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Welcome, Sheila Norton…

*offers Sheila a cup of tea*

Coconut Loft~cup of tea

 

 

 

 

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

I live near Chelmsford in Essex with my husband of nearly 45 years. We have three married daughters and six little grandchildren. I worked as a medical secretary before retiring early to concentrate on my writing. I’ve been writing since childhood but my first publications were short stories for children when my three daughters were small. I then won two first prizes in the ‘Writers’ News’ short story competitions and went on to have over 100 stories published in women’s magazines.

My first novel was published by Piatkus Books in 2003. I then had a further seven books published by Piatkus – all under my own name except for the last three which my editor wanted me to publish under a new name as they made up a series – the ‘Tales From’ series, written as Olivia Ryan. Since then I’ve been self-publishing with Amazon (Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace). As well as re-publishing my back list, I’ve self-published a further series of three books (the Sisters Series), and more recently, two books largely set in the 1960s – ‘Yesterday’ and ‘Ticket to Ride’. And my newest book is a story with grandparents as the leading characters and is called ‘A Grand Thing’. All these are written under my own name.

Sheila Norton~Grand Thing for paperback

 

 

 

 

 

What was the first story you wrote?

It was a short story for Brownies, which was published in ‘The Brownie’ magazine. But my first novel was the more significant ‘first’!  ‘The Trouble With Ally’ was a rom com about a woman who was just turning 50 and had all kinds of ordinary but hilarious problems going on in her life.

Were you inspired by someone or something?

Yes. I’d made previous attempts at a novel but nothing had worked so I stuck with short stories … until the ‘chick lit’ era and ‘Bridget Jones’ Diary’ made me realise that all the rom com books seemed to be about women in their 20s and 30s. I was about 50 myself at the time and felt sure a book featuring the life of an ordinary working mum of my kind of age could be just as funny. After 18 months of submissions, my Piatkus editor agreed – and I finally achieved my lifetime ambition.

Why do you write?

Simple answer: because it’s what I’ve always loved doing. I’d be doing it even if I had nothing published. It’s more than a hobby, but I can’t call it work because ‘work’ sounds like something you have to do. When I had a full-time job I wrote in the evenings – it was my relaxation.

Can you tell us about your newest book?

‘A Grand Thing’ is available from Amazon as a paperback (£7.99) or Kindle edition (£1.99). The four main characters are all grandparents who help to care for their grandchildren. They get to know each other through the children and eventually support each other through some difficult times. The main narrator is Kate, whose son and two daughters drive her mad by arguing about whose children she looks after the most. The other three characters – Bob, who struggles with arthritis and a possible crush on Kate; Jackie, a young and reluctant grandmother; and Pam, who seems inexplicably angry and hostile – also narrate chapters of their own.

How did you come up with the story?

It’s the result of another observation I’ve made about the contemporary fiction market – very few books seem to have grandparents as the main characters. I’ve acquired six grandkids in less than six years, and they’re a wonderful part of my life. Most of my friends either have grandchildren or other young relatives – and as older people buy the most books I felt sure lots of people would enjoy this kind of story. But basically it’s a family story, so I hope mums, dads, aunts, uncles – anyone who loves family life will enjoy it. I hasten to add that my own daughters are much nicer and less selfish than Kate’s children in the book! But my experience as ‘Nanny’ obviously helped in writing it.

What genre best fits for the book?

Contemporary women’s fiction (family life).

What are some of the benefits and challenges to writing?

Benefits:  I have never been bored in my entire life!  Writing takes you out of yourself if you’re feeling troubled, sad, or cross, and is always there, like a friend, waiting for you to come back to. As a hobby, it’s something you can do no matter what age you are, where you live, if you’re on your own, hard-up or disabled. If you’re lucky enough to be paid for it, it’s the icing on the cake. To be paid (however much or little) for doing what you enjoy is a privilege I never take for granted.

Challenges:  Not many writers can make their entire living from it, so you need either a day job or a pension or some other means of income. Sometimes it’s hard to be motivated and find the time, when you have a busy job and/or children to look after. If you don’t have a day job, writing can be socially isolating so you need to find ways to prevent this. It’s also necessary to come to terms with rejection and criticism. Learning to take these on the chin is part of becoming a real writer.

Do you attend a writing group?

Because I worked at a busy job until I’d had six novels published, I never joined a writing group of any kind – I needed all my spare time for actual writing! But I did join the Romantic Novelists’ Association after I was first published, and have become an active member of the Chelmsford chapter. We’re a friendly group who meet once a month for support and friendship. Apart from this, I prefer to mix with other people socially – friends and family who aren’t writers – as I don’t want my life to become completely focused on writing. It might not bore me, but it would bore everyone around me!

Do you have someone to critique your work?

Yes, I’m very lucky in that my three daughters are very gifted in areas which benefit me as an author! One is a freelance copywriting and marketing consultant, one is a publicity and PR consultant (specialising in children’s books), and the third is an editor and writer in the health industry. I never publish or submit anything until at least two of them have read and edited it – and I’ve had all sorts of help with promotion and marketing too.

Are you working on something new at the moment?

Two new things! I’m working with my agent on the editing of a third book set partly in the 1960s (and partly in the present day). And I also have a brand new contract with one of the leading publishers for something completely different and exciting, which is planned for release towards the end of this year.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Don’t do it unless you love it. No other reason makes sense. But if you do want to write, do it, don’t put it off – you can make time if you’re determined enough. Don’t give up if you meet rejection after rejection – that’s par for the course. If you choose to self-publish, be professional, and above all, realistic. Few of us become millionaires!

What is your writing routine?

Since retiring from the day job, I don’t have a routine. I simply write whenever I can, whenever nothing else is calling for my time. I enjoy the freedom, and it makes up for all the years of fitting in my writing around children and working for the NHS!

Do you have an editing process?

Nothing special. Just – read the book through as many times as possible, be prepared to cut out anything that doesn’t work, and don’t be surprised to keep finding silly mistakes even on the third or fourth read!

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

Most enjoy: that feeling when the story takes off, the characters seem to come alive and do things you hadn’t even planned, and the whole process actually feels like magic.

Least enjoy: writing a plan or a synopsis. I never stick to them, as the story always takes unexpected turns as I write it.

How important is it for you to share your writing?

I’d say it’s pretty important – a lot of the pleasure comes from anticipating other people (hopefully) enjoying what I write. But if nobody ever read what I wrote, I think I’d still do it, for my own enjoyment.

Where can people go to read your work?

All my books are currently on Amazon.

Where can people find you on the internet?

My website : www.sheilanorton.co.uk

My blog: http://sheilanorton.blogspot.co.uk

My Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/SheilaNortonAuthor

My Twitter ‘handle’: @NortonSheilaann

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

I love hearing from readers. As an avid reader myself, I make a point of posting a good review if I’ve read something I particularly enjoyed, because I know what a difference it makes to an author to get feedback from readers. I also always reply to any messages sent through my website. To keep up to date with news about my writing, go to my website and fill in the ‘reply’ form, asking to be added to the mailing list for my email newsletter, which is only sent out a few times each year. I never pass on email addresses to any third party.

Thank you so much, Suzan, for giving me this opportunity – I’ve enjoyed being a guest on your blog! And thank you, Sheila, I have enjoyed it too x

Purple and white tulips

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Alternative paths to publishing proliferate but the path for authors most likely to be lucrative is still the oldest one

http://www.idealog.com/blog/alternative-paths-publishing-proliferate-path-authors-likely-lucrative-still-oldest-one/

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Lowestoft authors pledge to publish their books in time for event

http://www.lowestoftjournal.co.uk/news/lowestoft_authors_pledge_to_publish_their_books_in_time_for_event_1_3959613

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Welcome Bella Osborne…

*offers Bella a cup of tea*

 Coconut Loft~cup of tea

Can you tell me a little about yourself?

Thanks for the opportunity to appear on your blog, Suzan. I’m a wife and mother and I live in the Midlands. I’m eternally grateful for the wonderful people in my life and tea, wine, holidays and cake… oh, and custard creams.

What was the first story you wrote?

I can’t remember if it had a title but it was about a thief who stole the crown jewels – I was about nine at the time and the story was so long that my teacher typed it up for me and then stuck it on the classroom wall.

Were you inspired by someone or something?

I was always taught to respect and look after books so reading and being read to was always very special to me as a child. Like so many children I loved the Enid Blyton stories, with Secret Seven being my absolute favourite. I started writing at school and have continued to do it on and off for many years.

Why do you write?

It has always seemed quite logical to me to write my own stories so I’ve never really questioned why I do it. My question would be ‘why doesn’t everybody do it?’ It’s the best fun ever! It is also the best excuse to sit at a computer, drink tea and eat Olympic quantities of custard creams.

Can you tell us about your newest book?

My debut novel ‘It Started at Sunset Cottage’ is out as an e-book on 12th February 2015 and in paperback on 23rd April 2015. It has two strong women at its core. Kate is an author and is consistently calm, reserved and measured whilst Sarah is a sharp-tongued single mother who acts first and thinks later.

After losing her fiancé, Kate is slowly getting her life back on track when

Timothy Calder, A-list actor and leading man in the movie adaptation of her book, turns up on her doorstep, hoping to lie low after his latest tabloid scandal. But after a rocky start, they find they have a few things in common: a liking for Lady Grey tea, walnut whips and bad ‘knock knock’ jokes. Actually, the bad jokes are just Tim.

Sarah on the other hand is trying to hold down two jobs and shut her ex-husband out of her life. When he goes missing she thinks it’s the answer to her problems until Sarah becomes number one suspect.

Bella~It started~

How did you come up with the story?

I really wish I had a super intelligent response for this question but the honest answer is that Kate appeared as a character and the ‘what if?’ questions started flying around my head and it all grew from there. I was keen to have two related threads in the story, which I switch between and hopefully make for a compelling read.

What genre best fits for the book?

It is definitely Romance but when it comes to narrowing that down to a sub-genre then it gets a bit tricky. It is a romance novel that incorporates humour with underlying menace and intrigue. It has been described as being both witty and poignant but hopefully readers will enjoy it despite its lack of obvious pigeonhole.

What are some of the benefits and challenges to writing?

For me the benefits are that I simply love writing. When I’m writing it feels like it’s what I should be doing (apart from being with family, eating custard creams and being on holiday obviously). I get a real buzz when I’m sat at the keyboard and the words are tumbling out and when I typed The End on my first completed novel I felt a huge sense of achievement.

The biggest challenge for me is juggling all the other roles that I have in life and squeezing it all into 24 hours whilst retaining what’s left of my sanity.

Do you attend a writing group?

Not as such but I do attend a local writing course which meets weekly and provides me with a safe environment to share my writing. The tutor and course attendees have been a huge support to me over the last two years.

Do you have someone to critique your work?

I do. I am very lucky to have a hugely supportive writing tutor, a friendly grammar Nazi, an inspiring agent and a wonderful editor, oh and a lovely husband who I make read it too. I then have a fabulous bunch of beta readers who read it for story and tell me honestly if it’s any good.

Are you working on something new at the moment?

I have just finished my first attempt at a children’s story, which I’m very excited about and really hope I can find a publisher for. I am also part way through my third novel for adults, which is based in an office and has themes of romance, humour and underlying menace.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Seek out other writers. I can’t explain how brilliant it feels to be around other writers. I would recommend joining groups, courses and the myriad of genre writing associations. I joined the Romantic Novelists Association on their New Writer’s Scheme and I have learned so much from their events, met some amazing writers and made some terrific friends.

Make time to write. If you really want to write, then something else has to give; be it social media, Candy Crush, television, sleep or the cleaning – trust me in a year’s time you won’t regret not having done those things but you will regret not having found time to write.

What is your writing routine?

I work part time so I am lucky enough to be able to dedicate time each week to writing. I also squeeze in time whenever I can especially if I’m in the middle of a WIP or doing something crazy like NaNoWriMo. Even ten minutes can be enough to get a few words down. If you wait for a two hour window it’ll never happen!

I am also a big planner so I spend a long time developing my characters, understanding them as people and plotting out the story before I ever put pen to paper, finger to keyboard or custard cream to lips (it’s a kind of reward mechanism).

Do you have an editing process?

I write a first draft then put it away for about four weeks. I get it out, crack open a new packet of custard creams, read it through and redo the bits that don’t work as I go. I try to focus on each scene and mentally check what it is adding to the overall story and if it’s the best it can be. Then I send it to my agent who tells me what works and what I need more of. Then I send it to my Editor who will make some suggestions for improvement. Then it goes to a proof reader and then we all breathe a sigh of relief.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

I love the first buds of a story (as long as they don’t pop up when you are trying to finish something else). That stage when you have no idea where the story is going to take you and you have to learn about your characters is the most exciting for me.

I’m less fond of the editing. I can read something ten or more times and not spot a typo because I’ve become blind to it. But I do like being able to tinker with it. The hardest bit is letting go.

How important is it for you to share your writing?

You know what, it’s actually not that important. I can say that because I kept it to myself for years. I never really expected to get published so the fact that real people are going to read it is very scary. But now that it’s happening I truly hope that readers enjoy it.

Where can people go to read your work?

Amazon via this link http://goo.gl/2yl8Qz

Other e-reader book stores for ‘It Started at Sunset Cottage’ and there are some examples of output from my writing class as well as some terrific work by other course attendees at www.tellingtalesonthursdays.weebly.com

I also write a fortnightly column called Bella’s Scribblings for the Novel Kicks website. www.novelkicks.co.uk/category/bellas-scribblings/

Where can people find you on the internet?

www.bellaosborne.com

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

A big thank you to each and every one of them!

Custard cream anyone?

 Custard creams

Don’t mind if I do.

Thank you for a lovely interview, Bella and good luck with your writing. Suzan.

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Welcome Tottie Limejuice, author of Sell The Pig Series…

Writing as L M Krier

*hands Tottie a cup of tea and a [GF] scone*

Tea and scone

Tottie, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet me.

Tottie

Thanks for having me, and thanks so much for remembering my need for a gluten free  scone, much appreciated. And Earl Grey tea, too – you’re really spoiling me!

Can you tell me a little about your writing to date?

I’ve written in one form or another most of my life as a former journalist and copywriter but have only comparatively recently started writing books.

So far I have published a trilogy of travel memoirs, the Sell the Pig series, plus a self-help guide to writing press releases. In December 2014, with two other writers, Jilli Pennington and Janet Holt, I co-wrote and edited another travel memoir, Take Three Birds, under the collective pen name of Jilli Lime-Holt.

My first crime novel, Baby’s Got Blue Eyes, is just released, under the pen name L M Krier, which is actually part of my real name. It’s published on 13 February 2015 and is available to pre-order for Kindle before then.

Tottie~Babys got blue eyes

Can you tell us about your newest book?

It’s a crime thriller, a detective murder mystery. It’s always been about my favourite genre to read but it never occurred to me to write one until I got to the age of 62. Sometimes, I can be breathtakingly slow on the uptake!

A different genre for you. How did you come up with the story?

It sounds incredibly cheesy but I honestly did dream most of it. Just before Christmas, I dreamt the broad outline of the plot and the main characters, then started mulling it over in my head and thought it would be fun to write.

Have you written it in the first person or the third person? Which do you find easiest?

It’s in the third person. That’s because my main character is a man and sometimes I think it can go disastrously wrong for a woman to try to write in a man’s voice. Unless it is incredibly skilfully done, it can sound so awkward and unrealistic. Writing in the third person is more detached, it’s easier to get it right.

Have you any tips for aspiring writers?

Don’t be afraid to have a go. Write it for yourself initially, enjoy what you’re doing, have fun. But remember that it’s hard work, probably much more of a slog than many people realise, if you want to get it right.

If/when you decide to publish it, do make sure it is professionally edited and proofread. It’s a thing of mine but I think it shows a certain lack of respect to readers to do a messy job. But yes, of course the odd typo has slipped through in my books – contrary to rumour, I am only human!

What is your writing routine?

I usually wake up quite early, let the dogs out, make a cup of tea then go back to bed, under a heap of dogs. As I sip my tea then have a little snooze, I mull over scenes in my head, then when I get up, I whack them out on the computer while I can still remember them.

I write in my head a lot, I find it an easier way to get dialogue to flow. Out on dog walks, I am usually mentally composing things. I had to do a lot of reasoning with my murderer for this crime book, we had frequent differences of opinion. It felt like I was being taken over by the character at times and we kept having these mental battles.

Sometimes I speak some of it out loud as neither dog speaks English, nor does anyone I am likely to meet wandering round the woods.

Do you have beta readers?

Yes, absolutely – they should be compulsory! And you need to pick ones you know will be completely honest. Mine are pretty ruthless! For this crime novel I used four, three women and a man, to get as broad an overview as possible.

There are lots of plot twists and turns and I was worried I hadn’t tied up all the loose ends properly by the end. In fact one beta reader helped enormously. I’d thought I’d been cleverly subtle in tying one loose end up but it was so subtle the beta reader had missed the explanation so I had to rework it.

Do you have an editing process?

Yes, before I begin any serious work each day, I always thoroughly edit what I wrote the day before. I’m a compulsive saver, too, I save each edition of everything, sorted by date. It’s too easy to rework something then bitterly regret having changed how it was. That way I can always go back to the beginning if I need to.

Everything is also backed up to USB stick and to hard drive so I should always have a copy of it somewhere.

Where can people go to read your work?

It’s currently available for Kindle and in paperback format from Amazon, and I will be expanding its availability to other channels.

Where can people find you on the internet?

I spend a lot of time on Facebook, you can find me at https://www.facebook.com/groups/1450797141836111/1546417845607373/?notif_t=group_comment

My email address is tottielimejuice@gmail.com

On Twitter I am https://twitter.com/tottielimejuice

My website is http://tottielimejuice.com/

And if you want to meet me in the flesh, you can come on Tottie’s Tours http://tottielimejuice.com/totties-tours-discover-beautiful-auvergne/

I try to respond to everyone who contacts me and I love to chat, when I have the time.

Thanks so much for having me, it’s been great fun, as ever.

Tottie~Babys got blue eyes  Tottie~Take three birds  Tottie~Press Release book

Tottie~Sell the pig Tottie~Is that Billinge Lump Tottie~Mother was it worth it

Tottie, thank you for a superb interview and good luck with your new book. Suzan xx

Champagne

Tottie, thank you for a superb interview and good luck with your new book. Suzan xx

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Welcome Nicola May, chick lit author…

*hands Nicola a cup of tea and a scone*

Tea and scone

 

 

 

 

Nicola, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet me. You’re a successful self-published author of 6 six novels and … you’ve just signed a contract to have seven books traditionally published by Accent Press. I am so excited for you!

Can you tell me a little about yourself? [including pen name if you have one]

Firstly I love tea and scones, almost as much as I love flapjacks so thank you!

Nicola May

Nicola May is my pen name. May was actually my mum’s middle name, she died very young and I wanted to have a little piece of her with me wherever I went.

What was the first story you wrote?

It was Star Fish. A tale of unlucky in love, Piscean Amy Anderson, who decides to date every sign of the zodiac in search of her ‘sole’ mate.

Were you inspired by someone or something?

Ha! Yes, plenty of disastrous dates I had been on inspired me to create a humourous tale.

What do you like about writing a story?

It’s hard to explain. I adore writing. I love the excitement I feel as the characters come to life and also the eureka moments I get when a plot idea hits and I know the reader will love it. I try and incorporate as many twists and turns as I can to keep the reader intrigued and guessing. I also like to deal with deeper issues, but in a comedic way so that hopefully everyone can relate to something that may have happened to them and not be scared by it. I have addressed bereavement, weight issues, infertility, domestic abuse and unemployment.

Can you tell us about your newest book?

My latest book, out in July 2015 is called The SW19 Club. SW19 as most of it is based around the Wimbledon area, specifically on Wimbledon Common and that is the postcode for that area of London.

Nicola May~The SW19 Club cover

Here is the synopsis…

What would you do if you were told you could never have children?

When Gracie Davies is faced with the tragic news that no woman ever wants to hear, followed by the breakdown of her relationship, she is at an all-time low.

With the help of her unorthodox therapist, Professor Princeton, her hippy chick sister, Naomi and her prostitute friend Maya, she starts to rebuild her life.

Searching for inner peace, she starts up The SW19 Club, a club where women can chat openly about the usually unspoken issues of miscarriage, abortion, infertility and IVF.

Add in a passionate fling with handsome landscaper Ed, the pursuit of Hollywood actor father of her nephew and the persistence of her adulterous ex, your heart, will be both warmed and wrenched, as you join Gracie on her rocky journey to self-discovery and happiness.

How did you come up with the story?

I very sadly lost twins myself then had to face the decision to have a hysterectomy. Instead of beating the floor with both fists, I decided to turn the negative into a positive and try and help women who have suffered similar tragedies.

What genre best fits for the book?

I like to call my books ‘chick lit with a kick’ – there is always a love element but they are not fluffy. They are real. My characters are real and the issues I address certainly are.

Are you working on something new at the moment?

I have the plot flying around my head for my sequel to The School Gates at the moment (out in March 2015) – working title – Beyond the School Gates.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Yes, write! If I was given a pound for everyone who said they had a book in them I’m be very rich. Just get something down.

I also don’t edit as I go now. I find it best to get a chunk of writing down and go back to it.

Also perseverance is key. If you want to see your work in print, then you must never give up. I wrote my first novel nineteen years ago. I wasn’t going to stop until I got a publishing deal and now through a lot of hard work, time and effort, I have reached my first goal. My next one now is to see myself in the bestselling list in the Culture magazine that comes with the Sunday Times. Oh, and to get on Lorraine’s sofa!

Do you write in a writing group?

No, I never had. With the help of a marvellous copy editor, I have just learnt my craft as I go along.

Do you have people who will critique your work? [And if you do, do you acknowledge them in the front of the book?]

Yes, my sisters and a select group of my friends are my best critics. They are honest and guide me along the way. My acknowledgements pages usually make ME cry!

What is your writing routine?

I write in bed and when I start a novel there is no stopping me. I can write for hours at a time without a break. I find that best for continuity. In fact I wrote The School Gates in 4 weeks whilst I was in bed recovering from my hysterectomy. To date that is my bestseller and I won an award for Best Author Published Read at the Festival of Romance for it, which was a great feeling!

Do you have beta readers?

Yes. I have a lovely group of romance bloggers who I always offer my book to prior to publishing day.

Do you have an editing process?

My 16 year old niece is actually a brilliant copy editor. She does a round, and then I send to my actual copy editor to do her thing. Now I’m with Accent Press, I am going to be very spoilt with my own personal editor.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

There is nothing I don’t enjoy about writing.

How important is it for you to share your writing?

It is the whole point of me doing it. I love to share my heartfelt stories and it is an amazing feeling when somebody tells me that my book has helped them in some way. And, also just to hear the escapism of the read has made them happy. Reviews are gold to a writer.

Where can people go to read your work?

Star Fish, Working it Out, The School Gates, The Bow Wow Club and Christmas Yves can all be purchased as paperback or Kindle versions through Amazon. Better Together is just available on Kindle but Accent will be producing a paperback too this year.

I have also written a How to Guide entitled… How to create & maintain your author profile + increase your Amazon sales

Where can people find you on the internet?

Twitter: @nicolamay 1

Website: www.nicolamay.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NicolaMayAuthor

Amazon page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Nicola-May/e/B004QUBKWW

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

 Just that I cannot wait to share my books with a wider audience.

A question about your lovely book covers

Suzan: I ran my first Just Write It! writing workshops in November and six writers have pledged to publish their current works in progress in time for a literary event. This event is a pop-up book shop and is scheduled to take place at The Coconut Loft in Lowestoft, Suffolk in July 2015.  I too have accepted this challenge and the group is called Waveney Author Group [WAG] and we met yesterday to discuss and plan our literary challenge. One question that I know the group would love to ask is how do you chose such lovely designs for your self-published book covers?

Nicola: Ooh that sounds fantastic. I literally just go to istock images and purchase images and I have a designer friend who puts them together in the Nicola May brand for me. Now that I have a publisher this will of course change.

Nicola, thank you for a superb interview and good luck with your new publisher. Suzan xx

Champagne

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