Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Leap Year Blog Hop - A Class Apart

As a British author brought up surrounded by all sorts of historic buildings, I guess it was kind of inevitable that I'd start my writing career by gravitated towards past times. Images of all those aristocratic lords and ladies up to no good really got my creative juices flowing. It was definitely a case of 'haves' and have nots' in the Regency period but, have things really changed that much.

Those were the thoughts going through my head when I wrote A Class Apart, a modern day historical if you like, featuring a titled lady who's fallen on hard times and a guy from the back streets of London who's made a name for himself in the financial world through his intelligence and sheer hard work. Octavia dislikes Jake and all he stands for but needs his backing if she's to save her ancestral home.

Here's how Jake reacts when he meets Octavia for the first time.

A sound of screeching tires caused both men to stand and look out of the window in time to observe a Harley Davidson with a garish paint job skid to a halt, sending gravel showering everywhere. A long, shapely leg, leading to a slender, leather-clad rear, swung over the saddle.
“Good God!” Jake said, surprise taking precedence over good manners.
“Ah, at last.” The marquis turned away from the window, an amused smile playing about his lips. “You’re about to endure the dubious pleasure of meeting my granddaughter, Mr. Bentley,” he said. “I do hope you have a strong constitution.”
Jake strolled into the far corner of the room, somewhat taken aback by the change in the marquis’s expression, which had gone from formally polite to indulgently affectionate. He wondered when the prodigal granddaughter had returned to the fold. And more to the point, why? He wondered a bit about that cute backside and those endless legs, too.
Octavia burst into the room like a tornado. She pulled off her full-face helmet and shook out a shiny curtain of brunette hair. Watching her from the depths of the room, Jake metaphorically whistled his appreciation. She was something else.
“Sorry, Gramps, there was an accident on the bridge, and I couldn’t even get past it on the bike. Still, at least Bentley-the-Beast isn’t here yet. He must be stuck, too.”
Lord Radleigh failed to suppress a smile. “Octavia,” he said, “this is Mr. Bentley. Mr. Bentley, this is my very bad-mannered granddaughter, Octavia.”
Seemingly not the slightest bit put out by her faux pas, she turned to face him. She had obviously been about to say something, but, assessing him with her eyes, all that passed her lips was a strangled gasp. Jake waited her out in silence.
“Mr. Bentley, I didn’t see you lurking there.”
Her voice, when she finally found it, was accusatory, making it sound as though her rudeness had been his fault. She offered her hand but no apology. As Jake made contact with it he felt a sharp jolt of awareness rock his entire body. She felt it, too. He could tell that much from her stunned expression and guessed she wasn’t any happier about it than he was. He released her hand and strove to regain control of the situation.
“Glad to meet you. Sorry about the traffic. It must have been beastly for you.”
Touché,” she said, but her expression didn’t contain an ounce of penitence.
Jake eyed her dispassionately. Obviously the fact that she’d been deliberately impolite to someone of such social inconsequence didn’t even register on her radar. His expression hardened. If she thought to drive the price of Radleigh up by trying her upper-class antics with him, she had a lot to learn about business. The day when an arrogant socialite could get the better of him had yet to dawn.
More coffee was poured, and at last the matter of Radleigh was raised.
By Octavia.
She outlined her plans to Jake in a cut-glass accent laced with an unmistakable thread of condescension. Her attitude irritated him, and he was in no mood to listen to her impractical, half-cocked scheme to belatedly save her home. She must have known about her grandfather’s financial problems, and if she really cared about Radleigh, she should have done something about it long before now.
Jake humored her by hearing her out, his mind only half on what she was saying. Even so, he admitted to an element of surprise. He found it hard to believe she’d managed to come up with this scheme, accompanied by graphics, floor plans, and basic estimates in a little more than the week she said it had taken her. Grudgingly he afforded her some respect for her ingenuity.
He should turn the proposal down flat, of course. It would be madness to do anything else. She intimated she had other backers interested, but Jake wasn’t buying that. And he’d been able to ascertain from the brief look he’d taken at her figures that she was grossly underestimating the costs involved. Her plan was quite simply a nonstarter. He’d turn her down and purchase Radleigh outright. It would be heartless to raise her grandfather’s hopes by doing anything else.
So why was he still hesitating? Perhaps because of the glimmer of hope he could see in the marquis’s eye. Or there again, perhaps it was because the man so clearly adored this wild, opinionated, selfish hoyden. She had instilled life into him since Jake’s last visit, that was for sure. The man looked ten years younger. The scheme was bound to fail anyway, and he’d get Radleigh in the end with a clear conscience. He was still working all the hours God sent and wouldn’t be able to spend much time here for the next year or two, anyway. But still? Was he losing his mind even considering such a risky scheme?
Jake never allowed sentiment to intrude upon his business dealings and was at a loss to explain why he was even contemplating doing so on this occasion. He had no intention of being railroaded by this condescending female. The fact that her physical attributes excited instincts that had nothing to do with business was neither here nor there. He’d already dated enough attractive women to last him a lifetime, and there was nothing out of the ordinary about this one.
“I can’t give you answer now, Lady Octavia. I need to study your plans much more carefully first.”
“But you’re not saying no?” Her professional stance evaporated, leaving her looking both astounded and touchingly vulnerable.
“I’m on my way to London, but I’ll be passing back this way on Friday evening.”
“Perhaps Mr. Bentley would care to dine with us, Octavia?”

A Class Apart by Wendy Soliman now available from SirenBookStrand, Amazon.com and all good ebook stores.

To win a copy of A Class Apart just leave a comment on this blog saying what type of vehicle Octavia was in charge of when Jake first saw her.

Good luck and thanks for stopping by, Wendy

The next author on this tour is the talented Rachel Haimowitz at 

Fantasy Unbound

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Musa Blog Hop

Many thanks to all of you who stopped by my blog during the Musa blog hop. Congratulations to Sharon M. Bidwell who was the winner of a copy of my novel, Downsizing. Please email me at wendysoliman@rocketmail.com Sharon and we'll discuss getting your prize to you.

Stay tuned for the Leap Year Blog Hop, starting on the 29th February. Nine authors and nine great prizes on offer.


Sunday, 12 February 2012

Musa Blog Hop - Moon Over Alcatrez

Since this blog is all about confessions, I'm going to make a biggie. Although I write for the vibrant new publishing house, Musa, I have yet to read any of the books written by my fellow authors. There, I've said it! Now I feel cleansed. In my own defence, I do write three full length books a year so I don't have much time for anything else. One day I will get a life.

I might not have read other authors' books but that doesn't stop me having a wish list. Near the top is Moon Over Alcatrez by talented author Patricia Yager Delagrange. Here's how Musa describe this novel:

Weston and Brandy’s marriage splinters beneath the burden of sorrow following the death of their child, and after an accidental meeting with her high school friend, Brandy ends up carrying more than just the weight of grief inside her heart.

Following the death of their baby during a difficult birth, Brandy and Weston Chambers are grief-stricken and withdraw from each other, both seeking solace outside of their marriage; however, they vow to work through their painful disloyalty.  But when the man Brandy slept with moves back to their hometown, three lives are forever changed by his return.


Three days later we were standing at the edge of a hole in the ground at Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Hayward, the silence so thick, the insides of my ears buzzed like a distant swarm of angry bees.  Mr. Peralta and another gentleman stood off to the side while Weston and I held hands next to the tiny casket.

Weston had chosen a simple mahogany box with gold handles, and a bouquet of white lilies graced the top of the small box.  I knelt down and laid a kiss on the smooth wood then wiped off the tears that had fallen on the dark, shiny surface.  Weston joined me and placed a single red rose in the middle of the lilies.

He helped me up and we stood side-by-side in silence, my guilt over her death like a stone in my empty belly.  I missed everything I’d dreamed would be happening right now, yearned for all that could have been.
Weston nodded at the man standing next to Mr. Peralta and our baby was slowly lowered into the gaping maw.  She reached the bottom, and a bird landed on the rich brown dirt piled next to the grave.  It pecked around, chirping a little song then flew off - as if saying goodbye.  My heart squeezed inside my chest.
I picked up a small handful of soft dirt.

“Goodbye, Christine,” I whispered, throwing it on top of her casket.

Weston wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me in close to his side.  Why her?  Why my baby?  Was this supposed to make sense?  And, if so, to whom?

We drove home in silence.  No words existed to express my grief.

Power and emotive stuff! I shall definitely read this one.

 Since we're talking romance, I'm giving away a copy of my novel, Downsizing, for Valentine's day. This book features - brace yourselves - an overweight heroine. She's invisible in a crowded room because no one can see through her bulk to the sensitive, intelligent chick lurking beneath. No one except local heartthrob Noah Fenwick, that is, but even he lets her down when he marries her pretty, slim best friend.

Still, revenge is a dish best served cold. Who says fat girls can't have fun?

If you want to know how Maxine fights back on behalf of the silent majority who don't have perfect bodies, simply follow this blog and leave a comment to say you've done so. Then your name will go in the hat.

Good luck and happy valentine's day.



Saturday, 4 February 2012

Secrets and Inspirations

Tidying up my computer the other day, I came across this interview I did to promote my first contemporary novel, and one close to my heart, A Class Apart, which combines my interest in the British aristocracy with down to earth problems associated with all classes in this day and age. 
What do you think?

Wendy Soliman was brought up on the Isle of Wight in southern England but now divides her time between Andorra and west Florida. She lives with her husband Andre and a rescued dog of indeterminate pedigree. When not writing she enjoys reading other people’s work, walking for miles with her dog, drinking good wine and generally making the most out of life.

A Class Apart
Lady Octavia Radleigh is devastated when Radleigh Manor, her ancestral home, falls victim to her grandfather’s crippling debts. Jake Bentley, boy made good from the East End of London plans to buy Radleigh to prove to the world that he’s made it but reckons without Octavia, who’s determined to turn it into an upmarket hotel to attract American tourists. Now all she has to do is persuade Jake to finance her crazy scheme…

How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first novel when I was fifteen, so I guess I’ve always been drawn to words. I certainly live in a fantasy world most of the time! I wrote a second book when I was in my twenties and, no, I’m not telling you how long ago that was. It was just a long time, okay! Anyway, I took it up seriously about eight years ago when the circumstances in my life changed and I had the time for it. Incidentally, my third published book was based around the plot for the one I wrote in my twenties. Moral of the story: never throw anything away.

Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants?
Both. When I’m writing historicals or even contemporary romance I tend to start with a premise – a what if – and let the characters run with it. It’s amazing what they get up to and where they take me. For my series of marine crime novels that I’m writing for Carina Press I do need to do an outline and a lot more research but I never stick to it. My tendency to let the characters sort out their own messes is too deeply entrenched, I guess.

Tell me one thing about yourself which few other people know.
Well, I’m told I come across as confident but, let me tell you, my self-esteem is just about zero. Getting published was one of the few achievements that made me feel good about myself. It continues to do so every time another book gets accepted.

Describe your book
My first five books were all Regencies. I guess coming from the Isle of Wight, with all those historical buildings littering the landscape, a sense of history seeped into me like osmosis. As I gained in confidence I decided to try something different and a ‘modern’ historical seemed like the logical step. England is still full of aristocrats but not all of them are as wealthy as they once were. What if a titled lady discovered that her ancestral home had to be sold and that a self-made upstart from the East End of London wanted to buy it to prove to the world that he’d made it? That’s the basis of A Class Apart.

What drew you to the subject of your novel, A Class Apart?
The class society in England fascinates me, especially the way the aristocracy it being forced by circumstances and society to adapt to the modern world. Even the Queen pays income tax nowadays – shock, horror! Unlike the Regency period that I first wrote about, modern Britain doesn’t turn its nose up at business men, especially successful ones, but it’s a concept  that my heroine Octavia in A Class Apart finds hard to accept. Game on!

Did you encounter any obstacles in researching it?
Not really. I learned a hard lesson when my first book was published. Part of it was set in Alexandria, Egypt two hundred years ago. I diligently researched the period to death and proudly put a lot of my findings into the novel, just to prove I knew what I was talking about. My editor put a red pen through the lot of it, telling me to cut most if not all. This is a novel, Wendy, not a history lesson. You’ll bore your readers. It was a bitter pill to swallow but I took the advice on board, mainly because I could see it was right, and now only do enough research for authenticity.

Where do you write?
We’re fortunate enough to divide our time between Andorra, a small principality high up in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain and west Florida. In Andorra, where I am at the moment, I have a tiny desk in my own room where I beaver away. In Florida we’re in the process of creating a study with fitted floor to ceiling bookshelves for my tomes. My dream come true!

What’s the name of the first novel you wrote? Did you try to publish it?
Can’t remember the names of the books I wrote when I was a kid, (which is probably a good thing!). The first one I wrote when I took it up seriously eight years back was Lady Hartley’s Inheritance – yes, the one that had the setting in Alexandria! – and it was published by Robert Hale in England, as were the next four.

If you could ask readers one question what would it be?
What attracts you to a particular book? Do you indeed judge it by its cover? Is your interest piqued through blogs, review sites, promotion of any sort? Do you always favour a particular genre or take pot luck?

A Class Apart by Wendy Soliman Available from SirenBookStrand http://www.bookstrand.com/a-class-apart as an ebook or in print. Also from Amazon.com http://tinyurl.com/89e57dk