Laura E James Lovely Blog Hop

Laura E James’ Lovely Blog Hop

I’ve been nominated by Sue Fortin for the Lovely Blog Hop where I share some of the things that have shaped my life. Thank you for the nomination, Sue.

I haven't changed one bit.
I haven’t changed one bit.

First Memory: I must have been about three, and I can remember playing in the front garden of our house in London. We had a long rear garden, but it backed onto a factory and I was a little spooked by it. In my mind’s eye, I can see a trike that I used to bomb up and down our concrete drive. And I always had hand-knitted cardigans …

 

This is still in our possession.
This is still in our possession.

Books: I loved The Folk of the Faraway Tree and Mr Galliano’s Circus, both written by Enid Blyton. I also had four Paddington Bear books, a series of Peanuts/Snoopy paperbacks, and Anna Sewell’s Black Beauty, to mention a few. I still have some of my childhood books and have passed them to my children, including Bunty annuals, a Lady Penelope annual and a whole host of fairytale hardbacks. My mum was a big reader, and I inherited her love of books.

 

Libraries: I grew up in Watford, Herts, and the North Watford Library was on the home-school bus route and was quite a draw. I could jump off the bus a few stops early on the way home on a Friday and nip into the library either to carry out research for homework, in the absence of PCs, the internet and Google, or spend a happy hour choosing books to check out and take home. I especially liked the books that were in new plastic covers. I hunted out those ones. It was an absolutely joy to think I was the first to get my hands on a book either new to the library or with a clean, pristine jacket.

I attend a writing group now, called Off The Cuff, and we meet in our local library every week. It thrills me to see friends’ books on the shelves. That will never grow old.

Paloma Faith 2015
Paloma Faith 2015

What’s Your Passion? Excepting family, and other than writing, that would be music, and I enjoy different genres from classical to pop to heavy rock. I have an older brother who taught me well when it came to rock bands. Motorhead’s Ace of Spades still elicits an instant response from me.

I am a huge Kate Bush and Paloma Faith fan, I adore ABBA and All About Eve, think Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac are brilliant, and would jump at the chance to see Eurythmics live one more time. Attending an Opera is something I’d like to do.

Learning: I studied to A Level standard, including Geography, English and Theatre Studies, and turned down the opportunity to study TV and Film Studies at King Alf’s in Winchester, as I had a job by that point and was enjoying the independence that came with earning. I had a few years where I took singing lessons, which always put me in a good mood, and now I love attending writing courses. 

My early days.
My early days.

Writing: I am one of those people who has always written from the moment words made sense and I could hold a pencil. I have comics, books, poems, a novel I started writing with my brother when I was ten, song lyrics … I write issue-driven, contemporary women’s fiction with strong elements of romance now, or as Sue Fortin so wonderfully coined, ‘Romance without the soft edges.’ I have two novels published by Choc Lit, Truth or Dare? and Follow Me Follow You, and have contributed to four anthologies. Details can be found on my Novels and Anthologies page.

 

At the time of posting this blog, I will be in plaster, following wrist surgery, so I’m going to refrain from passing the baton on this occasion, but if anyone else would like to run with it, I’d love to read your replies.

Take care.

Laura x

Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

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Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award

My thanks to Sharon Booth for inviting me to take part in the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award. Sharon is a wonderful, supportive writing friend whose debut novel, There Must Be An Angel, is available now.

 

Here are the questions Sharon set:

What is your earliest memory?

I remember being fascinated by those tall, plastic ashtrays that had a push-down feature to dispose of the ash. I was about three, maybe four, and our next door neighbour had two ‒ a red one and a black one.

What was your favourite Christmas present?

I’ve had quite a few over the years. I’ve had quite a few years. I think every present is lovely. I’m very lucky in that Gajitman is an expert wrapper and I always receive exquisitely presented gifts. New pens, notebooks and tokens of love are my favourite.

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Who would you like to go on a date with? (Excluding current partners/spouses)

Michael J Fox, Johnny Depp, Steve Backshall …

Which film would you choose if you could only ever watch one again?

The Sound of Music. It contains every aspect of life I enjoy ‒ music, singing, romance, children, intrigue ‒ it’s packed with emotion and always makes me cry.

What are you most proud of?

How caring and thoughtful my children are.

Which woman in history do you most admire?

Kate Bush. She is a pioneer in music and has been a huge inspiration in my life. It’s unnerving to think the seventies and eighties are recent history and within my lifetime …

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Which book do you wish you’d written?

My Sister’s Keeper, Jodi Picoult. It was the first I’d read of Jodi Picoult’s, and the ending caught me completely off-guard. It was one of the first books that left my crying, the first being Love and Devotion, by Erica James. My writing has been influenced by both authors.

What one thing do you think would surprise other people about you?

That I’m shy and retiring.

It’s not true, but it would surprise people.

You’ve had an unexpected windfall of one thousand pounds. What would you spend it on?

I’d spend some on my family and the rest on attending a writing course or retreat.

Who is your secret crush?

I don’t have a secret crush ‒ they are all well-documented. 🙂

As I’m expecting to be in plaster at the time of posting this blog, I will refrain from tagging others, but thank you for inviting me to take part, Sharon.

Laura x

 

 

 

On One Hand, I have a Date …

On One hand, I Have a Date …

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I am preparing for a date.

All the usual care is being put into my appearance – manicure, pedicure, decent nightwear …

Wait!

Decent nightwear?

Yep. Slippers and dressing gown required.

I have a date with a surgeon, and making sure I’m operation-ready follows a similar path to preparing for an exquisite gala dinner, partying with friends, or having an evening out with Gajitman.

Excluding my decent nightwear and dressing gown, here is a selection of pre and post-op items I find useful.

Planning ahead.
Planning ahead.

I’m having a replacement ulna head removed from my left wrist, and will be in plaster for a while. Having been in a similar position a number of times, I know more or less what to expect, what I need to do before I’m incapacitated, and what items to use after surgery to maintain as much independence as possible.

IMG_9346Mirror and tweezers at the ready: Check. Hair colour mixed: Check. Nail file available: Check. Waxing strips cut to size: Check. Plastic arm covers so I can shower: Check. Loose socks, easy to pull on with one hand: Check. Earrings without back studs: Check. Dental floss that doesn’t require two hands and a degree in contortionism: Check. Big, comfy bed: Check. Jill Mansell book to read: Check. Lovely family and friends: Check, check, check.

Right then. Who’s heating up the wax?

Laura x

 

Navigating March.

Navigating March.

March 21st 2015.

Today is the third anniversary of the loss of my mum.

I find March a tough month to navigate. The first turn leads to my birthday, and three years ago, this was the day our lives careered off course when, following joint surgery, my mum became seriously ill. Just over a week later, with Mum still in hospital, we ploughed into Mother’s Day. I’d bought two CDs for Mum as her Mother’s Day gift. She didn’t get the chance to listen to them. They are in my possession now, but I can’t bring myself to play them, even though a love of music was something Mum and I shared. In 2012, this was the day I realised precisely where the road was leading. The last three days of the journey took us to the 21st March – the start of Spring – and the end of the road – and we said goodbye to my wonderful, strong, fearless mum.

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I’ve thought about her every day, often with a smile, as I recall something daft we did together, and sometimes with a tear when I so desperately want to tell her my news and then remember she’s no longer next door.

With March being so tricky to navigate, we factor in or are provided with comfort breaks, for want of a better term, making the long journey bearable.

Two weeks after we lost Mum, it was agreed that as a family, we needed something positive to focus on and look forward to, so four days after the first anniversary, my husband, children and I took a holiday together that left us with memories we’ll cherish for the rest of our lives. Disneyworld 2013 was a holiday of a lifetime, and I wrote a couple of blogs about it at the time, here and here. It was a time for regrouping and the start of the healing process.

Last year, on March 21st, there were two exciting occurrences. I had a cover reveal for Follow Me Follow You, and it was announced Kate Bush was putting together a live show. I am a huge Kate Bush fan. I mean humongous. From that point on, Mum’s anniversary took on a slightly different feel, as good memories were able to sit beside those darker ones. In the August, I was one of the lucky few with a ticket to the Kate Bush Before The Dawn show, and I know Mum would have been thrilled for me.

Before The Dawn. Kate Bush.
Before The Dawn. Kate Bush.

This year, another amazing incident happened. This time it was on Sunday 15th March, Mother’s Day.

A few years ago, I was next door, making my mum’s breakfast, when she called me into the living room to view a singer on TV.

‘Come and watch this lady,’ Mum said. ‘I think her name’s Paloma. You’ll really like her.’

I stood on the threshold between the kitchen and the living room, transfixed by the red-head with this incredible voice, belting out ‘New York’ – not the Frank Sinatra one, but this one.

Beating me to it, Mum purchased Paloma Faith’s debut CD, Do You Want the Truth or Something Beautiful? , to which we listened, and I was hooked. I have been ever since, finding inspiration in the words and music, and appreciating the hard work and artistry Paloma Faith puts into her songs and performances.
Two of my all-time favourite songs to sing live are  New York, and Stone Cold Sober – both which appear on that first album.

Stay with me, because this is what happened last Sunday. And forget my adult/mature/sensible age – this was as exciting for me as it would have been if I was still in my teens.

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Paloma Faith. Bournemouth BIC March 15 2015.

 

I took my daughter to a Paloma Faith gig in Bournemouth, and during the performance of New York, a very special song for me, because, via my mother, it’s the one that introduced me to Paloma’s music, Paloma left the stage, walked down the aisle and greeted the fans.

And I had a moment.

Paloma and I shook hands and exchanged a nod.

It was fleeting, but it was magical, and it will remain with me forever. It was a brief connection to a person I admire and respect, and whose music always puts me in the same room with another woman I’ve admired and respected my entire life – my mum.

After the gig, as my daughter and I were walking back to the car, it occurred to me it was still Mother’s Day, and in my private, internal world of separate, seemingly unconnected incidents coming together to form a whole, another circle was complete.

Laura x

Kobo Deal: Follow Me Follow You.

My second Choc Lit novel, Follow Me Follow You, is available to download for your Kobo at 99p/99c until the 17th March 2015, in their Mother’s Day Deal.

FM_thumbnail newTo go to the link, click here.

Alongside the romance between the heroine, Victoria Noble, and the Hollywood action movie star, Chris, the story looks at child attachment disorder, and the strained relationship between Victoria and her four-year-old son, Seth, with whom she struggled to bond at birth.

An uplifting read, it’s perfect for Mother’s Day.

Have a great day.

Laura x

 

What Doesn’t Kill You …

What Doesn’t Kill You …

This is the current title of my third completed novel, now under submission with my publisher. It’s issue-based women’s fiction with a strong romantic element. It’s romance without the soft edges.

As the third in the Chesil Beach series, it sees a cameo from Olivia DeVere and Frank Paveley, from Follow Me Follow You, the return of Chesil Beach, and a few trips out to Portland Bill.

It explores a variety of dark issues, but I hope the reader finds it ultimately uplifting.

Here are a few location shots to set the scene.

Portland Bill Lighthouse
Portland Bill Lighthouse
Pulpit Rock A character within its own right.
Pulpit Rock
A character within its own right.
View from the lighthouse.
View from the lighthouse.
The hero's choice of transport.
The hero’s choice of transport.
Portland, in the distance.
Portland, in the distance.

 

Laura x

Valentine News

I have some exciting news for both Truth or Dare? and Follow Me Follow You.

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‘Thank god for amazon and my kindle, if it wasn’t for these I would never get to read great books like this.’ Amazon Reviewer.

Truth or Dare? has been selected for Amazon’s Kindle Valentine Deal, and is currently 99p only to download. If you enjoy reading romance without the soft edges, this could be the book for you. It’s received great reviews, and it’s a thrill knowing readers really enjoyed a different type of romance novel – my type of romance novel.

Audio

Follow Me Follow You is now available as an audio book, which is a first for me. I would love to hear from you if you listen to Chris and Victoria’s story.

Also with Follow Me Follow You, I am delighted to say I have my first Waterstones book signing on Valentine’s Day, Saturday 14th February, in the Dorchester branch. I’ll be there from 11-1, signing copies of my paperback, and would love for you to come and say hello, and of course, buy a book 😀 Follow Me already has twenty 5* reviews.

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‘I loved it – a cleverly created world, a beautiful love story, and enough dark and light to make it a really original read.’ Welsh Annie

Waterstones are running an entire day of romance related events and it’s going to be brilliant.

That’s my news for today. I still have my head down, getting on with book 3, What Doesn’t Kill You, and it’s rattling along at a fair speed now as everything is coming together for the big finish. I’m also thinking about book 4 and have a title and an idea for that, so as soon as I’ve submitted WDKY …

Have a great week, and take care in this cold, icy weather.

Laura x

It’s Tuesday and …

It’s Tuesday and …

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It’s Tuesday and I need to make up a shortfall of 1000 words – words I should have written yesterday, but allowed myself to be distracted by Sunday’s episode of Last Tango in Halifax.

Like a good book, this programme, expertly written by Sally Wainwright, and exquisitely performed by the cast, has yet to leave my thoughts.

But I need to focus on my hero, Griff. Although he’s written in third person, I’m going to write a chapter in first, as an experiment, to see if he still has a few surprises up his Watch Officer sleeves.

As a pure aside, I’m over with my friends, The Romaniacs today, as we introduce our new weekly series, The Life Cycle of a Writer.

Have a good day.

Laura x

 

Truly Madly Deeply Into 2015

Truly Madly Deeply Into 2015Author Pic 4

 

Happy New Year! I hope 2015 started on a positive note for you, and continues in the same way.

My year has begun with the determination to hit my March deadline for book 3, which means a daily word count of 2000, plus a rewrite. I’m not a fast first draft writer, often agonising over every word, but this does mean the second draft is usually less painful and less time consuming.

In the meantime and at the time of writing this post … the RNA anthology, Truly, Madly, Deeply is currently 59p only, as a download from Amazon. My short story, Bitter Sweet, is in this extended addition, along with 34 stories written by romantic novelists. It’s a varied, interesting and wonderful collection of stories, showcasing the many types of romance and romance writing.

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Right – back to the work-in-progress.

See you the other side.

Take care.

Laura x