Category Archives: Guest blogs

WiLoveBooks – 10 Things I've Learned From Being A Writer

Today the authors behind Ellie Campbell are here to tell us what inspired Looking for La La and share what they’ve learned from being a writer. 

Ten Things I’ve Learned from Being a Writer

It happened…well, let’s just say it was a few years back.  My sister, Pam, co-author of our Ellie Campbell novels, was having a peaceful breakfast with her family when a postcard decorated with scarlet lipstick dropped through the letterbox.  Surprisingly, the sender, La La, was proclaiming impassioned love for Pam’s husband.  Below you can read how it appears in our novel, Looking For La La.  (What, us waste a great piece of material like that?  Never!  Particularly when this La La was clearly up to no good.)

“Not a sound is heard as it lands silently on the mat. No drums rolls, crashing thunder, shafts of light. The walls don’t start crumbling, the ground doesn’t vibrate with terrifying tremors and a yawning fissure fails to zigzag across the kitchen floor and separate my husband from his breakfast marmalade.

In short, I’ve no clue as to the impact it’ll have on our lives. Mayhem. Marital breakdown. Murder. It should at least have been written in blood or come in the beak of a dark-winged raven.

It is a postcard. “Love from London” blazoned above a giant pair of pouting lips kissing a cherry-red heart.

At first sight it appears to be one of those “Please Come to Our Rave” flyers which get thrust through my door periodically. Now the chances of me, a world-weary, put-upon mother-of-two, going to a rave are slim to none, but heck it’s nice to be invited.

I turn it over.

Dearest, sweetest Declan – it begins. My eyes widen as I take in the blue spidery handwriting and race to the signature. ‘Love from La La.’”

We never found out who sent the card, Pam’s husband claiming innocence of the whole affair.  (More accurately that there was no affair.)  Knowing her hubbie – and his friends’ questionable sense of humour – she wisely chose to believe him.  It could have been end of story if we hadn’t used it to inspire our third Ellie Campbell novel.  In it bored housewife, Cathy Rogers, goes slightly crazy searching for the identity of La La and discovering everyone around her is concealing secrets… including an alluring romantic admirer and a deadly opponent.

I guess we’ve learned that in life sometimes your gifts come in disguise. Which made me think of other important things I’ve learned from my journey down the author path.  Here are just 10.

1. Writing is cheaper than therapy.  And a lot more productive.

2. You will see countless pairs of reading glasses scattered around your house until the moment you actually need them.

3. Never forward an email chain to your publisher, agent, or person of influence, without checking for rude or personal comments further down the page.

4. Don’t send out anything in writing, be it angry email or lyrical piece of prose, until you’ve had a night to sober up and read it again in the cold harsh light of day.

5. Procrastination is an underappreciated art.  Also known as ‘the creative pause.’

6. Google is specifically designed to suck all the productivity out of a working day.

7. Everything you take in, from childhood on, will leak out someday onto the printed page.

8. Don’t share your friends’ intimate confidences with the world.  Unless you have an endless supply of friends.

9. The instant you’re faced with a computer screen and a deadline, you’ll be filled with an urgent desire to fold laundry and polish that ancient silver teapot you inherited and will never use.

10. Always disguise your sources.  Unless it’s La La and then it’s open season.

via WiLoveBooks.

10 Lows And Highs Of An Author's Life

One of the highs of being an author is being invited to do a guest post.  Thanks to Bookish Whimsy for inviting us on their site.    Click on the banner if you want to see the whole thing.

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THE LOWS

1. Lorraine: The dire feeling all creative people share that they’re not good enough, that their books aren’t the masterpieces they visualized. The ‘mean blues’ when you read someone else’s brilliant prose and decide it’s time to throw in the towel. Both Pam and I try not to read other people’s fiction when we are deep into writing a novel, in case we start comparing or find ourselves unconsciously imitating their style. (Not so great when you start off sounding like Ellie Campbell and end as a bad Ernest Hemingway). If at all, Pam will dip into various autobiographies, while I manage a couple of pages on horse training before I fall asleep.

2. Pam: The walking into a bookstore and seeing millions of books on the shelves and wondering why you feel impelled to add to the madness. Aren’t there enough books in the world, historical novels, romantic novels, horror novels? Bookstores bulging with authors who have profoundly important things to say as opposed to our inane ramblings.

3. Lorraine: The days when you’re stuck and think you’ve forgotten how to write and will never manage another sentence let alone another book. Or someone hears you’re a writer and expects witty imaginative things written on their birthday cards or signed in their copy of your novel. It’s like going up to a comedian and saying “Go on then, be funny. Go on.” Like our heroine, Cathy, in Looking For La La we usually find ourselves scrawling a lowly ‘best wishes’. And then think of a million brilliant alternatives when the moment has gone.

4. Pam: The marketing of your novel, having to sell yourself, when you’d rather hide away in your warm house behind your PCs. Lorraine and I are both naturally quite shy and there was quite a lot of firsts for us when we published our first and second novels, How to Survive Your Sister and When Good Friends Go Bad. First radio interview, first phone interview, first photo-shoot, first book signing. There were all wonderful in their own way and we will be forever grateful to Laura, our great publicist at the time, but boy did we find it hard putting ourselves forward and “tooting our own trumpets”.

5. Lorraine: The * or ** star reviews. Ugh. The minute you see them, all those **** and ***** stars are obliterated from your mind and you immediately start wondering if it’s too late to train for that alternative career… like sword swallower, tightrope walker, cliff diver, tarantula trainer… Or maybe just give it all up and sail off into the sunset.

THE HIGHS

1. Pam: Doing a job you would rather do more than anything else in the world. I work part time in a college, during term time, which I love doing while Lorraine is busy working with horses which she is totally passionate about, but we both still consider writing novels as our main occupation. When it’s going well, you think, gosh I’m my own boss, I get to do the hours that I want, the days that I want. Total freedom. And if I want a holiday (depending on deadlines of course), I can have one. Great thing is, you can take your laptop with you, lie on a hammock maybe, tropical beach and still be “working”.

2. Lorraine: The fantastic feeling you get when you finish a paragraph, a scene, or a whole chapter and love what you wrote. Some days things go perfectly. Words seem to come out of nowhere, pages write themselves. Even better when there’s two of you writing and you wake up and the other has written all the bits you were struggling over. These days we’ve even started enjoying the editing process. There’s a weird satisfaction in cutting out words and characters and huge chunks of text. Sort of like the joy of cleaning out your closet, recycling unwanted clothes and feeling so virtuous afterwards.

3. Pam: Seeing your book in bookstores and especially in the library. I love picking out our Ellie Campbell novels on the library shelves, and seeing that people have actually borrowed them out of all the fantastic old and new books that they lend there. I’ve also spent afternoons looking them up on the libraries’ online sites. Sad I know, but you can see how many copies they have and how many are out and you can visualise those people sitting there, reading and (hopefully) enjoying them.

4. Lorraine: Imagining how proud our parents (long deceased) would be to know we became published novelists. They died relatively young and poor Mum wanted so badly for us to do something – anything – she could boast about. I swear she used to make things up because aunts, uncles, people she worked with, were always complimenting us on great accomplishments that were total news to Pam and myself. She was ecstatic when I got my first short story in print. The sales of Woman magazine must have rocketed that day – I pity the poor neighbours!

5. Pam: Having your agent ring you up and tell you, you have a two book publishing deal. Fantastic. Then seeing one of your books finally in print, glancing through it and realizing it’s your baby and – huge relief – you love it. Sometimes you find bits you’d totally forgotten and actually laugh aloud. Sometimes you can’t believe those words came out of you and when writing in partnership like Lorraine and I sometimes they didn’t. (We get very confused about who wrote what.) Our latest Ellie Campbell novel, Looking For La La, was inspired by a prank love postcard someone sent to my husband and when I look at that opening scene it still makes me chuckle. Especially imagining what the postcard-sender will think if she ever happens to read it.

Excerpted from Bookish Whimsy.

10 Things That Bring A Smile To Our Faces

reposted from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.  Click to see full article and giveaway.

Pam:

1.      Other people smiling

Or better still, other people laughing by themselves, for no apparent reason. Probably thinking back to something funny.  It happened to me this morning when I was out dog walking. Some girl was heading down the path as I was heading up.  Just ten yards from me she suddenly stifled a giggle. I checked my clothes, face etc. when I arrived home.  I don’t think it was me she was giggling at, but even if it was, it made smile. So that’s OK in my book.

2.      Chocolate

Especially when I’ve been scouring the house for some.  I know it’s bad for me, makes me overweight, terrible for skin, etc. etc.  But when you get that craving…  I’ve taken cupboards apart, searched through drawers and texted people late at night begging them to bring some over if I’ve been unable to get out.

3.      Those TV Programmes where they Reunite Loved Ones

I’m a sucker for them.  All that reuniting of friends, long lost sisters and brothers, mothers, fathers.  Those programmes partly inspired our second novel, When Good Friends Go Bad, about three women searching for their missing school friend.  After I smile though, I usually end up blubbing my eyes out. I don’t care that they’re made to wrench at heart strings, my heart strings are still well and truly wrenched.

4.      My Dog Milly

She does stupid things all the time that make me smile.  I walk in and see her wagging her tail in greeting and it makes me smile.  How can it not? She rushes to fetch her “tugger” and nudges it at me so I can play tug of war, and it makes me smile.    I mention my friend’s name (who often accompanies me on dog walks) and immediately she races for the window, leaps onto the sofa and peers out the window to see if she can spot her car. Whenever I’m down or worried about stupid irrational things, I only have to look at her and I smile.

5.      My Family

How could I not include them?  Especially when they’ve been away.  With five of us and the dog in the house, it’s sometimes crowded and usually messy.  And I often crave solitude (to write – not to clean I might add).  This year I didn’t join them on their marathon annual bike ride in freezing weather around France in April (wonder why?). Instead I went with friends to visit Hungary.  It was a fantastic experience but I did miss them. And I did smile when they returned.

Lorraine:

6.      My husband, Gary.

He chats to everyone, just like my mother used to, sometimes it’s great and sometimes embarrassing.  I sat behind him on a plane recently because we couldn’t get seated together and had to laugh as I heard him engage the women on either side in non-stop conversation, telling them jokes, finding out their life history.  Of course then he asked if they’d read this new brilliant novel, Looking For La La, and raved about it while I cringed.  (Need I add, he hasn’t read it yet.) I was dreading him pointing back at me and saying ‘there’s the author”.

7.  My beautiful horses: Sylvarr, Sugar and Luna.

I made a 20’ wide exercise track around my pasture and I love to watch them galloping around it, bucking and playing, three white Arabians with flowing manes, tails up and waving like flags.  There is no prettier sight in the world.

8.  My dog Remy.

He’s a woodle – part wheaten terrier, part poodle, even the name is comical. He’s  like a rasta muppet.  I love the way he runs full speed to his bed and collapses instantly into sleep, upside down, paws in the air, legs wide apart.  If you give him something good – a tennis ball or a nice juicy bone – he’ll rush upstairs and bury it in our bed. I once noticed a dead vole (something like a mole or rat) that Remy had dug up lying on top of the duvet next to a blissfully unaware Gary. Threw it out.  Next night Gary slid his hand under the pillows and encountered another, also dead. Two days later his feet touched something cold and furry.  Yep, another corpse.   Our boy was so proud of his hunting skills.

9.  My cat Cotton.

She’s part Manx, tail-less, was supposed to be a barn cat but when she got spayed I had to keep her indoors and she won Gary’s heart – and he’s not even a cat lover.  Funnily enough she’ll sleep in the dog bed in the same inelegant upside down, legs splayed position as the dog.   She loves to attack our feet when we’re in bed, pounding on anything that moves under the covers.  And when I let Sylvarr graze dragging a long lead rope, she’ll attack that too – this tiny cat using all her might to hold back an oblivious 1,000 lb horse.

10.  My Friends

Last but not least…my friends always make me smile and I include my family – sisters, nieces and nephews – among the laugh-makers.  I am lucky that we all share the same sense of fun and aren’t afraid to be silly, whether it’s dressing up for Halloween or a murder mystery dinner, dancing on top of the houseboat at Lake Powell dressed in evening gowns and feather boas (or sarongs and home-made masks), throwing down chips at a Las Vegas craps table, or holding an impromptu party for twenty of our nearest and dearest with about 30 minutes notice.  There is nothing like seeing a friend walk in with a bottle of wine to put a smile on my face.   Or even if they show up without one.

via Looking for La La by Ellie Campbell – Tens List & Giveaway.

Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview “Ellie Campbell”

Thank you Shazjera for the lovely interview on Jera’s Jamboree.  You can see the original by clicking on her banner or the link at the bottom.

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Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview “Ellie Campbell”

 

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My guest today on Jera’s Jamboree is a little different. ‘Ellie Campbell’ is the pen name of two sisters, Pam and Lorraine who write together.

Hello ladies, welcome, please summarise your latest book in 20 words or less.

A surprising love postcard throws a bored housewife into turmoil, with secrets threatening her marriage, friendships and even her life.  

What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?  

Pam:  Well, actually it was the arrival of a lipsticked postcard proclaiming passionate love to my husband.  That part of the book was true – all the rest, including the stalker and the possible murderer were figments of our overblown imaginations. Presumably it was a silly joke but it made perfect fodder for a fun novel about marriage, motherhood, female friendships, illicit romance and that difficult stage when all your children have started school and you have yet to find a new direction or a satisfying job.

What inspired you to write?

Lorraine:  I was always a total book junkie, devouring several books a day, and loved to write long funny letters.  But I’d never have considered the possibility of becoming a novelist if I hadn’t worked for the author, Carol Smith, who was then a literary agent and talked me into completing my first short story.  I have to say that what inspired me in those days was my not-so-successful love life.  If I got dumped or was humiliated by an awful date, I could use it as grist for a humorous story in which the heroine always came out the winner.  It made me feel a lot better and it paid.  

Are you pantsers or plotters?

Pam: In the old days I could think up a good opening line and a whole short story would spin itself from there.  Now because we write together, we have to be plotters.  We talk about what will happen in scenes before one of us writes it, we discuss character traits, often we give them a bio.  Usually our books start with a situation.  With How To Survive Your Sisters we wanted to write about the dynamics of a family of four girls and coming together for a wedding seemed an obvious place to start.  With When Good Friends Go Bad it was imagining meeting up as adults with your best friends from school.   But having said that it’s still a very loose outline.  Everything changes as the book evolves.  We discover a new twist, a backstory element we hadn’t thought of or a villain pops up from nowhere.  To be honest, writing Friends we had no idea what had happened to the missing Rowan until about two-thirds through the book.  Or which of the two love interests Jen would end up with.  But surprises are part of the fun.  

Do you have a most creative time of day?

Lorraine:  My best energy is definitely the morning.  We’re surrounded by farmland and have the most amazing dawns here in Colorado, the whole eastern sky streaked with red behind the silhouette of Haystack Mountain which is shaped exactly as the name implies.  I have a few things to do before I can start work – like let out the chickens, feed the horses, the dog, the indoor and barn cats (sometimes even my husband) – but I can already feel the siren call of the computer.  Whereas if I put it off till later, the afternoon say, I get too easily distracted or the interruptions start.

What has been the best part of your writing journey so far?

Pam: Getting published – that was probably the most exciting day, when Arrow gave us a two-book contract and we went into their offices to drink champagne and hear everyone rave about our work.  The freedom of being able to create your own worlds, explore themes that interest you, be able to work from home.  The highs when it’s going good.  The fun of working together as a team, always having something to talk about, an excuse to pick up the phone and chat.  We had a few press and radio interviews when our first two novels came out, even a book signing and a launch party, but actually we are both quite shy and that was more of an ordeal than a pleasure.

Have you joined any writing groups?

Lorraine:  I did go to a writing group at the library once.  One of those where they give you a topic and tell you to write for ten minutes starting from…now.  I thought naively I’d enjoy it since I’d had some short stories published and it was supposed to be very laid-back, no nasty critiques or negative judgements.  Instead I was terrified.  Paralyzed.  I had total performance anxiety, couldn’t think of a thing to put on paper, sweated bullets imagining I’d have to read my scribbling out loud, knew that everything I did get down was pathetic garbage. Now I know why I write under a pseudonym and have to leave the room if anyone is reading my work.  Needless to say I never went back.

Being a writer can be lonely.  Do you have a support network?

Pam: I would have to say Lorraine and I are our own support network.  Since we’re both writing the same book, it gets a lot less lonely.  We get instant feedback, we have someone genuinely interested in what we’re doing, when things aren’t flowing or we’re bored, we can pick up the phone and have endless chats about the plot or characters.  Having said that, with the launch of Looking For La La, our first venture into e-publishing, we’ve had amazing support from other writers such as Kirsty Greenwood, Michele Gorman and several others who have been kind enough to give us advice on promotion, finding a jacket designer or including us in their blogs.  It feels a lot like a sisterhood of authors – we love it.

Please share with us what are you reading now?

Lorraine:  I am reading Love The One You’re With by Emily Giffin.  It’s the story of a happily-married woman who meets up with the passionate ex-lover who was her first real heart-break.  It sounds like a familiar storyline but the writing is so accurate and poignant that it’s impossible not to be gripped.  You can see the heroine struggling to do the right thing and yet getting sucked back into all her old feelings.  We’ve all wondered what happened to the one who got away and what he’d think of you if you ever met up again.  In fact that was a strong element of the story in When Good Friends Go Bad.

And finally … can you share with us what’s your WIP?

Lorraine:  We have actually delivered our fourth novel, Million Dollar Question, to our agent, Caroline Hardman at Hardman Swainson.  It’s the story of two women, on different sides of the Atlantic, whose lives are overturned in a single day, one by winning a million pounds on the premium bonds, the other by losing her fabulous career, her wealth and her fiancé in a shocking scandal.  It follows their two different journeys until their stories finally intertwine.  We’re also refining our new website  – chicklitsisters.com, writing blog posts, arranging a book giveaway of Looking For La La, so that’s taking up quite a bit of time.   As for our next book, we’re still thrashing that one out – it’s in the early birthing stages.  But we enjoyed the characters in Looking For La La so much, especially Cathy, that I wouldn’t be surprised if one day she stumbles upon another mystery and we just have to write a sequel.

Thank you for sharing with us today.

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via Jera’s Jamboree : Author Interview “Ellie Campbell” | Jera’s Jamboree.  

Laurie's Non-paranormal Thoughts and Reviews: Looking for La La by Ellie Campbell: Interview and Excerpt

Ever Been Attacked By Belligerent Bovines?  We have! (Yes, both of us.)  You can find out more in this interview with Laurie Jenkins…

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INTERVIEW

Laurie Jenkins:  Tell us about your current release.

We’ve just published Looking For La La as our third Ellie Campbell novel, available from Amazon.com as an ebook and in print. Cathy is a bored, unappreciated housewife and mother of two, whose humdrum life is thrown into turmoil when she starts investigating strange postcards that arrive proclaiming passionate love for her husband. The funny thing is that it was inspired by real events – someone did send love postcards to Pam’s husband, Ian – we assume as a joke.  The rest is fiction though.  It was a great lead-in to a funny novel about motherhood, female friendships, the fragility of trust, and the temptations of flattering attention when your marriage has gone slightly stale.  Oh yes, and there’s a stalker and possible murderer too.  Luckily all of that came from our rampant imaginations.

What was your first sale as an author?

Pam: Chat, a UK weekly women’s magazine.  It was a short story that I wrote called “The Cat that Got the Cream”. A tale of revenge.  I was so thrilled when the editor rang me up.  She gave me her home address to send future stories to, which thrilled me even more.  I spoke to a friend of mine, who was a journalist and told him about it.  He said that it’s not your first published piece that makes you a writer. It’s the second.  I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that at the time.  But when I sold my second story, I really felt I was on the way. And that it wasn’t just a fluke.

Does your significant other read your stuff?

Pam: My husband read How to Survive your Sisters and really enjoyed it.  He is not one for reading novels though, especially women’s novels, so I was just pleased he managed to finish it.  He hasn’t read any of the others and very few of the short stories I have written.   I don’t push it.  I sometimes feel that if he began criticizing my writing, I’d probably be censoring myself all the time.  I mean I don’t hide the fact that I’m writing or having books published (far from it), but at the same time I’m not shoving the books in his face, saying read this read this.  You will love it.  Lorraine’s husband is the same.  He read Sisters, he’s immensely proud of her writing but he’s a bit of a workaholic and rarely has time or inclination to read.

What was the scariest moment of your life?

Lorraine: OK, this is going to sound completely crazy but we have both been the victim of belligerent bovines. When we were kids, playing in the Isle of Skye, our neighbor’s docile cow decided suddenly to charge us.  I didn’t move fast enough and next thing her horn had scraped all the way up my back and I was dangling in the air caught by my sweater before getting flung to the ground.  I was terrified of cows that whole summer but my schoolfriends thought it was the funniest thing they’d ever heard.  Especially when I innocently told them the cow’s name was Horny – because she had horns of course. I think I was the only one to miss the joke.

Pam: My cow tossing story was rather different.  I was backpacking around India and just leaving a bus. This big white Brahmin bull, with huge horns walked past as I was about to alight.  Next thing I knew, somehow, my jacket had got caught on his horns and he wandered down the road with me lying on top of him.  He didn’t panic luckily (not like me stuck on top of him) and after a few hundred yards, he kind of shook his head and my jacket came loose.  I landed with a thud on the ground.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Pam: A cowboy or cowgirl, but really a cowboy.  Lorraine and I both had very short hair – our mother always cut our hair herself, I think she really did use a bowl and cut round it.  Anyway we were both tomboys, climbing trees, playing soccer and wrestling with the boys, and I loved it when people thought that I was a boy too. Lorraine and I used to have imaginary horses and would gallop around the streets of Edinburgh, neighing and whinnying.  But our careers councilor didn’t think cowboying was a very practical choice.

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What do you do to unwind and relax?

Lorraine:  I spend time with my three horses.  My Arabian gelding was a gift from a friend of mine who had a bad whiplash injury and could no longer ride.  My two mares I bought at the end of a livestock auction when I discovered they were about to go off in the killer truck, headed for a slaughterhouse in Texas.  I paid a little more than the killer price and then had the rather daunting task of explaining to my husband that we’d just acquired two new members of the family.  Actually they were young and healthy and I figured I could always find them a good home.  Well, I did – mine.

Pam:  My allotment.  I share it with a friend of mine.  We call each other up, check that we’re both free, wave our families goodbye and then flasks under our arm we head to our little spot.  We have a table and we chat and drink coffee and eat biscuits.  And it’s in a beautiful location, just near a park, so there’s a lake nearby.  Sometimes we see the swans or the geese flying overhead.  The evenings are the best, where our fellow plot holders have bonfires.  Oh and we do occasionally weed and plant vegetables but that’s only a small part of the thing.

Have you attended a high school reunion? What did you learn?

Lorraine: I went to one of mine. It was a riot.  Everyone seemed to have a different idea of high school than me.  I discovered some of my peers used to smoke pot with our teachers… no wonder those slackers got great grades! Some had taken their quirks and mannerisms to a whole new level – if they were fidgety before, they were totally twitchy now. I was standing beside my former best friend when an ex-boyfriend asked if she ever heard from me. She pointed to me and he said no, I meant Lorraine, the little Scottish girl.  So much for everyone saying I hadn’t changed. It came in useful when we featured a high school reunion in When Good Friends Go Bad. It was amazing how writing that scene took us both back to those days and the feelings we had at that age.

How do you react to a bad review of your book?

Pam: Well, luckily, so far from magazines and publications the reviews have mostly been positive. But it doesn’t matter if it’s just a negative response on Amazon or a publisher rejecting your novel – it hurts.  You have to tell yourself not everyone likes the same things. Lorraine and I don’t always love the same books. My father-in-law once picked up a copy of Bridget Jones Diary somebody had left on the train and couldn’t understand why anyone would bother reading it. Why would he?  It was so not about him and his life or values or anything.  Only thing I’d say is if you don’t finish a novel, don’t criticize it. At least go the whole way with it and so you can give a full and honest opinion.

What would we find under your bed? 

Pam:  Shoe boxes, dust, old socks.  My husband has a sock drawer his side of the bed, which is raided by the whole family. That’s five of us digging in there each morning.  He keeps protesting that they’re his socks and we are all to leave them alone.  But he is ignored. I own the spare sock bag and with so many socks floating around the place, it is a major job putting them all together.   I also have a pile of newspapers that I am never going to read, because I never have time.  But I like to think I can.  Every now and again, I get the whole lot and fling them out.

Lorraine:  Most likely my cats.  And a lot of dust bunnies.  Maybe some old Kleenex.  I’m scared to look under there actually.

 Do you have a Website or Blog?

Yes, we didn’t like our old website so we just jumped on wordpress design tools and created ourselves a new one – www.chicklitsisters.com.  We have a blog on there too.  It’s definitely a work in progress, we’re just adding content at the moment but we’d love you to drop by and comment if you feel like it. 

via Laurie’s Non-paranormal Thoughts and Reviews: Looking for La La by Ellie Campbell: Interview and Excerpt.

I heart books! | For lovers of chick-lit, adult and romance books.

A lovely interview with I Heart Books.  Thank you, Kirsty!

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Sisters, doing it for themselves!

POSTED ON APRIL 24, 2013

Who is Ellie Campbell?

L&PGrand Canyon2Actually ‘Ellie’ is two people – sisters and co-authors Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell.  We love all kinds of novels but particularly women’s fiction with a great story, recognizable characters and the ability to make us laugh one minute and perhaps cry the next.  We still share the same sense of humor that got us into so much trouble as kids and so it has been fun writing books that allow us to enjoy the comic aspects of everyday life while still exploring some serious issues and indulging in our taste for romance, drama, and intrigue.

Your book is called ‘Looking for La La’ please could you tell me about it?

We got the inspiration from a postcard that was sent to our house several years ago.  It was from someone called La La, covered with lipstick kisses and proclaiming passionate love to my husband.  So of course my sister Lorraine and I borrowed the event for the first chapter of Looking For La La: a novel about a bored, unappreciated housewife and mother of two, Cathy, whose predictable world is turned upside-down by the arrival of a love postcard addressed to husband, Declan.  We had her investigating the mystery, full of joy at this unexpected excitement.  But her sleuthing just gets her deeper into all kinds of trouble, threatening her marriage, bringing surprising attention from a sexy artist, stirring up conflict with friends and fellow-mothers with secrets of their own and even – it turns out – inciting the wrath of a murderous opponent.   It’s a wild ride with a lot of humour and we had great fun writing it.

‘Looking for La La’ is based around a thirty something mother of two, please could you tell me about her?

Cathy is definitely on the ‘slummy-mummy’ end of the scale, disorganized, chaotic, the kind of person who runs around the house tidying up before the cleaning lady comes and then has to hide or leave the house because she feels so guilty about hiring help.  (Nothing like me, obviously!) Her second child has just started school and she has no idea how to go about returning to work, being nervous of new technology and victim of a terrible interview phobia. So she’s putting off the evil day as long as she can, the source of regular arguments with her husband.  Meanwhile she has a great bunch of friends: Raz, who lives in their attic: the Tuesday Twice Monthlies, fellow mothers who share riotous alcohol-fuelled evenings out.  She’s fiercely loyal and she genuinely loves Declan even if they bicker, especially as suspicions grow about his young new assistant. It has to be said Cathy is prone to misreading situations – not nearly the great sleuth she fondly imagines herself to be – and this combined with her impulsive, reactive personality gets her into a lot of hot water, often with comic results.

They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an author can take, please can you describe the journey that you went on?

how to survive_2_4I began by going to creative writing classes as a form of escapism – I had three young children, all under the age of 4, and I needed to get away occasionally. I loved turning up to these classes, listening to all those fabulous writers, not really thinking I would ever particularly be one.  With encouragement though I began writing short stories, thrilled when I had my first one published in a UK weekly magazine.  From there on, I continued writing short stories, and small articles, mostly done in the short space of time while the children were at school or nursery.  When Lorraine settled in Colorado, we started writing a novel together.  It was a red-letter day when Caroline Hardman, our agent, agreed to take us on and even more exciting when Arrow Books wanted to publish How to Survive your Sisters and gave us a two-book contract.  There were a lot of firsts – it was our first novel, we were Caroline’s first clients and it was the first fiction acquisition by the editor at Arrow.  As everyone says finding an agent is incredibly challenging – we were lucky.

Are any of the characters in ‘Looking for La La’ anything like you?

Cathy, the narrator, is like me in some ways, in that I love going out with my female friends and just having a blast with them.  I don’t go out drinking as much as Cathy does though, (I wish!), and my children are a lot older.  I can however remember the days of not knowing what I wanted to do once the kids didn’t need me around so much and being terrified of the thought of returning to work. Saying all that, luckily I found my career path early on.

Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them.

So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character?

In Looking for La La, it would have to be Cathy.  I would like to go the Spa she visits with her friend, Gabby, but unlike Gabby, (who went to sleep instead) would listen to her problems and talk some sense into her and tell her not to be so hard on herself and not to feel she has to be all things to all people all the time.

You write as a sister team, how did this come about?

When Good Friends Go BadLorraine started being published first, well she would, she’s older, ha.  But no really she worked for a literary agency, for the novelist Carol Smith.  Carol encouraged her to write.  When I began writing, I would never show anything to Lorraine, for fear she’d think it rubbish.  Obviously, though, once my work was in magazines I felt a lot more secure about sharing it.   After a while Lorraine and I began to email each other our stories, especially if we’d reached a sticking point and could use a bit of input.  When we both wanted to write a novel about our experience of being sisters, and particularly about our amazing mother, we decided to write it together. It was difficult at first, working out the logistics, but once we had the plot down on paper, we each picked a chapter or scene or character and just ran with it.  To be honest with all the rewrites and different versions we send back and forth, it’s hard even for us to tell who wrote what exactly.  It all streams into one.

What can we expect next, any future books in the pipeline?

Yes, we have just finished our fourth novel, Million Dollar Question, which is currently with our agent, Caroline Hardman at Hardman Swainson.  It follows the stories of two very different women, one in the States who loses her fantastic career, her wealth and her super-eligible fiancé, and the other, an impoverished divorced parent in the UK, who wins a million pounds, both events occurring on the same day.  They are connected in more ways than they know and eventually the two stories converge as each has to deal with the change of identity, issues of self-worth and all the challenges that come with such an extreme turn of fortunes

If there was one saying that could sum up your life, what would it be?

Don't worry, be happy !“Don’t worry, be happy.”  Having said that, although I’m basically a happy person, I have wasted so much time worrying about things that don’t happen.

If ‘Looking for La La’ was to be made into a film, who would you like to star in it?

I would say Eva Mendes (Cathy has a thing about her) but she’s far too feminine and pouty and it would be hard to see her as slobby, chaotic Cathy.  Perhaps Drew Barrymore or Renee Zellwegger – she was so amazing in Bridget Jones. Definitely Damien Lewis for Declan, Raz could be Charlize Theron, Belinda would be Melissa McCarthy, Henrietta would be played by Emily Watson with her pixie cut hairstyle and Rupert – Cathy’s love interest – would have absolutely to be Colin Farrell.  Or Johnny Depp.  I don’t know if they’re what we pictured exactly but if they were on the set, nothing on earth could keep Lorraine and I away.

Please could you tell us a bit about your writing process?

Well, it might sound as if writing in partnership is easy but really it has its pros and cons.  One good thing about Lorraine and me is that we are in some ways very alike in our thinking, sense of humour, even in our voices and use of words and expressions.  To the point that in our dating days it was impossible for both of us to shine.  If one was on form, telling stories, grabbing the attention, the other would automatically fall back and fade into the background rather than compete.  We don’t look at all identical – Lorraine is taller, I’m darker in hair and skin – but people often used to ask if we were twins.  So writing in the same voice isn’t as hard for us as it might be for other people.  Basically we work out a storyline – which evolves as we progress.  We decide who wants to write each character viewpoint, send the chapters over, the other rewrites as they feel fit, sends it back, the other edits and makes more changes, and back and forth like that several times.  By the time we’re finished, it’s very hard to remember who exactly wrote what.  Kind of like our childhood memories – we each claim that such-and-such an event happened to us – who poured the bowl of ice-cream over their head in a fit of childish excitement, who got into a stand-off with the neighbourhood bully.   The stories blend – and at the end of the day, well, it’s sort of annoying, someone else claiming ‘your’ past but it’s sort of wonderful too.   I guess it’s a sister thing.

I would like to thank Pam and Lorraine for taking the time to talk to I Heart Books!

via I heart books! | For lovers of chick-lit, adult and romance books..

Interviewed By A Chick-Lit Goddess!

Isabella Louise Anderson interviewed Ellie Campbell.Isabella Louise Anderson

Some fun questions.  Thanks, Isabella. You can read the original at:

www.chicklitgoddess.com

INTERVIEW 

What made you two want to write a book together?

Pam:  Lorraine and I have always been close, being the youngest of four sisters, sharing a passion for horses, and seeing a lot of each other when we both lived in London.  I started selling short stories when Lorraine was traveling and when she settled in Boulder, Colorado, I’d often email her my latest piece of fiction.  Since she was writing too, it was natural for us to talk about the things we were working on or, when we were stuck, to ask for input.  Turned out we were both planning to write a novel about the ‘sister thing’, wanting to use some of our experiences growing up, especially our eccentric and very funny mother (sadly deceased) and all the joys and pains of being a family of four girls, eternally bickering and making up.  It seemed natural somehow to write it together – that way we didn’t look like one was copying the other! “How to Survive Your Sisters” was our first published novel and we were thrilled to be able to share the publishing journey together.

Coffee or tea?

Pam:  Tea. Always.  If I drink coffee I have to eat biscuits. I always feel tea is better for me, more refreshing.  Although I’ll go out for a latte and it’s a bit of a treat.

Lorraine:   Depends.  At breakfast – especially if we go out for it – definitely coffee.  American restaurants can’t make tea.  They give you tepid microwaved water and a teabag – ugh!  If we have a pot of coffee brewing at home I’ll work my way through that and then switch to tea.   I blame my mother for my caffeine addiction.  She used to wake us up with a cup of milky tea laden with sugar.  Funny thing is I hated coffee until I started my first menial office job and then it became the bright spot in a long boring day.

Walk us through what the writing/editing/publishing process was like:

Lorraine:  Well, we squabbled our way through the first novel… no, not really, it was surprisingly easy.  We’d agree the basic story, plan out chapters and then each write a scene and send it to the other one – who would then make alterations and edits as they saw fit and send it back.  And so on.  In a way we were constantly editing and then when it was finished we had a really long book and had to go back and make drastic cuts.  When we started sending it to agents, we were lucky enough that a new agent, Caroline Hardman, liked it and agreed to take us on.  She confessed we’d be her first ever clients – she’s got hugely successful since – and we confessed Ellie Campbell didn’t really exist. Arrow Books offered us a two-book contract, we got the same in Germany, Italy and Serbia.  It was all hugely exciting, especially since Pam and I got to do the publicity stuff – radio interviews and book signings – together.  Being somewhat cowardly, it was nice to have the moral support.

Who or what inspires you to write?

Pam:  In the case of our new book, Looking for La La, it was a heavily lipsticked postcard that arrived through my door, proclaiming – surprisingly enough – passionate love for my husband.  It was exactly as happens to Cathy in the opening chapter. However, unlike Cathy, instead of running frenziedly around town, looking for suspects and alienating all her nearest and dearest (including a murderous and unexpected opponent) I wrote it off as a bad joke.  It did however spark the idea of writing a funny book about marriage and motherhood several years down the line after the honeymoon has worn off.   And I did get a little extra satisfaction from imagining La La reading it.

Lorraine:  I might add that Pam and I are natural storytellers, get us started and we can go on and on…and on and on… We must inherit it from our mother who had a wealth of funny anecdotes and a warped sense of humor.  She’d be telling a story about my father falling down a flight of stairs and getting knocked out cold and she’d be incoherent and crying because she was laughing so hard.

If you could be on one reality TV show, what would it be?

Pam:  Britain’s Got Talent. It’s a show that anyone of any age or any talent can enter. Last year it was won by a dancing dog.  There’s all sorts that enter, group dancers, single dancers, singers, strippers, the lot!  I’d bring my dog along – a border terrier. She probably wouldn’t do anything, but I could let her have her moment of fame.

Lorraine:  Dancing With The Stars.  I’d get super-skinny and incredibly fit, I could indulge in my Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers fantasies, and all the friends who used to laugh at my moves in our disco-dancing days would watch it and marvel.

Tell us one thing that most people don’t know:

Pam:  That just like, Jen in When Good Friends Go Bad, I entered a stock car race with absolutely no prior experience, and in less than two laps I had crashed into a post and written off the car.

Lorraine:  That I have studied different forms of energy healing and even practiced professionally a tiny bit.  My first ever client, a sweet lady in pink twinset and pearls, showed up accompanied by her tall, dark husband who was wearing a flowered dress, lipstick, make-up, and heels.   Halfway through our session my client jumped up, ran to the bathroom and vomited profusely, before returning and meekly climbing back on to the massage table.  It was an interesting experience, I think, for all concerned and I decided shortly afterwards that I’d better stick to writing.

How long did it take to write the first draft of “Looking for La La”?

Pam:  Probably about 6 months from start to finish.  It was one of those inspired books that almost seemed to write itself.  After that though there were plenty of rewrites and alterations.   We made changes to the storyline, beefed up the murder mystery, took out huge chunks to make it move faster.

What was the easiest part about writing the book, and what was the hardest?

Pam:  We really enjoyed writing from Cathy’s viewpoint and following a single character. In so many ways, it was simpler than our other two novels in which we were writing in the third person, balancing four characters, all with their own individual stories.  Plus Cathy’s world was so familiar and fun.

Lorraine:  The hardest part was cutting.  We took out at least two of our much-loved characters and a whole subplot that we realized was fun but not essential to the story. It made the book better in the end, but sometimes it’s painful to let go, even though we’ve learned that usually, as far as novel writing is concerned, less is more.

How did you celebrate the publication of “Looking for “La La”?

Pam:  I booked a Spa. In the novel Cathy is treated to a Spa day by her friends.  It sounded wonderful, so I thought once the book was out that I would go myself with a good friend of mine.  We’re going in the next couple of weeks.

Lorraine:  I bought myself a Kindle Fire.  Between writing, the horse training course I’m taking, volunteering at horse sanctuaries to practice techniques, and taking care of my own animals, the only chance I have to read is in bed.  And then my husband wants the light out right away.  So now with my Kindle I can actually read books again without it bothering him.

What are you reading right now?

Pam:  I hardly have time to read anything, but I’ve just smuggled a book out of my friend’s house, which is “Up the Junction” written by Nell Dunn.  It is quite an old book and it was made into a film, but the dialogue is great and you can dip in and dip out of it.

Lorraine:  I just finished ‘Love The One You’re With’ by Emily Giffin, managed to read most of it on a plane to Indianapolis and home.  I plan to start ‘Yours Truly’ by Kirsty Greenwood.  Just as soon as I can find my new Kindle.  Which is probably buried under the papers on my desk.

If you had to do it all again, would you, and what advice would you give to yourself knowing what you do now?

Lorraine:  Yes, I would do it all again.  I think we had a fantastic childhood, some amazing experiences, incredible luck.  I loved working in publishing.  I loved backpacking. I loved living in LA for two years and also in France.  I loved sailing.  In many ways my life seems to fall into distinct segments that feel like a dream now. Advice – well, I felt very shy and deeply insecure in my late teens and twenties.  I would tell myself to be bolder and not worry about what people thought of me.  It took traveling alone to break me out of my shell.  But even the bad stuff contributed to the person I am today.  And my life is pretty good.

Pam:  I have loved the journey so far, especially my writing career.  It was amazing travelling around the world when I was younger, seeing all these amazing countries – living out in Australia and America.  But I am deeply happy now settled in England with my wonderful family.  I have few regrets as everything that happens turns you into the person you are, good and bad.  I wish I’d spent more time with my parents, as they both died too young and I wished I’d started my writing career earlier I guess.  Advice  to myself would probably be not to have worried so much about things that never happen.  Celebrate the positive, disregard the negative! Life is too short to sweat the small stuff.

Do either of you have an upcoming project, whether it be together or separate?

Pam:  We have just finished our fourth novel together, Million Dollar  Question:a story of two women, strangers to each other, whose lives are overturned by an outrageous stroke of fortune  – good and bad – on the same day. At the moment it is with our agent, Caroline Hardman at Hardman and Swainson.  As for the book after that, well, it remains to be seen.  There may be a sequel to Looking For La La one day – Cathy is the kind of character you hate to leave behind.

**Additional comments by Ellie Campbell:  Lorraine and Pam: Yes, we’d like to thank you, Isabella, for inviting us to be interviewed on Chicklit Goddess.  It’s been fun answering your questions and maybe we can come back and do a guest post some day. Also just to say to all your lovely readers out there, to please contact us.  We love hearing from everyone out there and we do answer all our messages.

ChickLit Goddess also did a book feature on Looking For La La with excerpt.      Read it here. BOOK FEATURE: LOOKING FOR LA LA.

Author Article: Who on Earth is La La by Ellie Campbell | Chick Lit Reviews and News

Many thanks again to Leah at Chicklit Reviews and News for featuring us on her wonderful website.

AUTHOR ARTICLE: WHO ON EARTH IS LA LA BY ELLIE CAMPBELL

What do you do when a mysterious postcard drops on your doormat mat, covered in lipstick kisses and proclaiming love to your husband? Pam Burks, co-author of the Ellie Campbell novels, How To Survive Your Sisters and When Good Friends Go Bad, hardly faltered.  Instead of screaming accusations of infidelity and threatening divorce, she used the event as inspiration for a new Ellie Campbell novel, Looking for La La.  Here she tells us how it came about.

Hi there readers,

Yes, it actually happened.  Several years ago, we were all sitting round to breakfast when this love missive to my husband of 8 years fell through the letterbox.  Lipstick kisses everywhere, ‘my dearest, darling, how I long to be in your arms again’ scrawled in big print.  It was too soppy to be funny and Valentine’s Day had long gone. OK, as mother of three school-age kids, maybe I had put on a few pounds, scoffing pizza and chips, and 40 was fast approaching.  Suffice it to say my ego wasn’t exactly flourishing while my husband was in his fit good-looking glory.  Being programme director of a Leisure Centre, he was eternally surrounded by women – colleagues, clients, super-buff female trainers.  Besides his managerial role, he led circuit training, aerobic and other classes and yes, all those ladies thought he was hot, so I was used to him getting a lot of attention.  I absolutely trusted him though so at first I just ribbed him about his secret admirer…  But then I got to thinking…

No, I didn’t stab him with the bread knife.  When Lorraine and I needed an idea for our third Ellie Campbell novel we decided the postcard/secret admirer was too brilliant to waste, although from the first chapter on the heroine gets up to all sorts of high jinks and capers that fortunately bear no resemblance to real life.  Looking For La La tells the story of Cathy Rogers, a disorganised thirty-something, loathe-to-get-back-in-the-workforce mother whose somewhat dull life suffers total upheaval when she decides to investigate the mystery behind these postcards. The novel takes a humorous look on the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood, but as in our other novels we manage to slide in some serious issues too – like trust, the power struggle between husbands and wives, the dangers of a gorgeous male admirer to a woman feeling unappreciated, and the crucial importance of having a lot of girlfriends who like to share a glass (or five) of wine.  Oh yes, and let’s not forget the stalker and the murderer too.  We had so much fun writing this one and I am thrilled that it has just come out as an e-book and is available in paperback through Amazon.

And the mysterious La La? (Yes, that was the name she used.) I still don’t know if the postcards were meant to stir up trouble or intended as a joke – and my husband insists he has no idea who sent them.  But we’re still happily married and if Looking For La La turns into a bestseller, I’ll have to thank the anonymous sender – if she ever confesses.  La La, are you out there?

via Author Article: Who on Earth is La La by Ellie Campbell | Chick Lit Reviews and News.

Novelicious Chats To…Ellie Campbell – Novelicious.com | The Women's Fiction and Chick Lit Blog

Our thanks to Kirsty Greenwood at the wonderful Novelicious site for featuring Ellie Campbell and Looking For La La today.

Novelicious Chats To…Ellie Campbell  

Lorraine_Campbellw

Ellie Campbell is the pseudonym of sisters, Lorraine Campbell and Pam Burks. Today they chat to Novelicious about their writing and their new book, Looking For La La.

Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?

Pam: On my best days, after I’ve shoo-ed everyone out the house, husband, teenage kids, girlfriends of said teenagers, I’ll walk my dog around the park, read over yesterday’s chapters and make notes on my Kindle. Exercise definitely helps me think. When I get back I’m buzzing, full of ideas and raring to go. I feed the dog, grab tea, toast, race up to my attic and jump onto the PC. I work usually till about 3 pm, often not stopping for lunch. Saying that, I’m easily distracted and one phone call can put me back a couple of hours. Not that I’m gabbing. My phone always seems to be in another room, and it’s usually just some salesperson telling me I haven’t claimed on insurance policies. But as I trudge back upstairs, I always see things need doing – washing littered on floors, endless cleaning, interesting newspaper articles… By 3pm on a good or bad day, whatever, I’m usually done and that’s when I email all my stuff, handing over the reins to Lorraine who has fed and mucked out her horses and hopefully is ready to start work.

When you are writing, do you use any famous people or people you know as inspiration?

Lorraine: I’ve tried gazing at photos of gorgeous guys hoping their smouldering sex appeal will seep out onto the page (or at least into my dreams) but somehow our heroes always seem considerably less ‘male model’ and more down to earth. In How To Survive Your Sisters, we definitely based the mother Peggy on our own mother (no longer alive) who was so unique and funny that we could have written the entire novel about her alone. Otherwise I think it’s more observations about people in general that sneak in, perhaps a characteristic or a mannerism you’ve observed. I have noticed though that friends are quick to look for themselves in our books and quite often claim to be so-and-so when in fact our inspiration was quite different. Or they want to know when we’re going to write a novel based on them.

Pam: Never – I value our friendships too much.

What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?

Pam:  Compromising Position – Susan Isaacs. I loved that book. I loved the film of the book. I have it by my bed always. I had to buy a second copy because the first copy was so dog-eared. It’s Susan’s easy humour and realistic situations – the feeling these events could happen to anybody even though not many of us would actually set out to hunt down a murderer.

Lorraine: Oh god, too many. Pride and Prejudice – cliché, cliché – had it all… humor, misunderstandings, terrific love story, you could say it was the original Chick Lit success or the seed from which all Chick Lit sprung. I love Bridget Jones, Devil Wears Prada, Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, the Accidental Tourist by Anne Tyler – all for the same reasons: great characters, wonderful storytelling and sharp observations about life.

What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?

Lorraine: Because Pam and I are always sending versions back and forth, there are so many drafts for each novel that it’s amazing I still have memory left on my computer. It’s essential for us to have a plan – at least a basic outline and characters – because there are two of us writing together. We’ll discuss a chapter, one of us will write it and then as the book progresses everything is open to change. Often we’ll get an insight into a character or think up a plot twist that transforms the whole story. While writing When Good Friends Go Bad we struggled a bit with the husband character until we decided to make him ten years younger than the heroine. Well, that added a whole new level of complexity and insecurity to their relationship and made their misunderstandings and impending divorce much more believable and poignant.

What was your journey to being a published author?

Pam: I used to love reading short stories, especially ones that Lorraine wrote (plug), no really. And I loved writing at school. English being my favourite subject. I began by joining creative writing classes in my late 20’s. Anyone, anywhere, libraries, WEA centres, college evening courses. I loved it, all the different teachers, the different exercises they made us do. I undertook a sitcom writing course at the City Lit in Islington which was fascinating and fun, as well as an escape from family life – I had young children at the time. I began with poems, then short stories (which Lorraine – who worked in publishing – was also selling at that time). I was thrilled when my first story was published in a weekly women’s magazine. From then on, I used to write like crazy when the children were at nursery or school. Having that free two hours used to really focus my mind. I knew that when the children came home, that was it. I carried on writing short stories while the children were young, to Chat, Take a Break, Woman’s Weekly, Woman, etc. Only later did I turn to novel writing.

What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?

Pam: That it’s easy. That you can publish one book and then you’ve got it made. That once you’ve been published, you will be “rich beyond your wildest dreams”.

Lorraine: There is also this fantasy that it’s some kind of glorious process, that inspiration hits and then you just pour it out on paper and that if you’re not feeling it on one particularly day, well then you’re lollygaggling around, lunching with friends, watching reality TV, until a mythical time that the muse returns. Whereas sometimes inspiration does strike and it is glorious but those moments usually come because you’ve developed a routine of sitting at the computer, cursing the blank screen and slogging away despite know that what you’re churning out is fit only for the trash.

What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?

Pam: Not to talk about it. Don’t discuss ideas with people. Don’t procrastinate. Just do it. Get over to your computer, get all distractions out of the way and start typing – anything. It will come. Everyone has it in them to be a novelist. I used to think, well even if my book is terrible, and no-one wants to publish it, it will be there sitting in some dusty attic somewhere for my kids to come across and they’ll know me, through my writing. 

What are you working on at the moment?

Lorraine:  We’re quite busy with promotional stuff since we just published Looking For La La and also have How To Survive Your Sisters and When Good Friends Go Bad available for the first time in the States. And there’s our fourth book Million Dollar Question which we’ve recently finished rewriting and is now with our agent. But we had so much fun with Looking For La La, especially the main character Cathy that I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a sequel in our future. She seems like the kind of person who could continually find herself in trouble muddling through another mystery. Like a younger, totally incompetent, Miss Marple.

What are your top five writing tips?

1. Write fast. Get something down however bad. Don’t keep going over and over the same chapters or first sentence. You can always throw it out or edit later but at least you’ll have made a start.

2. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You’ll have good days and bad days. If you’re having a really bad day, don’t despair. Often things percolate overnight. Take a break, get some exercise or go out for coffee with friends, and console yourself that tomorrow may be a day when everything just flows.

3. Remember that although it is sometimes said everyone has a novel in them, it isn’t necessarily a novel other people want to read. Most likely your undiluted life history isn’t as fascinating to strangers as it is to you so stretch your imagination, throw out the boring truth and reach for the unexpected.

4. Accept that rejection comes with the territory. Not everyone has the same tastes or the world would be a miserable boring place. (And obviously if they don’t like your book, they have no taste at all).

5. Don’t lose touch with the real world. Sometimes the worst thing a writer can do is give up her job and end up cocooned in her study, blocked by lack of social stimulation and financial stress. Likewise there are probably many talented people who absconded to the Greek Islands to pursue their writing dream and never wrote another word. Of course, they’re happy, drinking ouzo and working on their windsurfing but really – what a literary loss!

Thanks guys!

via Novelicious Chats To…Ellie Campbell – Novelicious.com | The Women’s Fiction and Chick Lit Blog.

Once Upon A Time — An eclectic book blog with a particular love for fantasy, paranormal and chick lit

Hannah at the wonderful blog Once Upon A Time was nice enough to feature us as guest authors on her blog so I am reposting our feature piece here. If you want to read the whole thing, go to

Once Upon A Time — An eclectic book blog with a particular love for fantasy, paranormal and chick lit.

[Guest] Looking For La La

Tuesday 2nd April, 2013 by Hannah

Right before I decided to stop accepting guest content, I had a lovely application for a fun feature from the Campbell sisters which I was more than happy to accept as my final piece of guest content for a while. Looking For La-La sounds like such a fun and slightly whacky chick lit with a mystery and a hunk of humour. Here is Lorraine to tell you a little about the inspiration for Looking For La-La.

Malicious Joke or Unexpected Inspiration?

From Lorraine Campbell (one half of the sister writing team, Ellie Campbell)

We’ll always deny it.  No one wants to lose their friends or stop the gossip flow but all writers are thieves.  Call us literary kleptomaniacs – we can’t walk into a room without wondering what we can steal.  Perhaps our latest hero should have that violin case carelessly slung in the corner and his aunt possess the Lalique vase and that interesting mannerism of repeating everything twice?   With luck, the victims will never know they’ve been robbed and the critics will rave about keen observational skills.  But sometimes it’s not so subtle.

In my twenties, as a novice short story writer, I used every ill-fated romance, every moment of angst with little attempt to disguise the guilty. Naturally I altered events so that I  (uh, my totally fictional main character) won the day with my (I mean, her) foolish unworthy lover begging to come back or discovering he’s been replaced by someone much much better – IN EVERY WAY, ASSHOLE.  (What can I say – it was cheaper than therapy!)

But occasionally life hands you an unintended gift that’s too good NOT to use.  Like the postcards which arrived at the door of my sister and writer-partner, Pam Burks, proclaiming love for Pam’s husband and implying they were having an affair. (OK, perhaps only a writer would see that as a blessing).  Fast-forward a few years and here’s the opening to Looking For La La, our latest Ellie Campbell novel.

“Not a sound is heard as it lands silently on the mat. No drums rolls, crashing thunder, shafts of light. The walls don’t start crumbling, the ground doesn’t vibrate with terrifying tremors and a yawning fissure fails to zigzag across the kitchen floor and separate my husband from his breakfast marmalade.

In short, I’ve no clue as to the impact it’ll have on our lives. Mayhem. Marital breakdown. Murder. It should at least have been written in blood or come in the beak of a dark-winged raven.

It is a postcard. “Love from London” blazoned above a giant pair of pouting lips kissing a cherry-red heart.

At first sight it appears to be one of those “Please Come to Our Rave” flyers which get thrust through my door periodically. Now the chances of me, a world-weary, put-upon mother-of-two, going to a rave are slim to none, but heck it’s nice to be invited.

I turn it over.

Dearest, sweetest Declan’ – it begins. My eyes widen as I take in the blue spidery handwriting and race to the signature. ‘Love from La La.’”

So, OK, yes, we’re busted. This time we did borrow directly from real life.  But as  neither Pam nor I know the identity of the mysterious La La, we don’t feel all that guilty.  Besides it’s a safe bet that her motives in sending the cards were probably not to promote marital bliss.  Luckily Pam knows her husband too well to ever believe they were anything but a bad or malicious joke.  But we had a lot of fun imagining how events might have transpired if our heroine Cathy was just a little more crazed, if someone were truly lusting after Declan, and if there were a person who wished Cathy ill – perhaps even a murderer – lurking in the neighborhood.  Beyond that opening, however, you can rest assured everything came from the bottomless depths of our unbounded imaginations.  Except the Lalique vase.  And the hero’s violin case.

Looking For La La by Ellie Campbell is available from Amazon for Kindle or Print.

In a recent survey 65% of mothers admitted feeling undervalued, over-criticised and constantly tired.

Cathy is no exception. Her dull, uneventful days as a stay at home, mother of two, are radically transformed however with the arrival of a heavily lipsticked postcard addressed to husband, Declan. Who is the mysterious La La? Could Declan really be having an affair? And is Cathy actually being stalked?

Whatever – it will definitely prove riveting gossip for the Tuesday Twice Monthlies, Cathy’s ‘Mothers Restaurant Research’ group where scandal flows as recklessly as the wine. But what starts as a light-hearted investigation with best friend Raz, soon turns into something much more sinister.

With a possible murderer on the scene, a sexy admirer igniting long-forgotten sparks, and all her friends hiding secrets, it’s not only Cathy’s marriage that’s in jeopardy. Add in the scheming antics of Declan’s new assistant, the stress of organising the school Save The Toilet’s dance and the stage is set for a dangerous showdown and some very unsettling, possibly deadly, revelations.’

via Once Upon A Time — An eclectic book blog with a particular love for fantasy, paranormal and chick lit.

Again, you can see the whole thing on Hannah’s blog.  Where, I have to say, it looks a lot better than on this one.  And don’t forget to enter our Book Giveaway through the link on the top right side of this page.