Monday, August 12, 2013

A Week with Harper Impulse!

I'm so excited because today starts a week-long series of blog posts featuring some of my most favorite authors in the world -- yes, the world. I've been fortunate enough to schedule in the amazing talents of the Harper Collins UK Impulse line, and am thrilled to share with all of you what are sure to be books that will top the charts in the coming year!

First up is Wendy Lou Jones, author extraordinaire who brought with her today a lovely post and a sneak peek inside her latest release, The Songbird and the Soldier. Here's a little more about Wendy Lou and her journey to publication! (Note from AJ:  You absolutely must...must, must, MUST read the except below. You must. It's brilliant and heart-wrenching and completely beautiful. I'm heading to Amazon to purchase this book right NOW! Go read it. Have a tissue handy.)

Breaking the Mould – by Wendy Lou Jones
My back was hurting, so I had spent the night in the spare room on the comfy mattress. Waking early, alone, from a vivid dream, I lay there fidgeting, trying to get comfortable and started thinking… What would have happened in the dream if I hadn’t have woken up right then? What must have happened to get the girl there in the first place? And these thoughts began to consume me, plaguing me while I was making tea, while I was driving into town, anywhen my mind wasn’t occupied. In the end I started writing it all down. I wrote until gone midnight almost every night for 6 months.

The story never got published and probably quite rightly so. Still, by then I had got the bug. Having grown up barely reading at all, my urge to write was a little unexpected. I’m a film girl really, or used to be. The arrival of the Kindle has changed all that. I have probably read more in the last six months than in the first 40 years of my life. In fact when I got an A in O-level English Lit., my teacher almost fell off her perch! “How did YOU get an A?” I think were her exact words.
This year I got lucky. I was obviously in the right place at the right time. After 5 years of nondescript rejections I decided to bite the bullet and send my manuscript in to an editor, because how do you know if you’re moments away from stardom, or completely wasting your time unless you try? I found Jefferson Franklin in the Writing Magazine and they said they’d check my first chapter for free, so I sent it in and waited with baited breath. When the reply came in, I found a constructive appraisal telling me what my good and bad points were and what I needed to do to improve. I bought books on my weaker points, read them cover to cover and rejigged my MS before sending it all back in.
Unbelievably, my editor loved it and his kind words gave me the confidence to get myself out there. I sent out to agents with no luck and so in the end I self-published, something I never thought I’d do. A month later Harper Impulse put out a call for submissions and without expectation I sent mine in… and here I am!

The Songbird and the Soldier is a tale of love across the miles, a journey of the heart between a woman and a soldier serving in Afghanistan and the trials of doubt and uncertainty, rival loves and deception that mould their lives through the toughest of times.
Sometimes it’s when you least expect it, that something wonderful happens, but for Andy Garrington the timing couldn’t have been worse. Being sent halfway round the world to Afghanistan, Andy is prepared for a fight, but what he doesn’t expect is the most important battle of his life to carry on at home.
For Samantha Litton, running into her childhood crush at the pub one evening seems like good fortune. But when he is called away to war and she is left behind, things don’t seem quite so clear and Sam has to determine who is telling her the truth and who is playing her for a fool, when all seems fair in love and war.
Sam read Andy’s next letter and blushed.  She had never intended to be provocative.  It had been an honest mistake.  Well, not a mistake, but she had never even thought how her words might make him feel.  ‘Beautiful woman’ he had said.  Her?  He was picturing her.  Sam’s stomach clenched.  What was this she was feeling?  She looked at the photo smiling at her from the back of her desk.  But there was Dean.  So how should she reply?
Dear Andy,

I’m not sure where the school stands on teachers carrying arms in class, but I shall certainly look into it.
Humphrey is mine.  I’ve had him about 18 months and he’s adorable.  But would he like you?  Probably not.  He’s not very good at sharing my attention, but don’t be afraid, he’s not the kind of dog to savage a man.  He might lick you to death, but apart from the odd yap, he’s completely harmless.

I bike through a beautiful park on the way to school and back every day.  The grass is very green at the moment because we have had quite a bit of rain.  The borders are full of colour and the pond is dappled, with quacking ducks.  A weeping willow hangs lazily on one side and I have to duck down under its branches on my way through.  I know I shouldn’t be riding through the park, but there’s no one around at that time of the morning, so don’t tell, okay?

What do you get up to in your time off?  Do you get time off?  I’m sorry; I’m a bit of an idiot when it comes to knowing anything about the army.

It got up to 22 degrees over here today.  How hot is it with you?

I’ve got parents’ evenings coming up this week - ugh! - So long days and lots of work for me.  I need my pillow.

Write soon,
Your weary schoolteacher,

PS gargoyles don’t keep pictures of themselves!  I could describe myself if that would do?

PPS Heathcliff?

Three days later a small terraced house came up for sale on the edge of town.  It was an old place, but it had been well kept and updated over the years.  It had one good-sized bedroom, a little room and a bathroom upstairs and a living room, cloakroom and kitchen downstairs.  Sam took her mum and dad along to see it, hoping for their approval and she wasn’t disappointed.  Sam had been left a large amount of money by her grandmother a few years before and had been saving as much as she could ever since to afford a place of her own.  So when the next letter arrived, she had plenty of news to tell.

Dearest Sam,

You obviously still have no idea how many times I read your letters.  Can I just say that your turn of phrase is destroying me?  How is a guy supposed to concentrate on killing all the bad guys when the words ‘lick to death’, ‘hot’ and ‘pillow’ are swimming around in his brain?  What are you trying to do to me?!  And if you think you’re going to get away without sending me a picture of you, you’ve got another thing coming.  Gargoyle, indeed!  You’re beautiful.  I have met you, remember.  If you can manage to look at a picture of my ugly mug and still put pen to paper, I’m sure I can look at you.  And no, a description will not do.  Unless it is in the style of a hot Mills and Boon novel, of course? Ahhh!  Bagpipes!  No, I couldn’t take it!!!  Nuns.  Nuns.  Okay.

I take it this is a pushbike you ride every day? You’re not a Hell’s Angel, are you?  The park sounds wonderful.  What I wouldn’t give to walk barefoot around the soft green grass in that park right now.

Yes.  In answer to your question, we do get down time.  Some guys play cards, some listen to music.  There is time to write letters and re-read old ones.  The mundane things that back home would take a matter of minutes take a lot longer out here, as everything has to be done by hand, so that fills up a bit of time too.  Guys like Spike tend to keep fit - tell your friend Kate to expect a letter very soon – and others like Karl – Chloe’s guy – just top up their tans. 

My hidden talent, it seems, lies in poker.  I’m getting pretty good, even if I do say so myself.

The weather out here is hot, with intermittent bouts of scorching sun to break-up the monotony.  It got up to balmy forty three today!  I’ll send you some over if you like.

Write soon, WITH PHOTOS!
Andy  x

PS Still no!

Sam had reached a watershed.  To go on now would be to admit there was more to this relationship than just friendship.  Friendly banter had gone and flirtation was now definitely on the table.  Was this really what she wanted?
~ * ~

The Songbird and the Soldier is available now from Amazon and other eBook sellers.
Contact Wendy at: and you can find hers and other wonderful reads at:

Stay tuned for more wonderful authors from the Harper Impulse team! Thanks for visiting!!


Carmel said...

What a lovely post. AJ I've actually read The Songbird & The Soldier. It really is such a lovely story, I enjoyed it so much. The love letters between Sam and Andy are so sweet and poignant, it's impossible not to care about what happens between them!
Love your blog, it's a lot of fun!

Unknown said...

Hi AJ,
Thank you so much for having me here and thanks to Carmel for her lovely comment. I'll stop by again later, when it's a more decent hour in the US!
Wendy x

AJ Nuest said...

Good Morning, my lovelies!! You know...for a Midwestern hick, my comments are starting to sound decidedly British. LOL! Hmmm...I wonder why that is??? Ahem. Wendy, I could not be more THRILLED to have you here today. I am just over the top excited about your book. It sounds absolutely brilliant to me and I can't wait to read it!! It's waiting on my Kindle as I type these words!! I'll be checking in throughout the day. Right now, I'm off to tell the world your here!!! Thanks for being my guest!! (((hugs)))