Thursday 29 March 2012

My Blogiversary Giveaway!

Wow - a whole year has gone by since I first started this blog and since I joined Twitter and Facebook and launched into the world of e-books. I have a lot to celebrate! I’ve made lots of lovely new friends. I’ve blogged here and guest blogged there. I’ve showcased lots of talented authors and I’ve received fabulous book reviews for Bagpipes & Bullshot and Reaching for the Stars - the two ebooks I’ve launched this year. I’ve chatted about all things book related and I’ve encouraged you to pop back every Friday. Thank you so much!
To celebrate properly I’ve got presents – not for me – but for YOU!
The first gift is a FREE copy of my latest ebook Reaching for the Stars’, my highly rated romantic novel about a disgruntled celebrity chef, which is available to download without charge from Amazon over the next THREE DAYS.

   I’d love your support in getting the word out about this FREE promotion.
Next, the gifts are the yummy kind and, because I love you all so much for being my friends and following this blog, I’m going to award these heart shaped gifts in a prize draw. All you have to do to be in with a chance to win a yummy box of mini chocolate hearts or a bag of traditional heart shaped sweeties is to leave a comment, share the news on Facebook, or any other social networking platform about my free download, or retweet one of my @JaniceHorton tweets!

These lovely Blogger friends are all helping me to spread the word about the Reaching for the Stars’ FREE download today (Friday 30th) and Saturday (31st) and Sunday (1st April): so if you have a moment to spare over this weekend please do pop over to read my guest Blogiversary posts.
Join in the fun this weekend and download Reaching for the Stars for FREE from Amazon - and if you already have it on your Kindle - then please consider recommend it to a friend.

Thursday 22 March 2012

Author Showcase - Myra Duffy

This week I’m delighted to introduce you to Scottish author Myra Duffy, who writes nonfiction and fiction, including novels (mystery and contemporary women's fiction), short stories and poetry. She has had short stories and articles published in a variety of magazines and is a member of Writer's Scotland Group, to which I also proudly belong. Myra is also currently President of Erskine Writers Group.

Myra, you also write short stories and non-fiction, which do you prefer and why?
I’ve always enjoyed writing non-fiction because it comes from personal experience and I feel confident about my areas of expertise but in recent years I’ve concentrated on fiction. Short stories tend to come to me almost fully formed - a sudden idea - and I like to write character based short stories with a sting in the tale. But mostly I prefer to write novels, though they are more difficult and more time consuming of course, but over the length of the novel you have time to develop both character and plot. My Bute novels feature the same main character, Alison Cameron, and I’m getting very well acquainted with her.

Why did you choose to write 'cosy crime'?
The main interest for me in any crime is the puzzle - who did it and why. I suppose this springs from the development of the characters and I like to keep the reader guessing as long as possible, though there are plenty of clues in the novel. Bute is an ideal place to set such stories. It’s a small island off the West coast of Scotland with a population of no more than 6000 people, except in the summer when the population is swelled by many visitors. This gives me all the benefits of a location that has strong associations for people in the West of Scotland (many of whom spent childhood holidays on Bute) and indeed with the many people of Scottish descent throughout the world. It allows me to focus in on the characters and use a kind of shorthand for the locations. And in a small place you have lots of opportunities for local gossip and intrigues to help move the plot along! I prefer not to write about violent crime. I prefer to write the kind of books I like to read.

How do the islanders feel about your Alison Cameron mysteries being set on Bute?
Some of them are rather bemused, I think. But everyone has been very supportive, very helpful. And I do know a number of people living on the mainland, having read the books, decided to take a trip to the island. So I suppose I’m doing my bit for island tourism, though I am very careful to have a large disclaimer about the characters not being based on anyone I know. I do use real locations, but often change details for purposes of the plot. I must add that the island isn’t the hotbed of crime that my novels suggest. In fact there is very little crime and it is a beautiful place with lots of unspoiled beaches and excellent walking, including the West Island Way. A lot of money is being spent on upgrading facilities, including the Art Deco Rothesay Pavilion which features strongly in the next book.

Do you have a favourite writing place? I write in the attic, which isn’t nearly as Spartan as it sounds! I have a PC facing a blank wall to avoid distractions. But I can write anywhere and often write some of my novel on the ferry to Bute.

What are you working on now?
My current novel, the work-in-progress, is for the moment called ‘Last Dance at the Rothesay Pavilion’ and the plot centres on the renovation of the Pavilion. During the last war Bute (especially Rothesay) was a very busy place as many army and navy personnel, including some from Canada, were stationed there and there is a fund of stories about what went on. Ettrick Bay, for example was used as a practice run for the D-Day landings. I’m weaving some of this history into the novel and I hope the twist will please readers.

Any tips for new writers? Join a writers’ group! There’s no doubt in my mind that joining Erskine Writers a few years ago was just the impetus I needed to take my fiction writing seriously. Everyone has been so supportive, I’ve learned lots and the opportunities to enter competitions and receive advice from the judges have given me exactly the kind of help I needed. Writing can be a very solitary business and apart from the opportunities to develop your skills, a writing group offers a great social focus.

Myra has a blog and a website and her books are available to buy on and Thanks for featuring on my Author Showcase, Myra!

NEXT FRIDAY: I have a very special blog post for next weekend - as it’s my First Blogiversary! I’m also celebrating exactly one year of indie e-book publishing and will be giving away lots of presents to YOU – so please pop back on Friday 30th March - for a fun filled and gift giving blogiversary party post. Yay!

Friday 16 March 2012

An Exciting New Venture...

This week, I’m sharing with you an exciting new venture. I’ve been asked to give a talk at the Loveahappyending  ‘Summer Audience’ taking place in Tetbury, Gloucestershire, on Saturday 16th June.

Now, I’m not an experienced speaker - but I certainly do have a tale to tell - as my experiences of becoming an author by the traditional route and more recently as an indie, are rather unusual and sometimes rather amusing! I was a little hesitant at first but our middle son, who lives in Edinburgh and struts past the likes of Neil Gaiman and Ian Rankin et al in the streets at Writer’s Festival time, insisted that I give it a shot. He said, “mum, you really should be out there giggin’”.

So I’m going to try and I’d love you to consider coming along. The ‘Summer Audience’ is aimed at all readers and anyone who aspires to write and the programme is now available. You can check it out by clicking the link below.

Tickets are now available too at the fantastic price of £25 per person, which includes a whole day of informal talks by various authors in different writing genres, a light lunch, a keynote speaker, and several short but informative workshops. Plus, of course, the aforementioned riveting and hopefully amusing talk by Yours Truly, which is enticingly entitled ‘From Zero to my Latest Hero…’.

It’s not to be missed - so don’t wait until the tickets are all sold out – get yours now!

Thursday 8 March 2012

A Scottish Castle Birthday...

I've had the most fabulous week and so I wanted to share it with you. You see, it was my birthday yesterday - and no, I'm not going to tell you which one - but I was spoilt rotton by my lovely friends at a dinner party last Saturday. We had lots of laughs, plenty of food, and the wine and whisky flowed freely. Sunday, as you can imagine, was a quiet day in comparison. Then, as if that wasn't enough, the lovely Mr JH whisked me away for the evening of my actual birthday - yesterday - to a Scottish Castle. It was so lovely that it could have come straight out of one of my own romance novels!

Barony Castle near Peebles in the Scottish Borders
Until we arrived at Barony Castle, I hadn't known which Scottish castle we were going to be staying at - as the lovely Mr JH had managed to keep our actual destination a secret from me. But our friends all knew, of course, and had naughtily suggested that I might just be staying over the hill from our cottage - at the ruined Morton Castle - in a tent (shudder) and for all I knew they could have been right!

The ruins of Morton Castle near Thornhill Dumfriesshire

To my relief, we set off yesterday morning with our overnight bags and headed north, and the sun was shining as we headed for Edinburgh and I presumed - quite wrongly as it turned out - The Highlands. Soon however, we were driving through a blizzard of sideways snow and then we got rain and hailstones before the sunshine returned again. They do say, if you don't like the weather in Scotland you should just wait a minute and it will change!

On the way to my suprise birthday castle, we stopped off at a fabulous restaurant in Eddleston, just outside Peebles, called The Horseshoe Inn for lunch. The setting and the food here really is outstanding - a real fine dining experience - and we got a warm welcome from owner Mr Alahakoon.

Then, on my return home today, I discovered dozens of birthday greetings on my Facebook page and a 'Sunshine Award' from my lovely friend Rosemary Gemmell who blogs over at Reading and Writing blog. I really do have lovely friends and I so appreciate all your messages.

To finish off what has been an amazing week, I was excited and delighted to received a FIVE out of FIVE STAR review from Carol at Dizzy C's Little Book Blog for my latest novel 'Reaching for the Stars'. You can read Carol's review by clicking the link below:

So, it's been a great week and with birthdays like this I really don't mind getting a year older!
Until next week...
Love, Janice xx

Thursday 1 March 2012

Location, Location, Location…

Readers of my books will know that I have always chosen Scotland as a prime location for my contemporary romantic novels. Bagpipes & Bullshot has a prologue set in Texas USA but the main setting for the story is in South West Scotland. Reaching for the Stars is set in both Edinburgh and in South West Scotland.

The main reason is because I happen to live in Scotland and feel constantly inspired by the incredible romantic beauty here. So much so that the locations in my books have become major characters in their own right. Characters in a novel need to have conflict of course - as without conflict there would be no story – and in Scotland there is plenty of it. Here, the soft rolling mists, the naturally diffused light, the ancient castles and old traditions are all traded off against the recognition of an incredibly harsh alter-ego of intensely dark winters, bitingly cold northern winds, midge-infested summers and the seemingly incessant rain.

Photo: View from St. Catherine's, Loch Fyne. By Trav Horton

So, readers, please share in the comment box which of your favourite books have locations that have become major characters in the story? I could site Scott F. Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Peter Mayle’s Hotel Pastis, and of course Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca as great examples.

Writers, where do you like to set your books and do you like to keep to the same location for all your books? Jilly Cooper is known for her Cotswold based 'Rutshire Chronicles' and some saga writers choose specific locations such as Liverpool or the East End of London. 

Don't forget you can follow and tweet me on Twitter @JaniceHorton

And on my Author Facebook Page you'll find links to all my latest books, news, reviews and interviews. What's not to 'like' - go on go on go on..? Thanks!