NEW RELEASE: We can Work it out – available now

I’m thrilled and delighted to announce that I’ve been co-writing a new book with debut author Belle Henderson. This one is a romantic comedy, my favourite genre – because I do like a happy ending.

Kindle cover FINAL smallCalled We can Work it out: Two people, one opportunity, is told from two viewpoints, Emma’s and Jamie’s.

Never lick a 20p coin!

When single mum, Emily, encounters bumbling Jamie licking a 20p coin to get the parking meter to accept it, she feels sorry for him. On her way to an interview for the best opportunity of her career, she certainly doesn’t expect to see him again, much less for him to be her rival.

When Jamie sees sassy Emily trundling her wheelie case across the car park, he assumes she’s a sales rep. He doesn’t expect to be pitted against her for a career making job.

It’s up to Dirk Whittaker, their Greek godlike boss, to choose between them. Can Emily secure the position without succumbing to Dirk’s amorous advances, or will Jamie resist the temptation to punch him, and win the day?

Will the rivals stay rivals?

Perfect for fans of Sophie Kinsella or Fiona Gibson or Sophie Ranald, it’s FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

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NEW RELEASE Little Mishaps and Big Surprises – available now

Hurray, hurray, Little Mishaps and Big Surprises is finally with us. 

Charlie’s life was perfect, until that one fateful night….

London girl, Charlie, has a great life; fab flat in Covent Garden, a satisfying career and great friends. She certainly doesn’t need a man to complete her. Her life couldn’t be better. Or could it?

Charlie’s life is about to change. From an episode of doggy incontinence to a vomit incident in the M&S food hall, life has some little mishaps planned for Charlie that lead to some BIG surprises.

With a fancy dress party looming, what begins as a drunken nightmare could turn out to be the best thing that ever happened to her.

Our now on Kindle for just 99p or FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited, and also available in paperback.

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Why horrible work scenarios keep creeping into my romantic comedies

Well, I’m excited about my fourth romantic comedy, Little Mishaps and Big Surprises, which will be out next week – Tuesday 12 June 2018. It will be available on Kindle – 99p/c or free for those of you who have Kindle Unlimited and, at the same time, available as a paperback (usually my paperbacks are a few weeks behind the Kindle version, but not this time).

This one features Charlene, aka Charlie, and the adventures and mishaps in her life. Charlie lives in London, just off Covent Garden and loves it, not least because she has escaped from a sleepy town in Wiltshire – or so she thinks.

As we all know, however much we think we’re in control of our own destiny, life has a habit of throwing us a few curveballs which, by their very nature, we don’t see coming and cannot control (happens to Charlie more than once). This is never more the case than in the world of work. Now, I’m lucky; I no longer work for anyone else, no petty politics or inflated egos for me to deal with on a daily basis, but, it’s been pointed out to me that bad work situations do crop up regularly in my books – especially my romcoms. I wonder why?

It’s true to say that I’ve had a lot of jobs, most of them, though not all, in offices. I’ve worked in some wonderful places and I’ve worked in some stinkers. I’ve also worked in the worst combination of all, wonderful workplaces that are ruined by a stinker or two at the top. I use the word stinker to prevent myself from swearing, but I’m sure you get my drift.

I once temped in a tiny company –  just me in the office (beautifully appointed), one guy in the warehouse (funny and fun) and THE BOSS. I write his title in capitals to convey his demeanour and personality. This was a man who liked to throw his weight around – literally, he was a bit chubby (and short). He wore steel-heeled shoes that announced his entrance long before he came bustling in. When he became angry, which was frequently and over the most trivial of things, his face would turn puce and he would stomp around and bang his desk phone nosily on his desk. He liked his tea – made by me who doesn’t drink tea –  a certain way and on his desk at hourly intervals, or trouble would follow.

Sometimes it was hard not to laugh at his tantrums, but my training as a mother of small children had taught me to ignore such behaviour, which, of course, made him worse. He once berated me for not using his name when I wished him good morning. He told me I had to say good morning, Kevin, not just good morning. He delivered this instruction while crouching behind the office partition for, like most bullies, he was also a coward and couldn’t look me in the eye. (He also called his wife sweetie-pie, and rang to check up on her at irregular, but frequent, times during the day. But that’s a whole other story.)

I was the latest in a long line of temps who had worked for him, and, all had subsequently walked out. Some had barely lasted a week, one only managed half a day. I lasted three months, which is a testament to my patience and perseverance. But, I walked out later that week. Life’s too short to put up with that kind of nonsense.

I have many more stories like this – am I unique? I suspect not. Maybe, I’m just a bad employee. But, if that is the case, so are a lot of other people, especially my readers who often email and tell me that they can identify with the work situations I write about.

This brings me back to Little Mishaps and Big Surprises, which features the inevitable, crappy work scenario. I think the outcome will make some readers cheer from the side-lines!

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Little Mishaps and Big Surprises – excerpt from chapter 4

Here’s another taster from Little Mishaps and Big Surprises – due out in JUNE!

Excerpt from chapter four

Zippy’s stupid face is still grinning at me at I get up and pull on my dressing gown. I fling my Bungle body over it so I can’t see that stupid grin before I stumble down two flights of stairs craving my coffee and cereal.

Zippy’s stupid body is sitting at the table eating my cereal.

‘I thought you had a plane to catch,’ I snap. ‘I thought you had to leave early.’

‘Going soon,’ the reply comes. ‘Just eating.’

I scrutinize Zippy’s face without the mask. He’s Chinese. I don’t remember that. I shake my head and put the kettle on, glancing back at this stranger who I have slept with. Wow, I must have drunk a lot.

I make my coffee before opening the fridge for milk. There is none.

‘God’s sake,’ I mutter under my breath. ‘No milk.’

‘So sorry,’ Zippy says, grinning. His bowl containing my cereal is swimming in milk. Greedy arse.

I don’t reply but open the cupboard to hunt for the long-life milk I keep for emergencies. It’s usually right next to my cereal. Except my cereal box isn’t there. I fling open a few more cupboard doors. No cereal. I’m angry now and getting angrier as I flip open the recycling bin to see the empty box in the bottom.

‘You ate all my cereal? Really?’  I cut open the milk carton and pour some into my coffee.

‘So sorry.’

‘And what was all that bullshit about you having to leave early?’

Zippy stares at me with confusion in his eyes.

‘Forget it.’ I wave my hand at him. Maybe I dreamt it in my alcohol induced stupor. ‘I wished you hadn’t eaten all my cereal though.’

The front door opens and CeCe and Yan come in giggling. Are they going to be giggling all the damn time? I’m so sick of it.

‘Hey Charlie,’ CeCe says, smiling. ‘Great party.’

‘Yeah.’

Yan puts a Tesco bag on the worktop. He pulls milk from it and a box of cereal – Tesco’s version on my cereal.

‘Sorry my cousin ate all your cereal.’ CeCe takes the box from Yan and hands it to me. ‘I’ve bought you another.’

‘Thanks.’ I take the box and stare at it.

‘They didn’t have your usual brand.’ CeCe smiles sweetly at me.

‘Well, thanks anyway.’ I put the box down and pick up my coffee.

‘Sorry my cousin is so greedy. He’s like that.’ She gives her cousin a playful slap around the head.

‘Your cousin?’ I suddenly have a flashback to the things her cousin and I did. I shudder; I must have been wearing some strong wine glasses last night.

CeCe’s cousin has finished his breakfast and is now standing up, shaking hands with me and saying goodbye to CeCe and Yan. Then he’s gone, clutching Zippy’s head – which he’s retrieved from under the table – under his arm. He must have moved ninja-like to get upstairs and retrieve the head from my room without me noticing. My hangover is must be worse than I thought.

‘He’s so much shorter than I remember,’ I voice my confusion.

‘Is he?’ CeCe frowns at me but follows it up with a smile.

‘Yeah.’ I sigh and examine my new cereal box. ‘Much.’ I’m sure that we stood mouth to mouth when I got my hair stuck in his zip. It’s just as well I’m doing Dry January, I obviously drunk far, far too much alcohol last night. My body could do with a break.

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Cover reveal for Little Mishaps and Big Surprises

Just love this cover for my new romcom, due out in June.

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Little Mishaps and Big Surprises – excerpt from chapter 3

Here’s another excerpt from Little Mishaps and Big Surprises.

Excerpt from chapter 3

‘Where is your costume?’

I point at my wardrobe.

‘What is that?’

‘Bungle.’

CeCe shakes her head and puts her hands out in a questioning manner, a very Teletubby gesture.

‘From Rainbow,’ I clarify.

She shakes her head again.

‘Paint your whole world with a rainbow,’ I sing. ‘With Rod, Jane and Freddie and Zippy and George.’

CeCe shakes her head again and Yan shrugs his great purple shoulders.

‘Never mind. He’s a big, friendly bear who’s prone to mishaps. And don’t call me Bungle. I’m still Charlie inside.’

CeCe performs a theatrical nod and she and Yan waddle off, attempting to hold hands through their costumes.

How sweet.

I pull on some suitably cool underwear; my sports bra – not that it’s seen much action in the gym – because it has ventilation holes around the cups and a comfortable pair of cotton knickers. I think my Mum might have bought these for me many years ago. I pull on a pair of greying sports socks which I think once belonged to my brother and decide I will wear my brown ankle boots once I have the costume on.

I start to climb into Bungle. I chose this costume not just because he was a favourite of mine but also because he was tall, like me. By the time I have the body on I am starting to feel hot and bothered and I haven’t even got the head and gloves on yet. Thank God we agreed to turn the heating off; with so many costumes often layered over normal clothes we knew everyone would be hot.

As I am fanning myself my phone pings.

Gen: So so sorry. We can’t make it. Ring me if convenient.

I dial Gen’s number.

‘I’m so sorry,’ she says, sounding as though she is going to cry. ‘We’ve all got d and v. I don’t know if it’s something we’ve eaten, probably the curry Ralph made yesterday with the week-old turkey, or a bug.’

‘Oh no.’ I’m sorry for Gen and also disappointed that my best friend, my partner in criminal dancing, won’t be coming.

‘I’m so pissed off. I won’t get to wear my George outfit.’ Gen was coming as George, the pink hippo-thing out of Rainbow. Ralph had been persuaded to come as Geoffrey, Rainbow’s human presenter, and Gen was preparing to coax him into a blonde mop-like wig and a stripy jumper. He’s a reluctant fancy-dresser, is Ralph.

‘I’m so going to miss you.’ I sound like I’m whinging, because I am. It’s seems that this last week has been all crap and vom.

‘I’m so sorry. It started last night. The kids were first and fourteen-year-old boys are not the best at making it to the loo in time. Honestly, there was shit and puke everywhere. I’m so cross with him. I’ve been washing bedding all damn day. I didn’t start with it until lunchtime. I’m not as bad as Ralph and the kids but I can’t come and infect you and your guests.’

‘Course not. I’m sorry you’re all so ill.’ I am, and Gen is right, she can’t come and infect my guests, but I love partying with her; it takes me back to my youth. ‘I hope you’re better soon,’ I add before we say goodbye.

Great. I’m so sad now. I’ve invited other people, of course, but none is as much fun as Gen. There’s several coming from work, and one of them might be the perpetrator of the dildo-dog-murder for all I know. I wonder if I should attempt to get to the bottom of that or not mention it at all. Who know, with a few drinks in them, someone might confess.

The doorbell ringing means the guests are starting to arrive. I pull on the Bungle head and push my hands into the gloves which give me paws. I examine myself in the mirror through the gauzy eyes. I look quite impressive.

‘Paint your whole world with a Rainbow,’ I sing again as I leave my bedroom, closing the door behind me and wobbling down the stairs to the sitting room.

‘Hi there,’ someone calls and I turn to see a few of the girls from work. They’re dressed as fairies. Incredibly sexy, tiny, cute fairies, their legs on full display beneath their pastel, floaty mini-skirts and their gossamer wings. I’m not sure which TV programme they’re from, but what the hell.

I wave and I feel like a great, big, stupid brown bear. Why didn’t I choose something more glamorous?

Time for wine, I think.

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Little Mishaps and Big Surprises – excerpt from chapter 2

Here’s another excerpt of my new romcom – this one is from chapter two.
The title of the book is now Little Mishaps and Big Surprises. I hope you enjoy this one…

Excerpt from Chapter Two

The M&S food hall is surprisingly empty but I suppose the usual office workers aren’t in here today getting their lunch. Most of the Christmas food has been reduced, which is great for me, I buy a few lovely things I didn’t get before Christmas. But, I cannot find the yummy little chocolate puddings so have to settle for a rather large cheesecake, and cream.

Unlike the food, the wine has not been reduced and when I’ve finished, the fifty pounds Yan gave me isn’t quite enough, I have to add another four pounds. I’ll let him off that.

‘Don’t look at me like that,’ a woman’s voice says as I fumble my goodies into my bags-for-life. I take no notice as I know she isn’t speaking to me and I carry on packing.

‘I said, don’t look at me like that.’ The voice is louder this time and, though her English is good, her accent is more pronounced: Eastern European. Possibly Polish; I work with several Polish people and this woman sounds quite like them.

I’m tempted to look up but her tone is so belligerent that I really don’t want to provoke her. I’ve learned it’s best to keep your head down and walk away in these situations.

‘Hey you,’ she calls again. ‘I know who you are. I know where you live.’

Around me there’s a palpable silence, so, probably like everyone else at the tills, I chance a glance.

She’s staring at me. Right at me and she’s taking steps towards me. Aside from her shouting she looks respectable, she’s early thirties, nicely dressed in smart jeans and warm jacket and she’s carrying an expensive handbag. Very expensive. Her hairstyle suggests she is high maintenance. She’s also very slim and manicured – she’s pointing one purple tipped finger at me.

I should run, I should grab my bags and run.

The purple finger jabs the air in my direction.

I should run, abandon my bags and run.

Nobody else speaks. Not even the check-out operator to whom I have just handed over fifty-four pounds. Sod M&S loyalty points, where is a security guard when you need one?

‘Yes, you,’ she yells again.

Will no one come to my rescue?

‘I don’t know what the fuck he wants in you. Look at you. Big lump.’

Help. I’m frozen to the spot, my fingers clutching my shopping bags which are still resting on the checkout conveyor.

She staggers closer, then closer still.

I smell the familiar perfume of gin on her breath. It’s only twelve-thirty; she must have been at it some time to be this drunk.

She starts to speak and jabs her finger in front of my nose between every word.

‘Don’t,’ jab, ‘you,’ jab, ‘think’, jab…

‘Everything all right, madam?’ A deep voice cuts across her jabbing. A security guard. Hurray. Thank you, M&S, I knew I could rely on you.

I open my mouth to speak but the Eastern European beats me to it.

‘I’m just sorting her. I’m telling her she can’t take a husband and live with it,’ she says, her accent getting stronger with every word.

The guard looks at me.

I shrug. I shake my head. Why should I have to explain myself?

‘Well, keep it down please, madam.’ He offers her a smile.

‘Are you telling me what to do? Who the fuck is you?’

‘Madam, please.’

‘What’s your name? What’s your fucking name? I will report you.’

I should take the opportunity now and go, get out while I can.

Stupid me.

‘Hey,’ I say, trying to diffuse the situation. ‘I don’t know your husband. You’ve got the wrong person.’

She turns her attention back to me; a look of relief passes over the security guard’s face.

‘Well, you would say that, wouldn’t you? Fucking dog.’ Her eyes, and their fake eyelashes, sweep over me as her mouth twists into an ugly shape.

Oh God.

Another step towards me, her head tilted up towards my face and I’m breathing her exhaled gin.

The guard is on his radio but I cannot hear what he’s saying. I’m thinking, hoping, praying that soon this will be over and I will be out of here and on my way home.

‘Fucking dog,’ she yells again.

Then she vomits all over me. It misses my face but only because she’s shorter than me and her head has dropped down, but her vomit covers my coat and my boots.

I find myself gagging at the smell of it.

She falls to the floor, knocking her face against the side of the conveyor best as she falls, her purple-tipped fingers twitching in the air.

The check-out operator rips off several sheets of blue paper roll and thrusts it at me. I attempt to wipe myself down.

Another security guard appears, quickly followed by a first aider. They’re soon calling an ambulance.

I know I should stay. I know they will want me to tell them what happened for their accident book, but I don’t want to get involved. I don’t want to stand here in my vom-covered coat stinking and gagging.

I take my bags and sneak away while the attention is all on Purple-tips. I justify my escape by convincing myself that there are enough people there to help.

I should have run away in the beginning.

Please excuse any errors, typos etc, and remember to come back soon for another excerpt.

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