Friday, 21 December 2012

Merry Christmas

Wishing all my friends, family, readers and fellow authors A Very Merry Christmas/ Happy Holidays. I wish you all the best for 2013.


Monday, 17 December 2012


A former Army brat, Christine Hughes moved quite often. She spent much of her time losing herself in books and creating stories about many of the people she'd met. Falling in love with literature was easy for her and she majored in English while attending college in New Jersey.
Not sure where her love of reading and writing fit, she became a middle school English teacher. After nine years of teaching others to appreciate literature, she decided to take the plunge and write her first novel. Now at home focusing on making writing her new career, she spends her time creating characters and plot points instead of grading papers.
Music has become an integral part of her writing process and without the proper play list, Hughes finds the words don't flow. At least a few times a week she can be found at the local Barnes & Noble with her Mac and headphones working on her next novel. Her YA novel Torn was released by Black Opal Books June 9, 2012.
1. What’s the first thing you did when you received word you’d sold a book?
I called my husband and jumped and screamed for a bit. He went out and bought a bottle of champagne and we celebrated.
2. What part of the book is the easiest for you to write? Why?
The beginning is always easiest for me. I get an idea and start to move on it when I feel cohesion. The only things I generally write down before I begin a novel are the names of my characters. As they come to life, I write character descriptions. That’s usually pretty easy for me.
3. What part of the book is the hardest for you? Why?
 The end of the book is hardest for me. I never want to end too abruptly. I hate it when I read books and then, at the end, I’m left hanging. Cliffhangers are fine because I know another book is out there or coming. But I really try to clean up whatever loose ends I can and make the ending satisfying. That’s hard – often at the end of a book even I am ready to move on and I need to remind myself to close it out rather than just end it.
"With the sudden, mysterious death of her father, Samantha discovers her life isn’t what it seems. Not only isn’t she the normal teenage girl she thought she was, Sam must now take her father’s place in the fight between two groups of fallen angels—the Faithful and the Exiled—in a race to save humanity. In addition to dealing with the devastating betrayal of her friend and her feelings for someone she is forbidden to love, Sam must also fight the growing darkness within her as she struggles to make a choice between fighting alongside the Faithful or succumbing to the temptation of the Exiled. Both sides require sacrifices Sam isn’t sure she can make."
4. Who is your favorite character in your book and why?
That’s a toss up. In TORN, I think my favorite character to write was Sebastian. The bad guy always seems more interesting to me. In Three Days of Rain, my favorite character was my main character, Jake. He was just so lost and at times I felt bad for the pain and suffering I was heaping on him. In the sequel to TORN, titled DARKNESS BETRAYED, I am finding Damien to be the most fun to play with. Something about the damaged character interests me most.
 5. If one of your books became a movie, which celebrity would you like to star as one of your heroines? Tell us about your heroine.
Samantha would be played by Candice Accola (Caroline of Vampire Diaries). She’s just fabulous and I had her in mind when I wrote Samantha. She’s so “girl next door with a twist” for me.
 6. If one of your books became a movie, which celebrity would you like to star as one of your heroes? Tell us about your hero.
Jesse Williams from Grey’s Anatomy would be perfect for Sebastian. He has the perfect facial expressions, the perfect eyes…. He is, hands down, my Sebastian.
 7. Do all your heroes and all heroines look the same in your mind as you “head write”?
No. I try to sort them out before I begin writing. I find their personalities and figure out what they look like from there.

  8. Do you eat comfort food when writing? If so, what food inspires your imagination?
 I don’t usually eat and write, I am terrified of crumbing up my computer. I’ll drink coffee and Earl Grey tea, though.
9. What hobby do you enjoy when not writing?
I love reading – and I don’t do enough of it anymore. I like to take walks with my dogs and I am just beginning to go back to the gym after a long hiatus. (aka – a long bout of laziness)
10. What’s your strongest point as a writer?
I’ve been told the voice in my YA is spot on. I hope it’s true because voice, particularly in YA and Middle Grade is key to writing a convincing story. You can’t have teenagers discussing retirement options or discussing finances. I just wouldn’t be realistic.
 11. What is your favorite book?
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is my all-time favorite novel. I know it’s classified as Science Fiction but I see it more as, I don’t know, prophetic. Not that prophetic is a genre but the ideas the Bradbury wrote down – how many can we say haven’t come to fruition? He was a true dreamer and many of his ideas are all around us now from blue-tooth to wall-sized televisions to reality TV. Start burning libraries and we may call him the new Nostradamus.
 12. What genre would you like to try writing in but haven’t yet done so? Why?
I would love to try horror mostly because horror scares the crap out of me. I almost want to immerse myself in it and write something spectacular but I don’t’ think it will ever happen. I’m too much of a chicken sh!t.
13. Facebook, Blogs, Chats, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn. Which do you like best and why?
I seem to have tons of success with Facebook and Twitter. I’ve started to tap into Google + and have also started paying more attention to my blog. I haven’t tried Pinterest and Linked In seems too complicated to me. There is a new one I’d like to try called Tout – I heard about it at the Random House Open House.
14. Tell us where to find you: website(s), publisher’s page(s), blog(s), Facebook page(s), etc. List them all! 
15. Speed Round:
           Favorite color: Yellow
            Favorite sport: Football
            Favorite vacation spot: Outer Banks, NC
            Favorite food: Cheeseburgers
What time do you usually go to bed? Between 9 and 10
Favorite holiday: Christmas
Favorite movie: The Princess Bride
Anything else you’d like to add?
 TORN is available in e-book and paperback all over the place. I’ll give you two links –
My next novel, Three Days of Rain, will be released January 5, 2013. It’s a stand-alone women’s fiction - the blurb is below.
 Three Days of Rain
Just when he thought his life was turning around...
Things haven’t been easy for Jacob Morgan. Haunted by the ghosts of his past, Jake lives each day just going through the motions, barely getting by. Then Lily Burns comes to town and befriends him. As Jake starts to heal, he begins to hope that he has finally overcome the mistakes and tragedies that have tormented him for so long. But just when he thinks his problems are solved, his ex-wife returns, and once again, Jake is confronted by situations he is ill-equipped to handle. Can Jake hold on to the progress he has made, or will the lies, guilt, and secrets he’s tried to ignore shove him back into an abyss from which there is no escape?

Monday, 10 December 2012

Who's Pulling Jess' Strings?

"My name is Jess Sturman-Coombs and I love to write novels that capture the imagination. My stories seek to take you on a journey that thrills and excites.

I love to read and write and I've written many novels aimed at the YA and crossover market. My debut novel, Poker Face, is currently doing very well as an e-book and paperback available through Amazon, Waterstones and my website."
What was your first job?

When I was eleven I started working on the market, a ladies lingerie stall apparently. Basically we sold anything from pop socks to massive satin girdles, as well as knickers with the most important bits missing (I know!) and nurse outfits. I was eleven! It was a bleak and often very cold job. With 5am starts and vans to unload and display all before school and then having to do it all again after school, it was actually quite tiring. Also I couldn’t do the job in my school skirt so I had to get changed before 9am. Unfortunately, the attendants in the public toilets cottoned on to my ‘changing’ habits and they wouldn’t allow me to use their facilities (mean or what). I ended up having to find a way of making the shopping centre lifts jam between floors so I could get my jeans off and my uniform on. There is a knack and I’ve mastered it. Oh what fun I had! 
When did you begin writing?
I wrote at school and often received commendations in English literature. I hadn’t a clue how to punctuate or spell but I loved to write stories and poems. They were always full of meaning and were often quite deep and depressing but, I suppose, they reflected my feelings at that time. I wasn’t happy at school, in fact, I wasn’t happy full stop and my writing definitely showed it. I didn’t realise back then that, if I nailed the English language side of things, I could actually use the skills I had to earn some money. Instead I embarked on a crazy mish mash of jobs that finally resulted in me being accepted into a law firm. From there my future and prospects got much brighter. I owe that firm BIG time!
Where do you get your inspiration for your stories from?
Much of my inspiration comes from dreams and fantasies as well as experience. I have a very vivid imagination that has always liked to roam and wander. At one time it was a means of escape and I would live out whole scenarios in my head that could last for hours. In my head everything could go the way I wanted it to and I had all the control. The imagination is like a muscle and if you exercise it regularly it grows and develops. Mine has ended up like a freakishly massive bicep that’s actually too big for my head!    
Do you have a favourite place to write?
I like to be at home, it’s where I feel safest and most comfortable and it’s where I can truly be myself. That makes it the perfect place to write. I often imagine having somewhere by the sea and how it would feel to open up the laptop there but, in reality, I’d probably have to travel to get there and travelling scares the living daylights out of me! At the breakfast bar or on the back of the sofa where the sun shines brightest is the ideal writing place for me. 
Tell us a bit about your novel Poker Face
Poker Face is about a young girl who leaves school with nothing. She faces a future so painful and bleak that just the thought of it forces her to walk into the first law firm she comes across, and lie her way into a job. The senior partner watches her little performance and likes what he sees and, just like that, she secures herself an office junior position. However, not everyone is quite what they seem and she finds herself risking her life to protect an appeal file with incriminating evidence on it. Poker Face is a legal thriller series aimed at the young adult market but it is being enjoyed equally by adults. It is gritty and real and the characters are full of life and personality. The book is about finding security in the most unlikely of places and the importance of true love, respect and loyalty.  
You have some great reviews for Poker Face on Amazon. How does that make you feel?
Yeah I’ve been very lucky and people have been so kind. The reviews are important for a couple of reasons. One, they give others an idea of what they might be letting themselves in for. I really appreciate the role my readers play whenever they choose to leave a review. Two, the reviews give me inspiration and motivation when my insecurities are pestering me for my dinner money, and generally being the biggest meanest bullies ever to walk the face of the earth. I regularly go back to my reviews and read each and every one because they boost my writing confidence. I’m not a person who can pretend that what others think and feel doesn’t matter. It has always mattered to me.
If you could have any career (other than writing) what would you like to do?
Errrrm...hmmm...I would like to be an actress please! Ha ha! I always wanted to act when I was younger, from as young as I can remember in fact. Apart from the ‘C’ in English Literature the only other qualification I left school with was my very proud and quite shocking ‘A’ in drama. I like nothing more than the idea of playing at being someone else now and again. I get awkward around people and nervous when I’m out and about. When you act you lose those inhibitions and you become that other individual for a while. That character might handle things worse than you (which is a bit of a break from being yourself) or they might handle things better (which is nice to experience now and again). Pretending to be confident comes much easier to me than actually being confident.
When is the sequel to Poker Face coming out?
19th December 2012! Whoop whoop! It’s sooooooo exciting! As I write this it is the evening of the 9th and I am supposed to be editing my proof copy of The Puppet Master. I need to send it off to be printed! Don’t tell anyone but I am SO last minute!
Are you having a big launch event?
Oh yes! I’ve hired a theatre, The Deco Theatre in Northampton, and it’s a fantastic building. I can project my trailer and book covers onto the walls and decorate the venue in the black and white Poker Face theme.  I’ll be offering a gift wrap service and both books will be well as lots of children (to include mine!) The people who work there have been awesome and they offered to bring round ice creams in the interval! How cool is that! I have to say the ice creams were a deal breaker as far as my children were concerned!
Where can people find out more about you? 
Jess - Thanks for dropping by and telling us all about yourself and Good Luck with the launch.
Thank you so much for having me, Marie, and for being so incredibly patient over the time it has taken me to get these answers together! I know I can be a bit last minute but I’m not usually this bad! November and December have been ganging up on me...I blame them! 


Friday, 7 December 2012

Stocking Fillers

For under 5’s, with a truly seasonal theme.

“Teddy loves travelling around Santa's workshop on the big blue wagon! There is so much to look at and he has lots of elf friends. But Santa has a special task for Teddy - will Teddy take it on?”

The book has black and white illustrations so they can be coloured in.

A first chapter book with a fantasy theme, including a unicorn, a troll and a snow globe.

“After buying a beautiful snow globe, Phoebe finds herself pulled inside! Zoozer the unicorn has been kidnapped by a troll and is being taken to the evil wizard Mishra who wants to steal his powers. Summoned by the sorceress Vivien, Phoebe must find a way to stop him. How will she trick the troll? Will she succeed? Join Phoebe and her new friends Capstan the stag and Skimpish the wood elf as they hurry to catch up with the troll and save Zoozer.”

For children 6 and over. A time travel adventure set in China.

 “Put yourself in Jerry's shoes... His parents have been invited to China to take part in an archaeological dig. Because it is the summer holiday, he and his sister Sammy are going along. Jerry and Sammy meet some interesting people, and they find a beautiful hair slide. All seems great, but things are already starting to go wrong. Suddenly, Sammy thinks she is having visions from the past. They soon discover that the hair slide is linked to an old portrait in the museum and an old Mongolian tale. Jerry's summer is about to get very complicated...”

I hope you enjoy my books. They are all without violence and can be read independently or (for the older reader books) a chapter a night by parents.

Wishing you a Merry Christmas. Marie