Mandy's Musings

Mandy's Musings

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Lynda Stacey tells all about her debut - House of Secrets!

Today I am chatting to Lynda Stacey about her debut released this week - House of Secrets. Great to have you here, Lynda! Make yourself comfortable and can I interest you in a Cornish Cream Tea?




Cream Tea?? Now you’re talking, of course you can.

The blurb for The House of Secrets is very intriguing. Can you tell me who discovers the main secret, or will that give the game away?

The secrets are hidden within a diary that’s found by Madeleine and the hero of the story Bandit. The diary belonged to the former owner of the house. The diary of Emily Ennis begins when she’s just a young lady, and takes you through her life, during which you find out the secrets that have been hidden for many years.


Ooh, sounds intriguing! Can I ask who is your favourite character and why?

My favourite character, Wow, that’s a hard question. I love them all. But, if I had to choose one, it would have to be Nomsa. She’s a lovely, happy-go-lucky Caribbean lady, with a huge personality. She works at the hotel and becomes a mother figure to Madeleine. She’s certainly someone I’d love to sit at the kitchen table with, drinking gallons of tea.
Talking of which…. Do pass a scone..!

Of course, more cream too? Now, which character do you like least and why?

Well… that really isn’t a hard question. I’d have to dislike Liam O’Grady. He’s Madeleine’s ex-partner. He’s cruel, nasty and terrifies poor Poppy, Madeleine’s young daughter.


But they do say that children are intuitive and Poppy is terrified for a reason. She’s managed to work Liam out very quickly and he knows it.

I see. Not sure I like the sound of him either. So which scene did you enjoy writing the most and which did you find the most difficult?

Gosh… I don’t think any of them were easy. It’s like asking me to climb Everest and then asking which step hurt the least lol.
If I really had to choose. I’d say that the most enjoyable, would probably be the one where Madeleine first see’s Wrea Head Hall.


It brought back all the feelings I had when I went to Wrea Head Hall for the very first time. My husband took me for my birthday, which is Christmas week. I remember driving towards it and seeing it towering up before me, gargoyles and all. I loved the way the amber lighting, along with the huge twenty foot Christmas tree shone back at me through the grand window and the way the log fires brought a feeling on ambience to each room. I remember the first moment I walked in through the huge, gothic, arched front door, I could feel the history seeping out of the walls. It was as thought the ghosts of the past were still there, but in a nice way and I knew right then that the house needed a great story.

The most difficult scene. That’s an easy one to answer, but I can’t. It would give away the story. But, I will reveal that I was sat one night, tapping away on my lap top, writing this scene, I almost threw it off of my knee. My husband looked at me in shock and asked what was wrong, and all I could say was, “I have no idea where all that came from, but if I don’t stop writing that scene now, I’ll give myself nightmares.”

Oh, I felt a shiver then... More tea? Okay, you have a dual time-frame in your novel. Which time period would you most like to live in, the present or the past?

I’d just like to live in a time when everyone got along. There’s so much hate in the world right now, it’s awful and to be honest. I don’t get it. There’s absolutely no need for it, everyone should be nice to one another. In my mind, it really wouldn’t and shouldn’t be that difficult.

Totally agree there! Can you tell me a little of what your WiP is about?
I’ve just finished writing my 3rd novel and I’m researching my 4th.  I was born a miner’s daughter, lived through the miners strikes and left school at an early age to find employment, so our family could eat. I thought it would be a good idea to write a time-slip, going back to the miners strikes, to the times when communities looked after each other and then, in the present day part of the novel, show how things have changed. I guess you could say that I‘m kind of going back to my roots.
Oh, and of course, there will be romance, and suspense, and probably murder…. But you’ll have to wait and see.

Can't wait!  Where do you find your inspiration? Is it always easy for you to come up with new writing ideas?

My problem is that I have too many ideas. I think I have some kind of ADHD, my brain never stops. I’m a very active person, which is why I work full time, run a home and write books. Just watching television on a night would drive me insane. I think I drive my husband mad by waking up in the middle of the night, thinking up and writing down future plots. Or I get up at stupid o’clock on a Saturday or Sunday morning to write. You’ll often see me logging onto Facebook or checking Twitter before six in the morning.
At the moment, I have a possible 7 different books that I could start.

My inspiration comes from life. I believe in romance, and in love, but I know from very personal experience that life isn’t always that simple. I’ve had a very diverse life and was married very young. My first husband was a narcissist, a very controlling man who also suffered with autism. Nothing had a grey area with him and unless you did things his way, he wasn’t happy and yes… I saw sense and eventually left. But I did live through it for 3 years.
  
I am similar to you regarding ideas - my brain won't switch off either!  And yes, life experience good and bad brings great inspiration. Which writers influenced you the most?

Again, so many. I’ve always loved so many genres and I think I’d miss someone out if I were to choose. But I can say that I loved all of your books, especially the Stitch in Time and the Cross Stitch, you can’t beat a bit of time travel. And what’s more, I’m really looking forward to reading your new book, Summer in Tintagel.

Oh that's so kind. Thank you! Did you have a dream to become a writer when you were little as I did?

I wanted to be an author for as long as I can remember. My father was a strict man and I would have to sit quietly for hours. Which is when I sat and wrote stories. At the age of 14, my English teacher advised that I look for a job in journalism, or followed my dream of being an author. But, just before leaving school, I went to my careers advice officer and he asked me what I wanted to do. I very proudly told him my ambitions and he rubbed his chin and said, “Have you ever thought of being a shop assistant, I hear they’re taking on at Boots the Chemist.” Hence to say, if I were to ever meet him again… I think I’d have a word or two to say to him.

Indeed. And where do you see yourself in two years in terms of your writing career?

Well… I’d like to still be sat here eating Cornish Cream Tea with you, but other than that, I’d like to think that I could do something good. It would be amazing to win an award and to be called an ‘award winning author’ or to sell so many books that I’d be able to put ‘best-selling author’ on the covers.

I’m very ambitious and if nothing else, I already have my sights set on completing another couple of books in that time.

And I'm sure you will achieve your aims too. Thanks so much for stopping by today and eating all the scones ... I mean sharing my Cream Tea! It has been lovely to chat! :)


Find out more about House of Secrets and Lynda below:

HOUSE OF SECRETS

Short Synopsis

A woman on the run, a broken man and a house with a shocking secret …

Madeleine Frost has to get away. Her partner Liam has become increasingly controlling to the point that Maddie fears for her safety, and that of her young daughter Poppy.
Desperation leads Maddie to the hotel owned by her estranged father – the extraordinarily beautiful Wrea Head Hall in Yorkshire. There, she meets Christopher ‘Bandit’ Lawless, an ex-marine and the gamekeeper of the hall, whose brusque manner conceals a painful past.
After discovering a diary belonging to a previous owner, Maddie and Bandit find themselves immersed in the history of the old house, uncovering its secrets, scandals, tragedies – and, all the while, becoming closer.
But Liam still won’t let go, he wants Maddie back, and when Liam wants something he gets it, no matter who he hurts …

Winner of Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks 2015 Search for a Star competition.

Author Bio
Lynda, is a wife, step-mother and grandmother, she grew up in the mining village of Bentley, Doncaster, in South Yorkshire.
She is currently the Sales Director of a stationery, office supplies and office furniture company in Doncaster, where she has worked for the past 25 years. Prior to this she’d also been a nurse, a model, an emergency first response instructor and a PADI Scuba Diving Instructor … and yes, she was crazy enough to dive in the sea with sharks, without a cage.
Following a car accident in 2008, Lynda was left with limited mobility in her right arm. Unable to dive or teach anymore, she turned to her love of writing, a hobby she’d followed avidly since being a teenager.

Her own life story, along with varied career choices helps Lynda to create stories of romantic suspense, with challenging and unpredictable plots, along with (as in all romances) very happy endings.
Lynda joined the Romantic Novelist Association in 2014 under the umbrella of the New Writers Scheme and in 2015, her debut novel House of Secrets won the Choc Lit & Whole Story Audiobooks Search for a Star competition.

She lives in a small rural hamlet near Doncaster, with her ‘hero at home husband’, Haydn, whom she’s been happily married to for over 20 years.


Link to Choc Lit

Link to Amazon

Facebook

Twitter
@Lyndastacey

Website




Monday, 20 June 2016

Summer in Tintagel - a sneaky peek!


I'm so excited that Summer in Tintagel will be out in a few short weeks! The 14th of July is publication day and the Kindle version is available for pre-order now. You can't see inside yet, so I thought I'd give you a sneaky peek at the opening lines. Hope you like them! 






Chapter One

Rosa kneels on the lawn. It is summer, but the grass is damp under her bare legs and she wishes that she had taken the picnic rug that Mummy had tried to give her just now. Mummy said that she was wilful and she’d have to learn by her own mistakes. Rosa wonders what wilful means as she pours water from the plastic teapot into a tiny cup and places it in front of Barney, her oldest teddy bear. Wilful is perhaps the same as stubborn. Daddy often says she is stubborn.
            ‘Would you like tea too, Miss Jemima Puddle-duck?’
A stuffed green and brown duck looks at her from its one glassy eye, but says nothing. Rosa nods. ‘Yes, of course you would. You can have a biscuit too.’
            Rosa puts cups in front of all her toys and looks back across the long expanse of grass towards her house. The sun hides itself behind a cloud, but that isn’t the reason she has goosebumps forming along her arms. She feels her heartbeat quicken and she tightens her grip on a biscuit. It crumbles and leaves as sticky smear of chocolate on her fingers. Rosa licks the chocolate, but her stomach rolls and she tries to blot out a voice in her head. Daddy will be angry, very angry.
            A scream pierces the silent afternoon. It comes from the house and it sounds like her mother. Rosa leans her back against a tree and draws her knees up under her chin. She looks at a grass stain on her white sock and her whole body begins to shake. A siren wails up the valley and she knows that something bad has happened. Very bad.
            She has been under the tree what feels like a long time, but then she sees Daddy burst from the house as if he has been fired like a bullet from a gun. His hair is messy and he runs his hands through it with wild jerky movements. Daddy’s tie is pulled to the side and he doesn’t look at all neat. Being neat is something he is very proud of. Rosa tries to make herself small, but he has seen her and runs towards her ... fast.
            Daddy kneels beside her and puts his big hands on her shoulders. He shakes her roughly. ‘This is all you fault! Dabbling in evil always ends in disaster, do you hear me?’
            ‘I ... I ... haven’t done anything ...’
            ‘Don’t lie! All this mumbo jumbo about ghostly old ladies appearing in my house and warning you to ...’ Daddy’s face looks like a Halloween mask and his mouth twists down at the corners.  ‘Never mind. You are going to your room and staying there for the rest of the day!’

            Rosa’s arm hurts where Daddy is squeezing it as he drags her back to the house. Her eyes fill, but she won’t let him see. She is glad she is going to her room, because she doesn’t want to know exactly what has happened; the bad thing that has made Daddy so angry. Rosa has a good idea already and this makes her so sad that she can hardly breathe...

Friday, 20 May 2016

The Little Things

I know the new IKEA advert is quite sentimental, but the tag line stuck in my head. It is something along the lines of - enjoy the little things in life, because one day you will realise that they were the big things. Now, this won't make me rush out and buy IKEA products, but it has encouraged me to think more about the little things. 




My five-year-old grandson picked these for me today as we walked from his school. As we threaded through the crowds of children, he kept stopping and picking them from the verge even though his friends were around. His little face showed love and pride as he presented me with the tiny bouquet. He said, 'These are for you, Mimi.' 

As you can imagine, I found I'd a lump in my throat. Not because he'd picked me daisys, buttercups and a dandelion, but because he was totally oblivious to the social pressures that some of the older children in his school would be aware of. In a few years time, it will be uncool for him to pick his Mimi flowers, or to do or say lots of other wonderful sweet and innocent things that he amazes me with on a daily basis.

So I will treasure these flowers in their egg cup vase, because they are a symbol of the little things in life being the big things ... in fact, I'd say that they are bloody huge things.






Monday, 2 May 2016

Three Extracts

Well it's May and the last post on here was February - I know, scandalous! So I thought you might like a look at three extracts from my latest works.

First up, Summer in Tintagel - out on the 14th of July, Cast Away Stones, finished a few months ago, and The Calico Cat finished just last week!

I am a bit of a writing machine at the mo, though I think I will have a rest now. The extracts are all very different from each other. I hope you like them! Oh, and if any talent scouts or Hollywood producers fancy getting in touch, just form an orderly queue...




Rosa kneels on the lawn. It is summer, but the grass is damp under her bare legs and she wishes that she had taken the picnic rug that Mummy had tried to give her just now. Mummy said that she was wilful and she’d have to learn by her own mistakes. Rosa wonders what wilful means as she pours water from the plastic teapot into a tiny cup and places it in front of Barney, her oldest teddy bear. Wilful is perhaps the same as stubborn. Daddy often says she is stubborn.
            ‘Would you like tea too, Miss Jemima Puddleduck?’
A stuffed green and brown duck looks at her from its one glassy eye, but says nothing. Rosa nods. ‘Yes, of course you would. You can have a biscuit too.’
            Rosa puts cups in front of all her toys and looks back across the long expanse of grass towards her house. The sun hides itself behind a cloud, but that isn’t the reason she has goosebumps forming along her arms. She feels her heartbeat quicken and she tightens her grip on a biscuit. It crumbles and leaves as sticky smear of chocolate on her fingers. Rosa licks the chocolate, but her stomach rolls and she tries to blot out a voice in her head. Daddy will be angry, very angry.
            A scream pierces the silent afternoon. It comes from the house and it sounds like her mother. Rosa leans her back against a tree and draws her knees up under her chin. She looks at a grass stain on her white sock and her whole body begins to shake. A siren wails up the valley and she knows that something bad has happened. Very bad.
            She has been under the tree what feels like a long time, but then she sees Daddy burst from the house as if he has been fired like a bullet from a gun. His hair is messy and he runs his hands through it with wild jerky movements. Daddy’s tie is pulled to the side and he doesn’t look at all neat. Being neat is something he is very proud of. Rosa tries to make herself small, but he has seen her and runs towards her ... fast.
            Daddy kneels beside her and puts his big hands on her shoulders. He shakes her roughly. ‘This is all you fault! Dabbling in evil always ends in disaster, do you hear me?’
            ‘I ... I ... haven’t done anything ...’
            ‘Don’t lie! All this mumbo jumbo about ghostly old ladies appearing in my house and warning you about ...’ Daddy’s face looks like a Halloween mask and his mouth twists down at the corners.  ‘Never mind. You are going to your room and staying there for the rest of the day!’
            Rosa’s arm hurts where Daddy is squeezing it as he drags her back to the house. Her eyes fill, but she won’t let him see. She is glad she is going to her room, because she doesn’t want to know exactly what has happened; the bad thing that has made Daddy so angry. Rosa has a good idea already and this makes her so sad that she can hardly breathe...

CAST AWAY STONES


Sunday morning in our street looked the same as it did on every other day except that privet hedges looked less green, the windows hid behind curtains, flowers in gardens seemed a little more faded and the garden gnomes looked hung-over. It was though the week had been so hard to deal with that the collective energy of houses, humans, plants and gnomes alike had been reduced to emergency levels only. Today being the first of August and the third of a heat wave added an extra layer of apathy and inertia, unbroken even by the tolling of St Bartholomew’s bell calling all parishioners, willing or reluctant to morning service.
            Adelaide closed our front door behind her and hurried down the path towards me. 
‘Right, I’m off to church and I have just popped the roast in so it will be well on the way when I get back.’ She cocked her head birdlike to one side and looked me up and down. ‘Now, don’t worry about anything while you’re away. I’ll look after your dad. This is your time, go for it, as you young ones say.’ Her lips twitched at the corners and then lifted for at least two seconds.
            There was an unexpected lump of emotion growing in my throat, and before I could talk myself out of it, I stepped forward and put my arms around her. She felt solid and dependable and I wondered what I’d do without her. Adelaide said something that sounded like, ‘Awumha’ and patted my back a little too hard.
            ‘I can’t begin to thank you for everything you’ve done lately, Adelaide,’ I said looking away from her moist eyes, in case mine tried to copy them.
Adelaide flapped her hand and looked into the boot of my car. ‘Nonsense, I did what any good neighbour worth her salt would have done.’ She eyed the iron and frowned.
‘We both know that’s not true,’ I said, closing the boot and leaning my hip against it. ‘You made me realise it was time to cast away stones and that was the most important thing ever.’
Her mouth twitched again and she nodded. ‘Good. I’m glad. And now I’d better pop off or I’ll be late. Safe journey.’ She touched my cheek lightly and then I watched her small figure hurry away down the street. As she passed each house, it seemed to me that the privet hedges and flowers regained their colour, the windows threw back their curtains and the garden gnomes stood to attention and saluted her. Okay, perhaps the last bit was taking things too far...
                                                
                                              THE CALICO CAT


My sketch pad is at the ready for those wildflowers, and maybe even a dolphin if we get up early enough on this holiday. Sunrise, dolphins and ocean, who could want for more? I hug Algernon to my chest and inhale the scent of wildflowers, ozone and banana and exhale a heart-swell of peace, calm and happiness.
Happiness is funny isn’t it? Elusive for some, taken for granted by others and unrecognised by many. We are encouraged to think that happiness comes wrapped around a new car, house, various expensive this that or the others, or maybe it is hidden in the in arms of a lover – the Mr or Miss Right that we all must find.
This soulmate has to be everything we dreamed they would be, or if they are not, we pretend that they are and hide our disappointment. To go through life without our ‘other halves’ is to show the world that we have failed, that there’s something wrong with us. Then, once we have found our soulmate and amassed our expensive this that and the others, we need to make sure our success is passed on to future generations.  Children are the cherry on the cake, the completion of our world - our happiness.
I worry that while many are in (often futile) pursuit of the all above, they might miss the delicate and wondrous beauty of a wildflower, a butterfly, the scent of the sea, a sun warmed stone, the feel of wet sand under bare feet, the taste of fresh baked bread. Does that make me sound pompous? Self satisfied? I think it might, but I don’t mean it to.
I certainly don’t claim to have all the answers, and I know I am very lucky not to have to worry about the practical day-to-day, but I wish people would take their gaze from the monolith of ‘happiness’ more often, slow its relentless build, and instead, truly appreciate the daisy growing through the crack in its brickwork...

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Summer in Tintagel out in July!

This is the cover reveal of Summer in Tintagel! Isn't it fab!! I'm so excited and can't wait to see it in the flesh. Here's the blurb:

We all have secrets……

Ambitious journalist Rosa Fernley has been asked to fulfil her grandmother Jocelyn’s dying wish. Jocelyn has also passed on a secret - in the summer of 1968, fleeing from the terror of a bullying husband, she visited the mysterious Tintagel Castle. Jocelyn wasn’t seeking love, but she found it on the rugged clifftops in the shape of Jory, a local man as enigmatic and alluring as the region itself. But she was already married, and knew her husband would never let her find happiness and peace in Jory’s arms. Now as her days are nearing their end, she begs Rosa to go back to Tintagel, but is unwilling, or unable, to tell her why.

Rosa is reluctant - she has a job in London, a deadline that won’t wait and flights of fancy are just not in her nature. Nevertheless, she realises it might be the last thing she will do for her beloved grandmother and agrees to go.

Once in Tintagel, Rosa is challenged to confront secrets of her own, as shocking events threaten to change everything she has ever believed about herself and her family. She also meets a guide to the castle, Talan, a man who bears a striking resemblance to Jory...
Will the past remain cloaked in tragedy, sadness and the pain of unrequited love? Or can Rosa find the courage and strength to embrace the secrets of the past, and give hope to the future?


You can see my author page and more about Urbane Publications here. I'll keep you posted!!

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Win a Signed Copy of Cross Stitch!

To celebrate the paperback publication of Cross Stitch, sequel to A Stitch in Time, I thought I'd run a little competition :)

All you have to do is answer a simple question about A Stitch in Time, AND tell me, if time travel was really possible, (which it is of course ) which time period in history would you travel to and why?

Now for the question - What occupation does Sarah have in A Stitch in Time?

Leave your name and answers as a comment on this blog. If for some reason you can't comment,send your answers in an email to - mandykjames@hotmail.co.uk

I will announce the winner on Saturday 7th of November, which is the official publication day for Cross Stitch! Your copy is here in this box, just waiting for a home,...

Good luck!



Saturday, 16 May 2015

How Many Words Did You Write Today?

At the beginning of the week I decided that I would write a thousand words a day, come hell or high water. I used to write at least twice that and sometimes more, but hell and high water have featured more than I would like in my life lately, so I thought I'd cut myself some slack. Now, when I say hell and high water, I don't want you to worry. I don't have a life-threatening illness or anything like that, just lots of little things keep going wrong and some big ones too. Things to do with my aged parents, problems with material things we own such as our old car, disappointment regarding finding a home for my latest book, that kind of thing. Anyway, things conspired against my thousand words a day and so I managed only three and a bit ( thousand of course, not single words) since Monday.

This morning I decided I would do those thousand words, but so far have only managed one hundred and thirty-one, but I have decided it doesn't matter. They are the first words of chapter six and I think they are pretty good words. I expect they might get swapped around, deleted or changed in some way, but I am happy with them. Isn't that what matters? Surely to have a few words that you are happy with is better than having lots of words that are just okay. Anyway, I thought I would share my one hundred and thirty-one words with you. Hope you like them too.

July dawns were like notes of hope. They reminded the days to be bright, fresh and summery.

 Sometimes the days forgot to read the notes, or preferred to sit under rainclouds or hemmed in by thick walls of pollution. But sometimes they paid attention. Today was a note reading day. I watched from my window as the muted dawn-light revealed the purple shadows and sages of the garden as a base coat, while gradually adding the bolder brushstrokes of sunlight to transform the canvas into a kaleidoscope of dazzling colour. In corner barrels, lupins boasted pink and blue, in hanging baskets, yellow primroses glowed under the blush of red geraniums, and in the foreground, the huge white rose bush Mum had loved presented a myriad of dew-covered buds, pregnant with fragrance.