Happy Christmas, everyone

It is the time of year when I go into hibernation for a while to devote my time to my friends and family for Christmas and the New Year. It doesn’t look as though we are going to have the dreamed-of white Christmas in the UK but we are still getting ready the mulled wine, hot mince pies and looking forward to cooking turkey with all the trimmings. Today we have baked sticky toffee pudding which will be an alternative to the Christmas plum pud with brandy sauce, and we are freezing it for The Day!

Our menu:

starters: meat antipasti platter/seafood platter with salad

main course: roast turkey with ‘pigs in blankets’, chestnut stuffing, crispy roast potatoes, carrots, honeyed roast parsnips, brussels with bacon lardons and herb butter

pudding: plum pud with brandy and Courvoisier sauce; raspberry and prosecco panna cotta terrine; limoncello buche de Noel; sticky toffee pudding

We have a lot of guests but I think we’ll be eating left-overs for weeks (hopefully!).

I wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful and successful New Year. See you in 2016!

Chatsworth Proms 2015P1010599

Having fun with posters

My grandson started me off with a poster of my books so far …

all books poster

 

(a little blurred, I know, but lovely!) … and then I got the bug. A friend told me about photofunia and so the addiction began …

Books gallery photofunia

This  is fun – my book covers as artwork in an exhibition. What else could I do …

 

 

 

Drumbeats and Walking poster PhotoFunia-

 

Maybe posters along a wall down an urban  street …

 

 

Drumbeats pic PhotoFunia-

 

Someone actually enjoying reading my book! So relaxed and peaceful.

 

 

PhotoFunia-1444664744

 

And, me …

My Lovely Blog Hop

I’ve been invited by the wonderful Berni Stevens at http://bernistevens.blogspot.co.uk  to join in the Lovely Blog Hop. Berni is my talented cover designer at http://ww.BerniStevensDesign.com. She’s also a writer of fantasy romance. The blog hop is intended to let you in on a few of the lesser-known things about my life that have helped make me who I am. You’ll find some links to other blogs and writers I like. The writers have all agreed to take part hopping and blogging and being lovely!

First Memory

Sitting in the branches of my favourite tree in our garden, reading, of course. I spent a great deal of my childhood reading and writing (and climbing trees and building treehouses! I was a bit of a tomboy!). I had real friends but many of my best friends were the characters in books: feisty girl heroines who had the adventures I wanted, too.

Books

My first books that I remember clearly are the Anne of Green Gables series. My mother used to read them to me, I think from way before I really understood any of them! I loved them. Gilbert Blythe was my first fantasy romance. And Anne was my role model: feisty and brave. You see a theme here? I think I subsequently read every LM Montgomery available! I collect old books: leather bound, gold tooling, silk bound, hide bound – you name it. I have a wonderful 17th century family bible and an early copy of Pilgrim’s Progress. I love the feel of them in my hands. I have a tatty early copy of Winnie the Pooh which  my daughters loved – here it is, all fixed together with cellotape! Books are to be used not kept in a cupboard! P1000783

I never thought I’d get used to kindle reading, and I resisted for a long time, but I travel so much and for fairly long periods of time, and being an avid reader, I simply can’t pack all my reading in my suitcase, so my kindle was actually a blessing! There I have hundreds at my fingertips. I spend a fortune on Amazon; I think I single-handedly keep them in business!

Currently I’m reading Sophia’s Secret by Susanna Kearsley (also published as The Winter Sea), which was recommended to me by Amanda Grange who also set the seeds in my mind of the book I am now writing for the RNA NWS. Thanks to Mandy!

Libraries/Bookshops

My life! My husband has to drag me out before I borrow/buy the whole stock. I spent a lot of my childhood in libraries; there were just too many books I wanted to read for me to afford to buy them. I was (and still am) a voracious reader. And I love those bookshops with coffee and relaxation areas. There’s a wonderful one near us, in the cathedral quarter, called the The Bookshop Café that serves lunches too.

One of my biggest memories of my daughters’ childhood was going to the local library for the story telling sessions and we all sat on huge bean bags drinking orange juice and coffee.

I love having a pile of books waiting to be read and having the joy of thinking – which one next? It’s not quite the same with a kindle, but … hey ho …! Here’s my first book The Old Rectory on special display at one of my favourite bookshops, The Bookshop at Kibworth: Bookshops April May 2014

What’s Your Passion?  

I have quite a few! Apart from reading and writing, I love walking in the countryside and cooking for family and friends. There’s nothing like a great chat and a laugh over a good meal and a glass or three of wine! Family and friends are very important to me and the joy of my life.

Choral singing has given me a great deal of joy over the years, especially in a local choir where the range encompasses classical, modern, gospel, rock and pop. They also say it’s very good for you (I have long term asthma) so there are health benefits from singing too. The utter joy of reaching the soprano highs in Mozart’s Requiem in the Albert Hall last year was fabulous. It sent shudders down my spine – an inspiring, ethereal moment to share with the others. Here’s me ready for it! P1010060

I also love swimming; I’m not a strong swimmer but I find it relaxing and it makes me feel fit, especially when it’s somewhere hot in an outdoor pool!

One of my greatest passions has to be travelling and exploring new places. We aim to go away overseas at least four or five times each year: I love Italy, France, Spain, Portugal. I’ve travelled quite a bit in the USA, Australia, and West Africa, although there’s far more to investigate! We have an apartment in Madeira where we go and chill out every summer.
P1000847 I would really love to explore India and China. And I’ve never been to the Caribbean which I’d love to do; we’re planning a cruise … I’d love to visit the island where Death in Paradise is filmed! A cosy crime romance novel coming up??P1000860

A recent passion: meeting and chatting to the very supportive folks in the Romantic Novelists’ Association, both online and in the flesh. They are such a lovely, generous, giving crowd and I love them all. So important for the isolated writer, sitting over a hot keyboard! Writing is essentially a lonely profession, by definition, so you need those contacts, the ready support and encouragement, and time out with like-minded folks.

 Learning

I always loved English: literature and language, but also I was intrigued by the way people behaved and interacted, and I ended up at university studying English, Psychology and Sociology. It turned out fortuitous because I did my PhD in socio-linguistics. Getting my doctorate was a real highlight of my life: a “mature” student and on my second marriage. I truly believe that it’s never too late to do what you want.

I hated Maths at school because I hated the teacher: she was an Amazonian woman, very severe and impatient, fair hair stretched back in a bun, large winged glasses on her nose. She scared me to death. When O levels came along I was determined to get a good grade in Maths (which we needed for university entrance in those days, along with Latin, which I loved) – simply because I couldn’t bear to retake and have Mrs Schneider for another year! I remember taking all the Maths text books home and systematically ploughing through them. And suddenly the whole thing clicked! A eureka moment! I got an A, the same as for English. Sheer determination. And strangely enough it stood me in good stead when I had to do statistics and economics as part of my Sociology!

I’m convinced that motivation is a prime factor in learning. And a good sympathetic teacher who can inspire that motivation. Later I became a school teacher and latterly a university lecturer and researcher. I love helping pupils/students to research and learn.

I can’t get enough of researching; I love that part of writing – I’m constantly investigating on Wikipedia and finding papers and books on the time, country or subject. I find learning new things very exciting. I drive my family mad calling “Hey, did you know that …?”

Writing

I’m literally just about to publish the second in the Drumbeats trilogy called Walking in the Rain. It follows Jess from Drumbeats, back from Ghana and about to go to university. She marries the man she truly believes is the love of her life, but then discovers that he is not the man she thought he was. There’s tragedy and danger again for Jess. How does she cope?

Drumbeats Berni    WALKING IN THE RAIN_300dpi

and the last in the trilogy, due out early 2016 …

I’ve always written – I mean literally ever since I could hold a pencil in my tiny hand. But you need support and encouragement and I lacked that (“writing isn’t a proper job!”) and ended up following the conventional route through school, university, teaching … etc etc!
I wrote many academic papers and contributed to multi-authored books in my subject, but creative writing (preferably novels) proved elusive, mainly because I didn’t have the time: marriage, two children, divorce, fulltime sole bread-winner, remarriage, two step-children…

Then I started writing again, egged on by friends, and eventually published a memoir/recipe book (The Old Rectory: escape to a country kitchen) about our acquisition and renovation of a Victorian rectory in the heart of the English moorlands, along with recipes from my country kitchen.

After that, there was no stopping me … I made wonderful writer friends, joined groups for support, and the rest is history! As well as adult novels, I like to write for children, the 9-14 age range, and my first published book for this group came out last autumn – S.C.A.R.S, which is about a troubled boy who slips through a tear in the fabric of the universe, to find himself on a quest in a fantasy medieval land. I think I might just write more in that vein!

Currently I’m working on my novel for the RNA New Writers’ Scheme (brilliant scheme!) which is a romance with a time shift element where the heroine finds herself slipping into a parallel universe of the early middle ages.

HOT NEWS UPDATE: Just 3 days ago I received a new publishing contract, so watch this space! All my books are available on Amazon in both paperback and ebook editions, at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Julia-Ibbotson/e/B0095XG11U/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1377188346&sr=1-2-ent

and a book trailer to enjoy, for Walking in the Rain https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L3pUErb8cZc

and for its prequel, Drumbeats https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OYlEXhHvsc&list=UUP3hKZjeUBuTMoyvZmBXbow

I nominate the following friends to take up the baton in the lovely blog hop:

Pauline Barclay at http://www.paulinebarclay.co.uk/

Lizzie Lamb at http://lizzielamb.co.uk and at http://newromanticspress.com

Rachel Brimble at http://www.rachelbrimble.com/

Gwyneth Williams at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gwyneth-Williams-Author/1518528911735022?ref=aymt_homepage_panel

And some more to come, hopefully, which I’ll add!

TANYA”S MONDAY POST HALLOWEEN WEEK ON BLOG (RED OR BLACK COVER BOOKS )

What a wonderful review blog today from Tanya, about Drumbeats!

Sparkle 4u

TANYA’S MONDAY REVIEW POST 
HALLOWEEN WEEK ON BLOG (red or black cover reads too)#mondaychallengbooks

DRUMBEATS BY JULIA IBBOTSON

THE BLURB 
Drumbeats is the first novel in a trilogy and follows 18 year old English student Jess through her gap year in West Africa. It’s a rite of passage novel set in the mid-1960s when Jess flees her stifling home background for freedom to become a volunteer teacher and nurse in the Ghanaian bush. Apprehensively, she leaves her first real romantic love behind in the UK, but will she be able to sustain the bond while she is away? With the idealism of youth, she hopes to find out who she really is, and do some good in the world, but little does she realise what, in reality, she will find that year: joys, horrors, tragedy. She must find her way on her own and learn what fate…

View original post 596 more words

Hot news!

Just heard that Drumbeats has been shortlisted for the Romance Readers’ Awards 2014! This is an award voted for by real readers, not publishers or agents or journalists,  so it’s very precious to me. I can’t wait for the gala ceremony where the winner will be announced on September 13th at the Festival of Romance Literature in Leighton Buzzard. But it’s just enough to have Drumbeats up for the award. It’s made my day in the midst of a tough year – wonderful, feel elated. Thank you, readers, you are the ones that matter…gosh, I feel like launching into an Oscar style speech, thanking my publishers (NGP), cover designer (Berni Stevens), editor (Debz), my husband, my children, the dog, the cat … oh I don’t have one … ( a bit light-headed now)

Tips on writing, publishing, social media and why I love antiques and history – live radio show today

You can find the recording of the live radio show (aired this morning) at the link below. It was a great session and a very interesting experience – all adds to life’s rich pattern. There were laughs, tips, ideas – and sharing the fun and hard work of writing creatively. Why did I write my book The Old Rectory, what is different about it from the usual memoir? Did I try out all the recipes, will I write a follow-up memoir, what am I writing now? Where do I write? Why can’t I share a study with my husband? What advantage is there in social media for the writer? What has facebook and twitter done for me?

All this and more – tune in to the recording of the live radio show this morning as we talk across the Atlantic. The link is below, just click and you can hear the entire interview:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/culturalcocktails/2013/10/26/saturday-cocktails-w-fiction-addiction-book-tours

I really enjoyed my radio interview today and the time sped by so quickly. Janice Ross is a remarkable interviewer – it was all like a chat with friends over coffee. Afterwards I thought of other areas I would have liked to talk about too: my own reading, which books I like, my advice for hesitant new writers, what a good relationship with your editor, publisher and publicist can do – do you need an editor and publicist? I could have talked all day (but that’s just me!) – but  I’ll keep all these for a show next year on my new novel Drumbeats. Hopefully Janice will interview me again on its launch and Sharon (Fiction Addiction BookTours)  will coordinate a global virtual book blog tour for me. Watch out for it.

Radio show today!

Aside

Would someone tell me why I have struggled to put my hair in a glam up-do, out on full make-up, draped a scarf elegantly around my neck, and doused myself liberally in Chanel no 5? I’m on the RADIO, for heaven’s sake! Today – ahhh, very soon – at 1.00 UK time (BST), 8.00am EST, I’m being interviewed LIVE on American radio by Janice Ross on Cultural Cocktails. With me will be my publicist Sharon Goodwin who led my global online blog tour this August, so it should be an interesting and lively chat. I think it’s about two hours and I’ve no idea what the plan is, or what Janice will talk about! So I’m in the dark as well! The link’s below and there will be a podcast which I’ll post on my blog afterwards (assuming nothing catastrophic happens! Who knows?). Well, here goes….

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/culturalcocktails/2013/10/26/saturday-cocktails-w-fiction-addiction-book-tours