In which it is Christmas and there are even more kisses

*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 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 I run around covered in tinsel singing Christmas carols at full volume

It’s Christmas.

Nearly.

It’s certainly Christmas enough to start decking your halls, resting your merry gentlemen and generally stockpiling alcohol like there’s an unprecedented sherry shortage about to hit.

I love Christmas. Some people don’t. Some people say things like, ‘Well it’s just for the kids really,’ and complain about things like the appropriation of Christian tradition for commercial purposes, or the appropriation of ancient pagan tradition for Christian purposes. Some of those people may have a point, but they’re still fundamentally wrong-headed. Christmas is not the time for rational argument and making a valid point. Christmas is the time for Noddy Holder, and playing parlour games the precise origins of which are lost in the mists of time but will inevitably lead to an argument with your grandmother about whether The Gingerbreads were a real pop band.

Christmas is also the time for reading, and writing, a particular type of story. Writers have been inspired by Christmas for generations. Ever since Luke sat down and penned that dynamite passage about a census, back in the days when Quirinius was Governor of Syria, writers have been writing about all things Christmas.

Dickens did it. Richard Curtis did it. Greg Rossen and Bryan Sawyer did it.* And lots of other very clever writers did it too. So in honour of Christmas and not wanting to look so terribly un-English as to just bang on about my own book, I asked some of them about their Christmas stories and what inspired them.

Kate Johnson has published two Christmas novellas, Elf Gratification (published as Cat Marsters), an erotic novella featuring gratification, and one assumes, elves, and a festive prequel to her Sophie Green series. Talking about the Sophie Green book, The Twelve Lies of Christmas, Kate said, ‘I sat and thought about what was great about Christmas: the good cheer, strangers wishing each other Happy Christmas, the special food and drink, time spent with friends and family, the presents, the bobble hats,  the decorations…the break from normal life. But what if you don’t have any of those things? Except for maybe the bobble hats?’

Jo Beverley has released, not one, not two, but three Christmas novellas. She told me that she loves ‘writing books set around Christmas because the celebrations often involve opening homes to company, which can bring people together who might not otherwise meet or reencounter,’ and added that, ‘the emotions around Christmas can also be stressful, which creates tension and conflict.’

Chrissie Loveday‘s Christmas novella, A Computer Guy for Christmas, is due out this week. She commented, ‘I adore Christmas! Our house is awash with lights, trees and all things Christmassy. Of course I wanted to write about it! What a perfect excuse to share it all.’ The story features an office party, and looks at the tension between spending Christmas with family and maintaining a budding romance.

So Christmas gives writers the chance to bring characters together, and throw a bit of stress into the mix, but also to sprinkle a little bit of fairy dust (and a lot of fairy lights) over their story, and incorporate as many bobble hats as they like. And this year… (SOUND THE KLAXON – BLATANT SELF PROMOTION ALERT) I joined in, with my festive romance, Holly’s Christmas Kiss.

Holly's Christmas Kiss cover

Holly’s Christmas Kiss is a much sweeter, in some ways much more innocent, story that I normally write, but I adored writing it. I love the fact that at Christmas you can take off the good taste brakes and throw every single Christmas image you can think of into the mix. So there’s mistletoe and Christmas trees and and a turkey and Santa and presents and… well it’s pretty darn Christmassy. Anyway, you could read it if you wanted, or not. Merry Christmas one and all either way.

Right. Well now I’d best be off to baste my merry gentleman and try not to dismay my turkey. Toodle-pip.

* What do you mean ‘who are Greg Rossen and Bryan Sawyer?’? Why, only the creative geniuses (geniuii?) behind David Hasselhoff’s 2012 Christmas extravaganza The Christmas Consultant. Tsk at you for not knowing.

In which I have some unexpected free time

A shortish blog post this week, and a slightly early blog post, for reasons which shall become apparent forthwith.

I find myself in the midst of 4 days of unexpected free time. Originally I was supposed to be working 2 days this week and then I had 2 days set aside for a v minor unexciting little hospital procedure with a day to lie on the sofa looking wan while claiming that EngineerBoy needed to be at my beck and call during the period of convalescence. Both days of work were cancelled by the organisation I was working for, and then the hospital trip was cancelled due to a bout of horrid pooey vomity bug over the weekend. They really don’t like the sick people bothering them, don’t hospitals.

So 4 whole days of unexpected unscheduled free time. What shall I do with it? Well, what I shall do with it is just write. I was tempted to use an expletive between the just and the write there for emphasis, but my mother reads this blog so I shall spurn such language. (Hello Mum! *waves*)

I have 18ooo words of an abandoned romance story on my hard drive. I don’t like the 18000 words I’ve already done – they’re too serious and overtly “romance” and just not really very me at all. However, of late, a few publishers, like Choc Lit for example, have started accepting submissions of shorter romantic comedies for digital only publication. So the plan is this – 4 days, 18000 words to rewrite, c.15000 words to write afresh, and that’s a full first draft. Sorted.

Now I’m unlikely to actually achieve that many words in 4 days, but sometimes better to aim high and marginally fail than aim low and achieve. Every TV programme I could plausibly fancy watching has been set to record. I’m entirely prepared to subsist on toast and bananas (a state which isn’t that unusual actually), and so here I go. 4 days. 1 novella. See you all on the other side.