Christmas at Hope Cottage enters the top 15 on Kobo and top 100 on Amazon!

Just wanted to say a HUGE, fudge-filled, massive thank you to you guys for downloading Christmas at Hope Cottage! I’m thrilled to announce that it’s now in the top 100 on Amazon UK, and is currently no 14 on Kobo UK, and no 2 in the contemporary romance category there as well, woo hoo!

Of course, trust me, it’s not about hitting the lists that matters most to me – it’s the fact that with all the books out there you guys have chosen to read mine,  and your support means that I get to keep it up, which means the world! So thank you!!

Here’s a snapshot for prosperity, grin. On Amazon in particular this little bit of magic moves fast so it will most likely drop out of the top 100 which is why I am a screen saving diva lol 🙂

Also, just to let you know Christmas at Hope Cottage is on special at a very low price, so if you haven’t go your copy yet it’s only 99p!

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Christmas at Hope Cottage out now!

In all the excitement of having my book come out this Wednesday, I didn’t get a chance to share it with you all here, but I’m delighted to announce that CHRISTMAS AT HOPE COTTAGE is out now!

Thank you SO SO much to everyone on Twitter and Facebook who have been sharing it far and wide, and a humungous, Fudge-filled thank you to everyone who received a an ARC and who has taken the time to leave an review. As it stands the book has been out for two days and there’s twenty reviews – twenty! I’m truly touched and overwhelmed.

I’m absolutely delighted to tell you that my new novel, Christmas at Hope Cottage, is out now! This book was a real labour of love, and I faced so many challenges writing it, but I’m thrilled to share it with you.

If you’d like to get the book, it’s available to download now!

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“In the little village of Whistling, with its butterscotch cottages and rolling green hills, snow is beginning to fall. Christmas is coming, and Emma Halloway is on her way home.

When twenty-eight-year-old food writer Emma Halloway gets dumped then knocked off her bike, she’s broken in more ways than one, and returns to her family’s cosy cottage in the Yorkshire Dales. Emma hasn’t been back in some time, running from her crazy relatives and her childhood sweetheart, Jack Allen.

Emma’s grandmother is determined to bake her back to health and happiness, as the Halloways have done for generations. Surrounded by old friends and warm cinnamon buns, Emma starts to believe in her family’s special talents for healing again. But then in walks Jack with his sparkling hazel eyes, stirring up the family feud between them.

As the twinkly lights are strung between the streetlamps, Emma remembers just why she fell for Jack in the first place… and why a Halloway should never date an Allen.

The infuriating new lodger, Sandro, doesn’t believe anyone should have to choose between love and family. With a little bit of Christmas magic, can Emma and Jack find a way to be together, or will Emma find herself heartbroken once more?

I hope you enjoy reading Christmas at Hope Cottage curled up on these cold autumn evenings!

Christmas at Hope Cottage is available from AmazoniTunesGoogle Play and Kobo.

Love,

Lily

Take a cinematic peak inside Hope Cottage

So as my new book is out in three days time. (Three days?!) I thought I’d do something fun and offer you a sneak peak inside, a little cinematic tour of what it would look like if it were a film … I hope you enjoy my little sketch trailer! x

In the small village of Whistling in rural Yorkshire, with its rolling green hills, purple moors and butterscotch cottages, some things never change. October marks the start of the frost, it always snows at Christmas and whenever anyone’s in trouble they visit Hope Cottage, where remedies come on plates…

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It is here that the Halloways have lived for over two-hundred years, making recipes that many believe have the power to change lives.

“It is said that when a Halloway woman kneads dough, long-held quarrels iron themselves out, and when she sieves flour, things fall smoothly back into place…”

Yet not everyone comes knocking on their particular door, with it’s knocker shaped like a curmudgeon of a cat, as not everyone is convinced that the Halloways are who they say they are…

“The Leas’ think the Halloways are witches, the Allens’ that they are expensive frauds, no one remembers long ago that they all used to be friends …”

It is this that has led to one of the oldest feuds between the three largest families in the town since anyone could remember.

A feud that got in the way between a young girl and a young boy …  a boy that happened to be an Allen, a girl that happened to be a Halloway …

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And made her run away …  away from the family business of meddling in people’s lives via food,  and away from the boy she’d given her heart away to at the age of six, most of all. a0a7c67b1c406f0e37615ca9b76cd7a3

Now twenty-eight, a successful food historian and writer, Emma Halloway thinks she’d got it all figured out.

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Except life has other plans … as this Christmas Emma Halloway, is coming home…

Where her grandmother and her crazy aunts believe that they can fix anything with food, even a broken heart.

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Except, not everything is as it was … for one thing there’s a new lodger at Hope Cottage, who is always in the way and he seems to have some new ideas himself … ideas about what makes a happy life, and why family matters most.

Sandro

And as the snow begins to fall, and the Christmas lights are strung up and history seems to repeat itself, Emma Halloway will have to decide between love or family, or if one ever needs to choose at all?

This Christmas promises to be one she’ll never forget …

This October, experience the magic for yourself.

CHRISTMAS AT HOPE COTTAGE Available from all good online bookstores on the 18th!

Get your copy here!

Hope you enjoy my little cinematic sneak peak, let me know what you think!

Love,

Lily xx

Lily Graham 16 aug

Images courtesy of Pinterest, cover image Bookouture, 

 

 

My writing room

I originally wrote this for Novelicious, it’s my favourite section on the blog, and sadly I’m not sure if it’s going anymore, sniff. So, I thought I’d share it with you all anyway, as I always love seeing an author’s writing space!

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I figure you can never have too much bunting. Since this picture, I have another set, because bunting.  Also, yes, it’s always this neat, wink. Hahaha, cue wild hysterical laughter.

The first writing room I ever fell in love with was Jo March’s from Little Women. I loved her special attic, where she kept her ink-stained manuscripts, along with the costumes from the plays she wrote, and that as a young girl she wrote while wearing her special ‘writerly uniform.’ I have a uniform now too; only mine are pajamas.

I’ve been lucky enough to have two writing rooms in my life. My last one was back in South Africa, it was big and wide, and had wall to ceiling shelves but I rarely got to use it.

My second, writing room, is at my new home in the English countryside in Suffolk, and is perhaps the more special, though perhaps not as grand as my first. It’s little more than a snug, but I love it perhaps even more, because here I have realised a long held dream here of being a full-time writer.

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A tiny capsule of the books I own. 

It has a dormer window, and while I write I see the tops of the sky and the occasional seagull flying past, as we are quite close to sea. The room is filled with all the things I love from bunting to books, my collection of elephant figurines, and the pottery frog I made when I was eight. I used the countryside as my inspiration and have used apple crates as bookshelves, which create a rustic look that I love.

There are two desks in the room. One is my antique writing desk – which my husband bought me for my birthday a few years ago, it in part inspired the story behind the postcard in my novel A Cornish Christmas,  but I write on the other, bigger desk. It’s really a small dining table, which I painted a soft grey, during my French country phase. It’s big enough to keep all my research, including the dozens of notebooks in which I scribble things down for the books I’m writing. It also holds things that inspire me, like the old grey typewriter my father-in-law bought me from a car show a few years ago.

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My antique writing desk, topped with my painting – I love making art. 

When the house is quiet and my husband is out, my room is an oasis of calm and on good days I can sit here and write for hours, but as he works from home most days it can be a challenge, as he comes in regularly to use the printer, have a moan about his day, or suggest a spot of housework and I suggest throttling him instead. Most days I welcome the company – if not the moaning, other days I want to pay the postie to take him away.

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The Fudge in all her fudgieliciousness, tbh she is always downstairs, cheating on me with Dad.

My other visitor is far more quiet, though no less demanding, my lazy bulldog, Fudge, makes the trek up most afternoons, which sounds as if the house is falling apart as she lands with a heavy thud on each step. It is the funniest, happiest sound, and it always makes me laugh. It takes around a full three minutes for her to get to the top and always makes me feel rather special that she went to all the effort. Usually she goes straight to her upstairs bed (she has two, yes she is spoiled), but mostly she likes to lie on the blanket on my legs, pawing at my shins to pat her head, while I try to type.

The other part of my writing room is really just a few feet away and is the bedroom. It’s where I head when things get tough and I’m feeling a bit stuck or feeble, there’s something about lying in bed and editing or working out a scene that really helps, perhaps as it feels less like ‘work.’ The danger though is not getting out of the bloody bed, so I make sure I make it as soon as I get up, then it’s out the door to the snug for me.

Welcome to Hope Cottage … now available to request on NetGalley!

“In the small village of Whistling in rural Yorkshire, with its rolling green hills, purple moors and butterscotch cottages, some things never change. October marks the start of the frost, it always snows at Christmas and whenever anyone’s in trouble they visit Hope Cottage, where remedies come on plates…”

Well, it’s not long now! Less than a month until Christmas at Hope Cottage is out! EEP!

I’m thrilled to report that early review copies are available to request now from NetGalley!

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In the little village of Whistling, with its butterscotch cottages and rolling green hills, snow is beginning to fall. Christmas is coming, and Emma Halloway is on her way home.

When twenty-eight-year-old food writer Emma Halloway gets dumped then knocked off her bike, she’s broken in more ways than one, and returns to her family’s cosy cottage in the Yorkshire Dales. Emma hasn’t been back in some time, running from her crazy relatives and her childhood sweetheart, Jack Allen.

Emma’s grandmother is determined to bake her back to health and happiness, as the Halloways have done for generations. Surrounded by old friends and warm cinnamon buns, Emma starts to believe in her family’s special talents for healing again. But then in walks Jack with his sparkling hazel eyes, stirring up the family feud between them.

As the twinkly lights are strung between the streetlamps, Emma remembers just why she fell for Jack in the first place… and why a Halloway should never date an Allen.

The infuriating new lodger, Sandro, doesn’t believe anyone should have to choose between love and family. With a little bit of Christmas magic, can Emma and Jack find a way to be together, or will Emma find herself heartbroken once more?

An utterly gorgeous Christmas romance about the importance of family, freshly baked biscuits, and learning to trust your heart. Perfect for fans of Phillipa Ashley, Debbie Johnson and Debbie Macomber.

Out on 18 October! Available for preorder now. 

Summer at Seafall Cottage’s radio debut!

Sundays are fabulous, and last week Sunday was particularly lovely. I was absolutely thrilled, and touched, that Summer at Seafall Cottage was selected by the fabulous Tracey Edges as Book of The Week on the local radio station, SirenFM, for her show, The Sunday Girl. 

“Although a great summer read, it’s always nice to escape into a good book whatever the weather … and this was not just a romantic novel, but an intriguing mystery.” Tracey Edges.

Friends and family were notified before the event and we all tuned in to listen all around the world, and it was really special. The show is really great, the music is brilliant and she’s really funny, and endearing. I know I’ll be listening to her show loads from now on!

If you’d like to hear my debut though – which includes a really gorgeous, atmospheric summary of the novel, as well as a fantastic tie-in song! Here’s the link, I’d recommend listening to the whole show as it’s really brilliant, but if you just want to hear Summer at Seafall’s radio debut you can skip ahead to the last ten minutes of the show.

Thank you so much again to Tracey and SirenFM, this was truly special, and it was a real honour!

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The story behind Summer at Seafall Cottage #behindthescenes

My favourite book that I’ve written is usually the one I wrote before. I am always convinced that the one I’m currently busy with is The Worst Book Ever To Be Written.  The only book that I genuinely loved writing from start to finish and never felt like throwing myself off of a cliff at some point while I was writing it (yes, I mean that literally), was A Cornish Christmas, I don’t really know why that was, I don’t think it’s my best work, though I did for a while, but I think sometimes there’s a touch of magic to the process that helps, most books are usually a mix, my latest was the hardest, so who knows, perhaps I’m due an easier one soon – let’s hope! Though I doubt it as I’ve set myself a real whopper with the next one.

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Sort of how I imagine what Seafall cottage would look like (once she’d fixed it up)

Still, Summer at Seafall  Cottage was special to me. It’s the most I’ve stretched myself as a writer, with a present and a past timeline, and I took the most amount of risks with the story – writing something that dangled between historical and contemporary fiction. It wasn’t an easy novel to write either, personally, as I completed it during a very tough period when my husband and I moved countries, after leaving my full-time job as a lifestyle journalist which was surprisingly challenging. I’d spent so long wanting to write from home, only to get the dream and find I missed my colleagues, the camaraderie and my country! Also, this book was the first book I’d ever written under contract with my publishers, Bookouture, (my first two novels were self-published first, then edited and expanded upon and republished by them) so that came with it’s own challenges.

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This window in the living room,  I wanted to give it a romantic, enchanted feel

Still, I was immensely lucky, I had a lot of freedom with the book, more than most, that’s for sure, I had pitched a very basic idea of a woman going to Cornwall to recover her broken heart, finding a job and possibly getting involved in an allotment garden project, what I delivered instead was a woman  discovering a secret diary, finding an abandoned cottage, and a love story that went back to the Great War!  Thankfully my incredible editor much preferred that (phew!). She is beyond lovely, her name is Lydia and she is the nicest person. I had a real moment when I was biting my nails, wondering if she would be reading my pitch and going, ‘Wtf?’ But she didn’t, she wrote me back to tell me she loved it. Did I mention, I’m lucky, grin!

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A rather enchanting looking gate in St Mawes inspired the gate in Seafall Cottage

But it needed a bit (Ahem : A LOT) of work, because I’d lost a bit of confidence thinking that she wouldn’t go for the new direction, and I’d let the past story take over, so I needed to really work on the present storyline about the biographer whose marriage had imploded. I can’t tell you how incredible it is to work with the editors we have at Bookouture – they really help bring stories to life, hold our hands, and give what is needed – a reality check sometimes, a dose of encouragement, you name it –  and eventually, Victoria’s story became far more real to me. It was like a weight had fallen off my shoulders, once I knew the book had potential, I just let myself enjoy the process, and the second draft was rather satisfying to write as I fell for Victoria’s story more.

Part of this was the introduction of a houseboat community, which happened by  accident – because I went to a little pub on the water near me, (have I mentioned how lovely Suffolk is?!) and I was a little stuck with the story at the time, when I saw these gorgeous houseboats in the River Orwell, and suddenly came home inspired to feature them in the story in some way. I found this Youtuber called ‘So I bought a Narrow Boat’ and I became so enchanted with her life on the water, and her stunning little houseboat which had these little portholes and little round cushions that you used instead of curtains. (Incidentally, this is an excellent way to procrastinate, which I am a champion at). This led me to the incredible ‘alternative’ world of houseboats in general, and that’s how I came up with a side character named Angie, who becomes Victoria’s new best pal, – an ageing hippie who has a fondness for ‘suspicious brownies’ and runs The Floating Bookshop. She was a joy to write, I’d quite like to meet her myself!

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Beautiful floating bookshops

I love writing characters, they are what brings the magic alive for me, and make writing that much more fun. Victoria was the sort of character who takes over, I really don’t know where she came from, all feisty and wearing rather funky t-shirts and old-fashioned men’s cloaks, and having the ability to do all sorts of complicated maths (this from an author who was hopeless at it at school, but hey ho) yet rather vulnerable too – I enjoyed spending time with her though. I hope I don’t sound mad now, lol.

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Boats that inspired “Tremenara” and Somersby

Alice Hoffman said that when she writes a book she just strings along things that are currently holding her interest till something new emerges, and I couldn’t agree more – especially when it came to this book, a lot of it happened that way, and other ideas came from who knows where, really. Like Fen or Tilly, my characters from the past. I’m sure he was inspired a little by the character of Dickon from The Secret Garden, which in some ways I’m sure influenced the idea for this story as a whole – it was one of my favourite books growing up, and I love the idea of abandoned, forgotten places,  the stories they could tell us if we could only find a way to listen…

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes look at Summer at Seafall Cottage! With some of the images that inspired it. I always enjoy it when authors share theirs so I thought I would too – also I think it’s really important to share the challenges, along with the joy that comes with writing – so while now, after a few months post publication I am fond of this book – there were real moments of hardship, doubt, worry and intense procrastination. Each book is different, some are harder than others, some stretch you, and that’s always a bit uncomfortable – it’ show we learn and grow, It’s funny but that is the lesson I keep learning – just keep going. The only way out is through. Sorry for talking in bumper stickers 🙂

And now apologies, time for a shameless plug, but if you haven’t read it yet, it’s on sale at 99p in the UK and about $1.30 in the US if you’d like to get it here.