News round-up for 2016

With 2016 drawing rapidly to a close (where does the time go?), I decided it was about time to give out a general news update, as it was March when I last summed up! If you want to go back that far, you can read about my move to being a full-time writer and my contract with Bookouture, among other things, here.

2924749628th April saw the release of my first chick-lit for Bookouture and the first in the La Cour des Roses series, The Little French Guesthouse. 

I was taken aback – and of course delighted – by how well the book was received, with wonderful reviews from readers and bloggers (440  5* reviews on Amazon UK to date!)

The book had been such a long time coming (you can read about its journey from the glimmer of an idea to publication here), so it was wonderful that people were enjoying it so much.

The first draft for the sequel went in to my editor about the same time, so knowing that people loved the characters and would like to read more about them helped me through all the structural edits, copy edits, line edits . . . phew! Needing to get the second book out before the end of the summer meant tight deadlines. I was working very long days, eternally thankful that I’d given up the day job at Christmas!

Return to The little French Guesthouse was born on 26th August, but writing a sequel is a nerve-wracking business.

I waited anxiously. Would people like it as much as the first one? Have I still “got it”? I waited in trepidation for the reviews to come in.

Sighs of relief – it was enjoyed just as much as the first, in some cases more so! 


At this point, I had to take a writing break for a couple of months. My brain was mush, and I was mentally and physically exhausted.

Befuddled face

On a personal front, my daughter graduated from university in July and came back home to live, while my son finished his A-levels and then prepared to go volunteering abroad for a year – involving a lot of paperwork and organising and packing – so July and August were hectic and stressful. I can’t say it was easy waving him off at the end of August for a whole year! 😦

Hubby and I finally took a much-needed break in September (we hadn’t been away for over a year) and enjoyed a wonderful fortnight in Devon and Cornwall, where we were lucky with the weather. Coastal walks, reading on the beach, crab sandwiches, cream teas . . . just the job!


Meanwhile, the reviews kept rolling in for Return to The Little French Guesthouse, with so many readers asking me whether there would be a Book 3 and when it was coming out.

Not being one to disappoint, I took a deep breath and got back to my keyboard in October. That month, I also met my Bookouture editor for the first time, which was lovely, after working together ‘remotely’ for nearly a year!

And so, as those of you who have been following previous blog posts will already suspect, that TBR pile hasn’t had much of a dent made in it.

Books in attic


Books on Kindle

And that clearing-up of the years-worth of heaven-knows-what in my attic never did get shifted. Well, not by me, anyway – too many writing deadlines. 

Floor of attic

Poor hubby got so sick of tripping over everything every time he wanted to get to his desk, he took it upon himself to make a start. We still have a very long way to go, but it looks just the teeniest bit more like an actual room now , and all the c**p has been moved to one half of the place, so you can at least get around without risking breaking your neck.

And now Christmas is looming. Have I started decorating yet? Er – no. Have I done my Christmas shopping yet? Er – a little bit. Have I planned Christmas Day’s menu yet? Same as last year, I suspect. Anything for ease. 

With a strict daily word count to achieve and a deadline of just a few weeks for the first draft, I admit I can feel a little Christmas panic coming on. The third book in the La Cour des Roses series is due out sometime in July, I hope, but there will be a lot of work to put in between now and then!




6 thoughts on “News round-up for 2016

  1. rosgemmell says:

    Phew – what a year, Helen, and what excitement! Well done on all the success with your French series – still on my TBR list I’m afraid but much anticipated. Thanks again for my interview last week.

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