Meet The Author Moment With Linn B. Halton / @LinnBHalton / @writebrainedny / #LLm

Good morning! Welcome to another Meet The Author Moment. Today we’re welcoming Linn B. Halton!

The Interview

Linn new left 300dpi[AC] Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors?  

[LH]: At the moment, after having four new books launch in seven months, I’m afraid the only reading I do is proof checking! When I do get time to read, then chick lit/women’s contemporary is my favourite genre and as I mix with a lot of exciting new authors, my Kindle is packed with a long to-be-read list!

My all-time favourite ‘truly inspirational’ author would be Sergeanne Golon and the Angelique series – very hard to get hold of copies these days. As a young teen I read and re-read this series, falling in love with the setting, the history and the passionate romance. Very much ‘closed door’, but passionate all the same!

Ian Fleming, Wilkie Collins, Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë – all authors who dominated my reading list as an avid young adult reader. Then Marian Keyes, Sophie Kinsella, Cathy Kelly, Candace Bushnell – to name just a few.

[AC]: For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?

[LH]: I love my Kindle and it’s like a third arm. BUT if I love, love, love a book, then I buy it in paperback too, as I know I’ll read it again and again.

[AC]: What book(s) are you reading at present?

[LH]: I’m just proofing the paperback for my own Quintessentially Yours – if you can call that ‘reading’ ha! Ha! Seriously, my Kindle TBR list is calling, but reading time for me is in the evening and at the moment I’m using my ‘reading time’ to write. Launching a new book means a busy promotional programme and having launched four – well, you can imagine!! So although my day job is writing, most of that is taken up with the other things associated with being an author and I write into the wee hours, then start again between 6am-9am. Then it’s on the computer and the day flies doing guest posts, social media and emails.

[AC]: Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?

[LH]: I have books with four different publishers and that means four different editors. I also have two self-pubbed books that I proofed myself. Going forward I doubt I’ll have time to self-publish anything else, but it is fun to be in charge of the whole process, although I now prefer the input of an editor who can see the story from another perspective! It helps me to grow as a writer.

[AC]: Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?

[LH]: No and yes. I tend to edit as I go, writing maybe fifty pages and then going over them until I’m really happy and then moving on until the manuscript is complete. Then I have a spreadsheet of things I tend to say repetitively/my common errors, which I go through in detail. I record the number of times I use key words (favourites that can become annoying to the reader) and I do a word count on these. So I know on average how many times in say 85,000 I’m comfortable using a particular word. If I go over that count, then I tend to do a cutting-out exercise. At that point I then send it to my Kindle for a read-through and to correct errors I’ve missed – typos, or repeat words used too closely together eg ‘before’ might appear three times in a paragraph and I’d amend that. I make those corrections and then put it away for at least 3 months before reading it again with a fresh set of eyes. One more check for typos etc and the war with commas, then it’s ready to send to an editor!

Read on to learn about Linn’s books!

Author: Linn B. Halton
Under The Stars

Under The Stars

For twenty-one years, the focus of Katherine Dale’s life has been her work. Love interests and hobbies came and went, but what has always been there for her—her only constant other than her cat delightfully named No. 4—was her nine to five habit. Until she’s replaced. With her confidence dented, Katherine is angry at life and at herself. She has ignored hints of “changes to come” in her horoscope forecasts, written by the wonderful and renowned astrologer, Mark Ainsley-Thomas. Mark is now an “A” list celebrity in the UK and his new agent is determined to raise his profile in America. So, he has to take on the new, and very talented, astrologer James Kingman to help him run his web-site. When Katherine discovers James has been writing the forecasts, rather than Mark, her life explodes in confusion as the three lives become inextricably tangled. Insecurity, self-doubt, guilt, stress, and frustration, coupled with village gossips and merciless reporters wanting eye-catching headlines leave Katherine feeling vulnerable and in need of guidance. The stars might be telling her that love is going to feature in her life, but when Katherine finds herself implicated in the headlines ‘Mystic Love Triangle’ she’s just as surprised as everyone else! None of the men in her life are love interests – so what exactly does fate have in store? More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
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A Cottage In The Country

A Cottage In The Country

Can Maddie Brooks become that ‘fifty-and-fabulous’ woman of her dreams? More info →
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Quintessentially Yours

Quintessentially Yours

Is there any truth to last year’s rumours of an affair between the pair? If not, then why is Katherine visiting Mark in secret? Will James be able to resist the advances of his seductive colleague? Will the tangled trio be able to avoid scandal in the stars? More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
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Let’s Hear It For the Boys

Let’s Hear It For the Boys

Let’s Hear It For The Boys is a tribute to the men of Movember. The HitLitPro authors have created nine short stories to celebrate the men in our lives, the effect they have on our hearts, our minds (and our bodies), and the difference they can make to the world around them. All profits from the sale of this anthology are being donated. More info →
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Never Alone

Never Alone

Life is all about the choices we make… More info →
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Touched By the Light

Touched By the Light

Mya finds it hard to believe that she has just died. She clearly remembers being in a lot of pain and a sense of panic going on around her, then nothing but a bright, comforting light and the pain quickly being replaced by a state of calm and tranquillity. But what now? More info →
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Falling, Angels Among Us, The Complete Series

Falling, Angels Among Us, The Complete Series

Author:
Series: Angels Among Us, Book 4
Genres: Contemporary, Paranormal, Romance
This is the complete Angels Among Us Series. It contains bonus chapters taking the series beyond 'The End' of the first three novellas (Falling, Forbidden and Forever). More info →
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The Restaurant @ The Mill

The Restaurant @ The Mill

Age, relationships, and careers – we all appear to be so very different. Yet beneath the exterior facade we show to the world at large, is that really the case? The things we bury deep inside; the worries and fears we are unable to verbalise, and the hand fate takes in our lives. Sometimes we fail to recognise in each other that innermost struggle and yet it exists for all of us. More info →
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Being a Sceptic Is Oh So Easy

Being a Sceptic Is Oh So Easy

This is the true story of my personal journey, where I can now say that I believe in life after death. It began with unusual experiences I had in houses I have lived in or visited, some with over 200 years of history. Then the loss of beloved family members triggered new and unexpected psychic connections. It would also make me take a fresh look at what I had so conveniently filed away as unexplained or imagined, and the jigsaw began to take shape. More info →
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Naughty Or Nice? A HarperImpulse Christmas Anthology

Naughty Or Nice? A HarperImpulse Christmas Anthology

Enjoy this free festive treat from the HarperImpulse authors this Christmas! More info →
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The Secrets of Villa Rosso
What To Read Next…

Looking for another new author?

Click HERE to meet LLm author Bonnie Trachtenberg!

Meet The Author Moment With Zara Stoneley / @ZaraStoneley / @LinnBHalton / #LLm

Hello everyone! Welcome to another Meet The Author Moment! Today we’re featuring Zara Stoneley. Read on to learn more about Zara.

The Interview

Zara Stoneley author photo[AC]: How long on average does it take you to write a book?

[ZS]: Full length books, like the Tippermere series I’m writing at the moment, take me around 4 months. I did manage to complete one book in around 6 weeks, but my stories seem to have a lot more pages in them these days!

[AC]: Do you ever get writer’s block?

[ZS]: I certainly get to a stage in (nearly) every story I write where the words don’t flow as easily – sticky middles are not nice! If writing is a hobby then that’s fine, but if it’s your job, your career, on the line then you can’t afford to just stop working when you have deadlines to meet. That’s why I try and think of it as a sticky patch rather than an insurmountable block.

[AC]: Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?

[ZS]: Keep working is my main tip! A writer has to be a tough boss, once you stop writing and get out of the habit it can get progressively harder each day to get back into it. Writing is a job and you really can’t just lay down tools when the going gets tough.

If a particular aspect of a story is causing problems I’d advise you to skip it and move on to the next chapter, or even further on. My manuscripts are littered with comments in red saying things like ‘come back to this later’, or ‘what happens next?’ (and even more cryptic comments that make no sense to me at all when I revisit them!).

If the problem is bigger then going back to your plan can help – examining the goals, motivations and conflicts of the story as a whole, or of the main character can really focus your mind. If I do this I often get a ‘eureka moment’ when I realise where things have gone wrong, and even a simple tweak can set the ball rolling again. Understanding your characters really is the key factor to being able develop a story.

If all else fails then a change of scene (for you, not the characters) can help – whether it’s a long walk, a gym session or housework it’s surprising what can kick start the little grey cells. Food for a writer (apart from chocolate!) is observing what’s around us, listening, watching, reading; inspiration springs from the most unlikely sources.

[AC]: What are your thoughts on writing a book series.

[ZS]: I’ve written two series now, but I really believe you should only write linked books when the story demands it. There is nothing worse, to my mind, than turning what is essentially one good stand-alone book into a series purely as a marketing ploy.

I am currently part way through my ‘Tippermere’ series (the first being ‘Stable Mates’, the second ‘Country Affairs’, the third due out next Spring – and with a free bonus Christmas novella ‘A Very Country Christmas’, out now). By the time I’d planned the first book it was obvious that the story I wanted to develop was far too big to cover in one novel. The feedback from readers has been amazing, with people really wanting to know what happens next in the lives of the characters – and many getting to know the fictional setting of Tippermere so well they’ve been asking where it is so they can visit (I can understand what they mean – I don’t ever want to leave Tippermere)!

From a writing point of view a series involves a lot more planning, with continuity and timelines needing close attention, but it is well worth the effort. And sometimes the whole story just has to be told!

[AC]: Who is your favorite author and why?

[ZS]: It’s impossible for me to single out just one author. I’ve always read a wide variety of authors spanning different genres and it really does depend what mood I’m in to what I reach for. The wonderful thing about books is that there’s one out there to suit every occasion and stage of your life.

Author: Zara Stoneley
Stable Mates

Stable Mates

Author:
Series: Tippermere, Book 1
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
When billionaire landowner Marcus James drops dead unexpectedly, his WAGish wife Amanda threatens to sell the heart of the village and sets her sights on Tom! It seems things are heating up for little Tippermere… both in and out of the saddle. More info →
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Country Affairs

Country Affairs

Author:
Series: Tippermere, Book 2
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
As the heart of the village, Tipping House Estate, makes its move into the 21st Century, pulses start to race in a novel packed full of charm, hunky stallions (the guys that is), and a daring plan that just has to succeed… More info →
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A Witch Of A Chance: Written Fireside

A Witch Of A Chance: Written Fireside

Author:
Genre: Paranormal
What do you get when you combine a grimoire, a black cat, and a sexy stranger? Nine romance writers sitting round a virtual campfire have joined together to write a Halloween short story treat. More info →
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A Very Country Christmas

A Very Country Christmas

Love is in the air in Tippermere as Lottie dreams of a white Christmas with no trimmings – other than her hot and hunky eventer, Rory. But things are never quite that simple on the Tipping House Estate. More info →
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Let’s Hear It For the Boys

Let’s Hear It For the Boys

Let’s Hear It For The Boys is a tribute to the men of Movember. The HitLitPro authors have created nine short stories to celebrate the men in our lives, the effect they have on our hearts, our minds (and our bodies), and the difference they can make to the world around them. All profits from the sale of this anthology are being donated. More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from GoodReads
Naughty Or Nice? A HarperImpulse Christmas Anthology

Naughty Or Nice? A HarperImpulse Christmas Anthology

Enjoy this free festive treat from the HarperImpulse authors this Christmas! More info →
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Amazon Kindle
Buy from Barnes and Noble Nook
Buy from GoodReads
Buy from Google Play
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What To Read Next…

Looking for another new author?

Click HERE to learn more about Linn B. Halton!

Special Feature! We’re Quintessentially Yours! / @LinnBHalton / #LLm

Our very own Linn B. Halton has been tremendously busy. This month we’ve got another special featuring her new release, Quintessentially Yours!

Excerpt From Quintessentially Yours

Hover over the text and scroll to read the excerpt!

I was disappointed when Katherine realised I was going to propose and immediately stopped me. She said, ‘Ask me again, after the baby is born. I promise to say yes,’ and we kissed, leaving it at that.Three months after the birth and I know the time still isn’t right. I can’t hold back the sigh that escapes, involuntarily. As I pick Leyla up out of the crib I catch a glimpse of our reflections in the mirror. I look like I’ve been dragged through a hedge backwards: hair all over the place and bags under my eyes. Leyla looks small and very cute. She has no idea about the confusion and upheaval we are going through, or that our biggest fear is doing something wrong. If you ask me, having your first baby is akin to finding yourself behind the steering wheel of a car when you don’t know how to drive. It is true that each day becomes a little easier in some ways. Then something new happens and you feel you are back to square one. I’d only just mastered the wobbling head thing and now she’s getting sturdier, holding her has become a juggling act. It’s as if she’s trying to jump out of my arms, while I’m desperately trying to hold on. Someone should invent some sort of baby harness, like the climbers wear, that you could sling around your shoulder just in case you drop them. Instead of hitting the floor they’d dangle, safely, in mid-air.

“Come on little lady,” I whisper, “milk time.”No. 4 appears in the doorway and watches us for a while. He’s acting very strangely these days and I wonder if it’s a direct result of feeling his place has been usurped. Obviously, he’s had less attention since the new arrival, because we still don’t have a proper routine. He used to call the shots for meal times, but now he has to make a fuss first, and then one of us will stop whatever we’re doing to sort him out. It can’t be easy for him to understand, that’s for sure, but it’s been a period of adjustment for all of us. Not least the decision for Katherine to give up her house and move in with me, but the garden here is perfect for children. The builders have already laid the foundations for the new extension and work begins in earnest next week. As I’m pondering over whether I should take No. 4 for a quick check-up at the vets, Katherine appears in the doorway. She bends to stroke him and he meows, acknowledging her presence.“I hoped you’d sleep for a few hours more, at least.”CK smiles back at me softly, then her eyes rest on Leyla.

“She didn’t cry before her feed,” she mutters. Her eyes are a little bright, tears are forming.“I timed it right, two more minutes and she would have been wailing,” I add, hoping to reassure her. She forgets that she has Leyla most of the time and if we changed places I simply wouldn’t be able to cope. You need superhuman effort just to stay awake, let alone having to constantly try to calm a very fretful baby. CK patiently walks her up and down for hours on end.“Coffee?” Her voice sounds deflated. I nod and she disappears into the kitchen.When Katherine reappears I can tell there’s something on her mind. She sits down in the chair next to the sofa. There’s a tissue in her hand.

“What’s up, CK? Tell me what’s going on.”

“The publishers have rejected my latest manuscript.” She bravely fights back the tears that continue to well up, despite her determination.

The Book
Quintessentially Yours

Quintessentially Yours

Is there any truth to last year’s rumours of an affair between the pair? If not, then why is Katherine visiting Mark in secret? Will James be able to resist the advances of his seductive colleague? Will the tangled trio be able to avoid scandal in the stars? More info →
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Special Feature! Spend Time At A Cottage In The Country / @LinnBHalton / #LLm

Hello everyone! I love special features. Today we a have a new release from Linn B. Halton. Read on to learn more about her latest. Let’s start with an excerpt.

Excerpt From A Cottage In The Country

Hover and scroll to read the excerpt!

“Great. I’ve never known a tradesman work Saturdays and Sundays without having to twist their arms. I get the impression he’s not from around here, which was a surprise.”Sarah sips her tea then frowns slightly.

“He isn’t, although he’s looking to settle in the Forest at some point. I don’t think it’s a secret that he’s looking to buy something to do up.”

“Oh. Why didn’t he make an offer on Ash Cottage? I would have thought it would have been a perfect project for him.”

She nods, taking another sip.

“In strictest confidence, he was going to. I had a message on my desk to call him urgently when I arrived back in the office after your viewing. If he’d phoned through on my mobile, as my colleague suggested, he might just have beaten you to it. He wasn’t here when the For Sale sign went up, his mother died unexpectedly and he had to go back home for a couple of weeks to sort out the funeral. A case of unfortunate timing, I’m afraid.”

That’s awkward and sort of confirms my suspicions. I don’t know what to think now about the fact that he’s bending over backwards to help with a renovation that could have been his own.

“He must have felt gutted to come back and find he’d missed out on Ash Cottage. I feel sad knowing that.”

Sarah hastens to reassure me. “He will have been grateful to have a job to keep his mind occupied, no doubt. I don’t know how close he was to his mum, but a death brings out all sorts of emotions – especially at this time of the year. He’s on our mailing list and something else will come up before too long. In his line of work he’ll no doubt hear on the local grapevine if someone’s thinking of selling, so he’ll be one step ahead. It’s a small community here. This case was complicated because of the number of beneficiaries involved. Everything took a little longer than expected to set up.”

“I’m glad I asked. I’d hate to say anything to upset him in any way. His mother’s death must have been tough to deal with. He isn’t the sort of man who finds it easy dealing with emotion, is he?”

I wasn’t expecting Sarah to respond to that, I was simply voicing my thoughts.

“I think he’s lonely, to be honest. I don’t know why as he’s made a few hearts pound among the single females and widows around here. I know Joanna next door is one of his biggest fans. The gossip-mongers are watching his every move.” She laughs, raising her eyebrows at me, knowingly.

I feel the heat rising up from my neck, gulp down the last of my tea and muster up a laugh that sounds suitable dismissive. A cough alerts us to the fact that Lewis Hart is standing in the doorway and the fact that he’s soaking wet might not be the only reason why he looks like thunder.

 

A Cottage In The Country

A Cottage In The Country

Can Maddie Brooks become that ‘fifty-and-fabulous’ woman of her dreams? More info →
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Special Feature: Under The Stars by Linn B. Halton / @LinnBHalton / #LLm

Hello all! Welcome to another Special Feature day here on at the LLm Author’s Café! Today’s post highlights Under The Stars from our fabulous Linn B. Halton!

Under The Stars

Under The Stars

Author:
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
ASIN: B00XYS8PDO
For twenty-one years, the focus of Katherine Dale’s life has been her work. Love interests and hobbies came and went, but what has always been there for her—her only constant other than her cat delightfully named No. 4—was her nine to five habit. Until she’s replaced. With her confidence dented, Katherine is angry at life and at herself. She has ignored hints of “changes to come” in her horoscope forecasts, written by the wonderful and renowned astrologer, Mark Ainsley-Thomas. Mark is now an “A” list celebrity in the UK and his new agent is determined to raise his profile in America. So, he has to take on the new, and very talented, astrologer James Kingman to help him run his web-site. When Katherine discovers James has been writing the forecasts, rather than Mark, her life explodes in confusion as the three lives become inextricably tangled. Insecurity, self-doubt, guilt, stress, and frustration, coupled with village gossips and merciless reporters wanting eye-catching headlines leave Katherine feeling vulnerable and in need of guidance. The stars might be telling her that love is going to feature in her life, but when Katherine finds herself implicated in the headlines ‘Mystic Love Triangle’ she’s just as surprised as everyone else! None of the men in her life are love interests – so what exactly does fate have in store?
Buy from Amazon Kindle
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About the Book

For twenty-one years, the focus of Katherine Dale’s life has been her work. Love interests and hobbies came and went, but what has always been there for her was her nine to five habit. Until she’s replaced.

With her confidence dented, Katherine is angry at life and at herself. She’s ignored hints of “changes to come” in her horoscope forecasts, written by the wonderful and renowned astrologer, Mark Ainsley-Thomas. Mark is now an “A” list celebrity in the UK and his new Agent is determined to raise his profile in America, so he has to take on the new, but talented, astrologer James Kingman to help him run his web-site. Katherine lives her life according to her daily horoscope.

When Katherine finds James has been writing her daily horoscopes rather than Mark, Katherine’s life explodes in confusion and, unexpectedly, love as the three lives become inextricably tangled. Now Katherine has to learn that the stars might be telling her that love is going to feature in her life, but when Katherine finds herself implicated in the headlines ‘Mystic Love Triangle Surprise’ she’s just as surprised as everyone else. None of the men in her life are love interests – so what exactly does fate have in store?

Look Inside

Excerpt From Under The Stars

—-Hover over this box and scroll to keep reading!—-

So far, I’ve had seven disastrous dates, all of which started with promising email exchanges and ended virtually the moment we met face to face. My gut instinct told me instantly that it wasn’t going to be worth the effort involved, but I felt I had to try it. My old friend, Rich, says I scare men away. I met him when I was at University, and he’s been happily married to Georgia for twenty years. He says I’m too proactive, too much of a perfectionist and too well-organized. Men, he says, don’t like that in a woman—I come across as being too self-sufficient. His theory is that I need to learn to act needy.

Funny he should say that because Mark Ainsley-Thomas has been saying something very similar lately. Not in those exact words, but the gist is the same—I need to learn to need other people. Today’s contribution is quite clear.

Gemini: Monday’s Daily Forecast by Mark Ainsley-Thomas

Now is not the time to overthink things, remember that actions speak louder than words. Your usual ability to think clearly is being hampered by the events around you, and while we all have to accept this may happen from time to time, you do need to push forward. Doing nothing is not an option. Isolating yourself from others is also not an option, you need to make an effort and you’ll be glad you did. Try to see past the stars and you will begin to see things from a different perspective. A day to take care of you.

Well, I did see stars when I hit the floor this morning, and I did get to see a very different perspective I hadn’t enjoyed before.
Hmm. I pull up my forecast for the year on the screen to read again, in case I missed anything the first half a dozen times I’ve read it to date.

Gemini: Your Forecast for the Coming Year by Mark Ainsley-Thomas

We all look forward to the start of a New Year, in some ways it can feel like wiping the slate clean and a chance to start all over again. You will indeed feel like this year is a new start, but are you prepared to be open and receptive to what is ahead? That is going to be the challenge for you throughout most of the year and while, on balance, it promises many things, it will be a year when contentious issues arise. Not only in the way things are presented to you and how you handle them, but in terms of a level of aggression aimed at you, arising mainly through a misunderstanding. You will need to put aside old ideas and re-think some of the fundamental beliefs that have become almost a ritual to you. The year will start with a bang and you won’t be disappointed with the way it ends.

Oh, I love the way he phrases his thoughts and advice. He’s so…so…wise and reassuring. He always manages to imply a level of optimism, even when his words are delivering a message that is, in essence, a little worrying. Aggression for instance, what does he mean? Still, he’s right about the year starting with a bang; I just didn’t think that meant I would end up losing my job.

Reading his words is a comfort, though, and reassures me that my little world isn’t about to totally fall apart. Before long my fingers are flying over the keyboard, and I have a title that will hopefully intrigue the readers and make them want to pluck my book from the shelf.

 

How Do You VooDoo When You’re Never Alone? @LinnBHalton / @JaniceHorton

Hello rockstars and Happy Tuesday! Welcome once more to The Author’s Café, where we blast the music, refill your coffee, and talk books–endless books. This week I was in the mood for some spooky stuff–and if a little romance is thrown in, all the better! Read on for info on these great titles from Janice Horton and Linn B. Halton.

How Do You Voodoo? (Voodoo Romance #1)

How Do You Voodoo? (Voodoo Romance #1)

Author:
Series: Voodoo Romance, Book 0
Genres: Romance, Romantic Comedy
Loveless fashion model Nola Nichols thinks being beautiful is a curse; that is until she is cursed and her looks begin to fade just a week before the most important photo shoot of her career. More info →
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Excerpt From How Do You VooDoo?

Nola Nichols settled herself into her first class seat aboard a British Airways flight from Barbados to London and accepted a glass of chilled champagne, which she sipped in the hope it might help her to feel happier than she actually was.

Leaving her polo playing boyfriend behind was going to be a wrench after the fabulous few weeks they’d just spent together. She sulked at the thought of him playing chukkers in the Caribbean sunshine, while adoring girls waved at him from under the palm trees that surrounded the St James Club, and tried not to imagine the parties he would attend without her afterwards.

Their relationship had been passionate, but it was still far too new for her to expect him to do it long distance. Not that you could frolic in the surf or make love in a beach hammock by iPad. Well, not for real anyway.

His life was simple and hers way too complicated. His home was an old sugar plantation house and hers was, well, anywhere, as she continually lived out of a hotel and a suitcase.

When they had said their goodbyes at the airport, and he’d presented her with a single rose, she’d known instinctively rather than from its symbolism that she’d lost him. She might be the most beautiful girl that Miles Montgomery-Smythe had ever dated (his words not hers) but clearly out of sight was out of mind.

While the in-flight safety film played, Nola braced herself for returning to the UK. She had been sent to the Caribbean by her Agent because of some stupid headline and an unflattering photograph in the tabloids. ‘Nola No Knickers’ had gone viral when the paparazzi had caught her exiting a limousine with her legs ever so slightly parted.

‘Of course I was wearing knickers!’ she’d exclaimed to Marilyn, who was right in the middle of some sort of mid-life hormonal crisis as well as negotiating Nola’s debut appearance in Vashion Magazine, the hottest glossy to ever hit London, Paris and New York. ‘They were just a bit see-through and I had been perspiring.’

 
 

Never Alone

Never Alone

Life is all about the choices we make… More info →
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Excerpt From Never Alone

“I read an article once about a man who was dying of some horrific lung condition. The interviewer asked if he was scared of death and he said, “No, why—should I be? I am scared about how my wife will cope when I’m not here anymore. I know I will be in a better place, but she will always wonder, until it’s her time”. What struck me most was how firmly he believed it wasn’t the end of anything for him and that his wife was the one he felt sorry for.”

“That’s sad. I guess if there is an afterlife, then that’s not going to be perfect either. Well that’s depressing. To go from one imperfect life to another…” Celia thrusts her glass towards me and I raise mine obligingly. A clear, hollow ring fills the air as glass touches glass.

“Here’s to a better life beyond,” she adds dully.

“Sometimes they do manage to make contact,” I try my best to sound matter-of-fact. “I’ve experienced it myself.”

Celia turns to look at me, studying my face. “Yes, but is it real, Holly?”

“It’s real to me when it happens. You don’t have to be a medium to see spirits. Cara says I’m getting help from the other side, from my grandmother. So there are things they can do.” I don’t know what I’m trying to say exactly, or whether I’m only trying to give Celia some hope. A part of me, buried deep inside, seems to want to open up. I know there is something beyond death and perhaps it’s about time I faced up to that fact.

“But, Holly, the things you’ve seen have scared you. They haven’t comforted you; quite the opposite. How sad is that?” Celia doesn’t look upset, merely resigned.

“I know. Why can’t I see or sense my grandmother? That would be a good experience, surely? Will and I did some research and one book we came across said everyone is born with a natural psychic ability. Cara said much the same. As we grow we learn to dismiss it and question it in such a way that eventually we lose the ability to ‘see’. In some people it’s activated, their abilities are much stronger or they have decided to learn how to use the gift they have been given. An important part of that is learning how to protect yourself. The trouble is I don’t want to get more involved. If I learn more, then I’m worried that I will be encouraging what’s out there to see me as receptive. How awful if it never went away.”

“It might all end here. You weren’t the only one affected by Bisley Rise so it must have been strong. I know you were upset and it really spooked you, but gradually you’ll let it go and things will return to normal.” Celia tries to sound reassuring.

“I wish it were that simple,” I sigh, but my words sound fraught.

“What do you mean?” Celia asks.

“I thought Bisley Rise was the first time. I’m not so sure now.” She looks at me, puzzled. “I’ve been going through my portfolio of writing. It spans almost ten years; I started writing poetry and short stories when I was a teenager. Bits and pieces, but I always enjoyed it. It was my way of relaxing and I’ve had a few things published over the years. I went back through some of my earlier writing yesterday. Let me show you something I found.” I run upstairs to the bedroom and pull a folded piece of A4 paper from the pale yellow box file on the desk next to the bed. I unfold the paper as I walk back into the sitting room.

“Listen to this. It’s something I wrote when I was just sixteen years old. It was a shock when I found it the other day.”

The Uninvited

I can see the breeze

Rustling through the branches

Laden with leaves

That should be basking in the sunshine

But not today

I hear that sad howling

Through the corridor

Next to my room

The eerie sound makes me feel alone

And sadly afraid

For what might walk

Fretful and angry

Encouraged by the chill

And the high-pitched whine

Barely audible

But unmistakable

There is a shadow

I saw it move, hover

As a wisp of smoke

Clearing before my eyes

And I move my head

To check the swaying trees

Beyond the window

Which now seem strangely calm

I know you are there

I’ve seen you before

But I bow my head

And continue reading my book

Afraid to acknowledge

Scared to see more

I had the conversation once

Told a friend what I had seen

Suffered the pitying glance

Dismissive smile

Because you are never there

When I’m not alone

Your message is for me

But I’m too afraid

To listen or respond

Please

Just leave me alone

Celia exhales slowly and loudly, letting it sink in and then takes a long, slow sip from her wine glass.

“Perhaps it wasn’t your own experience that inspired the poem, it might be based on a story or incident you read about perhaps?”

“No, it was a way of voicing what was hidden away deep inside of me. Things I couldn’t talk about, although I did try to confide in a friend once. I guess I’ve spent years pushing this away and ignoring things. Bisley Rise frightened me because for the first time ever it was so strong I couldn’t ignore it. If I hadn’t then had that awful experience in the basement of the pin mill, I would still be trying to convince myself it was an isolated experience. I know that isn’t true and I suppose I’m trying to face up to what’s been happening for a long time now.”

 

Recipe of the Day

Image Courtesy Wikipedia Commons

So I was thinking today…since How Do You VooDoo is set partly in Glasgow, Scotland, we might have a bit of Scotch coffee? What do you think? Here you go…

Ingredients

  • One shot of espresso
  • A shot of your favourite single malt Scotch Whisky. (Keep in mind that whiskey is not Scottish. So if you want to be authentic, lose the e.)
  • Sugar
    Milk

How To Make The Magic Happen

  • Combine espresso and Scotch Whisky in your favorite mug.
  • Steam the milk until it has a light, frothy foam.
  • Pour the milk over the combined ingrediants in your mug.

 

Music of the Day

I’ve been listening to rock n’ roll all day and honestly, there could be no other song for today… Enjoy!

 

Jimi Hendrix – Live at Woodstock – Voodoo Child (Slight Return) from Dernouny Anass on Vimeo.

Reaching For the Stars On a Sweet Occasion / @LinnBHalton / @JaniceHorton

photo credit: Ms L via photopin cc
photo credit: Ms L via photopin cc

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! Before you head off to spend some time with your sweetie, how about some delectable reads from the café? Today’s post features reads from Linn B. Halton and Janice Horton.

Get ready for cupcakes and hot master chefs!

 

Nothing Found

 

Excerpt From Sweet Occasions

That night, lying in bed next to Steve, my mind is whirling. I tell myself it’s only natural that my head is all over the place, as the business is demanding every moment of my time. Truthfully though, there is something deeper gnawing away at me. Every now and then Adam’s face stares back at me from inside my head.

I keep recalling little gestures. The way his face crinkles when he smiles. His expression when he looks at Lily is one of pure, unconditional love. Is it wrong to lie in bed next to your partner and think about another man? Of course it is: what am I thinking? I’m not free, I’ve made a commitment. Besides, Steve needs me.

Then I remember the moment I nearly embarrassed myself. I thought Adam said that he loved me! What he actually said, was that he loved the cake, and that I’d done a great job. Talk about wishful thinking. The shock registered on my face immediately. I had to pretend I’d had one of those déjà vu experiences in order to explain away my reaction.

None of this is helping to empty my head of thoughts and the moment I relax Adam is back. His eyes are so intense sometimes, as if the words you are speaking aren’t enough. He wants to see beyond mere words. For a man, he’s very in touch with his emotions, despite the fact I’m pretty sure he’d deny it. I’m inviting trouble by thinking about him, because it’s a pointless exercise. It’s making me feel disloyal and it’s unsettling. I’m not a dreamer, and yet Adam has turned me into one. Day dreams are empty wishes, and he has a girlfriend who seemed pretty intent on making that very plain. Adam was embarrassed, that was obvious, but it’s a fact. Even if we do get on well, that in itself doesn’t mean a thing.

He’s an attractive man, and Charlotte is a sophisticated woman. There’s a sense of glamour, and worldliness about her, which makes me feel very dull in comparison. Why would Adam even consider looking at me, when he has such a captivating girlfriend?

 

 

Reaching For the Stars

Reaching For the Stars

Author:
Genre: Romance
Love him or hate him, everyone is out looking for Chef McDuff. Who will find him first and whose side will you be on...? More info →
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Excerpt from Reaching For the Stars

Wearing the same champagne-soaked Armani suit he had been in for the past fourteen hours, Finlay McDuff was slumped in an armchair inside the Balmoral Hotel, Edinburgh, on a bright January morning. He was reading about himself in the newspapers and reflecting on why, after finally achieving his life’s ambition, he should be feeling so utterly miserable.

‘Bad-boy chef wins three Golden Stars,’ declared The City News.

‘Infamous chef wins third star in Edinburgh,’ reported The Scotsman.

‘McGolden!’ boasted The Thistle.

Finn lit a cigarette and groaned. His blood-red eyes, set in dark hollows beneath heavy lids, looked as though they hadn’t ever closed during the years he had been chasing those coveted rosettes. The macaroons, as the French liked to call them, the ultimate symbols of gastronomic success. Only what use were they now?

He had put ambition over love: pride over marriage: his ego over his emotions.

Three sins for three stars, he told himself.

He longed to sleep. Not that he could sleep. Not since Gina had left. Not since she had got on that plane back to Italy and disappeared from his life. It had been three weeks and three days and he’d heard nothing from her. No phone calls, no letters, no emails, no requests for money, and no demands from her lawyer. It wasn’t like her. Gina made a point of demanding and now she’d stopped, it was driving him crazier than her constant whining ever had.

A nervous young waiter approached him from across the foyer.

 

‘Sir, you cannot smoke in here, it’s the law.’

Finn searched for an ashtray while his deposits threatened the Balmoral’s marble floor.

‘I’m a-afraid we don’t have any ashtrays,’ stuttered the waiter.

Finn took off a shoe and used it instead; further jeopardising the hotel’s clean air policy.

‘A d-drink, sir?’

Finn yawned and tried to check his watch but his eyes were unfocussed and rolling in his head from the as yet unprocessed alcohol still making its way round his body. ‘Nah, I’ll have a cup of tea and two paracetamol. I’ve to do an interview with some journo tosser and I need some pain relief quickly.’

He cast his mind back to the last time he had seen his wife. It had been ten o’clock on Christmas Eve, when she had stormed into his restaurant and had screamed at him over the passé in a mix of Italian, Scottish, and English, while tears poured down her face.

He remembered the restaurant being excruciatingly quiet as she had served her ultimatum. He had been tearing herbs onto a plate of foie-gras and had looked up to see if she was serious.

In full view of his diners, she had strutted back and forth with her nose and chin raised provocatively, her dark eyes fixed firmly upon him, her perfectly manicured fingernails strumming her thrusting hips, while one Italian leather shoe tapped the terrazzo-tiled floor.

Everyone in the restaurant had waited open-mouthed for his response.

But he did what he was trained to do under pressure; he cooked.

Gina, having interpreted his reticence as indifference, had pulled at her finger and thrown something down onto the passé in front of him. It was her wedding ring.

To his disbelief, it had landed straight in the foie-gras.

 

Recipe of the Day

Author Linn B. Halton says she loves coffee with Tia Maria Liquor. That sounded yummy! I did a little digging and found this gem of a recipe courtesy of Tia Maria themselves. Check out this recipe for Tia Espresso:

  • 30 ml TIA MARIA
  • 30 ml ESPRESSO
  • 30 ml VODKA
  • 15 ml LIQUID SUGAR
  • COFFEE BEANS
  • Combine all ingredients together with cubed ice in a boston and shake. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with coffee beans.

 

Music of the Day

When I asked our authors about their playlists for these books, Janice Horton had this to say:

In my ‘celebrity chef’ novel, Reaching for the Stars, the stars mentioned both in the title and in the story are based on the famous Michelin star system, the highest accolades awarded to a chef. My title is also a double entendre, of course, meaning that to achieve at the top you have to aim high. I did lots of research for this novel in Michelin-starred kitchens and I spoke to lots of top chefs but didn’t have a music playlist as such during the writing stage. However, I found it very interesting to note that while I was launching my own ‘Reaching for the Stars’ the rapper Will.i.am was making history with his song ‘Reach for the Stars’ when it was played from the surface of Mars and beamed back to Earth on the Mars rover Curiosity – becoming the first song ever to debut from another planet. It certainly got his song noticed and made me wonder how hard it would be to have a book launch in space?!”

 

 

Linn B. Halton had another addiction. Sam Smith’s Stay With Me was played on constant loop while she wrote Sweet Occasions. Have a listen!

 

 

Thanks ladies! So nice of you to stop by the café for our lovely Valentine’s Day feature. Have a wonderful day!