In which Midsummer Dreams is out today and there is much dream-related blogging going on

*clears throat*

Ladies and gentlemen I have a small announcement. Today is e-publication day for my fourth Choc Lit book, Midsummer Dreams – it’s my second 21st Century Bard novel. Here comes the blurby bit:

Four people. Four messy lives. One party that changes everything …
Emily is obsessed with ending her father’s new relationship – but is blind to the fact that her own is far from perfect.
Dominic has spent so long making other people happy that he’s hardly noticed he’s not happy himself.
Helen has loved the same man, unrequitedly, for ten years. Now she may have to face up to the fact that he will never be hers.
Alex has always played the field. But when he finally meets a girl he wants to commit to, she is just out of his reach.
At a midsummer wedding party, the bonds that tie the four friends together begin to unravel and show them that, sometimes, the sensible choice is not always the right one.

Midsummer Dreams

And in celebration of Midsummer Dreams’ first day out there in the wild on people’s kindles, I have begged, cajoled, and blackmailed a whole host of fabulous writers into joining me in what I’m enthusiastically terming a Blog Splurge. It probably ought to have a more official sounding name than that like a Blog Roll or a Blogathon, but splurge is such a pleasing word to say – I’m generally very fond of a word with a ‘pl’ sound in it ‘plonk’, ‘plinth’, ‘pleasure’ – and so that’s what I’m calling it.

The idea is simple. I gave all the lovely participants three prompts to get them thinking about dreams and nightmares, and over the course of the day (or next couple of days) they’ll be sharing their own thoughts on their own sites, for your reading and commenting pleasure, and to join me in virtually celebrating release day.

So here are my dream and nightmare related musings to get the ball rolling…

I had a dream… last night about Matthew Macfadyen. Specifically about Matthew Macfadyen as Mr Darcy in the 2005 film of Pride and Prejudice, which was unsurprising in many ways because I’d just watched the film, but also a bit weird, because I really don’t like Jane Austen. Sorry. I know I’m supposed to being a romantic novelist and all, but she just doesn’t float my boat. Matthew Macfadyen in breeches though makes for very happy dreams indeed.

I had a nightmare… Actually I don’t have nightmares very often. When I do they’re generally of the classic ‘being chased’ or ‘falling’ variety. I used to have nightmares much more often – when I was younger I refused to watch any sort of thriller or crime drama because it would give me bad dreams. If I accidentally caught the start of an episode of Crimewatch I had to stay right to the end so Nick Ross could tell me that serious crime was still very rare and not to have nightmares. Weirdly, that did seem to work – Nick Ross clearly had a very trustworthy face.

My dream for the future… is obviously mainly that we will all wear silver onesies and own flying cars and hoverboards. My second dream for the future is all the important world peace and an end to poverty and disease stuff. My final, and if I’m honest currently most pressing, dream for the future is that lots of people – certainly more than seven – will buy the shiny new book. That would be awesome indeed.

And if you enjoyed those thoughts about dreams (and even if you didn’t) here’s two fab things you can do next.

You can hop over to Amazon and get your own copy of Midsummer Dreams.

And then you can take a look at some of the other fantastic dream related blogging that’s going on today. Below (in no particular order) are the people involved. And you can get involved too – contact me on facebook or tweet me @MsAlisonMay with your dreams and nightmares and look out for #MidsummerDreams on twitter for links to all the blogs as they go live.

Jane Lovering

Rhoda Baxter

Sheryl Browne

Laura James

Lisa Hill

Sally Malcolm

Chris Stovell

Clare Chase

Janet Gover

Morton Gray

Henriette Gyland

Ann Evans

Christina Hollis

Kathryn Freeman

Bernadette O’Dwyer

Julia Ibbotson

Anne Stenhouse

Janice Preston

Linn B Halton

Helena Fairfax

Heather King

Sally Jenkins

Holly Magill

Kate Haye

Kirsty Ferry

Evonne Wareham (Wednesday)

In which I have a lovely new book coming out

I’m absolutely delighted, pleased, chuffed and gladdened to be able to officially announce that I have a new book out – well not quite ‘out’, technically just ‘available for kindle pre-order‘. It’ll be properly out for kindle (or kindle apps) in June, and hopefully in other formats sometime after that, but still I feel like having an excited author moment, and frankly you can’t stop me.

This is my fourth book, and second full length novel, to be published by Choc Lit. Midsummer Dreams was the first new book I started from scratch after contracting my first one, Sweet Nothing and, in all sorts of ways, it was the classic difficult second novel. I had the idea of ‘a contemporary rom-com inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ months before I started writing, but translating that idea into words on the page was tougher than anything I’d written before. Suddenly I found myself wracked by doubt. Was the first book a fluke? Could I do it again? What if the publisher thought it was terrible? What if they were right? What if I’d broken too many ‘rules’ of the genre? What if I’d gone too far?

Happily the Choc Lit tasting panel, who read all the submissions before they go to an editor, didn’t share my concerns, and so earlier this year I found myself with my nose deep in the manuscript again making edits and revisions to polish the story up into a finished novel. And while I was doing that, somehow, I managed to fall in love with the story and the characters all over again. So here is my lovely new book baby. I hope you will buy, read, enjoy and love these four horribly messed-up people as much as I do.

MD Final Cover

Four people. Four messy lives. One night that changes everything …
Emily is obsessed with ending her father’s new relationship – but is blind to the fact that her own is far from perfect.
Dominic has spent so long making other people happy that he’s hardly noticed he’s not happy himself.
Helen has loved the same man, unrequitedly, for ten years. Now she may have to face up to the fact that he will never be hers.
Alex has always played the field. But when he finally meets a girl he wants to commit to, she is just out of his reach.
At a midsummer wedding party, the bonds that tie the four friends together begin to unravel and show them that, sometimes, the sensible choice might not always be the right one.

In which I have a shiny new book out

Waaah, and indeed, yippedee-do-daaa. It is beyond exciting to be able to confirm that my new novella, the second Christmas Kiss story, Cora’s Christmas Kiss, is now available for kindle pre-order. It’ll be live and properly available from 4th December.

Hurrah! Let the festive, romantic, joyousness be unrestrained.

And just for you lovely blog reading types, here’s what the cover looks like.

Cora's Christmas Kiss

Like all my covers, so far, it was designed by the awesome Berni Stevens. Thank you Berni for doing such a great job.

So there you go, that’s lovely Cora launched into the world. I hope people enjoy reading about her.

In which things are published, or almost nearly imminently published

Some time has passed since my last blog post. Traditionally at this point I offer some sort of excuse or random self-flagellation for my failure in this area. Today I’m going to go down the excuse route. You see, there was this dog and it ate my homework right off the computer screen, or possibly it was a magpie and  it stole my keyboard’s unusually shiny semi-colon key, and I do like a semi-colon so that was very limiting, or maybe I became briefly obsessed with watching old episodes of The Biggest Loser on youtube even though it is unquestionably terrible for my soul and wasn’t able to write blogpost because of all the time that took up. At least one of those things is true. Or possibly all. Anyhow I’m back now. Let’s get on.

This week I shall mainly be sharing news of recent and upcoming publications for they are cropping up all over the place and there is much excitement chez Alison.

I’m going to kick off with a short story anthology I’m super-proud to be involved with. The Write Romantics who are either a single multi-headed romance writing creature from another dimension, or a group of lovely individual romance writers who blog together and support one another (it’s definitely one of those) have put together a short story anthology in aid of The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and The Teenage Cancer Trust. I was terribly flattered to be asked to contribute a story, and I pretty much will do anything if sufficient flattery is offered. My story is ‘The Handsome Stranger’, and like all the stories included, it’s has a vaguely wintery or festive theme.

Winter Tales cover

The anthology, ‘Winter Tales’, is available to pre-order for kindle now and will be available in paperback later this month. You can also join the Write Romantics at their online launch party this Saturday (8th Nov 1pm-3pm) where there will be competitions and much virtual wine drunk, and possibly real wine, but you’ll need to provide that for yourself.

Secondly, two more short story anthologies. It’s a little bit late in the day, but if some of you want an excuse to keep hold of your pumpkins (oddly not a euphemism) a little bit longer, you can still download or order the Halloween anthology, Hocus Pocus ’14, that I was involved in back in October. My story, Haunted House, is about a young divorcee, Melly, her best friend, Max, and an interfering old man called Ebenezer. As it’s a Halloween story, at least one of those three is, unfortunately, dead.

The final short story anthology I want to tell you about is Kisses and Cupcakes, from my publisher, Choc Lit, which features short stories and fantastic recipes from eighteen Choc Lit authors, including my good self. My story is ‘Imperfect Timing’ and it features a couple of characters that you might get to meet again next year. Possibly… I’ve also included the most awesome cupcake recipe in the whole wide world. Kisses and Cupcakes is available to download now.

Kisses & Cupcakes

And finally… drumroll please… my second Christmas Kiss novella is nearly ready to be launched onto an unsuspecting world. Cora’s Christmas Kiss is going through its final tweaks and edits at the moment. We’re finalising the cover design, and it should be available to order very soon indeed. Squeeee! In the meantime I recommend that you all prepare yourselves fully by downloading book 1, Holly’s Christmas Kiss, forthwith.

Holly's Christmas Kiss

*takes a deep breath* So there you go. That’s all my publication news at the moment. And with that I shall stop thinking about books that are already written and turn my attention back to the books that are yet to come.

In which a year has passed and I muse on how it takes a village and all that guff

So this time next week I shall be in Telford getting ready for my fourth RNA Conference. That realisation made me also realise that it is now 1 whole year since I signed my first ever publishing contract with Choc Lit to publish Sweet Nothing, followed later in the year with a second contact for Holly’s Christmas Kiss.

Sweet Nothing

Holly's Christmas Kiss

One year on from such great excitement seems like as good a time as any to get a bit melancholy, raise a glass of something suspiciously green-looking, and have a bit of a think about the process of getting from ‘Hey guys, I’m going to write a novel!’ to actually having a novel out there in the world, where unsuspecting strangers, some of whom aren’t even friends of your mum, might read it.

And the conclusion of that little think would be this: it takes a village to make a novel. Not an actual village. It’s not compulsory for budding novelists to move to Little Middlewitch and start helping out with the church flowers. I’m talking about one of those metaphorical villages that exist only for the purposes of slightly laboured and clichéd metaphor. The Sweet Nothing Metaphorical Village takes in many helpful souls. There are the tutors and workshop leaders whose ideas I’ve cribbed and developed. There are the critique readers. There are the supportive wine-supplying friends who tolerate the fact that most of my gossip is about made up people. There’s the actual publisher who decided to invest their time and money in my work, and then there’s the editor, copy-editor, proofreader, cover designer and blurb writer. And then once the book is out there’s the audiobook people, and the pr dudes, and the book reviewers and bloggers who’ve featured me or my books on their site.

So it’s one whole year since I signed the contract with Choc Lit to publish Sweet Nothing. It’s six years since I first decided I wanted to write a romantic comedy, and decided that I wanted to base it on what I consider to be the ultimate rom-com from stage, book or screen. And the end result is a story that owes everything to my random set of pre-occupations: love and how it’s not the same as romance, how clever people can do stupid things, how knowing stuff is brilliant, tequila is dangerous, and M&S party food is the highest form of food. All of that stuff is part of me, but none of it would be out there in a vaguely readable form without the rest of the Sweet Nothing Metaphorical Village.

So please all raise your glasses. Wait. I didn’t mention that you needed glasses, did I? Ok. Those of you who are already glass-ready, give everyone else a second to pour themselves a tiny drinkette. Right, so please raise your glasses and let’s make a toast, to everyone in the Sweet Nothing Metaphorical Village. Cheers, and thank-you all.

In which I scrape the layer of dust off the blog and finish a book

Ahoy there, good morning, merry greetings and hello. I have been away from the blog of late due to having got myself into something of a pickle with the writing of novel 2 and ending up having to spend the last six weeks ignoring all activities that weren’t actually writing the sodding book. The sodding book (possibly not its final title) has now been sent off to my lovely publisher, Choc Lit, and I’m permitted to not think about it for a while, or at least until they send it back and tell me to have another go.

So, here I am with an unfamiliar sea of free time rippling in front of me. All sorts of excitements await. When I’ve finished here, for example, I am going to put some laundry in and then – and this is an exciting one – I’m going to wash my hair. Never let it be said that I don’t know how to live.

Before all that though, there’s some bloggy bloggy blogging to get blogged, which is tricky because my brain is still stuck in the imaginary world of novel 2. That’s one of the oddities of writing as a job, as opposed to being a lollipop lady (or lollipop gentleman) or managing a premiership football team. Writing is a freakishly blinkered affair. You invent a whole world, and people it with people (at least in my case – you can of course people it with elves or dragons or sentient lever arch files – the choice is yours), and then you live in that world for however long it takes to transfer that world and that story from brain to typing fingers to screen to page. That means that once the manuscript is done with and sent away, you find yourself in something of a lull. It’s what fellow Choc Lit author, Janet Gover, describes as the post-book meltdown.

With all the other jobs I’ve had the periods of stress usually came when there were too many diverse things to think about, competing for time and attention. With writing, at least when you’re in the final lead-up to a deadline, there is only one task: Write the sodding book (still not the final title). That single-mindedness is, for me at least, what leads to the meltdown. At the moment I’m at the crawling into the light stage, and I keep catching sight of all the things I’ve  been putting off for the last few weeks: the form that came in the post at the start of March that I haven’t filled in yet; the piles of laundry that need putting away; the things in the back of the fridge that I’m not sure I can throw away without breaching the federation’s Prime Directive. All these things will need dealing with, before I regain the power of sufficiently complex thought to write you a blog post about something more interesting that the fuzzed up state of my brain.

Hopefully, that will be next week’s task, alongside starting the next book and doing it all again, obviously. I shall see you all there.


And as always, if you want to buy any of the lovely things I’ve already written, this is the place.

In which I have an actual book cover for the actual (virtual) book what I wrote

Ta dah!

So there is it. The cover for my first novel. The astute amongst you will also notice that it has a new title. The book formerly known as ‘Well it’s the book  I wrote; it’s sort of about love and maths and stuff and it’s based on a play,’ is now officially titled, Much Ado About Sweet Nothing. Weirdly, my publisher felt that worked better. Curious.

Anyway, there it is. My first book cover. Huzzah!

(BTW, if you want a bit more of me wittering about romance writing related stuff, I’m on the Choc Lit authors’ blog today talking about What makes a hero: