Humour in Writing – Sue Fortin

Sue Fortin

Whilst I don’t think I could write a rom com, I have noticed that humour finds its way into my writing without me realising it. It happens when the characters really take over and you find them saying things you hadn’t planned. It  comes in different forms, depending on the character.

 

 

In my novel, “Closing In,” I used humour to end a love scene and a chapter. It wasn’t planned; it just seemed to appear on the page. I’ve had several people comment on it and how it made them chuckle. Overtones of a ‘Carry On’ film, I feel.

 Excerpt from “Closing In”

 The come-down was slower; gentle waves lapping over her body, her breathing levelled, her heart rate dropped and the dizziness subsided. Donovan was spent, exhausted, and lying half on her and half on the chaise. He kissed her cheek and brushed a strand of hair from her face.

‘Much as I love this chaise, it wasn’t built for two,’ he said.

‘Where do you suggest instead?’ asked Ellen making sure the kiss she gave left him in no doubt what she had in mind.

‘It’s king sized,’ he said between kisses.

‘I know that.’ She grinned. ‘Now, show me what size your bed is.’

Also from “Closing In” : This is probably closer to sarcasm than humour, but it suits the character of Carla – a bit caustic.

Excerpt:

The clunk of the receiver being slammed back into its cradle made Ellen jump. She heard Carla’s chair wheels squeak as they rolled over the carpet and before Ellen had time to react, Carla was yanking open the door.

She looked startled to see Ellen there but was quick to regain her composure.

‘Is there something I can help you with, Ellen?’ Her voice was the epitome of politeness but her eyes told a different story.

Ellen gulped. ‘Do you know what time Donovan will be back?’

Carla appraised her for a moment. ‘No, I don’t. These networking meetings can run on for some time. Is there something urgent that I can help with?’

‘No, it’s fine.’

‘Good. Now, if you don’t mind I’ve got work to do and I’d rather you didn’t lurk outside my office door like some sort of spectre. I know it’s Halloween, but still.’

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“Closing In” is available at   Amazon UK and Amazon.com

*****

“United States of Love” – Again, this just suited my character. It’s exactly how he spoke and the sort of expression he would use.

Excerpt:

‘Let’s sit down.’ He gestured towards the seats. ‘That’s better. Look, I was just out for a drink. I forgot you said you’d be here, but when I saw you with your client, I was, well, hurt.’

‘Hurt?’

‘Yeah, like shocked. Jealous, I suppose.’

‘Jealous?’

‘Blimey, Anna, it’s like having a conversation with an echo.’ Mark let out a sigh. ‘You know how I feel about you, I told you the other night. You said you were going to think about things. Since then you’ve avoided me like a dose of the clap.’

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United States of Love is available at Amazon UK and Amazon.com

Three Things

I’ve been tagged by author Sue Fortin (click her name to go to her blog) in a bloghop to tell Three Things I Don’t Write and Three Things I Do Write. \

What are three things I don’t write?

Mainly I don’t write things I wouldn’t enjoy reading myself.

Here are three examples:

1. Topics I Know Little About.

Why? I’ve always found it annoying to be reading a book and come across factual mistakes. For example, in one novel a character put “bullets” in a “shotgun.” A shotgun takes shells, not bullets. It’s a small mistake but it cast doubt on the author’s credibility for everything that followed.

If I have to put something into my novel that I’m not sure about, I find an expert on the subject and find out all I can about it. Then I double check it with at least one other reliable source to verify the information.

2. Paranormal, Science Fiction, and Vampire Stories.

I’m very much a realist, and although many vampire and science fiction stories are well-written and are potentially entertaining, I can’t bring myself to read them. I would always be having to remind myself “IF this could possibly happen (which it can’t) then how would I feel about the scene I’m reading now,” and for me, having to go through that mental struggle of acceptance already takes the fun out of reading the story. If I can’t enjoy reading this genre, how could I possibly write it with the enthusiasm and gusto needed to create a good novel?

3. Wordy Descriptions 

I have never enjoyed reading lengthy, usually boring, descriptions of any sort. In some novels, I’ve suffered through descriptions of a woman’s dress, the decor of a room in an English castle of long ago, or the setting of a scene. These descriptions can all be incorporated into the story in bits here and there without putting the reader to sleep. I resent having to plough through pages of trivia in order to get an image in my head, and invariably it starts me skimming. Once I start skimming, the fun of reading is gone and I only want to get to the end to find out what happens. Even then, it is less than satisfying because I’ve missed the richness of the story. Verbiage is not the answer to conveying these descriptions to the reader.

What I DO write.

1. Relationships

A story has to have a good plot, but without characters that I can identify with, the most exciting plot would be shallow. I want the reader to care about my characters. Love them or hate them, I don’t care, but have some feelings about them. The plot has to involve people with meaningful relationships, so this is a big part of my writing.

2. Short Bits.

In between writing novels, I enjoy writing short accounts of personal experiences, often with a funny twist where the joke is on me. I like to laugh and I don’t mind laughing at myself once in a while.

3. Entertainment for Ordinary People

I like to write in a conversational way, using language that is rich enough to be savoured, but straightforward enough to get the point across. I admire writers who can use enough words but not too many, to say what they want to say. I want the reader to feel as if they’re sitting in my living room while I tell them my story over a glass of fine wine. I hope that if they fall asleep it will be from the wine and not my story.

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If you are a writer and would like to post something on this blog, please email me at anneli@anneli-purchase.com. I am always happy to give new writers a platform on which to “strut their stuff.”

Be sure to visit Darlene Jones’ blog for her “three things.” http://ow.ly/xpfzS 

Closing In – Sue Fortin

Today I welcome guest author, Sue Fortin, to Anneli’s Place.  Sue will tell us a bit about her new novel, “Closing In.”

The Villages Behind the Story

Having lived in West Sussex for most of my life, I really enjoy incorporating the local area into my novels.  With “Closing In” which is to be released on 15 May, I used the backdrop of two neighbouring villages, Felpham and Middleton-on-Sea.   I thought I would share some pictures of the setting.

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The beginnings of a storm at Felpham October 2013. My book is set in the autumn, and I thought this picture reflected the setting perfectly.

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A lovely sunset of the beach at Middleton-on-Sea. Mentioned in the Doomsday Book, Middleton, as it was then referred to, has in the past provided great opportunities for smuggling. With its gently sloping beach and the Elmer sluice, it was a favourite spot for bringing contraband ashore. In 1745 it was reported that five tonnes of tea was brought onto the beach and during this incident 36 smugglers were arrested.

However, Middleton was not destined to remain. It is believed that up to two-thirds of the village was reclaimed by the sea, with the medieval church succumbing to a high tide in 1838.

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Brightly painted beach huts are found along Felpham sea front. There has long been a debate as to the correct pronunciation of Felpham, whether the ‘ph’ should be a hard sound (Felf-fm) or whether it should be softer like ‘Felp-am’ with an almost silent ‘h’.

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Poet William Blake lived in Felpham for three years whilst writing his poem Milton. He also shared his thoughts on the village itself …

Away to sweet Felpham for heaven is there:
The Ladder of Angels descends through the air
On the turrett its spiral does softly descend
Through the village it winds, at my cot it does end.

Blake had been invited to Felpham by local resident William Hayley, also a noted writer. Hayley was so famous in his day that he was offered the position of poet laureate 1790, but turned it down.

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Helen has had to leave everything she’s ever known behind; her home, her family, even her own name.

Now, returning to the UK as Ellen Newman, she moves to a small coastal village, working as a nanny for Donovan, a criminal psychologist. Attractive, caring and protective, this single father and his sweet daughter are a world away from Ellen’s brutal past. She thinks she’s escaped. She thinks she’s safe.

But Ellen can’t shake the feeling that something’s wrong.

Strange incidents begin to plague her new family, and their house of calm is about to become one of suspicion and fear. Who can be trusted? Who is the target? Who is closing in?

About the Author

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Sue Fortin was born in Potters Bar, Herts, but had a rather nomadic childhood, moving often with her family before finally settling in West Sussex, where she now lives on the south coast. Before taking to writing seriously, Sue had various secretarial jobs, eventually settling as a PA at a high street bank for 13 years.Having said goodbye to the world of banking to look after her family, Sue published her debut novel ‘United State of Love’ in 2012 and is now looking forward to publication of her second book ‘Closing In.’

You can find out more about Sue Fortin and her second novel, “Closing In” by clicking on the link to her blog:

 

 

 

 

 

Love Quotes

For today’s Valentine’s Day countdown, author Sue Fortin  has found some worthwhile quotes to describe what love means.

Sue Fortin

What does love mean?

When I published my book last year, my Romaniac pals and I discussed this on our blog.  We came up with some great suggestions and these are a few of my favourites.

Friendship is the foundation of love. (Sue Fortin)

Lighting candles even though it’s only soup for tea. (Celia J Anderson)

Making me laugh until I cry. (Vanessa Savage)

Love is a friendship set on fire. (unknown)

Sue Fortin, writer of romance with a touch of danger. Blogs at www.suefortin.wordpress.com and with The Romaniacs, member of the RNA. Published by Harper Collins’ imprint, Harper Impulse.

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Christmas Interview – Sue Fortin

My friend Sue Fortin lives in the U.K. and is the author of “United States of Love.” I’ve asked Sue to share with us her traditions and ideas about the Christmas season. Welcome, Sue!

Sue Fortin

1. Have you ever spent Christmas alone? 

No, not alone, but I’ve worked on Christmas Day before now.  When I was a teenager my weekend job was in a care home for the elderly, so when Christmas fell on a Saturday, I still had to go in. It was nice though and only for the morning – I was still home for Christmas dinner.

 2. Have you ever had a non-traditional Christmas dinner? What did you have? 

I have, unfortunately. It was bacon sandwiches. I was 8 months pregnant and very unwell, and my husband had just come out of hospital after a bout of pneumonia. It was all we could do to get out of bed to open a couple of presents with our 18-month-old son and cook a few rounds of sandwiches. In the end my mum abandoned her Christmas Day and drove 120 miles to come to the rescue.  We actually had our traditional Christmas dinner in the new year.

3. What are your thoughts on gift giving?

I like giving presents and not at all fussed about receiving any. Having said that, it is lovely when one of my children gives me a present that I know they’ve gone to the trouble of buying themselves. I find that very touching.

4. Do you have stockings either at Christmas, or on St. Nicholas Day?

I never had Christmas stockings as a child and so it never occurred to me to do them for my children. We have what I call ‘tree presents’. These are given out after Christmas dinner and are the smaller gifts. I also save one present each for my children at the end of Christmas Day. It’s usually a DVD or a book, something they can relax with in the evening once all the excitement is over.

Christmas tree

 5. What do you do with gifts you don’t like?

Save them for school raffle prizes or donate them to a charity shop.

 6. What is your favourite Christmas music or song?

I love ‘Silent Night’. It always reminds me of being a child and singing it at nursery school. It must have been the first Christmas carol I knew.

 7. What do you like best about Christmas?

Getting together with all the family. I don’t live near any of my family so it’s really nice when we get the chance to meet up.

United_States_of_Love__High_ResThe Kindle Edition of United States of Love is available at amazon.co.uk

Writing Challenges

I asked fellow writers to give us some insights into situations they face with regard to their writing. If you’re a writer, you may recognize some of their complaints and solutions. Let’s see what they have to say.

What are your greatest challenges in writing and how do you deal with them?

Sue Fortin, author of United State of Love

Sue profile pic 1I have to say my biggest challenge is The Voice of Guilt.  It’s not often I get a long stretch at writing and when I do, always at the back of

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my mind, there’s a little niggling voice whispering things like “Don’t forget that pile of ironing,”’ or “Doesn’t the bathroom need cleaning?”

To combat this, I try to plan ahead and have in my mind a set day or time I’m going to write. That way, I can make sure

everything at home is done beforehand so when I sit in front of my laptop, I have a clear conscience and can concentrate on my WIP. I know I shouldn’t really have to feel guilty but …

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Bonnie Trachtenberg

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My greatest challenge in writing is getting myself to finally sit down and do it. I wish I was one of those writers who looked forward to it, but I’m just not. Sometimes I’d rather do anything else, including laundry or cleaning! Unfortunately, what gets me to finally force myself to sit down is anxiety that I haven’t accomplished anything. I sometimes ease myself into it by having a television on while I pull up my latest pages. Once I get started reading them over and correcting any problems, I’ll mute or turn off the television altogether. Soon after, time begins to fly by and I’m back under “the spell”.

 

Bonnie Trachtenberg is the author of “Wedlocked” and “Neurotically Yours.”

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Mandy Baggot 

Author of contemporary romance, Taking Charge and upcoming romantic suspense novel, Security

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Distractions! They are everywhere! Children, pets, husband, Twitter, Facebook, You Tube music videos, TV, dancing babies, interesting blog posts, pictures of half naked men. Some days I think someone is deliberately out to get me! You will not write Lady Baggot, you will waste the day leering at the work of other people while you get nothing done! When this happens there is only one thing to do. Switch it all off! Turn off the internet, the radio, the television, the half-naked men and FOCUS. Let nothing else into your world. Remain focussed for as long as possible or at least until the children scream for attention and food. As writers we feel we need to stay on top of what’s going on at all times – constantly comment on everything that happens on social media – I know I do! But if I didn’t stamp on those distractions sometimes I’d never get a book written!

Besides “Taking Charge” and “Security,” Mandy Baggot is also the author of “Knowing Me, Knowing You,” “Public Property,” “Excess All Areas,” and “Breaking the Ice.”

 

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Stephanie Keyes Stephanie-Keyes-180x240 The greatest challenges that I face in writing…

  1. The first is editing. It’s exhausting for me! As liberating as writing and creating are, editing is a drain.
  2. The second is time. As a mother with two little ones, I find that coming up with time to write is just as challenging. When you add in public appearances and other responsibilities, pulling together a few moments to write can be challenging.

Regardless of the challenges, I don’t know that I’d change a thing. Both challenges help me grow in my writing.

Stephanie Keyes is the author of “The Fallen Stars” and “The Star Child.”

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Linn B. Halton Linn-B-Halton-180x240 Self-pub or submission? Deciding whether to self-publish or submit to a publisher is the hardest decision of all. Having one foot in both camps has made that decision even harder for me personally. Both routes work well and I do love the support that my publishers – Sapphire Star – are able to give; also their advice and guidance plus technical expertise. Being able to hand over a manuscript and only having to get involved with the edits and cover design, is easier than having to go through the whole publishing process yourself. But there’s a part of me that likes to be in control of everything and whilst it’s been a HUGE learning curve, there’s a lot of personal satisfaction in acquiring new skills. Marketing isn’t easy but the same thing applies whether you self-pub or sign a contract; no one will buy your book if they don’t know it’s out there! For the moment I hope that I can continue to use both routes to publication and enjoy honing the new skills I’ve learnt. Here’s my latest, newly-acquired skill – 3D book covers!

Linn B. Halton is the Author of “Never Alone,” “Touched By the Light,” “The Quintessential Gemini,” The Restaurant@ the Mill,” and “Being a Sceptic is Oh So Easy.”

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Darlene Jones 100-0059_IMG One often hears of “writer’s block.” It’s happened to me with each of my novels. I come to a point when I just don’t know where to go with the story or the characters. My solution is to stay away from writing for a time. I’m lucky in that any time lines are self-imposed so I have the luxury of not writing for a bit. Then, when ideas start whirling in my head, I get back at it.

Darlene Jones is the author of three novels. Her fourth novel is forthcoming.

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Carol E. Wyer

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Being left alone to type is the biggest problem I face. My husband can’t seem to understand that when I am writing, I need to be left alone, even after five novels. My age helps me hugely. A couple of years ago, I developed insomnia but I turned it to my advantage. Nowadays, I wait until he is snoring in bed, then get up and type until the early hours of the morning. Only to be recommended if you can manage being sleep-deprived for several weeks and don’t mind looking like  a hung over panda who has had a few rounds with a champion fighter. I also find that my eyes get tired more easily these days and I make quite a few typos. I use the “Search” feature in Word to ensure I haven’t made my usual mistakes of typing “form” instead of “from” and so on. It is surprising how useful that tool is.

Carol E Wyer, author of “Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines,” “Surfing in Stilettos,” “How Not to Murder Your Grumpy,” and “Just Add Spice.”

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Anneli Purchase

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When no bright ideas are blowing around the trade winds of my mind, the doldrums set in. Some call it writer’s block. I call it the doldrums. I dread them. They usually settle in after I’ve written a scene that doesn’t work and I don’t have a new idea yet. I despair of ever writing another good sentence. The solution? When I can’t stand the lack of creativity anymore, I find a quiet place. I take my pen and paper and scribble out possibilities in a brainstorming pattern, making circles around keywords and linking possibilities to them also in keywords. Eventually, a new thread appears and I can’t wait to get back to the computer to try the new scene. Saved again, until the next weather system moves in. Funny thing is, the doldrums happen when the trades are becalmed, and yet my personal doldrums are anything but calming.

Anneli Purchase is author of “The Wind Weeps,” “Orion’s Gift,” and “Julia’s Violinist.”
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Nicky Wells

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Author – Nicky Wells

Challenge #1 ~ Second-guessing myself. This is a new phenomenon that has presented itself after receiving fabulous edits and suggestions for my first two books. Now, while I write, I can almost hear the editor say, “show, don’t tell” or “can you prove that?” which means I occasionally question my writing even while I write. My response? If it’s an obviously valid point, I make an immediate adjustment (e.g. more dialogue, do the research on a particular point, etc.) If it isn’t, I follow my writing heart and keep writing, perhaps making a note of the uncertainty for future consideration. If in doubt, I’d always advise to keep ploughing on  rather than getting caught up in second-guesses!

Challenge #2 ~ Length. Or rather, limiting the length. I am a prolific writer! The first draft of my second novel came in at nearly 150,000 words. The knives had to come out and some drastic cutting took place. Now, when I write, I listen to myself and my “gut” for cutting. If I know a scene is beautiful but non-essential, I cut it out immediately or, better still, don’t write it at all. Of course it’s not a perfect process (and it ties in with challenge #1 a lot of the time) BUT my most recent WIP finished at 106,000 words ~ a perfect word count, as far as I’m concerned, and a much sharper, fast-paced manuscript from the start.

Nicky Wells is the author of “Sophie’s Turn” and “Sophie’s Run.” Forthcoming on Sept. 5, is her next novel, “Sophie’s Encore.”

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Melanie Robertson-King, author of A Shadow in the Past.

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I work full time as well as write. So juggling work, promoting my current book, and writing requires a sense of balance and sadly, I’ve not found it yet.

I try to do promotional work in the mornings before I head off to the day job.

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Patricia Sands

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My greatest writing challenges:

Condensing my thoughts into fewer words is my primary goal for future projects. Both of my novels have hovered around the 130,000-word mark and the ideal is 80,000 – 90,000. I realize now that I should have made The Promise of Provence into two books and could easily have done so.

My advice: Pay close attention to your word count from the beginning of your WIP. If you see it is getting out of hand, take a look and see how you might tighten up.

My second goal is to be more organized about thoughts and research. I tend to write notes to myself on post-its and end up with an enormous stack. My basic and most important research I keep in notes on my computer and can easily refer to them but the random ideas, words, and bits of information always end up on post-its. I have to stop doing that!

My advice: Develop an organized method of making all of your thoughts and ideas easily accessible. I like the idea shown here and am going to try to do this for my next novel which is slowly simmering as I write this!

Patricia

Patricia Sands is the author of “The Bridge Club” and “The Promise of Provence.”

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Readers, please share your comments with us. We want to know what you think.

Living The Good Life

Today I’m pleased to introduce my guest, Sue Fortin. She lives in the UK and is author and contributor today at Anneli’s Place. Sue and I both apologize for the poor quality of the photos, but they were taken a long time ago and thus fit with the story rather well.

Living the Good Life

UK television viewers of the 70s will, no doubt, remember the BBC sitcom ‘The Good Life’. http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/goodlife/ A quick summary for those who are unfamiliar with this sitcom: Tom and Barbara Good give up their middle-class trappings and adopt a sustainable, simple, and self-sufficient lifestyle without moving from their suburban home. They grow their own vegetables and fruit, and their garden becomes home to chickens, pigs, and a goat called Geraldine, much to the horror of their conservative neighbours, the Leadbetters.

My dad always worked in London. Wherever we lived he always commuted in. As fans of ‘The Good Life’ it seems my parents thought they would give it a go themselves and in the late 1970s moved us to a tiny and remote Fenland village in Cambridgeshire where our neighbours were either farmers or HGV drivers.

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Three acres of the land that came with the bungalow we lived in was given over to growing barley. There was a paddock for my pony, and we rented out stables and use of the paddock to other horse owners.

One of the outbuildings became a free-range chicken house for approximately 150 chickens. My sister and I would go down to the barn in the mornings and rummage amongst the straw and roosting boxes to collect the day’s eggs.  My mum would then box them and put them on a table in the conservatory where she sold them.

We had a huge vegetable garden and mini orchard. Strawberries, gooseberries, plums, apples, pears, and the like were all harvested, boxed, and sold. as was the jam my mum made from the produce.

Breadmaking was also a high on the ‘Good Life’ list. I remember we had to be careful when opening the airing cupboard as there would be tins and tins of dough ‘rising’ under a damp tea towel. Again, the bread was sold from our conservatory.

In those days, I really don’t think there were any particular food hygiene regulations that you had to comply with. Certainly, nobody in the village seemed to mind, probably due to the fact that there was only one shop which sold the very basics, closed at lunch-times, had half-day opening on Wednesdays and never opened on a Sunday. Grabbing a loaf of bread or some eggs from ‘the new people in the bungalow’ was convenience shopping 1970s style.

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I look back on those days with fond memories. I wouldn’t say it was a bohemian childhood but living in The Fens afforded me a lot of freedom which I never experienced anywhere else we lived. As to what happened to my ‘Good Life’ parents, well, after a couple of years they sold up and moved to West Sussex where my mum then had a village shop and my dad continued to commute into London daily. I wonder if they had stopped watching ‘The Good Life’ and, at that point, were watching ‘Open All Hours’? http://www.bbc.co.uk/comedy/openallhours/

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Sue Fortin was born in Potters Bar, Herts, but had a rather nomadic childhood, moving often with her family before finally settling in West Sussex, where she now lives on the south coast.

Before taking to writing seriously, Sue had various secretarial jobs, eventually settling as a PA at a high street bank for 13 years.

Having said goodbye to the world of banking to look after her family, Sue published her debut novel ‘United State of Love’ in 2012 and is currently working on her second book ‘Closing In’. Sue is a feature writer with the Lifestyle e-magazine Love A Happy Ending http://www.loveahappyending.com/

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Links for United State of Love

Amazon.co.uk         http://ow.ly/jbYrE

Amazon.com           http://ow.ly/jbYFo