Winter Giveaway!

giveaway-facebook-postIf you follow me on social media, then you’ll know I’ve been writing A LOT of books set at Christmas and New Year lately. You might even say it’s become something of a niche for me!

And since we’re heading into the most wonderful time of the year, I thought I’d host a competition to give away signed copies of some of my most fabulously festive stories!

All you need to do to enter is sign up to the Sophie Pembroke newsletter, by clicking the Enter Now link below – super easy. I’ll be announcing the winner through the newsletter on December 7th, so get your name down now to be in with a chance to win.

Good luck!

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A Happy/Sad Day

It’s a day of mixed emotions here at Pembroke cottage. On the one hand, it’s release day for Christmas at Rosewood, and I’m so excited!

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When I originally wrote The Last Days of Summer, many moons ago, the story was split into two parts – one set in the summer, one the following Christmas. While bringing all the action together into the summer made for a better book, it did mean I had to say goodbye to all my wintery, festive Rosewood scenes. So I was delighted to be able to revisit Rosewood for Christmas in this novella.

The Last Days of Summer was dedicated to my mother’s parents, so it felt only right that this one be dedicated to my father’s parents.

The dedication reads:

For my Gran, Lesley Kathleen Stella Cannon

and in memory of my Grandpa, William Charles Cannon

with so much Christmas love xxx

Sadly, my wonderful Gran passed away a few days ago, just before the book was published, making today feel a little bittersweet. But just like Grandpa’s orange fishing jumper appeared in the first book as a key part of Nathaniel’s wardrobe, Gran lives on in my books. Isabelle’s elegance and perfect hostess abilities, Therese’s talent for putting together the perfect outfit for any occasion – that’s all Gran.

When we were small, my brothers, cousins and I all thought that Gran was a bit like the Queen, only slightly posher. Regal, immaculate, imperious and with a encyclopaedic knowledge of etiquette. And even in her last months, she was always the perfect hostess – she couldn’t help but ask if you needed a cup of tea, or some cake.

We’ll all miss Gran tremendously this Christmas, and every other day. But my Aunt told me a story that helped to ease the pain a little. When Gran used to visit her out in Australia, my Aunt would always be very sad when she had to put her back on the plane to go home again. So she’d call Grandpa, who would say, “I need her too.”

Grandpa has waited a long time to have her home with him again. It makes me smile to think that they’ll be together this Christmas, at last.

Gran, with my Aunt

Gran, with my Aunt

Gran

Gran

Here’s what it’s all about:

christmas-at-rosewoodAll Freya Hollis wants to do is hide from the world, instead she’s spending Christmas Eve driving her son and nagging mother through the snowy countryside to spend the holidays at Rosewood, with her brother’s new family.

Already nervous about trying to merge two family traditions together, Freya is shocked to find out that Rosewood has an extra guest for Christmas…Aiden, her brother’s best friend and the – almost – love of her life.

She’s never told anyone about the Christmas they spent together and has no intention of dredging it up now! Except Rosewood has a way of drawing out even your most buried secrets and Freya might discover that this ghost from Christmas past could just be a part of her future…

And here’s where to buy it!

Amazon UK

Amazon US

A Visit to the Village

As of this time yesterday, the husband and I have been married for ten whole years.

To celebrate, we took advantage of my parents’ offer of thirty hours of free childcare last week and absconded to Portmeirion for the night.

For those unfamiliar with North Wales’ only Italianate village, it looks a bit like this:

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Built by architect Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion is the ultimate folly, and quite unlike anywhere else in the world. It is also the setting for the cult 1960s TV series, The Prisoner, which the husband made me watch all of while I was pregnant, and thus unable to rely on wine to help make sense of the weird twists and turns of the plot.

(Wikipedia summary: The series follows a British former secret agent who is abducted and held prisoner in a mysterious coastal village resort, where his captors try to find out why he abruptly resigned from his job. This does not, I feel, even begin to cover the general surreality of the whole experience. The Wild West episode, for instance, is a particular low point.)

The husband is a big fan, though, and since he’s always wanted to stay in The Village (as it’s called in the show) I thought I’d treat him for our anniversary. (The fact that I love it there and it has a two Michelin starred restaurant and dinner included in the price was completely coincidental.)

I was a little concerned that, without the kids to fuss over and argue with, we might run out of things to talk about. It’s been a long time since we had only each other for company. (The husband, having discovered The Prisoner TV channel in our suite, had no such concerns.)

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But as it turned out, thirty hours away from the children, and from reality, in a weird Welsh village, was the perfect opportunity for us to have all the conversations you never really have time for in everyday life. The ones about the future, and hopes and dreams and plans.

We talked about the kids, of course, and how they’re both doing, and how we can support them. We talked about the house, and our plans for redecorating and, eventually, moving. We talked about ideas for next year’s family holiday, and possibilities for celebrating his upcoming milestone birthday. We talked about his job, his PhD, and the direction he wants to take his career next.

Which led, quite naturally, to him asking about my career, and where I wanted to go next with my writing.

The thing is, I’m always so grateful to be fortunate enough to have the career I always dreamed of, I sometimes forget to think about the next step. I spent so long trying to get to where I am – a published author – that I never really considered what would come next.

When Number 6, the Prisoner himself, first woke up in the Village, he had only one objective – escape. But soon it became clear that escape alone wasn’t enough for him. He needed to know why he was there, who had taken him, where the Village was, and who ran it.

There’s always a next step.

In my case, I think it’s taking a moment, in between all my contracted projects, to dream a little. To imagine that road I’ve only walked halfway along, consider the signposts, and speculate about what might be around the next bend – then figure out how to get there.

I’m not escaping – I’m going deeper and further into a world I love. And I’m excited to find out what’s waiting for me there.

 

Happy Claude-mas, everybody!

It may still only be October, but my second Christmas book of the year is out today!

Claude’s Christmas Adventure is the story of a big-hearted (and large stomached) French Bulldog called Claude, who is accidentally left behind by his beloved family at Christmas. While his family are battling to get back home to him, Claude sets out on his own adventure – and manages to bring the whole community together in the process.

Or, it’s sort of like Home Alone meets Mog’s Christmas Calamity. Whichever you prefer…

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The advance reviews of the book have been stunning, and I’m so grateful to everyone who took the time to read and write about Claude. Also, I want to mention that Avon Books have made the whole package absolutely gorgeous. The book is a smaller hardback, with doggy footprint end papers and beautiful snowflake detailing on the pages. I’m just in love with it! (And, I have to say, it would make a really lovely Christmas present for the readers on your list….)

I’m so proud to see Claude waddling out into the world by himself. I hope you all enjoy reading his adventures as much as I loved writing them.

 

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Meet Claude. He’s a loveable, big-eared, permanently hungry French Bulldog, who loves his humans – the McCawley family of number 11 Maple Drive to be precise.

When Daisy and Oliver McCawley start using new words like, ‘ferry’, ‘chateau’ and ‘France’, Claude realises they won’t be spending this Christmas at home. Only, when he finds himself on the street, as the family car pulls away, Claude realises he is ALONE. And more importantly, he is without all the yummy treats he knows the festive season brings…

Cue the start of Claude’s Christmas Adventure. It all begins with a belly-flop through next door’s catflap, where he finds newly single and craft-a-holic Holly, Jack the ex-army postman, his arch nemesis Perdita the cat … and serious amounts of gingerbread.

Maple Drive’s cutest resident is about to bring the street together for Christmas, in ways no-one could have imagined …

Read It Now!

Are you ready to explore Rosewood?

The Last Days of Summer CoverIt’s here at last! Release day for my first Women’s Fiction novel – The Last Days of Summer. 

I’m so excited for you all to visit Rosewood – to hear Nathaniel tell stories, take afternoon tea with Therese, and watch Saskia try to find her place in her family again.

In case you’ve missed it, head over to my The Last Days of Summer page to read the blurb, check out the reviews, meet the family and read an excerpt.

Over the next five days, you’ll also be able to read posts about some of the themes in the book, the background to the writing of it, and get your hands on some of the recipes from the Rosewood kitchen, as part of The Last Days of Summer Blog Tour.

Here’s a full list of all the stops – so check back for new posts every day over the next week!

Last Days - Blog Tour

Also, don’t forget to sign up to the Rosewood Times to make sure you’re first to hear all the latest news from Rosewood. We’ve got some great competitions and freebies coming up for you over the course of the summer!

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Sneak Peek Sunday: The Last Days of Summer

Only 11 days now until my latest book, The Last Days of Summer, is released!

I know lots of you have preordered it already, for which I am immensely grateful. But in case you can’t wait until June 9th, I thought you might enjoy a little sneak peek!

This excerpt is from Chapter 1, and starts just after Saskia walks into Rosewood again for the first time in two years, and finds her Grandmother, Isabelle, arranging flowers…

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If you’d like to know more about the book, check out the Last Days of Summer page, where you’ll find the blurb, pre-order links, a cast of characters, reviews and more!


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An Invitation to Rosewood

Come one, come all, and join us at Rosewood – home of literary legend, Nathaniel Drury, and his family.

Rosewood invite - plain

Amazingly, there’s only two weeks left until my new book, The Last Days of Summer, hits the virtual shelves on June 9th. (It’s up for pre-order right now pretty much everywhere.)

As we get closer to release day, I thought it might be fun to share some more details about the book, and give you a few behind the scenes glimpses to ease you into the world of Rosewood.

The Last Days of Summer CoverSo, what’s the book about? Well, it’s a grown up coming of age story about Saskia Ryan, granddaughter of celebrated novelist Nathaniel Drury. She returns home to Rosewood to face her family after two years in exile, unsure as to whether the secret that drove her away is out yet. She expects to be in and out in a weekend – just long enough to get through her Grandparents’ Golden Wedding Anniversary party. But that’s before she meets Nathaniel’s new assistant, before Nathaniel makes his big announcement, and before she realises that she’s not the only member of her family keeping secrets…

If you’d like to meet the cast of characters from the book, check out the brilliant poster my publisher, Carina UK, put together for me. And if you’d like to read about how this book came to be published, twelve long years after I first had the idea, take a look at this post I wrote earlier in the month for the Carina UK site. And if you’d like to pre-order the book, well, I’d be immensely grateful!

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I’ll be back on Sunday with a sneak peek extract of the book. Until then, enjoy finding out all about Rosewood!


To make sure you don’t miss any of the latest news from Rosewood, sign up today for the Sophie Pembroke newsletter!

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from here to paternity (leave)

From Here To Paternity (Leave, and Slight Return) – Week 4

Catch up on Week 1Week 2 and Week 3

Hello, Mr S. Pembroke here. Husband, Scientist, and now short-term stay-at-home Dad.

It’s now been a full 5 weeks since my feet last graced the stained and pock-marked floor of an industrial laboratory, and I have very mixed feelings about returning. Mrs Pembroke has asked me to put my thoughts on the last month into some sort of order. She would normally be the first to testify that I’m not noted for my organisation, but for the blog of a literary creator who keeps our home ticking, I will try.

Continue reading

from here to paternity (leave)

From Here To Paternity (Leave) – Week 2

Catch up on Week 1.

We’re now two weeks into to the Month Long Life Swap – where I disappear into my study at 8am saying ‘I’m off to work now, darling!’ and the husband waves distractedly from behind a screaming baby while also trying to put the daughter’s hair up for school.

Actually, the main thing we’ve discovered is that life is a whole lot easier when the breadwinner is winning that bread in a room just off the main house, and can be flexible enough about their schedule to pop out and lend a helping hand with child-related emergencies. Such as the nappy that exploded all over everything, or the baby that finally fell asleep five minutes before the school run and will not cope well with being woken up. “Just leave me the monitor,” I can say, cheerful in the knowledge that he probably won’t wake up before the husband and daughter are back anyway.

Flexibility is a life saver when you have kids.

Still, I am having to be fairly strict about my own habits. Since becoming a full time writer I’ve only worked school hours – except for Wednesdays, when I have a full, glorious nine hours to write. Still, adjusting to an 8-6 schedule, five days a week, has been a bit of a jolt. I’m amazed at how much I can get done – but also how easily time can slip away while I get distracted by something that feels like work but isn’t actually a priority. Fortunately, I spent a chunk of time last month refining my November Action List in preparation, so it’s fairly easy to spot when I get off track.

So I’m ploughing through the list, popping out for cuddles periodically, and enjoying the opportunity to have lunch with my husband some days. Well, sort of with. We generally have to eat in shifts while one of us holds the baby…

Anyway, here are the highlights of Week 2! Continue reading