Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My First London Book Launch - at The Chocolate Museum

And now I'm back on Australian soil having had the most varied and interesting five weeks overseas. The first few weeks in Norway were a whirl (and will be covered in my next blog post) while the highlight of my final week in England was catching up with old friends, and attending my book launch at The Chocolate Museum, a lovely atmospheric venue (which served the best coffee with chocolate zest I've ever tasted) and which had an upstairs and downstairs where our book-loving guests could mingle with other writers, friends, bloggers and reviewers.

Waiting to begin... Me (Beverley Eikli), Janet Gover, Choc Lit MD Lyn Vernham, and The Chocolate Museum's Isabelle
Janet Gover reads an extract from Flight to Coorah Creek

Since I was a little girl in Australia and used to read aloud to my younger sisters the series of books I'd written entitled: The School for Witches", I'd dreamed of having a book launch in London. It took a long time to get the first book published (Lady Sarah's Redemption which was published by Robert Hale in 2009) and a few more years before I was actually in London with a book just released. This was my latest and favourite Regency-set drama and intrigue-filled romance, The Maid of Milan, published by the wonderful Choc Lit.
Now it was my turn to talk about The Reluctant Bride, my first book with Choc Lit, and The Maid of Milan,
that was being launched.

Choc Lit's enterprising Luke Roberts came up with the fabulous idea of having the launch at The Chocolate Museum and once I'd firmed up my travel arrangements, a date was set and the word was out. And a very popular event it proved to be, which is no wonder since so many Choc Lit authors were in attendance.
     My goodness, it was fantastic to see so many of them, as well as others from the writing world. Not to mention some old friends of mine whom I'd not seen for 30 years.
I sent my 8-year-old off with a camera. Naturally she wasn't interested in taking shots of people.
Below, in yellow, is my old room mate, Jenny Latham with whom I shared a room at Ames House in Hampstead when we were 18 years old. My time at the old converted mansion at 26 Netherhall Gardens, Hampstead, is branded on my memory. Donated by its owner in 1901 to 'protect the morals of young working girls in London', it housed 24 of us, including a model who'd just made the cover of German Vogue magazine, to a range of young students including myself who was studying costume design during the day and working at Smiles Cafe in Picadilly at night. My Saturday job was to dress up as Smiles the Bear for children's parties. I've had a few odd jobs in my life but this was one of the most dangerous as I was really far too short for the enormous furry bear costume with the Big Bear boots I had to wear to stumble up and down the stairs from the kitchen to the entertainment room.
    Well, I never expected to see Jenny at my launch! The last time we met was during our bicycle and youth hosteling trip around the south-west of England over 25 years ago! What a trooper! I'd been told she was too unwell to travel.
     Also at the launch were my old friends from my childhood in Lesotho, the Chapmans, who'd also travelled a great distance to be at the launch. 

Catching up with old friends from when I was 18 in London (Jenny Latham in yellow) and old friends from Lesotho Days when I was a child, Mark and Pat Chapman and son Adrian Chapman

Janet in the foreground, while in the background Choc Lit publicist Holly La-Touche stands by the door and Luke Roberts looks after the books.

Jenny and me having a chat with Henri Gyland in the background
 Below are my other two friends from my old Hampstead days - both of whom I've not seen for 30 years, Hugh and Robert. It's amazing how easy it is to pick up where one left off when one's reuniting with friends from one's formative youth.
Eivind photographed the two of us while Hugh Jaeger and Robert Porch (friends from Hyelm in Hampstead days from when we were all 18) photographed him photographing us.

Yes, it's hard to believe it's been 30 years since we painted London red as 18-year-olds. Well, we actually didn't ever really paint the town red but we had a lot of fun. We were rather good 18-year-olds, although I do remember one night which put me off Dubonet and ever thinking about smoking for the rest of my life.

Me, Jenny and Jenny's daughter, the lovely, pro-active Camilla, who organised the surprise reunion.
 I wish the book launch could have gone on a good deal longer so that I could have talked to more people. There were so many I felt I really knew through long email correspondence though we'd not met, and others I'd not seen in years whom I'd have loved to have really caught up with, and still others whose names I knew and wanted to meet properly.
     All in all, it was a great evening, and Luke and Lyn and Holly and The Chocolate Museum's Isabelle and Alessandra did a fantastic job to make it one that will remain a wonderful memory forever.

And after an enormously fun evening, Eivind and I took the tube home - and the inevitable selfie.

During the launch Lyn gave me the audiobook of The Reluctant Bride. My first audio book!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Our five minutes of fame

Today was certainly a day of contrasts. We spent last night at cabin at Trysil on the lake, and had a beautiful morning playing on the snow and ice. Then we drove back to Hamar in time for the ice hockey match where we were interviewed as the Australian family who'd travelled the longest to see the Storhamar Dragons beat Vaalerenga 3:2 in the last 23 seconds. (Of course, my five minutes of fame would be the only day this trip I  hadn't brushed my hair or put on make-up but as my daughter says, 'When you're as old as you are, mummy, does it really matter?' 

Twenty years ago Eivind took me to my first ice hockey match at the  then newly built stadium, just after we'd just left living in Botswana and he was introducing me to his Norwegian family before we took up our year's flying survey contract in Namibia.

Tonight was lots of fun. It's wonderful to be part of such a large, welcoming family.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

It's Raining Books - and a Great Review

I'm delighted with this Review from It's Raining Books on The Maid of Milan:

"I began reading this story expecting it to be another typical Regency romance. Wrong. This was certainly not a typical story of any kind. 

Addy is married to Tristan and loves him dearly. However, he doesn’t really allow himself to get very close to her. Her mother appears to actually hate her, and does everything in her power to disrupt her marriage. In spite of this, Addy is beginning to get closer to Tristan and her to her.

Then Tristan’s best friend, James, comes to town with his very young fiancé, Beatrice. Unknown to Tristan and Beatrice, James and Addy had been involved years before, and she had become pregnant with his child. Upon his return, he spends most of his time neglecting his young fiancé, and chases after Addy. She now wants nothing to do with him, realizing what a mistake she had made in the first place. 

She spends so much time trying to avoid him, while her husband keeps trying to encourage her be more friendly to him. I really began to love both Tristan and Addy, and hoped that they could work out their difficulties. It was almost impossible, however, as her mother kept putting everything possible in the way of her happiness.

I kept reading and hoping for a happy conclusion, but couldn’t figure out how it could possibly end happily. This author was wonderful and managed to surprise me with the ending and the result was not what I expected but even better. 

I highly recommend this story to anyone who is not looking for a typical romance. This is even better. I give it 4 flowers."

Here is the blog belonging to the three lovely lovely book addicts who liked my book :)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Who's Tagging Whom?

Recently I was tagged by Australian rural romance writer, Heather Garside, whom I'm very much looking forward to meeting at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Sydney in August. Below, is Heather's Bio, followed by four questions I've answered, and then my three tagged authors. I hope you're excited to learn a bit about all these talented writers and the wonderful stories they write.

Heather Garside
I grew up on a cattle property of 47,000 acres in Central Queensland,  Australia.  As a child I loved horses, books and the bush.  Not a lot has changed although I have also grown to appreciate the finer things in life, especially good food!
My husband and I now have a cattle and grain farm close to where I grew up.  We have two grown children. My daughter lives in the Adelaide Hills, South Australia, with her husband.  Our son has set up a metal fabrication workshop on our farm.
Many years ago I published a historical romance with a local setting. Having a family interrupted the flow and I didn’t seriously get back to writing until the children were older.  I finally sold an historical novel, The Cornstalk,  to Wings ePress and a few months later they purchased its sequel, A Hidden Legacy.
In May this year my rural romance, Breakaway Creek, was published by Clan Destine Press. The eBook is selling well and it is now available in paperback.
As well as being a member of the Romance Writers of Australia, I belong to a local writers’ group which meets once a month.  We’ve published three books of short stories, Boots At The Door, A Taste Of Fear and Pot Luck: Stories of the Central Highlands. I’ve had several short stories and a couple of poems included in these anthologies.
In 2008 I helped compile a book to commemorate my home town’s 125th anniversary. I’m also one of a group of volunteers who once a month put together a newsletter of the happenings around our town.
In between farm duties, volunteer work and writing, I also work part-time at the local library – a writer’s dream job!
And now for my four questions, which each author answers before they tag another three authors.

 Q1 What am I working on?
I’m on a final polish of a 1960s illegal diamond-buying romantic suspense (working title Lammergeier Rock) set in the African mountain kingdom of Lesotho where I spent my early years and where my father was a District Commissioner in Mokhotlong, the most remote outpost of the British Empire.

Dad prosecuted a number of illegal diamond buying and medicine murder cases, which feature in my story, against a backdrop of the final years of the Colonial Administration. The hero of my story is a bush pilot, based on my own handsome Norwegian bush pilot husband whom I met when I was running a luxury safari camp in Botswana. There’s lots of drama, angst, envy and passion as my pilot risks his career (when he’s on the cusp of getting his dream job on a South African Airways 707) to save the District Commissioner’s daughter from political and social ruin.

Q2 How does my work differ from others in the genre?

Although my last two books were Regencies, they focus more on the grit rather than the glitter of an era better known for its glamour. More and more, reviewers have described them as historicals with romantic elements, rather than straight historical romances - and definitely not 'fluffy' as one reviewer was recently at pains to point out.

So, Regency grit, rather than Regency glitter would sum it up.
Q3 Why do I write what I write?
I'm inspired by how a woman might wield power when she lives in an era with no political and few legal rights, and is dependent upon her closest male relative for financial support; in other words for survival. In my newly released book The Maid of Milan (described as 'Dynasty' written in a style reminiscent of Anthony Trollope's 'The Pallisers'), my heroine, Adelaide, has made a life-changing error of judgment as a naïve and impressionable debutante. I wanted to explore how ‘the folly of youth’ could impact on the rest of a woman’s life.

Q4 How does my writing process work?

I’m a morning person which is when I prefer to write, but it depends on how easy it was to get kids to bed the night before, and how quick it was to clean the house or prepare for the next day, as to how tired I am to write at 5.30am or 6am. My husband now is a long-haul pilot on the 777 so away for days at a time, so I have a very two-tiered schedule.

I'm able to throw down a rough and dirty draft amidst noise and chaos, but I prefer absolute silence for subsequent edits. Usually I have two or three stories on the go at various stages of completion. I might write one to half way, brainstorm the ending, but not write the second half for some months as I edit the other two.

And now I shall tag my three authors. The first are two fellow Choc Lit Authors, Liz Harris from the UK and Zana Bell, from New Zealand. The third is fellow Ellora's Cave author, Susana Ellis, from the US. A very multicultural bunch, I'm sure you'd agree :)

So, to begin, here is Susana Ellis...

Susana Ellis

A former teacher, Susana is finally living her dream of being a full-time writer. She loves all genres of romance, but historical—Regency in particular—is her favorite. There's just something about dashing heroes and spunky heroines waltzing in ballrooms and driving through Hyde Park that appeals to her imagination.
In real life, Susana is a lifelong resident of northwest Ohio, although she has lived in Ecuador and studied in Spain, France, and Mexico. More recently, she was able to travel around England and visit many of the places she's read about for years. . . and it was awesome! She is a member of the Maumee Valley and Beau Monde chapters of Romance Writers of America.
You can find her here:
Web site • Email • Facebook • Twitter • Linked In • Pinterest • Google+
Susana’s Parlour (Regency Blog) • Susana’s Morning Room (Romance Blog)

And buy the book here: 

My next tagged author is Liz Harris

Fellow Choc Lit author Liz Harris
Liz Harris: Biography

Liz was born in London. After graduating from university with a Law degree, she moved to California for six years where she led a varied life, from waitressing on Sunset Strip to working as secretary to the CEO of a large Japanese trading company.

Returning to Britain, she completed a London University degree in English and taught for a number of years, contributing weekly articles on education to a local newspaper for almost six of those years.

Her novels published to date: THE ROAD BACK (2012) and A BARGAIN STRUCK (2013) were published in paperback by Choc Lit. EVIE UNDERCOVER (2012) and THE ART OF DECEPTION (2013) have been published by Choc Lit Lite as ebooks.

In addition to her novels, Liz has written several short stories which have been published in anthologies. A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, she’s the organiser of the RNA’s Oxford Chapter. She’s also a member of the Historical Novel Society and of the Oxford Writers’ Group.

Liz’s two sons live in London, while she and her husband now live in South Oxfordshire. 

Mail Order Bride romance
set in 1880s Wyoming
BUY Amazon UK
Amazon US

My third tagged author is

Zana Bell writes in a variety of genre, her novels covering YA, historical, and contemporary and historical romance. Her second novel, Forbidden Frontier (Mira) based on Charlotte Badger, Australian convict and pirate and New Zealand’s first known English woman migrant won the Cataromance Single Title’s 10 Best Books of 2008.  She won the Cataromance Reviewers’ Award 2010 for Tempting the Negotiator (Harlequin Superromance). In 2012 she was shortlisted for the New Zealand Society of Authors Mid-Careers Grant.
Her most recent book is a New Zealand historical, romantic adventure Close to the Wind (ChocLit)