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I can't believe Christmas is over for another year. You all know how much I love it... so guess what. I'm having a giveaway of a few extra Christmas presents in my Carry on Christmas Lucky Dip. Click, 'Continue Reading' to find out how to enter to win one of six lovely prizes.

2 June 2015

Ship to shore

It's been a very long time since I wrote a blog post but one of my New Year resolutions was to write blogs again so as it's June, I thought I'd better get started.

What better way to start than with a little post about my recent, Mediterranean cruise? I only booked this holiday on the 17th of May and I left Gatwick on the 20th, so it was a bit of a mad rush. This is the ship, Oceana, in a not-so-sunny, Venice.

   

Finally, after several delays and schedule changes, here it is: the cover for 'A Slippery Slope'. And I'm sooooooo excited! It won't be out until next year but I've been wanting to reveal the cover for months, so it's been a very long wait for me!

You'll probably remember that I wrote the first draft of this book in January 2013 and the summary was at the back of my July release, 'Sailing Solo'. The problem was (as most of you know) this year I've had to have four ... yes four, operations, two of which were rather sudden, so my schedule has taken a bit of a bashing, as well as my body.

Our original publishing schedule was 'Sailing Solo' in June, 'A Slippery Slope' in early September and 'Carole Singer's Christmas' in late October. But something had to give! We rescheduled 'Sailing Solo' to the end of July and decided to postpone 'A Slippery Slope' until the end of the year. We considered releasing it in mid-December but I've got a little surprise for you coming out in December - and yet another operation looming! So we put our heads together and agreed to release 'A Slippery Slope' next year.

So that's it. 'A Slippery Slope' will now be released in April 2014, more than a year after I wrote the first draft! That's a novelty for me. The back cover summary is on my books page, if you haven't already read about the book in the back of 'Sailing Solo' or 'Carole Singer's Christmas' - it's in both. I couldn't wait any longer to show you the absolutely gorgeous cover though. I'll admit it: I'm in love with this cover. I hope you like it as much as I do. Without further ado, here it is. Ta dah!

27 October 2013

Competition Time!

Competition Time!

It's competition time! To celebrate the launch of my Christmas novel, 'Carole Singer's Christmas', I'm running two competitions. One is exclusive to my newsletter subscribers and includes my new book and other lovely goodies. This second one is open to all UK residents (including my newsletter subscribers).

'Carole Singer's Christmas' is a light-hearted, humorous romance and it will be available on Amazon as an eBook from the 30th of October and in paperback a few days later. The first chapter is on my WIP page (until the book is out) if you want to read it but if you just want to enter the competition, click the 'continue reading' button for details.

I'm very excited about this, especially as I absolutely looooove Christmas. So let's have a peal of silver bells please and sing along with me to, It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas and I'll unwrap the cover of my fifth humorous romance, Carole Singer's Christmas.

The ebook and paperback will be available to buy on Amazon at the end of October but without further ado. Here it is.

Ta dah!

I love a party; any party, anytime, anywhere but there's something rather special, in a weird sort of way, about an online virtual party. And when it's an online virtual party to launch a new book, well, that's very special indeed. So as you can imagine I was particularly thrilled when the very funny - as in funny ha,ha (wasn't she an actress or something?) not as in funny peculiar - Lynda Renham, asked me if I'd like to take part in the online launch party for her new book, 'The Valentine Present and other diabolical liberties'. Don't you just love that title?

 

7 August 2013

Cocktail, anyone?

Cocktail, anyone?

My fourth novel, 'Sailing Solo' was released at the end of July. It's a humorous romance set in Greece, where Willa Daventry runs sailing holidays for single people from her base at the beautiful, Argolis Bay Hotel.

Willa and her best friend, Blossom, like a drink and Blossom's favourite cocktail is a Screaming Orgasm. Well, who doesn't like those? Laughing

Any hoo... that got me thinking. (I have been known to do that.) Why don't I have a cocktail invented for Willa? So I set off to do some research.

Luckily for me I met the delightful, Tom at my local cocktail bar, 'Walkers', in Hastings town centre, and he agreed to help me.

Here is an excerpt from my fourth novel, 'Sailing Solo'. It's a humorous romance and it will be available on Amazon as an eBook from the 24th of July and in paperback a few days later. To read the excerpt, click on the 'continue reading' button. You'll see the back cover summary first so that you know what 'Sailing Solo' is about. Just scroll down to read the excerpt. I hope you enjoy it.

4 June 2013

Leibster Award

Thank you so much, Anita Chapman for nominating my blog for a Liebster Award. It was a lovely surprise and couldn't have come at a better time. I won't bore you with the details but the last few weeks have not been good so this has made my day! Smile Anita's blog is always an interesting read so do pop over and take a look. She's also a lovely lady and is very supportive so thanks again, Anita.

The rules:

 

  • Thank Liebster Blog Award nominator on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you;
  • Answer the eleven questions from the nominator;
  • List eleven random facts about yourself;
  • Present the Liebster Blog Award to up to eleven blogs and let them know they’ve been chosen;
  • Pass on the eleven questions to your nominees, or create new ones;
  • Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.

Here are my answers to the questions forwarded by Anita:

 

1 April 2013

And so it begins

Monday, 1st of April 2013. I select a new, blank page on Microsoft Word and type the words, 'Chapter One'. And so it begins. I have started writing my fourth book. Simples! Only another 80,000 or so to go and I'll be typing the words, 'The End'. Well, if only it were that simple.

This is the title of my third book and like the first two, it's a light-hearted, humorous romance. It's being released at the end of the month and I'm very excited about it.

Subscribers to my newsletter have already seen the back cover summary but I thought I'd share it on my blog, so read on to find out what it's about. I'll be showing you the gorgeous cover, very soon.

Today is Father's Day and for me, that means both happy and sad memories. I was very close to my dad and I still miss him almost every single day, nearly six years after his passing. He was one of those strong, silent types when it came to expressing his emotions but he felt things deeply and on more than one occasion I saw a tear in his eye. It was usually when one of us was leaving or returning home or when we'd done something to make him proud but once or twice, it was because he was sad. More often than not he'd blame it on dust or some such thing but he'd grin and we both knew the truth of the matter.
I think it is because of Dad that I seem to have generally good relationships with men - and I don't mean the romantic kind. I can honestly say that I have more male friends than I do female (is that a good or a bad thing?) Well, whatever it is, it means that I like to think I know a little about how men 'tick'. (Famous last words!) Foot in mouth
Don't get me wrong, I'm no expert and when it comes to falling in love with one, I'm as lost as the next woman, but it does mean that there are a few things that I can say with (almost) absolute certainty. I'm sure you all know these already but see if you agree with me or if I've left anything out.

I'm not sure I've totally grasped the subject of genre. Here are a few definitions, as I understand them:

Paranormal mystery - My life.
Romantic Comedy - My love life.
Gothic Horror - My reflection, first thing in the morning.
Cosy Crime - My cooking ability.
Thriller - My shopping trip to Sainsburys.
Fantasy Fiction - My life, as described by my friends.
Historical Romance - The best years of my life.
Memoir - Something to do with my life ... I can't remember what.

I do hope that was helpful. Laughing

© Emily Harvale 2013

29 January 2013

I have been adopted!

I have been adopted!

No form filling. No background checks. Nothing. He just strolled in, decided he liked me (and my home) and he hasn't left since - other than to go out to check on his territory and to carry out certain bodily functions, that is. Yep, that's right. I've been adopted by a cat.

1 January 2013

Help! Too many ideas

Plot ideas are usually welcomed by novelists, with keyboard-tapping glee - but what happens when we have too many at once?
I have a picture on the wall near my desk, of Hans Christian Andersen. It's one I've had since I was very young and I used to love it. All those images dancing before his eyes. Simply magical. Recently though, it has acquired an almost sinister, aura. And I'll tell you why.

 

23 December 2012

Merry Christmas

I just want to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

I hope your Christmas is filled with happiness, love and laughter.

For those who don't celebrate Christmas, I wish you a happy time.

The Best Christmas Cake Recipe Ever - Probably!

My grandmother’s Christmas cake recipe

This is the Christmas cake I’ve been making every year, since I was a little girl, old enough to help my grandmother. She was an instinctive cook, never weighing ingredients but judging by taste and consistency and everything she served, was absolutely delicious! This cake is no exception and without fail, every friend I have given this recipe to, has said that it is the best cake they’ve ever tasted. The best cake requires the best ingredients so do, please, buy free range eggs (not just because they are much tastier but also for ethical reasons-you’ll be happier knowing the hens are enjoying a better quality of life!) and PLEASE do not use anything other than real butter – it just won’t taste as good, nor will it be the correct consistency. Okay, lecture over. Here’s the list of ingredients:

1 kg fruit (I use 300g sultanas + 300g currants + 400g raisins, but you can mix as you choose)
300g glace cherries (I like lots of cherries in my cake but you can use less)
75g mixed peel (you don't have to use this but it does add to the flavour)
200 ml brandy (NOT brandy essence)
300g plain flour
1 teaspoon mixed spice
half a teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated, if possible)
300g butter (softened)
4 large eggs (free range)
100g chopped nuts (I use pecans and hazelnuts, grandmother used brazil nuts and walnuts, but use any nuts or combination of nuts, you like and chop fairly small. )
250g dark muscovado sugar
1 tablespoon black treacle
zest of orange and lemon (grated, unwaxed)

Method:

1. Put all the fruit including cherries and mixed peel into a saucepan with the brandy and bring to the boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Once cooled, cover (lid/tea-towel/plate) and leave overnight.

2. Remove eggs and butter from the fridge and allow them to reach room temperature.

3. Preheat your oven to gas mark 2

4. Prepare your tin. I use either a 20cm square tin or a 23cm round tin. If yours is a different size, you will need to adjust your cooking times. I use baking parchment but greaseproof paper is fine. Lightly grease the tin then line with a double layer on the bottom and the sides.

5. In a large bowl, mix the butter and sugar together until creamy, then add the grated lemon and orange zest.

6. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

7. Add the black treacle and stir in, then sift in the remaining dry ingredients (flour, mixed spice and nutmeg)

8. Add the nuts and mix in, then add the fruit mixture.

9. This is the point at which tradition demands you make a wish! You must stir the mixture three times with a wooden spoon and make your wish. All the family can take a turn. This is also where you taste the mixture to see if you want to add any more spices. Your choice entirely – but not too much! Extra brandy and (or sherry) should NOT be added here, that comes later, but a glass of sherry or some other beverage should be drunk at this time, to toast the cake.

10. Put the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the centre of the oven for approximately 3 hours. To stop the top of the cake from browning too quickly, I loosely cover it with one layer of baking parchment.

11. Check the cake is cooked by inserting a skewer (or knife) into the centre. It should come out clean – or almost clean. If it doesn’t, leave your cake in the oven for longer, checking again after fifteen minutes or so. Some of my friends have had to leave theirs in for up to half an hour longer – it really does depend on your oven. Mine takes 3 hours.

12. When cooked, leave your cake in the tin and cover it with tin foil. This keeps in the moisture while the cake cools.

13. When it’s cold, remove the cake from the tin. You can make a few little holes with a skewer or knife and add some more brandy (or sherry) - but not too much. Then, wrap the cake in a layer of greaseproof paper and a layer of tin foil and store it in an airtight container. I add a drop of brandy to the cake once a week every week, until I decorate it, a day or two before Christmas Day.

To ice/decorate the cake:

A day or two before Christmas Day, unwrap your cake. Warm some apricot jam (with chunks of fruit removed or seive after warming). Spread a thin layer of jam over the top and sides of the cake. Add a layer of marzipan then ice, or ice directly onto the cake.

I use marzipan on the sides but I ice the top without. I make polar bears and snowmen from white icing and I then mix together some icing sugar and a small amount of desiccated coconut and sprinkle this mixture over the cake when the icing is dry. It looks just like freshly fallen snow!

I also sprinkle this mixture over my Chocolate Log, for the same reason and over some of my mince pies.

If you make this cake, I'd love to know what you think of it. You can make it at any time up to a few days before Christmas Day but I make it during the second week of November, as my mother and grandmother did. You can make it months in advance and freeze it but I never do; it's part of the build up to the festivities to make it in November. Don't forget to get the entire family involved during the stirring and wishing process. Those are the sort of memories we keep with us throughout our lives.

1 November 2012

New Cover

It's here! I'm thrilled to be able to share with you, the beautiful cover for Lizzie Marshall's Wedding. Of course, if you're a subscriber to my newsletter, you'll have seen this last week, because you are always the first to see anything about my books. I've also shown it to a few colleagues, close friends and family, but now, everyone can see it. Yay!

I’m conjuring up a spell to find my one, true-love, as part of the lovely Janice Horton’s, Spellbindingly Fun Blog Party. Many have tried this before – and failed; many have thought they’d succeeded, only to realise, their partner had a fatal flaw. A word of advice: never, EVER, use snake venom in a love spell – it will ALWAYS come back and bite you!!! Anyway, I’m sure you’ll appreciate just how difficult this spell is, but here goes:

In search of paradise

My last blog reminded me of the time, some years ago, when I backpacked around the Society Islands in the South Pacific. I started reminiscing, so I dug out an article I wrote on my return and I thought I'd share it with you. With all the rain we're having here in the UK, I think many of us would like to be lazing on a white-sand beach, drinking milk from a coconut, freshly plucked from a palm tree. But paradise is not all it seems.

These, apart from being misquotes, are issues I and many fellow writers, have been mulling over - a lot, in my case. Not so long ago, self-publishing was looked down upon by publishers, writers and even readers. With the advent of the e-book and sites like Amazon, Smashwords and Lulu, times have changed. Everyone in the industry has had to sit up and take notice and, as more and more authors are achieving healthy sales of both e-books and paperbacks, self-publishing has become a very attractive option.

It's almost over! Another year notched up on the calendar of life. It's often said that time goes faster as we get older - yes, I know that's impossible - but this year does seem to have flown by.

Just how important is the title of a book? When Charles Dickens wrote his novella, "A Christmas Carol" the title on his original manuscript was:

10 December 2011

Christmas Memories

Do you have an Advent Calendar? I've had one every year since I was very young and I believe one is never too old to get excited about Christmas. Besides, as mine are always the type that contain chocolate, there's the added pleasure of knowing that I can have a piece of chocolate every day for 24 days and not feel in the least bit guilty! (Not that I ever do feel guilty about eating chocolate, actually)

25 November 2011

A chat with Jack Drake

Today I'm chatting with Jack Drake, one of the main characters in my novel, "The Stag Party", which I'm currently in the process of editing.

'Welcome Jack and thanks for stopping by.'

'It's my pleasure, Emily. It's good to get out of the pages and stretch my legs.'

Can someone die from a broken heart?

Nestled amongst fallen leaves at the foot of the west wall in the churchyard of St. George's, Brede, East Sussex, stands a wooden cross. Remarkable only for its simplicity; it is aged and weather-beaten and it bears just one word - Damaris. That's all. No date, no epitaph. Nothing in fact, to give a hint to the love story that ended so tragically on the very spot, local legend says, now marked by the decaying cross.

Damaris Richardson was a beautiful orphan living in the village with her uncle, when she met and fell in love with Lewis Smith, son and heir to a wealthy, local landowner. Lewis returned her love and they would meet at the west wall of St. George's, he on one side, she on the other. Their romance blossomed and they secretly became engaged, despite Lewis knowing his father would never approve because of their social inequality. Lewis was right; his father found out and he forbade Lewis to see Damaris again, threatening to cut his son off without a penny. Here, the facts become sketchy.

When my mother told me the story, many years ago, she said that when Lewis told Damaris it was over and Damaris watched Lewis walk out of her life forever, her young heart broke and she died where she stood, beside the west wall of St. George's. Others merely say that Damaris was a healthy, happy, young woman in love, who died suddenly at the age of 22, after Lewis broke off their engagement.

Damaris was buried on 4 September 1856 and the wooden cross was placed on her grave, at the site of the lovers' trysts, not by Lewis but the Reverend of St. George's. Lewis died at the age of 64 - a bachelor.

Do you think Damaris died from a broken heart? There is in fact, a condition known as "broken heart syndrome" - it's stress cardiomyopathy - and studies have shown that acute emotional trauma or stress can cause the symptoms of a heart attack. Most people recover but some do die and research into this, which began in Japan, is ongoing. Examples of deaths attributed to "broken heart syndrome" include people dying shortly after the loss of their spouse, a relative or a pet.

How many times have you heard someone say 'he/she died of a broken heart'? Well, perhaps they did. And perhaps Damaris Richardson did too. I think so. What do you think?

(This was previously posted on my work-in-progress page)

I am currently editing my novel The Stag Party (working title). I wrote it for the RNA new writers' scheme which I joined in January 2011 so naturally, it's a romance. But what sort of romance? Ah, there's the problem - for me at least.