Sunday, 27 March 2011

Bagpipes & Bullshot by Janice Horton

Janice Horton Blog Tour

I first 'met' Janice on Twitter and warmed to her immediately. Here was a writer who genuinely wanted to help and encourage others, either with practical suggestions or supportive words. Below is my interview with her. I'm delighted to be able to share with you a deeper understanding into the world of author, Janice Horton.

Can you condense your novel into a few sentences for us?

Bagpipes & Bullshot is a contemporary romance novel which twists an everyday love story with a whole cast of village eccentrics into an entertaining play on rural life. When handsome Scottish Laird Innes Buchanan meets beautiful Texan cowgirl, Orley McKenna, and brings her over to his impoverished estate in Scotland, it's for more than her expertise with cattle. But before their romance can properly begin, orley has to contend with a run-down country mansion, a frosty Lady of the manor, and a vengeful ex-girlfriend who puts Lady Macbeth to the shade. I'll leave it for the reader to tell me if it's a love story with elements of humour, or a humorous novel with elements of a love story!

How did you come up with the title?

Well, it was a matter of finding something jaunty that reflected the humour and the theme of the book. The story starts off with a prologue set in the US but the novel itself is set in Scotland. Innes, the hero of the tale, does indeed play the bagpipes and quite beautifully too. Bullshot is not a typo or a clever play on words, but a drink: it's a bit like a Bloody Mary and is favoured by those who swig from a hipflask and shoot from a shotgun. To me the word 'bullshot' epitomises the Scottish country estate!

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Bagpipes & Bullshot is the easiest book I've ever written because it's a complete rewrite of a book I indie-published in paperback a couple of years ago. Essentially it's the same novel as before but it gets into the meat of the story more quickly and focuses on the humour. It's been edited and formatted specifically for e-book publication. But to answer your question, the hardest part of writing for me is always the first draft.

What's a typical day like for you? When and where do you write?

I don't write every day, although I'd love to. I have a desk in a study which I share with my husband who is self-employed. So a typical day for me is sorting out admin and doing accounts. I also run a small graphic design company that I set up years ago when our three boys were small. After lunch, except on a Thursday, I work in the village as a legal secretary for a firm of lawyers. That just leaves a few stolen hours in the evenings and one afternoon to write my fiction novels or magazine lifestyle articles but, if one of my lovely friends invites me out for a lazy lunch or to go shopping on a Thursday afternoon, I do not refuse!

Are some experiences in your novel, based on events in your own life?

Well, they say everything that happens in a writer's life is grist to their mill, and I do believe it to be true. I delve deeply into my own emotions when I write. I certainly have had a variety of different careers and wildly different experiences in my life to draw upon, but I won't be limited by these either, as I love to learn from research.

What is your WIP? Another novel?

Yes, it's a novel entitled, Reaching For The Stars and I hope to have it finished this summer. It has been a long haul job writing this book, not through lack of enthusiasm but simply through lack of time (see above: when do you write?) Over the past couple of years, the needs of family and other commitments have quite rightly taken priority over my writing, but that's not to say writing will take a backseat in the future (grins!) Reaching For The Stars is the history of a disillusioned celebrity chef who gives up his hard won accolades - three Golden Stars - and goes into self-imposed exile in a castle on a Scottish country estate. The heroine of the tale is a rising star in the culinary world, an ambitious chef determined to be the first woman in the UK to get three Golden Stars. As this novel is set against a backdrop of fine food and steamy kitchens - you can imagine the fun I've had researching this book!

Your new indie published e-book Bagpipes & Bullshot is now out on Amazon Kindle at £1.38 or $2.24, but how do you plan to get it noticed against all the thousands of others available on Amazon?

Well, it's very difficult to get new e-books noticed by potential readers unless it features on one or more of Amazon's Top 100 charts, but because of the way Amazon calculates its sales, just a few sales on one particular day can make all the difference in pushing it through the charts. So I want to ask you wonderful blog readers to support me by either buying the book on Friday 1st April 2011 (it is £1.38 or $2.24) or by telling other people about it through their own social network. The date is important because it's the day I've asked everyone who might consider buying the book, to buy it. I'll be blogging and tweeting all day on Friday 1st April. For direction to all of the other places I'll be appearing on my Blog Tour throughout the whole day, please visit

I'll be running a prize draw on my blog and on Twitter (Friday 1st April only) to win Kindle beach protectors (an essential and stylish accessory for every Kindle, but alternatively you could protect your camera or phone!) All you have to do to be in with a chance to win, is go to my blog and leave a comment or ReTweet my tweets using the hashtag #bagpipes. But what about people who don't have a Kindle? Can they download it for their PC, Mac, IPhone, IPad or whatever? Yes absolutely. Go to Amazon and download their free Kindle App for PC, Mac, IPhone or IPad and then buy Bagpipes & Bullshot. I'll be forever grateful. Link to About the Author: Janice Horton lives in Scotland and writes entertaining and humorous contemporary women's fiction novels which are, for the most part, inspired by the romantic beauty of the heather-filled glens around her country cottage. She has a blog at: and you can follow her on Twitter at @JaniceHorton. Her website is at:

Friday, 25 March 2011

The Night Train

Sitting here
On the night train
Rushing and hushing through the dark,
Leaving you behind.
Raindrops, like tribal markings,
Obscure my view
Upon the shadowed glass on which I sigh.
Dawn breaks, an apricot glow
Wraps around the horizon.
You lied
When you said I was your beginning
And your ending.
I made you the owner of my heart
As you held my hand in yours.
But time spells out the truth
And you were careless with my gift,
My heart.
The sun rises, bringing clarity
To sight and thoughts.
Staring at the passing trees, with leaves
Waving like Tibetan prayer flags,
I understand.
I only leant you my heart,
It's not yours to keep.
I'm going home.

Written by Angela Barton.
The Night Train won first place in a poetry competition with the theme of 'Clarity.'

Monday, 14 March 2011

Whispering Spirit

For as long as I can remember, I have always sided with the Native American Indians whenever I've watched a Western film. I loved their names, their life-style, their jewellery, their beauty and the wide open plains where they lived. They appeared to be humble, artistic, sensitive people, whose only wish was to be left alone by the white people.

The cowboys always seemed so clumsy and loud. They fought unfairly with guns, always shone with sweat and spat tobacco. Even Clint Eastwood and Kevin Cotsner didn't cut it for me.

I was delighted when my writing group set a competition with the theme Standing Proud. Some may think of brave soldiers or unlikely people accomplishing something worthy. To me, it conjured up an Native American Indian's name.

And so a little ten year old girl named Standing Proud, became the focus of my competition story. I only had 1500 words to play with, so my short story had to deal with - and overcome a problem, within a limited number of words.

I've attached a link if you'd like to read my story. Just click on the link, then on the title, Whispering Spirits. (It's fairly small pale type) I haven't handed my entry in as yet, but as far as I'm aware, non of my fellow writers' group members, use twitter.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Stylish Blogger Award

Thank you so much to the talented and lovely Janice Horton who has awarded me a Stylish Blogger Award. ( In accepting this award, I understand that I have to tell you seven things about myself and award others the accolade too.

1. I have a deep fascination for all things Victorian. I especially love old photographs so I can see what they wore, where they lived and imagine what lives they led. For my third novel, I'd love to write a historical romance set in that era.

2. I think I have mild OCD! Number 3 is very important to me and it's not unusual for me to pick up the third newspaper or un-hook the third trolley from the supermarket. I've even given my hero, Daniel, (in my first novel Lies and Linguine) the same problem, following a trauma in his past.

3. I have an old-fashioned bicycle with the basket on the front. I'm looking forward to cycling along the village lanes when the weather warms up. I like nothing better than putting a little picnic, pen and notebook in the basket, and cycling somewhere pretty so I can write.

4. I'm on my writing group's committee. The group meets twice a month where we read/listen, give/receive positive criticism, enter competitions, socialise and have guest speakers. I would recommend joining a group to any writer.

5. I was educated at a girls' convent grammar school, where all the teacher's were nuns!

6. I live in a tiny pretty village where there is only one pub and no shops. I set my book, Lies and Linguine in this village, although my protagonist did pay several visits to Cornwall too!

7. My dream is to live and write in Charente, France, one day. I will cycle to the local village and buy French sticks and strawberry jam for le petit dejeuner. The sun will tingle on my skin turning it golden. The flowers will blossom in their beds and my vegetable patch will swell with bulbous deliciousness. Dragon flies will flit on the pond in my garden, occasionally breaking the surface tension of the water with tiny ripples. I'll pick ripe figs and bake tarts, speak French fluently and smell sweet wood-smoke on evening strolls. My words will flow like warm honey onto the pages and publishers will be trying to track me down..... Well, we all have dreams!

I've enjoyed reading and following many blogs, but sadly I can only choose a handful to pass on the Stylish Blogger Award. Here are some of my new friends and the lovely blogs they've created and whom I've chosen to award.

An last, but certainly not least, a lovely new blogger

Thursday, 3 March 2011

The Dreaded Blurb

Readers browsing for a new book will scour the shelves, looking for a their favourite author or genre, and will no doubt be swayed by an attractive book cover. Then what?

The dreaded blurb! Dreaded by the authors, that is.

Browsers will turn over to peruse the blurb on the back cover. This promotional statement is perhaps the most difficult collection of sentences that a writer will ever have to create. Perhaps more difficult than writing the entire book. In a few precious lines, the author has to convey the nature of the plot, characters and genre, but also leave the reader wanting to know what's going to happen; so much so, that the browser will hopefully carry the book to the tills, in order to find out how the book unravels.

So when did the blurb make an entrance?

An American humourist called Gelett Burgess provided a drawing of an attractive woman on the back of his book, Are You A Bromide? over a hundred years ago in 1907. This alluring woman had the job of increasing sales. Burgess gave her the name, Miss Belinda Blurb! From then on, having a blurb to promote a book stuck with publishers - if only in text form.

As I don't yet (I have to stay optimistic) have a publisher for Lies and Linguine, I've written my own blurb without any professional input. No doubt when (still optimistic) the magical day arrives, an editor may suggest changes or a complete re-write. However, in the mean time, I'd be interested to know if my blurb would entice you to buy.

I have a (fairly) tough hide. You can be honest and say if you'd put the book back on the shelf.

When long-suffering Tess tells her best friend that she's leaving her boyfriend Blake, she's unaware that her puerile boyfriend has eavesdropped on their conversation. Blake devises two plans in order to stop her. When Plan A backfires, he relies on Plan B - a wicked and unforgivable lie.

Handsome artist Daniel is haunted by two tragedies from his past. As he prepares for his first art exhibition, can he overcome his obsessive compulsion which he believes will protect him from a third trauma?

Holly is an incorrigible flirt and Tess' best friend, but jealousies arise when they both fall for the same man. Can their friendship survive the green-eyed monster?

Daniel's twin sister, Denise, believes she's truly blessed with her family and life in London. She's never had to battle for anything in her life, but when she discovers a breast lump, she must battle for life itself.

As each person struggles with their own demons, is there room for romance in their lives? Can Daniel conquer his compulsion? Does Denise have the strength to fight? And will Tess discover Blake's deceit in time to find true love?