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350 – Storytelling and a Peek into the Life of Heidi Swain, a Simon & Schuster Bestselling Author
Episode 35025th December 2021 • Gift Biz Unwrapped • Sue Monhait
00:00:00 00:42:14

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Storytelling tips with Heidi SwainToday's show is a bit special ... because it goes live on Christmas day! So I'm doing something a little different with this episode. There are no promotions and only a little bit of learning. How can I not when we have such an expert with us today? Just like last year, Heidi shares an excerpt from her latest book. As well as some behind-the-scenes of her life as an author, her holiday traditions, and even some storytelling tips you can use for your business. Although passionate about writing from an early age, Heidi acquired a degree in literature and flirted briefly with a newspaper career, before plucking up the courage to join a creative writing class and take her literary ambitions seriously. A lover of vintage paraphernalia and the odd bottle of fizz, she now writes feel-good fiction with heart for Simon and Schuster. Her debut novel, The Cherry Tree Café was published in July 2015. And since then she has had a further twelve books published, becoming a Sunday Times Bestseller in 2017. Heidi is currently celebrating the release of her 2021 festive title, Underneath the Christmas Tree, and writing The Summer Fair which will be published next spring.

Storytelling Tips From A Published Author

  • When it comes to writing and storytelling, make it personal.
  • Let people know about the inspiration behind a product that makes it authentic. That will resonate with your audience.
  • Don't ignore the senses. If you've got something that smells good or feels good, that's something you really want to highlight.
  • Add those little details that make things all the more appealing and inviting.
  • Inspiration can come from anywhere.
  • Scribble ideas that come to mind that are going to work in different settings.
Listen to the full conversation for storytelling tips, a reading from Heidi's latest book, plus a glimpse into her life as an author! 

Resources Mentioned

Heidi's Contact Links

WebsiteFacebook | Instagram | Twitter

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Become a Member of Gift Biz Breeze If you found value in this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you automatically get the next episode downloaded for your convenience. Click on your preferred platform below to get started. Also, if you'd like to do me a huge favor - please leave a review. It helps other creators like you find the show and build their businesses too. You can do so right here: Rate This Podcast Apple PodcastsGoogle PodcastsSpotify Thank you so much! Sue Know someone who needs to hear this episode? Click a button below to share it!

Transcripts

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Gift biz unwrapped episode 350.

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I'm going to be a bit naughty.

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Don't tell anybody At Tinton gifters bakers,

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crafters, and makers pursuing your dream can be fun.

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Whether you have an established business or looking to start one.

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Now you are in the right place.

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This is gift to biz unwrapped,

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helping you turn your skill into a flourishing business.

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Join us for an episode,

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packed full of invaluable guidance,

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resources, and the support you need to grow.

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Your gift biz.

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Here is your host gift biz gal,

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Sue Mon Heights.

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Hi, thanks so much for spending some of your holiday with

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me. If you're listening the day,

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this show releases that is it's Christmas morning for all who

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celebrate. I wish you a marvelous day honoring all your family

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traditions that make this time so special.

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And for all of us,

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whether you recognize this holiday or not,

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I think the spirit that comes with Christmas,

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the one of love and giving is something to celebrate today

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and all year through,

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I'm doing something a little bit special with this episode.

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There are no promotions and just a little bit of learning

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because how can I not,

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when we have such an expert with us,

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you may remember Heidi from last year.

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Once again,

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she'll be sharing an excerpt from her new book this year,

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it's underneath the Christmas tree.

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We're also getting a behind the scenes,

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look at our holiday traditions,

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her life as an author and her advice on storytelling.

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This episode is full of marvelous surprises.

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So you're in for a real treat,

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grab a mug of steaming coffee or whatever fits your fancy.

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And let's hear from my dear friend,

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Heidi, In the spirit of the season,

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it is my honor to welcome back Heidi Swain to the

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show. She was our special guest the week of Christmas last

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year, and has agreed to be with us again on Christmas

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day, no less to share some holiday cheer.

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Although passionate about writing from an early age,

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Heidi acquired a degree in literature and flirted briefly with a

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newspaper career before plucking up the courage to join a creative

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writing class and take her literary ambitions.

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Seriously, a lover of vintage paraphernalia and the odd bottle of

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fizz. She now writes,

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feel good fiction with heart for Simon and Schuster.

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Her debut novel,

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the cherry tree cafe was published in July,

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2015. And since then she's had another 12 books published becoming

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a Sunday times bestseller in 2017,

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Heidi is currently celebrating the release of her 2021 festive title

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underneath the Christmas tree and writing the summer fair,

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which will be published next spring,

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Heidi, Merry Christmas.

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And welcome back to the show.

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Thank you so much for inviting me back.

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It's lovely to be here.

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And especially today,

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this really,

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really special day,

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I kind of had a bit of a gasp moment when

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you gave my intro there.

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Have I really written that many books in that I'm,

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You Know,

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takes me by surprise.

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I know 12 books and that's surprising even to you Always,

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it really is.

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I have my books stacked up on a bookcase next to

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my bed.

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So it's the first thing that I see when I wake

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up in the morning,

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kind of an incentive to get out of bed and get

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back the keyboard because there's always a deadline.

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I kind of look at them and wonder and think,

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wow, have I done that?

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How have I managed to,

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to all of that in this short amount of time?

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I don't know,

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but somehow it keeps happening.

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It does.

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And I have to tell you,

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I have your book stacked in my bedroom too.

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Remember the Instagram post you did that showed the order that

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you wrote the books?

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Yes. That's how I'm reading That,

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Except that I have to integrate in the holiday ones.

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Cause I want to read those during the holiday.

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So I have to then jump a little bit,

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but I guess that's okay.

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That's okay.

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Because they've all got a different main character,

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so you can read them on their own and get all

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those lovely holiday feels.

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And that if you know,

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if it's got Christmas on the cover on one of my

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books, then it's going to have Christmas on the pages.

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Absolutely. Well,

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let's start as I always traditionally have with a motivational candle.

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And I know you did one last time,

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but I think you have another one prepared for us.

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Don't you?

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And did you know when I thought about this,

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this one really took me by surprise because the color of

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the candle that kept coming back to me is not a

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color that I am particularly drawn to,

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but it's a yellow handle,

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a really bright,

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bright yellow candle.

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You know,

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it's really bright even before it's lit and it's got a

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very strong lemony scent,

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energizing kind of scent.

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Yeah. That really took me by surprise,

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that that came into my head.

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Wow. Why do you think that is?

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I think really,

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I need a bit of energy at the moment where at

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the end of the year,

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now it's been a busy year.

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And so I kind of,

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I need that energy to keep pushing me on.

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I think in my head,

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I was just getting the words,

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keep going.

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That's interesting that this isn't a color you would gravitate to,

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by the way,

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Heidi yellow is my favorite color.

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All shades every way,

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except for neon.

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So maybe I was like coming into your mind or something

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and you just didn't know it.

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I don't know.

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Yeah. I think maybe I was channeling Sue.

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That's what it was.

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You were influencing me that yeah.

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You know,

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it's always interesting to embrace something a bit different.

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So I kind of feel as if,

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I don't know if you're inspired by something that it doesn't

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usually appeal to you.

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I think you just kind of need to go with it

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because it's there for a reason.

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Yeah. And yellow is known for joy and happiness and everything

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uplifting, which that's,

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I think what we are all needing right now.

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Definitely. And we've got it for the holiday season.

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Of course.

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Do you have a saying or a quote or anything that

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would go with your yellow candle?

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Essentially? It was just those two words.

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It was just encouraging me to,

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it was keep going,

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just keep doing what you're doing and you'll get,

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you'll make it,

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does it.

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It's been hard writing you this year.

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Lots of other things going on as well.

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So yeah,

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I just needed that kind of lovely yellow boost just to

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tell me to pick that,

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Keep going.

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And then when you wake up in the morning and see

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your stack of books,

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you see why it's worth it.

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Keep going,

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create big things.

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All these books.

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Yeah. That's it.

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Exactly. All right.

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So I want to talk Christmas with you,

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Heidi. What about candles in relation to Christmas now you're over

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in the UK.

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Lots of our listeners are there,

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but also in America,

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probably the majority in America.

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What are candles mean for Christmas over there?

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We have lots of candles here.

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What do we certainly do in my house?

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Anyway, I like a scented candle.

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I like a cinnamon or a ginger centered candle,

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because as much as we'd like to,

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we can't keep them all wine on the whole all the

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time. Can we,

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Maybe we could,

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You're going to just hate that.

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We have a lot of scented candles that create the mood

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and we just love that candle light in the evenings.

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They have a lot of twinkling lights.

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Yeah. Candles are just lovely.

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Put one in the window.

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Perhaps you remember any family who were no longer here lighten

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up the half day.

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Wonderful. And for Christmas decor,

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do you use like the traditional colored candles or what's happening

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over for you specifically this year?

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Like right where you're sitting right now.

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Okay. Well,

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we have a lot of red and green candles because I

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like to bring a lot of greenery into the house,

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Holly and mistletoe and Ivy.

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So yeah,

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that looks really lovely,

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beautiful tool,

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red and green candle and white ones too,

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but predominantly red and green.

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Okay. So very traditional.

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Give us another little peak into your house.

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So you're sitting there right now.

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It's Christmas morning.

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Do you have anything to drink while we're sitting and chatting

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Just tea in the morning?

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I just have tea,

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but we always for breakfast,

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we love to have smoked salmon with scrambled egg or poached

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egg and some nice whole grain granary toast.

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That's a real tradition for us that we established years ago.

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So we love to have that.

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And then later on in the morning or maybe have a

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little something fizzy before we sit down for dinner and we

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always eat out the present opening,

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we have Saks first thing sacks around early,

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even though the kids are grown up and then the main

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presence are opened after lunchtime.

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We like to kind of eat out.

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So it lasts the whole day that way.

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So when you Say Sachs,

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is that like what we would think of as stockings?

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Yes, But my kids are grown up,

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but they both still have theirs and they are pillowcases.

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So they fill the cases with ribbons,

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through Reddit,

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through the little channel that I sewed into the top.

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And yeah,

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that's what they have full of presents.

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I love that.

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So my kids are also grown up,

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but I think I'm the biggest kid at Christmas.

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My son says,

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mom, you act like you're 10 years old,

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Christmas And Santa Claus still comes and they get their stockings.

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And then we open the presents and it's just,

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I love that tradition,

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even though it doesn't resonate on a religious end to the

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holiday, but it just feels like the innocence and happiness and

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joy and warmth of being around family.

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Even when there's no little ones,

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just continuing doing those things that we've done for so many

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years. Yeah.

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I couldn't agree with you more.

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I mean,

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as I say,

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the kids are grown up,

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but we still have those same traditions.

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I love yesterday.

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I love Christmas Eve almost as much as Chris from stay

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with gingerbread man always made on Christmas Eve and there's always

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a mince pie and a glass of wine and a carer

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and everything that goes out on the half,

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always read the night before Christmas.

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It's just lovely to keep embracing all those traditions,

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no matter how old everybody is and,

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or being altogether.

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I agree with you there.

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Totally. And that's fun getting a little peek into the types

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of things you do on Christmas Eve too.

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We started a new tradition.

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I'm going to say it's about four or five years ago.

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So it's kind of a more adult created tradition,

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but I know when little ones start emerging in the family,

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we'll be doing it too.

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We do now on Christmas Eve,

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a gingerbread making contest.

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So depending on how many people there are right now,

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we just do two different gingerbread houses and it ends up

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being this whole thing.

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Like everyone has the same base elements and there are rules

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and we create our gingerbread houses and then we put them

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up on Facebook and have everybody vote on which ones are

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the nicest,

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which is their favorite.

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So that's always fun.

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A little competition,

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a little fun.

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The girls lose every year.

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I don't know why we're the most creative.

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I have never made a gingerbread house.

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Well, that's something maybe to think about in a way,

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I'm not going to say we're cheating because we don't want

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it to have to last and take forever.

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So we buy the pre-created ginger bread,

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like the walls and the roof and all of that.

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It's more in the decoration and the theming and what other

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things you add to it.

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And that's really what we're competing on.

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And if anyone wants to see what we did last night,

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it's on Facebook for everybody to vote on,

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to see what we did.

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Well, we've broken the teams up differently each year.

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But I think with the girls,

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we try to be more out of the box and creative

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and the guys stay traditional.

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And that's why they're winning.

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Yeah. I think you're probably right because yeah,

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at Christmas time,

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that's what people tend to go for.

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Isn't it?

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It's the tried and tested on the traditional.

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Yeah. Maybe next year you can stop for them and you

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can go mega.

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Oh, and then you're with yeah,

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Yeah. You never know.

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Well, jury is still out.

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We're still voting on this year's so we'll see what happens.

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We usually go till about the afternoon of Christmas day and

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then we take a peek at what it is and it's

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all in fun.

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It's all just a great thing for us to do,

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to be together,

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which is the important part of the holiday.

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Of course.

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Anyway, it's snowing here in Chicago.

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So we're getting a white Christmas what's happening over there,

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Which is disappointing.

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I would love a white Christmas,

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you know,

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and I always managed to get a bit of snow in

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my books,

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even though we might not get it,

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you know,

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this has fit in isn't it.

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So I'm allowed to indulge my passion for snow because I

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love snow.

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All right.

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Well, I'm going to send you some snow.

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You watch in about an hour,

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look out your window and I'm going to have a,

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at least a snowflake or two coming your way.

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Don't miss it.

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I would love that.

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Okay. Let's talk a little bit about storytelling before you get

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into the gift that you're giving all of us today.

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I was mentioning to you a little bit before I pressed

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record that the prior episode of the podcast,

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we were talking about storytelling for business.

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In other words,

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business owners,

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not just presenting the products that they make and that they're

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available to sell,

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but the story behind different facets of the business,

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like why they started their business,

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maybe one of the products that they like making the most,

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or maybe they have a special product that reminds them of

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a family member or that they love going out and selling

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at craft shows.

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I mean,

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there are so many topics that you can build a story

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around, but I think that we still struggle with making our

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stories resonate,

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maybe would be the right word with our readers where it's

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bright and colorful and all of that.

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So I thought maybe you could provide some guidance and help

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for us on storytelling and how you in your books make

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it just come alive.

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Because I love all the characters I told you before that

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I've been pacing myself with the books,

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cause I don't want them to run out.

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So it's my special time when I get to read one

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of your books.

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But what ideas do you have for us for writing and

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storytelling? I think one of the most important things that you

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can do is to make it really personal.

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If you can make it personal.

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And if you can explain something about the inspiration behind a

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product, then that makes it really authentic for people that will

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definitely resonate.

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I put a lot of myself into my books.

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There were a lot of my memories and the,

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the, some of my personality traits and things.

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And I really think that if you've experienced something and you

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can put that into product and you can explain that to

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people, I think that's really,

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really useful.

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And I would also say too,

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don't ignore the census.

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If you've got something that smells good or feels good,

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that's something that you really want to highlight.

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If something's particularly tactile,

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you want to be able to describe that.

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I think you don't want to be too flowery with your

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words. There needs to be a limit,

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but I think the more you can describe something and the

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more you can make it personal,

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more appealing,

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it would be.

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Yeah. So by way of example,

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maybe if someone was talking about being at a craft show,

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maybe they don't just say I got there at 7:00 AM,

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set up my booth,

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everything looks perfectly in place and now we're ready to go,

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come visit.

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Maybe instead you say,

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Ooh, it's a chilly morning,

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but we're here.

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I'm excited about the show.

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This is one of my favorite ones for the year.

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I've got my Starbucks coffee,

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gingerbread latte,

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whatever it is,

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like add some of that in.

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Yeah, it definitely,

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that sounded so much more exciting than just giving out the

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facts. There might have been something funny that happened to you

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on your journey and might be a project that you've got

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at the profile that you're particularly excited about.

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And you could highlight that,

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but yeah,

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it's adding all those little details that make things all the

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more appealing and all the more inviting perfect that's before me

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there. So that was fantastic.

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I'm trying.

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Okay. And I think for us a little bit different and

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maybe easier,

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well, I don't know Heidi,

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you're going to tell me maybe easier than when you're writing.

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We have a concrete story that we have lived so we

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can talk to it and then just add in some of

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those details.

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So it feels like more,

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it feels more interesting.

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You have to create everything from scratch.

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It's all fiction.

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Although you do pull from the past.

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So I'm thinking ours is a little bit easier if we

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just get used to adding in some more color and flare

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to our writing.

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I don't know,

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to be honest,

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because if I'm starting from scratch and I've got a completely

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blank canvas,

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I can paint on there,

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whatever I like.

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So, you know,

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there are no limitations,

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so yeah,

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I can kind of let my imagination go wild at least

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to begin with until my editor goes,

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ah, hang on.

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That's reign that in a bit.

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That's a bit too much imagination.

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Does that ever happen?

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No, I don't think so.

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Not really.

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Probably rewrites and stuff.

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I'm thinking as given that your work goes through a publisher,

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there's probably some additions or well share with us.

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That would be interesting.

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Let's start with the blank page because to a lot of

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us that would be very intimidating.

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I'd rather have something started there than a blank page.

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How do you come up with your ideas and your next

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stories? Yeah.

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Inspiration can kind of come from anywhere really.

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And I think because I put the books out here,

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the assumption is that you spend six months a year on

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the summer book and six months of the year on the

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winter book and everything within those six months.

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But actually it isn't like that at all.

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The inspiration for underneath the Christmas tree,

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which is the book that's just come out.

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The inspiration for that actually came from,

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I don't know if you know,

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country living magazine,

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that's a magazine we have over here.

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Yeah. It's so beautiful.

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I've had a subscription to country living for oh gosh,

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probably 20 years now,

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more than 20 years.

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And I had an article in there back in 2019 about

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a company who rented out Christmas trees every year.

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So you had a potted tree every year and they delivered

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it and they took it back.

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And you got the same tree for so many years until

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it became too big.

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No idea kind of stuck in my head.

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And I loved that.

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And that was what became the setting for winter's trees,

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which is the main setting in this book.

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But that was back in 2019.

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So obviously that wasn't going to fit six months timeframe,

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but I kind of get the essence of the idea.

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And then at the moment I'm writing in three different places,

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I've got the wind bridge series when miss series and the

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Nightingale square series.

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Then I kind of got the idea and then I'll have

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a think about which setting I think it would work best

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in. And then I kind of wait and see which characters

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are going to walk in.

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Sometimes it might be a character from a book that I've

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already written.

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Other times it might be somebody completely new as in the

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case of this book lies that winter she'd never featured in

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any of the books before she kind of sprawled in.

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And then it takes a few months,

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I guess,

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to kind of come up with the whole story.

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So I'm very much a plotter rather than a pantser my

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editor and my agent.

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They need to see that kind of a synopsis of what

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I'm going to write because they need to know when we're

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going to put it out there,

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how are we going to market it and all those things.

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And then when I've got the approval from them,

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then I can go on and start writing.

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And then it's a very intense,

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maybe 10,

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12 weeks getting that first draft down.

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And it's the first raw draft that goes to my editor

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and to my agents.

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So they can get a first look at it.

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And then we start working on it together from then.

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That is so interesting,

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just the behind the scenes of how this all works.

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And I'm thinking,

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as we relate it to our listeners here,

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you've given us a really good clue.

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And that is,

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you're getting inspiration from the world around you,

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from things that you see.

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And then you take that and you say,

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that's an interesting point,

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like the potted trees and then you place it somewhere.

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Do you have like notes for the three different stages?

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If you will,

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where your stories reside then do you like have notes that

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you put down in those different areas where it will go?

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So that then when it's time to look at that again,

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you've got all these ideas that you've brought together over the

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course of time.

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Yeah. I'll have a big,

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a four notebook and I'm always scribbling things in there for

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different ideas that are going to work in different settings.

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That said though,

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to be honest,

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these places are so real to me,

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I carry an awful lot of it around in my head.

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And when I had this idea for underneath the Christmas tree,

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I only previously written one book set in women was the

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secret seaside escape,

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which came out last April.

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It was 2020.

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And I just thought,

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I would love that Christmas tree plantation near the coast,

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near the Norfolk,

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beautiful north Norfolk coast.

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But is that feasible?

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Is it going to work?

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And so that's when you research comes in and yeah,

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I discovered actually we've got quite a few Christmas tree plantations

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in Norfolk and a few of them are near the coast

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because I don't want to put these trees near the coast.

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And then somebody suddenly says,

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oh, you know,

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the growing conditions wouldn't be right.

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Or the landscape wouldn't be right.

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But yeah,

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it all fitted really beautifully.

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And once I'd got that,

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then I could develop the story and think about where I

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was going to set winter's trees and what it was going

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to look like and who was going to be there.

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I've got to tell you right now,

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I'm really jealous that you feel like you are always living

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in your stories because anyone who hasn't read any of those

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yet. So any of our listeners who haven't,

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when you start reading some of Heidi's books,

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they make you feel so good and you get so connected

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with all of the characters and for you to say that

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you kind of live there all the time.

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I'm jealous,

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I guess,

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is what I have to say.

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Oh, I love that.

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I really,

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really appreciate that.

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Thank you.

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I think to be honest in each and every one of

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these books,

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I have created a life for my main characters that I

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would absolutely love to live.

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I mean,

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who wouldn't want to live on an idyllic Christmas tree plantation

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and who wouldn't want to run a beautiful cafe and do

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all of these things.

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It's kind of really,

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self-indulgent on my part.

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I imagine myself as my main character and I guess I'm

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kind of living a different life through them really.

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And because I immersed myself in that,

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that's what hopefully makes it feel real to anybody who's reading

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the book when it comes out,

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It totally feels real.

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I'm so sad.

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Every time a book is done,

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which is why I have to have my stack that I

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know I'm going to.

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So I'm really happy that you're doing at least two a

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year, no less than that.

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I'm telling you now,

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Heidi, no less.

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Some people have been asking me wishing that I would put

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out an autumn book and we had a conversation about how

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lovely it would be to set an autumn book a lot

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on a pumpkin patch on a pumpkin farm somewhere.

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But I would love that,

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but there are the kinds of like the timing restrictions in

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the publishing year of when it's suitable for me to put

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a book out.

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And of course,

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if I put a book out in the autumn that year,

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I wouldn't then put one out in Christmas.

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So I,

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the to,

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I need to kind of go back to my agent and

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my editor and kind of have that discussion and say,

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you know,

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maybe we,

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instead of mixing things up a bit,

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cause I really want to write this pumpkin patch story now.

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And that's funny.

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Well, we're going to be watching to see if that happens,

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but you tell them no less than two,

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for sure.

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Sue says no less than two.

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And I want everyone to know too.

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Like we're talking about how feel good and how you just

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get to bond with the characters.

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I mean,

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I feel like they're my friends too,

Speaker:

but it's not without story and drama and emotion.

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That's for sure.

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So when I'm reading and I need to close the book

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because I've got to go cook dinner or whatever,

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and we're in the middle of some issue,

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I have to get right back to it afterwards.

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Cause I need to know that everybody's okay before I go

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to sleep at night.

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I love that.

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I really appreciate that because that shows me that I'm doing

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my job.

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Well, if you're constantly wanting to get back,

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as far as I'm concerned,

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that's only a good thing.

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It is a wonderful thing.

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And that is my whole point that there is storyline to

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it that just brings you in and you are invested in

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what's going on in the story.

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So I'm not going to say any more because I want

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people to go in and start reading your books,

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but you have a treat for us today too.

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And that is,

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you're going to read a little bit from the new book

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right underneath the Christmas tree I am.

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And I'm going to be a bit naughty.

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Don't tell anybody,

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Okay. We won't tell anybody.

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And normally I would read the opening of the book,

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but quite often the opening of the book,

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doesn't give you a flavor of what's going to happen further

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in. So in the opening of the book,

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Louisa, she's at home,

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she's in her flat,

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she's just finished a maternity cover contract in a high school

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as an art teacher.

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And she didn't particularly enjoy it.

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And it's kind of given her the motivation.

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If you like to decide that she wants to go off,

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go traveling.

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And then when she comes back to the UK,

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she's going to set up her art therapy business.

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But in the meantime,

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her dad who has suddenly died,

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her dad's silent business partner,

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David has given her a call and said,

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I need to retire.

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You have to come back to the Christmas tree plantation because

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I want to hand it over to my son.

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She's got this dilemma.

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Is she going to go?

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Or isn't she,

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well, obviously we know she's going to go.

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I am giving you a little treat.

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So this is what happens during Eloise's journey to winters.

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After my call to David,

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I spent the next few days there,

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the ring over my decision,

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but on Thursday's band,

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I loaded up my ancient car,

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which had been an 18th birthday present for dad and which

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I couldn't bring myself to trade in,

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even though it was becoming increasingly unreliable and set off for

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women on the north Norfolk coast during the journey.

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And when I was tempted to turn back,

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I reminded myself that if I wanted to see my plans

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through properly,

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then this visit was the only option.

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However, rather than head straight to the lodge.

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When I crossed the county border,

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I delayed the moment by taking a detour into the little

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coastal village,

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ostensibly, it was to see if anything had changed.

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But in reality,

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it was to buy a few more minutes in which mentally

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there were no new additions to win meth as far as

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I could tell.

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But what had always been there,

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look to my eyes,

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at least a little more cared for the village sign set

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in the green had recently a fresh lick of paint and

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the shops around the edge it's small to,

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to the pub smugglers in was sporting a different exterior color

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and the row of brick and Flint form of fishermen's cottages,

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which led down to the beach were in good repair.

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The certain intrusion of another plethora of memories ensured I didn't

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linger, but instead wove my way back around the narrow lanes

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and out of the village failing to spot the sea because

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the tide was too far out as the road twisted and

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turned. I fell to wondering if winter sprees was going to

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look as bad for as the village.

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And I didn't have to wait many minutes to find out

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well, that's new.

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I observed as I turned off the road and onto the

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drive, welcome to winters.

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I read aloud as I opened the passenger side window and

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lent across the seats to take in the personalized board,

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which old visitors they derived,

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the sign was well over eight foot high and featured a

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very jolly Santa's sleigh and reindeer soaring over what looked like

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the acreage owned by winter's trees.

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The artist had done a good job and I wondered how

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much it had cost to have a bespoke sign and designed

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and painted.

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I couldn't remember any email about it,

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but I knew I could have done it for a fraction

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of the cost.

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I put the car in gear released the stubborn handbrake and

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carried on along the drive,

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which was now enchantingly flanked on either side by rows of

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tall, red and white striped candy canes.

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They lit the way in the gathering darkness and light.

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The sign were the only new additions.

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There was also a five bar gate blocking entry to the

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ARD. But even if there hadn't been,

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I would have rolled to a stop at that point.

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Wow. I whispered,

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pulled up short by the sight of the lodge,

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which was on my left and set back amongst the trees,

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tears pricked my eyes.

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As I took it in and acknowledged that my memory had

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failed me in my head,

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it was much smaller.

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And I'd forgotten how intricately carved and painted the barge boards,

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which gave the place it's authentic.

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Gingerbread feel even in the height of summer where it was

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a home fit for Santa himself.

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And for a few years,

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it had been mine.

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They might have been unhappier than I would have wished for,

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but there was no denying.

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The aesthetic was elect.

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The lights in the lodge were all switched on giving the

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rooms a warm glow and there was smoke curling out of

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the chimney.

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David had gone above and beyond to welcome me back and

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my intensely emotional response to the site of the lodge,

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which I had never formally felt any affection for was a

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surprise. However,

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it wasn't quite as much as the piercing noise of an

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alarm, which began screaming,

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but I'd probably over the gate.

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I covered my ears and took a hasty step back,

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but burgeoning tears banished.

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As I looked about me,

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half expecting to see a police car racing up drive,

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it was supposed to call Yoda man's voice from the veranda.

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A few seconds later,

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he was supposed to let me know when you were here.

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And I was going to let you in the guy draped

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in a bath towel,

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which was far too small for his towering frame,

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pulled on a pair of work boots and ran over to

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where I was standing open mailed and why died.

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He was at least a foot taller than me and fix

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that. And there were a smattering of freckles covering his broad

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chest and shoulders.

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His hair was dark,

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or at least I assumed it was,

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it was hard to tell really,

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because it clearly just jumped out of the shower and was

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sopping wet.

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When he turned around,

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I noticed that he'd got what looked like a pine tree

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tattoo down the length of his broad back.

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And it was difficult to make out the details in the

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harsh glare of my headlights and already a Gog.

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I felt it would be rude to stay there.

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He said punching buttons on the key pad and thankfully silencing

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the noise.

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That's better much.

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I nodded in agreement,

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my ears ringing.

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You must be lies of winter.

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He said running one hand through his hair while the other

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held onto the precariously positioned town.

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Yes, I nodded I felt winded by the unexpected drama of

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my arrival and the proximity of his near nakedness.

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Yes I am.

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I'm sorry about the noise.

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I hadn't realized the gate would be alarmed.

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I'm not going to tell you what next,

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Oh my gosh,

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you're leaving us.

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It was quite a steamy interest in those two.

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I love that.

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I love it too.

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Well, first off the place sounds amazing.

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It's clearly different than she had anticipated.

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So I'm sure she's going to learn a lot of new

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things. Maybe some good,

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some bad.

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I don't know.

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I'm kind of telling you where you've left me and what

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my thoughts are.

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And clearly there's going to be a relationship between those two.

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I don't know if it's a romantic relationship,

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a relationship with conflict about what's going to happen with the

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farm or what,

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but those are my thoughts.

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That's good.

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I like that.

Speaker:

They're they're good thoughts.

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I will just say sparks will fly Christmas sparks.

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Yeah. This book,

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it is jam packed full of Christmas and it was an

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absolute joy to write it.

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Oh, okay.

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Well just FYI.

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It's already on the way to me.

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So I may have to really quickly finish the book I'm

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already in so that I can get to the other one.

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You want to know what I'm reading right now?

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What are you reading at The moment?

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I'm reading sunshine and screen in Nightingale square.

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So that's the first Nightingale square book.

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Yeah, it was nerve wracking writing that book because I had

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written, oh gosh,

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four, maybe five books set in bridge,

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which is a different place.

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And I felt it was time to go somewhere new,

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but I was so scared to do it in case my

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readers didn't like it,

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it was a scary right at one.

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Wow. That's interesting.

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And I'm very anxious too,

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because I don't know what's going to happen to the square.

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So Kate just jumped the fence FYI.

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That's where I am.

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Okay. So you'll quite early on that.

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Yeah. Maybe about a third of the way,

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something like that.

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I don't know.

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But yeah.

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Very fun.

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Very fun.

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You guys,

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you've got to go and get this book now because you've

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got to find out happens and we got a demonstration beautifully,

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Heidi of you adding in a lot of the details.

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So we really understand what it looks like already,

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even with just that short section that you read.

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So that was a perfect example of what you taught us

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a little bit earlier here in terms of how to brighten

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up and add some pizazz to our writing.

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Yeah. Thank you.

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Cause you know,

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if you're going to go and buy the Christmas tree and

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this place winters to these,

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it's a,

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it's a real tradition for the locals.

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So I didn't want people to just turn off the road

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and go up the drive.

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You know,

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that wouldn't have been particularly interesting,

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but I kind of,

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I guess I just indulged my own fantasy of buying my

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own tree and kind of how exactly I would like it

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to look.

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If I went there,

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it's a beautiful place.

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And there are lots of things that happen there,

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there are going to be lots of additions to that and

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it's just,

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it's wonderful.

Speaker:

Perfect place.

Speaker:

I'm excited.

Speaker:

So do you already have notes like for a future book?

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Are you already writing notes?

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Well, actually,

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I mean,

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that was the second book set in women and there is

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a character from this book that has really stuck in my

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head. Yeah.

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I have already started making notes about what her potential story

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that's exciting.

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Oh, I love that.

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Well, thank you so much for sharing that with us being

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here on Christmas and I am going to speak for all

Speaker:

of your readers right now,

Speaker:

you just bring us so much joy and happiness and an

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escape to our everyday life.

Speaker:

What you're providing to us is just beautiful.

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I thank you so much for it,

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Heidi. Oh,

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So kind thank you.

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That really touches my heart.

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It makes my heart happy as I have taken to saying,

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cause you know,

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lots of people tell me lovely things.

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Yeah. It really makes my heart thump that little bit harder

Speaker:

to know how much books have been enjoyed because they're an

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escape for me to you read them and escape and I

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write them on a site.

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So it's kind of,

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it's a two way relationship.

Speaker:

Really. You read them,

Speaker:

which keeps me writing them and I write them,

Speaker:

which keeps you reading them.

Speaker:

So thank you.

Speaker:

Yes. Perfect.

Speaker:

And we're going to keep on with that for sure.

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Okay. So where can people go to get the books?

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Okay. Well in the UK you can get them in all

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good bookshops or you can order them through all the bookshops

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if they're not on the shelves and you can certainly get

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them through Amazon and other online retailers and over there in

Speaker:

the U S I am guessing that you should be able

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to get them on Amazon.

Speaker:

That's something that people have been asking me about.

Speaker:

And I know that people have been buying them over over

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where you are.

Speaker:

So yeah,

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I would tell them to come line.

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Yeah. And you can get them through Amazon.

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Now I will tell you that the underneath the Christmas tree,

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if you just look under your author name,

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at least when I did it,

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it didn't show up.

Speaker:

But when I put underneath the Christmas tree,

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then it showed up.

Speaker:

So maybe it's just cause it's new.

Speaker:

Yeah. It could just be kind of like an Amazon glitch.

Speaker:

Maybe if it was Amazon that you were looking at,

Speaker:

sometimes things take a little while kind of be uploaded.

Speaker:

When we released the title for the new book that's coming

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out next spring,

Speaker:

we thought it was going to appear about four or five

Speaker:

days before it actually went live.

Speaker:

So I know there can be a delay on things like

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that. If you put this button land issue,

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definitely bring it up.

Speaker:

Yeah. It's definitely there because I just got three more books

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actually. So I've got my stack already going.

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The ones I've read the ones that are waiting in line

Speaker:

in order,

Speaker:

like I said to you before,

Speaker:

and then I just ordered three more.

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Cause I had to get this one.

Speaker:

So yes,

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you can absolutely go on Amazon and get it.

Speaker:

And all your books are available in hard copy,

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Kindle and audible,

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I believe.

Speaker:

Yes. Yeah.

Speaker:

All available in all formats now,

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which is fantastic.

Speaker:

So nice and accessible for everybody.

Speaker:

Yes. Okay.

Speaker:

So I do have one last question about underneath the Christmas

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tree, the cover is pink.

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How did that happen?

Speaker:

Wow. Gosh,

Speaker:

it's normally the second draft has gone in.

Speaker:

So when I've written that first draft that we talked about

Speaker:

earlier that goes into my agent and editor,

Speaker:

they come back with their notes and I do any work

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that needs doing.

Speaker:

And it will be at that point when they have got

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the full measure of the story,

Speaker:

that's when they go to the publicity team and the art

Speaker:

department and they start making like they do the cover try.

Speaker:

And the first cover that came back,

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it was different to the one we've got now,

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it was still pink.

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And I loved that,

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but there were a couple of people who weren't quite so

Speaker:

sure. So we also try to end kind of like a

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mint color with red writing for the font.

Speaker:

But the book that came out this spring also a kind

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of shade of green and putting them side by side,

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I felt they looked similar and I was already in love

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with the pink cover.

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I was team pink right from the word go.

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So I was quite pleased that the other ones didn't sort

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of meet up to what they were looking for really.

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So we kind of,

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we tweaked it and we just thought,

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yeah, we're going to go with this.

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There is a thread in the story that will kind of

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make sense for that pink cover.

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Obviously I'm not going to tell you what it is cause

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I know you've not read it yet.

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You're such A tease.

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It's really popped this year.

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There were so many more blue covers,

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blue purple,

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dark green covers at the moment.

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So one is really kind of been quite unusual.

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I think It's beautiful.

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And it's also festive,

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but it's definitely Christmas.

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Yeah. It still works really well.

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And they've the gold foils that they've got on there.

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I just love that.

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And the color of my name and everything.

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Yeah. I think I always say this one,

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a new book comes out by,

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I think it's my favorite cover,

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but I know that next year it will be saying exactly

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the same thing.

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It's gotta be fun to see what they come up with

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on the creative end for the covers,

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that match your stories.

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It's a really interesting part of the process.

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And I think I'm really lucky with my publishing team,

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some authors with other publishing houses,

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they don't get a say in their cover.

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They'll get told what the cover is going to look like.

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And there is no room to change anything.

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But when we work together as a really big team,

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so you've got myself and my agent and then you've got

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the whole publishing team.

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We tweak it together.

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We come up with this together and I'm very fortunate in

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that. I've never had to cover that.

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I thought,

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oh, I'm not so sure about that one.

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I've loved them all.

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Yeah. Well this one's beautiful.

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I'm definitely team pink with you for sure.

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So one final question and then I'm going to let you

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go carry on with your holiday.

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I love what you're putting up on Instagram.

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Is that coming from you or do you have a team

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that's putting up your social posts for you?

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That's something I've never been asked before,

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but it is something that has come up because I have

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Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

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And honestly it takes me as much time working in those

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social channels as,

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as I said in the vote.

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But it's a part of the job that I really enjoy.

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And a couple of years ago,

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the publishing team said to me,

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would you like some help with your socials?

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Would you like us to do a bit on your behalf?

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And I was like,

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no, absolutely not.

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Because I have a really good relationship with my readers and

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I try so hard to respond to everything,

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whether it's something I've posted and they've commented on,

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or it's something that they've posted and tagged me in,

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I love that relationship.

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And I love that opportunity to be able to connect.

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So yeah,

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absolutely everything comes from me And you show up regularly.

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I see you in my Instagram feed a lot.

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Do you have a certain amount of days that you're posting

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like a true posting schedule or do you just do it

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when the inspiration hits?

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I kind of dip in and out throughout the day.

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My day starts quite early.

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I could wake up about five o'clock.

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So the first thing that I will do will be to

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turn my phone on,

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check my emails and see if there's anything I need to

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respond to on social media.

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And if there's something that I need to celebrate,

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say like there might be a publication anniversary or it might

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be Christmas and I'd taken a nice picture of the tree

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that I want to upload.

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I will do that really early.

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And then if it's a writing day,

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I will put my phone to one side and I don't

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allow myself to look at it anymore until I've done a

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really good chunk of work.

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And I have had my walk really important.

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I think when you work on your own and you're in

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the house on your own all the time,

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you need out,

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you need to get a fresh air.

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So that's really,

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really important part of my routine.

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So then I'll dip in again,

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maybe around lunchtime and have a catch-up and then again,

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late afternoon and again in the evening.

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So I'm always dipping in and out,

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but I find if I don't do that,

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I can't keep on top of everything.

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So I need to be present as often as I can

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be, but not to the detriment of my job.

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No, that makes sense.

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You compartmentalize things.

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So you'll look at your social media and then you'll put

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it aside.

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As you said,

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especially when you're doing your writing,

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you know,

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cause you have to be so focused then,

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and then self-care walking always great,

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you know,

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getting out,

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doing something.

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So that sounds amazing.

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Well, whatever you're doing,

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it is working.

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Like I said,

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I adore you.

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I adore what you're writing.

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Thank you so much for putting out in the world,

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what you do and Heidi Merry Christmas,

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Merry Christmas and Merry Christmas.

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Everybody. I hope you all have an absolutely wonderful day.

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Merry Christmas,

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everyone. I want to wish you a Merry Christmas.

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I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas.

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I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of

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my volleys naggy dad.

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dad. I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas.

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I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas.