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Liv's Lovely Blog Hop

Posted by Liv on March 30, 2015 at 5:15 AM Comments comments (12)


My fellow Choc-Lit author, Liz Harris, tagged me for 'My Lovely Blog Hop', to talk about things that contributed to making me 'me'.

You can find Liz's own blog here:




My memories are many and varied, and mostly insignificant - except for my dad dropping dead of a heart-attack when I was fourteen and alone in the house with him. Luckily, we had wonderful neighbours, but it was traumatic. Another traumatic memory involved a car journey to Berwick when we were involved in an accident at Scots Corner. A car hit us from behind, and no-one was injured, but I do wonder if that's what caused my fear of travel. I constantly worry about journeys, whether road, rail, sea or air. Happier memories involve my gran's lovely feather bed and my tenth birthday party, when I went to school and invited everyone in the class on top of those already invited - and without telling my mum. Apparently, my mum and my gran watched in horror from the kitchen window as an endless stream of children emerged from my dad's - obviously Tardis-like - van.






My favourite Blyton books were the Adventure series, and the first I read was The Circus of Adventure, so I had the joy of catching up with all the previous ones. When I wasn't reading, I was writing. Usually adventure stories in the Enid Blyton mould. I called one The Lake of Adventure. Basically, I was a plagiarist, but I was very young! Other books that stick in my mind from those wonderful days, were those featuring The Bobbsey Twins, Just William, and Worzel Gummidge. I read and re-read Heidi, Little Women, and What Katy Did/Did Next. I had a volume of Grimm's fairy-tales that I never tired of, and (worryingly perhaps) I was never disturbed by them. As an older child I met Bilbo Baggins and didn't know it at the time but it was he who was instrumental in the creation of Beneath an Irish Sky (or to be fair, maybe it was J R R Tolkien). I 'met' my co-writer, Val Olteanu, on a Lord of the Rings message-board. She was my inspiration to actually knuckle down, and believe. I didn't only read books. Every Friday night, I would get a bundle of comics - Bunty being the one I remember most. Maybe that should come under memories? As an adult, I found Dean Koontz, Ken Follett, Maeve Binchy, Patricia Scanlan, Lesley Pearse - to name just a few. Books are like the universe and just as frustrating - there are so many out there that I may never get to discover.




Many of my childhood memories involve the library. I can still remember the layout of the children's section as clearly as though I was there yesterday. I rarely took out Enid Blyton books....I already had most of them. More recently, and just prior to the internet taking over the world, I would spend hours in the reference library, searching for answers for a really difficult postal quiz (Quizmail). One year, a friend and I nearly won the title - we had full marks every month for eleven months, and then on the twelfth month, failed to research one question fully. We fell at the last hurdle and watched the title go to someone who didn't get blase.




What's Your Passion


Apart from my family - reading, writing, quizzes, the tv series Once Upon a Time, and Ireland. I love animals and have a soft spot for tigers, giraffes and orangutans. Oh, and pandas. And gorillas and elephants and...well, shall we say I love animals full stop.






I don't think I've every been especially scholarly. I like to learn but at my own pace, and the things I'm interested in. I did toy with both German and Spanish at nightschool, but came to the conclusion that to learn properly, I'd need to spend more than one evening a week in an educational environment. So to coin an old cliche, I now learn at the school of life. I do enjoy learning through research, because if it's for a novel, then it's sure to be a subject I have an interest in.





Like reading, writing is an escape but it has that added extra of giving you the ability to create as well, events, places, people. It's the closest I'll ever come - ever want to come I should stress - to being a megalomaniac, with the power to give or take life, to control people's actions. It also enables me to meet the perfect man...not necessarily one without flaws, as if there was such a thing as the perfect man, I think that might automatically render him imperfect! Writing is a challenge. I find it hard to move on from characters I've grown to love, so then I have to create more characters to love, but they have to be different. Sometimes it seems impossible and I feel myself straying into the psyche of one of my past, much loved, characters. Breaking away is like ending a long-term relationship and can be just as traumatic, but so satisfying when you get it right.

If anyone would like to comment, please do so on Goodreads because this website is really not being helpful!  Once again there's what they describe as 'a glitch'.  Not for the first time!

 Am handing the baton over to two of my writer friends, Mandy James ; Mandy will publish hers on 3rd April.


and Jo Walter  ; Jo's contribution will be published on 22nd April.






An Irish Promise

Posted by Liv on October 3, 2014 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (2)

The second book in our 'Irish' series, was e-published yesterday.  Does that make us old hands?  It's still very surreal, but it's a good feeling to be able to claim two novels to our name.

I would post a pic, but not for the first time, this site won't allow me to do so.  Methinks I need a new host..

Looking forward to hearing how people think the new novel compares to Beneath an Irish Sky.  Although it's possibly more of a romance, I think it's a tad darker.  Would be good if it matches BAIS's's reviews - currently standing at 107, and averaging 4.7.

We wouldn't be in this position without Choc Lit - again, our sincere gratitude to Lyn Vernham for giving us the chance, all the helpful staff especially Holly and Lusana, our editor Jane Eastgate, the wonderful panel who gave the book the thumbs up, and last - but not least - the amazing Choc Lit authors.  You really couldn't find a more supportive bunch.  We've learned so much from them - much of it to do with alpacas.  :) (Don't ask...)

Am now patiently waiting for a jeweller to get in touch to offer me a free Claddagh pendant as a thank  you for helping increase the sale of Claddaghs.  8)

On 2nd November, I'm going to experience my first book launch - thank you Ali Boon for bullying encouraging me to go for it.  It's going to be combined with afternoon tea, a quiz, and hopefully a raffle for charity.  Anyone who is in the Southampton area on that day, is more than welcome to me for location details.

If your curiosity is piqued (?peaked) don't forget that with Amazon, you can try before you buy. :D

My Main Character

Posted by Liv on July 20, 2014 at 11:05 AM Comments comments (2)

The lovely Henri Gyland asked me to take part in a series of blog posts about 'My Main Character', so may I introduce the very gorgeous Finn Mackenzie.

You can meet Henri's main character, Cora Mardell from her excellent nove, The Highwayman's Daughter, here:


Main Character blog

1. What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or historical? I think Finn MacKenzie is fictional. It's hard to tell when he's been part of our lives for so long.

2. When and where is the story set? In present-day Ireland, in Kilbrook, a fictional village in Co. Galway

3. What should we know about him? Enough to make you want to read the book. :)  Finn is a six-footer, with soulful blue eyes and light brown, sun-streaked hair. He has long, thick lashes, strong arms, slim hips and long legs. Considering the amount of trauma he's had in his life, he's remarkably well-adjusted. He keeps his demons under control, and appears to everyone to be one of life's golden people. He has two older brothers, and a very sassy middle-aged aunt.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life? He finds it hard to let go of the past, and is suffering both grief and guilt. Despite his obvious assets, he has low self-esteem and confidence.

5. What is the personal goal of the character? He'd like to succeed at his chosen career as an actor, but it's not as important as finding love and happiness, and actually believing that he deserves those things.

6. What is the title? Can we read more about it? An Irish Promise.

7. When will the book be published? 7th November


I'm tagging Angela Britnell (aka Brilliant Britnell) to continue with the Main Character theme, so be sure to check her page..


Beneath an Irish Sky...the musical

Posted by Liv on June 15, 2014 at 1:20 PM Comments comments (18)

When I listen to music, I often get plot ideas, or I relate certain lyrics to situations my characters have been in.  So I started to wonder, which songs could make up the story for Beneath an Irish Sky - if I could produce a BAIS soundtrack, what would be on it?  This is what I came up with. Some of these are actually mentioned in the book, others could well be. If you're not familiar with the songs but have read the book, click on the YT links and listen to the words...

1.   Yesterday - The Beatles.   The lyrics are so apt for poor Jack whose wife just upped and left him all those years ago

2.   Curragh of Kildare - The Johnstons Luke has a flashback to happier times

3.   You Raise me Up - Brian Kennedy.  In the novel, during the funeral scene

4.   Ave Maria - Josh Groban  Also in the novel and also during the funeral

5   I'll See You Again - Westlife.  Real tearjerker, and ideal song for Luke as he watches his mother being buried.

6   Fields of Athenry - Paddy Reilly. Luke sings along with this whilst driving through the Cheshire countryside, feeling guilty for being even slightly happy

7   Someone to Love - Shayne Ward.  Lovely words about a young man finally finding love

8   We Are One - Westlife.  A song about how two people from different backgrounds can have a successful relationship.  The first words are 'Two very different people..'  Luke and Kate for sure

9   Us Against the World - Westlife. More of the above!

10. He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother - Matt decides to be a better big brother

11  I Will Survive - Gloria Gaynor.  No karaoke night is complete without this!

12  Never Gonna Give you Up - Still karaoke night, and Luke has a rival

13  You Light Up My Life - Westlife. Luke sings to Kate on karaoke night

14    Uptown Girl - Westlife. Ditto

15   The Rocky Road to Dublin - The Dubliners feat. Luke Kelly. A lonely Luke listens to this song in a Limerick pub.  (I don't think the 'scruffy band' in the novel could compare to Luke Kelly).

16.   Hi Ho Silver Lining - Jeff Beck.  Happy times at the Stewart family BBQ

17.   Halo - Beyonce.  This is really where fantasy takes over. For some reason, I've always had this in my head as being played over the closing scenes of 'BAIS The Movie',ending with a stilled close-up of Luke and Kate. It's just the director in me...

The beauty of the digital age is that I can make myself this CD, and call it Beneath an Irish Sky soundtrack.  Any ideas for other appropriate songs that I might put on it?

Meet My Main Character, Blog Hop

Posted by Liv on June 12, 2014 at 4:40 PM Comments comments (11)

Hi...bear with me.  I'll be with you shortly.  Just sweeping away the dust and the cobwebs....


Right, almost ready. Opening the windows to let some fresh air in, and it'll be like I've never been away.

Thanks to lovely Kathryn Freeman for passing the baton for 'Meet My Main Character' on to me. You can meet Kathryn's main character, in her latest book Do Opposites Attract available from Amazon,

You can learn more about  the rather lovely Mitch McBride, on Kathryn's website

Do Opposites Attract is just one of a host of Choc Lit books I have waiting for's like having an endless supply of Kelly's ice-cream. The only difference being, I'd share the books with my family...


 And so on to my main character.  Beneath an Irish Sky has now been out for nearly a year. My next novel, An Irish Promise, co-written again with Val Olteanu, is out in October (ebook) and November (print), and I was tempted to use one of the characters from that - but our hero, Finn, is still a little rough round the edges, and a bit shy.  Anyway, even a year on, I still have a soft spot for our little hero from Beneath an Irish Sky.


What is the name of the main character? Is he real or fictitious?

 Luke Kiernan. Well, he was born Luke Stewart, but doesn't use that name, as he's not too impressed with the English Stewart family. He started off as fictitious, but I'm actually convinced he's real now, and a couple of years ago, wandered around his home town of Ennis wondering if he'd been in the same pub/shop etc. I really did!  There's probably a medical name for people who lose touch with reality.



When and where is the story set?

 It's a contemporary story, set half in Cheshire, and half in various parts of Ireland.



What should we know about Luke?

 Luke is a Traveller. He's twenty years old, slightly built, medium height. He'd be the first to admit he's no muscle-bound Adonis. He's quite shy and insecure, but he's not blind. He knows he didn't fall out of the ugly tree.  He doesn't have any insecurity about his looks, but he does about his culture, having been the target of bigotry and prejudice throughout his life.

He has dark hair (which would just reach the collar of the shirt he wears on special occasions - he's a casual dresser), blue eyes, and eyelashes that the technicians at Max Factor are aiming for. Unsuccessfully.  Luke is very stubborn, but very honest, and very determined. The Irish Independent described him as 'naive but knowing' so they've got him summed up pretty well.

He's also quite inexperienced in luurve.  But it has to be said, he's a quick learner with a natural talent.  :D



What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?

 His much loved mother dies in a car accident. Luke is badly injured in the same accident, and ends up being uprooted from his homeland - Ireland - and taken to England, to a very different environment to what he's used to, where he's up against the same kind of bigotry his mother faced.



What is Luke's goal?

 Justice for his mother...which ultimately means revenge on the Stewarts. Romance gets in the way of that though, as you'd expect. He has to fight his way through a lot of confusion and angst when his father refutes everything that Luke was ever told.  Did  his mother lie to him?  Or is his father everything he's been led to believe?  Or...could it be possible that neither his mother, nor his father, lied to him?  How would that work then?  Only one way to find out  ;)



What is the book's title?

 Beneath an Irish Sky. There's a fair bit of action beneath an English sky too, but there's no line in the book that uses that phrase :)


Thanks, Kathryn, for passing the baton to me. It's been fun. 


Next week, The Write Romantics and Michela O'Brien are taking the baton. So it will be a case of several main characters  - a real bulk buy! (Michela's site)

Win a copy of Beneath an Irish Sky

Posted by Liv on February 7, 2014 at 4:40 AM Comments comments (3)

Am giving away a signed copy of Beneath an Irish Sky - it has 66 reviews, with an average of 4.7 out of 5*.

There's a sample available on Amazon - - which might inspire you (or otherwise) to enter.

On Choc Lit's website you'll find a catalogue of titles from all their authors - just make up a short story using as many titles as you can, and the one adjudged to be the best/most creative wins.

DM me on Twitter @Livbet or on Facebook,  and I'll give you my email address to send your entries.

Closing date: 28th February 2014

Simples.  :)

My Writing Process

Posted by Liv on January 26, 2014 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (19)

Thanks, Cathy Mansell, for inviting me to take part in this blog chain. I have to confess, my blog has been sadly neglected of late because we spent a good part of last year editing and promoting Beneath an Irish Sky.

We're also in the process of completing our second novel, An Irish Promise. It hasn't been easy with real life interfering, so unfortunately, some things have suffered. Blogs, housework, husbands etc...

I'm full of good intentions, but wasn’t it those that paved the road to hell? 

 Cathy, on the other hand, is parent to a lovely, and well kept blog. A shining example to the rest of us. Well, me.




What am I working on? Currently, my co-writer (Val Olteanu) and myself are revising our second novel. It’s called An Irish Promise, and will hopefully be out towards the end of the year to tie in with the winter season, which is when the story takes place.


Set in a village in Ireland, it deals with the short and long-term effects of bullying, both on the bullied and the bullies. There’s a strong hero and a very determined heroine, though both have been damaged in the past. As with 'Beneath an Irish Sky' there are things which might not always be quite as they seem.



How does my work differ from others of its genre?  In both novels we have focused on serious issues such as bigotry, bullying, racism. I wouldn't say this is unique to us though. The main difference with our writing is probably nothing to do with the genre, but the fact that there's two of us. Another aspect of our writing that might differ is that we have multiple viewpoints, and not just those of the hero and heroine.



Why do I write what I do? I think, like most novelists, we write what we’d like to read. We try to deliver an absorbing plot and characters our readers will care about. We've dealt with topics that we feel strongly about, but our novels always include the all-important element of romance. The rocky road to love is never smooth in our novels - and we do make our characters suffer - but some kind of reconciliation will always happen at the end. Whether it's one the reader will want remains to be seen. :)



How does my writing process work? I write directly onto Word, on my laptop in the living room! I’ve learned to tune out the sounds around me. I prefer to be on my own, but don’t like complete silence, so the TV is invariably on. Val and I always structure our writing – we will generally plan the basics, chapter by chapter, from the beginning, so we know where we’re going, but as we write, the story will generally develop from our original thoughts. As we write, we're always open to new ideas and new directions. Being co-authors is an advantage because if one of us doesn't know how to progress the plot, the other one usually jumps into the breach. It's such a creative process all round when there are two of you. We have day jobs, and it’s often hard to do all the things we have to do in a day, and write too, but we support and encourage each other to keep going.

* * *


I’m now passing the baton to two more Choc Lit writers, Berni Stevens (cover designer extraordinaire) and Rhoda Baxter.


Berni trained in graphic design and has worked in various UK publishing houses designing book covers, for more than twenty years. She has had several short stories published, and her first full-length novel was published in the US in 2011. Dance Until Dawn is the first book in her paranormal romance trilogy, and will be published by Choc Lit UK in April, 2014.

* * *


A former scientist, Rhoda’s forte is contemporary romantic comedy. Her novel, Dr January, will be released by Choc Lit this year. Her first book was shortlisted for the RNA New Writing award in 2012.



Posted by Liv on November 11, 2012 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (14)

Sunday 11th November, 2012

I was tagged by the lovely Choc Lit author,  Mandy James, to tell you about my next big thing, which really does beat Christmas, my birthday, and any other 'routine' event - the publication in August of my debut nove, co-written with Valerie Olteanu,  Beneath an Irish Sky, published by the fabulous Choc Lit, under our joint pen-name, Isabella Connor.

Thank you for asking me, Mandy, and good luck with your novel, A Stitch in Time, debuting in April 2013. You can read about Mandy's 'next big thing' here -


Where did the idea come from for the book? 

In all honesty - I don't know. The main character was inspired by the actor Joe McFadden, who played a young Irishman in Debbie Horsfield's Sex Chips and Rock and Roll back in 1999, but the plot just landed in my brain.


What genre does your book fall under?

Contemporary Women's Fiction.


Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

We originally ear-marked Sean Bean for the character of Jack, but we're thinking now of getting Daniel Craig.   For Luke, though he was inspired by Joe McFadden, we've decided we'll have to travel to Ireland and audition young men with black hair and blue eyes. Hard job, but someone has to do it, and we would have to cope with that burden...  Also in the mix are Julie Walters, Charles Dance, and Helen Mirren. Lucy Brown is perfect as a visual for our Irish heroine, but if she can't do the accent, she's out...we don't want any Tom Cruise type disasters in our movie!


What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Different worlds collide with explosive results when a wealthy business man meets his hostile Irish Traveller son for the first time.


Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Neither - it's to be published by indie publishers, Choc Lit.


How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

A couple of  years. Originally,we wrote 240k words as we thought there was a minimum, not a maximum!  We then had to re-write and lose half of it.


What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

I can't think of any, but would love to hear  If anyone else can. Would obviously be my kind of book. :)


Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I loved the character of Dallas in Sex Chips and Rock and Roll, and wanted to create a hero like him...cute but feisty!


What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

There are two romances, one dealing with young love, one a bit older. And  there is a mix of cultures and class.


Have passed the baton on now to Lin Treadgold, whose debut novel Goodbye Henrietta Street is being published in July 2013,

Sunday, 30th September, 2012

Posted by Liv on September 30, 2012 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (3)

SOPHIE'S TURN by Nicky Wells

To win a copy of Nicky Wells' amazing book, Sophie's Turn, just tell us what name you would give yourself if you'd chosen a rock star career.

Friday, 10th August, 2012

Posted by Liv on August 10, 2012 at 6:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Sport in schools?

There's been a lot of talk this week about the fact that PE is being taken off the curriculum in some, or all, schools. The main argument appears to be that it's not as important as getting grades in other subjects.

That - in my humble - is ridiculous on more than one count.

It's been established that it's easier to pass exams now than in the past, so I can't see that a couple of hours of PE will make a difference. And surely, exercise is supposed to be good for the brain, physically and mentally?

If people want to succeed in whatever field they choose, then they will. PE on the school curriculum won't change that.

And is it all about getting grades? I'll use my daughter as an example. She scraped in with a few low graded GCSEs. Some were ungraded. She didn't make the effort. She was, in truth, a right pain in the proverbial. And what's she doing now? Well she's had her own home for nearly two years, and is running an office in a law firm. And she's still some years off being 30.

She always had the ability. She just didn't want to use it.

As someone who loathed PE and would get out of it whenever possible, I'd sooner my children were spending part of the week doing exercise than being forced to be academic for the entire school week.

And on the subject of sport....I'm quite enjoying this alternate universe where Team GB has 25 gold medals, ahead of Russia, Australia, Germany, France and Canada.  Don't wake me up when it's over...