Thursday, September 11, 2014

Guest post from author Zara Stoneley: In Praise of the Older Hero and Heroine

Thanks for inviting me over here today, Nic! 

When I went to the Festival of Romance last year, to do a reading and book signing, there was a gentleman who was very politely quizzing nearly all the authors about why there weren’t more mature (as in over a certain age) people in the romance stories we wrote.

Now there were actually quite a few authors present whose books featured older hero’s and heroine’s, but he did have a point – they’re in the minority.

In ‘Stable Mates’ there are a lot of characters, and they span the generations. Which made it great fun to write. One of the strongest characters in the story has to be Elizabeth Stanthorpe, Lottie’s gran. She’s a real mischief maker and likes to use her age as an excuse for doing more or less whatever she likes. 

And at the other end of the scale is teenage Tabatha, who has a crush on more than one of the riders, much to her father’s dismay.

I don’t want to give the story away, but the romance isn’t limited to the twenty-something’s. Young love, and mature love, are very different and there’s room for both in a good romance. And there’s definitely room for both in Tippermere!

Elizabeth Stanthorpe had been born in Tipping House, and fully intended on dying there. After she’d ensured that her family would continue running the estate in the way it deserved to be.

‘I imagine that young Rory thinks Dominic is gay.’ She raised an eyebrow as Lottie spluttered a shower of gin and tonic over one of the black Labradors and then hastily tried to rub it in with the back of her hand.

‘I’m not sure that’s why they don’t like each other, not that I think Uncle Dom is gay, of course.’

‘Well, I did.’ She took another swig of her own drink.

‘Gran, you can’t say that.’

‘Well he can be so bloody prissy at times, not a bit like his father was. If it hadn’t been a home birth I would have thought there had been a mix up at some point. No one would have ever have accused your grandfather of batting for the other side, although those private schools can bring out the worst in boys.’ She focussed back on her only granddaughter, only grandchild, who was going a funny shade of pink. ‘Well, you did bring it up, darling. Pour me another drink whilst you’re up, there’s a good girl.’

Lottie had been about to say she wasn’t actually up, but knew it was useless to argue with her grandmother, who had what she referred to as ‘backbone’.

As she sloshed a good measure of Bombay Sapphire gin into the chipped crystal, she decided that it was a good job they didn’t make them like that anymore. Although the matriarch could be more fun than the rest of the family put together when it suited her. Nothing stopped Elizabeth when she got the bit between her teeth, and Lottie secretly thought that her grandmother wasn’t as batty, forgetful and deaf as she liked to make out.

‘All I said,’ she passed the drink to Elizabeth who sniffed it as though she suspected it might be laced with something, or more likely not strong enough, ‘was that Rory thought it was strange when Uncle Dom turned up at the dressage. Did you have anything to do with that?’

‘I may have mentioned it.’ She tapped a long nail against the side of the glass, piercing blue eyes fixed on Lottie. ‘You could do a lot better than that man, Charlotte.’ She shook her head slowly. ‘You are so like your mother in some ways.’

Zara Stoneley

Bestselling author Zara Stoneley lives in deepest Cheshire surrounded by horses, dogs, cats and amazing countryside. When she’s not visiting wine bars, artisan markets or admiring the scenery in her sexy high heels or green wellies, she can be found in flip flops on the beach in Barcelona, or more likely sampling the tapas!

Zara writes hot romance and bonkbusters. Her latest novel, ‘Stable Mates’, is a fun romp through the Cheshire countryside and combines some of her greatest loves – horses, dogs, hot men and strong women (and not forgetting champagne and fast cars)!

She writes for Harper Collins and Accent Press.

Find out more about Zara:

Website      Twitter        Facebook        Google+


Stable Mates

Blurb -

Secrets and scandals, love and lust – when the ‘Cheshire Set’ are up against the ‘Footballer’s Wives’ the only common ground is carnal…

Flirting and fun seem the perfect antidote for Lottie's battered heart, and where better to find them than back in tranquil Tippermere, home of sexy eventer Rory Steel, the smiling Irish eyes of hunky farrier Mick O'Neal, and mysterious newcomer, model Tom Strachan?

But when landowner Marcus James drops dead unexpectedly, and the threat of his waggish wife Amanda selling the heart of the village out from under them looms large, things look like they're about to heat up in and out of the saddle.

With tensions running high, and the champagne flowing as freely as the adrenalin, is it any wonder that love catches more than one of them unawares?

Buy links –

Amazon       Barnes & Noble      Kobo   Foyles  Waterstones  

Sainsbury’s      Google Play        iTunes    Blackwells

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Incredible promotion

Looking back, it's kind of amazing a bunch of authors told me not to sign my book deal last year, telling me the publisher would never promote it.

Thankfully I didn't listen, as the marketing department managed to get my paranormal YA book chosen as Apple's book of the week.

Seriously, you think I would have gotten this type of promotion on my own?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Wow. Just wow.

To say I'm blown away at having Apple choose my paranormal young adult novel as the iTunes book of the week is putting it mildly...

Friday, August 22, 2014

Meet the real television news "It Girl" who inspired the book title

The term "It Girl" has been around a long time, usually referring to an actress in Hollywood who is a spectacular flavor of the month... or the year. In television news, "It" is that intangible which makes a reporter or anchor seem to jump through the screen, someone with a life force and personality you cannot ignore. News managers are always looking for that elusive "it factor" which draws viewers like bees to honey.

In addition to my "day job" in television news I've run a mentoring business for almost ten years, trying to help young journalists do things the correct and ethical way. And that's how I met Hilary Whittier, then a rookie reporter in a small town in Washington state. She had sent me some of her stories to critique, and the moment I saw her I knew she had "it" in a major way, along with a great storytelling talent. We met for lunch when I happened to be on the left coast and I knew the young lady would go far. I started calling her "It Girl" and watched her talent grow, so much so that her next job was in New York City. We've managed to get together a few times when I was in New York and continue to stay in touch.

After a few years in the Big Apple, Hilary headed home to Texas and you can now see her anchoring or reporting on the Fox affiliate in Houston. I'm really proud of her and what she's accomplished in such a short time.

Anyway, when I needed a title for my last book, I happened to be thinking of her and it seemed perfect. The main character is not at all based on her, but she got a kick out of the title. If you happen to be in Houston check out her terrific stories, and if you see her in person, say, "Hey, It Girl!"

And now you've met the person behind the title...

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Interview with my latest heroine: meet Cassidy Shea of "Twitter Girl"

As is the custom when I've finished a RomCom, I like to spend time with my heroine and simply talk. You know, without putting words in her mouth. Let's face it, if you're a writer who has spent 80,000 words in someone's head, it's not unusual to take that character to a virtual lunch. Besides, it doesn't cost anything and you can order the lobster.

Anyway, I'm sitting down with Cassidy Shea, the snarky redheaded star of the soon to be released "Twitter Girl" which will be out on September 18th. But Cassidy is a little different in that she has her own Twitter account besides the one in the book. This one's real and you can follow her at @TwitrGrlCassidy. I must admit, this is the first time a character has gone out of her own, so I'm wondering if perhaps Skynet and Cassidy have become self-aware.

Me: So, you launched your own Twitter account. A real one.

Cassidy: Hey, you created me, what did you expect? Did you think I was gonna sit around for five weeks waiting for release day and not toot my own horn? Honey, this girl aint a literary fiction character watching paint dry for ten pages. And honestly, with the personality traits you gave me, you should have known I would go rogue. I mean, we have spent a ton of time together.

Me: So, are you happy with the way things turned out?

Cassidy: Well, of course. What girl wouldn't want happily ever after? But seriously, did you have to make me jump through all those romantic hoops and deal with a ton of obstacles? Talk about a love roller coaster.

Me: You had to figure out the meaning of true love and I couldn't let you do it in chapter one.

Cassidy: Yeah, yeah, I know you writers love conflict and have that "things get worse" rule. At least the roller coaster was a great ride. And I really did enjoy being sarcastic. That's why I started the Twitter feed. I got so used to tweeting in the book and I figured you're not gonna write a sequel, so I needed an outlet.

Me: So what are you going to tweet about?

Cassidy: Oh, anything and everything, from romance to the mouth-breathing shoppers at Wal-Mart. How I deal with an author who makes me say and do stuff I really shouldn't do. What life is like as a skinny, flat-chested six-foot-tall redhead. Speaking of my physical character traits, just once I'd like to say, "Hey, my eyes are up here!" Honestly, you couldn't have written one sentence and given me a decent rack? For God's sake, you're a guy!

Me: Sorry, but I can't write characters that are Barbie dolls. Besides, not all men are attracted to the Joan Holloways of Mad Men who look like they're gonna tip over. And your two love interests in the book wouldn't change a thing about you anyway.

Cassidy: Okay, you've got a point. You did set me up with two hot guys who thought I hung the moon. However, I do have one bone to pick with you.

Me: What?

Cassidy: Well, I know you write "sweet romance" without any explicit sex, but seriously, did you have to do a damn scene change just when things were getting hot and heavy? I mean, I'm wrapped around this guy, he's carrying me to the bedroom, we're ready to... and then, BOOM! New chapter!

Me: Sorry.

Cassidy: Anyway, I do appreciate the fact that you made me really smart and independent. And you let me figure stuff out logically. I guess I shouldn't complain too loud since you're in the final editing process and you could make me a humpback.

Me: Now what the hell would be the appeal of a humpbacked heroine in a romance novel?

Cassidy: I dunno, but it would give me the chance to say, "Hel-lo! My eyes are down here!"

Me: Dear God, I've created a monster.

Cassidy: Hey, my snark is part of my charm. Anyway, I just figured since you're Sicilian you have that revenge chromosome and you shouldn't be crossed.

Me: Alas, while I love a good vendetta, I would never take it out on such a sweet, innocent girl.

Cassidy: Awwww, you're making my heart melt. And you're such a good liar.

Me: Thank you.

Cassidy: Speaking of men who aren't up front about everything, the word around the laptop file room is that you're moving in with another girl. Redhead named Keira ring a bell?

Me: New book, new character. But I just started and I'm not in her head yet like I was with you.

Cassidy: Uh-huh.

Me: I hope you know you'll always be special to me.

Cassidy: Eh, I'm just yankin' your chain. But she'd better not be prettier than me or I'll kick your ass.

Twitter Girl on Amazon


Monday, July 28, 2014

Vote for my next book cover

What makes a book cover grab your attention? There's no real formula, is there?

So my publisher is trying something different to see what catches the eye of readers. They've created three possible covers for my upcoming book titled "Twitter Girl" (scheduled for September) and are asking people to vote.

Check 'em out, vote, and leave a comment if you're so inclined...

Twitter Girl Covers