Blog Tour: Melody Bittersweet and the Girls Ghostbusting Agency | Kitty French

Today is my turn on the blog tour for Melody Bittersweet and the Girls Ghostbusting Agency by the lovely Kitty French. I have a wonderful extract for you from this exciting book but before that, why not check out the blurb below:

Blurb

Life’s tricky for Melody Bittersweet. She’s single, she's addicted to sugar and super heroes, her family are officially bonkers and ... she sees dead people. Is it any wonder no-one’s swiping right on Tinder?
Waking up lonely on her twenty-seventh birthday, Melody finally snaps. She can’t carry on basing all of her life decisions on the advice of her magic 8 ball; things have got to change.

Fast forward two months, and she’s now the proud proprietor of her very own ghostbusting agency – kind of like in the movies but without the dodgy white jumpsuits. She’s also flirting with her ex Leo Dark, fraternising with her sexy enemy in alleyways, and she’s somehow ended up with a pug called Lestat.

Life just went from dull to dynamite and it’s showing no sign of slowing up anytime soon. Melody’s been hired to clear Scarborough House of its incumbent ghosts, there’s the small matter of a murder to solve, and then there are the two very handsome, totally inappropriate men hoping to distract her from the job…

Welcome to Chapelwick, home of the brand new and hilarious Girls Ghostbusting Agency series, where things really do go bump in the night.

Extract



Melody Bittersweet and The Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency

Chapter One

‘So, what do you do with your spare time, Melody?’

I look my date square in his pretty brown eyes and lie to him. ‘Oh, you know. The usual.’ I shrug to convey how incredibly normal I am. ‘I read a lot . . . Go to the movies. That kind of thing.’
I watch Lenny digest my words, and breathe a sigh of relief when his eyes brighten.
‘Which genre?’
‘Movies or books?’ I ask, stalling for time because, in truth, I don’t get much in the way of spare time to do either.
‘Movies. Action or romance? No, let me guess.’ He narrows his eyes and studies me intently. ‘You look like a sucker for a rom-com.’
‘Do I?’ I’m genuinely surprised. I’m five foot three and look more like Wednesday Addams than a Disney princess. Maybe Wednesday Addams is over-egging it, but you get the idea; I’m brunette and my dress sense errs on the side of edgy. I don’t think anyone has ever looked at me and thought whimsy. Maybe Lenny sees something everyone else has missed, me included. I quite like that idea, mainly because everyone who knows my family has a head full of preconceptions about me, based on the fact that my family are all crackers.
Four Weddings?’ He shrugs hopefully.
I nod, not mentioning that the only part of that particular movie I enjoyed was the funeral.
The Holiday?’
Again, I try to look interested and hold my tongue, because I’m sure he doesn’t want to hear that I’d rather stick needles in my eyes than ever watch an over-optimistic Kate Winslet drag some old guy around a swimming pool again.
I’m relieved when the bill arrives and we can get out of there, because so far Lenny has turned out to be a pretty stellar guy and somehow I’ve managed to convince him that I walk on the right side of the tracks. Maybe this time, things will be different.
Lenny pulls his dull, salesman’s saloon into the cobbled cartway beside my building and kills the engine. I don’t mind dull. In fact, my life could really use a bit of dull right now, so I shoot him my most seductive smile, cross my fingers that my mother will be in bed, and invite him in for coffee.
Oh, just when it had all been going so well. Why couldn’t I have just given him a goodnight kiss, with maybe the smallest hint of tongue as a promise, then sent him on his way? He’d have called for a second date, I’m sure of it.
But no. I got greedy, pulled him by the hand through the dark back door, placing my finger against my lips to signal he should be quiet as we tip-toed past my mother’s apartment and up the old wooden staircase to my place.
He rests his hand on my waist as I turn the key, and a small thrill shoots down my back. Look at me, winning at this being-an-adult thing today! Dinner with an attractive man, sparkling conversation, and now back to mine for coffee . . . and maybe even a little fooling around. It’s not that I’m a virgin or anything, but it would be fair to call my love life patchy of late. By ‘of late’ I mean the last two years, ever since Leo Dark and I called things off. Well, by Leo and I, I mean Leo called things off, citing conflict of interests. Ha. Given that he was referring to the fact that my mad-as-a-bag-of-cats family are the only other psychics in town besides him, he was, at least in part, right.
But enough of Leo and my lamentable love life. Right now, all I want is for Lenny not to know anything at all about my peculiar family, to keep seeing me as a cool, regular, completely normal girl, and then to kiss me.
‘You remind me of Clara Oswald,’ Lenny whispers behind me at the top of the stairs. ‘All big brown eyes and clever one-liners. It’s very sexy.’
Lord, I think he’s just brushed a kiss against the back of my neck! My door sticks sometimes so I shoulder it open, aiming for firm and graceful but, I fear, ending up looking more like a burly police SWAT guy ramming it down. Thankfully, Lenny seems to take it in his stride and follows me into my apartment. Then I flick on the table lamp only to discover that my mother is standing on my coffee table in a too-short, too-sheer, baby-blue negligee with her arms raised towards the ceiling and her head thrown back.
‘Shit!’ Lenny swears down my ear, clearly startled. He isn’t to blame. My mother’s a striking woman, ballerina-tall and slender with silver hair that falls in waves well beyond her shoulder blades. It isn’t grey. It’s been pure silver since the day she was born, and right now she looks as if she’s just been freshly crucified on my coffee table.
I sigh as I drop my bag down by the lamp. So much for me being normal.
‘Err, mother?’
Slowly, she takes several heaving breaths and opens her eyes, changing from crazy lady to almost normal human lady. She stares at us.
‘For God’s sake, Melody,’ she grumbles, taking her hands from above her head and planting them on her hips. ‘I almost had the connection then. He’s hiding out in the loft, I’m sure of it.’
I risk a glance over my shoulder at Lenny, who sure isn’t kissing my neck anymore.
He lifts his eyebrows at me, a silent ‘what the hell?’ and then looks away when my mother beckons to him like a siren luring a fisherman onto the rocks.
‘Your hand, please, young man.’
‘No!’ I almost yell, but Lenny is already across the room with his hand out to help her down. My mother eyes me slyly as she steps from the table, keeping a firm hold of Lenny’s hand.
‘Long lifeline,’ she murmurs, tracing her red talon across Lenny’s palm.
‘Mother,’ I warn, but my somber, cautionary tone falls on her selectively deaf ears. I expected nothing else, because she’s pulled this trick before. Admittedly, the standing-on-the-table thing is a new twist, but she’s got form in scoping out my prospective boyfriends to make sure they’ll fit in with our screwball family from the outset. Not that her romantic gauge is something to put any stock in; Leo passed her tests with flying colours and look how that ended up. I got my heart broken and he got a spot on morning TV as the resident psychic. Where’s the justice in that?
Look, we may as well get the clanky old skeleton out of the family closet early on here, people. It’s going to come out sooner or later, and despite my attempts to pull the wool over Lenny’s eyes, there’s never any running away from this thing for long.
My name’s Melody Bittersweet, and I see dead people.
It’s not only me. I’m just the latest in a long line of Bittersweets to have the gift, or the curse, depending on how you look at it. My family has long since celebrated our weirdness; hence the well-established presence of our family business, Blithe Spirits, on Chapelwick High Street. We’ve likely been here longer than the actual chapel at the far end of the street. That’s probably why, by and large, we’re accepted by the residents of the town, in a ‘they’re a bunch of eccentrics, but they’re our bunch of eccentrics,’ kind of way. What began as a tiny, mullion-windowed, one-room shop has spread out along the entire row over the last two hundred years; we now own a run of three terraced properties haphazardly knocked into one, big, rambling place that is both business and home to not only me, but also to my mother, Silvana, and her mother, Dicey. Gran’s name isn’t actually Dicey, it’s Paradise, officially, but she’s gone by Dicey ever since she met my Grandpa Duke on her fifteenth birthday and he wrote Dicey and Duke inside a chalk heart on the back wall of the building. He may as well have written it on her own racing heart.
‘Silvana!’
Speak of the devil. Does no one go to bed around here?
I open my door to find Gran on the threshold with her hand raised, poised to knock. I guess I should be glad she’s slightly more respectably dressed, if a floor-length, purple shot-silk kimono, bearing huge technicolor dragons could be considered as such. Her usually pin-curled gold hair is piled elegantly on her head and she wears a slash of fire-engine-scarlet lipstick for good measure. Most people couldn’t carry the look off, but thanks to her poise, confidence and couldn’t-care-less attitude, Grandma Dicey wears it with artful success. She glides past me without invitation and gazes at my mother and Lenny, who are still hand-in-hand on the rug.
God.
First thing tomorrow morning, I swear, I’m going to look for a new place to live, somewhere, anywhere, that is not in the same building as my mother and my gran. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a charming old place and I love my family dearly. It’s not even as if I don’t have my own space here, because, theoretically at least, I do. Mum and Gran have the ground floor apartment behind Blithe Spirits, and I have the smaller flat upstairs, at the back. In lots of ways this makes me fortunate; I get to have a nice little home of my own and stay close to my family. It would all be fine and dandy, were it not for the fact that my family are officially bonkers and liable to come up and let themselves into my flat – using the spare key I gave them for dire emergencies only – and embarrass the shit out if me.
 ‘Why is Silvana entertaining a man half her age in your flat?’ Gran looks from me to my mother. ‘You should have said you were expecting company, darling. I’d have gone out.’ She touches her hand lightly against her hair. ‘Put a towel on the doorknob or something, isn’t that the modern way to signal these things? Don’t come a knockin’ if the caravan’s rockin’?’
She looks spectacularly pleased with herself, and one glance at Lenny tells me that he knows he’s way out of his depth with these two and is in the process of writing me off as the worst date he’s ever had. His eyes slide from me to the door, and I can almost hear him begging me to let him go unharmed.
‘He’s not mum’s date, he’s mine. Or else, he was,’ I mutter, and then I’m distracted as a beer-bellied pensioner in a soup-stained shirt slowly materialises through the ceiling, his flannel trousers not quite meeting his bony ankles. Stay with me; I see dead people, remember? As do my mother and my grandmother, who also watch him descend with matching expressions of distaste.
‘Finally,’ my mother spits, dropping Lenny’s hand so she can round on the new arrival. ‘Two hours I’ve been chasing you around this bloody building. Your wife wants to know what you’ve done with the housekeeping she’d hidden in the green teapot. She says you better not have lost it on the horses or she’s had it with you.’
Grandma Dicey rolls her eyes. ‘I rather think she’s had it with him anyway. He’s been dead for six weeks.’
‘You’re a fine one to talk, given that you still sleep with your husband twenty years after he died.’ Mother flicks her silver hair sharply. Touché.
Lenny whimpers and bolts for my front door, turning back to me just long enough to splutter ‘something’s come up, gotta go,’ before he hoofs it out and down the stairs two at a time.
I listen to the outside door bang on its hinges and wonder what came up. Probably his dinner.

Buy it here:



About the Author

USA Today best selling author Kitty French writes sexy, escapist romance hot enough to burn your fingers...

The USA Today best selling Lucien Knight series has been a hit around the world, and Kitty is now writing and releasing the Regular Sex series of half hour erotic reads, a weekly issue to make sure your weekend starts with a bang! 

Kitty is also the disreputable alter-ego of a romantic comedy writer Kat French. She writes full time, and lives in England with her husband and two little boys.  

Find Kitty Here:


Author Interview: Caroline Smailes/Wallace

Hello folks, I am super excited to have a talented writer and friend to my blog for a wonderful Interview. Caroline Smailes gives an honest and inspiring account of her life as a writer, and it makes for an interesting read. So grab yourself a brew, have a seat and enjoy this fantastic interview.



Hello my lovely Caroline, thank you so much for agreeing to an interview, I am pleased to welcome you to my blog.
Thanks so much for inviting me to visit!

So tell me a little bit about yourself, where are you from and what do you write?
I’m a Geordie, ridiculously good at Battleship, a little too fond of cake and all things Disney. Although born in Newcastle, I came to Liverpool to study, fell in love with a scouser and couldn’t leave.  I married him and we have three children. I was a teacher, then a lecturer, but now I work as an editor when I’m not writing. My novels are often described as urban fairy tales. The Observer said I was an ‘arch-experimentalist’, but I’m not entirely sure what that means.

What would you like to tell us about your books?
I’m obsessed with fairy tales and mythology. Although it’s not always obvious at first glance, my novels tend to be a reimagining of a myth or a fairy tale, or both. I love the art of retelling and reinventing stories. The Drowning of Arthur Braxton is a retelling of three classic myths (Apollo and Daphne, Medea and Jason, Castor and Pollux) but with a modern, northern (and somewhat sweary) twist.

Where do you find your inspiration?
I take inspiration from people I observe and experiences I’ve either had or imagined could happen. As a teen I learned to be insular, invisible even. I stood on the outskirts and observed. It was how I coped with life. Writing diaries, then angst-ridden poems (no one will ever see!) was my way of escaping. I was seen as weird, an outsider, and someone who you could ‘catch’ weird from. It wasn’t the best part of my life. My inspiration then and now remains the same. It’s always that I have an absolute need to write and that if I don’t write, then my head breaks a little bit. Creativity is my outlet. But, mainly, I’m inspired to write because I still have stories to tell and something to say. When that changes, that’s when I’ll stop.

What can you tell me about your typical writing day and what your process is?
On a writing day, I’ll be at my desk by 7:45 a.m. and I’ll move from my desk when I’ve written my target words. I write quickly and always tend to finish in the morning. I’ll stop when I hit my target, even if I really want to continue. I always end one day knowing what I’ll write the next. I’ll then redraft and edit in the afternoon.

Can you tell me about your journey to publication? How did that all happen?
Oh it’s a complicated one! I fell pregnant when I was a postgraduate student and had to drop out. It was eight years later when I returned to study, because I felt I should complete the qualification. I’d always written, but I’d also always listened to the people who said I needed a ‘proper job’, so writing was something I did in secret. Then, during my second year of PhD study I miscarried. In my sadness and grief I turned to writing, and that writing about my feelings surrounding the miscarriage developed into a story, and that story into something longer. I found myself stealing increasingly larger amounts of 'spare' time to write, and not studying.

Fast-forward five months to September 2005 and I was watching a repeat of a Richard and Judy programme. The presenters were talking about someone who Richard called ‘a nearly woman’. Richard gushed that this ‘nearly woman’ often tried new things, but she never finished them. The words hit home. I felt that I was ‘nearly’ finishing many things, but not fully committing to any.
Never one to do things without a dramatic flair, within the next two weeks I dropped out of my PhD study, cancelled my funding and I enrolled on an MA in Creative Writing. I finished the final draft of my debut novel, and the degree, a year later.

Then someone told me to start a blog, so I did. I put an extract from my novel on there and blogged about how I didn’t have a clue what to do next. It was three weeks later, in September 2006, that a publisher stumbled on my blog, read an extract from my novel and asked for the full manuscript. A week later, I received my first publishing contract.

I’d like to say that that was the beginning of a happily ever after, but this is publishing. The journey remains bumpy and never straightforward. I’m still here though, ten years on and seven novels later.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
I’ve said this for many years and it remains unchanged. To write, write write! Obvious advice, I know. And to only ever give an early draft to someone who you trust to tell you what’s wrong with it. You want them to tell you what you already know, but are being too stubborn to face. The last thing you need is someone telling you that your writing is perfect. The best opinion is the one that wants you to make your writing even better.
What do your family and loved ones think of your success?

I’m fortunate and so truly grateful to be surrounded by amazing friends and family. I couldn’t do what I do without their support, reassurance, honesty and arse kickings. I never take them for granted.

I LOVE the new cover for Arthur Braxton, why the change?
4th Estate are republishing the novel, so it made sense to rebrand too. They’ve done such an amazing job of it. The cover’s striking and I’m hoping it’ll appeal to a wide audience. They’ve also included an introduction from YouTube sensation Luke Cutforth in the novel. Luke’s the director of the Arthur Braxton film and one of the best people I know.
I’ve seen some exciting images on your social media for the filming of Arthur Braxton, what can you tell me about it and when can I see it?
 
In 2013 I’d watched ‘My Mad Fat Diary’ and the character Tix (played by the talented Sophie Wright) hit a nerve. I sent Sophie a tweet, telling her that she’d make an amazing Laurel (the main female character in Arthur Braxton). Then, eighteen months later, Sophie was in a music video filmed by Fireflight Film (Josh Winslade and Luke Cutforth). She told Josh and Luke about my novel and how the film option had recently become available. This then led to them reading the novel, contacting me and a series of meetings and emails with my agents. The option was signed in September 2014 and kept a secret until August 2015 (I have no idea how, as I was bursting to tell people!). Then a successful Kickstarter campaign last summer led to the funding of the feature film. It’s been an amazing year and filming is now complete. They’re at the ‘post-production’ stage and are hoping for a spring 2017 release. They’ve actually split the novel into two films, so the first release will be Arthur’s story and a second film will be Laurel’s story. It’s overwhelming and magical and sometimes I honestly can’t believe it’s happening.
So what’s next for you, how is the writing going right now?
 
I’ve just finished the prequel to The Drowning of Arthur Braxton and hope that it’ll be out on submission this summer. I’ve loved every minute of writing it. Possibly a cliché, but this is the first time I’ve really loved writing! Writing is usually a little bit painful, but this experience was different. It needed to be written. Now I just need to pluck up the courage to let it go, and see if a publisher would like to publish it…

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions Caroline, as always you’re a star.
To get yourself a copy of 'The Drowning of Arthur Braxton' with the fab new cover, check out one of the links below:
About the Author:

Caroline Wallace worked as a lecturer for several years before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in Liverpool with her husband and their many children.
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