Friday, 26 July 2013

Zanna MacKenzie - How Do You Spell Love?


A huge warm welcome on this particularly bright and sunny day to Zanna Mackenzie who is here to tell us all about her latest novel, How Do You Spell Love, as well as a little bit about herself. I’ve read her answers to my questions and I can’t believe she doesn’t own a single pair of high heels! I don’t know whether to salute her, or cry.

Now then Zanna, tell us more!......

How Do You Spell Love? 

Make A Wish…

Kat can’t help wishing there was more to life than this. What happened to her dream job? What happened with Nathan?

Summer is wondering where her life is going too… battling the developers of a controversial housing estate and working out why boyfriend Rob is increasingly distant.

When the developers win the battle and move into town everyone’s life is turned upside down.

Kat meets building site project manager Alex. She enjoys his company far too much, even though he’s on the town’s most hated list.

Summer meets Tom who has plenty of relationship troubles of his own, so things could get really complicated.

Soon everyone is keeping secrets, lives change and hearts are broken. Is everything falling apart, or does life just work in mysterious ways… 

A little taster:

Kat pushed the last of the cottage cheese and shrimp sandwiches into the cool box and slammed the van door shut. As if her life wasn’t enough of a disaster zone as it was – no money, lousy job, losing Nathan, having to move back home to live with her parents – now this had to go and happen. Plus, of course, it didn’t help that today she was feeling shattered after spending half the night chanting some ridiculous protection spell in the middle of the allotments with Summer.
Cringing as a van full of builders stopped at the nearby traffic lights, Kat braced herself for the inevitable. After the standard-issue wolf whistles had drifted across from their van, next came the leered, “Wouldn’t argue with that, love!” as one of them nodded towards her sparkling clean van, parked neatly at the curb. The words “A Bit of Crumpet on the Road” emblazoned down the side in deep purple, glittery lettering. Not for the first time Kat cursed her boss Janice for calling her bakery-cum-deli that name.
Kat sighed, well it certainly drew comments from the public and from their customers, not always welcome ones, but as Janice was always keen to point out, any kind of publicity and attention was, in her eyes, good publicity and attention.
Pulling her navy and white striped apron more tightly around her T-shirt and shorts, Kat ignored the builders and climbed into her van to begin that morning’s deliveries. As she indicated to pull out into the busy street in Luisborough, she mulled over the bad news – that she was to add the controversial Netherton Meadows housing development to her daily sandwich round.
Netherton Meadows. Yippee. If Summer found out, she’d surely be ostracised for fraternising with the environmental enemy. This was a development that pretty much everyone in Luisborough had fought against for getting on towards a year. It had been the focus of STW campaigns. It went against everything that Kat believed in environmental-wise. Everyone hated the Netherton Meadows developers. Except, it seemed, Janice, who was perfectly happy to, in her words, ‘supply yummy builders with yummy sandwiches.’
Lost in thought, Kat just managed to spot the approaching traffic lights had turned to red and hastily slammed a foot on the brake. The van lurched to a halt and several boxes of crisps and one of the cool boxes in the back tipped over. Damn. It was shaping up to be one of those days.
Two hours later Kat had visited all her usual drops, was extremely hot and bothered, and could put off going to Netherton Meadows no longer.
Driving through the assorted vans, machinery and portacabins Kat parked next to a building marked as being the Site Office and hit the button on the dashboard. Tinkling chimes filled the air as Kat climbed from the driver’s seat and made to open the back doors of the vehicle. It was embarrassing enough that the van had the company name in large lettering along its side but, just to make sure that it received maximum exposure – and achieved maximum embarrassment – Janice had had some irritating chimes fitted to the vehicle too. Kat was under strict instructions to sound the chimes when she called at all of the sites where people came out to the van; such as they were about to at Netherton Meadows.
A man came down the steps of the office with a grin on his face and walked towards her. “Hi, you must be Kat.” He wedged a clipboard under his left arm and offered a hand to shake. “I’m Alex. Project manager for the site.”
“Hi,” mumbled Kat, spotting a group of hard-hat-clad builders advancing towards her with hungry expressions on their faces.
“Right, lads,” Alex turned towards the men. “This is Kat and she’s very kindly agreed to venture onto this site to bring you all your lunch. Don’t give her any hassle, OK?”
The men laughed and then nodded. “Sure, Alex. You’re the boss.”
Fifteen minutes later it seemed that all of the team at the development had made their sandwich, crisp and drink selections and sloped off to devour them in the sunshine. Only one of the builders, a portly man who must have been twenty years Kat’s senior, had pushed the boundaries a little, despite Alex’s earlier warning. As he’d selected a smoked salmon and cream cheese roll – a choice that had surprised Kat somewhat, having pegged him as a ham and cheese kind of guy – he’d asked Kat if she’d fancy joining him for a drink sometime. She’d politely declined his offer, saying that she had a boyfriend. No need to tell him that, technically, she and Nathan were no longer an item. No need to tell him why either.
 

 

 
About Zanna

Zanna Mackenzie lives in the UK with her husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read.

Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is her ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, she can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on. She loves it when the characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot!

Formerly a travel agent and therapist (she has qualifications in clinical aromatherapy, crystal healing, naturopathic nutrition and herbalism) she loves walking the dogs and gardening – that’s when she’s not writing or reading!

Zanna has written two novels, The Love Programme (Astraea Press) and How Do You Spell Love? (Crooked Cat Publishing) and both were published in early 2013.


What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always wanted to write and started out with non-fiction articles in various magazines, then moved on to writing short stories then progressed to trying a full novel. After that I was hooked.

Are events and experiences in your work ever based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No, not at all. My ideas are a combination of re-jigged and inspired-by bits I’ve seen on TV programmes or films, bits from articles I’d read in magazine or newspapers and bits which just randomly pop into my head.

How long did it take you to write your current novel?

To get the first draft done then it’s probably 4 months of writing here and there. Once that’s sorted I start the editing process which , for me, means going through the book over and over until I feel it’s the best I can get it to be, that probably takes another couple of months.


When do your best ideas come to you?

The ideas usually come to me when I’m not at the computer. The creative part of my brain seems to always be ticking away and I’ll get bits for scenes, dialogue etc come into my head when I’m walking the dogs, gardening, cooking - food often gets burnt whilst I’m frantically scribbling notes down!


When it comes to writing, are you a night owl or an early bird?

Neither, ideas seem to pop into my head all the time, day or night!
 
Do you listen to music while you write or do you relish the silence?

It varies. I do tend to have a particular CD or certain tracks from various artists which relate to each book so if I’m typing up my notes or writing first drafts then I’ll listen to music to ‘connect’ with the book but if I’m doing edits/tweaks to manuscripts then I usually work in silence to help with the concentration. The book I started writing last week is set during a long hot summer (probably inspired by the recent British heat wave!) in a small coastal town and there are music festivals and all sorts of summery stuff going on so I’m currently enjoying the Keep Calm & Be Happy compilation CD which is full of upbeat dance and pop tracks whilst I’m writing.

Do you plan your story or do you let it evolve as you write?

A bit of both. I have the overall plot and then the key plot points to guide me as to the next step as I write but invariably the characters and the plot evolve and end up different to how I’d originally outlined them.

 Do you write in short or long bursts?

Both. When a scene or snippet of dialogue pops into my head I write it down in my notebook and that might be all, just five minutes to write it down. At other times I can get completely caught up in the story and write all day given the chance.


Tell us five random things about yourself

• I hate hot sunny weather! I have skin which breaks out in prickly heat rash at the merest hint of sunshine and spent my childhood covered in soothing pink calamine lotion because of it!

• Favourite food is cheddar cheese, biscuits and a huge bag of salt and vinegar Kettle Chips

• Favourite holiday destination is the coast of Dumfries & Galloway in Scotland. We used to live in Scotland near Edinburgh and I still miss the amazing scenery.

• Favourite place for a meal out would be a picnic on a hilltop or on a windswept and deserted beach.

•I don’t own a single pair of high heels but do have four pairs of Wellington boots – different ones for gardening, walking the dogs, warmer weather and for slippery ice and snow in the winter! Crazy eh?
 
Follow Zanna on Twitter @ZannaMacKenzie
 
Thank you for stopping by Zanna. I wish you every success with your new release and I hope you find some relief from the glorious sunshine (well, not really - I'm loving it!) It was nice to get to know you a little better!
 
 

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Sarah Louise Smith - Izzie's Cold Feet

Today I welcome Sarah Louise Smith onto my blog to talk about her latest novel, Izzie's Cold Feet. Lovely to have you Sarah, now take it away!
 
Izzy’s Cold Feet
One bride to be. Three ex-boyfriends.

Izzy is engaged to Greg, who is everything a girl could want.

The trouble is – all she can think about is the men she loved before she met him: sexy Ewan, the first love of her life; dependable Jason, who loved her more than she deserved; and irresistible Dexter, who broke her heart…

Then there’s the fact that her sister has been missing since Izzy was twelve. After such a traumatic childhood all Izzy wants is a normal, happy, settled life, but love is never simple.

In the week leading up to her wedding day, Izzy is forced to ask herself who she loves the most. And, given the choice, who would she want to spend her life with?

What inspired you to start writing?

I have been writing since before I can remember. As a child, I’d write stories with pictures and it was just always something I loved to do… so it’s hard to know what inspired me in the first place, but I love books. Reading has always been a passion so I suppose writing naturally followed suit.
Do you have a specific writing style and has it changed over the years?

I think my style is pretty much the same as it always has been but (hopefully!) I’ve improved when it comes to writing better prose, dialogue, etc.
How did you come up with the title of your latest novel?

It took me forever to decide! In fact, I submitted it to my publisher called ‘Untitled’. I wanted to use my characters name so I thought about it for a while and somehow, Izzy’s Cold Feet just came to me.

Are events and experiences in your work ever based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

No, not deliberately. I’m sure my own experiences and feelings are reflected in the books but I would never based a character on a real person, that seems a bit mean somehow :)
How long did it take you to write your current novel?

I was writing notes and snippets for months but once I sat down and committed myself to it, about six months.

When do your best ideas come to you?

At the most inconvenient times! When I’m right in the middle of something… but also sometimes when I’m walking my dog, or driving alone in my car. I try to write them down as soon as I can so that I don’t forget.

When it comes to writing, are you a night owl or an early bird?

Early bird. I like to get up early and just sit down to write. By the evenings, I’m usually tired and not so inspired.

Do you listen to music while you write or do you relish the silence?

Silence, mostly… if I listen to my favourite music I just end up singing along and distracted. It’s not always possible to write in silence but it’s my preference.

Do you plan your story or do you let it evolve as you write?

I write the first few chapters and then start to plan… with Izzy’s Cold Feet, I actually changed the ending from my original plan!

Do you write in short or long bursts?

Long bursts. I go a week without writing and then I sit down and write 10,000 words in a day. It’s hard to get started but when I do, I can’t stop!

If you could be one of your characters - Who would you be? And why?

Ooh interesting question! Maybe Izzy. She goes through a lot, but she becomes a better person because of it, I think.

What is the last line of your last WIP you worked on that you wrote?

A few tears fell again and I wiped them away angrily.

What is one of your guilty pleasures to enjoy?

Cadbury’s milk chocolate. I have to ration myself.

 
What are at least five things you have on your bucket list and have you done any of them?

  1. Become a published author (done!)
  2. See the Grand Canyon (done!)
  3. Travel to each continent (working on it – I have a separate bucket list of places to visit)
  4. Meet my longest crush (since  I was 11), Robbie Williams
  5. Learn how to knit (random, I know)

 Tell us five random things about yourself.

  1. I love to cook.
  2. I’ve had my gallbladder removed.
  3. I have a golden retriever who is my surrogate baby.
  4. My favourite book is Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen.
  5. I love boybands. The cheesier the music, the better!
 
Lovely to have got to know you a little better Sarah! I am also a HUGE fan of P&P!
Links:
You can purchase the paperback or e-versions from all the usual online book sellers.
A little more about Sarah Louise Smith...
Sarah Louise Smith lives in Milton Keynes, UK, with her husband, two cute cats and a loopy golden retriever. She has an extremely lovely step-daughter and spends most of her free time writing, reading, cooking, and taking long walks.
She’s the author of two chick-lit novels: Amy & Zach and Izzy’s Cold Feet, both published by Crooked Cat. Read Sarah’s blog at: www.sarahlouisesmith.com.

 

 

 
 

Friday, 5 July 2013

Kate Frost - The Butterfly Storm

Welcome to Kate Frost who is on the blog talking about her debut novel The Butterfly Storm.  I adore the cover. They say a picture paints a thousand words and in this case, I think it really does. Congratulations Kate - take it away!


Many thanks Laurey for hosting me as part of my blog tour for my debut novel, The Butterfly Storm. I say, debut, but it’s not the first novel I’ve written. There was the time travel one that I wrote when I was eight and another one set in the kitchen of a historic house that I started a couple of years later.

After a break in my teens from writing to concentrate on drama and acting I started writing two further books in my twenties – a sci-fi novel called Degeneration and an urban fantasy/adventure (I’m really not sure what you’d class it as!) called Tainted, neither of which I finished.

The Butterfly Storm is nothing like any of them; it’s contemporary women’s fiction with not a whiff of sci-fi or time travel anywhere near it. At its heart The Butterfly Storm is a love story but it's also a novel about family and belonging. It's strange because I started writing it when I was 27 and I've now published it at the age of 36 and I think it would have been a very different novel if I'd written it more recently. Whether intentional or not I think that certain experiences of your own life both good and bad have a tendency of feeding into your writing.

 

The Butterfly Storm is in no way autobiographical and the characters are all fictional, however I certainly took inspiration from elements of my own life. The novel is set in Greece and Norfolk and was inspired by the spent time in Greece visiting my Greek husband’s family, and Norfolk because that’s where my grandparents lived on their farm.

Place is very important in The Butterfly Storm so I needed two locations that were very different yet could rival each other for their sheer beauty. At the time I started writing The Butterfly Storm, my then boyfriend (now husband) and I were living with my parents in their house in Bristol. Firstly I should say that we all got on really well but we were there for nearly two years and independence and a longing for our own place and space to cook what we wanted when we wanted was very much on my mind and that filtered into my writing with Sophie feeling trapped and stifled by her parents-in-law to be. I wrote the first draft of The Butterfly Storm before I’d even got engaged, yet I went through the final editing process after I’d got married. In some ways my life had mirrored that of my main character, Sophie – without all the drama of course. Well mostly.

The Butterfly Storm


Four years ago life for Sophie Keech was perfect. A new start in Greece with Alekos, her boyfriend of just six weeks, removes Sophie from a mundane 9-5 job, takes her away from the difficult relationship she has with her mum, and gives her the opportunity and belief that she is finally doing something positive and exciting with her life.

But a lot can change in four years. An engagement, a domineering mother-in-law to be and the reality of life in Greece not being quite what Sophie imagined puts a strain on her relationship with Alekos.

When an accident forces Sophie back to the UK to look after her estranged mum, she has time to re-evaluate her life, her idea of family, where she wants to be and, most importantly, who she loves.


The Butterfly Storm >
Kate's blog >
Twitter: @Kactus77


COMPETITION TIME!

 
Anyone who buys The Butterfly Storm before June 28 and emails the amazon receipt to kactus@kate-frost.co.uk will be put into a prize draw to win one of two £5/$5 vouchers.