Saturday 29 April 2017

The Hippo Hands Over . . . . to Chloe Hammond

Today I'm delighted to be handing over to Chloe Hammond, author of Darkly Dreaming: Vicious and Quirky Vampire Literature for Grown-Ups (The Darkly Trilogy Book 1) Chloe is going to reveal her deepest, darkest secrets. . . .actually that's a lie, but she is going to share ten things you didn't know about her. Before I hand over to Chloe here's her book.


Rae escapes the troubles in her life by dreaming, until the wake-up call of her fortieth birthday approaches.

Then she and her best friend retrace their student trip through France. They expect to find the sun-drenched days of their youth; instead they stumble into a nightmare. Infected by a rebellious vampire, Rae struggles with repugnance towards what she has become, while desiring the beautiful Pride leader, Guillaume. Against her will she is drawn into the Pride's power struggle.

Will Rae succumb to the exhilaration of the hunt?
In this dreamless existence, will the intoxication of liquid dreams found in fresh blood prove irresistible? Can she win Guillaume's confidence and love?
Or will the whole pride be destroyed by the High Council?

                                              *     *    *    *

Now that you know about her book here's the lady herself.

Photo courtesy of Chloe Hammond

Born in Liverpool, Chloe Hammond grew up in West Wales. The family didn’t have a television, so she was forced to overcome her difficulties with the written word, and books became her escape of choice. She quickly became addicted. Chloe studied Behavioural Sciences at the University of Glamorgan, but pestered her lecturers to be allowed some modules of Creative Writing.
After university she embarked on an all-encompassing vocation in support work. For twenty years Chloe worked with the homeless, refugees, vulnerable women, and disadvantaged teenagers.
She always planned to write- life just got in the way. Then Chloe found herself losing her joie de vivre, she was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. She needed to completely change her life, and she needed to be open about her diagnosis. Usually very self-sufficient, she refused to give the depression the isolation it craves. She feared judgement, but instead she discovered gentle compassion and support. Chloe finally made time to write again. Writing soothes and grounds her; exhilarates and stimulates her. Her background in support work allows her great insight into personalities, and flavours her multi-faceted and imperfect characters.

               Ten Things You Don’t Know About Author Chloe Hammond

1.    I used to hate the way I look. I was always plus size, and having severe glandular fever and toxoplasmosis during my twenties and thirties meant I was used to permanent pain, especially when I moved, so I disconnected from my body. My mother always told me I was beautiful, wonderful, etc, but being her daughter, the scowls of disgust I saw her shooting at her own body in the mirror was what I learned about how I looked. Different contraception’s, and depression meant I gained a lot of weight over the last five years, about five stone in total.
I was no longer ‘not deemed acceptable by society chubby’, and now ‘health affectingly obese’. However, anxiety and depression brought a hidden and unexpected gift. I had to completely change my life, I had to reconnect to my creative side and write, and I had to change from frontline support work to a stress free role in retail. Which is much more active. I can’t take on stress and swallow down my emotions with chocolate anymore- I’m full to the brim. The merest suggestion that I’m considering doing something that isn’t in my own best interests brings insomnia, vomiting, aural hallucinations at night, and spontaneous vomiting. And I detest being sick.
The overall result is that without trying I have lost the ‘holding me back fat’, the ‘ruining my knees fat’, and the ‘stopping me dancing fat’. I don’t know how much it is in actual pounds and stones, I only know the impact losing it has had on how my body and I interact. We are friends again, for the first time since I was in my late teens we communicate, and I enjoy what it has to say.
I have joined a plus size chat group on Facebook, I don’t post often, but I love reading about the brave woman ignoring society’s prejudices and being brave enough to have a go at liking themselves anyway. We share successes, disappointments and hurts, and put each other back together when life gets hard.
These online inspirations, and my own improved physical awareness have impacted my writing too. Initially I wrote about my heroine Rae losing a great deal of weight before she is infected by the vampire virus, so that she would then be society’s version of perfect. I changed though, writing connected me back to my essential self, and well before publication I went back and changed that transition. By the time Rae has left her husband and is setting off to France to reconnect with herself she has only lost the ‘misery fat’, she is still plus size, and once she becomes a vampire she is magnificent; Amazonian, statuesque, and irresistible. I love writing about a plus size heroine, and I love being the plus size heroine of my own life, with my buttery delicious, swingy at the hips sway!

2.    I’m actually a bit of an introvert. Working in frontline retail has really helped me improve my face to face people skills, but it’s still a struggle for me to make first contact when there’s no obvious talking point. This makes face to face marketing really toe wincing. I am getting better at it though as I get more used to it.  I do prefer the internet and interviews though.

3.    I’m almost ambidextrous. I do write with my right hand, but for most other things I just use which ever hand is closest to what I want to do. I hadn’t even realised this was unusual until other people pointed it out. I’m left footed, eyed and eared though, which according to the training on learning styles I’ve one, makes me very unusual. I also explains why my biggest stress symptom is to lose my words. Very inconvenient in job interviews.

I was given a great piece of advice though- don’t try to ignore the fear, the fight or flight response is natural and ancient. Trying to tell the dinosaur bit in the centre of my brain (everyone has it- I’m not a freak) everything is fine while my body floods with adrenaline is futile. That makes the dinosaur take over- hence no words. The only solution is to stand up and fight- not literally obviously- interviewers don’t appreciate being bopped on the nose, but by weaponing up. This means doing research on the role, the company, current events which could impact the role, practising your answers so you can remember what one point leads onto, and most of all-preparing questions for the, ‘So do you have any questions?’ question, just after they’ve told you everything you could possibly want to know about the job! (Not telling you my question- it’s mine- think of your own!).

4.    I never wanted to get married. Nope, no way. Marriage was not for me. At twenty two I agreed to get engaged to a boyfriend who I really loved and didn’t want to lose, and woke up the next morning in a cold sweat. Its ok- he tried to kill himself three days after we bought the ring though, so that never happened!
Four years and, ahem, some male company later I was still no closer to wanting marriage. Then I started a new job, and met the obnoxious caretaker. A couple of months later I’d decided he wasn’t so bad, and agreed to night out with his mates and my mates. He was seventeen years older than me, twice married, with kids, and he was a work colleague, so absolutely not my type. I’m not entirely sure how it happened, but we ended up kissing- followed by me scarpering to the loos to gasp to my friend- ‘Oh! My! God! He’s old enough to be my Dad!!’ And then trotting back for more snogging.
For the next two years I was still adamantly anti marriage- they never seem to last, and I made sure he knew that. Somehow my view changed though, I knew how I felt about him, despite our ferocious ups and downs- we are both big personalities- I knew neither of us were going anywhere. Which was a new experience for me. I wanted society to recognise that too. If you phone work and say your boyfriend’s Dad has died so you need the day off, people aren’t so accepting. If you phone and explain your father in law has died, people understand you are needed at home. The same in terms of life support machines, joint finances, everything.
So, I, me, I, had to propose on the 29th of February- a traditional day for women to propose- thirteen years ago. I confess to getting very drunk indeed, and the bugger made me get down on my knees too.

5.    I do not like things without legs- snakes and worms and things. Nasty wriggly things. It’s not fear I feel, but utter repulsion- which is much more difficult to overcome, I’ve found. I can trace it back to seeing a documentary as a very small child which involved some Americans deep fat frying some live snakes, so they hissed and roiled in the boiling oil before they died.

6.    Despite my above issue, I cannot walk past any creature in danger. Drowning insects are fished out of buckets, mice are released from the cat, and I pick up snails from the pavement and pop them out of harm’s way. Worms and slugs are a quandary though; I can’t let them die, but I can’t bear to pick them up with my fingers either- they squirm too much. I get judders just writing it. So I have to find a twig. This is why I have to leave so much time to reach the bus stop in the morning, there’s so many little lives I have to save along the way, and they aren’t always straight forward.

7.    I can milk a goat by hand, pluck and gut a chicken, and raise turkey chicks. I grew up on a small holding, so come the zombie apocalypse, I’ll be off to the nearest solar powered farm. Feel free to join me, especially if you’re good with plants, because I’m useless.

8.    I can speak quite a bit of Welsh. I have a G.C.S.E grade A in it in fact.

9.    I can do the basics of round pen training a horse. I was taught how to by an extraordinary American woman in return for childcare. It’s a psychology you can translate to most areas of your life, once you understand the principles.

10.  I don’t really read vampire or paranormal books, although that’s what I write. I know, shocking. I find most novels in the genre, with Deborah Harkness being a notable exception, are all a bit formulaic. To me they are a bit like Mills and Boon with fangs and two types of penetration! Which is why I am writing my Darkly Vampire Trilogy in a very different style, although there is plenty of adventure, and steamy bits, it is very character based, literary if you like classifications. I want my readers to know my characters well, to understand them and their motivations, and for their adventures to be unique to them- they only happen because Rae and Layla are exactly who they are.

You can find out more about Chloe and connect with her using the links below:

Facebook (Author Page)
Facebook (Darkly Dreaming)

Darkly Dreaming is available at the following places:

Amazon UK
Amazon US

I'd like to thank Chloe for taking the time to write a guest post and for stopping by today. It's been a pleasure to host you and pob lwc with Darkly Dreaming 😉

Saturday 22 April 2017

Winning Ace - Tracie Delaney

Today I'd like to introduce you to author Tracie Delaney and share an extract from her upcoming debut novel, Winning Ace.

Here's the blurb:

When the opportunity arises for journalist Tally McKenzie to meet tennis ace Cash Gallagher, she grabs it without hesitation. Desperate for a killer story to advance her career, she’ll have to betray her idol and her own morals into the bargain if she is to succeed.

Renowned bad boy Cash wants one thing; to remain at the top of his game. He’s fought hard to get there, and he’s not about to lose his crown, especially over a woman.

When Cash divulges personal information, Tally seizes her chance and writes an explosive article. Incensed, Cash sets out to get his revenge. Except the darling of centre court gets more than he bargained for—a passionate affair with a woman he should detest.

But Cash is a man with secrets—secrets that could destroy his career. Dare he take the risk? Or is the cost too great, even for his perfect match.

Tracie has very kindly agreed to share a little taster of Winning Aces with you all here on The Hippo:

He pressed his mouth to hers, purposely keeping the kiss soft. He half expected her to change her mind and push him away, but she didn’t. Instead, she wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her fingers in his hair. Pulling her even closer, he moved his lips slowly. When she let out a soft moan, he slipped his tongue inside, and gently licked against hers. Doused  with the same powerful urge he’d had at Rupe’s place—to take her, to brand her as his, to warn the world that this one was taken—he deepened the kiss. When she moaned again, the sound deeper this time, his breathing quickened.

He drew away slowly, needing to put some distance between them before the spell she’d cast sent him over the edge into madness. Resting his forehead against hers, he briefly closed his eyes to see if the world stopped spinning. When he opened them again, it was plain to see she’d been as affected as he was. Her face and neck were flushed and her lips were slightly swollen.

With a half grin, he leaned in and softly grazed her earlobe with his teeth before whispering, “Third of February, Natalia. And if I have my way, by the end of the night, those earrings will be the only thing you’re wearing.”


Winning Ace is the first novel in an overarching three book series.

Winning Ace (Book 1) is now available for pre-order and will be released 29 May 2017 

Losing Game (Book 2) will be released in mid July 2017

Grand Slam (Book 3) will be released early October 2017

Tracie Delaney is the author of the Winning Ace trilogy. She loves nothing more than immersing herself in a good romance, although she sometimes, rather cheekily, makes her characters wait for their HEA.

When she isn’t writing or sitting around with her head stuck in a book, she can often be found watching The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones or any tennis match involving Roger Federer. Her greatest fear is running out of coffee.

Tracie studied accountancy, gaining her qualification in 2001. Her maths teacher would no doubt be stunned by this revelation considering Tracie could barely add two plus two at high school.
Tracie lives in the North West of England with her amazingly supportive husband. They both share a love of dogs, travel and wine.

Tracie loves to hear from readers. She can be contacted via the links below: