Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Good Things Come by Sophie Claire

I’m so pleased to tell you I’ve signed a three-book deal with Hodder & Stoughton.

There have been tears of joy, celebrations, and just a few nerves at the prospect of deadlines. 

It’s a dream come true, but it didn’t happen overnight. 
Oh no. 
There’s been so much waiting, nail-biting and doubt along the way, but I hope my story gives comfort to others that there is always hope. 

So here’s how it came about:

A brief background

My first novel, Her Forget-Me-Not Ex, was published in 2015 by a small press. It sold well, much better than I expected in fact, but it had always been my goal to have an agent, so when I finished my second book I sent it out. I signed with Megan Carroll of Watson, Little Literary Agency in March 2016. Megan loved my second book, a summery friends-to-lovers story set in Provence. She approached publishers with it, and although we had a few near misses and really positive feedback, it didn’t sell. I won’t lie, this was disheartening (for both of us – it’s easy to overlook how passionately agents represent their clients and how much work they do on their behalf).

During months of not hearing anything, I had to keep the faith, be patient (I’m not very good at that) and keep writing. 

And then…

On the bright side, the submissions process is a slow one, and by the time Megan had exhausted her list of publishers, I had almost finished writing my third book (a Christmas story, set partly in England and in Provence). I’m glad I did because book 3 attracted more interest, including offers from two publishers. 


I was utterly thrilled and, after Megan’s call, I confess there were a few tears. This was what I’d been working towards for the last fifteen years, after all.

I signed with Hodder & Stoughton, who will publish The Christmas Holiday in October this year, re-release my first novel (under a new title) next year, and publish a third book which I’m currently writing in time for Christmas 2020. 

Yet to come

I’ve already begun working with my editor and her team, and I’m thrilled with how it’s going. Although I’ve been published before, Hodder & Stoughton is a large traditional publisher, and a lot of the process is new to me. I never realised so much work went into bringing a book to publication beyond the author writing ‘The End’. It’s exciting to be getting input from so many experienced professionals, and I know my book will be all the better for it.

The Novelistas have asked me to blog about the process of bringing a book to publication, so over the next few months I’ll be sharing my experiences with you.
One of the things I love about writing is that I’m constantly learning, and I hope that never stops.


Monday, 7 January 2019

Recipe from the Book: Mincemeat Flapjacks by Trisha Ashley

Introducing a brand-new series: recipes from your favourite Novelistas' books!

So, Christmas is over, the decorations are packed away, every mince pie has been eaten... and you find a half-eaten jar of mincemeat lurking at the back of the fridge. What do you do?

(a) Reach for a spoon?
(b) Chuck it in the bin?


(c) Make more mince pies?


How about trying this recipe for mincemeat flapjacks from Trisha Ashley's The Magic of Christmas. They are easy to make, taste good all year round, and are not just for Christmas!

Trisha Ashley

Mincemeat Flapjacks

4oz butter
2 tbsp golden syrup
2oz Demerara sugar (or a soft, dark brown sugar, if you want a slightly ‘treacly’ taste)
5 heaped tbsp of mincemeat, either bought or homemade
5oz rolled oats


Preheat oven to gas mark 3, 160⁰C, 325⁰F and grease a seven-inch baking tin. If using a cake tin instead, then I would line the base with baking paper, too.

Melt together the sugar, butter and syrup in a pan over a low heat, then stir in the mincemeat and, once warmed through, the oats.

Remove from the heat and mix well, then spoon into the baking tin and spread it out, flattening the top.

Put into the oven for about half an hour: it should be slightly golden brown. Remove and leave to cool for fifteen minutes before marking into squares or slices.

When cool, store in an airtight container.

The Magic of Christmas by Trisha Ashley

In the pretty Lancashire village of Middlemoss, Lizzy is on the verge of leaving her serially unfaithful husband, Tom, when tragedy strikes. Good job she has welcome distractions in the form of her Christmas Pudding Circle, a circle of friends swapping seasonal recipes, and a simmering rivalry with cookery writer Nick Pharamond – a rivalry set to come to boiling point after he snatched the Best Mince Pie prize away from her at the village show.

Meanwhile, the whole village is gearing up for the annual Mystery Play which takes place on Boxing Day. But who will play Adam to Lizzy’s Eve? Could it be the handsome and charismatic soap actor Ritch Rainford, or could someone closer to home win her heart? Whatever happens, it will certainly be a hard act to follow next year!

Saturday, 8 December 2018

Our Fab-Yule-ous Decorations...

In which the Novelistas tell us about their favourite Christmas decorations!

And if you'd like the chance to win a fabulous Novelistas' book bundle, scroll down to the end of this post and we'll tell you how!

Trisha Ashley

My Santa tree topper is made of painted papier-mâché and is over a hundred years old. I know this, because it was bought with her pocket money by my mother's older sister when she was a little girl, and my mother is now 93... His red suit has faded into a soupy brown over the years, but in a misguided moment Mum tarted him up with glitter glue and a cotton wool beard.

Valerie-Anne Baglietto

My sweet and sorry-looking little snowman has graced the mantelpiece during the festive season for several years now, since my daughter ‘adopted’ it at her primary school Christmas fayre. Another child had made it anonymously, but out of all the other sock snowmen for sale it was the one my little girl chose to bring home, and somewhere along the line it lost an eye, yet that only makes it more precious. I wish that anonymous child somewhere could know that their creation found a good home with us, but I suppose that child is a stroppy teenager by now who might not care (although secretly in their heart, I hope they do!)

Annie Burrows 

I don't have a favourite ornament. But every year I do tend to pick up a few new ones. This year's addition to my Christmas collection is this cute Santa doormat!

Sophie Claire

Many years ago, before I was married, my future mother-in-law taught me how to make these hand-sewn decorations. Back then my day job wasn’t creative, so I was thrilled when after a couple of hours I had made something – and that’s when I caught the sewing bug.

Over the years I’ve moved on to bigger projects like patchwork quilts, but each Christmas I return to making these little decorations. I love to personalise them, picking fabrics with particular friends and family in mind, and when the children were small they used to help too, cutting out circles of fabric.

Making these decorations has become an important part of my Christmas preparations and I really look forward to cosy evenings spent stitching in front of the fire.

Beth Francis

In the late 1940s, a group of young German children were brought from their bombed-out cities to my home town to stay with local families for a few months. My grandmother looked after two of them.

They never forgot her, and every Christmas they would send a card with a small gift for her grandchildren. One year there was an advent calendar, rare here at that time; no one else in our street had one. Another year we were sent a tiny doll. Dressed with scraps from my mother’s sewing box, she has topped our Christmas tree ever since. She’s old and faded, but conjures up so many memories of Christmas over the past seventy years that she’s irreplaceable.

June Francis

Last year I visited Liverpool's Anglican cathedral shop just before Christmas and my eyes alighted on these bright sparkling miniature glass Christmas trees. I just had to have one. After buying one, I thought my tree lacked an angel, so I went around the shop and discovered a host of angels. I chose Angel Florence, thinking of my father's sister Florence who was found drowned in the Leeds Liverpool canal during the Second World War.

My middle name is Florence and I like to think of my aunt looking out for me, my sort of guardian angel.

Juliet Greenwood

The Christmas decoration with special memories is the fairy that stood on the top of each Christmas Tree for as long as I can remember. Since I was a little girl, it was always tied on first, before the tree went up. Then came the lights, followed by the tinsel and the rest of the decorations. Those old family Christmases have long gone, but I have inherited the fairy, along with some of the other decorations, which are now interspersed with ones I’ve collected over the years. So the day the fairy goes up on top of the tree is still the day Christmas begins.

Cheryl Lang

My favourite Christmas ornaments are two snowmen and a later addition of a little girl. This is me being sentimental. When my first son arrived, he was only a couple of months old for his first Christmas, so we had to have a tree. I began collecting baubles and I found a jolly snowman and decided this was his special one. Some years later when son number 2 arrived, I remembered the snowman and amazingly found another one. Go forward a number of years, my daughter arrived and before her first Christmas I found this little girl with blonde plaits. This, I imagined might be how she’d look in a few years’ time.

Louise Marley

When I was little my father would take me everywhere - probably to give my poor mother a break - and I can remember going into a petrol station when I was about four, seeing this Nativity scene and falling in love with it. I don't know why. Perhaps I thought it was some kind of dolls' house. But my father bought it for me and I spent many happy hours playing with it - until I was told it had to be packed away because it was a 'Christmas decoration'! But it came out again the following year, and the year after that, and perhaps this is why it has lasted so many years. The Star of Bethlehem fell off very quickly, to be replaced by a milk bottle top, and at some point I lost one of the sheep. And a few years back my husband accidentally crunched it underfoot! But a bit of Superglue later and it was soon as good as new!

Related Posts:

Rum Cake and Tinsel (Trisha Ashley)
Christmas Traditions (Cheryl Lang)
A Satsuma and a Sugar Mouse (Trisha Ashley)


Win a Novelistas' Book Bundle!

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