The Chocolatier’s Secret

Today it’s publication day for The Chocolatier’s Secret!

The Chocolatier's Secret- KDP version

 

This book is the second story in the Magnolia Creek series, but can be read as a standalone novel.

In The Chocolatier’s Secret, we return to the quiet town of Magnolia Creek, nestled in a beautiful setting in Victoria, Australia, not far from the city of Melbourne.

Today is publication day for the ebook, but the paperback will be on its way very soon. I can’t wait to hold the book in my hands! It’s always such a special moment 🙂

I already have plans for a third book in this series but for now I’m working on a Christmas novel, set in a different location.

I hope you’ll raise a glass of bubbly, have a block of chocolate nearby and enjoy reading this novel. I loved writing it.

Helen J Rolfe  x

Here’s the blurb…

Will one mistake ruin everything?

Andrew Bennett has an idyllic life in Magnolia Creek, Australia. He runs a chocolate business he adores, is married to Gemma, the love of his life, and has a close relationship with his father, Louis. But when Andrew receives a message from his high school sweetheart, it sends his world into a spiral, and the relationships he holds dear will never be the same again.

Molly Ramsey is looking for answers. After her last attempt, she believes the only way to get them this time is to face her past head-on. But to do this, she has to fly to the other side of the world – and she’s afraid of flying. Her search for answers lands her in an emotional tangle, not only with her past but also with a man very much in her present.

Family is everything to Gemma Bennett and she longs to have a house full of kids, but it just isn’t happening. And when Andrew’s past makes an explosive impact on the family, Gemma must decide whether she can accept the truth and open her heart in a way she never thought possible.

In this story of love, family ties and forgiveness, will past mistakes be the obstacle to a Happy Ever After?

You can buy The Chocolatier’s Secret here 

 

Summer, chocolates & plenty of secrets …

Summer, chocolates & plenty of secrets … it’s almost time to return to Magnolia Creek!

The Chocolatier's Secret- KDP version

 

The Chocolatier’s Secret is book two in the Magnolia Creek series, and I’m delighted to say that it’s now available for pre-order on Amazon. With The Chocolatier’s Secret we return to the sun-drenched small town of Magnolia Creek, and this is a standalone story focusing on different lives. But … keep an eye out for a few of your favourite book characters from What Rosie Found Next!

I had a lot of fun writing this book. I enjoy the research side and had already completed a major research project on adoption as part of a Masters in Writing so I’ve been able to use my contacts and the information I had at my fingertips to shape this story. I also have my own personal experience of adoption which helped keep the emotions realistic.

chocresearch

Of course my favourite part of the research was finding out all about chocolate! I spent the day with Lucy and Andrea at Creighton’s Chocolaterie in Leighton Buzzard and discovered what goes on behind the scenes. I was really excited after my visit because I was able to weave in so many details to my story to make it authentic.

Publication day is Tuesday 28th June so only 8 days away!

If you would like to pre-order The Chocolatier’s Secret, you can do so here.

I hope you like the story … best enjoyed with your favourite chocolate of course! Here’s the blurb…

Will one mistake ruin everything?

Andrew Bennett has an idyllic life in Magnolia Creek, Australia. He runs a chocolate business he adores, is married to Gemma, the love of his life, and has a close relationship with his father, Louis. But when Andrew receives a message from his high school sweetheart, it sends his world into a spiral, and the relationships he holds dear will never be the same again.

Molly Ramsey is looking for answers. After her last attempt, she believes the only way to get them this time is to face her past head-on. But to do this, she has to fly to the other side of the world – and she’s afraid of flying. Her search for answers lands her in an emotional tangle, not only with her past but also with a man very much in her present.

Family is everything to Gemma Bennett and she longs to have a house full of kids, but it just isn’t happening. And when Andrew’s past makes an explosive impact on the family, Gemma must decide whether she can accept the truth and open her heart in a way she never thought possible.

In this story of love, family ties and forgiveness, will past mistakes be the obstacle to a Happy Ever After?

Lies, polaroids and taping the Top 40 – how we connected with Kerry Fisher’s brilliant new novel

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I’m an unashamed child of the late 70s and early 80s, when Arctic Roll passed for a sophisticated dessert and you could lose your car keys for a week in the depths of the new shag pile carpet. I remember one birthday, when I was about seven or eight, being given the two things at the top of my wish list – a pogo stick and a Polaroid camera. I never did manage to pogo more than about twice in a row, but the Polaroid camera? Now that was nothing short of a miracle. Within moments – and some vigorous shaking that would give a Jane Fonda workout a run for its money – you had a passable instant image. I remember my dad saying “what will they think of next?”, if only he’d known! Those growing up now can’t move without taking a selfie (from 23 different angles, until they get it right) and posting the ‘wrong’ photo online carries with it the risk of going viral. In 2016 teenagers have their phones permanently attached to them, so almost nothing is safe from being caught on camera.

The WRs – many of whom were children in a similar era to me – were reminiscing this week about the tall tales our parents told in an attempt to protect us, and the fibs we told them in response, hoping to get away with pulling a fast one in an era before cameras came with us everywhere to capture every momentAAA Polaroid Camera.

Jessica confessed to being a secret Easter egg rustler – munching not just hers, but her brother’s Easter eggs before she was supposed to. Smoothing out the foil in the packaging afterwards to give the illusion the eggs remained untouched. Jessica was also warned that, if she played on a local building site, the police would cart her off. When her poor Easter-egg-deprived brother decided to test out his parents’ theory, he just got a polite warning from the boys in blue, but that didn’t stop his sister blackmailing him for sweets for some time to come, it order to keep schtum.

AAA nailbitingHelen R was told that if she bit her fingernails, she’d end up with a ‘manly’ fingernail like her aunt! We have to say that made all the WRs smile.

Lynne was told that if she didn’t eat her greens, she’d never get hairs on her chest. Unsurprisingly, that did little to convince her to tuck in…

Then there were the usual stories about eating carrots helping you to see in the dark and the warning that your face would stay like that if the wind changed. I remember one instance, when my mum had just finished wallpapering the tricky hallway and landing, only for me to accidently tear a bit of the new wallpaper off when I was dashing down the stairs. She asked my sister first and then me, if either of us had done it. We both denied it of course. My mum, wannabe Columbo that she was, told us it was fine and that she’d soon find out who the culprit was, because their tongue would turn black from lying. Cue me, running around hysterically, pulling out my tongue to see if was already too late! Put it this way, in the end, it didn’t take Columbo to work out who the guilty party was.

All of this explains why I loved reading Kerry Fisher’s ‘After The Lie’ so much and connected with Lydia from the prologue, where she was busy trying to tape the Top 40 off the radio, without the DJ butting in. My kids and their Apple Music downloads don’t know they are born. ‘After The Lie’ reveals the dangers a family’s secrets can risk, even in an era when going viral meant a bout of flu and the internet wasn’t even the stuff of science fiction movies. The novel moves from the prologue in the 80s to the present day, but the events of years before are still taking their toll on Lydia’s life:

Something happened in Lydia’s past that has shaped her whole life. Especially as her mother doesn’t given her a second to forget what the incident meant for the whole family. StillAAA After the Lie Lydia manages to put it behind her, or at least to shut it up tightly in a metaphorical box, until her past suddenly collides with her present in a way she could never have envisaged.

I loved both of Kerry Fisher’s earlier novels, ‘The School Gate Survival Guide’ and ‘The Island Escape’, but for me ‘After the Lie’ has hit a new high. As a forty something year old, I’m past the stage where I want to read about the search for ‘Mr Right’. I want to read something I can relate to and ‘After The Lie’ definitely gave me that.

This novel is beautifully written and even the most minor characters have an important role to play. ‘After the Lie’ has you rooting for Lydia, even when you want to shout at her not to do what she’s about to do. It’s believable, relatable and oh so real. This novel’s for readers who know that there’s so much more to life than a happy ever after and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

‘After The Lie’ is currently available on Amazon for just 99p. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and, in the meantime, we’d love to hear about those little white lies you told growing up, or the ones your parents told you.

Have a great week

Jo xx

Mega Monday – What Rosie Found Next

What Rosie Found Next - bookcover - KDP version

Well, it’s been a whirlwind year. In February I published my debut novel, The Friendship Tree, followed by Handle Me with Care in June. And tomorrow sees the publication of my third novel, What Rosie Found Next.

womensficpromo

I can’t believe that already I’m at publication day number 3, and I have to say it doesn’t get any less exciting. There’s still the thrill of the latest book being out there, finally, and then of course I anxiously await reviews to see what people think of the story. I wish I could say I have a glamorous day planned tomorrow, November 3rd, with champagne and a posh lunch surrounded by fans and a signing of my book…maybe one day. But it’s reality for me this time and coordinating the installation of shutters in our new house, plus fitted wardrobes!

IMG_5210It has, however, become a bit of a publication day tradition to make a cake or cupcakes with a photo of my new book cover as the topper and so, for a little touch of glamour to celebrate the publication of What Rosie Found Next, I will be honouring this tradition and whipping up some cupcakes. Not sure what flavour yet…usually I’d go for anything chocolate, but the pretty cover may look better on a lighter background 😉 And even though it’s only Tuesday, I’ll be sneaking in a glass or two of Prosecco or champagne…another tradition for publication day!

 

What Rosie Found Next is set in Australia, in the fictitious town of Magnolia Creek and will be the first book in the Magnolia Creek series. I became so attached to the town I’d created that I couldn’t resist going back there when I began plotting book four, and so the series will be a set of books which are all standalone stories set in the same location.

I’m pleased to be able to share my blurb for book one in the Magnolia Creek series here…

backcover blurb cropped

What Rosie Found Next is available as an eBook for pre-order now and the paperback will follow soon. I can promise you a story full of secrets, love and friendship, and I look forward to sharing more stories in Magnolia Creek with you next year some time…

Helen J Rolfe x

 

 

Friday Friends Competition – win a signed copy of Jane Lythell’s ‘After the Storm’

FINAL After the Storm_JANEWhen I was in my twenties, life was very different. I could stay up all night, drink whatever I wanted and still wake up the next day bright-eyed and ready to take on the world. Since becoming a mum, sleep is like gold dust and it takes me about four days to recover from a late night. Children just don’t give you the luxury of lying on the sofa until 3 pm, eating bacon sandwiches and watching re-runs of Friends until you feel ready to face the world, do they? So, reading into the small hours, just like late nights out, has largely become a thing of the past. Only a handful of books now keep me reading through the night, knowing that I’ll suffer the next day but not caring because the story is so worth it. In the last year, two of those very books were written by Jane Lythell.

Jane writes novels that you simply can’t put down. I was on the edge of my seat (well, more accurately, my bed) reading both The Lie of You’ and After the Storm’. I woke up in the morning, on both occasions after finishing Jane’s books, exhausted, with a hint of tan from the glow of my Kindle and serious writer envy, but over-ridingly pure enjoyment as a reader of two great books.

I don’t know what the weather is like where you are today but, down here in Kent, we woke up to a terrific thunderstorm, the low rumblings waking me up before either the children or the alarm clock had the chance, but it’s also tropically hot and humid. All of that seems pretty apt for this blog post, since today I have the privilege of running a competition to give away not one, but two signed copies of Jane’s second novel ‘After The Storm’, which tells the story of two couples setting sail for an idyllic island cruise in the Caribbean – except there are secrets simmering just below the surface, so it’s far from plain sailing and, as the tagline says, some secrets can destroy you…

All you have to do to win a signed copy of this fantastic thriller is to write one or two sentences on your worst ever holiday disaster!Picture 405

You can leave a comment here (click comment in the tiny green writing at the bottom of the screen) or tweet us @writeromantics, leave a message on our Facebook page or email us at thewriteromantics@hotmail.co.uk. Jane will pick two lucky winners and you’ll also get a mention on her blog.

I’d love to enter, but of course I can’t – suffice it to say that my worst holiday disaster involved missed transportation, a serial-killer style haircut and gravel in the inner ear! You can read more about ‘After the Storm’ in the publisher’s press release here, it’s available right now in WHSmiths travel outlets nationwide and, of course, online.

Good luck and, to the winners, you are in for a treat!

Jo

PLEASE NOTE: The competition closes at midnight BST on Tuesday 16th June.

Entitled to Change a Title

“We were thinking about the titles of your trilogy. The second book is absolutely fine, but are you sure about the third title…?”

Eek! The email from my editor stopped me in my tracks. (Well, it would have done if I hadn’t already been sat down at my desk but you get the picture.) I knew that many writers had their titles changed by their publishers but, as there’d been no indication of changing any of mine, I thought I was “safe”. Until the email.

The Moon on a Stick‘Searching for Steven’ – the title for book 1 – materialised at the same time as the idea and I’ve lived with it for eleven years. It absolutely works and, thankfully, my publishers agree. I’d have struggled so much if somebody had asked me to change it.

‘Getting Over Gary’ – the title for book 2 – came to me a couple of years later. I knew I wanted the title to include alliteration and a man’s name so that the trilogy felt connected and this title suddenly popped into my head. The character Gary was called something different at the time but I had no qualms about changing his name and it’s clearly been the right move because I can’t remember what I called him originally! Thankfully, my publishers like that title too.

Book 3 remained nameless for a while. The story was less developed and I wasn’t as sure about the characters but, as the plot progressed, ‘Discovering David’ came to mind. It still had a man’s name in. It still had alliteration. But it was missing the middle word. I hmmm’d and haaa’d about it for ages but ‘Discovering ABOUT David’ didn’t sound right and, by then, I absolutely loved the word “discovering”. I don’t want to give any spoilers away about the book but “discovering” absolutely fits with what the book is all about.

A Cottage by the SeaThere are options. I’m not massively precious about David being called David and there are other characters who could be the focus of the title instead but I keep coming back to the “discovering” part being right. No decisions need to be made just yet so we’ll see how that one goes.

I should actually rejoice in the fact that my publishers love the first two titles and not focus on the fact they don’t (yet) love the third because title changes are so commonplace. I was the fourth Write Romantic to be offered a publishing deal and the previous three have all had their titles changed. Helen Phifer had her debut novel changed from “Deadly Obsession” to “The Ghost House” but she admits that she absolutely loves the new title (and so do I). The next published WR, Rachael Thomas, entered the “So You Think You Can Write” competition using the title, “Behind the Scandalous Façade.” She got a publishing deal with Harlequin M&B on the back of this but the title was changed to “A Deal Before the Altar”. Jay Bartlett’s debut novel “Among a Thousand Stars” (out in June 2015) had two different titles before agreeing on the final version with her publisher. So I really shouldn’t be surprised that the subject of titles has arisen. I’m delighted to say that Helen, Rachael and Jay all love their new titles but all would admit it was hard to hear initially that the title they’d been living with for so long wasn’t going to be the final one. A lot of writers refer to their novel (particularly their debut one) as their “baby” so I suppose this could be likened to naming your child then having them start primary school only to be told that their child now needs to be known as a completely different name.

The Memory GardenI’m curious as to which path book 3’s title will take. One thing that I feel very fortunate about is that I have a wonderful publisher who sees this as a shared journey and will work towards finding a title that works for both of us; not one that they impose on me. I know many writers aren’t that lucky.

Which got me onto thinking about titles for books. How important are they? I did a quick survey amongst the Write Romantics to ask them three questions:

  1. Have you ever bought a book simply because you loved the title? (If so, what was it and why did the title speak to you?)
  2. Have you ever not read a book because of the title?
  3. What’s your favourite title for a book and why?

I’ll take each in turn …

Buying a book because of the title:

P1050743The general consensus was that they were more likely to be drawn to reading the blurb on the book because of a title rather than purchasing a book because of the title. Having said that, certain words drew the WRs. Helen R loves books with the word “secret” in the title because she loves to know things and curiosity gets the better of her. Harriet is drawn to titles with the homely feel of the words “cottage”, “house”, “street” or “road” in them or any reference to Cornwall as she adores Rosamund Pilcher’s books. Lynne is drawn towards ones that feature “sun” or “old houses.”

Helen P bought Stephen King’s “It” purely on the title and it’s turned into her all-time favourite. Sharon bought Carole Matthews’s “A Cottage by the Sea” based purely on title although she had enjoyed other books by her. She wasn’t familiar with Valerie-Anne Baglietto’s books but bought both “Once Upon a Winter” and “The Moon on a Stick” on titles alone and was very pleased that she did.

I personally bought “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time” because the title massively intrigued me. I knew nothing about the book or the author at the time but I just loved that title!

Avoiding a book because of the title:

P1050742Jay admits that she was once recommended a book called “The Billionaire’s Virgin” on her newsfeed which was an absolute no-no for her. Any book titles including the words “desire” or “virgin” are inclined to put her off. Helen R avoids the words “sexy” in titles. I’m with both of them on this.

Lynne was put off reading “Hideous Kinky” for years, simply because of the title although she loved it when she finally settled down to read it.

On the whole, the WRs were of the feeling that certain titles fit with certain genres and, if that’s not the genre for them, they’d probably be avoiding that book anyway.

Favourite Book Titles:

There are some crackers out there but we’ve all agreed that our memories are like sieves and we’ve struggled to come up with them all. We’re bound to think of loads after this post comes out!

Some great examples are:

  • Harriet loves “Gone Girl” by Gillian Flynn as it’s a short, snappy title
  • Sharon loves “Honeycote” by Veronica Henry because it sounds so lovely and “The Memory Garden” by Rachel Hore
  • Jay is drawn towards our very own Helen R’s “The Friendship Tree” (out next year) and “The Divorce Domino” by friend of the blog Kerry Fisher (out soon)
  • Helen R loves Hazel Gayor’s new title: “Memory of Violets”. She says it’s “such a gorgeous title and sounds cosy”

P1050744Browsing along my bookshelves, some of my personal favourites are:

  • “The Truth About Melody Browne” by Lisa Jewell. I love her books anyway but I found this title particularly intriguing. I think I’m very similar to Helen R in that I’m also drawn to the word “secret” in a title
  • “A Quiet Belief in Angels” by R J Ellory. I was in a writing group once and one of the members was raving about this book. It stuck in my mind because of the title … although I confess that it’s been on my TBR pile for years so title adoration doesn’t always turn into the actual art of reading!
  • “The Book of Tomorrow” by Cecelia Ahern. Also on my TBR pile although I’ve read several of hers. It’s my favourite title of hers closely followed by “A Place Called Here” which I have read

There are two other fairly recent books whose titles intrigue me. I don’t own them but I keep meaning to download them – “We Need to Talk About Kevin” by Lionel Shriver and “The Last Time We Saw Marion” by Tracey Scott-Townsend. Even though I love romantic comedies and that’s the genre I write, I do have a penchant for mystery and intrigue and the titles of both of these draw me in. We’re back to that secrets thing again.

What about you? What titles do you love? Have you ever bought a book purely on the title? I’d love to hear from you.

Thanks to The Write Romantics for their contributions to this post 🙂 x

Jessica xx