This standalone, gripping romantic adventure is the first in the Romantic, Passionate, Thrilling Escapes series. Fast-paced plots with strong heroines, sexy heroes and sinister villains in exotic locations – they’re the perfect escape!
The first book you ever have published is always special, and I remember it well and to this day. My agent had already told me that my debut romance had been given good reviews by the publisher’s Readers and would be up for consideration for publication at a specific meeting. And that she confidently expected good news. So I went out and brought a bottle of champagne (the first time I’d ever done so) in anticipation and waited all afternoon (the meeting was for 3.00pm) for the telephone to ring. They never said so, but my poor long-suffering Mum and Dad must have been fed up with my treading a line in the carpet. And when I finally got the call and learned that I really was going to be a published author, the feeling was utterly wonderful and amazing – and something that can never be repeated. It meant that all the years of hard work, hoping, trying, failing, and trying again had finally paid off, and that my stubborn self-belief and refusal to give up had finally been vindicated. And I could at last call myself an ‘author’. I then poured out two glasses of champagne for my parents, and a glass of white grape juice for myself (I’ve always been teetotal) and spent the rest of the day on cloud nine.
(Not that this is relevant to my life as an author, but just in case you were wondering why I’m teetotal, it’s because, as an 11-year-old, I inadvertently gave myself a dose of ‘aversion therapy’ where alcohol is concerned. On the occasion of my big sister’s wedding, my 10-year-old cousin and I found a pack of Babycham, and sneaking it away and around the back of the village hall – where the reception was being held – promptly proceeded to down the lot. And the next morning, as you can imagine … oh my. Take it from me – suffering a hangover when you’re not really old enough to understand what a hangover is – let’s just say, from that moment on, even the scent of anything alcoholic sets off alarm bells!)
Anyway, as I was saying, you never forget your first book. And when your complimentary copies come in the post, and you get to hold your first published novel in your hand for the very first time – well, let’s just say that it is an experience I can recommend to anyone! That’s why, when people who have yet to succeed in getting their first novel published ask for my advice, I always tell them not to give up. It can take some time (for me it was nearly five years from the moment I first decided to bite the bullet and seriously try my hand at writing, until I held my first published novel in my hand) but boy is it ever worth it. And if you have the writing bug, as I do, then you are going to write stories anyway – because how can you not – regardless of whether or not they get published. So it makes sense to keep on trying. Either in finding an agent, or in submitting your manuscript to publisher after publisher. And it’s always comforting to read how other, now famous and high-flying authors, were rejected by the first 3, 4, 5 or 20 publishers that they tried!
About the author
Maxine Barry lives in Oxford. She is a full-time author and also practises calligraphy.
When Matt Mann grabbed showbiz success by the throat, he also trampled on the dreams of Gram Kane, his closest friend. Matt has ridden the gravy train for seven heady years, while successfully keeping a lid on his old friend’s resentment. That is; until now.
Matt’s moral vacuum has now seen him betray yet another friend – but this time, it’s one who has the power to ruthlessly punish him, and take away everything that he’s achieved.
Drive-By Shouting is an exhilarating showbiz ride, with a bitter comic edge and a palpable undercurrent of malevolence.
Author Q & A
What is the first book you remember reading or having read to you?
The Oxford English Dictionary! I lived with my maternal Grandmother – and she was a stickler for finding out what words meant, whenever they cropped up. She came from a pretty humble background in South Wales – but know that good grammar and a decent vocabulary could carry you a long way.
Who is your favourite literary character?
Logan Mountstuart in William Boyd’s ‘Any Human Heart.’ Thoroughly irreverent – and a great companion through many of the 20th Century’s great events.
What are you currently reading?
I’ve just finished Kate Atkinson’s ‘A God in Ruins,’ the companion book to ‘Life After Life.’ A wonderful read – and I’m consistently impressed by her ability to weave alternative realities together at the same time.
Who is your hero or heroine (real or fictional)?
Without wishing to be sappy; I really do think a lot of my wife; Jacqueline! She’s whip-smart when I need advice or critical analysis – but also has the kindest heart I’ve ever encountered. If it has to be somebody notable; then it’s David Bowie. At his 1970’s peak, he was lyrically and musically, just about as good as it’s possible to get.
Where are you happiest?
On the Beach in East Sussex; near Rye. Whatever the weather, I always feel glad to be alive when I’m there.
If I joined you on your perfect day, what would we be doing?
We’d wake up in a cottage on the beach in East Sussex and walk along the wet sandbanks at low tide. We’d have lunch at ‘The Globe Inn Marsh’ and a wander around Rye (an amazingly beautiful medieval town), before taking the train to London for a Blues/Jazz gig at Ronnie Scott’s, followed by coffee at Café Italia – and a late night walk down the South Bank. We’d be a bit knackered; but happy!
What do you think is the best thing about social media?
It gives you a great sense of community. It’s like being able to pop into 6 different pubs simultaneously; each with a different group of friends in it.
Why did you write a book?
I have known that I would write for a long time. I was a songwriter for quite a few years, where brevity is the key. I liked the idea of turning that discipline on it’s head – and stretching and exploring ideas, rather than reducing them down to their pithiest elements. It’s one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done. So, I’m doing it again…
Why did you choose your particular genre?
I don’t think I fit neatly into a genre (which is either a virtue or a weakness). I felt compelled to write about the music business and particularly the random nature of success in the arts, which is unlike any other area of life. You don’t see many exceptionally talented dentists struggling to make a living; but the world is awash with brilliant musicians, actors, writers and artists, all desperately trying to pay the rent. The idea of exploring this within a thriller seemed natural and instinctive.
What’s the best thing about writing a book?
The sense of adventure that you get from thinking, “I wonder what would happen if…” and then being the one who gets to decide everybody’s fate. There’s more than a hint of ‘God complex’ to it.
About the Author
Liverpool born, Chase has been a TV Presenter on a variety of shows, including; The Survivors Guide, Sextalk (both C4), Breakfast Time, Going Live! (BBC1), Wideangle, Country File (ITV) and Toyah & Chase (VH-1). On Radio, he has hosted BBC 5Live’s After Hours and The Chase is On. Behind the scenes, he has worked as a Producer on both Comic Relief & Sport Aid and has written for several publications, including Esquire, the NME, Melody Maker, Maxim and Red.
Mark was the leader of the notorious 90’s band World of Leather, who released 2 albums and numerous singles through Sony Records. They toured extensively in the UK and Europe and sold respectably in Japan & Scandinavia, whilst skillfully avoiding the UK charts.
Prior to this, Chase had been a successful session musician & session singer, working with numerous artists including Belinda Carlisle, Taylor Dayne, Big Trouble & John Barrowman.
He lives in East Sussex with his wife, Jacqueline, and their 4 children.
Sometimes you have to leave the one you love … sometimes you’re the one who’s left behind. The new heart-warming and heart-breaking romantic comedy from the No.1 bestselling author of Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret?
On his way home, Ed makes a split-second decision that changes the lives of all those who love him.
Six years on, Ed’s daughter, Jessie, is stuck in a job with no prospects, her dreams never fulfilled. It will take more than her unreliable boyfriend, Chris, and temperamental best friend, Coco, to give her the confidence to get her life back on track.
But what if Ed had made another decision? It could all have been so different …
Six years on, Ed’s daughter, Jessica, has a successful career, loving boyfriend, Nick, and a keen eye on her dream home. But when new clients, a temperamental Coco, and her unreliable boyfriend, Chris, walk into her life, Jessica’s perfect world soon starts to unravel.
Love Them and Leave Them is a story of love, families, friendship and a world of possibilities. Whichever decision Ed makes, the same people are destined to come into his daughter’s life, sometimes in delightfully different ways. And before they can look forward to the future, they will all have to deal with the mistakes of the past.
There are two main characters in Love Them and Leave Them. Jessie and Jessica share equal star status!
When I first began writing the book, I knew I wanted it to be a parallel world story and I knew I was going to need two main characters, each a different version of the same person, but I wasn’t sure of anything else. I simply began writing about two women who’d had very different opportunities in life, and Jessie and Jessica appeared (although they had different names back then.) The more I chatted to them in my head, the more defined they became. Their main differences all hinged on the sudden loss of their dad at a young age (or not).
From that moment on, their personalities splintered, and, as Jessica told me all about her time at university and the support she had from her parents and boyfriend, so Jessie told me how hard it was to lose not only her dad, but her future, all in the blink of an eye.
What do you like most about them?
I like both my main characters, but I think my heart goes out to Jessie just a little more. She took a hard knock and is struggling to come back to herself. The way she feels about her dad’s death in chapter one is very similar to my feelings regarding the loss of my own dad, who died very suddenly over 12 years ago. All this time, and I still can’t listen to ‘Dance with my Father’ without getting tearful. I’ve experienced other losses since, but I think the shock of that particular death will always remain with me.
What do like least about them?
It’s possible the readers will feel that Jessica has it all too easy, but I suspect that will change as they progress through the book.
Did everyone like them to start with or did you have to change them in any way?
When my editor read my first draft, he was concerned that both my main characters swore too much. He asked me, ‘Are you angry?’ Reading through it I had to agree – both women were quite sweary and selfish. I concluded that I was allowing some external stresses in my own life to influence the way my characters behaved and spoke.
Once I was aware of it, I was able to rectify it. The good thing is, with the click of a button, you can eradicate many f*cks. I softened the characters and made them both much more caring. But I learnt an important lesson – try not to let my own mood reflect in my characters’ dialogue.
Are there any similarities with anyone real?
Both Jessie and Jessica physically resemble a real-life friend of mine. In my head, I see Jessica as my friend when she’s dressed up and Jessie as the same friend on her more casual days. Which friend? I couldn’t possibly say!
What are your plans for them?
I don’t have any further plans for Jessie or Jessica. I feel their stories are told. I know where I imagine them to be in the future, but I suspect not all my readers will agree. But, then, isn’t that the joy of writing – once a person reads your book, they have their own take on your characters and the worlds you’ve placed them in, and that’s exciting to know.
Win an e-book of Love Them and Leave Them by entering the rafflecopter below (two prizes to be won). T&Cs apply.
Sue Shepherd writes contemporary romance and enjoys creating novels with heart, laughs and naughtiness. She doesn’t pull any punches when choosing her subjects, but manages to handle her characters’ challenging situations with sensitivity and humour. Her debut novel, Doesn’t Everyone Have a Secret? was published by Corazon Books in March 2015. It reached the top 10 UK Kindle chart, and also topped the romantic comedy, contemporary romance and humour charts. It became available in paperback on Amazon in November 2015. Sue’s second novel, Love Them and Leave Them, was published in September 2016.
Sue lives on the picturesque Isle of Wight with her husband, two sons and a standard poodle. Her passions in life are: her family, writing, the sea-side and all the beautiful purple things her sons have bought her over the years. Ask Sue to plan too far in advance and you’ll give her the heebie-jeebies.
Isolation Junction by Jennifer Gilmour follows the story of Rose who is stuck in an abusive and coercive relationship. After years of emotional abuse, the self doubt about her future and the erosion of her confidence, Rose takes a stand.
Finding herself alone, penniless and frightened Rose wonders how she will ever escape from the situation to provide a better life for herself and her children. With 100 reasons to leave and 1000 reasons why she perceives she can’t – will she have the courage to do it? And will she find the support to regain control and confidence?
I actually had the plot line set out together with the names of the characters for quite some time, but hadn’t developed the character profiles. Once I started to formulate the plot, it became clear what the character of people was going to be like and how they were going to fit into the plot. I then started to build the profiles. It was quite straight forward to build them, as I had a personal reference point regarding what a victim, abuser and hero was like in real life, so the personalities seemed to flow rather well. However, I was determined to get these characteristics accurate, so spent quite a lot of time working and tweeking various aspects.
Focusing on the victim (in the story this is Rose) I wanted to compile my own and other women’s stories together to form her personality and for me, her image then followed suit. I created her first as she is the main character and she needed to have features to remember like her red hair and green eyes. I wanted her to stand out to her abuser in some way, as well as creating a character that people could relate to.
What do you like most about them?
I love Rose’s natural beauty and her determination to make any situation work. She is so motivated even if she doesn’t see it for herself; she simply needed someone to give her that support, encouragement and a helping hand for her to be able to use all her skills to free herself from a destructive situation. Rose is full of potential that she is yet to realise.
What do like least about them?
Rose’s lack of confidence and that she listened to the wrong people for advice, and believes that their views are the correct and accurate ones. Her lack of confidence at this point in her life contributes to the mistakes she makes. Rose can be naive and depend on others to make decisions for her, which is linked to her lack of confidence and her low self esteem.
What are your plans for them?
My plans are for Rose to flourish and for her self confidence to grow so that she is able and confident in making her own decisions in order to take responsibility, ownership and control of her own life – a complex and slow process given all that she has gone through. I can’t wait to continue to work with Rose as in Isolation Junction she was almost robotic in her reactions to life’s events and I am excited with the anticipation that she will grow, learn and develop as a person.
Did everyone like them to start with or did you have to change them in any way?
As I was writing, a couple of the characters were changed slightly and I amended their character profiles accordingly. It was either an addition or a slight change because I didn’t believe the character would react a certain way. It is hard sometimes to work in restrictions but now I have the profiles set I can refer to them and still add aspects if I need to.
Rose is one of those characters that people have said they want to see more of and hear more of her ‘pain’ but it is hard to express the ‘pain’ she is going through when she hasn’t realised the full extent of what has happened and is running on adrenaline so to speak. I have taken this into consideration though and I believe it will work well, and readers will be pleased to hear that her character is yet to flourish and in the future they will see more of her recovery and development.
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About the Author
Jennifer Gilmour is a married mum of three, and a business owner. She has spent the past eighteen months writing her first novel to raise awareness of the unseen side of domestic abuse/coercive control.
Jennifer was born and educated in Hull before moving south to attend university. Now happily living in her home city with her husband, three children and a hamster she runs an Internet business (Blissful Gifts and Services) and is a top performing Consultant for Jamberry.
I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to interview inspirational author Penelope Magoulianiti. Her book ‘Women, Motherhood & Independence: A Guide to Financial Freedom, Beauty & Confidence After Birth’ aims to help women achieve their goals and be successful, with clear strategies and practical advice on how to do so. Here is our interview…
Your book is inspirational to other women, but who is most inspirational to you?
My mentor and the person who saved my life literally is Anthony Robbins. Many years ago, I attended my first seminar in personal development; the UPW (Unleash Power Within) with Anthony Robbins. It was the best decision I ever made and it changed my life.
I gather you faced many challenges during your childhood. What has been your biggest challenge?
My biggest fear was money, lacking money to be more precise. I also had self-esteem issues due to many financial problems faced by my family while I was growing up. To wake up and fall asleep with the same thought day in – day out was exhausting. The universal law is that you bring to your life what you put energy in and because my focus was so intense and my fear was so big, I found myself at age 29 being completely broke.
It took lots of courage and determination to change my life, but I did and I’ve never looked back since then.
Your bio states you want to leave your children a legacy to be proud of. What are you most proud of to date?
The fact that I don’t live any more within my comfort zone. The fact that one by one I am managing to achieving my goals and living my dream life. I’ve always wanted to write a book and influence as many women as I can to step up and follow their dreams. I did it. Taking into consideration the comments I am receiving from my readers, I believe that I am influencing their lives. The fact that it has also been translated into three languages tells me that what I am sharing in the book is of interest.
Another thing that I am proud of is my decision to escape from the corporate world and to start a completely different career. Starting a new career at the age of 40 was petrifying but I’ve been always honest with my kids. I talk to them and let them know about my successes but at the same time I’ve been always honest about my failures and setbacks too. I try to teach them that we don’t give up our dreams with the first setback or failure and to succeed we need to keep pushing and trying.
I love the quotes you share in your book. What is your favourite quote and why?
‘There is no passion to be found to play small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living’ – Nelson Mandela.
I love this quote because many of us, are settling for something less out of fear of not being good enough or capable enough to achieve everything that our heart desires. However, when we settle we don’t live we just exist. Life passes by without meaning and we become like robots. When however, we pursue something that excites us, we are growing. We are looking forward to go to work every single day and we are not perceiving it at all as work. We are alive and happy and that makes all the difference in the world.
If you could only share three pieces of advice from your book what would you tell people?
1.To stop reacting to what life brings and start planning their lives. It’s time to stop trying to fulfil other people’s agendas and start working towards their own.
2.Accept and love ourselves. Understand that each one of us has a unique talent and all of us have something great to give to this world.
3.Take control of your life and stop relying on other people to do it for you. You are the only one responsible for your successes and failures. The minute you take full responsibility for everything that is happening to you; that is when your life will start changing.
Obviously your book is aimed at women specifically, but do you feel there is any value in men reading your book too?
I have many men who read the book and they found it very useful, so yes, even though the title is aimed to women, the principles and techniques I am describing in the book can benefit both sexes.
What advice would you give to mothers who are trying to juggle everything?
We need to understand that even though we are capable we are not superwomen. We need to concentrate on the things that are the most important, the ones that are going to make the biggest difference in our lives and delegate or stop doing the rest. It’s not easy to do it but by setting priorities we can achieve more.
I have created a list is called: “The Ultimate Jugglers Task List – For Mums who have so much to do”
This is a list where you write down the five most important things that you must do on a daily basis to move forward with your projects, to get closer to achieve a goal whatever that goal may be. I have been using this for many years now and it has changed my life completely.
If any of your readers would like to have access to it, they can email at firstname.lastname@example.org using the title “Jugglers List” and we will send it to them free of charge.
What other projects do you have in the pipeline? Any news to share with us?!
I am in the process of launching my online product called “21-Day Transformation Program for a Balanced Life”. This program consists of 9 video- lessons where you receive one by one every three days and it gives you tools to help you do what you need to do in order to create more balance in your life.
Also I’ve started my research for my second book which hopefully will be ready by the end of this year.
About The Author
Penelope Magoulianiti used to work as a private banker for many years. From a very young age, she had to face many challenges, both financial and social. The challenges she faced through those difficult times make her more determined to succeed in life.
When she became a mom, she felt the urgency to pass to her own children a legacy that they would be proud of. She wanted to become a good example for her son and daughter; a successful businesswoman, and entrepreneur dedicating her life to helping her fellow women in becoming successful in their niche.
With the economy getting worse every year and the corporate world looking not so promising, she finally took the decision to quit her job and move forward in creating her own business. Her dream to help other women in gaining their financial independence while being good mothers and living their lives more fully became her ultimate goal.
With her experience throughout her working life in the corporate world, the invaluable knowledge gained through her mentors, together with her home life as a wife and mother of two, Penelope delivers her message in a simple and to-the-point manner that will help women to regain their drive to succeed and the determination to conquer their dreams and ambitions.
Penelope’s book Women, Motherhood & Independence: A Guide to Financial Freedom, Beauty & Confidence After Birth is available in Kindle and paperback version on Amazon
This book is intended to help all of Women who wish to continue living their dreams, achieving their goals and becoming successful without having to compromise their dreams and desires because of Motherhood.
In this book you will find strategies and ideas that you can apply to your life daily in order to stay on top of things, become more creative, more energetic, and healthier irrespective of how much sleep you have managed the night before.
It will encourage and guide you to step out of your comfort zone and claim what is rightfully yours… your success, your financial freedom, your confidence, and beauty.
It is my belief that we can achieve anything we want, in life if we are clear about what it is that we want, make a commitment to become successful, and then take the necessary steps and actions required to achieve that success.
Whether you are already in a career, you have your business, you would like to start a new business, or you just want to be more present and engage more in family life and activities, Women, Motherhood and Independence will help you utilize your talents, become more focused and achieve more in less time with less stress.
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