Three Christmas Wishes: A Guest Post by Kathryn Freeman, Author of A Second Christmas Wish

9781781893272

I know it’s still only November, but when I saw lovely Kathryn Freeman’s A Second Christmas Wish that looks so gorgeous, I had to invite Kathryn back to Linda’s Book Bag. Previously Kathryn has kindly written about research for writing here. I’ve also reviewed another of Kathryn’s smashing books, Before You Go, here. Today I asked Kathryn to tell me three Christmas wishes that she secretly harbours.

Published by Choc Lit on 1st November 2017, A Second Christmas Wish is now available to purchase in both paperback and eBook format from all good book retailers and platforms. Click here for buying options.

A Second Christmas Wish

9781781893272

Do you believe in Father Christmas?

For Melissa, Christmas has always been overrated. From her cold, distant parents to her manipulative ex-husband, Lawrence, she’s never experienced the warmth and contentment of the festive season with a big, happy family sitting around the table.

And Melissa has learned to live with it, but it breaks her heart that her seven-year-old son, William, has had to live with it too. Whilst most little boys wait with excitement for the big day, William finds it difficult to believe that Father Christmas even exists.

But then Daniel McCormick comes into their lives. And with his help, Melissa and William might just be able to find their festive spirit, and finally have a Christmas where all of their wishes come true …

Three Christmas Wishes

A Guest Post by Kathryn Freeman

It’s a real pleasure to be on Linda’s Book Bag, thank you so much for inviting me – and for giving me such a great idea for a guest post.

(My pleasure Kathryn. Lovely to welcome you back.)

A few weeks ago A Second Christmas Wish was published in paperback. To help celebrate that, Linda has suggested I share with you three (because she knows I’m greedy) Christmas wishes. One personal, one for someone I love, and one for society.

Christmas Wish for Me

So many ideas flash through my mind; A Second Christmas Wish on the best seller list, a meal out with Jenson Button. Ooh, how about Chris Hemsworth agreeing to star in the Hollywood production of A Second Christmas Wish? Sorry, you said wish, didn’t you, not fantasy? Okay then, how about this. I love my husband, I really do (even more than I do Jenson and Chris) but he’s not always the best at buying presents. Don’t get me wrong, he tries hard, but if he listened as well, it would really help. So for my first Christmas Wish, please can my husband have taken notice of the hints I’ve been dropping and not buy me something I need (oven glove, desk tidy, new washing machine). But something I want (anything by Molton Brown, anything to wear that’s pink or soft. Anything that’s sparkly that I can put round my neck or on my hand).

Christmas Wish for Someone I Love

For my next wish, I was going to wish that my dear husband be given a well deserved rest somewhere hot and sunny when Christmas is over…as long as he took me with him. But then I realised that beaches aren’t really his thing (though they’re definitely mine), so really all I was doing was sneaking myself another Wish. Not perhaps in the spirit of the post, or the spirit of Christmas. So instead, my Christmas Wish for someone I love, would be that Leicester City make it into the top 4 by the end of the season. That will make my husband happy. And perhaps make him more generous next Christmas…

Christmas Wish for Society

I’m writing this having just spent a few days outside Blackpool visiting my very dear relatives. So thinking of that, and the importance of family and friends, my third Christmas Wish is that all the roadworks are suspended over Christmas, especially those on the M6 (oh boy, is that me being sneaky again?). That way, people can spend more time with those they want to see during the festive season. And less time sitting on the motorway, staring at the frustrated faces of other drivers.

Am I allowed another wish? Please? Pretty please?

(As it’s you Kathryn, but I wouldn’t let everyone have an extra wish!)

Thank you.

I’d like to wish that all the readers of Linda’s Book Bag have a wish or two of their own come true this Christmas x

(Oh! That’s a great wish Kathryn. Thank you. And I’m sure all readers of the blog hope that your wishes come true too.)

About Kathryn Freeman

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Kathryn was born in Wallingford, England but has spent most of her life living in a village near Windsor. After studying pharmacy in Brighton she began her working life as a retail pharmacist. She quickly realised that trying to decipher doctor’s handwriting wasn’t for her and left to join the pharmaceutical industry where she spent twenty happy years working in medical communications. In 2011, backed by her family, she left the world of pharmaceutical science to begin life as a self-employed writer, juggling the two disciplines of medical writing and romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero…

With two teenage boys and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to bother buying a card again this year (yes, he does) the romance in her life is all in her head. Then again, her husband’s unstinting support of her career change goes to prove that love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes can come in many disguises.

 You can follow Kathryn on Facebook, on Twitter and visit her website.

Green Burial: A Guest Post by Elizabeth Fournier, Author of The Green Reaper: Memoirs of an Eco-Mortician

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Exactly a year ago today it was my lovely Dad’s funeral. I miss him incredibly and I thought I would mark the day with a guest post from Elizabeth Fournier who works in the world of funerals and has a memoir all about how she came to be in this role; The Green Reaper: Memoirs of an Eco-Mortician. With Mum currently in hospital with a broken hip it seems even more poignant to feature this book today as we never know what might be round the corner.

The Green Reaper: Memoirs of an Eco-Mortician was published by WiDo on 1st August 2017 and is available for purchase here.

The Green Reaper: Memoirs of an Eco-Mortician

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When Elizabeth Fournier was eight, her mother and grandparents died. She spent a lot of time in funeral homes as a kid since her family were frequently found in caskets. Fournier family members didn’t have the best longevity record.

As a young girl, Elizabeth found cemeteries a place of peace and tranquility. As a teen, she’d attend funerals of people she didn’t know. Not surprisingly, she eventually headed into the local funeral home and asked for a job, any job. She landed the position of live-in night keeper, where she resided in a trailer in the far reaches of a large, hilly cemetery. She slept with a shotgun near her bed, experiencing the scariest summer of her life.

In her memoir, Elizabeth Fournier writes about her calling to the funeral industry, and how her early struggles helped shape her life ministry: taking care of the dead and preparing more meaningful burials.

As a one-woman funeral service in the rural town of Boring, Oregon, Mortician Elizabeth Fournier supports old-school burial practices that are kinder to humans and the Earth. She has been called “The Green Reaper” for her passionate advocacy of green burial.

As an undertaker, she is always ready to lend a hand, or a shovel.

Green Burial

A Guest Post by Elizabeth Fournier

Green burial may seem like an avant-garde choice, but in the not-too-distant past, we would keep our recently deceased loved one at home, buy a casket from the local general store, prepare a resting space in the backyard or churchyard, and then conduct the burial ourselves with some simple reflection and quiet dignity.

In the most familiar definition, a green burial means a person is buried in a container that can decompose, along with their human remains, and return to the earth’s soil. Ideally, all aspects of a green burial are as organic as possible.

By taking time now to write out your suggestions for how you envision your final wishes, your surviving loved ones hopefully can feel less stress when the time arrives and a will gives them permission to validate your life rather than mourn your death and helps take some of the edge off their own sense of loss and heavy grief. To make sure your final wishes are considered legal, I always suggest bringing the paper you wrote them down on to your local bank where a Notary Public can stamp and record the document.

There are many things to reflect upon while making writing down your plans: What capacity can your community serve to be helpful? Can you put together a team from your personal and social connections to oversee and take on the practical steps needed for a successful home funeral and green burial? Without hiring a professional, can you assemble a tribe of loving souls who will have the understanding that even a clear medical advance decision might change as the individual nears their passing?

Part of the protocol should be to appoint a photographer. Most people have cell phone with built in cameras, so designate main picture snapping to someone who regularly snaps photos and would feel quite at ease documenting the journey.

A gentle note of caution: sometimes your vision cannot be carried out. Sometimes it is too extravagant, time or possibly weather is not on your side, members of your assembled team physically or emotionally can no longer follow through, loved ones can’t agree which then creates a stumbling block, or maybe the well-choreographed plan falls short for some unseen reason somewhere along the way. Give yourself, the others involved, and the decedent a grand gift by heading into this process with full flexibility.

People aren’t interested so much in how they will be remembered, but rather how they can continue to give back. Even in death.

(What an interesting post Elizabeth. I think Dad would have approved!)

About Elizabeth Fournier

Elizabeth Fournier

Elizabeth is a lifetime undertaker who owns and operates Cornerstone Funeral Services in Boring, Oregon. She serves on the Advisory Board for the Green Burial Council, the environmental certification organization setting the standard for green burial in North America. Elizabeth is a founding member of Green Burial Portland, a natural burial consortium, and she starred in the documentary Death Goes Green, an intimate portrait of the pioneers of the green burial movement, which placed in the International Hot Docs Festival in Toronto, Canada.

She is also an actress in commercials, film work, voice overs, and has appeared in three episodes of the NBC series, Grimm. She was sought after to sell caskets to the prop department for death-related scenes, and was consulted with as a mortuary advisor. Elizabeth is currently the voice of the autopsy exhibit in the forensic wing at the United States National Museum of Medicine.

You can follow Elizabeth on Twitter @elzfournier and visit her website to find out more.

A Day in the Life of Liz Taylorson, Author of The Little Church by the Sea

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I’m delighted to be part of the launch celebrations for The Little Church by the Sea by Liz Taylorson today, especially as I’m naturally nosy and Liz has agreed to let me into her life for the day!

The Little Church by the Sea was published by Manatee books on 23rd November and is available for purchase here.

The Little Church by the Sea

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Isolated and unwelcome in the picturesque seaside village of Rawscar, Reverend Cass Fordyce has lost her faith and her home. Christmas is coming, and she isn’t looking forward to it. Then she meets attractive local man Hal – twice divorced and with a reputation as a ladies’ man, he’s everything that a celibate vicar like Cass should avoid…especially as Hal is hiding secrets of his own, including his past with the mysterious Anna.

Can Cass ever find her way in Rawscar? What secret does Hal have to hide? And is there ever such a thing as a truly fresh start?

**A HEART-WARMING CHRISTMAS TALE OF LOVE, FRIENDSHIP AND STARTING OVER**

A Day in the Life of Liz Taylorson

Author of The Little Church by the Sea

In my imagination, I always rise with the dawn, cheerily wave the children off to school and settle at my immaculate desk in the study just after eight o’clock for a morning’s hard work.

Liz desk

This is what my study always looks like. ALWAYS, I tell you!

In reality I stumble out of bed, having been woken by the cat pulling my hair because he thinks it’s time to be fed, find the kitchen still full of last night’s washing up, shout at the children who are late for school, wave them off with a huge sigh of relief, then run up the road after them ten minutes later with a forgotten PE kit or planner. I slump down at my desk just after nine, exhausted, having cleared all the debris off it first …

Liz Desk 2

This is what it REALLY looks like.

In my imagination, I write a brilliant, sparkling chapter of my next novel before it’s half past ten and then it’s time for a coffee and a round of Popmaster with Ken Bruce on Radio 2. In reality I realise that what I wrote yesterday is actually rubbish, delete it all and rewrite it before a round of Popmaster – in which I score 3 points out of 39 if I’m lucky and the first question is a really easy one today.

A bit more writing and a brisk run before lunch …. Or actually a bit more writing and a slow, plodding short run before lunch … sets me up for the afternoon, when I spend my time doing seasonal jobs in my beautifully tended garden followed by a bit of time doing some useful networking on social media. Really? I’m cleaning up chicken poo and looking at pictures of cats. My cats then come in and they attempt to sabotage my work by either sitting on the computer or destroying my paperwork.

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Here is Joey, wrecking my novel plan. I still haven’t found Chapter 16.

The children return from school and we sit down and discuss their day. Oh, how we laugh at all the numerous little comic incidents that make up their school-life, and I squirrel them all away to use in future novels …OK, that’s not true either. The children return from school and stomp off to their bedrooms to spend the rest of the afternoon on YouTube, because they’re teenagers and that is what teenagers do. This does mean a bit more writing time for me before tea if I’m lucky, and if I’m not lucky, there’ll be the notes from a boring committee meeting for my drama society to type up before tomorrow morning.

When my husband gets in from work, we cook a light supper and settle down beside the fire together, books in hands … or fall asleep in front of something on Netflix and then it’s an early night, ready for a new start tomorrow!

About Liz Taylorson

Liz

Liz has always surrounded herself with books, has a degree in English Literature and worked as a cataloguer of early printed books for a major university library.

Having joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s wonderful New Writers’ Scheme to try to learn how to write novels properly in 2015, she started writing fiction and hasn’t stopped since.

Liz says she owes everything to her tolerant and long-suffering husband Ben and her tolerant and long-suffering children, but very little to the cats who are neither tolerant nor long-suffering and keep sitting on the computer keyboard and messing up her manuscript if she forgets to feed them on time.

When not reading or writing Liz is often to be found on stage (or behind it) with her local amateur dramatic society, drinking tea, or visiting one of the several North Yorkshire seaside villages which were the inspiration for the fictional Rawscar, the setting for her debut novel The Little Church by the Sea.

You can find Liz on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and visit her blog.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

Little church tour poster

Cover Reveal: The Last Day by Claire Dyer

The Last Day

I’m really excited today to have an exclusive from Dome Press and be revealing the cover and bringing you information all about The Last Day by Claire Dyer.

I know it’s a way off, but on 15th February 2018 I’ll be interviewing Claire all about The Last Day to be published that day, so do please come back then and read my review too. As I love an emotional read I have a feeling The Last Day is going to be a book I’ll adore.

The Last Day will be published by The Dome Press on 15th February 2018 and is available for pre-order here.

The Last Day

The Last Day

Every ending starts with a beginning; every beginning, an end.

Boyd and Vita have been separated for six years when Boyd asks if he can move back in to the house they both still own, bringing with him his twenty-seven-year-old girlfriend, Honey.

Of course, Vita agrees: enough water has travelled under enough bridges since her marriage to Boyd ended and she is totally over him; nothing can touch her now. Boyd and Honey move in and everyone is happy – or so it seems.

However, all three are keeping secrets.

About Claire Dyer

Claire Dyer

Claire Dyer’s novels The Moment and The Perfect Affair, and her short story, Falling For Gatsby, are published by Quercus.

Her poetry collections, Interference Effects and Eleven Rooms are published by Two Rivers Press. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Royal Holloway, University of London and teaches creative writing for Bracknell & Wokingham College.

She also runs Fresh Eyes, an editorial and critiquing service.

You can follow Claire on Twitter @ClaireDyer1 and visit her website. You’ll also find Claire on Facebook.

A Publication Day Interview with Maggie Christensen, Author of The Good Sister

The Good Sister

It’s publication day for The Good Sister by Maggie Christensen, as well as being Maggie’s own birthday, so I’m delighted to welcome Maggie to Linda’s Book Bag to tell me all about this latest book and her writing, especially as The Good Sister looks so lovely.

Published by Cala, today, 23rd November 2017, The Good Sister is available for purchase here.

The Good Sister

The Good Sister

Two Isobels. A lifetime of regret. A love that spans the years…

In 1938, as the world hurtled towards war, twenty-year-old Isobel MacDonald fell madly in love. But fate and her own actions conspired to deny her the happiness she yearned for. Many years later, plagued with regrets and with a shrill voice from the past ringing in her ears, she documents the events that shaped her life.

In 2015, sixty-five-year-old Bel Davison returns from Australia to her native Scotland to visit her terminally ill aunt. Reading Isobel’s memoir, she is beset with memories of her own childhood and overcome with guilt. When she meets her aunt’s solicitor, events seem to spiral out of control and, almost against her will, she finds herself drawn to this enigmatic Scotsman.

What is it that links these two women across the generations? Can the past influence the future?

An Interview with Maggie Christensen

Welcome to Linda’s Book Bag, Maggie. Thank you so much for agreeing to answer some questions on my blog about your writing and The Good Sister, which is out today, in particular. Tell me, why do you write?

I write because love it. I become lost in the world I’m creating and my characters become my friends.

Although you now live in Australia you began life in Scotland. How have these locations affected your writing?

I began writing novels set in Australia, in Sydney where I lived when I first emigrated, then on the Sunshine Coast where I live now. I   began writing The Sand Dollar with the Sunshine Coast as the location, but my character Jenny, soon moved to the Oregon Coast of the US where my mother-in-law lived for many years. She moved there from California in her eighties and we made many trips to visit her in Florence. Florence is a picturesque town on the Siuislaw River and seemed to me to be an ideal spot to set a novel. I have set three books in My Oregon Coast Series there – The Sand Dollar, The Dreamcatcher and Madeline House.

While Band of Gold and Broken Threads are both set in Sydney, I returned to The Sunshine Coast for Champagne for Breakfast.

I’ve often been asked why I didn’t set a book in Scotland where I left in 1970, in my mid-twenties, so, when I wrote Broken Threads, I introduced a minor character, Bel, who has an aging aunt in Scotland and set my latest book, The Good Sister there. I really enjoyed travelling back to Scotland in this book, so it won’t be my last one set there.

Your writing is described as ‘heart-warming’. How appropriate would you say this is?

I think it’s because my books leave my readers feeling good. I introduce them to characters they can relate to and might like to have as friends. In fact, I bring back characters from my earlier books into my later books so that my readers will feel they’re meeting old friends again. Despite this, all of my books can be read as stand-alone.

I’ve been told that my books ‘have enough depth and warmth to want to go back and read it again – and again’.

In a world often dominated by 30 something protagonists, you write about mature women facing life changing situations. Why do you choose to write about this demographic?

I write about women over 40 – in their 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. The books begin by placing my heroine in a challenging situation and the rest of the books takes it from there. These are the sort of books I enjoy reading myself.

I believe that older women and the events which impact on their lives are often ignored in literature. Life for older women presents similar and different challenges to their younger counterparts. They still look for a HEA, but theirs may include stepchildren – even teenage stepchildren – and ex partners with their attendant issues. In writing about them, I can explore those issues which only emerge with years. Issues such as aging and death of parents, retrenchment, retirement, downsizing, grown children, grandchildren, widowhood and the empty nest syndrome.

I think there are many women who prefer to read about more mature protagonists – ones who are living a full and enjoyable life – not some stereotypical figure who is the image a twenty-year-old might imagine someone over 50 to be. Baby Boomers are the generation that made YA popular and I believe they are now looking to read about other women like themselves.

As one reviewer put it ‘Just because you are over 50 doesn’t mean there isn’t any romance and fizzle left to be had.’

 (As a woman aged 56, I’d definitely agree with that sentiment!)

Without spoiling the plot, please could you tell us a bit about The Good Sister?

The Good Sister is a dual narrative. Isobel MacDonald is nearing the end of her life and decides to document what she remembers as pivotal moments in that life, beginning in 1938, in an attempt to prove to herself and her niece that she was justified in being The Good Sister.

In 1938, as the world hurtled towards war, twenty-year-old Isobel MacDonald fell madly in love. But fate and her own actions conspired to deny her the happiness she yearned for.  Many years later, plagued with regrets and with a shrill voice from the past ringing in her ears, she documents the events that shaped her life.

In 2015, sixty-five-year-old Bel Davison returns from Australia to her native Scotland to visit her terminally ill aunt. Reading Isobel’s memoir, she is beset with memories of her own childhood and overcome with guilt. When she meets her aunt’s solicitor, events seem to spiral out of control and, almost against her will, she finds herself drawn to this enigmatic Scotsman.

As the story unfolds a link appears to connect these two women across the generations.

As The Good Sister is published today, how will you be spending the day?

Today is also my birthday. I’ll be starting the day with breakfast with my husband in our favourite restaurant, Season, on Noosa Main Beach. We celebrate all of our important occasions there – birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas Eve and a few others in between.

Then, we will have champagne, cheese and biscuits by the Noosa River at sunset, before returning home for a special meal there.

During the day, I shall no doubt be checking Amazon and other sites plus Facebook., and making time to write more of my next novel which is a sequel to The Good Sister and presently without a title.

(Oh! That sounds wonderful. Happy personal, as well as book, birthday Maggie.)

In The Good Sister the past has a profound impact on the present. To what extent do you think we are shaped by our past?

I think we are inevitably shaped by or past. It is always with us. But I also believe that we can make what we want of the present. We have the choice to live as we wish, to let our pas to hinder us or to use it as a stepping stone and learn from it.

How did you go about researching detail and ensuring The Good Sister was realistic?

The story of ‘old’ Isobel is based on a story my aunt told my cousins and I ad infinitum about her love life. I knew I had to write it sometime, and it seemed to work in this story.

When I was writing The Good Sister, it was amazing how many words and phrases from my childhood came back to me. I ran the first draft past my cousin’s daughter who lives in Glasgow to make sure I hadn’t made any mistakes and was delighted when she said she recognized the street where the family home is located before I named it! I stayed in a bedsit in that street as a student, so could picture the house.

I also had to do a lot of research on Isobel’s early life – of Glasgow during the war period. I found this fascinating and discovered resources designed for primary school children particularly helpful. I was also fortunate enough to find an old street map of Glasgow online. I referred to old photographs of my parents and talked with my oldest cousin who was around 10 during the war.

And, since it’s quite a few years since I visited Glasgow I used the Internet to research the changes which have taken place in present day Glasgow, plus all the customary research on restaurants and their menus which I love to do for all of my books.

 If you could choose to be a character from The Good Sister, who would you be and why?

Bel. There’s a bit of me in Bel as I emigrated from Scotland in my early twenties to lured by ads to Teach in the Sun. I also fell in love with Matt while writing it – as I tend to do with all of my heroes as they all have a little bit of my husband in them.

I know you support readers in your local community. Would you tell us a bit about this please?

I belong to a volunteer group in our local library called Friends of The Library. It is a group which provides services such as literacy tutoring, IT help, assistance in running library events. Members also provide services (book delivery, reading groups, conversation) to those who are housebound or in nursing homes and unable to visit the library. I chaired the group for three years, but now my contribution is to select and deliver books to some housebound ladies. It’s a most rewarding activity. Most of the ladies have led interesting lives and have a vast collection of stories to tell.One was PA    to a former Australian Prime Minister.

When you’re not writing, what do you like to read?

I love reading women’s fiction featuring older women (Elizabeth Buchan, Marcia Willett, Liz Byrski, Hilary Boyd, Joanna Trollope) and crime (Sue Grafton, Anne Cleeves, Susan Hill)

Thank you so much for your time in answering my questions Maggie and happy birthday!

About Maggie Christensen

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After a career in education, Maggie Christensen began writing contemporary women’s fiction portraying mature women facing life-changing situations. Her travels inspire her writing, be it her frequent visits to family in Oregon, USA or her home on Queensland’s beautiful Sunshine Coast. Maggie writes of mature heroines coming to terms with changes in their lives and the heroes worthy of them.

From her native Glasgow, Scotland, Maggie was lured by the call ‘Come and teach in the sun’ to Australia, where she worked as a primary school teacher, university lecturer and in educational management. Now living with her husband of thirty years on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, she loves walking on the deserted beach in the early mornings and having coffee by the river on weekends. Her days are spent surrounded by books, either reading or writing them – her idea of heaven!

She continues her love of books as a volunteer with her local library where she selects and delivers books to the housebound.

A member of Queensland Writer’s Centre, RWA, ALLi, and a local critique group, Maggie enjoys meeting her readers at book signings and library talks.

You can follow Maggie on Twitter @MaggieChriste33, find her on Facebook and visit her website. You’ll also find Maggie on Goodreads.

Only One Woman by Christina Jones and Jane Risdon

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I love the irony of a book called Only One Woman being written by two of them – Christina Jones and Jane Risdon! My grateful thanks to Accent Press for providing a copy of Only One Woman in return for an honest review and for inviting me to be part of the launch celebrations.

Only One Woman is to be published by Accent Press in e-book on 23rdNovember 2017 and paperback on 24th May 2018 and is available for pre-order here.

Only One Woman

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Two women, one love story.

June 1968. Renza falls head over heels for heartthrob guitarist Scott. But after a romantic summer together they are torn apart when Renza’s family moves away.

December 1968. On the night she believes to be her last, Stella meets Scott at a local dance. He’s the most beautiful boy she’s ever seen and if this one night is all they have, she’ll take it.

As the final colourful year of the sixties dawns, the question is: can there be only one woman for Scott?

You can listen to the playlists for Only One Woman too and you’ll find Renza and Stella on Facebook.

1-Listen as you read Renza

My Review of Only One Woman

When band members move in next door to Renza, her life will never be the same again, but Stella could put a fly in her ointment!

What a roller coaster of emotions for Renza and Stella. Only One Woman is a real insight into the lives of these two young women in the 1960s. They experience the whole range of experiences for women of their time with their contrasting families shaping them very differently. I’d much rather have Stella’s family in my life than Renza’s!

Right the way through reading Only One Woman I couldn’t make up my mind about Scott. At times I thought I would like to meet him myself and at others I felt I’d prefer to hit him several times with a very heavy blunt instrument. Even by the end of Only One Woman I hadn’t made up my mind. I think this shows what a good job both authors have done in creating complex and real characters.

However, I have no such vacillations of opinion about the atmosphere and 1960’s setting. Although I was quite a bit younger than Renza and Stella in the 1960s, I remembered so many of the cultural references that give Only One Woman such a vivid era, from the music to world events. The authors deserve great praise for the quality of the research to ensure the accuracy of these details. The music really sets the scene but readers of a certain age need to be careful otherwise they will have earworms for days reading this book!

I also enjoyed the variety of settings and was fascinated especially by the depiction of army life in Germany.

I think anyone who has lived through the 1960s will find so many personal memories are prompted by Renza, Stella, Scott et al so that there is so much more to enjoy than simply reading a narrative in Only One Woman. It’s a highly evocative read.

About Christina Jones

Christina

Christina Jones, the only child of a schoolteacher and a circus clown, has been writing all her life. As well as writing romantic comedy novels, she also contributes short stories and articles to many national magazines and newspapers.

She has won several awards for her writing: Going the Distance was a WH Smith Fresh Talent Winner; Nothing to Lose, was shortlisted and runner-up for the Thumping Good Read Award with film and television rights sold; Heaven Sent was shortlisted in The Melissa Nathan Comedy Romance Awards and won a Category Award; Love Potions won the Pure Passion Award; The Way to a Woman’s Heart was short-listed for the Rom-Com of the Year; and An Enormously English Monsoon Weddingwon The Reviewer’s Choice Award.

You can find all of Christina’s books here. There’s more about Christina on Facebook and her website and you can follow her on Twitter @bucolicfrolics.

About Jane Risdon

Jane

Jane Risdon has spent most of her life in the international music business. Married to a musician she has experienced the business first hand, not only as the girlfriend and wife of a musician, but later with her husband as a manager of recording artists, songwriters and record producers, as well as placing songs on TV/Movie soundtracks for some of the most popular series and movies shown around the world.

Writing is something she has always wanted to do but a hectic life on the road and recording with artists kept those ambitions at bay. Now she is writing mostly crime and thrillers, but recently she’s collaborated with award-winning author Christina Jones, on Only One Woman. A story they’ve wanted to write together, ever since they became friends when Christina became Fan-club secretary for Jane’s husband’s band.

You’ll find more about Jane on Facebook, via her blog and on Twitter @Jane_Risdon. There’s more about Jane’s writing here.

There’s more with these other bloggers too:

oow blog tour

Giveaway: The Niggle by Peta Rainford

niggle front cover

Almost exactly a year ago I reviewed a lovely children’s book by Peta Rainford, Isabella’s Adventures in Numberland, and you can read my review here.

Today I’m thrilled to welcome Peta back to Linda’s Book Bag with a guest post to celebrate her latest book, The Niggle. Peta is so talented as she both writes and illustrates her children’s books so today she’s telling us a bit about that process.

With Christmas coming up, what better time to have a giveaway and Peta has kindly offered the chance for you to win one of three signed paperback copies of The Niggle. You can enter at the bottom of this blog post.

Published by Dogpigeon, The Niggle is available for purchase from all good bookshops and Amazon.

The Niggle

niggle front cover

The Niggle tells the story of Joe Jackson, a little boy who has never felt fear. Until the day a miniature monster swims in his ear! The monster is the Niggle, a tiny terror, who whispers worries in Joe’s head and makes him afraid. Will Joe Jackson let the Niggle win? Or will he learn to overcome his fears? The Niggle, through humour and rhyme, tells young children that it’s OK to feel fear. In fact, you can’t be brave if you don’t. A colourful, rhyming picture book for 5-8 year olds.

Fitting Illustrations

A Guest Post by Peta Rainford

Thank you so much to Linda for allowing me to be on her wonderful blog. I love the reviews on Linda’s Book Bag and really appreciate the fantastic support Linda gives to authors like me, so it is very exciting to be here.

(That’s very kind of you Peta and my pleasure to welcome you to the blog.)

I suppose what sets me apart from most of the authors that appear on this blog, is that I write for children. What sets me apart even more (that’s a polite way of saying ‘what makes me even odder’), is that I am an illustrator too.

Drawing pictures to fit the story

cover

The pictures in my new book, The Niggle, are, stylistically, a bit of a departure from those in the three books that preceded it. I knew they had to be, because the subject of the book is different. Whereas the previous three books – Isabella Rotten Speller, Isabella’s Adventures in Numberland and Jamie and the Joke Factorywere about ideas (and pretty off-beat ones at that), The Niggle is about feelings.

(A rhyming picture book about childhood anxieties and resilience, aimed at children aged between five and eight, it tells the story of Joe Jackson, a little boy who has never felt fear… until the day the miniature monster swims in his ear! The tiny terror fills Joe’s head with doubts and worries, making him afraid of everything.)

more realistic image the niggle

So I knew from the start I wanted to use a form of illustration that was less quirky and stylised, slightly more ‘realistic’ and warm. So triangles have been replaced by more realistic body shapes, flat colours with shading, and although I have once again used collage, the cut-outs have been blended into the background.

Drawing pictures to extend the story

It’s probably stating the obvious but, as an author, being your own illustrator gives you a wonderful freedom; it’s a whole extra language with which to tell your story – or perhaps another story entirely! I love to introduce characters and scenarios into my illustrations that are not referred to in the text. Children are very quick at picking these sub-plots up. And very pleased with themselves when they do!

Another feature of my illustrations for The Niggle, which differs from those of my previous books, is that I have left sections on several pages uncoloured. I like the idea of children ‘completing’ these pictures in their heads. Or, possibly, actually colouring them in with their own crayons and felt tips. (Sorry, book-loving grown-ups!)

Drawing the Niggle

Probably the most important drawing challenge for this book was designing the character of The Niggle himself. He’s the first monster to feature in any of my books, so I quite literally started with a ‘blank page’.

I wanted the Niggle to be insidious. He has to look capable of worming his way through the smallest crack in our confidence – hence all the wiggly lines and the worm-like talons. But I didn’t want him to be a genuinely frightening monster. I want children to be able to laugh at the Niggle – laugh in the face of fear, if you like – so I gave him a rather vacant expression and lolling tongue.

I have to admit that I can’t take the credit for the colour scheme though – that was the work of my nine-year-old daughter. She coloured in one of my early drawings and I couldn’t better it! I love the colours she chose. Although they look quite jolly, I think there is something unwholesome about the combination of green, pink, brown and yellow. And I love the fact that she has given him spots, it adds a suitably putrid dimension, I think!

What next?

I don’t know which of the many picture book stories currently rattling around in my head I’m going to write next. Until I decide, I won’t know whether I’ll continue with this new style of illustration, revert to the old, more stylised approach, or go in another direction entirely. It makes for an exciting life!

(And both your words and illustrations make for exciting children’s books Peta!)

My Review of The Niggle

The Niggle is a smashing children’s story with a fantastic message about being brave and not letting your anxieties niggle away at you so that they prevent you doing what you want and need to do.

I thought the way in which Joe ages from two to six and goes from fearlessness through self doubt back to confidence was inspired, as the story gives an accessible and identifiable and positive message to children (and indeed I think some adults could benefit from this book too).

I loved the vocabulary as there is just the right balance of familiar language for children to understand enhanced by new words such as ‘flailed’ that will extend their vocabulary at the same time. The rhyme scheme is excellent too with super couplets throughout so that reading the story aloud has a vibrancy to it. Joe’s parts of the story contrast so well with the way the Niggle’s narrative is wriggly and untidy, fitting his character perfectly. The ending of the book when Resolve triumphs makes The Niggle a very satisfying book.

Peta Rainford’s illustrations are so well matched to the text. I especially liked the nod to Shakespeare’s Hamlet when Joe takes up acting and I thought having a female lifeguard provided a positive role model for all children. Some of the illustrations are left uncoloured giving an active dimension to the book too as children wouild enjoy colouring in the pictures making The Niggle part activity book too.

I’m really impressed by Peta Rainford’s children’s books and can recommend The Niggle most highly.

About Peta Rainford

niggle pic linda hill

Peta grew up on the Isle of Wight so long ago she can remember buying crisps from the school  tuck shop for 2½p. As a child she loved words, and loved drawing too, but she had no idea what she wanted to do when she grew up. She studied English at York University and then worked in London as a business journalist and editor for 14 years. She went to art classes and even studied fine art at St Martins, but she still had no idea what she wanted to do when she grew up.

Peta moved back to the Isle of Wight in 2006, and it was here that Peta, now balancing the roles of freelance writer and mum, decided to write and illustrate her first book for children. It was a revelation: a way of combining picture making with her love of words – not to mention an outlet for her awful jokes. It may have taken more than four decades, but finally, Peta knows what she wants to do when she grows up.

The Niggle is the fifth picture book written and illustrated by Peta Rainford. Her other books are: Hairy Fairy, Isabella Rotten Speller, Isabella’s Adventures in Numberland and Jamie and the Joke Factory.

You can find out more by following Peta on Twitter and visiting her website.

The Niggle Giveaway

niggle front cover

UK ONLY: For your chance to win one of three signed paperback copies of The Niggle, kindly provided by the author Peta Rainford, click here. Giveaway closes at midnight on 28th November 2017.