966. When I was a teenager and she’d talk about things at work, any mention of the UNIX guys would get a giggle out of me. UNIX is apparently some kind of operating system, but whenever she mentioned the guys who worked on the system, I’d be envisioning eunuchs.

 I loved the rapport between the geek girl and Maya.  Did you model the geek girl on anyone?
Aww thanks, Sooz! Actually, no. I don’t think I know anyone like her in real life. I did want her to be Asian American (which I hope is clear from her name – Lin) because San Francisco has such a huge Asian American community, but none of my Asian American friends are anything like her.

 Do you envisage there being a sequel to Unmasking Maya or writing any more books set in San Francisco?
I hadn’t considered the possibility of a sequel until one of my reviewers remarked on how much she liked Inez, Maya’s agent, and how much she would love to read a book centred around her. I’m thinking about that, but I do have so many things going on right now, it probably wouldn’t happen for at least another year or two. As far as more books set in San Francisco, though, I can pretty much guarantee those! My current work in progress is set in San Francisco (briefly) but I know this city will feature as the location for future books too.
 The way Derek stepped in and was there for Maya at a critical, emotional moment for her, was a major turning point. Where else do you think he stuck up for her?
LOL. Is this a trick question? I’m not sure that he did stick up for her elsewhere in the book. Certainly not in the same sense. He says some nice words about her at the installation’s unveiling , but that’s not really the same thing. I’m a bit stumped.
 Both Maya and Derek are a bit dim on the ‘does he/she fancy me’ stakes, which of course, makes it all the more compelling for us as readers to watch. What clues did you include to show the readers their feelings?
I knew Maya’s clues would be pretty obvious to readers – the tingles she gets from his touch, the fact that she’s so focused on how he looks, what he says, what he does. With Derek, I wanted it to be a bit more of a mystery. But on a couple of different occasions, when he explains why he has issues with Maya being in his office building after hours, he slips and explains that he’s only trying to protect himself. Then he quickly amends and clarifies – protect his company. I intended for this to be a clue that this guy, underneath his high tech armour, is just as vulnerable as the rest of us.
 You kept Maya’s two secrets very well hidden until the end. Did you know from the start what they would be and exactly how and when you would reveal them to the reader?
Not at all. When I started writing this story, I knew I wanted it to be a love story between an techie guy and an artsy girl, and I had the opening scene pretty much figured out, but that was it. It wasn’t until I was working on the second chapter that I knew I wanted Maya (and Derek) to have all of these secrets.
What would you say were the main obstacles Maya and Derek had? (apart from him being a geek!)
Maya’s fear is probably the largest obstacle to overcome. She’s been burned in the past and is determined not to let that happen again. (Derek’s not the only one with protective armour here.) This sort of goes hand-in-hand with the fear, but letting go of the past is another obstacle for both of them. Also, I think the fact that they’ve both got such strong personalities and both have a hard time backing down is a challenge for them too.  


There is a lot of humour in the book, which again is why I think it feels more chicklit than romance.  What was your favourite funny scene?
That would have to be the company picnic, hands down. I had so much fun writing that chapter!

Fun stuff

Always my first question - everyone knows I am Rupert Penry Jones daft, but who is your RPJ? Hehe. I didn’t know you were Rupert Penry Jones daft. I don’t really have one celebrity who I’ve got the hots for, but I’ve always kind of had a bit of a thing for Ricky Martin. Tragic, I know.

Crime or hospital dramas on TV?
Crime drama

Movies or TV?
Movies

Japanese or Mexican food?
Mexican. Hey, I’m a California girl.

Choral music or rock music?
Rock music.

Favourite chicklit movie or novel?
Very tough question! I don’t have a favourite. It depends on my mood, but I’ll share one of my faves: How to Lose a Husband and Gain a Life by Bernadette Strachan

 Favourite romantic moment of all time in the movies?
I’m not sure what this says about me – given what happens afterwards – but I’d have to go with the scene towards the very end of Like Water For Chocolate when Pedro and Tita finally, finally get together.

Is your hero, Derek, what you would look for in a man?
Hell yeah! He’s confident, sexy and insanely intelligent. Pretty much my ideal. And I’ve always had a thing for geeky guys.

Cakes or biscuits?
Love them both, but I’d have to go with cakes.

Scotland or Ireland?
Scotland, of course! Although I must point out that I’ve never been to Ireland whereas I’ve been to Scotland on a few different occasions.

Thanks so much for having me here today, Sooz!
You can follow Libby via the links below
Twitter - @LibbyMercer1

And if you don't have your copy yet of Unmasking Maya, get it here  (UK) http://amzn.to/W9wS5y (US)  http://amzn.to/W5HkKA 
and Libby's first novel, Fashioning A Romance (UK) http://amzn.to/UObimg (US) http://amzn.to/V2KpN3
Tune in tomorrow for the start of the Girly Book Blog Hop!
Sooz

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Six Sentence Sunday 13/1/13

Morning everyone! Yep, it's time for Six Sentence Sunday again and today I have an extra special SSS for you. It's taken from my new novel (which won't be out for some time yet), What If. Enjoy!
Sooz


Cameron eased his head out from underneath the pillow and screwing up his eyes against the invading sunlight, disentangled himself from the hand which still rested on his thigh.  Noiselessly he slipped out of the bed, naked as the day he was born and crept over to the bedroom door. He couldn’t risk using his en suite, as the noise would wake his bedfellow. Turning the handle ever so slowly, he opened the door, cursing inwardly as it emitted a squeak. He made a mental note to oil it later and closed it carefully behind him. Once in the hall, he exhaled with relief. 

And there you have it, a wee introduction to my protagonist, Cameron.

Now, since it's obviously not available for sale yet, or anywhere near ready, I've included below links to my other books, in case you need something to read this Sunday.

Sign of the Times -

http://amzn.to/GKqZGd (UK),  http://amzn.to/IYN0Fc (US), http://amzn.to/RDpItf  (Can)
 The Dating Game -

http://amzn.to/RuSl7Y (UK)  http://amzn.to/WZQtZK (US), http://amzn.to/V5snGM (Can)

And to check out those other Six Sentence Sunday entrants, tune in after 2pm GMT today at www.sixsunday.com

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and be sure to check in on Wed for Libby Mercer's interview.
Sooz

Friday, 11 January 2013

Review of Unmasking Maya by Libby Mercer

Morning everyone! Hope you've all had a good week. Today is review day, so if you're looking for something funny and light to read, you could do a lot worse than today's review - Unmasking Maya by Libby Mercer.

Here's the blurb!

Defamed, Disgraced and Displaced...Fresh from a career-killing scandal, New York fashion girl, Maya Kirkwood, arrives in San Francisco to reinvent herself as a fine artist. She's offered the opportunity to create an installation at the Silicon Valley headquarters of a hot new tech company. Fabulous, right?

Not so much.

She can't stand Derek Whitley - wunderkind software genius and CEO of the company. Hot as he may be on the outside, inside the man is a cold, unemotional, robotic type. Way too left-brained for her right-brained self.

As Maya and Derek get to know each other, however, their facades begin to crack. She catches her first glimpse of the man behind the superhuman tech prodigy, and he starts to see her as the woman she used to be. But is this a good thing? Once that last secret is revealed, will it bring them closer together or will it tear them apart?





And here's what I thought of it!

More chicklit than romance and that's a good thing!

Although this is a sweet romance, the whole feel was chicklit for me, which was great, as I don't read romance books. I loved the Silicon Valley side to it, which made me laugh, as I used to work for an IT company in Santa Ana, CA, even though I live in Scotland. The techno jargon had me realising Ms Mercer had either worked in IT (unlikely) or had thoroughly done her research (most likely!) Unmasking Maya cut through the stereotypes that everyone who works in IT is a geek and a nerd. I can confirm that Derek is no geek. Right from the start, he struck me as someone I would like to go out with, even though he was a workaholic (probably 'cos I am one myself!) The chemistry between the love interests was almost tangible from the get go. I particularly liked how I was reintroduced to San Francisco, my joint favourite city in the US, with NYC.
The gradual blossoming of the relationship was great to see unfold, although I found myself wanting to tell them to wake up and smell the coffee! Clearly they fancied each other. There was also quite a lot of comedy in the novel, even right from the beginning, when Maya's work is criticised and she introduces herself by another name, to avoid embarrassment, not realising it will have repercussions later. Like Maya, I, myself, many years ago, found myself falling for someone who hitherto had infuriated the hell out of me, so it was a wee bit like a trip down memory lane!
I also enjoyed the allusions to a dark secret in Maya's past and in fact there were two, which actually were interlinked and as a result had more impact. I kept wondering what it was, but the author kept this to herself until quite late on, finally revealing pieces to us, bit by bit.
Finally, I enjoyed the friendship between Maya and the techno geeks and the turning point at the company BBQ.

Very well written, with few errors, a real breath of fresh air.
My only complaint is I would have liked it to be longer, with some of the subplots being delved into more deeply. But it's aimed at the Romance market, which is generally shorter novels. It's just me - I like to get to know the characters as much as possible and I don't like to leave them!
What I would point out is that it's a short novel, around 50K words. I look forward to reading more by this author and have since bought her first novel, Fashioning A Romance.
I read this novel in 2 days, probably in 3-4 hours. It had me hooked.


You can buy Unmasking Maya via Amazon as below :-

http://amzn.to/VWSvFx (UK)

http://amzn.to/ZAn2KW (US)

I'll be welcoming Libby back on Wed for a fun interview and don't forget to check in on Sunday (I've actually signed up on time to Six Sentence Sunday this week!) for an EXCLUSIVE and I hope a lovely surprise. 
have a great weekend
Sooz 

Monday, 7 January 2013

Interviewed by Maria Savva

Happy Monday all.
Hope you all had a great weekend. As promised, fellow author, Maria Savva interviewed me recently and here's the end result.  Like I said yesterday, it contains a rather special profile, an extra candidate if you will, for THE DATING GAME!
Plus I am giving away a Kindle copy of THE DATING GAME to one lucky winner!  Enjoy! http://bit.ly/Uv3DZX

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Exclusive excerpt from The Dating Game 6/1

Morning. Well, true to form, my brain cells are depleting as I get older. I completely forgot to sign up for Six Sentence Sunday this week so I can't offer you what I originally intended. Instead I will have to keep you on tenterhooks for another week. So instead, I thought I would give you an excerpt from The Dating Game - see if that whets your appetite. Enjoy!


Apart from an email sent by Debbie into her work account, saying in the subject simply, ‘All is cool.  Spoke to Gerry.  Meet me in Drummonds Kelvingrove at 7,’ Gill barely glanced up all afternoon.

She was vaguely aware of Janice shouting goodnight just after five, and next time she glanced at her watch it was quarter past six.  Hurriedly, she logged into her email and brought up the profiles.

Number One – yes, he looked even better on the big screen.  Charlie Prentice.  Broad shoulders always did it for her.  Maybe he was a mechanic or a shipbuilder, something manual labour related.  On second thoughts, she doubted that, or he wouldn’t be on a Professional Persons dating site.  More like Blue Collar Workers Are Us.  There was nothing wrong with blue collar workers of course, she thought.  On the contrary…  Gill thought back many years, to Paul, a production worker at the local factory which made ball bearings and other parts for the automotive industry.  The sex had been fantastic.  Gill hastily pulled herself back to the present, feeling a touch aroused at her reminiscing.

 

 Candidate Profile

Name:  Charlie Prentice

Age:  44

Lives:  South side Glasgow

Occupation:  Surveyor

Qualifications:  BSc Hons Environmental Management and Planning

Height:  6’ 1”

Marital status:  Divorced

Children:  One daughter, aged twelve

Smoker:  No

Interests:  Playing and watching rugby, swimming, socialising with friends, mountain climbing, dining out, cooking, travelling

Further information:  Originally from Barra, I moved to Glasgow when I started university and ended up staying here.

Looking to meet:  A woman who likes socialising and who is open to romance.  She should be independent but enjoy being part of a couple.

 

Divorced?  With a daughter.  So he had some baggage, but didn’t they all? Gill thought.  It was a plus that he didn’t smoke.  No wonder he had that build, if he played rugby, and the swimming would account for those gorgeous shoulders.  Blond, shortish hair, blue eyes.  Yes, there was a real possibility she’d feel some sort of spark, she thought, if she could meet him in the flesh.  And he shared some of the same interests as her, travelling, dining out and he could cook!  That had to be a bonus.  Just as long as he didn’t expect her to cook for him, or any friendship would be over before it began.  Domestic goddess she wasn’t.  And ‘open to romance,’ should that be interpreted, as ‘wants sex’?  It was hard to know.  You’d really have to give the guy the benefit of the doubt.  She quite liked the Western Isles lilt, too.  Charlie sounded promising.
 
Well, that's all for today. Hope that intrigued  you a little.
You can buy The Dating Game here:-
http://amzn.to/RuSl7Y (UK)
 http://amzn.to/WZQtZK (US)
http://amzn.to/V5snGM (Can)
And if you fancy looking up my first book, Sign of the Times, here you go!

http://amzn.to/GKqZGd (UK)

http://amzn.to/IYN0Fc (US)

http://amzn.to/RDpItf (Can)

Tune in on Monday, as the wonderful Maria Savva will be interviewing me and I have to say I really enjoyed her questions, plus there's a very special profile I had to write...
 
Enjoy your Sunday, Sooz

 

Friday, 4 January 2013

Interview with Elke Feuer

Morning and Happy Friday everyone. For those of you who had to go back to work Wed or Thu, I bet you are glad it's the weekend. It's positively tropical here in Scotland today, 13C. Very mild for January.
Anyway, following on from last week's review of For The Love of Jazz, I thought I would get to know the woman behind the book. Enjoy today's interview, Sooz
It’s great to be here, Susan.
I know you have a love of jazz music. What in particular about jazz inspired you to have it as a main theme running through your debut novel?
Definitely the way it makes me feel. The melodious sounds of the instruments and the singers’ voices stir something in me. That and images of Billie Holiday, and Louis Amstrong in their early days in clubs crammed with people and thick smoke. The idea rattled around in my head long before ending up on paper and fit the story and characters as the book unfolded.
There is a lot of very tense sexual chemistry in the book and well executed.  How did you go about ensuring Patrick was such a heartthrob?
Believe it or not he was a difficult character to write. He clammed up for most of the book. It was only when I spent quality time with him that he finally opened up and told me all his secrets and they made him so delicious.
The two time periods, when the aunt disappeared and the present, often overlap by means of the paranormal/ghost aspect. What gave you the idea for this and did you employ any tactics for ensuring that it would weave seamlessly into the story?
Great question!  Lola and William were part of another story and I became so attached that I wanted to include them. They originally had a bigger role, taking control of Patrick and Josie, but it didn’t work with the rest of the story, so I brainstormed ideas to make it fit without them taking over the story or the main characters.
How would you categorise the elements of your book in order of importance, eg romance/suspense/etc?
Romance first for sure. Mystery is another major element. It does have elements of the suspense/paranormal/ghosts, but they’re not nearly enough to be considered major elements.
You deal with a very serious theme in the book, that of a relationship between a black woman and a white upper middle-class man. What led you to include these characters and indeed make them a focal point?
My parents are a mixed couple, along with a lot of people in my family, and even my own marriage. Growing up, I longed to see mixed couples romances, but they were few and far between back then. Also, the original story was about Lola and William and the challenges they faced, not only as a mixed couple, but being from different social backgrounds. Josie and Patrick’s story won over, but I enjoyed them so much I wanted them to be a part of the story.
I love reading about old houses. I think this is the first novel where I have read about house restoration. Do you have any personal experience of this trade, and if not, how did you choose this career for Josie?
My parents love to buy fixer uppers. Thankfully it wasn’t while I lived at home. That’s as close to it as I got. I do love old houses, but more learning about their history than restoring them. I wanted Josie to have a unique career, and something that would tie her not only to Patrick, but the house. 
I don’t think I’ve ever asked this question, yet it’s a fairly simple one. How did you choose your characters’ names? The motivation of authors in naming their characters interests me, as we all do it differently.
I take character naming very seriously. I have a book with baby names and I look up the meaning to make sure it fits the character. I took Josie’s name from another book I was writing. It fit her better. Her last name, Fagan, was Billie Holiday’s birth name. I wanted them connected in some way. Patrick’s name was easier. I researched old Chicago names and came up with Pullman.
The tension and danger created throughout the novel via the threats decidedly adds an air of excitement to the novel and I loved the twist at the end. Did you use any devices to send the reader off on wild goose chases to think it was someone other than the culprit?
I’m glad to hear you liked the twist at the end. I’d never written suspense before, so it was a challenge for me. I’m great with figuring out the ‘who dun it’ when I read or watch a show, but it’s different when you’re trying to create it yourself. I got great feedback/tips from Leigh Michaels, a teacher at Gotham, about suspects, and the book Writing and Selling your Mystery Novel on dropping clues and misguiding readers. I also studied a lot of criminal shows to see how they fooled watchers.
The issue of the uncle’s will and the money lent an additional note of intrigue to what Patrick and Josie would do. Did you always know what Josie would do, or did you have a few options?
Her business is important to her, and the money would really help, but Josie’s an upright person so there was only one choice. The challenge was if she would give up the house, given her strong connection and love for it.
With the release of For The Love of Jazz, what’s next for you?
I’m working on two stories at the moment. The first one is called Deadly Bloodlines. It’s a thriller about the daughter of a serial killer who lives in Cayman. The second is the story of a woman meets her soul mate in her dreams. It’s called The Trouble with Soul Mates. Not sure what category that one will go into yet.


Fun stuff
Favourite Christmas movie
Toss-up between It’s a wonderful life and Love Actually.
Favourite animated or children’s movie
Megamind. I’m a sucker for a laugh and underdogs.
Have you ever made any New Year’s resolutions? If so, name one which worked and one which didn’t?
Oh, yes. Taking on-line writing classes. I always felt I didn’t have enough time. I made time that year. One that didn’t make it was a resolution in 2008 to get published. I published in 2012 and it wasn’t even on my list. LOL.
What’s the big annual celebration for you?
Christmas. It’s my favorite time of year: spending time with family and friends, decorating the house, and seeing everything covered in lights. 
You live in the Cayman Islands. Tell us something we would be unlikely to know about Cayman. Hmm, telling you something about the people would be easier. Caymanian men were in WWII and worked building bridges in the US.
What was your favourite subject at school?
English Literature for sure. I wasn’t great at interpreting Shakespeare, but I loved the poetic sound of the words and how they flowed together to make music and comedy.
What was your first job?
 Working at an ice-cream parlour after school and on Saturdays. I got to eat as much ice cream as I wanted. It seemed like a dream come true at the time, but I didn’t eat ice-cream for a year after I stopped working there. 
Everyone knows I am a huge Rupert Penry-Jones fan. Who’s your RPJ? (husband or partner disallowed!)
I’d have to say Hugh Jackman. He’s sexy, down to earth, has a sense of humor, and isn’t afraid to sing and dance.
Desserts - cakes or cheese and biscuits? And which is your favourite?
 I’m gonna be greedy and take both. LOL. I have a sweet tooth, but I love cheese.
Wine, cocktails or spirits and which is your favourite?
 I like a glass of red wine once in a while, but I’ll take a fruity martini any day.
You can catch up with Elke here:-
and you can buy the book via the following links -
Tune in on Sunday for another Six Sentence Sunday. And I have a rather large surprise for you!

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Sooz's 2013 Reading List

Happy New Year everyone
Well, as most of you know, I've started my third novel, What If (in between lying about on the sofa, reading, eating too much and playing various board games over the festive period. Tomorrow, back to the laptop with a vengeance and I feel better rested for it.
But, in between writing and all the other hats an author wears, what will I be reading this year?
Well, apart from the 500 books that I haven't read yet...plus the 400 on my Kindle (less than many in my Kindle FB group, I can assure you!) I thought I would start with those I got for my birthday and Christmas, as well as those I downloaded with my Amazon voucher on Christmas Day.
So, who's first up?

Carole Matthews - With Love At Christmas - I've been a big fan of Carole's chicklit for many years and think I have all but one of her books and that was simply because I was too busy writing last year to read as much.  I started reading this yesterday morning and have read about 200 pages already.
I see this being a 4 star.  It also addresses a few serious issues, which I thought was a welcome change from everything being light-hearted.

Party Games  - E J Greenway - I discovered this author on Twitter last year and this will be reviewed on my blog at the end of the month. A political thriller with lots of suspense and more than a touch of romance. I have been having problems putting it down, but forced myself to, as I think Christmas books should be read over the festive period, and I wanted to read Carole's book before Valentine's Day! But as soon as I finish that (soon) I will be back to Party Games. Another 4 star I reckon.




The Racketeer - John Grisham - I LOVE John Grisham. He's only had a few I wasn't fussed with and those were all non-legal thrillers. That said, Skipping Christmas (a change in genre for him, too) was fab! Looking forward to reading this very much. As it's a hardback, I always feel I should read those first.

Miracle At The Museum of Broken Hearts: A Christmas Novella - Talli Roland - I had read Build A Man, a total chicklit read, very funny, about plastic surgery, last year and have since downloaded Construct A Couple, the follow up, which I will read later this year. However, as MATMOBH is a Christmas novella, I will read that first. And, just to confuse matters further, Talli had released a second Christmas novella, Mistletoe in Manhattan: A Christmas Story, which I also downloaded and will read after this first novella. I am expecting chick lit at it's best and I'm sure she won't disappoint. This is the woman who tweeted from hospital on Christmas Eve to say she'd just had her epidural! For the record, when my time comes later this year, I will NOT be following suit (although I might catch up on some reading!)

Meet Me At The Cupcake Cafe - Jenny Colgan - Now, I haven't always been thrilled by Ms Colgan's books. I have read a few good ones and a few that were just all right. However, my first book last year I believe was Welcome to Rosie Hopkins' Sweetshop of Dreams, which was fantastic. So, I decided I would wait to see what Jenny brought out next. Along came Christmas At The Cupcake Cafe. But, as it's a follow up to Meet Me at the Cupcake Cafe, I was obliged to ask for both for my birthday!

A Merry Little Christmas - Julia Williams - for the same logic as above, ie it will hopefully still be January when I am reading this, possibly with snow on the ground, this comes next. I have read a few of Julia's and was most miffed last Jan when on holiday in Sri Lanka to start reading Last Christmas on my Kindle, only to realise I had already read it. Got home and discovered had previously bought the paperback!

The Black Box - Michael Connelly - again, love Michael Connelly and can't wait to read this. When I've been reading a lot of chicklit, I tend to want to either read something along the lines of crime, legal thriller, travel or cultural to mix things up a bit!

Staying Away at Christmas - Katie Fforde - I love all of Katie's books which I have read, although I admit to owning a few more which I haven't read yet. Shame on me! Another that has to be read before the crocuses bud!

A State of Jane - Meredith Schorr - I had been hoping to read this book on my Kindle when on holiday in Madeira in November, but I only read one book on holiday (it wasn't a lying by the pool type of holiday after all!) I met this author via an author Facebook group last year and loved the cover and the blurb. Looks like a great chicklit read and I hope to have Meredith on the blog (must remember to ask her!) in February.



The Mystery of Mercy Close - Marian Keyes - I love Marian's books and again this is another hardback which I am keen to read before it comes out in paperback. I am hoping, from the reviews for something akin to Rachel's Holiday (which I read in Spanish!)

Santa Maybe - Scarlett Bailey - do you see a theme here? I do like my Christmas books! The problem with getting them as Christmas presents, is Christmas is almost over by then! I read The Night Before Christmas last Jan on holiday and loved it, so was keen to snaffle this one, too.

One Hundred Names - Cecelia Ahern - again, I love most of Cecelia's books and what I love about them is they are all so different. That might mean that you vastly prefer some over others, but I think it's both brave and exciting. This book has had great reviews, so am looking forward to it immensely. I have been chomping at the bit for a new Cecelia book, since I read The Time of My Life early last year and which was hysterical and heart-warming at the same time. Such an usual concept. You couldn't really class Cecelia as chicklit, more Women's Fiction, although PS I Love You is more chicklit.

27 - R J Heald - another author I met on Twitter, but whose tweets intrigued me and whose blurb engaged me. Hope to have her on the blog Feb/Mar (again, must ask her!) To my mind, this is similar in some ways in style to my own Sign of the Times,as it features lots of characters, although with a different subject, so perhaps why I am so interested!



I have just realised that this blog post will hopefully help me read books in order, rather than willy nilly pick one up (no bad thing that, but I do have those I definitely want to read sooner rather than later)

The Rose Petal Beach - Dorothy Koomson - long-anticipated. I love Dorothy's books. My Best Friend's Girl is still my favourite, but very much looking forward to reading this hardback. Women's Fiction at its best.

Second Chances - Maria Savva - a real find of an author for 2012. Coincidences featured in my top 10 books of the year and Haunted would have made it into the top 20, had I written one! I downloaded two books by Ms Savva on Christmas Day, this and Pieces of a Rainbow, which I will read later in the year. I love that she switches genres all the time.

The Girl You Left Behind - Jojo Moyes - I had been dying for months to read what would be my first book by this author, Me Before You. It was the only book I read on holiday and it was fantastic. So I promptly asked for this and The Last Letter From Your Lover for my birthday. I got this, but not TLLFYL, which I will have to forage for later in the year (if I ever get through all these books, whilst writing my own and most likely giving birth early April!)

 Sophie's Turn - Nicky Wells  - a rockstar romance - I won this in a competition last year and have been trying to get around to it. Hope to have Nicky on the blog in March (really must remember to ask authors if they can come on!)

Touched by the Light - Linn B Halton - I actually intended to download The Restaurant at the Mill, but in the end, downloaded this with my Christmas voucher. Am sure TRATM will be read in the future. Women's Fiction. Another author whom I met on Twitter last year.



The Dream - Maria Savva - had to mention this separately, as have been wanting to read this for months. I am spacing out my Ms Savva books to savour them more!

Ten Years On - Alice Peterson - I may have to read this earlier, as I hope to interview Alice on the blog in March. I read Monday to Friday Man about 18 months ago and loved it. I can't wait to get stuck in. Excellent chicklit. Alice has also since brought out some others which I am keen to read, but I am trying (ha ha ha) not to be too over-ambitious about how many books I can read this year, whilst writing my own and caring for a newborn! (place your bets! I put 35 on my Goodreads list, but I only managed 38 last year, sans baby!)

Breaking the Rules - Cat Lavoie - another author I met last year through an author FB group. Loved the cover and the blurb, so on the list it went! I have been adding lots of Canadian and US authors to my TBR in the past 12 months. I love reading about new places. More excellent chicklit expected.

Fourteen Days Later - Sibel Hodge - another author I met through FB last year. I had been dying to read her The Baby Trap for some time, but on Christmas Day, for whatever reason, instead, I was drawn to this book and downloaded it. It promises a fab romantic comedy.



The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out  Of The Window and Disappeared - Jonas Jonasson - I think this book speaks for itself. I had to buy it for the title alone. For the same reason I had to buy The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time and A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian in previous years - wacky titles! I also may have to buy My Sister Lives on the Mantlepiece for the same reason!

Picture Perfect - Lucie Simone - another author I met on FB last year (it has its uses, although I far prefer Twitter to FB!) Again, I actually wanted to download Lucie's A Taste of Italy, given that I am Italy-daft, but instead downloaded this. A Hollywood novel. Maybe I should move it to Feb, to read when the Oscars are on!

Kismetology - Jaimie Admans - I saw this book reviewed on an author friend's blog a few months ago and added it to my TBR then. Loved the title and the concept so it was waiting for my Amazon voucher! How virtuous am I? Usually I just buy everything as soon as I see it, but was trying to be good last year! Promises great chicklit.

You Had Me At Hello - Mhairi McFarlane - I liked the title and it was high up on the Amazon chart at the time, so I noticed it. Had also been recommended it by a friend on Goodreads.

The Love of My Life - Louise Douglas - this was high up in the Amazon chart last year, so lots of people read it and told me it was great, so eventually I gave in and downloaded it! Does look good!

Fashioning A Romance - Libby Mercer - now I just read Libby's new short novel, Unmasking Maya, which I loved and was very well written. I loved that it was set in San Francisco, which rivals New York for my fave city in the US. So I simply had to download her first book, although she has told me it's a romance and I don't normally read Romance. But then she told me UM was a romance, too...and keep your eyes peeled as Libby will be on the blog in January!




OK, so I have already accounted for 31 out of the 35 books I aim to read in 2013...oops! So what else might make it on that list? Well, I expect a Terry Tyler book out by Spring. I discovered Terry's books last year and have read all of them, so book 5 is awaited with anticipation and who knows if I am lucky, I might get book 6, too! My favourite so far has been Nobody's Fault, which made it on Sooz's Top 10 of 2012
Jenny Colgan is due to release The Loveliest Chocolate Shop in Paris in March - it has chocolate in it and it's set in France. What more do you need to know?!
Jodi Picoult - The Storyteller is due out in March also. I love her books, although wasn't as taken with Lone Wolf as the others.
Victoria Hislop's - The Last Dance and Other Stories will probably get downloaded at some point, as I love her books, with The Island still being my favourite.
And last but by no means least, I have a few Emily Barr novels waiting to be read, which I have promised myself I will read this year. I loved The First Wife and her latest Stranded, although the latter was very different in content to her other books, but none the worse for it!

And well, really, if I manage all of those, I think I will have done pretty well!
If I ever get through all of these books, I still have lots of birthday and Christmas money, which unlike normal, I am keeping, rather than splurging all at once, so I can get more lovely books!

Feel free to leave a comment on the blog with what you're most looking forward to reading in 2013. Have a great year everyone and tune in on Friday for An Interview with Elke Feuer.