WARM HEARTS IN WINTER by Helen Pollard

Warm Hearts in WinterWarm Hearts in Winter by Helen Pollard

Forced by circumstance into the world of temping, when Abby Davis accepts an assignment in the wilds of Yorkshire as personal assistant to a widowed novelist, she assumes he is an ageing recluse.

Thirty-something Jack Blane is anything but. Still struggling to get his life and writing career back on track three years after his wife’s death, Jack isn’t ready for a breath of fresh air like Abby.

Snowed in at his winter retreat on the moors, as the weeks go by and their working relationship becomes friendship and maybe more, Abby must rethink her policy of never getting involved with someone at work … and Jack must decide whether he is willing to risk the pain of love a second time.

REVIEW5stars

A remote countryside blanketed with snow, a personal assistant hard on her luck and a moody horror author still grieving from the untimely death of his wife.

Warm Hearts in winter is a beautiful love story of two people coming together under less than favorable circumstances. A tale of learning to help, heal and love-again.

Ms. Pollard writes nice, strong, well-rounded characters who are wholesomely good and have good intentions. A spark of mystery and perfectly paced developing relationship with a smidgen of of romantic tension, you wont want to put it down.

I must say, I immediately fell in love with the cover, which I think is absolutely stunning. A terrific read for anyone looking for a simple and modest romance.

Warm Hearts in Winter is available now.  You can find it on Amazon here.

View all my reviews

 

COVER REVEAL- EXCERPT & GIVEAWAY Fractured Immortal By: E.L.Wicker

Emma1FRACTURED IMMORTAL By: E.L. Wicker

In 1810, an army of vampires tore through Bearwood on a terrifying rampage of death and destruction. Turned to a vampire that night, Ilia Rose fled the many painful memories soon after, walking the Earth for two centuries to seek revenge on army leader, Sol. When Ilia learns he has returned to her hometown, she follows. But the reason for his reappearance puts her life in further danger, and an unwelcome revelation about Sol’s ally, Nathaniel, means Ilia and Nathaniel must unite to defeat the enemy. Thus Ilia begins a gut-wrenching battle to save her life and the lives of her friends, a battle which not everyone will survive. A vampire tale like none other, love, pain, devastation and revenge, all weave together to create the first in a dark and unmissable new adult series.

EXCERPT

emma2 RELEASES DECEMBER 21ST AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER NOW

AMAZON / AMAZON UK 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

emma3A weaver of words from a young age, I first started writing when we were given an assignment to do so in school. I can remember being called up to the teacher as she asked me (looking slightly annoyed) “What’s this?” I can’t remember the story but I do remember one of the characters had a stutter and so I explained that to the teacher and she let me go back to my desk. I guess six year olds didn’t write stutters into their work. Well, I did. And I haven’t looked back since. Of course, over the years I wrote many more, none of which I finished, until last year when I read a book and loved it so much that I wanted to be able to do the same – write a book that someone out there would love. So I did. Whether it is loved by one or many remains to be seen, but I did it and I am so happy I did.  It opened the floodgates to so many, many more words. And while I am busy working on ‘Finding Immortal’ the follow up to ‘Fractured Immortal’ I am also writing another book too. I just can’t seem to stop.

I love to talk to people, so if you ever have something you want to say, please do but be warned, it’s very difficult to get me to shut up again 🙂

Click HERE for a chance to win a digital copy of FRACTURED IMMORTAL (Kindle users only) or you can stalk her at one of her sites below!

FACEBOOK / TWITTER / GOODREADS / BLOG

Do Reviews Really Matter?

Apparently they do, at least to some people. I’m not one of those that read a review before buying a book. In fact, I never look at the reviews until I’m finished and then it’s only to see if other’s felt the way I did towards it. I’m a title, cover, blurb girl. If the title and cover catch my attention, I’ll turn it over to read the blurb and then if it’s something that catches my eye, I buy it. But never do I look at the reviews prior. I’ll be honest, I don’t really get the whole book review thing. This is coming from someone that has done review’s for a couple different sites, but as a reader, I don’t understand why someone would judge a book based on another person’s opinion. We are all different and like different things. Maybe I’m not the norm, but I’d rather try something out and make my own opinion. However in attempting to market my book, I have come to realize just how important reviews are. I’ve previously mentioned the struggles of asking book bloggers to write a review. I’ve received two. One was mediocre. It wasn’t great, it wasn’t bad, they said they liked it. The other was an amazing review, the kind that every first time author wants to have. So, right there goes to show you that opinions differ. However I’ve come to notice that many readers want to see not only positive feedback about a potential book, they want numbers. They don’t want five reviews, because we all know those first reviews come from our friends and family. They want to know what people who don’t know us think of our book. I don’t have a problem with this. I’m not an easily offended person. I know my writing isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea and I know there are going to be good reviews along with the bad. So I’ve continued to seek out unbiased reviewers, but it’s not always an easy task. Late last night, I sent another request. This wasn’t aimed at a specific blog or blogger, but a group of authors, readers, publishers and reviewers, whom pick and chose what they are interested in. I received a response today and after seeing the subject I was excited. Yes! I got a hit. But then I read the message and my stomach knotted and my chest heaved in a big sigh. My first instinct was to reply with, “Thank you for your interest, but I’d prefer that you didn’t review my book.” It might sound crazy, but that was my honest reaction. Maybe I should back up and tell you a little about my story so you’ll understand my predicament. The heroine in Drive Me Sane is an army veteran suffering from PTSD after a deployment to Afghanistan. It’s funny that just as I sat down to write this, I read a blog post of a friends that entailed how writing about what you know leads to writing about things you don’t know (Thanks Bill). I grew up near Ft. Hood, Texas so the military has always played a role in my life. I come from a strong military family; my husband served, my sister and brother in law both served, even my dad was in for a short time. I have several cousins and uncles who have also spent time in the armed forces, as well as, many friends who have devoted time as well. As for me, I thought about it once. Fresh out of high school and in my first year of college, I even went to see a recruiter. I was all up for it until I was informed that I’d be showering with other woman while in basic training.  That was the end of that idea. So I have no personal experience with being in the military and definitely no experience with PTSD. And yet, I chose to write about a female character that has experienced those things. It wasn’t the path that I set out to take. I knew my girl would be in the army, but never intended for PTSD to be a part of my story. It just happened that way. I researched the disorder and spoke to people about it, which did help in trying to develop her character, but I’m also a true believer in that if you’ve never walked in someone’s shoes, you truly have no idea how they felt. Which brings me up to point. My response came from a two time Iraqi War veteran. A gentleman whom has experienced the things that I know nothing about, yet tried to convey through words for others to read as enjoyment. Do you see my delimina? I see this going one of two ways: really bad or really good. I knew at some point my book would likely fall into the hands of a female soldier and I’ve always had mixed feelings about that. I worry if I missed something or if I stayed true to fact. I suppose every new author has concerns about these things. So my first instinct was no, I’d rather he not read it, because I’m sure what I’ve written can never stand up to the real thing and the last thing I would ever want to be is disrespectful in anyway. It took me five hours to think about it and respond, because not only will he be reading this from a soldiers perspective, he will also be reading it from a man’s. Please don’t think I’m being biased, but the truth is, romance is generally a woman’s genre. So it does surprise me a little when a man say’s he’s going to read it. In the end, yes I sent him a copy. Because, as a writer, I need to learn to overcome these fears. The fear of offending or completely botching it up.

So back to my question: are reviews really all that important? Generally, I’d say no. But this one? Yes, it’s very important, because it’s coming from someone who, to a certain degree, has lived my story and their thoughts will hold a great deal of meaning to me.

What’s in a song?

What goes into writing a song? I suppose it’s a lot like writing a book, something sparks the idea and there you go, but I’ll get more into that in a minute. Right now I want to address what’s more important. It’s RELEASE DAY! I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. Well…if I’m being honest, I haven’t really been sitting around and waiting. It’s something I’ve thought about, but never imagined would happen. I began writing seriously about ten years ago. I dabbled in it as a teen and always loved writing essays for school, but it was never anything I ever considered for a career. My plans included law school, but then I met my husband, moved to Kentucky, had kids and well you get the point.  Law school never happened, and I’m thankful for it every day.  Because I work closely with the field and know without a doubt that I would have been miserable.  Besides, for the most part, I like what I do, even though it isn’t always easy.  It’s probably why I read so much-to escape the real lives of everyday people whom I encounter. But that isn’t necessarily true either. I’ve always been a reader. It started when my mom took my sister and I to the library one day and I checked out a book by Christopher Pike. I was about eight, so it’s been a while since I’ve read any of his books and I can’t remember any of their titles, but his name has always stuck with me. Needless to say, my obsession with mystery and suspense was born. I remember the way my heart raced with anticipation and how even though I’d be scared to death, I’d still want to finish the book. From then on I’ve had a love affair with reading and although I haven’t always been faithful, I always seem to come back to it. When marriage, kids, and work took a front seat, it was another trip to the library that again sparked my interest. I took my son to story time and while waiting for it to begin, passed by a rack of paperbacks. A book by the name of Night Sin’s caught my eye.  Tami Hoag is now one of my favorite authors. It seems weird that my passion has always been in mystery and suspense and that I write romance, but I’m not particularly choosy in what I read. I love a little bit of everything, but romance for now, is where I’m comfortable.

When I say I began writing seriously ten years ago, everyone automatically assumes Drive Me Sane has been ten years in the making. Nothing could be further from the truth. My first completed novel still sits on my hard drive. I’ve never submitted it to anyone and I’m not really sure if I’ll ever do anything with it. I think the storyline is decent, but it needs a lot of work. I’ve considered turning it into short story for an introduction to another work in progress, but I just can’t seem to get on the ball. It’s like one of my kids that I don’t want to let go. Drive Me Sane is actually a relatively new story for me. It’s not been quite a year since the idea popped into my head, while driving home from a race at two in the morning.  Both kids were asleep in the backseat and as usual, I had the music turned up and was singing away.  Then a song came on that I didn’t know, so I just listened.  I’m not one of those people who hear a song and immediately fall in love with it.  I’d never heard of Tyler Farr or his song Redneck Crazy before that night, but the words really drilled inside me and made me think about relationships and how we handle breakups.  I know some of you that don’t listen to country music might be turned off by the title, but it’s not a hyped up in your face redneck song. It’s actually a love ballad and the lyrics made me realize that we don’t always react to a breakup the way we’d like to.  In fact, we do some silly and sometimes embarrassing things. I went home that night, bought the song and the next morning began what would eventually become Drive Me Sane. I’d like to go ahead and answer what anyone who knows this story asks. Is my hero based on Tyler Farr? No. I do not know, nor have I ever met Mr. Farr-although, I wouldn’t be opposed to the idea :). I did catch one of his shows at The Tin Roof in Lexington, but in no way is my hero a reflection of him in anyway.  I do enjoy his music though. In fact several of his songs are on my Drive Me Sane playlist, but he as a person was not an inspiration.  My hero and him simply share the same first name and profession.  In fact, I tried to name my hero anything but Tyler.  I toyed around with different names and nothing would stick. Tyler isn’t a name I particularly love. No offense, but it’s not something I’d name one of my boys, but it seemed I kept coming back to it and so I finally gave up. That’s the problem a writer. Sometimes your characters speak to you and you may not always like it or agree, but you have to go with what they want. It’s just the way it is.

It took me five months to get my story at a place I was happy with and confident enough to submit. I was in the process of writing query letters and synoptsis’ when I saw an online pitch opportunity through twitter. Prior to writing Drive Me Sane, I had only submitted one other piece of work. It was declined and looking at it now, I completely understand why. It was rough and like my first finished novel, still needs a lot of work. But I felt good with Drive Me Sane and although apprehensive, I was determined not to let one reject deter me. So I entered the online pitch and had not only one, but two of it’s editors interested. Needless to say, three weeks later, I got a nice email saying your storyline is strong, but there are some issues with the manuscript that don’t make it as strong as we’d like. I’ve done enough research to know that not every publisher gives detailed feedback, but I was lucky enough that I got a few pointers of where my story faltered. So I put my manuscript away, thought about what they said and began working through the suggestions in my head. Two weeks later, I was well into the new edits. And then I saw another twitter pitch for a different publisher. For days leading up, I thought about entering and finally decided I wasn’t ready. I still had some work to do and I’m not the kind that throws things out half finished, but on the day of the pitch, it was still on my mind.  I had taken my son to the doctor and we decided to stop by my mom’s work to say hi. Sitting in the car, waiting for her to get off, I scanned through twitter and there it was again.  For whatever reason, it was just too tempting. So I typed out my 140 characters and waited. Nothing came quick, but then I got a response asking for more detail. I’m not good at being put on the spot, so I nervously typed out something and waited. My next response was, “I’m not sure I understand the plot, but I like the characters.” Then they asked for the first five chapters. Two day’s later, after frantically combing through those first five, I sent them along with a query letter and synoptsis to Crimson Romance. A week went by and I didn’t hear anything. But, I did see a post advertising an online editing workshop. It was a three week course and it covered the topics that were what I had been initially told was wrong with my manuscript. So I decided to give it a go.  It’s been the best thing (as far as my writing is concerned), that I’ve done. It not only taught me about dialogue tags and comma splices, it let me know that I had no clue what an editor was looking for. A great idea and a terrible manuscript will not get you published. A decent idea with a decently edited manuscript, might. Three weeks, $75.00 and no word from Crimson (I assumed they weren’t interested), I began a major overhaul of Drive Me Sane. I completely tore it apart.  And then one day, in the midst of doing this, I woke up to an email that said, “I’m really intrigued by Sera and Tyler’s reunion. Could you please send me the full manuscript.” My exact words were “OH SHIT!” Remember me telling you about the adrenaline I felt as a kid when I read Christopher Pike’s books? Yeah, it came back except that it was much worse. I was excited and scared at the same time. My husband said, “That’s good.” But it wasn’t. Drive Me Sane was in a state of complete mess. I had about thirty five thousand words in a novel I submitted as having fifty-six. So for two weeks, I threw myself into getting it together. I worked on it through lunch, I shut myself in my room after work and barely came out. I lived on coffee and whatever I could find left over to eat. I did it, but it wasn’t easy and I couldn’t have done it without my husband who stepped up to the plate and took over at home. I added about fifteen thousand words and completely rewrote the ending, but I wasn’t all that hopeful when I sent  in my full manuscript ten days later.  I still wasn’t up to the word count they required and my story had changed so much, it didn’t coincide with the synopsis I’d sent them, but I was honest and up front.  I explained what I had done and that I understood if it was no longer something that they were interested in. Five days later, I got the news. They wanted to acquired my manuscript.
So here we are five months down the road and I have a published book. Yes, it was fast and crazy. It’s been thrilling and overwhelming at the same time. It’s even been scary, but it’s also been an experience that I’ll cherish forever. If I never get the opportunity again, at least I can say I accomplished what I set out to do.  Thanks Crimson for taking a chance on me and Jess, my editor, for truly understanding my characters.  I hope I don’t disappoint.

So what goes into a song? I really don’t know, but I can tell you want comes out of one. Sometimes it’s a mended heart or the strength to carry on. Sometimes it’s a memory of a good time. And sometimes it’s the idea for a book.

The full playlist of Drive Me Sane can be heard here:  http://open.spotify.com/user/1235812/playlist/2HJxkCYiejpa4DZGpaov8B

What do I do now?

I can officially say Drive Me Sane is a finished novel. Yep, it’s a completed project. No more editing, no more pondering whether everything runs smoothly or if my editor is going to like my changes. I received an ARC copy last night and got the high resolution copy of the cover today. It’s even listed as an upcoming release on Crimson Romance’s website (July 28th).  All I’m left with, is one final chance to look at it in egalley form before it’s sent off.  And so, the hard part now starts. Getting it out there for people to see and hopefully read (and enjoy!).

I keep saying that I’m going to write a post on things I’ve learned (because I’ve learned a lot), and I will. At some point when all the hoopla wears off. But I will go ahead and throw this out there. I’m a loner. When I say that, I mean, no one other than my husband and one close friend knew I was writing a book. I think my mom and sister knew I was playing around with it, but really didn’t grasp that I was taking it serious until I got the request to send in my manuscript (that’s a whole other story that I’d like to tell). Co-workers were shocked and I think I really threw my boss for a loop when I took my contract in for him to review.  So essentially, no one has read my novel, except the editors I’ve worked with and that is one of my biggest regrets. I do wish I had shared it with at least one person. Because there is a lot of personal information you need to give about yourself through this process and also points you need to make about your book and it would have greatly helped if I’d had another set of eyes that could have given me some input. Now I’m on the brink of it being released and I’m a nervous wreck about how it’s going to be perceived. So I broke down and sent my ARC copy to my mom. She’s not a reader and she loves me, so I’m not all that hopeful that I’ll get an honest review. And to be honest, I ‘m a little nervous about her reading it (not sure how she’s going to like some of the language and sexy scenes).  So learning to share and making some contacts that are willing to give me early reviews are two of the things I’ve learned that I need to do differently next time.  Again, it’s been an experience and I know a little about what to expect.

But what do I do now? Now, I finish up one of my other WIP and hope I get lucky enough again to have someone interested in it.

DriveMeSane Cover

MY BRAIN HAS TOO MANY TABS OPEN

Unfortunately it’s true! But I’m not complaining. It’s the way I work. When I have something on my mind, it goes in a hundred different directions until I sort it all out. Right now, I’m sorting a lot out. Working full-time, the end of the school year for my boys, race season for my husband, vacation at the end of the month and putting the final touches on Drive Me Sane.

I turned in the requested edits last Saturday. It’s now in the hands of a copy editor, who will go over it with a fine tooth comb. I’m always a little nervous when I know someone else is looking at it. I have the compulsion to read it over again to see if I can spot any mistakes and as hard as it is, I don’t. The desire is still there though, which I guess is a good thing. In an editing workshop I took, the instructor said “you must love your story.” That’s the truth, because you’ll be reading it a lot. Last week alone, I read it five times. It was many late nights, quick dinners and days were my husband really stepped up to the plate. I’m roughly seven weeks out from the release date. I got a peek at the cover today and while I can’t share it just yet, I’m pleased with how it looks. The hard part starts now. Getting the word out. This more than anything makes my stomach knot. My husband keeps saying “Writing the book was the hard part.” No! No! That was easy. All I had to do was satisfy myself. Now I’m hoping that I can satisfy and bring enjoyment to others. This has been a learning experience for sure (A post on that to come later.) Some good, some bad. However, seeing my name on the bottom of the cover today, made it all worth while. I wrote a book. A book that’s going to be published and that’s something to be proud of.