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Links Between My Books

Posted on 18th September, 2020

Have you picked up on any of the links between my books? I love adding a character from one book to another story and every one of my books is linked to at least one other book.

 

Take The Surplus Girls, for instance.

 

Mary, who was the heroine in The Poor Relation, appears in The Surplus Girls in the scene where Prudence has arranged for members of the press to visit Wilton Close to find out about the new business school she and Patience have set up.

 

(Incidentally, Mary is also mentioned in another book. Do you know which one?)

 

And William from The Sewing Room Girl also features in The Surplus Girls in his professional capacity as a senior clerk in the firm of solicitors in which readers will first have met him when he was a junior clerk.

There are other links with The Surplus Girls, which you may have spotted, but there is also a link that you won't know about. 

 

If you have read The Surplus Girls, you may remember Miss Kirby - Belinda's old schoolteacher, who tells her about surplus girls and encourages her to join the business school and train to be an office worker. Well, Miss Kirby originally appeared in the first draft of A Respectable Woman. There, she met Nell in the marketplace, helped her choose some fabric and reminded her that she had been a bright girl at school. In doing so, she created a spark in Nell that later led to her ambition to work for herself.

 

 

Unfortunately, the original version of A Respectable Woman was too long and I had to cut it down . . . and Miss Kirby was removed, though I was sorry to see her go because I liked her. Which was why it was a pleasure to find her a new home in The Surplus Girls, where she fitted in very naturally as someone who encouraged Belinda and made a difference to her life.

 

* * * *

 

Links to books in this blog:

 

The Surplus Girls 

 

A Respectable Woman  

 

The Poor Relation  

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The Sewing Room Girl

 

 

A Spot of Armchair Travel

Posted on 11th September, 2020

I look for various things in a book – well-rounded characters and a gripping plot are the two obvious ones. I’m sure many other readers require the same of their reading. But there is another feature that I don’t regard as an essential, although when I come across it in a story, it is, for me, quite simply the cherry on the cake – and that is a strong sense of place. There are some writers who possess the ability to create the setting of their story in a vivid way that makes the reader experience the place where the story is happening to a degree that transcends the story itself.

 

One book that achieves this beautifully is Jan Baynham’s debut novel, the Not The Booker Prize long-listed Her Mother’s Secret: the Summer of ’69. This is a dual-time story, which shows what happened to a talented young artist one summer back in the ’60s and then, years later, how her daughter follows in her footsteps to try to uncover the truth of what took place that during fateful summer. It is an engrossing, well-paced story, with characters to care about – a love story with dark and unexpected undercurrents.

 

But for me, there was an additional character in the book – and that was the Greek setting itself. This wonderful book gave me a sense of the Greek landscape that I last experienced years ago when I read My Family and Other Animals for the first time. Through her mesmerising descriptions, Jan Baynham expertly transports her readers to the idyllic, sun-drenched island with its turquoise waters, spectacular views, sparkling sunshine and the warm breeze shifting through the leaves of the olive trees. In these uncertain days, if a holiday abroad doesn’t feel like the right thing for you, then, by bringing the landscape alive in this book, Jan Baynham has provided the next best thing.

Another book that for me falls into this special category is The Italian House by Teresa Crane, which was published in 1995. It is the story of a downtrodden young wife, who, shortly after the First World War, unexpectedly inherits her grandmother's villa in Italy. A quirk of Italian law requires her to take possession in person, so she travels alone to Tuscany, where she falls in love with the place and with another man. But the Villa Castellini is a place of secrets, and strange events in the present form a link to disturbing family secrets from the past.

 

With its descriptions of the Tuscan hills beneath the clearest of skies, the river twisting and foaming through the village in the valley, and the track winding up the steep mountain to the villa, the sense of place in this novel is so strong and assured that the book ought to have a warning blazoned across the cover: this book will make you want to sell everything you possess and move to Tuscany. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

 

Cover Love. . . With Elaine Roberts

Posted on 4th September, 2020

Today I'm delighted to welcome Elaine Roberts to my blog to take part in my Cover Love series. Elaine cherished a lifelong dream to be a published author and her dream came true when Aria signed her to write an historical trilogy based around the famous Foyle's bookshop in London. She is now writing a new trilogy. Here, Elaine shares her favourite book cover with us.

Once my novel has been written I wait nervously to see whether my editor at Aria, Head of Zeus likes it, after that curiosity about the cover kicks in. When I was asked to pick one of my four book covers as my favourite I thought this is going to be difficult because I love them all. The Foyles Bookshop Girls will always hold a place in my heart. It makes me proud because it’s my first one ever, and I naturally love it.

 

My latest book cover, The West End Girls, is a favourite for very different reasons. I do believe it’s eye catching because of the colours but it also fits in to the style of The Foyles Bookshop Girls series. However, one of the biggest draws of that cover is London’s Lyceum Theatre in the background. I have many happy memories of being in that theatre, and not just to see shows. I remember going there when I was in my late teens early twenties, many, many moons ago, when it was a ballroom. I remember being in awe the first time I saw it; it’s a magnificent building, inside and out. At that time there would have been a live band and a D.J. playing at weekends. I danced away for many hours and then had to walk home, practically back to Kent, at two-thirty in the morning.

 

The ladies dress on the cover is purple, and that’s my favourite colour and adds a great contrast to the background. I like the simplicity of it all, and yet the cover tells you everything. It tugs on my heartstrings for many reasons, although no one knew that when they were designing it.

 

Book Blurb

 

1914. 

Growing up on a farm in the country, Annie Cradwell has always dreamt of singing on stage. So when she hears her friend Joyce has a room to spare in London, she sets off with best friend Rose for an adventure beyond anything they could have imagined. 

In London, Annie and Rose stumble into jobs at the Lyceum Theatre. Being a dresser to capricious star Kitty Smythe wasn't exactly what Annie had in mind. But then the musical director, Matthew Harris, offers her singing lessons. And Annie starts to wonder – could this be her chance? Or is it all too good to be true? 

With the threat of war in the air, everything is uncertain. Is there a place for hopes and dreams when so much is at stake? 

Annie, Rose and Joyce are three girls with very different dreams – but the same great friendship.

Amazon: The West End Girls

 

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Elaine's links:                                                                                                                        

 

Her Facebook author page    

 

Her author page on Amazon     

 

Elaine on Twitter  

 

Elaine's website  

 

 

The Surplus Girls on Amazon Kindle Deal

Posted on 1st September, 2020

I don't normally do 'advertisements' on my blog, but this seemed just too good to keep to myself.

 

The Surplus Girls is part of the Amazon Kindle Deal for September and costs just 99p.

 

Reviewers say:

 

"Uncertainty, romance, conflicted loyalties and a story that takes its protagonist on a journey for independence is as relevant to modern day society as it was a century earlier. Involving, tightly plotted and full of vivid characters to love and hate!"

 

"A beautifully written story by Polly Heron aka Susanna Bavin, I'm so pleased this is going to be a series as it brings home the struggle these girls went through after the First World War."

Or, for those of you who prefer a 'real' book, the paperback is still £2 on Amazon, though I don't know how long this will last.

 

If you fancy using The Surplus Girls as a reading group book, here are the questions I've devised for it:

 

1. In what ways does living with the Mrs Sloans make Belinda’s life easier? In what ways does it make it more difficult?

2. Does Belinda spend too much time trying to please other people? Why does it so matter so much to her to do the right thing?

3. Why is Belinda attracted to Richard?

4. What do you think of the use of the first person, present tense for Gabriel’s viewpoint scenes?

5. Prudence says the house in Wilton Close is morally hers and Patience’s, even if it isn’t legally. Is she right?

6. How has life with Pa affected Prudence and Patience?

7. Did your opinion of Richard change when he had his first viewpoint scene and you shared his thoughts and memories for the first time? In what way?

8. In the story, is it better to be a wife, a widow or a spinster?

9. What are Prudence’s and Patience's strengths and weaknesses?

10. Who is more manipulative – Denby or Kathleen?

 

BONUS QUESTION

If you have read The Sewing Room Girl, compare the young William Turton with the middle-aged William. How has he changed with age?

 

 

 

Cover Love . . . With Jessica Redland

Posted on 28th August, 2020

This week, I am delighted to welcome back Jessica Redland to my blog to take part in the

Cover Love series in which an author selects her favourite front cover and tells us why it

is special.

 

Jessica lives in Scarborough, which is the inspiration behind her fictional town of

Whitsborough Bay, where many of her books are set, although she also set stories in the

Yorkshire Wolds. After a career working mainly in HR, Jessica took the plunge this year

and became a full-time writer.

 

Reviewers say: "adorable characters and wonderful writing... fun, drama-filled romance...

Jessica's books always comfort me and transport me away from reality."

 

* * * *

 

A huge thank you to Susanna for inviting me to take part in this fabulous series.

 

Choose your favourite cover. Eek! Not an easy task. I’ve been blessed with a stunning set

of covers and I love every single one of them. During the past year my publisher, Boldwood

Books, has released two brand new books but has also re-edited and re-released six books

from my back catalogue and I’ve been delighted with their make-overs.

 

I’ve selected my most recent release – Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow – which is my

tenth novel and one of the brand new ones. This is a very special book for me because it

signals the start of a new series but also a move from Whitsborough Bay – the fictional

North Yorkshire seaside town where all my other books are set – into the Yorkshire

Wolds.

 

With Whitsborough Bay being coastal, the sea features on many of my other covers so

this is my first countryside setting and we wanted that to be strongly conveyed. The sea

and sky mean blue has been a predominant colour on all but one cover (New Beginnings

at Seaside Blooms is yellow) so we were keen to go for pink and peach hues depicting a

sunset for this one. I absolutely adore the colours. They’re so soothing and perfect for this

story because the heroine, Samantha, describes Hedgehog Hollow as a tranquil place

where she feels really relaxed.

 

 

 

With a name like Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow, you’d imagine a connection to

hedgehogs and you’d be right. Hedgehog Hollow is the name of the farm and the vision

of the owners, Thomas and Gwendoline, when they bought it was to set up a hedgehog

rescue centre. For reasons you’ll discover in the book, that didn’t happen and the farm has

fallen into disrepair.

 

The hedgehogs pictured on the cover are just adorable and, as they come out at dusk, it

is perfect that we have a sunset setting for them.

 

The farmhouse is a very important feature of the story. An early version appeared to be half-barn/half-house and, although the rescue centre does eventually get set up in a barn, I was

keen for it to be the house and not the barn that featured on the cover. My editor showed

me an image of a three-storey house that had originally been rejected for being too grand

but I absolutely loved it. It was different to what I’d described but we were still at the editing

stage on the manuscript so I had the luxury of being able to change my description of the farmhouse to match the image on the front cover.

 

Behind the farmhouse is a wildflower meadow which is also an important element of the

story. I love how the cover designer has included several wildflowers in the foreground and particularly adore the blue ones on the right. No idea what they are but they’re very pretty!

The swifts, butterflies and falling leaves beautifully tie together the themes of countryside

and nature.

 

I wish Hedgehog Hollow was a real place and that I could live there. I love this cover so

much and am very excited to see what book 2 will look like. I’m sure it will be just as enticing.

 

Jessica xx

 

* * * *

 

Blurb:

 

Can love really be found when you stop looking for it...?

As Samantha Wishaw watches the love of her life marry another woman, she’s ready to give up hope of finding her happy ever after.

 

But when a chance encounter leads Sam to find friendship in Thomas - a lonely, grumpy

elderly widower living at derelict Hedgehog Hollow - her life is about to change forever.

 

Glad to have a distraction from family feuds and match-making, Sam vows to fulfil Thomas

and his wife, Gwendoline's, dreams of restoring Hedgehog Hollow to its former glory, and

to open a hedgehog rescue centre.

 

Throwing herself into the task at hand, little does Sam realise that the keys to love and

happiness may also be found at Hedgehog Hollow, when she least expects it...

 

 

Escape to Hedgehog Hollow this summer with top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for

the perfect uplifting, feel-good read.

 

You can buy Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow by clicking here.

 

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Jessica Redland's links:

 

Website: www.jessicaredland.com 

 

Blog: www.jessicaredland.com/blog 

 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/JessicaRedlandAuthor 

 

Twitter: @JessicaRedland

 

Instagram: www.instagram.com/jessicaredlandauthor

 

 

 

 

I Say, I Say, I Say...

Posted on 21st August, 2020

I say, I say, I say – which word should you use freely?

When you were at school, were you taught to avoid using 'said' in your writing? Were you told it was dull? Were you instructed to use other, better words? Let me explain why teachers try to get you to do that. It isn't because there's anything wrong with 'said’. It's because teachers have to teach children from a young age (a) to use a variety of vocabulary and (b) to find words that convey precise meaning. ‘Strolled’, ‘wandered’, ‘hurried’ or ‘marched’, as opposed to ‘walked’ – that kind of thing. If you think about it, that's quite a tall order, especially with infant school children.

And so we come to the first reason why 'said' is a wonderful word. It has umpteen alternatives, all of which convey precise meaning. Children are already familiar with many of these words and find them easy to use, which means that when they write their stories, they have ample opportunity to use and develop their new skill and hence their stories are filled with characters asking, answering, replying, exclaiming, whispering, shouting and so on.

And that is why teachers tell you not to use 'said’. Ta da!

In the world of adult writing, it's different, because – and here we come to the second reason why I believe 'said' is a wonderful word – 'said' is invisible. You could read it or write it a dozen times on every single page without its ever jarring. Every time an alternative is used, it isn't invisible. There’s nothing wrong with that – in moderation. But the more times alternatives are used, and the wider their variety, the more visible they become.

I'm thinking of a novel I read some years ago in which the author seemed determined to avoid 'said' at all costs. The characters did all the usual things – they asked, answered, replied and exclaimed. They also did more ‘visible’ things – they wondered, whispered, chuckled and muttered. They shouted, snorted, cajoled and observed. They mentioned, uttered, declared and ranted. And it was all highly visible. Every single one of those verbs (which would have thrilled any primary school teacher – I speak as a former infant school teacher) was visible and the more of them there were, the more visible they became. For 'more visible,' read 'more annoying.'

h

Then, in the middle of an argument, the heroine riposted.

After 200 pages of confirming, suggesting, murmuring and giggling, it was the final, pretentious straw. I didn’t know whether to laugh out loud or groan in anguish. I closed the book and never went back to it.

Sorry about my little rant, but I hope it's helped to illustrate my point. Humble, under-rated 'said' is a dependable workhorse of a word. Use it freely and don’t let anybody put you off.

And unless you want me to come back and haunt you, please don't ever let your characters do any riposting.

 

 

 

The Story of a Book Cover

Posted on 14th August, 2020

After hosting other writers for some weeks, while they shared their Cover Love for their favourite book covers, it's now my turn, after a fashion. I thought you'd be interested to see how the front cover of my forthcoming Polly Heron book, The Surplus Girls' Orphans, was developed.

 

Here it is. Isn't it gorgeous?

 

I love it, not just because it looks so good in its own right, but also because it is such a good match for the first book.

 

My previous experience with my book covers has always been that the first time I've seen them has been when I've been shown the almost-finished article. But this time around, I had the chance to be involved in the process, initially because I had an old family photo from the 1920s, with my grandmother as a young woman sitting on a bench with her much younger half-brother sitting at her feet. His cheeky face and bright smile were loaded with character and the whole image was - or would have been - perfect for the cover, because, as the title suggests, children feature in the story (including Jacob, Belinda's younger brother from book 1).

 

Unfortunately, the resolution of the photo wasn't high enough, so the picture couldn't be used. After that, my editor and the cover designer decided in principle what they wanted. The designer created the backdrop of buildings and bunting, with the title in purple (I love it - purple is my favourite colour) and the overall colour being a light blue to tone in with the blue of book 1's cover.

 

So the background and title were sorted out, but they weren't completely sure about the various components that would create the best central image.

 

And that was where I came in. I was offered a selection of 1920s photos of young women to look through and comment on. The two women in the picture above were originally in a group of five women walking along. There was a gap between these two women and the other three, which made it easy to crop out these two.

 

My editor also wanted to have a child or children in the picture. A couple of attempts at introducing a child from another photo didn't really work. With the two women walking along, a child would have to be walking at the same pace to look like a natural part of the image.

 

Then the deisgner had the brilliant idea of putting children into the background. She came up with several terrific pictures - atmospheric, of the time and also suitable for the type of children in the book. I was shown all the pictures, out of which my editor had chosen her two favourites - the one you can see on the cover, of the boys playing football, and another, smaller picture of boys playing marbles. I agreed with her that these were the best pictures, but what made the football picture stand out for me was its width - the picture stretched across the cover so that the boys were playing football on both sides of the walking women, whereas the marbles picture was on one side only of the women.

 

So there we have it - the story of how a book cover came into being. It was a wonderful experience for me to be involved in the process and I've loved sharing it with you here.

 

* * * *

 

The Surplus Girls' Orphans - blurb

 

Manchester, April 1922 

Molly Watson has had enough. Engaged for the past three years to a penny-pinching pedant, she decides she would rather be a surplus girl than marry a man she doesn't truly love. Aware of the need to support herself if she is to remain single, she joins the Miss Heskeths' business school to learn new skills and a whole new world opens up for her.

 

When she gets a job at St Anthony's Orphanage, she finds herself drawn to the caretaker, Aaron Abrams. But a misunderstanding leaves them at loggerheads and damages her in the eyes of the children she has come to care for so deeply. Can she recover her reputation, her livelihood and her budding romance before it's too late?

 

* * * *

 

The second book in The Surplus Girls series will be published in January 2021.

 

You can pre-order the paperback here ...

 

and the Kindle version here.

 

* * * *

 

And if you'd like to see the two book covers side by side, to see what a good match they are....

 

 

 

 

 

Cover Love . . . With Cass Grafton

Posted on 7th August, 2020
Today I am delighted to welcome Cass Grafton to my blog. Cass is one of my fellow Sister Scribes and is here today to share her Cover Love for one of her books.

 

Covers have become such a complex part of my publishing life of late. I’m what’s known as a hybrid author, in that some of my books are with a publisher and others are published by me, and a few of those books have had three different covers over the years.

 

This is mainly because my publisher (Canelo Escape) has the digital editions and I’ve retained the paperback versions, so between them producing new eBook covers and me updating the original paperback covers to reflect the newer styling—a work in progress, with four new paperback updates coming this month—there are almost too many covers to choose from.

 

To further complicate the cover love, I write in three distinct sub-genres of romance: historical, time-travel (co-writes with Ada Bright) and contemporary. It’s almost like having to pick one favourite from your all-time most-loved period movie versus a comedic TV series or a modern rom-com!

 

In the end, however, the decision became easy. Earlier this year, I released my first contemporary romance with the publication of The Cottage in a Cornish Cove, and as I finally, for the first time in several years, have matching covers for both the ebook and paperback editions, it wins for me.

 

 


 

It’s received fabulous feedback and was also the recipient of the Cover of the Month award from ‘Chill with a Book Awards’ back in March.

 

That’s all down to the designer, of course. Mary Jayne Baker (of oliphant-services.co.uk) did an excellent job of capturing everything I wanted the cover to say, even though she admitted she’d never been to Cornwall.

 

We had a lot of fun creating the cover, with several exchanges along the lines of:

 

Me: Can you add a black cat?

MJB: Of course; and would you like a boat in the water?

Me: Yes, please! Ooo, you added a lighthouse, I love it, especially the little one on the spine!

 

I’m sure Mary Jayne won’t mind my sharing that she admitted to having a thing for lighthouses! There were shutters taken off the buildings—and a few put back on again; there were trees uprooted and trailing plants added to buildings until finally the finished look was achieved, and I’m as much in love with it today as I was when I first saw it.

 

The Cottage in a Cornish Cove is an uplifting story about love, dreams and first impressions, and although Anna, the main character, is looking out to sea on this cover, lost in those dreams, Heathcliff the cat is staring fixedly at the reader as if to say, what are you waiting for? Doesn’t this cover make you want to jump right in and start reading?

 

I really hope it does!

 

 

* * * *

 

Blurb:

The Cottage in a Cornish Cove is a heart-warming tale of discovering all you never wanted is exactly what you need.

 

Orphaned as a baby and raised by uncaring relatives, much of Anna Redding’s happiness as a child came from the long summer holidays spent with an elderly family friend, Aunt Meg, in the charming village of Polkerran.

 

With Aunt Meg’s passing, Anna is drawn back to the West Country, relocating to the Cornish cove where she was once so happy. Filled with memories, she hopes to perhaps open a B&B—and perhaps cross paths with Alex Tremayne again, a local boy she used to have a major crush on and who only had to walk past Anna to make her heart flutter.

 

Settling into her new life, and enjoying her work for the older, reclusive and—to be honest—often exasperating Oliver Seymour, Anna is delighted when Alex reappears in Polkerran and sweeps her off her feet.

 

The stars finally seem to be aligned, but just as Anna thinks all she’s ever wished for is within reach, a shock discovery brings everything under threat, and she realises she’s living a dream that isn’t hers to hold.

 

Can Anna rescue the new life she has made for herself and, when the testing moment comes, will anyone be there to hold her hand?

 

 

* * * *

 

Cass’s links:

 

Cass's author page on Amazon   

 

Her blogs:

cassandragrafton.com

tabbycow.com

 

Her author page on Facebook  

 

Her Twitter page

 

 

 

Cover Love . . . With Maddie Please

Posted on 31st July, 2020

This week I am delighted to welcome Maddie Please to my blog. Maddie lives in Devon, where she writes contemporary romantic comedies. Reviews mention her "engaging writing style and page-turning plots peopled by wonderfully memorable characters" and her "deft touch and great turn of phrase, making you chuckle at every turn of the page."

 

Today she is here to share her Cover Love for one of her books.

 

* * * *

 

I’ve had lovely book covers on all four of my published books. The first three were a cute, distinctive style and I was happy with all of them, although I did have slight doubts about the second one, where the heroine was depicted riding a bicycle. And there isn’t a bicycle anywhere in the story.

 

I queried this with my editor and was told it was a metaphorical bicycle. So I left it there.

Then for the 4th book, Harper Collins decided to change the house style and came up with a striking design that initially I liked and then had doubts about.

 

The story focussed on two successful writer sisters, Lulu Darling and her sister Jassy Sutton who decide to take a mini-break in the depths of Dartmoor in order to stimulate their writing mojo. Unfortunately, it quickly becomes apparent that neither of them is in the slightest way equipped to deal with the reality of life in the country; poor internet connection, solitude and mud.

 

The first cover Harper Collins offered seemed to me to belong on a story about a beach holiday. Beach bag, flip flops, sunglasses. It didn’t work for me although I loved the idea and particularly the colour scheme which I thought was ideal. I’ve always liked pink!

 

Lulu begins to realise there is more to life than an endless round of parties and socialising with other celebrities, a U-turn which is in part prompted by her growing friendship with local farmer Joe Field.

 

The turning point is when Lulu buys some chickens, so it seemed to me that there should be a chicken on the cover and happily Harper Collins agreed. The result was everything I could have hoped for. It adds such a touch of humour and I love how the chicken is pecking curiously at the book on which it’s standing.

 

Spot the difference!

 

Some readers commented that it was more ‘grown-up’ than the previous ones, others that they didn’t like how the style had changed! You can’t please everyone!

 

* * * *

 

Book blurb:

 

Lulu has it all; a romance writer at the height of her career, she can often be found attending glittering parties or spending time with her good-looking, health-fanatic boyfriend Benedict.

 

When writer’s block strikes, she welcomes a mini-break to Devon which proves just the tonic she needs. But on her return to London, she finds Benedict has been up to no good, and her perfect life is suddenly no more.

 

Will escaping back to the countryside be the answer? Or will life become even more complicated when Lulu runs into handsome, brooding farmer Joe?

 

A funny, feel-good read that will take you on a trip you never knew you needed.

 

Have you packed?

 

Perfect for fans of Zara Stonely and Heidi Swain.

 

* * * *

 

Maddie Please's links:

 

Her author page on Amazon   

 

Her Twitter page  

 

Maddie's website  

 

Her author page on Facebook

 

* * * *

 

 

Cover Love . . . With Kitty Wilson

Posted on 24th July, 2020

This week, I am delighted to welcome my friend and fellow Sister Scribe, the lovely Kitty Wilson, who is here to add her voice to the Cover Love series.

 

Kitty is the author of the Cornish Village School series set in the seaside town of Penmenna. With five books in the series, and five very pretty and appealing covers courtesy of her publisher, Canelo, which book is Kitty going to choose as the one for which she feels that special Cover Love. . .?

 

* * * *

 

When Susanna asked me to write about my favourite cover for this series, I got desperately excited as I am very fond of my covers and the way they work together. They please me aesthetically all lined up in a row and please my business brain as they are a clear brand that, hopefully, promises the reader a comforting, warm read about a school and its place in the community.

 

Then I realised I had no idea which cover was my favourite.

 

The first book in the series, Breaking the Rules, should rightly win the title. It was my first published book so symbolises the point where I turned from aspiring author to published writer. I was in the village pub when I first saw it (hmm, I know, just a quick workday break) and showed everyone there, no-one was allowed back to their pint until they had cooed over it. So that should be my favourite. But…it’s pastel and while pastels are lovely and this book cover is awesome, it can’t be my favourite as I’m a strong colour palate kinda woman.

 

 

My favourite colour is green, so surely that makes Christmas Wishes a shoo-in. All that lovely green and red, and I adore Christmas, am absolutely potty for it and that cover made my heart so happy. I loved it to pieces. But, still not my favourite.

 

 

Summer Love, the third book in the series is sunshine and bunting and summer in Cornwall. The colours are bold and bright and conjure up the tone of the book perfectly with it featuring two of my peppiest characters in the main roles, but when I think about it, it doesn’t win the title.

 

 

The last book of them all is Happy Ever After, it’s where the characters from the very beginning eventually tie the knot and where I was able to give the absolute gorgon of the series, Marion, her very own story of personal growth and a happy ending. It was the toughest to write, it featured a heroine in her forties (yes!) and is probably my favourite book of the lot, but it is not my preferred cover.

 

 

Which leaves us with Second Chances, the second book in the series and an utter firework extravaganza with a bold deep purple on the cover. Purple is my least favourite colour in the world, followed closely by orange (I know, I’m an odd one). But still, this cover with its explosion of fireworks filling the night sky, this is my favourite. I love it. I think it is so vibrant, so alive and packed full of colour and perfectly conjures up Bonfire Night. My publishers did a little gif when they first released it - I am terribly blasé about them now - but at the time I played it and played it and played it like an adolescent girl mooning over her first crush.

 

 

 

I think though, what makes this cover extra special to me is that on publication day I was staying with my writer friends, Susanna is one, in a townhouse in Bath where they presented me with a giant cake with this beautiful, very purple cover on it and filled me full of champagne for breakfast. This may have coloured my judgement.

 

 

But still Second Chances, despite being purple and orange and only having a little bit of green on it, reminds me of the power of friendship every time I see it. This is the cover closest to my heart.

 

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