Paperback Publication Day!

 

 

Today is paperback publication day for Summer at The Dog & Duck which is now gracing the shelves of Sainsbury’s and keeping very good company in the photo below!

 

 

Remember, if you see the book out in the wild then please do post a ‘shelfie’ on  Twitter or FB, I’d love to see any photos!  There’ll be a dog and duck goody bag to one person, picked randomly, who posts a pic.

 

Paperback Writer

Recently, and totally unexpectedly, I received a very exciting email from my editor telling me that the paperback version of Summer at The Dog & Duck will be going into Sainsbury’s stores as from 10th August.  This is the first of my books to go into a retail shop, so you can imagine how thrilled I am by this exciting development.  The e-book has received some lovely reviews and feedback from readers and I’m delighted that it will now be available on the book shelves of my new favourite supermarket!  Today my copies arrived in the post and they look totally gorgeous with the pretty summery colours and gold  foil highlighting.  What do you think?

 

If that wasn’t exciting enough, I’ve just heard that Winter at The Dog & Duck will also be going into Sainsbury’s from 21st September!

If you happen to see Summer at The Dog & Duck on the shelves of your local supermarket, please do post a ‘shelfie’ on  Twitter of FB, I’d love to see any photos!  I’ll be giving away a dog and duck goody bag to one person, picked randomly, who posts a pic.

 

 

Ten Things I Love About Summer

It’s June, it’s tipping it down outside and I’m snuggled up on the sofa with a blanket wrapped round me – perfect circumstances then to write a post about ten things I love about the summer!

1. Our glorious weather – Okay, so we can’t be guaranteed sunny days in the UK, and the likelihood is that we’ll have more than our fair share of torrential rain, but when the sun does decide to come out, it feels like such a wonderful blessing. This year we’ve had some lovely days, and although it’s a complete washout at the moment, I’m certain… the sun’ll come out tomorrow (bursts into song!)

2. Eating al fresco – So this is very dependent on No. 1 above, but what could be better than sitting outside in the fresh air to share a meal. Whether it’s a family barbecue, a light lunch with friends or just to partake of a cup of tea and a biscuit, it’s a proper treat to sit on the patio, to feel the sun on your skin and indulge in some special summertime treats, which leads me on to point No. 3…

3. Tasty Morsels – Strawberries and cream, plentiful salads, ripe fruits, delicious flavoured ice creams – there’s such a wide choice of scrummy things to eat in the summer months. Some of my favourite things include a big juicy burger straight off the barbecue or a caesar salad or a fillet of salmon, with new potatoes and green beans. For pudding I’d choose a rhubarb crumble or summer pudding, or perhaps a slice of Victoria sponge – mmmm… and now my stomach’s rumbling at the thought.

4. And something to drink? – I’d definitely need a lovely long cool drink to accompany all that delicious food. A long cool Pimms with strawberries, mint and cucumber epitomises summer to me, or perhaps a chilled glass of Prosecco, or if I’m forgoing the alcohol completely, (unlikely I know) a glass of homemade lemonade.

5. Anyone for tennis? – You probably won’t find me being energetic enough to dash around a tennis court, but I do look forward to watching Wimbledon fortnight. It’s steeped in tradition, and seeing all the beautifully tended green lawns and following my favourite players’ progress through the early rounds to the finals, is one of the TV highlights of my year.

6. Stripping off – What a relief it is to ditch all that heavy winter clothing; coats, jeans, boots, jumpers, vests, woolly hats and gloves, and slip into something much more comfortable, like shorts and a t-shirt or a floaty cotton dress with some sandals. The opportunities to expose my lily white skin to the sun are so few and far between that I need to make the most of it when I can! (Public Health Notice – please remember to apply your sunscreen)

7. Books – I love to sit in the garden and read a good book and with the arrival of the lovely weather comes a whole array of new releases to choose from. Even if you’re having a staycation you can easily be transported to the sunnier climes of Cornwall, Greece or a magical secluded island through the pages of a good book. My kindle is brimming with summer-based romcoms and I can’t wait to get stuck in.

8. The great outdoors – My daily walks with Amber, my English Pointer, take on an extra special quality during the summer months. Everything grows like billy-o and the countryside comes alive with vibrancy and colour. To see Amber galloping through the long grass really makes me smile.

9. Let’s celebrate! – The summer months are when the whole of my social life for the year is crammed into a few special weeks. Weddings, christenings, family get-togethers and barbecues , they all happen in the summer months and I just love the opportunity to catch up with everyone, and find out all their latest news. Talking of special occasions…

10. My birthday! – I’m an August baby, so was always lucky enough to celebrate my birthday in the school summer holidays when I was a child. When I started work it was a bit of a shock to realise that I might actually be expected to work on my birthday (really?), so I quickly put paid to that idea by deciding I would always take a day’s holiday on my special day. Well, why not? It is summer after all.

These are just a few of my favourite summer things. So tell me, what are yours?

Summer Giveaway!

It’s such a thrill to be back in Little Leyton to revisit the characters from Winter at The Dog & Duck and to introduce you to some new characters who’ve turned up in the village, intent on stirring up trouble for Ellie Browne, not only down at the pub but also in her relationship with gorgeous property developer, Max Golding.  Ellie thinks all she has to worry about is organising the summer fair and midsummer’s night ball, but it seems she might have a whole heap of other problems to deal with too, if she has any chance of getting her life back on track.

I had such a fun time writing this book and hope you’ll enjoy it.  Here’s the blurb.

Ellie Browne has found happiness running The Dog and Duck pub in the idyllic village of Little Leyton, and her blossoming romance with tall, handsome property developer, Max Golding, is going swimmingly. With her new best friend, Digby, the black Labrador at her side, life just couldn’t be sweeter.

But their peace is shattered when Max‘s younger sister, Katy, turns up unannounced with a whole heap of attitude. And Max‘s loyalties are stretched further when his glamorous ex, Sasha, re-appears with her own burgeoning secret.

With the master of the manor preoccupied with the demands of his ‘other women’, Ellie‘s forced to consider if she has any role to play in Max‘s life or in the village of Little Leyton.

Can Ellie get her life and relationship back on track in time for the summer charity ball at Braithwaite Manor?

To celebrate the upcoming publication of Summer at The Dog & Duck I’m giving away a Dog & Duck tote bag filled with gorgeous goodies; a signed copy of Winter at The Dog & Duck, a summer fridge magnet, a pair of pink dog socks and a magnetic memo pad! To be in with a chance of winning, please head over to my Facebook page, like the page and comment and/or like the post too.

The link to my Facebook page is here:

https://www.facebook.com/jillsteepleswriter

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll randomly pick one winner at 5.00 pm on publication day, 1st June. Open internationally.  Good luck!

 

It’s Publication Day!

Christmas at The Dog & Duck is out today!

I’m so excited to share the first in the series of books set in the delightful village of Little Leyton.

Meet Ellie and her faithful band of dogs, her ex boyfriend Johnny, the intriguing and too gorgeous for his own good, Max Golding, and all the friendly locals at the village pub.  Pop in for a celebratory drink and a warm welcome. A story of love, friendship and new beginnings.

The story is available for download from Amazon, Itunes, Kobo etc.

http://amzn.to/2cb8aRr

9781786691781

Coming soon!

Following on from my last post I can now confirm the title of my new book… drum roll please…Christmas at The Dog and Duck.

Here’s a brief blurb:-

Ellie Browne has left behind her high-flying job in London to return to the charming village of Little Leyton. Working shifts at The Dog and Duck and running her own doggy-day-care business, Ellie’s looking for a much simpler way of life and a good old fashioned Christmas.

But Little Leyton’s landscape is changing; Johnny Tay, Ellie’s ex, wants to pick up where they left off; sultry property developer Max Golding has moved into the village and is ruffling feathers; and rumour has it that the pub, which holds a special place in Ellie’s heart, might be sold. Suddenly, life’s looking a whole lot more complicated…

It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, but can Ellie juggle her emotions and commitments in time to celebrate Christmas?

The book will be published on 1st October 2016 by Aria Fiction, and is available for pre-order here:  http://amzn.to/2an8GwW

No cover yet, but coming very soon. As soon as it’s available, I’ll be posting it right here!

Signing on the dotted line

I know I’ve been very quiet but that’s not to say I haven’t been busy. I’ve been holed up in the writing cave working on my latest novel, a romantic comedy set in a charming village in the depths of the English countryside.  The book features a warm and likeable heroine called Ellie Browne, a welcoming pub that is at the heart of the village, lots and lots of lovable dogs, and a too gorgeous for his own good property developer, Max Golding, who is ruffling feathers all round.

I had such fun writing this book. I didn’t write it to a deadline or with any publisher in mind, so I enjoyed the freedom of just going where the muse took me.  The book is full of quirky characters, romantic twists and turns, a selection of tempting craft beers (!), and plenty of Christmas sparkle too.

As I was coming to the end of the book I heard about a new digital imprint from a dynamic independent publisher and on something of a whim sent my manuscript off to them.  Within a couple of weeks I’d heard back – they loved my story and wanted to talk to me about it.  It was a case of being in the right place at the right time and I’m very pleased to say I’ve signed a four-book contract with the publisher.  This novel will be the first in the series of four set in the delightful village of Little Leyton and I can’t wait to share these lovely characters with you.

We’re just putting the final touches to the story now.  The book is due to be published in October – not too long to wait – and as soon as I can share some more details – cover, title, blurb – I will.  Meanwhile, here I am signing on the dotted line!

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Christmas is coming!

I must admit I’m feeling pretty excited about Christmas this year. We have forgone our usual trek to the muddy farm, spending what seems like hours in the freezing cold picking out the perfect tree, wrestling with the wretched thing to get it in the car, only to take it home and find it’s a leaning monster of a tree, depositing all of its non-drop needles all over the floor.  No, we have finally and gladly given up that joy and instead have bought a stunning artificial tree. Thankfully it’s much better behaved than the real thing and is doing everything you would ask of a christmas tree, shining and twinkling brightly!  It’s definitely got me in the christmas spirit.

xmas tree

Another reason for my pre-christmas excitement is that I have a new book out tomorrow! It’s called Warm Winter Kisses and is a seasonal romantic comedy involving a city girl who’s despatched to the country to work for a celebrity TV chef.  I adore these characters so much and really hope you’ll like them and their story too.

Here’s a brief blurb:-

When Beth Brown loses her job and her long-standing boyfriend in the space of twenty-four hours, she thinks life can’t get any worse. That’s until she finds herself in the depths of the English countryside working for celebrity chef, Rocco di Castri.  Not only has she to deal with his legendary moods, but she has to contend with his prickly girlfriend, international supermodel, Pandora, and his best friend, the rock guitarist, Zak Stranger. 

Struggling with her feelings of rejection and loss, Beth finds a new sense of contentment in her new role and despite herself develops a fanciful crush on her boss, Rocco.

When her ex turns up unexpectedly, Beth’s certain he must want a reconciliation, but there’s unsettling news which causes Beth to question her own needs and desires.

There’s even more upsetting news for Beth when she learns that Pandora and Rocco are to be engaged.  Heartbroken, Beth flees the country to go back to her old life.  But will she ever find true love of her own and how will she ever get over the man who has stolen her heart?

SNOW COVER NEW

If you’re interested in a sneaky peek, the link is here

Happy Christmas Everyone!

National Chocolate Week

In celebration of National Chocolate Week, pull up a chair, your chocolate bar of choice (I think I’ll plump for a Ripple) and take time out of your busy schedule to indulge in a chocolaty read!

Brief Encounter

In my kitten heels and polka dot skirt, I’m doing a 60 metre sprint to catch the 17.34 from London Euston and today, like most days, I make it to Platform 9, with only seconds to spare.

But by the time I reach the ticket barrier it seems that neither I, nor the train, will be going anywhere fast.

‘Sorry love,’ says the guard in a wearily resigned fashion that suggests it’s not the first time he’s trotted out the words, ‘points failure at Watford Junction.  It’ll be another forty minutes before the next train leaves.’

Despite the temptation, I refrain from stamping my foot in frustration and sobbing pathetically into the arms of the unsuspecting railway worker.  Instead, I curse inwardly, raging against my much-loathed job in the city and its equally loathed journey.    A light bulb flashing moment, if ever there was one, I reflect, vowing there and then to spend the next weekend scouring the newspapers to find a job closer to home.

For the minute though, only a cup of coffee and sugar-fix will do, so I wander up on to the concourse and head into the first café that I find.  The place is heaving with disgruntled commuters, but I wait my turn and order a cappuccino, picking up a blatantly seductive chocolate bar from the counter.  Juggling my tray, handbag and newspaper I head towards the only vacant seat at the far end of the café.

‘Do you mind if I sit here?’ I ask the man sat opposite, whose belongings are spread haphazardly across the table.

‘Sure,’ he says, looking up to meet my eyes, making a half-hearted attempt at clearing some space.

I recognise him as a 17.34 regular.   Thirty-ish with dark, closely cut hair, come-to-bed eyes and a bone structure to die for, it’d be hard for any girl not to notice this guy in the crowd.  And, at such close proximity, I find myself checking out the third finger of his left hand.  My heart does a little leap of triumph when I find it tantalisingly bare.

Sadly though, I don’t think my presence has even registered in his stratosphere, as he’s turned his attention straight back to his book without so much as a friendly smile in my direction.

I stir my coffee and reach for the chocolate bar which has edged its way under his papers.   As my newly manicured nails settle on the red packaging, I notice his dark eyes flash from his book onto my hands.   Slowly now, aware of his full-on attention, I unwrap the biscuit from its wrapper and snap off a velvety finger.  He puts down his book and turns the intensity of his gaze onto my eyes, watching intently as my lips settle around the smooth, milk chocolate.  And quite why, I cannot understand, but the atmosphere between us now is electric and Mr Gorgeous cannot take his eyes off me as I nibble seductively at one chocolate finger after another.  I’m just about to lay claim to the final finger when his strong hand comes down firmly on to mine, and gently he removes my hand and picks up the remaining bar for himself.

My pulse quickens and a warm flush of desire spreads through my body.  Now it’s my turn to watch in amazement as, audaciously, he savours the last few crumbs of my chocolate bar.   I’m speechless, but only too aware that at a moment like this, there’s no need for words.  We’re talking our own language, the language of love.  The intensity between us speaks volumes.

I laugh coquettishly in an attempt to draw him into conversation, but before I get the chance, he’s standing up, gathering together his papers and with a final lingering look, he leaves me, feeling bemused and deflated, alone at the table

‘Er, excuse me,’ I say meekly, to his departing figure, but it’s too late, he’s already out the door and on his way to the train.

‘Train!’ I shriek, suddenly remembering what I’m doing there.  Hurriedly, I pick up my handbag and make a mad dash for Platform 9.

I scan the carriages for Mr Gorgeous, hopeful that I’ll find him sitting waiting for me, but I can’t see him anywhere and it’s with some disappointment that I climb into the last carriage, settling myself into a window seat.

It’s then as I’m fumbling around in my handbag that I let out the heartfelt scream.

‘Aarrgghh!’  The other passengers turn to look at me in concern.

‘Oh my god!’ I gasp, clasping my head in my hands in horror.  Everyone’s staring at me expectantly.

‘My chocolate bar!’ I say, by way of explanation, wrenching the unopened packet from my handbag and holding it aloft.

***

In the weeks that follow, I do my utmost to miss the 17.34 electing instead to work late to avoid the humiliation of bumping into that man.  And, with time, I’m able to put the whole embarrassing incident out of my mind, as I focus on the more important task of finding a new job, closer to home.

So that’s what I’m doing here now, sitting in the plush reception area of this purpose-built office block, only a stone’s throw away from my road.  And the job, as a marketing research assistant for a company re-locating from London, has my name written all over it.  It’ll mean a salary cut, but with the money I save on travelling it’ll make it more than worthwhile. Perhaps, on reflection, it does seem a little too good to be true.

‘You can go in now, Miss Jewell,’ says the young receptionist.  ‘Mr Phillip’s office is the first door on the right.’

Confidently, I walk into the office, but as soon as I see the suited figure behind the desk, my heart plummets to the ground.  It’s him.  Mr Gorgeous.  Mr Stuff-my-face-with- chocolate.   If he didn’t recognise me before, in the coffee bar, he certainly does now and he does a delightful double take as he clocks the discomfort on my face.

‘Ah, Carly Jewell, haven’t we met before?’  His eyes, I swear, are dancing with delight.

‘Not sure,’ I mutter, lamely.

He picks up my CV, turning it over in his hands.

‘Would you like a coffee?’ he asks.

‘No, thank you,’ I say, eager to get this whole thing over with as quickly as possible.

‘How about a biscuit?’ he suggests, pushing a plateful of chocolate digestives my way.

‘No, thank you,’ I croak again.

‘Well, I hope you don’t mind if I do?’ he says, with a devilish grin.  Slowly, he takes a biscuit from the plate, places his lips around its smooth contours, hesitates a moment before biting into its crispiness.  He looks at me with a look I’ve seen before, a look I realise I shouldn’t even attempt to make sense of.

I don’t remember much after that as the rest of the interview descended into a hazy blur.  I think he may have asked some intelligent questions and I gave him some answers, but intelligent? I don’t think so.

Really though, it wasn’t too bad because by that stage, I’d had a change of heart over the job, so I wasn’t too disappointed when, a few days later, I received a letter informing me that I wouldn’t be asked back for a second interview.

I’ll start looking again tomorrow.  But for tonight I’ve got other more important things on my mind.  Darryl Phillip might not make ideal boss material, but when he asked me out for dinner, saying I looked like a woman with a healthy appetite, I felt, in the circumstances, I could hardly refuse….

***

This story is taken from my short story collection When James Bond Met Holly Golightly.

Guest Post – Rebecca Raisin – Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm

Today I’m delighted to welcome to the blog, Rebecca Raisin, best-selling author of the The Gingerbread Cafe series of books.  Secrets at Maple Syrup Farm is Rebecca’s latest release and it’s out today! Returning to the wonderful setting of the magical town of Ashford, Connecticut, it promises to be a heart-warming, romantic and compelling read.

Secrets_at_MSFarm_2

To whet your taste buds for this wonderful story, here is a brief extract:

The Maple Syrup Farm was, at best, a ramshackle mess. The front gate hung off its latch, creaking in the wind, pitching backward and forward like an invitation to enter. In the distance you could make out the cottage. Gnarly old vines twisted around porch posts as though they were slowly strangling them. Cottage windows were smashed, leaving only dirty shards of glass clinging to their perches. Mountains of junk had been abandoned across the land for so long that grass had grown over them. Odd sticks of wood protruded like arms in supplication. The decaying façade of the place was somehow compelling rather than confronting.

Behind the gate, the property spanned for miles. Long snow-dotted grass swayed like green ribbons and grew into everything, wild and free. Even down the graveled driveway the grass had crept over like it was intent on taking over, burying the vestiges of ground.

I pushed the creaky gate open and walked purposefully, convincingly, like I’d been on a million farms before and knew what to do. As I neared the cottage music blared from inside. I stepped onto the porch. It was rotted in places, worm-wooded. I covered my ears against the noise as I dodged holes and hoped to God I made it inside without tumbling into trouble in my boots.

Whoever was inside the small cottage was belting out lyrics to “Pony” by Ginuwine like he was the only person in the world. Clay? I couldn’t really see an old farmer type listening to such provocative music, but it took all kinds to make a world, as my mom was keen on saying.

With a quick rap on the door, I set my shoulders, pulled my coat tighter and waited. No answer. There was no way he’d hear me with the volume up so high. With a shrug, I opened the front door, and stuck my head inside.

My mouth hung open at the sight before me. Clay was not old. Not weathered. Not wearing overalls.

He stood all six foot something of him, on the top rung of a stepladder, wearing only tight denim jeans, holding a drill. His broad shoulders moved to the beat of the music, his biceps flexing in time. As he turned and leaned I caught sight of his sculpted abs, the grooves and valleys of them, the color of his skin, tanned somehow in wintertime. He was the epitome of the perfect male model. I imagined him nude, and wanted to paint him in explicit detail because it would make such a stunning portrait.

The tight denim jeans accented his butt, and he thrust his hips to the rhythm of the song. That kind of taut, strong body would be a joy to paint. Just watching him made me uncomfortably warm. I had been wanting to capture a man on canvas, their intense lines and lengths, especially one as chiseled as this.

He flicked his dark blond hair back, and turned suddenly, one hand grasping the top rung of the ladder. When he caught sight of me the singing and, sadly, the thrusting stopped abruptly.

I walked to the stereo to turn the music down, before saying, “Hi, nice drill you have there.” Nice drill you have there? I promptly closed my mouth, and hoped my brain would catch up with my voice. In my effort to come across convincing, like I knew what a drill was, I sounded like I was flirting. Or just plain stupid. “What I meant was—”

His expression darkened and he spoke over the top of me. “You lost?”

I tilted my head, confused at the hostility in his voice. “No.” I appraised him—a hot guy with a bad attitude. I’d been expecting to see a middle-aged guy wearing overalls, not someone half-dressed, and mesmerizing from a painting point of view. The fierceness in his eyes—would I capture it?

He jumped down from the ladder, a fine sheen of sweat glistening on his abs. From a sofa covered with plastic, he snatched up a crumpled tank top and pulled it over his head.

“No need to get dressed on my account.” I resisted the urge to clap a hand over mouth. “What I mean is, just be as you were…” The words were coming out wrong, in my effort to be someone I was not.

I blushed.

He scowled.

“Can I help you?” He let the drill drop, the cord slipping slowly through his fingers—he didn’t take his eyes off me, before it hit the ground with a clunk. For some reason the gesture seemed highly erotic. But the steely glint in his eyes told a different story.

Thoughts of traipsing back down the driveway, jobless, flashed through my mind. “I’m here about the job.” I raised my chin.

His face cracked into a cynical smile. He snatched a rag from the coffee table and wiped his brow, all the while chuckling to himself. I held his stare, while he gave me a once-over. His eyes were a mesmerizing, deep, dark brown, almost fathomless. I should have changed my outfit before I set off. He couldn’t take me seriously for the job, looking like some kind of bohemian.

“A job?” His mouth twisted. “I don’t think so.” His gaze traveled the length of my body once more and I tried hard not to squirm.

“And why not?” I asked, remembering Becca’s word of warning. Do not take no for an answer.

He sneered. “Do you even know what the job is?”

“Farming, or a farmer, or a farmer’s assistant. Who cares about the title? All you need to know is, I am more than capable of…farming.” Way to go, Lucy, I silently berated myself. Say farmer one more time. He had me on edge with his cool stare. I hoped the desperation wasn’t evident in my voice.

“Who sent you here?”

I tried to hide my smile at his phrasing—it was almost like a line out of a mafia movie. Was this guy for real? “Your cousin Becca. She said you can’t find anyone else.” And now I see why. If I wasn’t so desperate for a job I would have told him exactly what I thought of him and breezed out. But there was also a stubborn side of me that wanted to show him he was wrong about me. I could…farm, as well as anyone else.

He raised an eyebrow. “You think I can’t find anyone?”

“I don’t see people lining up to work for you.” He blanched. If it was a tug of war, I’d just retrieved a bit of the rope. “But I am perfectly able to do the work.”

“Is that so?”

“Sure is.” I pursed my lips.

He took two steps toward me and stood so close I could feel his breath on my face. My pulse quickened—for one second I thought he was going to kiss me. He said, “You think you can handle it?”

If you’d like to download a copy of Rebecca’s book for yourself, and why wouldn’t you, you can do so here –  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Secrets-Maple-Syrup-Farm-Lifetime-ebook/dp/B00OQD8HNY/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1437119966&sr=8-1&keywords=rebecca+raisin

Facebook – Rebecca Raisin

Blog – Twenty-six Letters

Twitter – Rebecca Raisin

 

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