Tag Archives: mummy-lit

JeanzBookReadNReview: PROMOTIONAL POST – LOOKING FOR LA LA & TO CATCH A CREEPER BY ELLIE CAMPBELL

INTERVIEW WITH ELLIE CAMPBELL

AKA

PAM BURKS & LORRAINE CAMPBELL

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?

Our names are Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell, sisters writing together as Ellie Campbell.  We were both born in Inverness, Scotland, although the family moved to Edinburgh and then when we were teens to the south of England.  These days Pam lives in Surrey, just outside London and Lorraine lives in Longmont, just outside Boulder, Colorado.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?

On one level, yes, it was always there in that we both loved reading, writing, creating fantasy worlds.  But it never felt like a real option.  Growing up, Pam wanted to be a farmer or work with horses and Lorraine wanted to be an explorer, or a sailor or a cowboy.  Something adventurous.  Of course we both ended up doing clerical and secretarial work on leaving school.  We loved books but ‘authors’ were people who studied great literature and we just weren’t that academic.

When did you first consider yourself as a “writer”?

Probably, for each of us, when we’d had several short stories published and magazine editors were contacting us, asking for more work.  We were writing separately in those days.

Did it take a long time to get your first book published?

We’d been writing shorter things for years before we even attempted a novel.  How To Survive Your Sisters was the first book that we started to work on together from scratch.  We had an agent by then and once our agent sent it to Random House, things seemed to happen quickly.  But we both have at least one unpublished manuscript on our shelves so we definitely paid our dues.

How does the writing process work with two authors?

Well there are compromises of course but it’s actually great to have the support and encouragement of another person and we fire each other’s imaginations. We brainstorm by phone, email and Skype, throwing out ideas and then, when we’ve hashed out a basic story, we each pick a character or chapter, start writing scenes and send them to each other.  We both add our input to every page and chapter so that by the end we can’t really separate who wrote what.

Do you ever disagree on the direction of a character or the plot?

Yes, sometimes – rarely – we get quite snappy with each other, especially if someone has spent ages on writing something and the other decides it should all go a different way.  Luckily it doesn’t happen very often and it does help that we live thousands of miles apart.  Usually we just need time to cool off and think about what’s best for the book.  That’s really our main objective – since we’re both working towards a common goal, we make it about the work rather than about our egos.

If there’s a disagreement, say about plot, title, cover, etc how do you solve it?

We keep brainstorming until we come to a solution we both like, especially with something as important as titles.  As far as plot, if one has an idea that the other really detests, then it’s out.  It’d be pointless to try to force the case.  Having said that though, partnership involves compromise.  If we really can’t agree then one of us may have to concede in order to move the whole thing forward.  Usually we’re not that stubborn.

Do you market the book any differently with it having two authors?

Not really, apart from the photos on our author pages and social media accounts are of two people.   Really it’s the books that are talking. Hopefully it’s far more interesting than Lorraine and I could ever be.

Do you write alone as a sole author of a book too? If so which do you enjoy most?

We have written alone in the past, both novels and short stories.  I think with short stories, it’s preferable to do it alone, especially if there’s a tight word count.  But even when we work solo, we tend to give each other pieces of advice, and hopefully we both listen.

Do you get together in the same room to do the writing or is it all done via computers?

Living the other side of the world from each other, it’s hard to be in the same room. Our time zones are about 8 hours’ difference, so that complicates even Skype calls. On the rare occasions, when we visit each other on holidays, we always imagine we might get some writing done, but it’s never worked out. When we meet up in person, it’s just too easy to go off and have fun instead.

AUTHOR LINKS

Website: http://chicklitsisters.com

Facebook: Ellie Campbell Books

Twitter:  @ecampbellbooks

Goodreads:  https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1710882.Ellie_Campbell

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/ecampbellbooks

via JeanzBookReadNReview: PROMOTIONAL POST – LOOKING FOR LA LA & TO CATCH A CREEPER BY ELLIE CAMPBELL.

Rabid Readers Reviews: “Looking for La La” by Ellie Campbell

A great review post from Rabid Readers.  Thank you again!

When Cathy O’Farrell’s husband, Declan, receives a saucy postcard from the mysterious La La, Cathy is thrilled. Not seriously suspecting that her husband is having an affair, Cathy and her friend Raz start an investigation aided in part by the Tuesday Twice Monthly’s, a tight-knit group of local moms. Soon the notes turn sinister and Cathy notices a red estate car following her.  Is this mystery perhaps more than she bargained for?

“Ellie Campbell” is the pseudonym of sisters Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell. Looking for La La is their third novel as a writing team.

I received a copy of this novel from the authors in exchange for my review.

Looking for La La was inspired when Pam Burks’ husband received postcards from a mystery admirer and the story that built is astounding.  I certainly hope that poor Pam did not travel Cathy’s path to find the culprit. Campbell’s writing style is seamless with humor reminiscent of “Shirley Valentine.” Cathy is a very real character, warts and all. She is a stay at home mom who feels undervalued and a prisoner in her role, one who is desperately afraid to leave her jail. Her children are in school and she spends the days chasing after something she’s not quite reaching. Cathy fears Declan’s inevitable discussions of a return to work but sees herself as his employee at home rather than his wife. Cathy’s last job interview before pregnancy and marriage to Declan was with the company for which her future husband worked. The interview went horribly and she ran out followed by her would be employer and future husband not to return to the work force again. She reminds at the start of the novel a lot of a woman I once knew who grew tired of going to school and didn’t want to work so decided to get married. It didn’t work well as a plan for the woman I know and it doesn’t seem to work so well for harmony in Cathy’s home.

There are a lot of catty women in Looking for La La and while I’m not usually a fan of catty women as they always seem to be written as evil without purpose, the women in this story are very real. Not everyone in a group of friends will like each other and they’ll be civil when with the key person in order to jockey for preferred friend position but civil doesn’t mean nice. Raz is being pulled by two worlds. On the one hand she has her professional friend and on the other Cathy. Neither Cathy or the other woman like each other and their byplay is hilarious. The conflicts with each other made these women simply a lot of fun to read. Despite the extensive cast of characters, we get to know the people with whom Cathy associates and others as she gets to know them.

Campbell infuses a sub-plot of mystery in a beloved teacher is struck down in a hit and run accident. There are little mentions in the story-line of her until her ultimate demise and the tie-in, when it comes, is inspired. I did not in any way see the ending coming.

Campbell’s writing style reflects Cathy character perfectly. In flashbacks we see “Old Cathy.” This is a woman who finds grocery lists in shopping carts and purchases items on them to “expand her diet.” She may think she’s changed into a more composed and matronly sort of woman but as we follow her on madcap adventures, Cathy proves to be the free spirit and somewhat airy person she was when she and Declan met. Scattered, neurotic, and loveable. Those of us who are working moms may roll our eyes at Cathy’s insistence on not working and feeling of betrayal when her fellow moms go back to work but there is an undercurrent that shows that not even Cathy believes her own arguments as to why she couldn’t work. As Cathy develops as a character so does our understanding that she doesn’t always quite mean what she says.

I didn’t want to like Cathy when I first met the character. Over the course of the novel which was really she gets the postcard, embarks on the investigation and her daily life, I grew to find her enchanting. She was warm and funny. One of her friends tells her that another friend said that she looks like a mature Eva Mendes and Cathy is flattered for a while but then wonders how mature the person thought she looked. The subsequent conversation with the friend was side splittingly funny. Cathy could have used a headslap a time or two but who couldn’t? Looking for La La is a wonderfully funny chick-lit read.

Readers will want to take note of the wonderful cover which truly conveys the story within. The plotline and smooth flow are perfect for reading by the pool or on the beach. If you like British humor and quirky characters, you will love Looking for La La.

via “Looking for La La” by Ellie Campbell.

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.

WiLoveBooks – Author Interview: Ellie Campbell

Thank you to our 10,000 new readers who downloaded Looking For La La this weekend. And thank you to Wilovebooks for this fun interview.

It is two-for-one interview day! I am pleased to welcome to the blog Pam Burks and Lorraine Campbell, the sisters behind the writing team of “Ellie Campbell.” They are the authors of How To Survive Your Sisters, When Good Friends Go Bad, and Looking for La La. Be sure to stop back on Thursday for more from this duo as they fill us in on the story that inspired Looking for La La  and share ten things they’ve learned from being a writer.

Q&A with Pam and Lorraine:

Describe your ideal writing space. How does it compare to reality?

Pam: Not that different in actual fact. My reality is an attic, with a window looking out onto fields and trees and the beautiful Surrey countryside. It is quiet and peaceful. I have a convector heater, which keeps the temperature just right. I have lots of windows. It is as I would like it, although ideally I would have a toilet on the same floor. And Lorraine would be sitting behind me, rather than asleep the other side of the world, to answer questions and prompt me when I get stuck. Also she could bring me up cups of tea and cake whenever I desired. And clean the house from top to bottom while my fingers flew across the keyboard.

Lorraine: Hah, fat chance on the sister as slave idea. My dream is a log cabin on the Californian coast, Big Sur, maybe, nestled in the pines but with a view of the cliffs and crashing surf (you did say fantasy, didn’t you?) It would be a beautiful organized space where I could look out the window and see my horses. Everything would be filed, no item marring the immaculate surface of clutter-free desk. The reality is that my office is so messy I can’t stand to go in there so I sit in the family room working at this little restaurant-style booth. It’s got so bad that last night I woke up at 2 a.m. and started tidying. I went to bed again at 4.30 a.m. This year though I’m going to wrestle it under control.

What is the first story you remember writing and what was it about?

Pam: It was about the second world war. My history teacher (a supply teacher by the way) had engaged us in such a way that by the end of his lesson, I couldn’t wait to put pen to paper and do the homework he had requested. It was to be about hiding and dark space. I went home and wrote and wrote. Totally immersed in my tale of the German soldiers walking around, while I was under some trap door. My poor mother injured at my side. I remember writing about their heavy jackboots clomping around.

The next history lesson, the supply teacher was still there and he stood up and read my story aloud. Everyone was silent. I was kind of appalled, amazed, and just really surprised as I began blushing and looking for a place to my hide myself “This story,” he said solemnly, as he came to an end, “Was written by someone in this class” and he read my name out. The class all started clapping, I blushed again and again. But it was at that moment, that I thought, I know what I want to do when I “grow up”.

Lorraine: I can’t compete with that. (I don’t think I did much homework.) Although when I was about five my teacher read aloud a story I wrote about being an elephant in the zoo and I thought she was mocking me, I wanted to hide under the desk. I was pushed into writing my first short story when working for Carol Smith, now a bestselling author but then a very successful literary agent. She always prodded me to write but I was too intimidated and shy about it. It wasn’t until a new secretary was hired and immediately started churning out stories like a fiend that my competitive streak kicked in – or rather the knowledge that cowardice was holding me back. I can’t remember the plot but I sold it to Woman magazine.

sisters kids

Name a memorable book from your childhood. Why is it memorable?

Pam: I loved the Enid Blyton novels, especially the Famous Five adventures, always capturing bands of smugglers or robbers, or chowing down on luscious picnics and lashings of ginger beer. They’re what really got me reading. Then I started to like non-fiction while still very young. I’d ask Mum if the story was true when we picked out library books. If she said no, I wouldn’t borrow it.

Lorraine: My favorite books were probably ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’ and also ‘The Hobbit.’ Fantasy worlds, magic – I could escape into them for hours. In my mind I was there, skilfully sword-fighting, using my bravery and cunning against the evil villains. Oh, and there were horse books too. I particularly loved The Punchbowl Farm series and Romney Marsh series by Monica Edwards, I still have most of them. I wanted to live there at Punchbowl Farm and be friends with all those children.

If you could ask any writer (living or dead) a question, who would it be and what would you ask?

Lorraine: I’d ask Bill Bryson – ‘Notes From A Small Planet,’ ‘A Walk In The Woods’, – if he’d take me on his next trip. The man has such wit and observational skills. I think his books are hilarious. I think he’d be the perfect travel companion, especially if you were some place remote and far from civilisation where you could really use a sense of humour and an appreciation of the bizarre.

Pam: I’d ask Frances Mayes who wrote ‘Under The Tuscan Sun’ if she could recommend any cool 16th century rental villas in her village. Preferably with a private lake and a pool. Then I’d hunker in with the family, eating amazing Italian food, taking leisurely bike rides, and drinking gallons of Chianti – now that would be bliss.

If you could pick any of the worlds or characters you have created, which would you want to visit or spend a day with?

Pam: Cathy, the heroine in ‘Looking For La La’. I’d actually like to go down the pub with her, or out for a meal and just chat about life and men, and the woes of women. I’ve a feeling we’d have a lot in common. Particularly discussing postcards.

Lorraine: I’d probably say Cathy too although Hazel in ‘How To Survive Your Sisters’ would be a laugh and we could try and one-up each other with our backpacking stories. Actually I’d like to spend an evening with the Tuesday Twice Monthlies, Cathy’s ‘Mothers Restaurant Research Group’, singing karaoke at Tropicos. Especially if yummy Rupert were there. But since I’m not a mother, I’d have to be included as an honorary guest.

What is one thing you like to do when you are not reading or writing?

Pam: Digging around in my allotment, making paths, planting seeds, collecting manure and making it look good. I share it with my friend, Sheila, and we are always escaping whenever the sun comes out. Men have their sheds but I have my allotment.

Lorraine: I am volunteering at a couple of horse rescues helping to train these often-abused horses and getting them to trust humans after a painful past. I love it but I also enjoy riding my own three horses. There is nothing better than heading out into the Rocky Mountains on a beautiful Colorado day. You never know what you’ll encounter – elk, deer, coyotes, bear, mountain lions… well, actually I’d rather not meet the lions but they are out there. I actually saw two from the bedroom window of my cabin – not a sight you easily forget.

What are you currently working on?

Pam: We’ve just finished our fourth novel, Million Dollar Question, which is about two women, one in England, one in America, whose lives are overturned on the same fateful day, one winning a million pounds, the other losing everything. It’s about how each copes with their respective success and failure. And the things that link them together. It’s currently with our agent, Caroline Hardman at Hardman Swainson.

Lorraine: Also, since we’ve only just published Looking For La La , we’re putting a lot of energy on promoting what we think is one of our most fun books yet. We even created our own website and blog – chicklitsisters.com – because we didn’t care for the one we had before. As for a fifth Ellie Campbell novel – it’s really only a fledgling, far too young to expose. But perhaps there’ll be a sequel to La La one day. Cathy is such a great character and we love the combination of humour and mystery. We try to include both in all our books.

via WiLoveBooks.

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.