#WurdyChristmas 3: What will Lucy choose?

free-wallpaper-christmas-treeWelcome to the third part of my exclusive #WurdyChristmas treat short story. Yesterday, I asked you whether Lucy should choose the engraved silver box or the starry velvet bag…

The vote was so close! Right up until I began writing today’s episode the lead kept changing. Read on to find out what she chooses!

Don’t forget to vote at the end to choose what happens tomorrow. Happy reading, lovelies!

SILVER BELLS AT TONY & FRANK’S – PART THREE
©Miranda Dickinson 2016

Lucy’s fingers hovered over the silver box and the velvet bag.

Which one should she choose?

The purple-inked note addressed to her said whatever she chose would change her life.

Change my life? How?

Both gifts were beautiful, both would be wonderful to own, but who had left them here? And who knew she would be alone in her manager’s office tonight? Was someone watching her? Was she really alone here?

What if I make the wrong decision?

Her mum always said decisions should come from the heart. ‘You deliberate and agonise, but I think you always know the right choice, deep down. Your heart decides long before your head.’

Lucy didn’t trust her heart tonight. Not after being so wrong about Aaron. Her heart had assured her Aaron was The One – a phrase she’d laughed at when others had used it, before he arrived in her life. How could she have been so blinkered about him? Her heart had soothed her fears that he was too good to be true, that she was falling dangerously hard for someone who wouldn’t even hold her hand in public…

A fresh wave of injustice hit her as she sat in Sophie’s chair in the cramped office. The signs had been there all along, hadn’t they? His insistence that displays of affection were confined to when they were alone. His unwillingness to introduce her to his parents, or hang out with his friends. As she began to unpick the relationship she’d believed to be perfect, it all became suddenly, horribly clear.

I made excuses for him all the time. I never asked why.

How had she become such a doormat? She was a bright, intelligent woman with ambition and dreams and an intrinsic belief in better times and silver linings. Wasn’t she? Given the almighty mess she now found herself in, maybe the biggest injustice had been that she had allowed someone else to dictate her happiness.

Silver Bells, Silver Bells…

She was suddenly aware of the song again, although she was pretty certain it had been playing all the time since she entered Sophie’s office. It was the same song, Bing Crosby’s familiar croon and Carol Richard’s bright replies. But this time, it was different.

It was almost as if someone were whispering the words close to her ear…

She stood, grabbing the engraved silver box with its tiny diamond-hearted stars – reassured by its considerable weight in her hand – ready to defend herself. Was there an intruder? Had someone followed her inside? She couldn’t remember whether she had locked the front door behind her when she’d come back to Tony & Frank’s. What if someone had been watching her and saw an opportunity?

‘Who’s there?’ she called, every nerve in her body on high alert.

Is that what you did in a situation like this? She didn’t know – but in every thriller she’d ever watched it was the first thing people said. Too late, she remembered that most characters in films who did this usually lived (or didn’t live) to regret it…

The whisper came again, this time by her right ear. She spun around, holding the box aloft, ready to throw it or strike out in the darkness. Could she get away if she hit her invisible assailant? Would there be time to escape?

And then, the silver box in her hand began to glow

For a moment, Lucy forgot her fear. The sight transfixed her. All over the box, the tiny diamond stars dazzled as if dancing in sunbeams. The silver itself emitted an ice-blue glow that bathed Lucy’s hand in light. And the strangest part was that where the glow rested felt warm against her skin…

‘Good choice, kid,’ said a voice.

‘See, I knew she’d go for that one,’ said another. ‘I mean, the bag’s a beaut but check the sparklers on that box!’

Shaking, Lucy looked up – and saw two men leaning against the steel shelving unit where Sophie kept boxes of menus, kids’ activity packs and the staff manuals. Except that when she dared look closer, the shorter of the two appeared to be sitting on the middle shelf.

Hang on – how was that even possible?

‘Who are you? How did you get in here?’

The taller man smiled. He was dressed in an evening suit, black tie hanging loose from the open collar of his dress shirt. In better light, he might have had more than a passing resemblance to Dean Martin in his Rat Pack years. ‘Kid, relax. We didn’t get in here. We are this place.’

Lucy stared.

‘Look at her, boss. The poor thing’s scared to death.’ The shorter man waved from his impossible perch. He too was dressed in evening attire, but the open black jacket and blue silk cummerbund across his ample waist looked as if they had seen better days. His balding brow wrinkled into a frown as he sent Lucy a tentative wave. ‘Hey, lady. Don’t worry. We ain’t stealin’.’

Lucy increased her grip on the silver box, even though its warmth was comforting, inviting her to forget everything and cradle it. ‘Get out! Both of you. Or I’ll…’

The tall man shrugged. ‘Or you’ll what? Throw that gift at us that we picked out for you?’

‘She wouldn’t.’

‘I think she might. She looks mad, Frankie.’

Lucy blinked. ‘Frankie?’

‘Sure. You mean to tell me you don’t know who we are?’

Since their sudden arrival in the office, Lucy had battled the strangest feeling that she somehow knew the intruders – but until the tall man uttered his companion’s name she hadn’t been able to place them.

‘No…’

‘I think she’s gettin’ it, Tony.’

‘You don’t exist! You’re the made up founders of a chain restaurant – there are busts of you over the kitchen hatch…’

‘Babblin’. She’s babblin’, Tony.’

‘I know, Frankie. Give the kid some air.’

‘You are kidding me…’ Lucy felt the room undulate around her. What on earth was happening? She couldn’t – absolutely couldn’t be – talking to Tony & Frank. They didn’t exist. The whole thing was a story created to sell the theme – two brothers from Napoli who arrived in 1920s New York on a boat of immigrants and set up a restaurant in the back streets of Brooklyn. Except that it never happened. The restaurant chain wasn’t even American. The headquarters were in Slough, for crying out loud!

‘Kid, put that box down. We aren’t here to terrorise you.’ Tony held his hands out and Lucy felt her knees buckle as she saw the faint outline of the office through them…

‘Uh boss, I think we’re losing her…’ Frank’s voice began to drift away as Lucy closed her eyes and gave in to the ice-blue, soothing warmth of the glowing silver box.

‘Lucy, Lucy Smith, come back.’ From far away, almost as far as the song had sounded, Lucy was aware of Tony’s voice.

‘Go… away…’ she heard herself murmur.

‘You chose the box, kid. That means you chose us.’

‘I didn’t… I didn’t…’ Words danced around Lucy’s head like the white diamond stars dancing across the silver box lid.

You called us here, Lucy Smith. Because you wanted something better. Because you wanted a miracle.’

‘Go… away…’

‘Lucy, come back.’

This time, Lucy felt the pull of reality gently bringing her back to the darkened office. When she dared to open her eyes, Tony and Frank were still there – both standing now, closer to her than they had been before.

‘Look over there,’ Tony said, pointing a semi-transparent finger to the back wall of the office, where two doors had appeared. Each was painted red, its edges decked out in metallic trim – one gold, one green. ‘We’re here to help you, Lucy Smith. But you have decide what happens here. So pick a door.’

‘Why?’

‘Trust us, kid. Pick a door. The rest will become clear. So, what’ll it be?’

Lucy stared at the doors. Apart from the trim they seemed identical. And what remained of her logic told her that there couldn’t be anything behind either door, apart from a small gap to the back wall. But so much had happened already that defied reason. And she wanted things to change in her life.

But which door should she choose?

TO BE CONTINUED… ©Miranda Dickinson 2016

What do YOU think? Should Lucy choose the gold door or the green door? Vote NOW in the poll below – and come back tomorrow to find out what happens next!

#WurdyChristmas 2: What Happens Next?

wurdychristmas-free-short-storyWelcome to the second part of my exclusive #WurdyChristmas treat short story, Silver Bells at Tony & Frank’s. Yesterday, I asked you whether Lucy Smith should open the door or walk away…

Overwhelmingly, you voted for her to open it!

What happens when she steps into the darkened restaurant kitchen, following the strange, echoey Christmas song? Find out below – and then vote in the poll at the end to choose what happens next. Happy reading, lovelies!

SILVER BELLS AT TONY & FRANK’S – PART TWO ©Miranda Dickinson 2016

Should she go in?

Lucy stared at the double doors for just a moment, then pushed them open. In the course of her average day as assistant manager at Tony & Franks she would pass through these doors maybe a hundred times and never even think about it. But this entry into the darkened kitchen felt different – as if by choosing to walk in she could alter the course of her life.

What am I thinking?

As the doors swung shut behind her, Lucy stopped in the middle of the black-and-white chequerboard tiled floor and laughed. The events of the night were obviously taking their toll. She wasn’t on the verge of a life-changing adventure – she was recently dumped, exhausted and stuck in a closed restaurant until she could work out a way to get home for Christmas.

‘Get over yourself, Lucy Smith,’ she said out loud.

Almost in reply, the song swelled in volume.

Silver Bells, Silver Bells

Lucy’s breath caught in her throat.

It was still slower than the song she and Gran had giggled their way through Christmas Eve waltzes to. And it still sounded far away, even though its volume suggested it was nearer

But that was impossible. Wasn’t it?

Lucy gazed around the familiar space that in this almost-light now appeared alien. The stainless steel worktables, large flat-top grills imported from New York by the 1950s-diner-inspired restaurant chain and banks of industrial-sized refrigerators formed an unfamiliar landscape, washed in pale blue light. She wondered if any of her workmates had seen the kitchen like this. Maybe Sophie, her manager, possibly Dragan and Malik, the head chefs… Seeing it like this, without its frenzy and noise, felt like a privilege.

Hear them ring… Soon it will be Christmas Day…

Lucy glanced at the clock above the grill. One minute to midnight. But that wasn’t right, was it? It had been past midnight when she’d found herself abandoned in the car park by Aaron. The batteries must need changing. She’d make it her first job on Boxing Day when she returned to work after her too-short Christmas break.

Christmas. She’d only ever envisaged it with Aaron for the last three years but tomorrow – today – or whenever it was – was going to be different. What was she going to do? She’d planned to spend Christmas Day snuggled up with the man she thought she’d be engaged to. It was far too late to make other plans, and her own home was woefully unprepared. Working long shifts at Tony & Frank’s in the run-up to Christmas meant she’d only just bought and decorated the small, slightly wonky tree she’d picked up for half price from the large B&Q across the car park from the restaurant. It reminded her of Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree from the cartoon she’d watched over and over on video as a kid with her cousin Kerry, until the ancient VHS tape snapped. ‘More twig than tree,’ Dad would call it.

Mum and Dad would always make room for her at their Christmas table. They never had just family on Christmas Day. Dad said it was Mum’s Italian heritage that dictated every meal should be able to stretch to however many waifs and strays deigned to drop in. Lucy usually loved being part of the eclectic mix of neighbours, friends and virtual strangers her mum invited for Christmas dinner, but now the thought made her shudder. Too many questions. None of which she could answer.

The song had reached an end and for a moment there was silence. Lucy waited. Sure enough, it began again, noticeably louder than before. It echoed around the empty kitchen, calling her closer…

To her surprise, Lucy wasn’t scared, more intrigued to find the source of the music. It definitely wasn’t the sound system – there were no speakers in the kitchen and all the controls were behind the front of house desk by the restaurant’s main entrance. And the music seemed to come from the furthest corner, where Sophie had small office. Tony & Frank’s called it a ‘Team Leader Epicentre’. Most of the staff called it ‘Sophie’s Cardboard Box’. Four wobbly fibreboard walls boxed the tiny space from the main kitchen area. In the summer it was so stifling that Sophie often abandoned it altogether, choosing a booth in the restaurant as her workspace instead.

That’s where the song is coming from!

Following the music, Lucy crossed the kitchen and pulled the bunch of keys from her pocket to find Sophie’s office key. But when she reached the door, it was already ajar. That was odd. Sophie was a stickler for routine – to leave her office unlocked was most unlike her. Of course she may have been distracted tonight. She’d been keen to get back to her new kittens, the thought of her partner Eric cat-sitting them all night apparently terrifying. ‘Don’t get me wrong,’ she’d told Lucy, ‘Eric is a total sweetheart but my kittens miss me when I’m not there. If they start to play up, I don’t think he’ll cope. They’re like gremlins who still have fur…’

When she stepped inside, the song seemed to suddenly surround her, the volume rising as if in celebration of her arrival. Surprised, Lucy took a step back and yelped as her shin banged into the leg of Sophie’s desk. Her hand shot to the edge of it to steady herself and her fingers brushed against something cold…

Lucy looked down. By her hand was a small silver box. Over its lid a burst of stars had been engraved, the centre of each one sparkling with a tiny diamond. It looked as if it had been carved from ice and sprinkled with starlight. Beside it lay a velvet drawstring bag. The beautiful midnight blue velvet had been printed with a shower of gold stars, tied with a delicate cord that could have been made of spun sugar. Lucy bent to get a closer look – and noticed the note.

Beside the box was a gold-edged sheet of notepaper, a message written in looping script across its surface in bright purple ink:

Hello Lucy Smith.

Tonight, Christmas magic is yours to choose.

But which gift shall it be?

Silver or velvet? Box or bag?

Choose carefully – your choice will change your life…

Lucy stared at the gorgeous gifts. Both were stunning – she had never seen anything so beautiful in her life. Could one of these really be for her? She could hardly believe it. But then, nothing since the end of her shift at Tony & Frank’s had made sense tonight.

Her fingers hovered over the box and the bag.

Which one should she choose?

TO BE CONTINUED… ©Miranda Dickinson 2016

What do YOU think? Should Lucy choose the silver box or the starry velvet bag? Vote NOW in the poll below – and come back tomorrow to find out what happens next!

SILVER BELLS AT TONY AND FRANK’S – #WurdyChristmas Part One

HERE IT IS! Welcome to my 2016 #WurdyChristmas treat! Over the next five days, I will be telling you a story. But at the end of each episode, YOU will decide what I write next… Anything could happen between now and Friday. Are you ready for a Christmas adventure?

Without further ado, it is my pleasure to present PART ONE of my story. Happy reading – and don’t forget to vote in the poll at the end to decide what happens tomorrow!

SILVER BELLS AT TONY & FRANK’S – PART ONE ©Miranda Dickinson 2016

Four little words.

That’s what Lucy Smith wanted for Christmas. The timing couldn’t be more perfect: three years to the day since her first tentative kiss with Aaron Morgan at a friend’s Christmas Eve party. And he’d insisted on meeting her tonight after her long shift at Tony & Frank’s 1950s-themed American diner restaurant. There could only be one reason why.

Her workmates had given her good luck hugs as they’d hurried out into the frozen winter night – it had been all anyone had talked about this evening. And for once, Lucy had enjoyed being the centre of attention. Tonight was her night – and even though the customers were rowdier than usual and the backs of her legs ached from running between kitchen and tables, she couldn’t stop smiling.

Will you marry me?

Of course he’d want to ask her alone, in the warmth of his new car. Aaron preferred to keep his public displays of affection private and personal. It meant more that way, Lucy told her friends: a secret world just for the two of them. So much of life and love was played out in public these days. Lucy and Aaron didn’t need to follow the crowd.

Will you marry me?

Four little words with the potential to change everything.

Well, she’d been right about that, at least.

Aaron had been waiting in his new car, like Lucy expected. She’d waved off her friends and walked alone across the frosted car park, excited puffs of silver-white breath floating across her shoulder. The glow of his car headlights made the ground sparkle like gold dust as Lucy approached. He’d looked nervous, as Lucy had expected. Both hands on the steering wheel, dark eyes trained on the darkened restaurant building. Lucy instinctively went to the driver’s side, as she always did. It was their thing. No matter who picked up who, the passenger always offered the driver a kiss through the opened window before getting into the car. He’d done it on their second date when Lucy picked him up from the office complex across town and it had been so lovely they’d adopted it as tradition.

She’d expected this, had thought of little else all day. What she hadn’t expected was that Aaron’s four little words would be the first thing he’d say.

‘I don’t love you.’

Four little words that could change everything.

Only not the change Lucy Smith was expecting.

After that it had been a blur – her stumbling replies and his mumbled apologies as little by little her world began to shatter. And then he’d closed the window and driven away, leaving her mid-sentence:

‘But – but you were supposed to drive me home…’

She had no car here. His insistence on meeting her tonight and the promised end-of-shift drinks with her colleagues had persuaded her to leave her car at home. Fifteen miles and a broken heart now stood between her front door and this freezing car park. It was past midnight – no hope of a taxi for hours. She could call her parents but they might be in bed already. And what would she say? They’d been as convinced as she was that tonight Aaron would propose.

Utterly defeated, embarrassed and cold, Lucy turned back to the familiar shape of Tony & Frank’s. The bulk of keys rested comfortably in her pocket. And in the raw ache of her shattered heart, an idea began to glow.

The restaurant was still, faint blue pools of light from emergency bulbs cutting through the gloom. At the far end the two plaster busts of the mythical Founders presided in darkness over the kitchen hatch, the white pom-poms on their Christmas hats just visible. As soon as Lucy entered, her tears fell. With loud, ugly sobs she reached out for the first booth and slid onto the padded seat.

How could she have been such an idiot? Aaron wasn’t distant because he was rehearsing his proposal speech; he was working out how to leave. There was nobody else, he’d said, but his eyes had told a different story. Why else would he want to end their relationship before Christmas? And what was worse – worst than anything – was that Lucy had allowed herself to focus only on him, on their future. As if all she wanted in life was a ring on her finger. When had she become that girl?

Grabbing the nearest napkin she blew her nose loudly. She should try to find a taxi – at least put some lights on and make some calls. Or she could make herself a drink in the kitchen and wait it out until daylight. She was cold, and angry and heartbroken, without transport or any idea of what to do next. Deciding a hot drink was a good idea, she left the booth and made her way through the darkness towards the kitchen.

And then, she heard it.

The faintest sound, at first so quiet it was barely decipherable. But then notes began to form, a melody emerging that seemed oddly familiar. Tony & Frank’s was known for its vintage soundtrack – a key selling point of the restaurant chain. Had someone left the music system on by mistake? Lucy felt certain she would have heard it as she’d locked up if that were true. And then, she recognised it: Bing Crosby and Carol Richards singing Silver Bells. It had been Lucy’s late grandmother’s favourite Christmas song – she remembered as a little girl being waltzed around the tufted Wilton carpet in Gran’s living room to it.

But it sounded – strange. Where was it coming from? Lucy moved towards the kitchen doors and felt her heart contract as the song grew louder.

It’s coming from in there

The song was slower than she remembered, a heavy echo attached to each note, as if it were being played in a steel-lined room a long way away. Reaching the kitchen doors, Lucy rested her hand against the cool metal – and stopped.

Should she go in?

TO BE CONTINUED… ©Miranda Dickinson 2016

What do YOU think? Should Lucy follow the song into the darkened kitchen? Or move away from it and try to get home? Vote NOW in the poll below – and come back tomorrow to find out what happens next!

#WouldLoveThisBook – spreading book love!

After the success of #LoveThisBook on Twitter, I asked twitterers which books they are most excited to read in 2017. Again, the response was huge – with more conversations, delighted authors and general book excitement…

I’ve really loved talking about books on Twitter this weekend! As with #LoveThisBook, #WouldLoveThisBook brought a wealth of book recommendations, with people tweeting their own wishlists and others discovering titles to add to theirs.

The list is still growing – and you can add your most-wanted books for 2017 by tweeting me @wurdsmyth, using the hashtag #WeLoveThisBook. But I’ve Storified the current selection as nominated by readers and authors today – I’ll keep updating it as more tweets arrive. Get your book wishlists ready and happy reading!

#LoveThisBook – a lovely day on Twitter

One of the things I love most about social media, when it works positively – particularly on Twitter – is that it gives us infinite scope for spontaneous fun. This weekend, annoyed by list after snobby list of ‘2016 Best Books’ in the literary media (blatantly ignoring anything daring to be ‘popular’), I asked people on Twitter to tell me which books they loved reading this year. Any genre, any age, any book.

What followed was a whole day of bookish loveliness.

Using the #LoveThisBook hashtag, people tweeted their favourite books – a really varied mix of well-known and not-so-well-known titles, across the genres from popular fiction to YA, childrens to non-fiction, series to literary, self-published to traditionally published. Famous authors, debut authors, new authors, established authors – all were represented. I was blown away by the response and had so much fun co-ordinating the discussions.

And then, something really lovely happened. Delighted authors began to reply, leading to heartfelt exchanges and thanks flying back and forth. As an author I know how impossibly wonderful it is to hear that someone loved my books – so to see authors meeting their readers in the #LoveThisBook chat was such a treat. Added to this, tweeters began to chat with other readers, discussing books they’d read and recommending others. After so much darkness and anger on Twitter in recent months, it was fantastic to see people united by a love of books, sharing something positive.

I’ve Storified the discussion HERE – so if you’re looking for your next read you might just find it there! You can still join the fun by tweeting your favourites. Just use the hashtag #LoveThisBook and tweet me @wurdsmyth. Happy reading!

Strange times and Silver Linings

Next Thursday, my eighth novel, SEARCHING FOR A SILVER LINING is published. It’s the book I am most proud of, not least because I worked so hard to make it a truly memorable book. It is also personally special to me because of the happy hours I spent talking to my Dad about his memories of being a teenager in the 1950s while I was writing it. But I never thought during the many months spent writing my book that it would be published without Dad seeing it.
   
But that’s what is happening. A week ago today, I lost my lovely Dad.

 
Still, as I write that sentence, I can’t quite believe it. Life without him is going on – because life does – but the world is a little dimmer and quieter without his presence and infectious sense of humour. The bottom line is that I write what I write because I inherited Dad’s love of comedy and his natural storytelling skill. My earliest memories are of Dad making me laugh. He would make my toys move and talk with funny voices, and tell me stories that made me giggle. He made books come alive for me and my sister and often recited favourite tales verbatim on our walks. So much of what I now do for a living can be traced back to those special times.
When he died, I didn’t want to think about my writing, my stories. They suddenly seemed trivial. All I could think of were his stories – the ones he’d tell over and over again, the ones we had now lost. How do you carry on promoting a new book when life floors you like this?

I’m not sure I know the answer.

But here’s what I do know. My amazing, talented, hilarious Dad had one solution whenever life chucked a spanner in his path: create something to redress the balance. When he was unexpectedly made redundant at the age of 56, Dad sought something creative in response: he joined a TV and Film Extras agency. 

Over the years he had a ball, acting alongside famous people from Scarlett Johansson, Johnny Depp and Michael Sheen, to Catherine Tate, Patrick Stewart and Philip Glenister. And from each new job came new stories – hilarious, stitch-inducing tales of the crazy things he was asked to do. Such as posing with a bolshy duck in The Village, or running up a hill with a Zimmer frame in Hustle. Or the time while filming The Libertine when he asked Johnny Depp what his previous acting job was (Dad’s had been Emmerdale, of which he was mighty proud) to be told ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’, and Dad replied, ‘Oh, I’ve seen that. Were you in it?’

Dad understood that, when something bad happens, creating something new and hopeful in its place is the best response.

I can’t bring my Dad back. I wish I could – I would swap every printed copy of my books from here to eternity for one more day with him. But what I do have is the book he was so involved in the writing of. So many of Dad’s memories are woven into the story – in Reenie’s tales of her band The Silver Five’s exploits and in Grandpa Joe’s diary entries that Mattie Bell discovers as she embarks on a road trip like no other. Even the songs that form the chapter headings in Searching for a Silver Lining are my Dad’s favourites from the 1950s. It’s as if the things I loved most about being Brian Harvey Dickinson’s daughter have been infused into the story.

  
Dad was SO proud of my writing. Every week he would call me with shelf updates from my local Waterstones and WHSmith stores – the booksellers knew he was my Dad and would show him the latest sales figures for my books. He would frequently rearrange shelves so that my books were more visible – several times I was congratulated for being a Richard and Judy pick because a certain sparkly-eyed septuagenarian had been working his magic on the shelves… I know he was proud of this book and loved chatting with me about it.

Those are the things I’m hanging on to as I prepare to do all the book promotion in the coming weeks. So if you see me on Twitter and FB and appearing on lovely book bloggers’ sites talking about my book, please know I’m doing it hoping my lovely Dad is looking on approvingly from the major stage (with the enormous audience) he’s just been called to. And thank you for all your love and support – it’s helping me so much to carry on doing what Dad was so proud of.

HERE IT IS! The cover for Searching for a Silver Lining!

I have been impatiently waiting to share the cover of my new book, Searching for a Silver Lining, with you… And finally, I can reveal it!

Drumroll, please…

Ta-daaah!

SfaSL FINAL COVERadore it – and I hope you do, too. All the silver grey you see in the picture above will be gorgeous, sparkly silver foil – including the tiny stars. I can’t wait to share my eighth novel with you! It will be published on 20th October 2016 and we’re planning all kinds of exciting things around the time of the launch, so keep watching my website, twitter and Facebook for all the details.

You can pre-order Searching for a Silver Lining NOW in both paperback and ebook editions. Woo-hoo! xx

HERE IT IS! My Big Sparkly Book News!

I have been waiting to share this with you for so long – and now the time has finally come!

….DRUMROLL PLEASE…

My eighth novel will be called SEARCHING FOR A SILVER LINING and will be published by PanMacmillan on 20th October 2016! You can now preorder it here…

SFASL Title Reveal

Here’s the blurb:

Searching for a Silver Lining

It began with a promise…

Matilda Bell is left heartbroken when she falls out with her beloved grandfather just before he dies. Haunted by regret, she makes a promise that will soon change everything…

When spirited former singing star Reenie Silver enters her life, Mattie seizes the opportunity to make amends. Together, Mattie and Reenie embark on an incredible journey that will find lost friends, uncover secrets from the glamorous 1950s and put right a sixty-year wrong.

Touchingly funny, warm and life-affirming, this is a sparkling story of second chances. Searching for a Silver Lining will take you on a trip you’ll never forget.

So, there it is! I am beyond excited for you all to read this book – I have had the best time writing it and I know you’re going to love vintage shop owner Mattie Bell and the wonderfully glamorous and outspoken Reenie Silver. The cover is being designed as we speak and I’ll tell you lots more about the book in the coming weeks, so watch out for my vlogs coming soon.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts! xx

 

Reality check…

Do you mind if I get a bit emotional for a minute?

This is just a short post but something happened to me today that I wanted to write down. To remind me that it happens.

As you know, I’m in the final stages of editing Book 8. It’s been hard. Really hard. After writing and editing eight novels you would think I’d expect this but somehow every year I forget once my book is handed in. This year has been brutal. I’m not going to apologise for saying it. Writing a book is hard work, editing it into some kind of coherent story is a long (but necessary) slog. And the final stages of an edit are the absolute worst bit. If you’ve ever written a book, you’ll understand.

Editing Book 8

My edit face – nope, it ain’t pretty…

But then today, right in the middle of it all, someone I’ve never met tweeted me to say they’d chosen my books to read during their week off.

I know how precious holiday reading time is. And how important it is to choose the right book to spend time with. So, hearing that a complete stranger has picked my book completely blows my mind.

As a published writer it’s too easy to get caught up in the tough bits – the hours nobody else sees you investing, the doubts, the heart-searching slog to find the best story – and forget why you wanted to write in the first place. Every now and again glimpses like this appear and they are wonderful.

There’s no great lesson from this, apart from the encouragement that as a writer what you do makes a difference to other people. I’m leaving this post here as a message to anyone slogging out a story – and as a message to a future, sleep-deprived, fed up, final-stage-edit me. Hang in for the good stuff. It happens.

YOUR chance to appear in Book 8!

Right now, I’m editing what will be my eighth novel and I’m making some substantial changes to the first draft I submitted at the end of last year. So, I thought it was about time we had some fun with the book…

What I’ve loved in recent years is involving my lovely readers in not just the launch of my books but throughout the process, via my vlogs and #getinvolved challenges. It’s been so much fun to incorporate ideas – and in some cases, readers themselves as characters – into my stories.

So, this got me thinking. How can I have fun with this big edit of Book 8, while also getting my lovely readers involved?

Here’s my exciting plan…

As this is an edit and I don’t have a lot of room to put in suggestions and new characters, I’ve decided to offer some chances for teeny-tiny mentions I can sneak into the story without detracting from it or changing the pace.  I’m calling these MICROCAMEOS. Think of it like film extras who appear in scenes to support the action. I would like to sneak you into the heart of the action of Book 8, hanging out with my brand new cast of characters.

Fancy grabbing a MicroCameo in my new book?

To win a spot in Book 8, simply share this blog post (via Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr or on your blog) and leave a comment (either below this post, on my Facebook Author Page or tweet me @wurdsmyth on Twitter) telling me why you should have a MicroCameo. I’ll pick as many as I can to sneak into the story and if you appear in the book, I’ll mention you in the Acknowledgements at the beginning, too. Entries must be in BY MIDNIGHT (GMT) ON FRIDAY 11TH MARCH.

I would love to write you into my book. What are you waiting for? Best of luck! xx