So today I'm feeling a little Christmas joy and want to wave my wand of happiness in a shimmy-shaky fashion. Not only am I going to give you a cover reveal, the blurb AND the first chapter of 'LIFE AFTER SETH' but I'm also doing FIVE DAYS - yes, you heard me correctly - FIVE DAYS of both of my Christmas novellas for FREE!!!!
From Wednesday 26th November right up until the end of Sunday 30th November, you can grab both of my novellas for absolutely NOTHING on Amazon. How good is that? Let's call it my little Christmas present to you.
And, furthermore, if you're on Twitter and you Re-Tweet my #free posts or this blog, you can go in the MAGNIFICENT MISFIT MAGICAL MACHINE.
Now, this isn't ANY old machine. If you enter this stupendous place of wonder and get picked as a winner - you know, like on The X-Factor or Strictly Come Dancing? - you get to pick any of my books to be delivered to your Kindle for your delight and delectation! For no pennies whatsoever!
See? I really am feeling the Festive Funk right now. What have you got to lose? Get your fingers poised, your RT button going and tell all your friends that there are FREEBIES on offer. And if you leave me a review, I'll love you even more.
OK. Ready for the cover reveal, the blurb and the first chapter? Grab a drink and a packet of biscuits and prepare to meet 'LIFE AFTER SETH'.
Picture this …
A summer wedding booked in a beautiful English village surrounded by rolling hills and stunning countryside.
The guests are waiting, the bride is blushing and
the groom is … where?
Left to muddle through in a ramshackle cottage with half-naked builders, a selfish mother, a New Age sister who’s away with the fairies and a hormonal teenage nephew, Lizzie sees her world spiral into farce.
It may seem like a romcom that cinema goers giggle over as they chomp on their popcorn, but this is no laughing matter for Lizzie - it’s her life.
With Seth gone, there’s no shortage of men should she ever choose to love again. But which one would she consider letting into her broken heart?
And will she find the happy ever after she’s
always dreamed of?
LIFE AFTER SETH …
when being jilted is the best thing that can happen to a girl.
* * * * *
You know those daft dinner party games where the guests ask probing questions to find out more about one another? The ones that start as a bit of fun and then end up turning into a full blown domestic between the loved-up couple at the end of the table or an epiphany for the closet gay who realises he really does want to sleep with the guy sitting to his left? Those games.
Well, the next time I find myself at one of those ‘all jolly good, light hearted fun’ affairs and I’m asked the question ‘What was the worst day of your life?’, I can guarantee that no one will be able to top my answer and I’ll have the assembled guests in stunned - possibly embarrassed - silence.
Oh yeah, as bad days go, by anyone’s standards, it was a humdinger.
Of course it was meant to be the happiest day of my life but as I woke and stretched in the sunlight, cocooned in the cosiness of my childhood bed, I could never have imagined what the following few hours - indeed months - would bring.
If I’d had any idea, I would probably have rolled over and gone back to the dream that involved Daniel Craig and, intriguingly, a rather large jar of Nutella.
But no, silly old me jumped out of bed filled with thrilling anticipation, threw on my dressing gown, lovingly stroked my lace gown hanging on the wardrobe and then headed down to breakfast en famille.
Any normal family might have had Buck’s Fizz on ice and the tempting smell of a cooked breakfast floating on the air to greet the blushing bride-to-be, but not mine.
My father was nowhere to be seen and my mother was on the phone to best friend Glynis moaning about the lack of husband presence. My sister was saluting the sun in the garden as she chanted and wailed in some sort of Tai Chi pose, and my nephew was sporting a tie-dye sarong while strumming a depressing tune on his guitar in the corner of the kitchen.
Rather than being showered with love or greeted with bubbling excitement, my arrival was ignored until my nephew decided to turn his attention to me with a lazy, ‘Yo, Auntie Lizzie. Cool day, huh?’
‘Morning, Zeus.’ (I always cringed every time I said his name, but when your sister’s a happy-clappy hippie, what can you expect?) ‘No, it’s not a cool day, it’s a pretty hot one actually but when you’re sixteen, without a care in the world, I guess every day is cool.’
Zeus shook his rasta dreadlocks - a little odd in ginger - and put down his guitar. ‘Ah, but that’s where you’re wrong, Auntie Lizzie. My head’s filled with worries, man. Global warming. Pollution. The state of Palestine. The banality of ‘X-Factor’. It’s all going on in here, every minute of the day.’ He tapped his head and looked as if he had to sort the world of its problems before a bowl of muesli had passed his lips.
‘Yeah, well thanks for that Zeus but today’s my wedding day so I’d rather we stuck to light-hearted chat and left the major humanitarian issues until tomorrow if that’s OK with you.’
He stood and stretched, reaching for his pouch of tobacco. ‘Pftt! Marriage. Society’s way of constraining the weak-minded and dictating who you share your bed with. Not for me, dude. My heart and spirit are too free to be shackled.’
His comments were best ignored. It was like talking to a testosterone fuelled version of my sister Alice as he churned out the lines she’d been feeding him since birth, and it could only turn into a mega debate or heated argument. I figured an offer of a bacon sandwich might lighten the mood a little - all teenage boys lived for their stomachs, didn’t they?
‘Gross!’ He looked ready to vomit. ‘Pig! Bacon is pig, Lizzie. Packed with chemicals and crap. How could you?’
‘And the foul smelling tobacco that you constantly puff on is packed with vitamins and minerals, is it?’ I countered back as I busied myself at the stove.
His attempt at any wisecrack response was thwarted by the appearance of Alice, bangles jangling and ankle bells chiming. ‘Good Morning, my little Lotus Blossoms! What a glorious new day Mama Nature has bestowed upon us! My chakras are flowing and my yin yang beautifully balanced. A little shot of wheat-grass should see me ready to face the challenges destined for me.’
‘And a happy wedding day to you, darling sister of mine,’ I mumbled childishly under my breath before biting defiantly into my swine sandwich.
‘What are you grumbling about, Lizzie? If you will insist on filling your body with dead animals, you can only expect your mood to be foul. Get out of the wrong side of the bed, did you? I told you that you should have slept in the tepee in the garden with me.’
My breakfast began to turn to sawdust in my mouth. By pointing out that I was eating a little pink corpse, my sister had totally ruined my pleasure.
‘Most siblings would greet one another with a hug and some kind words on such a momentous day,’ I said. ‘Most sisters would be over the moon and rushing about the house in a whirl of curling tongs and make up. Most parents would be on hand to calm any nerves or pour drinks. And what do I get? An AWOL father, a whinging mother and a mini bloody Glastonbury in the back garden. Let’s all have a joint and henna my hands shall we?’
‘Cool!’ Zeus was unable to do sarcasm.
Unlike his mother, who looked at me as if I’d eaten her last lentil burger as she turned on her Birkenstocks with an ‘Oh that’s just great! Now my energies have been tinged with your toxic seepage and I’m going to have to cleanse myself all over again. Thanks for that, Lizzie! Just thanks!’
Sisterly love! The Nolans we most definitely weren’t.
As I chucked the remainder of my now unappealing breakfast in the bin I was reminded that my mother shared the same selfish trait as my sister. Slamming the phone down, she huffed and puffed and then made her way towards me from the hallway.
‘Make me a coffee, Angel. And throw a good slug of brandy in there. Today is not going well.’
Flicking the switch on the kettle, I began idly humming ‘Going to the Chapel’ in my best Bette Midler warble. If no one else could be happy for me, I’d have my own little celebration.
Because in less than four hours time, I’d be walking down the aisle to the gorgeous Seth - and I couldn’t believe my luck.
I was marrying the man of my dreams and escaping the confines of the Addams family.
Bring it on!
Growing up in the Addams household - yes, that really is our surname - was … how can I say? ... reasonably OK, would be the best way to sum it up.
Dad worked hard as a bank manager, Mum was involved with the Women’s Institute and charity work, and Alice in those days was just your average sister - annoying occasionally but mainly bearable.
Three years my senior, she never let me forget it. Whether it was to boss me around, lecture me, protect me or look down her nose at my immaturity, I was never allowed to lose sight of the fact that she was the big sister.
Now of course, she’s ageless. Children of the Universe don’t have a number to determine how many years they’ve been on this planet. Every day is a ‘birth-day’ in Alice’s Wonderland and she’s been reborn, regressed or found herself so many times I’m surprised she recognises the person she looks at in the mirror - which incidentally isn’t very often because her face is merely ‘a hindrance’. It’s the soul that counts.
A fairly run of the mill teenager until she hit sixteen, Alice fell for a boy during a fruit picking job in the summer holidays that determined she would never return to school. Our village of Upper Moreton was conveniently situated for seasonal work and we were never short of odd jobs or ways to earn extra cash. She could have worked in the local dress hire shop or in the coffee bar which served delicious pastries and scones. But I guess her latent hippie was lurking somewhere even back then - the freedom of the fields and the sun on her back called and she strawberry picked with a song in her heart and a spring in her Jesus-sandal clad feet.
When the summer came to an end, she packed her rucksack and headed off to Greece with her first love, Reece. At the time she’d believed he was for life. She’d even had Mum and Dad convinced, so that they’d let her go with their blessing. It didn’t last though and I think her current notch on the headboard (or tent pole) is around the three hundred mark. Love is free, apparently, and she’s always shared as much of hers as possible.
So I became, to all intents and purposes, an only child. At thirteen years of age, that had been thrilling and lonely in equal measures. I didn’t have her moaning at me or sparking up arguments but I missed the company and the odd times that I did need her. She had her uses and I found myself with no one to ask those all important questions.
‘Is this boob bigger than the other one?’
‘If Peter pulls my ponytail does it mean he likes me?’
‘Is this zit really noticeable?’
Of course her answers were never very tactful but at least I had somebody. I couldn’t possibly ask my mum stuff like that. She’d just twitter and bristle and then tell me to get the Delia book out and go and bake some nice shortbread.
How relieved was I when I returned to the autumn term at school to find that we had a new girl in our class - Nadia - and we instantly hit it off. She had a brother, Ralph, but she longed for a sister, a confidante, a partner in crime. From the first day we met we became inseparable, sharing our secrets, our worries, our dreams and our bedrooms.
Most weekends would see us sleeping at one or the other’s house and, for some reason, I always preferred it when I was invited to stay at hers. Her mum and dad were a lovely couple and they were always laughing - a really happy family. Ralph was fifteen, and quite good looking, and for a long while I had a bit of a secret crush on him. To him though I was just his little sister’s friend, so it wouldn’t have been the done thing for him to see me in a romantic way but I bumped into him in London one day a few years later and he joked that the ugly duckling had turned into a bit of a swan. Cheeky sod!
Now it’s not that my family were unhappy, it’s just that Dad was always wrapped up in the stress of work and Mum was just too busy being … Mum. Everything had to revolve around her and Alice and I had grown up knowing what this meant. So, if a colleague from the WI was diagnosed with a serious illness, all we’d hear about would be how it would increase my mother’s workload. If someone wanted to tell her all about their Mediterranean cruise, she’d rush to the photo albums and talk about her own trip. If I had a spot, she had a wrinkle and I’d be told, ‘Think yourself lucky you’ve still got youth on your side!’
So, time spent with Nadia was precious. We played hard but worked harder - attending every party and always making sure we were up bright and early ready for homework or revision. We both dreamed of becoming teachers and were determined that nothing would come in the way of that. No boys or hangovers were worth it, although we had a few of both - we were only human.
Eventually we left Uni with a couple of degrees between us and placements in two local schools doing the jobs we’d worked so hard to get. I’d opted to teach the younger age range with all its wide eyed innocence but she’d longed for the challenge of the back chat and gobby smart talk of a secondary school environment.
It was time to start looking for those dream men we’d envisaged as we lay in the darkness of our bedrooms, planning how our adult lives would pan out.
Four failed relationships later, Seth walked into my life …
* * * * *
I hope you enjoyed this sneak preview - If so, remember to pre-order from 1st December.
And don't forget to grab my Christmas novellas for FREE for five days from tomorrow.