Choc Lit

In which my publisher is 7 whole years old

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Choc Lit, the rather lovely publisher that brought Sweet Nothing, Midsummer Dreams and the Christmas Kisses series into the world is seven whole years old today.

This is very exciting because seven is, I would suggest, without any doubt at all the best age to be. You’re still little enough to be cute and not really be expected to know stuff or do useful things like wash up or know how to debone a poussin, but you’ve reached the point where you’re in sufficient control of your own limbs for the full range of running/jumping/twirling activities to be very much on the table. At least until an adult comes and makes you get down off the table.

Furthermore, at seven you’re on a par with deadly sins, heavenly virtues, and the generally agreed optimum number of dwarves that can be looked after by a single fairytale princess/occasional housekeeper.

Seven is also the title of that film where Gwyneth Paltrow’s head ends up in a box. It’s how keen Jeremy Corbyn is on the EU. It’s the maximum number of crime-fighting children/dogs Enid Blyton considered it practical to group together into a single secret smuggler-catching gang.

It’s the wedding anniversary at which you might buy one another a nice jumper or a small flock of sheep. It’s the number of days Craig David needs to meet and thoroughly romance a young lady and get to the point where they both need a nice long rest.

So seven. There you go. It’s a number. Traditionally it comes after six and before eight, unless you’re counting alphabetically, in which case (taking only the first ten numbers in this example) it would come after one and before six. I wouldn’t recommend counting alphabetically though; you lose a lot of the benefit of counting if you do.

All of which is a very long winded way of saying, Choc Lit publish books, including my books. You could buy one if you wanted. Or not it’s really up to you. Anyway, they’re seven. Happy Birthday to them.

 

In which it is Christmas and there are even more kisses

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*Clears throat in preparation for grand announcement*

Ladies and Gentledudes, please be most excitable for the great and wondrous news

*small drumroll*

I have a new book out!

Ok, so it’s not that great and wondrous. I’m a writer the having a new book out is very much to be expected, but still, I spend a lot of time at home staring at a blank page. This is what passes for excitement in my world.

Jessica’s Christmas Kiss, the third in the Christmas Kisses series is available to order from today, and will be out in the world and potentially winging it’s way to a kindle (or kindle app) near you from Saturday.

It has a gorgeous Christmassy cover (courtesy of the very clever Berni Stevens).

Jessica Cover

And here’s what it’s all about…

Real Christmas miracles only ever happen in the movies – don’t they?

When Jessica was fifteen, she shared the perfect kiss with a mystery boy at a Christmas party. It might have only lasted a moment, and the boy might have disappeared shortly afterwards but, to Jessica, it was just a little bit magic.

Fourteen years later, and Jessica is faced with a less than magical Christmas after uncovering her husband’s secret affair. And, whilst she wouldn’t admit it, she sometimes finds herself thinking about that perfect Christmas kiss, back when her life still seemed full of hope and possibility.

But she never would have guessed that the boy she kissed in the kitchen all those years ago might still think about her too …

So, in conclusion… New book! Yay! Please feel most very welcome and encouraged to buy, read, and, I hope, enjoy.

In which writerly things always happen in threes

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That post title is a lie. Writerly things don’t always happen in threes, but this is a post about writerly things and there are three of them, and I’m a creative type and thus prone to exaggeration.

Anyhow, ‘what writerly things?’ you cry. Well these writerly things actually. All three of them.

1. Cora’s Christmas Kiss is shortlisted for an award

Cora's Christmas Kiss

Great excitement and joy I tell you. I’m particularly pleased to see this book in the running for an award. I absolutely don’t have favourites amongst my own books. It’s terribly poor form and makes the other books sad, but I have a real soft spot for Cora and Liam, and for Cora’s random bonkers housemates, so it’s lovely to see that other people are loving them too.

Cora is shortlisted in the Love Stories Awards Best Short Romance category along side some awesome writers including my RNA buddies Jean Fullerton and Nikki Moore. The awards are presented in London town on November 18th. Yay!

 

2. I’ve been allowed out of the house

Writing is often a rather solitary activity so it was very exciting last week to spend a couple of days staying with my writing chum, Janet Gover, and talking all things writing and book related with a real human being, rather than just shouting plot ideas at the wall on my own.

And on Saturday is was trebly exciting to venture even further afield to go and chat about romance writing on a panel of Choc Lit authors at Redbridge Central Library.

Redbridge Library 1

The main excitement amongst the panel was discovering that some people approach this writing malarkey completely wrong. By which I mean that we all do it differently and that is of course completely fine and lovely (but my way is right.)

 

3. And finally, Midsummer Dreams news!

The paperback edition of my second full length novel, Midsummer Dreams, will be out early next spring.

Midsummer Dreams

Now, I absolutely don’t have favourites amongst my own books *whistles innocently* It’s terribly poor form and makes the other books sad, but I have a real soft spot for Emily, Helen, Dom and Alex, and for dopey Nick and lovely Theo and Tanya, so it’s rather exciting that non-ereading people are going to get the chance to hold Midsummer Dreams in their hot little hands and get to know all those characters as well. You can pre-order the paperback here.

 

And that’s all my news. Join me next week when I’ll endeavour to find something way more interesting than my own life to witter on about.

In which I muse on all things sticky

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Today I am participating in a little blog splurge in celebration of the release of Rhoda Baxter‘s all new shiny novel, Please Release Me. You’ll be familiar with the notion of the blog splurge from the very awesome Midsummer Dreams Dreamathon we did a couple of months ago. Rhoda has now scandalously stolen my very original  (and not at all nicked from Talli Roland when we did this) idea. Outrageous behaviour…

Anyhoo, Please Release Me is all about this:

What if you could only watch as your bright future slipped away from you?

Sally Cummings has had it tougher than most but, if nothing else, it’s taught her to grab opportunity with both hands. And, when she stands looking into the eyes of her new husband Peter on her perfect wedding day, it seems her life is finally on the up.

That is until the car crash that puts her in a coma and throws her entire future into question.

In the following months, a small part of Sally’s consciousness begins to return, allowing her to listen in on the world around her – although she has no way to communicate.

But Sally was never going to let a little thing like a coma get in the way of her happily ever after …

 

So today Rhoda has asked that we blog about being stuck, and, being a warm and giving type, she has provided three little prompts to get us started. Here goes…

The thing I’m stuck on now… is, obviously, my current novel-in-progress, which is not really unusual. My writing process is essentially a finely balanced mix of being completely stuck, not actually being stuck but still procrastinating wildly, and fevered last-minute writing. At present I’m vacillating between the first two states.

If I could be stuck anywhere (with anyone)… I’d go for somewhere with lots of books because even the most interesting ‘trapped for eternity’ partner is going to get annoying after a while and I’m going to need some alternate entertainment. I’d also like somewhere with sea – I was brought up at the seaside and am still slightly uncomfortable with the fact that I currently live right in the middle of the country with no edge in sight. So a library by the sea please.

As for for my ‘trapped for eternity’ buddy, that’s tricky. It would be terribly obvious to pick a Cumberbatch or a Hiddleston, but I have no idea what they’re actually like in real life. They might turn out to be terribly dull. Obviously, my perfect choice would be the Doctor, because well, he’s the Doctor, but he’s also fictional and probably not well adapted to being trapped in one place for long periods of time.

So all things considered I think I shall just take EngineerBoy, which should not be interpreted as a sign of great romance in my soul. Oh no. It’s more a case of better the devil you know. I’ve lived with him for nearly twenty years so I’m confident that he’s housetrained and unlikely to try to use the lovely books as toilet roll. Engineers also tend towards a practical approach to life so he’d probably be very handy for the mundane elements of being stuck somewhere forever. I believe that if you can’t speedily fashion a can opener out of a librarian’s stamp you can actually be thrown out of Engineer Club*. After the first couple of days all the girls who’d picked desert islands with Johnny Depp would be looking at me and thinking ‘Library and Engineer. Doh!’

Stickers… are awesome, but, sadly, generally only offered to children who’ve been good at the dentist. I feel that many areas of life could be improved with a sticker-based motivational systems. Even at the age of 29 (yeah – I’m saying 29. I like 29. I liked it the first time, and I see no reason to move on) I could definitely be motivated with a good sticker. If I got a sticker every time I finished a chapter I would totally have got recalcitrant novel-in-progress done by now. Totally.

So there you go. The polite thing to do now is obviously to download yourself a copy of Please Release Me. If you need further enticement, here’s a lovely picture of the cover…

PLEASE RELEASE ME

So those are my thoughts on all things sticky. And as a last comment on that theme I shall now try to stick to (see what I did there?) blogging more regularly. I mean, I shall try. I think we all know now to get our hopes up though…

 

If you liked those random musings then you might also like my books. Sweet Nothing, Midsummer Dreams, and the Christmas Kisses series out now.

* This joke has the added benefit of potentially making EngineerBoy quite cross by giving the impression that engineering is simply about building or fixing mundane items. With that in mind I’d like to add that, obviously, it would be an exceptionally well-designed and quality assessed can opener – a veritable sonic screwdriver of can openers.

In which I have a book birthday and an actual birthday

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Happy Birthday to Me! Happy Birthday to Me! etc etc. And secondly, Happy Birthday to the paperback edition of Sweet Nothing which is out this week. In honour of these twin excitements I have put together a little present for one of you lovely reading type people out there. And here it is: Sweet Nothing pb giveaway We have got a copy of Sweet Nothing (to be signed, of course), a fab tote bag, a Midsummer Dreams notebook and bookmark, and because Sweet Nothing and Midsummer Dreams are both published by Choc Lit, there will almost certainly be some chocolate added to the haul as well. So what do you have to do to be in with a chance of owning all of these lovely things? Well you need to enter a little competition. This is how: Simply add a comment below, telling me which Shakespeare play you’d most like to read a contemporary adaptation of and why? I’ve done Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Which play would you like to see as book 3 in the 21st Century Bard series? The best idea and reason, based on my entirely subjective opinion, wins. 

Here comes the dull bit… this competition is open from 0:01am to 11.59pm BST on August 6th 2015. It’s open to anyone 18 or over with a British or Irish postal address where the prize can be sent. One entry per person. One prize pack available. Winning entry will be selected on Friday 7th August. Good luck!

Would you risk everything for love?

Independent, straight-talking Trix Allen wouldn’t. She’s been in love once before and ended up with nothing. Now safely single, Trix is as far away from the saccharine-sweet world of hearts and flowers as it’s possible to be.

Ben Messina is the man who broke Trix’s heart. Now he’s successful the only thing rational Ben and free-spirited Trix see eye-to-eye on is the fact that falling in love isn’t part of the plan. But when Ben’s brother sets out to win the heart of Trix’s best friend, romance is very much in the air. Will Trix gamble everything on love and risk ending up with zero once again?

Sweet Nothing is a fresh and funny retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, set in the present day. 

In which I have to remember not to lick the books

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I’ve been a bit lax in the blog posting the last couple of weeks. This is largely because I’ve been mentally trying to compose a post about the Labour leadership campaign that isn’t just a series of video clips of me banging my head against a wall and then weeping gently, probably ending with a section where I jump up and down repeatedly on a picture of Tony Blair’s increasingly haunted face. I’m not sure that a post like that would really count as insightful or, indeed, interesting.

However, it’s so clear that generating a coherent opinion about Andy Burnham is basically my moral duty as a left-leaning bod with a blog and an interest in politics, that it’s hampered my attempts to blog about anything else. Fortunately today’s post brought something that absolutely, definitely has to be shared with the universe right now this very second.

 

Are you ready?

Ta dah!

Print copies

Actual print copies of my actual novel, Sweet Nothing. Actually printed out, so you can actually hold them, and cuddle them, and lick them.* There are lots of different novelist milestones – your first finished draft; your first finished draft that’s in a state where you could plausibly show it to another human being; your first rejection; your first non-standard rejection; your first contract; your first publication day; your first review; your first horrible review; the first time one of your books gets pirated etc. And in the modern world you can do all of those without ever having a printed book. So having a printed book shouldn’t logically make you feel like any more of a ‘proper writer’ than you were the day before. You’ve still written, edited and promoted the book – all that’s changed is that somebody quite unrelated to you has had the thing printed out and glued together. But still. It’s a book. An actual lickable** book. And it’s very very exciting indeed.

So there you go. A book. It’s out in paperback on August 7th, and by total coincidence the day before that is my birthday, so next week goes my birthday and then book birthday. If you check out my twitter feed (@MsAlisonMay) next Thursday (August 6th) there might even be a special #BirthdayGiveaway to win a signed copy, which would then be yours to keep, and, if you wanted, lick. Or just read. That’s probably a better idea really…

 

About Sweet Nothing

Would you risk everything for love?

Independent, straight-talking Trix Allen wouldn’t. She’s been in love once before and ended up with nothing. Now safely single, Trix is as far away from the saccharine-sweet world of hearts and flowers as it’s possible to be.

Ben Messina is the man who broke Trix’s heart. Now he’s successful the only thing rational Ben and free-spirited Trix see eye-to-eye on is the fact that falling in love isn’t part of the plan. But when Ben’s brother sets out to win the heart of Trix’s best friend, romance is very much in the air. Will Trix gamble everything on love and risk ending up with zero once again?

A modern retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. First novel in the 21st Century Bard series.

 

And you can pre-order the paperback or pick up the ebook for just 99 of your modern English pennies here.

 

*I haven’t been licking them. Honestly I haven’t.

** Still wrong. I’ll add ‘books’ to my list of Things I Must Not Lick.***

*** List also includes David Tennant, other people’s cake, and leading literary agents.

 

In which six is the magic number

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My publisher, Choc Lit, is six years old today, which is lovely. Well, it’s lovely up to a point. Beyond that, having a publisher who doesn’t want to discuss your edits because they had too much ice cream before they went on the swings and so now they feel sicky is less than ideal. Despite those reservations, a birthday is still a thing to be celebrated, so in the spirit of ‘sixiness’ here are six things I’m thinking about right this second…

1. Turning to crime

Not actual crime. That would be bad. Being bad is generally considered to be one of the defining characteristics of actual crime, but I am thinking about fictional crime. Yesterday I went to see a panel of frankly awesome crime writers talk at the Worcestershire LitFest. The panel was made up of CL Taylor, Sarah Hilary, Clare Mackintosh and Alex Marwood, all of whom are bestsellers and utterly brilliant writers. A couple of things really stood out – both CL Taylor and Alex Marwood started their writing careers writing books that were marketed as chick lit before turning to crime, and Clare Mackintosh actually turned down a potential offer to publish an earlier book before her astounding breakout debut hit, I Let You Go. All of which made me think a lot about writing and publishing as a career and how easy or difficult it is to switch genres or to write in multiple genres and hmmm… well… thoughts.

 

2. I bloody love teaching

I’ve been properly snowed under with work recently. I’m marking a lot at the moment, promoting one book, trying to finish writing another and I’ve recently joined the committee of the RNA, which is brilliant but also time-consuming. And then on Saturday afternoon I had an afternoon off. Well not actually ‘off’ – I had an afternoon standing at the front of a class with a flipchart talking about plot and character and trying to help five developing authors get to grips with their own works in progress, and it was immense fun, so much fun that, compared with the days and day of bum-on-seat time I’ve had recently, it almost felt like an afternoon off. Brilliant students, an excellent worked example of a character arc interacting with an external plot (courtesy of Terry Pratchett and Guards! Guards!) and a generally all round lovely afternoon.

 

3. My new book baby is out there in the world

Midsummer Dreams was published on Friday. You probably didn’t know that. I barely bang on about it at all. The early reviews have been lovely and positive though, which is always a huge relief. Until the first reviews appear there’s always a possibility that nobody else on the planet will understand what on earth you were trying to do with a novel, but fortunately at least some people seem to love this one. Happy dances all around! If you’d like to download a copy for yourself this is the place.

 

4. The Labour leadership contest is getting me down

So it’s fairly well documented that I’m a bit of a lefty, well ok, quite a lot of a lefty, so I should be following the Labour leadership contest with great interest. Unfortunately all I’ve been able to muster so far is great disillusionment. I can’t even bring myself to type a proper rant about how disappointing the candidates all are. That’s how disillusioning the whole thing is. *sigh*

 

5. Fatness and cake

I’m currently on attempt 728 to get my weight under control. My current system involves good old fashioned bribery as the incentive, as EngineerBoy has been persuaded to sponsor me £1 for every 1lb I lose. So far I’ve made £4. Yeah baby!

The current biggest downside of the weight loss plan is that it really curtails the amount of baking I can justify doing. I love baking – it’s like magic for people who don’t have sufficient attention span to actually learn how to cut a lady in half, or, if you prefer, it’s like science for people who only have eggs, butter and flour to experiment with. Baking is awesome, but it very often leads to cake, and cake, very often, leads to fatitude. Again *sigh*

 

6. And finally, I am thinking about Christmas

Because my current work-in-progress is the third (and possibly final, but never say never) Christmas Kisses book, so for the third year in a row May and June have been soundtracked by White Christmas and Band Aid. No spoilers about the book other than to say it will be Christmassy and there will probably be some kissing.

 

So there you go. There are six things that are on my mind right now. What’s everyone else thinking about?