Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Welcome to Romance Author - Sheila Riley

I’m delighted to welcome author, Sheila Riley to my blog.

Sheila Riley - Author

Hello Sheila – I’ve been looking forward to hosting you on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat. Not only because it’s an opportunity to personally thank you for heroically manning the monthly bulletins with all the latest news about the Romantic Novelists’ Association authors and their book releases, but also because I am also eager to discover some of your writing secrets. But before we discover more about your release, The Mersey Mistress, here are a few questions that will hopefully give your readers and followers and insight into some of the things that matter to you.

Arabella: You’ve got an idea for a story, but it has yet to take shape. Where do you start? Do you concentrate on the location in the story, or developing the characters, personalities, and conflicts, or are there other key points you might consider?

Sheila: Hi Arabella, thank you so much for inviting me to take part in your book blog, it is lovely to be here. That is such an interesting question! Let me think. Usually, I will hear a phrase or a question in my head and it has me wondering who is speaking. There is no description at first, I cannot see my main character, because I don’t yet know if this will be my main character. It is the question or the phrase that interests me, and this throws up questions. Then, as I find answers to the questions, the story takes some kind of shape.


Arabella: In your latest release The Mersey Mistress what is the overall theme or premise, and what made you choose this topic?

Sheila:  The Mersey Mistress takes us on a journey in 1910 to that time before the whole world changes in 1914. I love words, obviously. Old words are my favourite, and I came across the words ‘pestiferous liability’, written by a health inspector when he was making a damning report about the old Liverpool housing stock known as The Courts, which had such pretty names, like Primrose Cottage. But, set in dockside Liverpool in1910, the blackened bug-ridden, soot-covered buildings didn’t have so much as a blade of grass, let alone pretty flower gardens. You could get from one end of the courts to the other through a labyrinth of narrow passageways and not see daylight. I imagined what these dismal places must be like, having to negotiate these eerie corridors, and what might lurk around the next corner, as did Anna Cassidy who came into contact with a local bully. This meeting would have tragic and long-ranging consequences that take the reader on a journey from the River Mersey to the Canadian waters of The Saint Lawrence River.


Arabella: Roses, Lilies, or another flower of choice?

Sheila:  I adore flowers and my garden is bursting with them in Summer. My favourites are Lilly of the Valley and Freesias, which reminds me of the time when, aged seven and I was chosen to lead the ceremony in the Crowning of Our Lady. To be chosen was a great honour, and I was beyond excited. I would lead two ladies in waiting and a page boy, who would carry the flower crown on a velvet cushion, and the whole school followed in a procession around the church gardens before the ceremony, held in the school hall. Dressed in white from head to toe, I climbed on a chair and laid the crown of fragrant flowers upon the head of the statue of The Virgin Mary. That heavenly perfume stayed with me all these years, and reminds me of the special joy I felt that day.

Lily of the Valley

Arabella: You’ve arranged to meet with friends and family for an afternoon of fun. In the present socially restricted climate, where do you go and what do you do?

Sheila:  It would have to be at my kitchen table, where conversation, gossip and general chit chat would be had on Zoom. I can’t wait to meet up with friends and family for real.

Arabella: All authors love and need to read. When choosing a book, do you:

a) pick off the shelf?

b) search online?

c) go with friends recommendations?

d) other…

Sheila:  As you can imagine, I probably have more books than Central Library, certainly more than I will have time to read, because I replenish at an alarming speed, drawn in by the blurb or recommendation. I also have a daily email from Bookbub, which have loads of offers that I cannot resist. I try not to browse, but it is impossible. Amazon is also a time stealer, and whereas I would have happily spent long hours in the local library, I now wander into there without leaving my sofa. 


Arabella: Italian, French or English. (I’ll leave it to you to decide if I mean a gourmet meal, a bottle of wine, or a partner!)

Sheila:  I am very cosmopolitan in my taste in food and wine, but my husband is English. 


Arabella: The moment we are published, a career path is usually envisaged. Do you have any aspirations or ambitions for yourself and any future novels you might write?

Sheila:  I love this question!

When writing a novel was just a dream, I imagined, as an author, I would be somebody who had a housekeeper and a gardener. I could see myself in a tranquil countryside setting with thatched cottages and Summer fetes. The reality is much more mundane, and the more popular my novels, the faster my fabulous readers want the next one. So, as I am merely flesh and blood and funny shaped finger joints (from pounding my poor bedraggled laptop keys) I have to keep on writing the next story between filling the washing machine and cooking for the family, and sometimes, when the sun is out, and the soft billowing puffballs drift across an azure sky, I take myself into the garden and I am side-tracked by raised flower beds that need a little pruning, and I cannot think of anything more idyllic.


Thank you for being a super guest on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat, Sheila. I could almost imagine myself sat at your kitchen table with a shared pot of tea and a plate of biscuits as you told all the news about your latest release, The Mersey Mistress

Wishing you all the best.


About Sheila Riley

Sheila Riley - Author

Sheila sets her historical family sagas around the River Mersey and its docklands. Born in Southport she was raised near the river. She was a hairdresser for over thirty years before her love of storytelling encouraged her to put down her scissors and take up the pen. As a ghost-writer she wrote, among other things, four best-selling novels under the name of Annie Groves, which gave her the confidence to write under her own name.



Facebook: Sheila Riley Author


Book Blurb – The Mersey Mistress

The Mersey Mistress, out on 6th April 2021, is set around the Edwardian streets lining Liverpool Docks, where we meet Ruby Swift, a hard-working, straight-talking woman of substance who does not suffer fools gladly. When tragedy strikes, the Cassidy family on a bitter Christmas Eve in 1910, Ruby and her beloved Archie take matters into their own hands as a trusted employee’s house is mysteriously engulfed by flames and lives are lost. Orphaned by the fire, Ruby welcomes heartbroken sixteen-year-old Anna Cassidy into her home and family, but circumstances conspire against them and she is unable to save Anna's twelve-year-old brother Sam Cassidy, who is sent by the Church to Canada as a Home boy.

The Mersey Mistress: The start of a brand new gritty series for 2021 eBook: Riley, Sheila: Kindle Store

The Mersey Mistress | Boldwood ( EBOOK

ISBN: 9781800485761
RRP: £ 2.99


ISBN: 9781800485716
RRP: £ 18.99



 'A powerful and totally absorbing family saga that is not to be missed. I turned the pages almost faster than I could read.' Carol Rivers.

A small selection of five-star reviews on #Netgalley.

This is a story about love and tragedy. A wonderfully charming saga that will at times make you want to cry. I didn't want it to end and couldn't put it down. Kim M. Reviewer #Netgalley

I enjoyed this book. It's very gritty but there are some lighter moments and it is heart-warming. With a strong female lead this book gives you hope. You will need tissues. Zoe M. Reviewer #Netgalley

Loved, loved this beautiful and charming book and am pleased it is the beginning of a new series!  So much to anticipate.  Not only is the writing itself gorgeous with sublime descriptions but the story is simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-warming.  From the first page I practically clung to it and read it in one sitting, fully captivated and ignored responsibilities and life for a while.  And that ending! 

Brenda C. Reviewer #Netgalley

The Mersey Mistress is out on 6th April 2021

Angel of the Mersey is out in November 2021

The Mersey Mothers is out in Spring 2022 

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Welcome to Romance Author - AC. Williams

I’m delighted to welcome Alan C. Williams to my blog.


Alan C. Williams - Author

Hello Alan – It was great to connect with you through the Romantic Novelists’ Association and I’m looking forward to reading about some of your writing experiences and secrets. But before we discover more about your latest story, Love in the Golden Sun, here are a few questions that will hopefully give your readers and followers an insight into some of the things that matter to you.


Arabella: When writing a romance are there any key traits, such as virtuously good or shamelessly bad, you like to give your characters?

Alan:  My lead characters are always flawed (as are we all) and even the villains aren’t all bad. Those days of cowboy shows on telly where the heroes wore a white hat and the baddies a black one, are all gone. We are a melange of conflicts and I’m sure that the thought police would have a field day for the number of people I’ve murdered in my mind.

I’m reminded of a quote that the villain sees themselves as a hero in their own story. Obviously, my main characters must grow emotionally in my stories however I pride myself into delving into numerous character traits from phobias, insecurities and dealing with debilitating illnesses as a few examples.

Many of my characters are me and that makes them real (and maybe also a bit scary)


 Arabella: A story has a beginning, middle, and an end. When penning your latest release, ‘Love in the Golden Sun’, which part did you find the hardest to write and why?

Alan: It’s a sort of Western– a bushranger epic in the wilds of 19th century western New South Wales. To be fair it was written as a dare – for myself and other author friends who said ‘Why not?’

The hardest bit for me was the climax end, mainly because I had such an outpouring of ideas and dialogue, I couldn’t put it down quickly enough. My memory isn’t great so I can’t rely on it from one day to the next.  It was a lengthy build-up to the ultimate confrontation and realisation of love at the same time.


Arabella: We all have a long list of books we keep meaning to read but never have the time for --- which book is a must-read for you this season?

Alan:  Hate to say it but I’m not a reader these days. I do enjoy novels by my friends Jill Barry, Niddy Reece and Dawn Knox among other My Weekly Pocketeers. I also enjoy Graphic Novels like Sandman by Neil Gaiman – in some ways I’ve never grown out of comics and my writing often reflects the tension and intricate plot-weaving often found in them. My spare time energies go into writing. Maybe sad but I’ve been an avid SF/Fantasy/Thriller reader most of my long life.


Arabella: Thinking and planning ahead… Your aim is to organise a two week holiday for you and your family. Given the possibility of global travel restrictions, do you:

a) Play safe and camp in the back garden?

b) Take the risk and book a hotel room and flight abroad?

c) Find another solution for a relaxing two-week break?

Alan:  Another solution. Hopefully a driving hol to visit family and explore parts of the UK not seen in years (we live in France). Hotels, caravans, holiday apartments; an awfully big adventure.

Arabella: As a published author, what advice would you give to someone starting out on their writing journey? In other words, what are the pitfalls a budding novelist should try to avoid?

Alan: Assuming your first production will be a masterpiece and sell to the first company you approach. Rejection is hard but it can be a learning exercise. I was lucky that my editor liked my style otherwise I might not have continued as novelists pour so much of themselves and time to produce a work that may never be read. Self-belief is the key (along with grammar and story-telling skills)

Find a story that excites you and must be told.


Arabella:  You’re outside a florist and can’t resist the temptation to buy… Which floral arrangement do you choose?

Alan: This is a trick question because I’m a guy, right? Nice try, Arabella but I do have an answer. A bouquet of perfumed red roses for my darling wife. Not the plastic sort though (I learnt that the hard way but I still maintain they are a better investment in the long run).

Arabella: What about your future plans? Any books or series in the making?

Alan: Loads. Don’t know what yet. Whatever takes my fancy. I usually do a book from inception to final draft in 3 months. Currently working on a fantasy novel about a normal girl who’s a rain-whisperer – based on a short story I sold years ago.  Good ideas can be woven into many different formats and it saves my little brain from becoming too full of different stuff.


Many thanks again for being kind enough to invite me to share my ramblings with your wonderful readers. I love being a writer and following others like me (maybe not so mad). Your blog is a wonderful way to discover the immense talent out there.


Thank you for joining me on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat, Alan. And I hope you have fun on your driving holiday (should you get the chance to cross borders and explore).

All the best for Love in the Golden Sun and wishing you lots of happy-ever-after writing.




 About Alan C. Williams

Alan C. Williams - Author

Alan is a widely published Australian author, concentrating mainly on women’s magazines where he pushes the boundaries way past ‘boy meets girl’ love stories. He has had over fifty short stories published in Australia’s That’s Life. Since 2012, he’s sold stories published in Ireland, Canada and Britain where he is also a regular contributor to Take a Break magazine.

His tales cover crime, fantasy, science fiction, romance and thrillers, usually set in the here and now.

In the past three years, Alan has chosen to include novels in his writing repertoire, selling, at time of this publication, ten novels set in England, America and Australia. They have been distributed and sold country-wide as paperbacks throughout Britain and Australasia. To date, eight of these are available in libraries worldwide in large print published by Linford Romance.

2021 has seen Alan already with four books lined up for publication and his short story collection ‘The Rain, The Park and Other Things’ by Ginninderra Press in Australia is on sale worldwide.

He had vowed never to write a western but recently ‘accidentally’ wrote Love in the Golden Sun- a bushranger story set in the Australian colonies. It is his tenth My Weekly novel.

Despite being both male and Australian, he is a member of the RNA (Romantic Novelists Association) and the RWA (Romance Novelists of Australia). It seems that, like many of his stories, the impossible is possible after all.

Alan is a retired Science teacher and Financial Services Manager, currently exiled and living in France, residing in a 17th century stone farmhouse with his long-suffering wife, Anne, and maniacal cat, Zorro.


His continuing writing story can be found at:







Book Blurb - Love in the Golden Sun



It’s New South Wales 1877. Newly appointed teacher, Grace Stevens, meets the enigmatic bushranger, Major Midnight, on her way to Jerilderie by stagecoach. As well as cash, he steals a kiss from her awaking forbidden passions in the young woman. The adventure that follows reveals shocking secrets about the dashing thief, leading her and the Major in a quest to stop other bushrangers and save her new friends as well as the fledgling colonies of Australia from certain catastrophe.

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

Welcome to Romance Author - Jessica Redland

I’m delighted to welcome Jessica Redland to my blog.

Jessica Redland - Author

Hello Jessica – Thank you for taking time out from your busy family life, work schedule, and your writing activities to join me on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat, today. It was lovely to connect with you through the Romantic Novelists’ Association. The RNA is such a great supportive place where authors can share news of their writing journey. But before we discover more about your latest release, All You Need Is Love, here are a few questions which will hopefully give your readers and followers and insight into some of the things that matter to you.


Arabella: We all love the creativity of writing – otherwise we wouldn’t spend hours at a keyboard pounding away in the hope someone will read and enjoy our novels. But what do you like most about our craft?

The editing and proofreading, the author/reader relationship, promotional book signings, or is there something else that has you hooked to the world of books?

Jessica:   I haven’t experienced the promotional/signing side of things as my career as an author only took off last year during the first lockdown but I’m excited about that at some point in the future. Right now, there are two things I love the most:
1. When my characters fully come to life. I’m a pantser rather than a planner with my writing. For me, this means I know the premise and I know my main character(s) really well but I let them drive the story. I get a thrill when they do something that’s either unexpected or that connects several threads and it feels like the story has properly taken off

2. When readers get in touch to tell me about how much they’ve loved a particular story or even all of my books. I’ve found this particularly humbling and touching during the pandemic when readers have thanked me for giving them such valuable escapism. When I wrote those books, I could never have predicted what was about to happen in the world and how invaluable books would become.


Arabella: Who or what inspired you to write your latest release, All You Need Is Love?

Jessica:   In 2003-05, I took a career break from the world of HR to fulfil a dream of mine: to set up and run a specialist teddy bear shop. I’m an arctophile – a lover/collector of teddy bears – and am captivated by the artistry of proper, jointed collectible bears. My shop, Bear’s Pad, was in Richmond, North Yorkshire and sold collectible and plush bears as well as bear-related or Pooh Bear products like stationery, cards and cross stitch kits.

I always wanted to write a book that was set partly in a bear shop, drawing on my own experiences, but was mindful of not making it so bear-related that it could put off readers who might not quite get the idea of adults collecting teddy bears.

All You Need Is Love is a dual-perspective book which tells the story of Jemma and Sam. Jemma’s a curator at a children’s museum in London and her mum, Julie, runs a specialist teddy bear shop – Bear With Me – in the fictional North Yorkshire town of Whitsborough Bay. Life as she knows it is about to massively change for Jemma with two shock revelations. One of these brings her into contact with Sam who is a neurologist at a hospital in London. He's a lost soul struggling to come to terms with a tragedy from his past.

I loved the idea of writing a book where two characters start out with very separate lives but later meet and discover how connected their lives really are. All You Need Is Love explores the friendship that develops when they finally meet and whether either of them can move on after everything life has thrown at them.

As with all of my books, there’s a romance in it but a big focus is on relationships with family and friends.

Some scenes are set in the museum where Jemma works and others are in Bear With Me but neither of these are the main setting. I did love writing the scenes in the bear shop, though. It was lovely creating a new (albeit fictional) teddy bear shop and picturing all those gorgeous collectible bears.


Arabella:  You are out for a walk and see a twenty-pound note (or a twenty-dollar bill, etc.) lying on the road. What do you do with the unclaimed funds?

Jessica:   I’d pick it up and, if there was anyone around, I’d ask if they’d lost any money. Assuming there were no claimants, I’d let the police know and, if still no claimants, give it to charity. It’s not my money. I’ve found a lost purse and a lost wallet before, neither with ID in them, and informed the police both times. The wallet got claimed but the purse never did and I did keep that money … but it was only a small amount and I was a child at the time.

Arabella: Some authors cannot work without a business planner, others cannot write without an editing app…  Are there any “essentials” you need to help your writing move forward?

Jessica:   I write straight into a Word document but I have three tools of the trade that I need for all my novels: a calendar, a notepad and a weekly planner pad. Although I’m a pantser, I do develop my characters in detail before I get started and I use the notepad for that and any research I undertake. The planner pad (and calendar) helps me keep track of what’s happening on each date in the story so I can work out the passing of time between events and the spread of action over time.

Another essential for me is my support network of fellow authors. I’ve been part of an online group of ten authors for about eight years now and we have been there for each other through all the highs and lows of our writing journeys. They provide an invaluable sounding board and encouragement. I live a couple of hours away from one of the members and, pre-Covid, we met up halfway roughly fortnightly for a few years. I’ve missed that so much and can’t wait to resume it again. We beta read each other’s books and I love running plot points by her and getting a fresh take on something tricky.

Arabella: An Indian Curry, Italian Paste Bake, Fish and Chips, or ______?

Jessica:   Ooh, I like all of them although it would be battered sausage rather than fish for me and I must have mayonnaise on my chips. I don’t really have a favourite food as it depends how my mood takes me. Unless you count cake. Mmm. Love a bit of cake.


Arabella: If the person of your dreams, (husband/wife/partner/or superstar), were to take you out for the day, social distancing restrictions permitting, where would they take you and what would you do?

Jessica:   Right now, absolutely anywhere would suit me just fine! It’s been a long year hasn’t it? My husband is a very talented amateur photographer so he loves to be anywhere he can take a gorgeous landscape picture. I love beautiful scenery and it can trigger my imagination for future storylines. As we have such gorgeous settings surrounding us (we live in Scarborough), we’d take a trip along the coast. It would take in a walk along the promenade on Scarborough’s North Bay which is local to us but not quite local enough to justify the drive during lockdown so we’ve really missed it. We’d then head up the coast to Whitby, Robin Hood’s Bay and Staithes; all stunning seaside settings which have provided so much inspiration for my books.

Arabella: Do you have any great writing, publishing, or marketing tips you would like to share with “want-to-be” authors starting out on their writing journey?

Jessica:   My tips would be about writing. If you want to write, write. You may not be great at it but you’ll never know unless you try. If you’re thinking ‘I’d love to write a book but I don’t have time,’ then stop right there! I didn’t have time – and I’m sure many authors would say the same – but I made time. I stopped watching the soaps on TV, I stopped lounging around, I wrote while commuting to work (I will point out that this was on the train; not while driving!) and I developed ideas while in the shower. Very, very few authors ever had the luxury of time when they were starting out, but they had a dream and they made it happen so you can too. Don’t feel you have to write every day but do think about it each day. I often develop dialogue and plot twists while in the shower, out shopping, or when driving.

Thank you for joining me on Arabella’s Blog and chit-chat, Jessica. I’m sure your readers enjoyed discovering a little bit more about your personal life…including your penchant for anything bear-related.

Wishing you all the best for your latest release, All You Need Is Love




About Jessica Redland

Jessica Redland - Author

Jessica lives in Scarborough on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast in the UK. Her home inspired the creation of the fictional seaside town of Whitsborough Bay where she sets many of her books although the Hedgehog Hollow series takes readers to a gorgeous new countryside setting in the Yorkshire Wolds.

She lives with her husband, their teenage daughter and sprocker spaniel, Ella. She’s a stationery addict with a notepad obsession who loves chocolate (although it doesn't love her), hedgehogs, 80s music, collectible teddy bears and lighthouses.

Her career was predominantly in HR as a trainer and recruiter. She had a brief detour into retail to set up and manage her own specialist teddy bear shop and started writing her debut novel on quiet days in the shop.

In June 2020, she became a full-time author. She’s so very grateful to anyone who has bought or borrowed her books in whatever format, helping her fulfil a long-held dream of writing full-time. She still can't believe she gets to spend every day chatting to her fictional friends and making stuff up.

Website and Social Media Links




Twitter:           @JessicaRedland



TikTok:            @JessicaRedlandAuthor


Book Blurb:     All You Need Is Love

When you’ve loved and lost, how do you find the strength to let love in again?

Jemma thinks she’s found the love of her life. Scott is everything she ever dreamed of and she can’t wait to begin the next stage of their life together. But just as she is heading for her happy ever after, a shock revelation shatters Jemma’s life as she knows it. Left to pick up the pieces, Jemma's friends and family rally round to help her find the courage to move on.

Sam thinks he has his future all worked out. A thriving career, lovely home and an amazing fiancée. But when tragedy strikes, he finds himself alone, far from everyone he cares about. Did he do the right thing by running away and trying to rebuild the tatters of his life alone?

This is the story of Jemma and Sam. Two lost souls, desperately trying to find closure and happiness. When a chance meeting brings them together a friendship is formed, but the guards are up.

Will it finally be their turn for a happy ever after? Or will the secrets from their pasts prevent them from moving on?

Escape to Whitsborough Bay for an emotional, uplifting story of love and friendship from top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland. 

This book was previously published as Bear With Me.

Buy Links:



Also available on Apple, Audible, paperback, hardback, large print and via streaming services

Release Date: 11th March 2021  

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