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I remember meeting Rebecca and thinking wow! That’s the kind of author I want to be! I was merrily sipping Pimm’s, on a roof top bar in King’s Cross, having been invited to a Blogger and Author’s event by my dear author friend Anne John-Ligali, when boom! Rebecca joined in our conversation which up until her arrival had been fun, giggly, conservative. And then it became what I would call outrageously laugh-out-loud entertaining. She has a fabulous bigger-than-life presence and her charisma shines brighter than any celebrity’s diamond ring. She had me on the edge of that roof-top waiting for what she was going to recount to us next. I instantly felt like I’d known her forever! We even talked about our very fond memories of The Bull and Bush Pub and the Coffee Cup in Hampstead; eating raisin toast and mugs of hot chocolate after a night out of clubbing! So it’s not grab a cuppa today…it’s fill your crystal glass with pink champagne, glam yourself up and join me as I chat with Rebecca Chance in this very special A Cup of Conversation.

1. When did you start writing creatively?

My first big project was a historical romance when I was around fourteen or fifteen, a sort of hybrid of Barbara Cartland and Georgette Heyer, with a heroine called Calinthia who met a British agent posing as a smuggler. I wrote it in absolutely tiny handwriting in a big lined notebook, counted the words in every line, and wrote the total at the end of each one in a narrow column. I so wish I still had that notebook!

2. Which author has most influenced your own writing style?

Georgette Heyer and PG Wodehouse. I do love my long, structured sentences. A friend who’s a professor at New York University actually showed her students one of my long sentences to teach them correct punctuation – not from a saucy scene, though that would have been hilarious! I was extremely flattered to hear this.

3. Are any of the characters in your novel/s based on yourself?

The heroine of my crime series, Sam Jones (written as Lauren Henderson), is very much me, if I’d been a sculptor rather than a writer. I always said that she was me with a better metabolism.

4. What are you working on at the moment/what’s next?

I’m doing final proof-edits on the latest book, which is called BAD TWINS and is a real riot. I loved writing it. And I’m halfway through a top-secret project I really have to finish!

5. Where do you write and do you have a writing routine?

I write at home, in front of Judge Judy on the TV. I find her very calming. I get up, drink the cappuccino my husband has made and left for me before leaving for work, potter on the internet and then get to writing. I’m so used to the ready-made cappuccino now that I get really pissy when I’m travelling and have to make my own coffee!

6. What’s your favourite go-to snack when writing?

That is a great question and the first time I’ve ever been asked it! Right now it’s slices of Monterey Jack cheese.

7. Is there any aspect of the writer’s life you least enjoy and why?

I’d love to collaborate more, and do envy playwright or screenwriter friends who get to workshop their stuff as they go along.

8. Sum up your most recent novel in 6 words.

Sexy, well-plotted, glamorous, thrilling, roller coaster fun!

9. How do your real life experiences feature in your books?

I’ve lived a life that’s been very rich in all sorts of fun and excitement, and have friends from all walks of life, so when I write about aristocrats, film stars, strippers and (in the most recent book, KILLER AFFAIR) ghostwriters, you can tell that I know what I’m talking about!

10. Where do you find your story ideas?

Real-life scandals which I then build on to create a plot. My first book, DIVAS, was inspired partly by an heir to the Agnelli fortune in Italy overdosing at the flat of a transgender woman in an Italian council block. KILLER AFFAIR was based on all the D-list celebrities who pretend to write their own books and grab the credit for them – I wondered how their ghostwriters felt about that, and it took off from there!

       11. Are you a planner or a pantser?

With my mystery series and my chick-lits, written as Lauren Henderson, I was a pantser. But when I started writing the Rebecca Chance novels, with their multiple heroines and huge plot twists, they needed to be carefully planned out – I write outlines for each of them which are at least ten pages long.

       12. What’s on your current to-do list?

Finish the current book! Outline the next book! Write the next book! All in around seven months, God help me!

 

Thank you so much Rebecca for taking the time to join me and my readers. I wish you every success with your new novel Killer Affair and I’m looking forward to seeing you at an event soon! My high heels are ready and my champagne glass is poised!

Links:

Twitter: @msrebeccachance

Instagram: @msrebeccachance

Facebook author page: Rebecca Chance Books

Website: http://www.rebeccachanceauthor.com/

Amazon link to books: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rebecca-Chance/e/B007VXD0QA/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

Facebook: Rebecca.Chance.Author, Lauren Milne Henderson

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Today I welcome Heather MacKinnon to A Cup of Conversation as she not only talks about her writing journey and how a weekly meet up called ‘Shut Up & Write’ helps her get the words down but also her wonderfully supportive her husband is. She reveals how she snuck two real-life stories from her childhood into this fabulous new release too. Shift is her second novel which launches today so I’d like to congratulate Heather on her achievement and say to all of you welcome to a very special A Cup of Conversation interview as we celebrate the release of Shift! 

1. When did you start writing creatively?

The first time I tried to write creatively was back in 2007. I wrote a whole book that was heavily influenced by Twilight (cut me some slack, this was before the movies ruined everything!). I was pretty proud that I wrote a whole book, but looking back, it was more like fan fiction than anything else. Then, in 2016, I had the urge to pick writing back up. I took that first book that I wrote, pulled out the prologue and the first chapter, and then scrapped the rest. From there I wrote my first real novel and I’ve been writing ever since.

2. Which author has most influenced your own writing style?

Let me preface this by saying: I read a lot. Like, I could read 3-4 full length novels in a week. Through my voracious reading, I’ve found what works for me as a reader and what doesn’t. What leaves me thinking or feeling, and what is just passing entertainment. From there, I’ve tried to write what I would be interested in reading. What would keep me hooked as a reader. Although my preferences are all over the place, one author I could contribute some of my influence to would have to be Jay McLean. She’s an author that always makes you feel and I tried my best to channel that into this last book.

3. What personal experiences are reflected in your writing?

I actually snuck two real-life childhood stories into this book. One of them was when I wrote about the main character locking his siblings in a chicken coop. In reality, it was me who locked my younger brother in a dog cage when we were younger. I had to change the prison from a dog cage to a chicken coop because the character is one of five siblings, but the sentiment was the same. And don’t feel bad for my brother-he was having a great time, I promise!

 

4. Where do you write and do you have a writing routine?

I wish I had a routine, but it’s more like feast or famine with me. In the beginning, the story comes slowly as I try to navigate what to write and when, but as soon as I hit the climax, the words come fast and furiously and I’m able to bust out a couple chapters a day. But, I’m working on that! I attend a weekly meetup that’s called Shut Up & Write and I try to get at least one chapter done there per week. Sometimes I’ll even go home and cook up another if I’m really feeling the creative juices flowing.

5. How did you choose the title of your current book?

When I first had the idea to write a book about a family of werewolves, I kept calling it “the werewolf book”. That got wordy, so I began to refer to it as “Shift”, promising myself I’d come up with a better title down the road. Turns out, the name grew on me and the story grew from it, and now we’re all stuck with it!

6. What influenced the design of your book cover?

I’ve found all my book covers from selfpubbookcovers.com. With my first, I found the cover once I was almost finished with the book, but with this one, I wanted the inspiration from the cover early. I knew I wanted a mysterious-looking blonde woman on the front, and when I saw this cover in particular, it captivated me, and I knew I needed to have it for my book.

7. How does it feel to be releasing your second book?

It’s AMAZING! I had doubts that I could even write a second, but here I am, and I couldn’t be happier!

8. What’s your favourite go-to snack when writing?

I have enough bad habits that I’ve tried to stay away from this one! I’m a person that falls into routines very easily, and if I were to start snacking while I write, there would be no end to it. Instead, I make sure to have a drink nearby, and that’s all

9. Is there any aspect of the writer’s life you least enjoy and why?

I think the part I like the least are the days where it feels like every word, every sentence is pulled and plucked from within you, almost as if they’re unwilling to let go and be written. Those are the days I have to stop and think “Was any of that good at all?” Because it feels like, if it’s so difficult, that must mean it’s not good. Those are the days I tuck my laptop away, and come back to it another day with fresh eyes and enthusiasm.

        10. Who supports your writing journey and how do they do this?

My husband is without a doubt my biggest supporter. No one believes in me and my abilities like he does. There’s no book he doesn’t think I can finish, no idea he doesn’t think I could weave into a great story, and no critic I can’t win over. He’s constantly bragging about me to anyone who’ll sit still long enough to listen to him. Whenever I’m feeling insecure, I only have to sit with him for a few minutes to remember at least one person thinks I’m awesome.

        11. Are you a planner or a pantser?

Oh, I’m absolutely a pantser. People who can plan a book down to the chapter are like fairy tales to me, and I think they’re magical and mystical. The best I can do is a document full of bullet points for events I want to happen in a particular book. I’m never sure when they’re going to happen and half the time I’m not sure how they’re going to happen. Each chapter is a little surprise to me.

       11. What’s on your current to-do list?

I am working on Shift’s sequel, Howl. I am still in the early stages (a.k.a. we’re in famine mode) but I’m working slowly and steadily and hope to publish it around the middle of 2018!

EXCERPT:

“We’re a pack of werewolves. Wanna’ see?”

Without warning, she reached for the hem of her shirt, and yanked it over her head. With her dark brown hair mussed, she stood there proud as a peacock in her lime green bra.

I shielded my eyes when she reached for the zipper of her jeans.

“Have you lost your mind?” I shrieked. “What are you doing? Keep your clothes on!”

Another giggle. “I gotta’ take my clothes off before I shift if I don’t wanna’ ruin em’.”

Dread churned in my stomach. Was this whole house insane? Who were these people?

“Shift?” I squeaked.

“Sure, silly. Into a werewolf.”

My hand fell limp onto my lap.

This is insane.

There’s no way this is real.

When Evey reached for her only remaining garment, her underwear, I turned my head the other way.

She giggled again. “You better get used to this.”

“What does that mean?”

A loud crack filled the room, and I turned to Evey again. She’d crouched down on all fours, and I watched in equal parts horror and fascination as tufts of black-tipped gray fur sprouted from her smooth skin. She tipped her head back as her nose elongated and grew.

Bones shifted beneath her tan skin, and a few muffled snaps later, where Evey once stood was now a very large wolf with dark blue eyes. I gasped, and scrambled backward on the bed, my heart racing.

For a moment I was back in the woods, broken and bleeding. I could almost feel the cold, wet leaves beneath me, feel the razor sharp teeth tear into my skin.

I shook my head to clear those thoughts and centered myself in the here and now. This wolf has blue eyes-not black. This wolf hasn’t tried to harm me. This wolf is apparently a werewolf. But, if she’s a werewolf, does that mean…

Thank you so much Heather for sharing your writing journey with us on this special day as you release your second book! Wishing you every success and hope to welcome you back for another interview on A Cup of Conversation again soon! 

 

Links:

 

 

Twitter: twitter.com/hmackauthor

Instagram: instagram.com/heathermackinnonauthor

Facebook: facebook.com/heathermackinnonauthor

Website: heathermackinnonauthor.wordpress.com

Amazon link to books: https://www.amazon.com/Changed-Heather-MacKinnon-ebook/dp/B01M9IU0EJ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1515737047&sr=8-1&keywords=changed+by+heather+mackinnon

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Broken Pieces of Tomorrow: Strong women don’t give up…They find a way through tears and thrills to love again… 
by

 

18292856

Sylvia Valevicius‘s review

Jan 08, 2018
it was amazing

bookshelves: fiction

 

In spite of the title, ‘Broken Pieces of Tomorrow,’ which suggests disappointments for the protagonist, Georgia, I found this novel to be a highly enjoyable read! At first, I thought it was a memoir, but it works well as a novel, seemingly autobiographical in nature. The author, Soulla Christodoulou, makes this book fun. It’s so well- written, one can step right into Georgia’s shoes and take on her experiences – – quite a trip, at that! I found it an excellent progression of story. The novel grows on you as the passage of life does with its ups and downs and mysteries. The author makes you want to read more as she engages the reader in each segment of circumstances in which the protagonist finds herself. The reader experiences the delicious classic case of what will happen next. The reader is never sure of relationship outcomes which is Georgia’s plight. The protagonist second-guesses herself, frequently a relatable condition when one’s life’s turns upside down: “She bit down on her lip, annoyed with herself for telling him too much, explaining herself. She always did that with Nicolas too.” She learns about herself along the way.

True to life, this novel contains its racy bits so prepare yourself; for the most part, Soulla makes it amusing and intriguing. She tells it like it is in everyday (sometimes raw) language, and gets away with it because of her funny and personable nature which simply shines throughout this book.

In the midst of a busy holiday season, I really couldn’t wait to finish my chores and preparations each day to pick up this novel, relax, and simply enjoy what’s going on in Georgia’s life. I can see why this book is a ‘fan favourite.’ Thanks, Soulla. I felt like one of Georgia’s friends! And now I want to give her advice, too :))

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Welcome to the first A Cup of Conversation of 2018 with fabulous author Phyllis Duncan. Her interview is one not to be missed! She takes part in Nano and used to get told off for writing in her English class and her writing reflects the emotional and very personal experiences of family illness, suicide and alcoholism. So grab a cuppa and join me for this raw, open and very honest interview. 

1. When did you start writing creatively?

In third grade when I got my weekly list of spelling words with the instructions to use each correctly in a sentence, I’d generally write a story with them. They were always about horses, which were my passion for many years. I’d say I seriously thought about being a writer in 10th grade when my English teacher caught me writing fan fiction (Star Trek and The Man from UNCLE) in class. She confiscated my notebook but returned it to me the next day and said, “You’re a story teller. Keep writing, but while you’re in my class, stick to my assignments.” I dedicated my first book to her.

2. Which author has most influenced your own writing style?

It’s a toss-up between Margaret Atwood and Stephen King. Atwood for her always challenging plots and King for his use of language. There are others: LeGuin, Bradbury, Serling, Lessing, Le Carre, Furst, Fleming. Sara Paretsky and the late Sue Grafton for getting me accustomed to strong, female protagonists.

3. Are any of the characters in your novel/s based on yourself?

In some of my literary fiction, I’ve used events from my own life, mainly to explore my emotions at the time: my brother’s struggle with illness, my father’s suicide, my mother’s alcoholism. I always said I’d never be the woman author who exposed her family’s secrets in my fiction, but, bloody hell, they’re the ones the literary journals liked! In my espionage fiction, well, that’s entirely made up, though based on in-depth research. (I was trained as an historian.) I was an aviation safety inspector, not a spy. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

4. What are you working on at the moment/what’s next?

I’m working on finalizing a four-book series based on a real act of domestic terrorism from America’s recent history. It’s called A Perfect Hatred. Book one, End Times, will be out in April 2018. The alt-right and white supremacy are very much back in the news here now, but they’ve been around a long time. The series will explore their part in an act of terror that pre-dated 9/11.

5. Where do you write and do you have a writing routine?

Most of my writing I do in my home office, surrounded by my book collection and my aviation memorabilia. I have a wonderful view of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains from my office. A couple of days a week I write for several hours in a local coffee shop or a Starbucks.

I do have a writing routine, since it’s now my job. I write around three hours in the morning and three to four hours in the afternoon. In between, I research or do what I need in marketing my work.

6. What’s your favourtite go-to snack when writing?

Hands down, chocolate and coffee, though sometimes I’m good and drink water and eat fruit, but only sometimes.

7. Is there any aspect of the writer’s life you least enjoy and why?

I’m not fond of the fact I don’t have a publicist, that prepping and posting all my marketing falls on me. I did hire a marketing consultant who provides me a plan and tweaks my marketing ideas. This has been a tremendous help, and she’s a genius because she thinks of things that never occur to me. But it remains my responsibility to do the posting. I resent it because I lose hours a week when I could be writing. However, I understand it has to be done, and since I’m not any publisher’s big-name, best-selling author, it’s part of my writing routine.

8. How did you choose the title of your book? 

I’m a tremendous fan of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. That book got me through the final years of my employment. The Art of War has an entire chapter on espionage, in which Sun Tzu says, “All warfare is based upon deception.” Hence, A War of Deception. That’s much more striking than its original title, which was “The Game.”

9. Are you a planner or a pantser?

I’m a bit of both. When an idea comes to me, I do some outlining, mostly in the form of questions. When I sit down to write, I follow that “plan”—most of time. However, I like to “pants” it to see what unplanned things occur. For example, this past National Novel Writing Month, I had a character I thought would appear in three or four transitional scenes, enough for her to have to have a name. When I finished her last scene, I realized I’d created a character who deserved to have adventures of her own—and that’s exactly what I’m going to do. In my “spare time” I’m working on a novella to introduce her to my canon of characters.

10. What’s on your current to-do list?

Writing a blurb for an author friend’s new release, incorporating changes from my editor for the book coming out in April, and looking forward to a 2018 full of writing.

EXCERPT: A WAR OF DECEPTION

She considered Holt’s favorite form of drop site too public for her taste. Less than forty meters away, past the budding trees, were the backyards and windows of dozens of houses, whose occupants were al potential witnesses. Every time you put something under this bridge, or at any bridge in the parks he used, you risked some yuppie sticking his or her nose into your business.
Maybe that was the point…
And maybe you sold government secrets to the Russians because you got to feel like a real spy instead of reading about their exploits in inaccurate novels or in dry reports written in bureaucratic language.
She understood that risk. All too well.

Links:

Twitter: @unspywriter

Instagram: @paduncan1

Facebook: Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/unspywriter

Readers Group: http://bit.ly/RealSpies

LinkedIn: (I don’t really do LinkedIn for my writing; only the small amount of aviation consulting I do.)

Website: www.unexpectedpaths.com

Blog: Found behind a tab at www.unexpectedpaths.com

Amazon link to books: http://bit.ly/PADuncan

Thank you so much Phyllis for joining me in A Cup of Conversation and I wish you all the best with your future writing projects and hope to be able to feature you again on A Cup of Conversation with your next book! 

Till next time readers happy reading, happy writing, happy you! 

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Happy New Year dear friends!

I hope you had an extra special New Year’s Eve and welcomed 2018 in with a whoop and a cheer…and no doubt a glass or two of champagne! I did too and our Greek Cypriot celebrations continued on New Year’s Day!

I wanted to share with you a New Year’s Day tradition from Cyprus.

On New Year’s Day, and often on the 7th January which is the date for celebrating the birth of Christ in the Orthodox Christian calendar (our Christmas), families gather together to welcome the New Year. We do this by cutting a cake, usually baked at home, with a coin hidden inside it. This cake is called a vasilopita and tradition has it that the person who finds the coin in their piece of cake will have lots of luck, success and good fortune for the rest of the year. It’s a beautiful tradition and brings together the family on the 1st January.

In Greece the first piece is traditionally cut for Christ, the second for the home of the family and the rest for the family, beginning with the Father, Mother, children of the house. Many Cypriots cut the first piece for the youngest member of the family present at the gathering and cut each piece till the oldest member of the family – usually bapou or yiayia (grandfather or grandmother). It’s very exciting and often different members will try to pre-empt where the coin might be so they turn the cake round so the first piece is cut at a point where, hopefully, the cutting of their piece later will reveal the coin to them. I remember growing up this was just as an exciting family gathering as Christmas Day itself which we celebrated on the 25th December living in the UK. My own children, to this day, enjoy the cutting of the vasilopita.

There are a number of different recipes for making a vasilopita and many families pass down their recipes from generation to generation, some tweak the recipe along the way adding their own signature ingredient too. Some add brandy too!

I’ve included a simple recipe below which avoids weighing ingredients – it uses cups to measure everything.

Vasilopita Recipe

I wish all of you a very happy New Year, happy baking and good luck in finding the coin! Much love to you all and I look forward to sharing some more Greek Cypriot recipes and traditions with you throughout the year. (Featured image my best friend’s cake!!!)

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