How I came to exist

I’ve always been fascinated with my ancestors; after all, I wouldn’t be here without them. Take a minute to think about your ancestors: If any single one of them had made different decisions, chosen different husbands/wives, died earlier or later, or even had a headache and not felt in the mood, that fateful night that they got jiggy with it and conceived the next in line… you wouldn’t have been born.

That’s pretty fundamental; you wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for them. Their decisions made it possible for you to exist.

So, I started to trace my family tree. I had secret wish (which I’m sure most ancestor seekers do) to find something really interesting; I wanted to find I was a descendant or relative of royalty, or Shakespeare, or Austen, or something really fascinating.

To my surprise and delight; I am related to some pretty interesting people (many with Wikipedia pages!), and in and effort to share with my many living relatives and anyone else who cares enough to listen… here’s some of what I found.

Lady Jane Grey, Queen of England – 9 days Queen – my 3rd cousin x14 removed. Born in 1537, Lady Jane Grey was crowned Queen of England for only 9 days before Henry VIII’s daughter Mary took over. Jane was executed at the Tower of London for treason. Her Grandfather, Charles Brandon – my 1st cousin x16 removed, was a close friend and brother-in-law to Henry VIII. I couldn’t resist adding Henry to my family tree too, although only very distantly related by marriage!

muncaster-castle-2Maria Margaret France Pennington – my great great great great grandmother, born in 1783… I noticed that she was born at Muncaster Castle, so as soon as I spotted that I was intrigued by her history. Turns out, her father (my 5th great grandfather) was Sir John Pennington, and his father before him (my 6th great grandfather), Sir Joseph Pennington. And Sir Joseph and all his ancestors before him, lived in Muncaster Castle since 1066, according to the family tree on display Muncaster Castle.

I went there recently and found it fascinating to think that decisions and lives that were made and played out in that building, meant that I would one day be born. There was a painting of Maria Pennington – I’m pretty sure the same one – inside the castle, and there was something about her face that seemed familiar, even before I realised (to my delight) that it was her. I also spotted a painting of Margaret Lowther, my 7th great grandmother, born in 1682. I recommend it for a visit; the Pennington family (my distant cousins, I suppose!) still live there today. Lovely place with beautiful grounds.


Alexander Lindsay – (left) my 5th great grandfather – was owner of Haigh Hall in Lancashire. You can trace his (and my!) ancestors back through on Wikipedia, just click this link to read about him, and then click to read about his father, my 6th great grandfather James Lindsay, and so on, going back quite far.

This is just a flavour of what I’ve found about the people who led to my existence :) I highly recommend to anyone who wants to trace their family tree. If you’re related to me, connect with me on there and I’ll share what I’ve done so far…

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The Truth About Ellen – free chicklit extract

The-Truth-About-EllenLong time, no blog! I’ve been super busy… but I hope you’ve all had a fabulous summer.

For those who haven’t read it yet, here’s an extract from my newest rom com novel, The Truth About Ellen

Ellen (a #fangirl!) has just followed her celebrity crush, rock star Jasper Ryan, into a hotel and then into the elevator, but she hasn’t got the courage to speak to him yet…

“Penthouse please,” he said to the back of my head. Wow, his voice was so familiar, even though he’d never actually spoken to me personally before.

“Righty ho,” I said, glancing at him. He smiled at me and I pressed the button for the penthouse. Righty ho? What planet was I on? I took a deep breath and willed my hands to dry themselves.

“You up in the penthouse too?” He smirked, after I’d failed to press any more buttons. Oops. I quickly leant forward and pressed level 20, the highest I could go, wanting this journey to last forever.

As if all the gods, saints and angels had heard me, the lift jolted and stopped. A whirring noise ground to a stop, leaving us in silence and I spun round to face Jasper, no longer the rock god I’d fancied since I was a child, but my co-victim in a horrific situation which was surely going to end in tears, and quite possibly death when the lift dropped us ten floors. Oh God. I’d be in the papers. However … my name would always be mentioned with his. It wouldn’t be all bad.

Jasper gave me a reassuring smile and leaned across me to press a big red button on the panel. He smelt of alcohol and I wondered how much he’d drunk that day; it wasn’t much after six pm.

“Don’t worry, I’m sure it’ll be fixed in no time,” he said, winking at me. He pulled out his phone. “Ah, no signal.” He put it back in his pocket and flashed me his famous, gorgeous smile.

Talk to him, you idiot. My mouth felt dry and I opened it to speak but couldn’t find any words.

“Typical,” I managed to utter, rolling my eyes. He looked at me again and gave a gentle laugh. I’d had years to prepare for this moment, and had made all this effort to talk to him, and suddenly I didn’t know what to say.

“Are you claustrophobic?”

“No,” I said, unsure if this was true. I’d never really been stuck in a small confined space before. But if I was going to be, I guess getting stuck with Jasper Ryan wasn’t a bad thing. I reminded myself to be cool.


I glanced away from him and at myself in the mirror. Why hadn’t I put more makeup on? A day on the trains meant it wasn’t my best hair day, either. He too looked in the mirror and caught my eye. A big smile spread across his face, and I couldn’t help but smile back.

“Jasper,” he said, offering his hand. Did he really think anyone on the planet didn’t know what his name was? Okay, maybe there were men who didn’t know. But no warm-blooded, straight British woman under forty wouldn’t recognise his face.

No time to wipe my sweaty hands, but I shook it, my heart beating faster at the feel of his skin. The thirteen year old Ellen was about ready to faint. The 21 year old told her to get a grip. He was just a man, an ordinary man, I reminded myself.

“Ellen,” I told him.
“You’ve got beautiful eyes, Ellen.”
I felt myself blush. Was Jasper Ryan complimenting me? Seriously? He thought my eyes were beautiful? But how many other girls had he said that to? Probably hundreds. Or thousands. Or hundreds of thousands. But I was one of them!

“Thanks,” I said, blushing.
“What are you staying here for?”|
I told him about the theatre and Zoe getting ill, neglecting to mention that she was in the much less impressive hotel down the other end of the street.
“That sucks.”
“Why are you here?”
“Just working. I’m trying to fly home to see my family, but I can’t get a flight until tomorrow because of the hurricane.”


I knew he owned an apartment in New York these days, but I wanted to keep the conversation going.

“I live in the US. New York City. But I really want to get upstate, to my parents’ house. My dad’s very ill.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.”
“Thanks.” He gave me a sad smile and sat down, leaning back against the mirror. Man, he was the best looking rock god I’d ever been stuck in a lift with. Scrap that, he was the best looking man I’d ever been stuck anywhere with.

“They only moved to the states a few years back. If they’d stayed in the UK I’d be with them right now.”

I didn’t want to be grateful that his father was ill, nor that he wasn’t with him, but I was pretty glad he was stuck in this lift with me, rather than anywhere else. I sat down opposite him and crossed my legs.

“I’m sure you’ll make it home tomorrow.” He nodded.

“This,” he said, gesturing to the corners of the lift, “is crap. You spend all this money on a decent hotel and the bloody lift breaks down.”

I wanted to point out that the tiny room I’d paid for down the road had cost me a day’s wages, whereas his massive penthouse suite was probably a drop in the ocean on his bank account, but decided that was probably the sort of conversation topic I’d regret later.

“These things always happen to me,” I admitted. “I’ve broken plenty of bones, plenty of my mother’s precious ornaments, and once I even choked on some chicken at a wedding. I’m accident prone.”

Great, now I’d chatted to Jasper Ryan about vomiting and choking. What a smooth operator I was. “I’ll blame you then,” he said with a cheeky grin.
“I wish I could smoke in here.”

I was grateful he couldn’t; but I didn’t say anything. I’d said quite enough stupid things already. “So what are you going to do tonight?” he asked me.
Good question. The chances of me making it to the theatre on time now were very low.
“I don’t know. Probably hit the mini bar. Watch some TV. You?”
“Yeah, the same.”
“No glamorous parties or celeb friends to hang out with?”
He shrugged. “Nah. I’ve been trying to keep myself to myself.”
“Fair enough.”

I couldn’t think what else to say. We looked at each other for a moment and I took a mental snapshot, his scruffy, dark hair leaning back against the mirror. His grey t-shirt was tight enough to just about hint at his abs. He’d thrown his leather jacket down beside him. He was wearing dark blue jeans and black boots and his legs looked long, stretched out in front of him. If I moved my own leg slightly to the left, our trouser legs would be touching…

“Stop doing that,” he said after a moment’s silence.
“What?” I asked, my face burning red. I hoped he wasn’t referring to my staring at him.
“Tucking your hair behind your ear. It looks nicer in front.”
I hadn’t even realised I’d been playing with my hair. I flicked it forward, in front of my ear and let a long wave rest against my cheek.


“You really don’t realise how pretty you are, do you?”

My heart flipped and I reminded myself again that I was just one of many he’d used his charms on. He held my gaze and we stared at each other for a few minutes. My whole body was sweating now, hopefully not so much that he could tell.

The elevator whirred into life and started to move. Jasper got up and held out his hand for me. I felt a tingle run from my fingertips to my chest as I held on to him and he pulled me up.

“Thanks,” I said as I let go. The doors pinged open. We’d reached the twentieth floor and I had to get out.

“Bye,” I said, wondering if I’d ever get anyone to believe me that this had happened. I felt too lame to ask for a photo now.

“See ya,” he said, flashing me a grin.

I stepped out of the lift and went to walk down the corridor, figuring I’d get back in and ride down on the next one.

“Hey, Ellen?” he called, holding the elevator door open.The Truth About Ellen
“Yes?” I spun around, glad to have the chance to look at him again. “You want to come and share my mini bar?”

With a confidence I’d never felt before, I turned on my heel, walked back into the lift and pushed the button for the penthouse suite again.

Want to read more? The Truth About Ellen is available on Amazon and all other good book stores.

Caroline Fardig’s new novel – Bad Medicine

Having read the first two in the Lizzie Hart series, I can’t wait to read this third instalment from fab author Caroline Fardig :)


Bad%20Medicine%20cover%20copyBad Medicine:

Lizzie Hart is overjoyed that six whole months have passed without a single murder in the sleepy town of Liberty. It’s also been six months since Blake Morgan heartlessly dumped her, but she’s determined to get over him. She’s slimmed down, ready to party, and injury-free, except for a little nagging pain in her ankle. She’s also very single, but her friends are doing everything in their power to fix that—including setting her up on one disastrous blind date after another.

Lizzie’s reprieve is short-lived when an old friend of hers is found dead from an apparent drug overdose. She wants to write it off as bad behavior after having seen the guy cheating on his wife with the new chiropractor in town. However, when she sees that same chiropractor playing doctor with another man who ends up dead, she worries there could be murder afoot.

Doing her best to stay on the right side of the law this time, Lizzie decides to go straight to the police with her suspicions. Unfortunately, the only cop available to speak with her is the stern yet hot new detective who has already given her a traffic ticket and a reprimand for public intoxication. Not surprisingly, he brushes her off, leaving her no choice but to begin snooping on her own. Lizzie soon learns she’s going to need help to get to the bottom of this mystery, but her best partner in crime solving, Blake, has turned into her worst enemy.

Can Lizzie and Blake find a way to work together to catch the killer…or will they kill each other first?

Buy from Amazon:

Amazon UK >    Amazon US >

About Caroline Fardig:

Headshot%20copyCAROLINE FARDIG is the author of the LIZZIE HART MYSTERIES series and the forthcoming DEATH BEFORE DECAF, available November 2015 through Random House. Her eclectic working career included occupations of schoolteacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom before she realized that she wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Born and raised in a small town in Indiana, Fardig still lives in that same town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

Connect with Caroline:

Website >   Twitter >    Facebook >

Take That live – something you’ll never forget

Seeing Take That live is not like any other concert. They don’t just stand on stage and sing. It’s a theatrical stage show with plenty of flair, over the top costumes, special effects, and amazing sets. They put on a show like no other, and are the best band I’ve ever seen live (as a 5, 4 or 3 piece!)

There was a good mixture of old and new, with some great songs from the new album but also the old classics we all love like Relight My Fire, Could It Be Magic and Back For Good. My favourite song ever is Shine – always fab live, and of course great songs like Rule the World and Patience are always crowd favourites. They ended with Never Forget, the crowd with their hands in the air and yellow confetti showering over us.

Everyone stood up from the very beginning, singing, dancing, clapping, cheering. These days you get a real mixture of concert-goers, including many men… the atmosphere was electric, the guys amazing…

A very happy Thatter here. Can’t wait for the next time :)

Take That fan? Check out my book The Truth About Ellen – about a girl who meets her celebrity crush :)

Read another blog about Take That: Confessions of a Take That fan >

Extract from Treading on Dreams by Jeff Gardiner

Today I’m featuring some information about Jeff Gardiner’s novel Treading on Dreams – looking forward to reading this one :)

Unrequited Love

It’s the worst thing in the world: being in love, or even obsessed with someone who doesn’t feel the same way about you.

“Let’s just be friends” or “I don’t feel the same way about you” are terrible phrases to hear. There’s very little you can do about it whilst clinging on to your dignity, unless you plan to provoke or bore them into eventual submission. The message is pretty clear.treading on dreams

It’s not easy to then ignore the images, emotions, thoughts and fantasies dominating your mind, as those cruel words echo through it (usually when you wake up at 3am). But just for your own sanity you’ve got to decide whether to continue with the friendship and hope – risking serious hurt as you watch them get involved in other relationships; or to give up on them entirely.

In Treading On Dreams, Donny is obsessed with Selena who is engaged to the perfect man. But Donny refuses to give up, and he bides his time. It’s a risky strategy, which is very likely to go horribly wrong.

I wrote Treading On Dreams in an attempt to explore how those feelings of hope and desire mix with the jealousy and anger rising from romantic and sexual rejection. Donny attempts to distract himself from his obsession by enjoying other sensual and sometimes overwhelming new experiences, guided by his dubious friend, Jaz. It’s contemporary fiction, with twenty-something characters learning about love (or not).


Donny is obsessed with his housemate, Selena – but his love is unrequited. He enthusiastically accepts her willing friendship, which only fuels his deepening fantasies.

Jaz is their crazy landlord who likes sleeping with women – lots of them. He takes pleasure in educating the once innocent Donny in the hedonistic pleasures of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll. It blows Donny’s mind.

Selena is engaged to Melvin – the perfect man – but is also keen to befriend the ever-demanding Donny … until she falls pregnant and her wedding looms.

Donny expresses his true feelings at the wedding, causing mayhem and anger. But there remains a chink of hope: perhaps Selena’s marriage to Melvin is not quite as perfect as it seems.


Donny sat in his room reading, until interrupted by a light tap on his door.

‘Is it okay if I come in?’


He jumped up and opened the door. ‘Of course. I always allow beautiful women into my bedroom.’ She didn’t respond with her usual coy smile.

‘I need to have a chat with you, Donny. Is now a good time?’ She sat on the corner of the bed and he sat next to her, carefully cradling his drink.

‘Donny, I get this feeling you and I have been getting quite close recently and I’ve really enjoyed your company and friendship.’

Donny’s face went hot.

‘Yes, it’s been wonderful. I love being with you.’

‘Well, I don’t think we should spend so much time together.’

Blood pumped in his ears and it almost deafened him. ‘Sorry?’

‘I only want us to be friends. I don’t want any more than that, Donny.’

‘Oh… no, okay.’ However, it wasn’t him speaking; he was a character in a corny film.

She walked out without looking at him or saying another word.


The phrase haunted Donny’s mind, echoing through the lonely darkness of each night: ‘I only want us to be friends.’ He imagined Selena saying it to him with her face warped into a mocking snarl.

After a while, the tablets started to lose their effect and waiting to drift into sleep was a tortured agony, but the more he thought about sleep, the more awake he felt.

How stupid he was to believe he ever had a chance with Selena. Scared of bursting into tears when meeting her, he avoided her for a few days, until one day he walked in on her making a cup of tea.

They both smiled politely but managed to avoid a conversation. Once Selena had made her drink, she quickly scuttled off to her room for the evening.

Donny struggled to put his thoughts together with his mind a jumble of loss, vulnerability, and dismay.

About Jeff:

Jeff is a British author and editor, born in Nigeria, now living in West Sussex. Treading On Dreams is published by Tirgearr, and his other novels are Myopia and Igboland (both published by Crooked Cat), and he also has a collection of short stories and a non-fiction work to his name. Jeff recently gave up teaching to concentrate on writing, editing and performing, and has just signed a three book deal with Accent Press for his ‘Gaia’trilogy.

Visit Jeff’s Website:

Jeff’s Blog:


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The Truth About Ellen – new romantic comedy novel – out now!

Today is the day: my fourth chick-lit novel The Truth About Ellen is now available to download to your e-reader, tablet or phone! :)

You can buy it from: Amazon UK – or – Amazon US – and it’ll soon be available from all other online e-book sellers.

Please don’t forget to share on social media and to tell your friends, family, colleagues, hairdresser, pets, enemies and anyone else who’ll listen :) And if you enjoy, please go back to Amazon and leave a nice review so other readers can hear about it.

The-Truth-About-EllenThe Truth About Ellen

It’s every girl’s dream to date a pop star…

When Ellen starts dating Tom, a member of the band she adored as a teenager, she can’t believe how lucky she is. She neglects to mention that she’s a huge fan because that just wouldn’t be cool, would it?

Ellen also keeps quiet about how she once spent an evening with Tom’s ex-bandmate/ex-best friend Jasper, her long-term celebrity crush. Tom doesn’t need to know about that, it’s all in the past.

That is until Tom and Jasper get back in touch… and the truth threatens to ruin everything Ellen has ever dreamed of…

Keep in touch:

Sign up to my newsletter here … and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter – @sarahsmith16, and connect with me on Facebook :)

Random facts: The Truth About Ellen

So, just 3 days to go until the release of my fourth novel The Truth About Ellen.

Here are some random facts:

  • Ellen has a ginger cat called Bob
  • Ellen’s Gran has a little story all of her own …
  • I wrote this story in about 6 months, but it’s been in my head for about 6 years
  • When I tell friends about the blurb (see below), they ask if this story is my Take That fantasy and the characters are based on Gary Barlow and Robbie Williams! Ha! For the record, although I’m sure I’ve got some inspiration from my Thatter (and other bands) fandom, the characters are entirely fictional
  • Having said that, I would probably behave in the same way Ellen does if I met one of Take That (i.e. get over-excited)
  • Most of the story was written with my dog Poppy sitting besides me
  • Several “cool” cars feature in the story, including a Porsche 911, an Austin Healey and a Bugatti Veyron
  • Ellen travels to Monaco, I visited it a few years back – very cool place

The-Truth-About-EllenThe Truth About Ellen

It’s every girl’s dream to date a pop star…

When Ellen starts dating Tom, a member of the band she adored as a teenager, she can’t believe how lucky she is. She neglects to mention that she’s a huge fan because that just wouldn’t be cool, would it?

Ellen also keeps quiet about how she once spent an evening with Tom’s ex-bandmate/ex-best friend Jasper, her long-term celebrity crush. Tom doesn’t need to know about that, it’s all in the past.

That is until Tom and Jasper get back in touch… and the truth threatens to ruin everything Ellen has ever dreamed of…

The Truth About Ellen is available to pre-order from:

Amazon UK  /

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