A Lake in Switzerland – a guest post by author Melinda Huber

I’m delighted to welcome author Melinda Huber to the blog. Melinda has visited before – as Linda Huber, she writes compelling psychological suspense! – but this time she is with us under her new pen name for her new feel-good novellas. 

I’ve just finished reading A Lake in Switzerland and it really does what it says on the tin, so to speak – it’s a feel-good story with a wonderful setting 🙂 Melinda’s lovely descriptions take you right there! 

Melinda has a guest post (and some gorgeous photos) for us today about the setting for the books, but first, feast your eyes on these wonderful covers …

… and here’s the blurb for the first one …

A Lake in Switzerland (Lakeside series Book 1)

Stacy can’t believe her luck when her best friend Emily invites her on a holiday to Switzerland.

She arrives at the Lakeside Hotel with high hopes, but the problems begin straightaway. Emily’s recent injury doesn’t let her do much, and something is wrong at the hotel. Where are all the guests? Why is the owner’s son so bad-tempered? And then there’s the odd behaviour of Stacy’s fiancé, back home. It’s hard to enjoy the scenery with all this going on…

By the last day of the holiday, Stacy knows her life will never be the same again – but the end of the week is just the beginning of the Lakeside adventure.

Universal buy link: getBook.at/ALIS


And now over to Melinda to tell us all about the spectacular setting …

A Lake in Switzerland

There are lots of lakes in Switzerland, and I’m lucky enough to live just a hundred metres or so from the second largest, Lake Constance. It’s huge, 63km long and up to 14km wide. On a misty day you can’t see the other side; it’s like standing looking out over the ocean – almost. We don’t get crashing waves on our lake, but in every other respect, it’s perfect.

So when I decided to write a series of feel-good novellas, I didn’t look further than the view from my own balcony to find the location. In book 1, A Lake in Switzerland, Stacy and Emily arrive at the Lakeside Hotel in Grimsbach to find nothing is how they’d imagined it. The adventure begins… and ends, then a new one begins in A Spa in Switzerland.

As well as all their other doings, the girls manage to fit in some sightseeing, and I was spoiled for choice when it came to choosing good places for them to visit.

They went by cable car to the top of our local mountain, the Säntis, the highest peak in the Alpstein range.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

And to the powerful Falls of Rhine, where white water crashes down at an unbelievable rate. Stacy and Emily were visiting in May, which is when the falls are at their most spectacular, because the snow on the mountains melts and comes down the Rhine.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

And there was shopping in St Gallen, our nearest big town, with its amazing baroque cathedral and quaint old town.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

And all the many little towns and villages along the banks of the Lake Constance. Of course, the girls had good weather (it was actually a bit too hot for Emily), so they saw the place at its spectacular summery best.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

I really enjoyed writing these novellas – feel-good is the genre I started writing in, back in the day, with my magazine stories. Coming up in autumn is Trouble in Switzerland, and we’ll see where things go for Stacy and Emily after that…

Thank you, Linda. It’s lovely to get a good sense of the background to the stories. I visited those falls myself once (back in 1983!) and they are truly incredible (although I only managed the platform and didn’t attempt the boat. I’m not sure I would even dare the platform nowadays!) Reading that scene in the book brought back lovely memories for me. 🙂 



Melinda Huber is the feel-good pen name of psychological suspense writer Linda Huber – she’s hiding in plain sight!

Linda grew up in Glasgow, Scotland, but went to work in Switzerland for a year aged twenty-two, and has lived there ever since. Her day jobs have included working as a physiotherapist in hospitals and schools for handicapped children, and teaching English in a medieval castle.

Linda’s writing career began in the nineties. Since then she’s had over 50 magazine stories, seven psychological suspense novels, and a band of feel-good short stories published.
Her latest project is the Lakeside Hotel novellas, set on the banks of Lake Constance, just minutes from her home in north-east Switzerland. She really appreciates having the views enjoyed by her characters right on her own doorstep!

Find out more about Melinda/Linda at these links:

Facebook          Twitter          Website 



Welcoming back Marie Laval with her ‘Little Pink Taxi’!

I’m delighted to welcome the lovely Marie Laval back to the blog with her brand new release, Little Pink Taxi. It’s already getting great reviews – over twenty 5*on Amazon UK so far, and it only came out a few days ago! It’s next up on my Kindle and I can’t wait! I had plenty of questions for Marie about this latest book – but first, take a look at this scrumptious cover and the blurb …

Take a ride with Love Taxis, the cab company with a Heart …

Rosalie Heart is a well-known face in Irlwick – well, if you drive a bright pink taxi and your signature style is a pink anorak, you’re going to draw a bit of attention! But Rosalie’s company Love Taxis is more than just a gimmick – for many people in the remote Scottish village, it’s a lifeline.

Which is something that Marc Petersen will never understand. Marc’s ruthless approach to business doesn’t extend to pink taxi companies running at a loss. When he arrives in Irlwick to see to a new acquisition – Raventhorn, a rundown castle – it’s apparent he poses a threat to Rosalie’s entire existence; not just her business, but her childhood home too.

On the face of it Marc and Rosalie should loathe each other, but what they didn’t count on was somebody playing cupid …

How can we resist? And now to chat to Marie about it …

Thank you so much for inviting me on your blog today, Helen, to talk about my latest novel, LITTLE PINK TAXI, which was released a few days ago by Choc Lit.

You’re welcome! Could you tell us what set the idea for Little Pink Taxi going in that imaginative brain of yours?

My main source of inspiration was the setting – the magnificent Cairngorms in Scotland.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

You may remember a TV series which was on a few years ago and which was called ‘Monarch of the Glen’. It featured a beautiful castle facing a loch and surrounded by a forest. It was called Glenbogle Castle – in real life Ardverikie House – and I loved it so much that I wanted to write a story set in a castle just like it. Raventhorn – the castle in Little Pink Taxi – is in my mind almost identical to Glenbogle castle. There is a loch and a forest, and of course, the dramatic backdrop of Cairngorms.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

My other source of inspiration was a pink taxi I saw a few years ago in Manchester city centre. They are quite common these days, but at the time, it was the first I had ever seen, and I thought it would be fun to have my heroine drive one of them.

It poured down the last time I was in Scotland, Marie, but it is a truly beautiful place and the perfect dramatic backdrop for a book!

Tell us a little more about Rosalie and Marc.

I loved these two characters and had a lot of fun writing about the interaction between them. Rosalie is a kind, funny, bubbly young woman who set up Love Taxis to serve her local community, now quite isolated since bus services were cut down. She loves to cheer people up, loves wearing pink and singing to pop songs played on her favourite radio station, Happy Baby Radio. Above all she loves Raventhorn castle which became her home when her mother took her to live there as a child. What she doesn’t know is that Raventhorn’s laird Geoff McBride sold the castle.

When businessman Marc arrives at Raventhorn, all he wants to do is to liquidate McBride’s assets, including the castle and Love Taxis. But he isn’t counting on falling for Rosalie, and even less on some revenant playing cupid between them…

Little Pink Taxi is set in a remote Scottish village with a rundown castle taking a part, no less! You’ve previously written historical fiction set in Scotland, too. What draws you to write about Scotland?

In a few words: the beauty and wilderness of the scenery, the romanticism of all the old castles and the Scottish accent.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

I do love a Scottish hero and a Scottish accent…The hero of my latest historical romance – Dancing for the Devil – Bruce McGunn is Scottish and proud to be nicknamed ‘the claymore devil’. Marc Petersen, however, is half French and half Danish, but there is a bit of a twist about his ancestry which I can’t reveal right now for fear of spoiling the surprise.

You’ve written both historical and contemporary romance. Do you have a preference, and is it hard switching between the two? 

I love writing both, Helen, but I seem to be writing more contemporary novels and short stories at the moment. I am a very old-fashioned and completely non-technical person, so in many ways, writing contemporary fiction in which I have to include all those gadgets, iphones, etc. I know nothing about and have absolutely no interest in, is a lot harder than writing historical fiction!

Ha! Whereas I would struggle to get my head around writing anything historical 😀

Could you tell us a little about what we can look forward to next from Marie Laval?

I am working on two romantic novels featuring Marc Petersen’s childhood friends. One story is a romantic suspense set in Paris in the world of auction houses, and features a daredevil journalist and a workaholic medieval art historian. The other, still at a very early stage, is set in Bordeaux and will be more of a romcom, with a spy turned wine grower.

I have also been busy writing a short story for the anthology you are contributing to, and which is set in the lovely Yorkshire town of Hebden Bridge where we have been meeting with other author friends for the past few years. I can’t wait to see the anthology released in June!

I’m looking forward to that, too! 

Thank you for joining me on the blog, Marie 🙂


You can get hold of Little Pink Taxi at:




Originally from Lyon in France, Marie has lived in the beautiful Rossendale Valley in Lancashire for a number of years. A member of the Romantic Novelists Association and the Society of Authors, she writes contemporary and historical romance. Her native France very much influences her writing, and all her novels have what she likes to call ‘a French twist’!

LITTLE PINK TAXI is Marie’s second contemporary romance and is published by Choc Lit. It is available here. Her other titles include Angel Heart, The Lion’s Embrace and Dancing for the Devil.

You can get in touch with Marie on Facebook and Twitter, and why not check the beautiful photos of Scotland and Denmark on the special Little Pink Taxi page on Pinterest?


When art imitates life – a guest post by Mary Jayne Baker

I’m delighted to welcome author Mary Jayne Baker back to the blog with a great guest post, ‘When Art Imitates Life’. I’ve enjoyed Mary Jayne’s company in ‘real life’ a few times recently, so I’m always keen to read what she has to say on writerly matters!

Mary Jayne has not one but two books out this month and they both look fab, but before I allow you to drool over the gorgeous covers, let me hand you over to Mary Jayne …



When art imitates life

“Is the book autobiographical?”

“Oh, was that character based on me?”

“How does your partner feel about you writing sex scenes in your books?”

…are all questions I’ve been asked, and I suspect all authors get asked versions of them at some point (and the answers are no, no and pretty bloody impressed, if you’re interested).

When people ask if particular aspects of my life, relationships or people I know go into my books, I never really know how to answer, except with a noncommittal “It doesn’t really work like that”. Because, well, it doesn’t really work like that. I’ve never based a single character wholesale on a single real person I know, although tricks of speech, habits, life experiences and hobbies, both my own and other people’s, often inform my characters, many different “real people” mingling together into one fictional one. My heroines aren’t me, although there’s a lot of me in them, and we usually share a sense of humour, an outlook on life, and quite often a Yorkshire accent.

 When I write, I try to take myself, the me of me, out of that process. The reader doesn’t care about me: they care about the characters and the story, so I try to make my authorial voice as unobtrusive as possible. Any passage of writing that reminds the reader there is an author, creative writing tutors and Stephen King would tell us, should be rewritten. But the characters and story exist in the author’s head nonetheless, so it’s our own experiences and worldview that inform what we’re writing no matter how much we try to imprison ego.

I use the real world as inspiration all the time, because I think it makes my writing more authentic, and because as a writer I’m both research-lazy and time-impatient. When I need my character to experience a certain emotion, I cast about for a time in my life when I experienced that emotion with a degree of intensity so I can channel it. When my character needs a hobby, I very often give them one of mine. When my character needs backstory, I plunder significant and interesting incidents (or incidents that will seem interesting when rewritten for fiction) from my own life, the lives of people I know or people I’ve read about. Sometimes, an incident, location or person from life will inspire the whole premise of a book. With the addition of a generous dollop of fantasy, I’m then able to tell a story completely removed from the real-world thing that first inspired it, so that by following the well-worn advice to “write what you know”, the “what I know” becomes something new and original.

 I have two books out this month with different publishers, A Bicycle Made for Two (Mirror Books) and Runaway Bride (HarperImpulse), both of which have many real-world influences.

 In Runaway Bride, my heroine, Kitty, flees her wedding reception after secretly spotting her new husband being unfaithful. Destitute and with only a shaky grip on both her mental and physical health, she’s befriended by Jack, an Irish children’s author who picks her up hitch-hiking and offers her a bed in his vintage VW campervan until she gets back on her feet. The pair end up on a road trip that takes them from Lakeland to Scotland to Yorkshire to Dorset, encompassing delivering and raising a litter of puppies, Scrabble, mountain-climbing, skinny dipping and, um, musical theatre. While on the road, the two are forced to confront the problems they’ve been running away from – Jack’s grief over his wife’s death and Kitty’s fear of her abusive mother and husband – while, of course, falling in love…

 The fantasy that inspired this story was… Dr Who. Sort of. Or not Dr Who exactly, but the idea behind Dr Who. The dream that a charismatic and fascinating stranger might one day appear to take you away from all this, off to adventure in the great unknown. As wish fulfillment goes, that one’s pretty archetypal.

 That was the fantasy. The reality was the period of around nine months in my childhood when I lived with my mum in a tiny caravan on the Haworth moors and our dog Jessie had puppies. It’s one of my earliest memories.

 I can’t remember why we were temporarily homeless at the time. What I do remember is there were six puppies: one was stillborn, and one we elected to keep. I was allowed to name her (Pollyanna Firth, who lived to the ripe old age of 17). Siblings included Sooty, later renamed Ben by his new family, and Sweep, who became Bruce. The memory of this incident was the jumping-off point for the book that would become Runaway Bride.

 A Bicycle Made for Two, on the other hand, started with a setting. I had a very strong idea of the sort of Yorkshire community I wanted to create: a people who were stoical but supportive, gruff but wry, a landscape that was beautiful but harsh, and, although fictional, very much a part of my home here in West Yorkshire. I created a village called Egglethwaite, furnished it with rolling moors, a reservoir with a submerged hamlet beneath, a mighty but neglected viaduct, a medieval theme restaurant called Here Be Flagons and a cast of colourful characters. Then I put them against the backdrop of the 2014 Tour de France and left them to see what they’d do…

 Again, there’s a lot of real life mixed into this story. The heroine, Lana, is striving to get her village’s viaduct reopened as a footpath, just as my community did (and Hewenden Viaduct is now a proud part of the Great North Railway Trail). Lana plays trombone in a brass band, while I used to play the euphonium. The hero, Stewart, is a knitter and so am I. The plot is fiction, but a patchwork of reality binds it together.

 Another question all authors get asked is “where do you get your ideas?”, which I’ve tried to have a go at answering here in my weird waffly way. They come, more often than not, from life – our own and other people’s.

 So, never let anything go to waste. If something someone says makes you smile or brings a tear to your eye, jot it down. Read magazines, as diverse as you can (spend a day in your local doctor’s waiting room…). Watch daytime TV. Read widely, and outside your comfort zone. Eavesdrop. Empathise. Remember and reminisce. Let thoughts wander and go off on tangents. The germ of an idea can come from anywhere, and real life + fantasy is always a more authentic formula than plain old fantasy. Take up hobbies, join clubs. Go for long journeys on buses and trains, hide in the corners of pubs. Explore. Have experiences, all the time. The more you can live and observe and live some more, the more material you’ll have.

 Go on then, off you go.

Thank you, Mary Jayne. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your thoughts on this! I too have never put a real character wholesale into one of my books, but many of my characters are made up of bits and pieces of people I have known, along with a large helping of imagination, until they take on a life of their own. And I have been known to ‘borrow’ events that people have mentioned to me in passing if they fit the bill and I don’t have an appropriate memory in my own repertoire 🙂

And now to feast our eyes on the covers and blurbs for Mary Jayne’s two new releases … 

The first in a new romantic comedy series, Love in the Dales, set in a beautiful Yorkshire village.

Chock-full of colourful characters, bawdy wit and a bit of love and passion for good measure.

In a lost corner of the Yorkshire Dales, Lana Donati runs a medieval theme tourist trap restaurant with her brother. As a distraction to help them get over losing the father they loved dearly, and as a tribute to his passion for the beautiful area they live in, Lana hatches a plan to boost business for everyone by having the Grand Départ route pass through their village.

But this entails getting the small community to work together to convince the decision-makers that their beloved village is Tour material. Not an easy task when the people involved include Lana’s shy, unlucky-in-love brother Tom, the man-eating WI chair Yolanda, bickering spouses Gerry and Sue, arrogant celebrity Harper Brady, and Lana’s (attractive) arch-nemesis, former pro-cyclist turned bike shop owner, Stewart McLean, whose offbeat ideas might just cost them everything.

Available as an e-book now (and in paperback on 5th April) at:

Amazon UK          Amazon US


Here comes the bride… but how long can she hide?

When Kitty Clayton flees her wedding with no money, no bank card and no phone, her life seems worryingly futureless. All she knows is, she’d rather sleep on the streets than go back home to cheating Ethan.

After picking her up hitch-hiking, widowed children’s author Jack Duffy takes Kitty under his wing, looking out for her until she gets back on her feet. And it’s not long before the two grow close…

But with Jack struggling to recover from the guilt he feels over his wife’s death and Kitty refusing to face up to the problems she’s running away from at home, will the two ever manage to share a happily ever after?

Pre-order for your Kindle ready for publication on 16th Feb (or paperback for 3rd May) at:

Amazon UK



Mary Jayne Baker grew up in rural West Yorkshire, right in the heart of Brontë country… and she’s still there. After graduating from Durham University with a degree in English Literature in 2003, she dallied with living in cities including London, but eventually came back with her own romantic hero in tow to her beloved Dales.

She lives with him in a little house with four little cats and a little rabbit, writing stories about girls with flaws and the men who love them. You can usually find her there with either a pen, some knitting needles or a glass of wine in hand. She goes to work every day as a graphic designer for a magazine publisher, but secretly dreams of being a lighthouse keeper.

More information can be found about MJ on her website at http://www.maryjaynebaker.co.uk. You can also follow her on Twitter, @MaryJayneBaker, or like her Facebook page by going to Facebook.com/MaryJayneWrites


A week in and around Salisbury #2 – Salisbury, the cathedral and Old Sarum

Last week, I blogged about the first couple of days of our stay in Wiltshire last August. If you missed it, you can read it here.

With our daughter back with us after her weekend in London, we spent a very long day in Salisbury, starting with a brief peek into the the Oak Court in the Guildhall, built as a replica of the Old Bailey and used as a Magistrates Court until 2010.

We then strolled through the streets of Salisbury, getting our bearings. Keep your eyes above the ground floor shopfronts, and it’s amazing what you’ll see!



Our main goal was Salisbury Cathedral. Unfortunately, the weather was pretty dull that day, so my outdoor shots are nothing to shout home about, but these should give you some idea, at least. From a distance …

… and closer …

There was an older cathedral in Salisbury (more of that later), but this ‘new’ one is still ridiculously old, of course. The ground was consecrated in 1220 and the main body of the cathedral finished in 1258. The tower and spire were added in the 1300s. The spire has been the tallest (123m) in England since the 16th century! It’s had its problems, though – its weight began to distort the building, collapse was a real possibility, and reinforcement became a priority from the mid-14th century.

The cathedral got off relatively lightly during Henry VIII’s Reformation as it was not originally a monastery, although it suffered a few more traumas in the Civil War.

We were very taken by the new font, installed in 2008. It’s set so evenly on the ground that the surface of the water is as smooth as glass, the water flowing out at each pointed corner at exactly the same rate as the other corners. If you lean over and look into the water, you can see the cathedral above you reflected perfectly.  It’s not easy to capture it in a photograph, but I can tell you it really is impressive.

After the cathedral, my daughter went off on her own while hubby and I paid a visit to the National Trust’s Mompesson House, a Queen Anne townhouse in the Cathedral Close (and used in the 1995 film Sense and Sensibility). It was empty when the National Trust inherited it in 1975, but they have restored it to how it might have looked in Georgian times.

There was a pleasant garden at the rear, but the drizzle didn’t allow us to linger for long!

Rather weary now, we moved away from the Cathedral Close, discovering even more fantastic buildings along the way.

Would you believe this is the Odeon cinema?! …

The following day, we spent a quiet morning at our cottage. We needed to be at Heathrow airport in the evening to pick up our son after his year teaching English to novice Buddhist monks in Thailand, so we decided to fill in the afternoon with a visit to Old Sarum, enjoyable despite the dreary weather.

Originally an iron age fort, a castle was built there around 1070 by William the Conqueror.


There are impressive views across the countryside, and you can look down over what was Salisbury’s original cathedral, demolished when the new cathedral was built in the 1200s. The outline you can now see there was marked out in cement after excavations in the early 20th century.

And on to Heathrow. Our reunion with our 19-year-old was emotional to say the least. A whole year had gone by without seeing him, so he had to suffer a great many hugs and tears! We drove back to the cottage where he promptly crashed out after 24 hours travelling 🙂

The next day, our son was happy to delay travelling back to Yorkshire, so we took him into Salisbury. It was raining again, but  this time I really didn’t mind because it meant we couldn’t do too much. We had coffee at the cathedral; a drink at the New Inn, a gorgeous old pub built around 1380 …

… followed by lunch in a Grade II listed former arts college – all of which gave us a real chance to chat with him about his experiences. A lovely day.

And the next day, it was back home to retrieve the cat and see if she remembered her favourite jean-clad lap after his year away 😀



A week in and around Salisbury, Wiltshire #1 – Wilton, Stourhead and Shaftesbury

Our week in and around Salisbury last August (yes, I’m still behind with my travel posts!) came about more by accident than design.

My 22-year-old daughter (who doesn’t usually come away with us anymore) wanted to do some historical research in Salisbury, and I felt a little sorry at the idea of her going on her own. ‘Wouldn’t we like a weekend in Salisbury, too?’ I asked hubby. Daughter also wanted to spend a weekend with her friend in London. ‘It would be easier and cheaper for me to get there from Salisbury than Leeds,’ she pointed out. Mulling this over, hubby then had the bright idea that we could time this little jaunt to coincide with our 19-year-old son’s return from his year volunteering in Thailand, and so pick him up at Heathrow.

It soon became clear that it would be cheaper to get a cottage for a week, even if we weren’t going to use it for the full seven days, rather than stay at a hotel, so we booked a little place in the countryside a few miles outside Salisbury.

It had all seemed like a good idea at the time, and we did enjoy it, but the logistics were rather complicated … and, as ever, despite the time of year, the PPRC (Pollard Personal Rain Cloud) decided to follow us south, so apologies if the photos aren’t all as sunny as we would have liked!

On our first full day, we drove our daughter to Salisbury train station for her weekend in London. With her dispatched, we ignored Salisbury itself so that we could visit it together when she got back, and instead we drove to  Wilton, a small market town that was once the ancient capital of Wessex (and also lent its name to Wilton Carpets).

Here, we found the best surprise of our trip – the parish church of St Mary and St Nicholas.

As I may have mentioned in previous blog posts, I’m not one for churches, but this one really did capture my interest.

Built in the 1840s in Italian Romanesque style by the Hon. Sidney Herbert and his Russian mother, Countess Catherine Woronzov, the place is, quite frankly, a wonder. 

I mean, there you are,  standing in a quintessential English town, staring at an Italianate church that looks like it should be in some Mediterranean city, built by a Russian countess!

Once inside, it’s hard to believe that it was built relatively recently, as there are many older elements incorporated into it, from 16th century marble to glass dating back as far as the 12th century.

Considering I’m not overly-excited by churches, we spent quite a lot of time there, looking at all the detail and reading up about the place. It really was both beautiful and fascinating.

That afternoon, we took a walk around the National Trust lands at Dinton, passing the rather pretty church of St Mary’s …

The following day, we made use of our National Trust membership by visiting Stourhead, a house with extensive landscaped gardens dating from the 1740s.

It took us a fair part of the day to cover the grounds, the lake with classical temples …

… the areas of rare trees, and even a grotto …

It certainly helped that the sunshine decided to make an appearance for us!

The house itself  is not good-looking, but touring it was made more interesting by the National Trust having concentrated the information they provided on one slice of its history when it was owned by Sir Henry and Lady Alda Hoare, the story of a fire that ruined the house they had so lovingly renovated and had to restore, and following the childhood but then death of their only son Harry in the First World War. 

To fill in time before picking up our daughter at the train station in the evening, we went to Shatftesbury, a small market town dating back to Saxon times but probably most famously known nowadays for Gold Hill, used in the Hovis adverts. Ring a bell for those of you past a certain age … ?

And then back to Salisbury station to pick up our daughter and prepare ourselves for our onslaught on Salisbury over the next couple of days, which I will save until next time.

Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with the music from that Hovis ad running through your head 😀 






Happy New Year! Most popular posts of 2017



2017 was once again a busy year for me. If you missed my recent news round-up, you can catch up here – Time for a news update: 2017.

I still managed almost 30 blog posts last year, alternating between writerly matters, places I’ve visited and welcoming guest authors. Thank you to all those authors who agreed to take part over the past year 🙂

And so … The most popular posts of 2017?

To do with writing . . .  

In June, as the edits for the third and final book in my La Cour des Roses trilogy were nearing an end, I blogged about The Ups and Downs of Writing a Series, which proved  be very popular. In it, I mused about the pros and cons of writing a trilogy versus standalone novels.

And it seems that the places I described in the books are as popular as ever! Weekend activities in Summer at the Little French Guesthouse gave a taster of some of the things Emmy gets up to in the book.

And reading …

A post I wrote near the beginning of the year, Books that have influenced me #3 – Laura Ingalls Wilder, in which I described my childhood love of her books and how they later influenced my writing, seemed to resonate with readers everywhere!


The most popular posts about places . . .

This year, besides blogging about some of the National Trust places we visited with our new membership, I wrote several posts about Devon and Cornwall, covering our previous year’s visit (yes, I was rather behind with my posts!) and later on, this year’s visit.

Cornwall is certainly a popular place, as suggested by the popularity of A week on the Roseland peninsula, Cornwall and A week near St Ives, Cornwall. I always find it so hard, when writing posts like these, to pick out the photos that best represent the trip … but I certainly enjoy the process!

And from visiting guest authors . . .

Fellow northerner Mary Jayne Baker got the most hits with her great guest post, On Not Giving Up the Day Job




Also popular was my interview with another northern writer, Kate Field, answering questions about writing and her latest release, The Truth About You, Me and Us.




As ever, thank you for taking the time to read this blog.

I look forward to sharing 2018 with you!

Merry Christmas 2017!

Well, it’s almost here  – and as usual, I’m barely ready for it! The house is decorated, the tree is up

… but the shopping isn’t all done and the presents are not yet all wrapped.

We’ve been busy decorating a couple of rooms of the house, something we started in October and should have been finished by the end of November. Ha! You know how it goes: one thing leads to a problem that leads to another problem that leads to another, in a domino effect. Hubby was still battling with Ikea furniture for our son’s bedroom up until a few days ago.

In the midst of all this, at the end of November my dad ended up in hospital with pneumonia. As my mother has severe dementia, that meant me living in with her 24/7 until he came back out, followed by the aftermath of making sure they were both coping (ish). So you can imagine why we’re a bit behind with our festive preparations this year!

We did manage to have a family day out in Haworth last weekend to try to get into a more festive mood. We started with a walk on the snow-frosted moors (very icy paths!) …

… then walked into the village to warm up with a coffee, mooch around the eclectic mix of shops on the cobbled main street while brass bands played carols, then enjoy lunch at a lovely cafe.

Last night, the kids and I settled down to watch White Christmas. Oh, how we love that movie! I say ‘kids’ – they’re 22 and 19 now, but they still enjoyed it immensely. I doubt there are many 19-year-old boys who know ‘The best things happen while you’re dancing’ off by heart!

It’s lovely to have my son home for Christmas. Last year, he was away on a gap year, volunteering in Thailand, and we missed him. Although come to think of it, we didn’t miss the arguments for the TV remote or his grubby socks festively decorating the lounge! 😀

On Christmas Eve, the four of us hope to have the day to ourselves and take our annual winter walk at Bolton Abbey …

If you missed it, you can read more about that in a post I wrote a couple of years ago here:

My Favourite Christmas Tradition

On Christmas Day, we’ll fetch my parents over to us for Christmas lunch, but they won’t manage more than a few hours. My brother will stay longer into the evening, and as he is very much a ‘Bah Humbug’ when it comes to Christmas, the kids will torment him with a fun kids’ film which he will claim to be rubbish but secretly enjoy.

At the end of next week, my other brother will drive up from Cornwall along with my niece to spend a couple of days. It’s our parents’ diamond wedding anniversary (!) so we’ll go out for lunch as a family to celebrate, although my mother doesn’t really understand what’s going on. Still, it will be lovely to all be together.

And so it only remains for me to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays, or Happy Festive Season …

Whatever you celebrate at this time of year, may you get a chance to relax a little and enjoy the company of your loved ones … if those two concepts go together 😉

Love, Helen x