This post features the acknowledgements for my third novel True Blue.

I always like to include a few words about my writing process in each of my books. To thank and recognise some of the women who inspired me to write the book as well as the other people who helped me on my publishing journey.

I shed a few tears when I composed my acknowledgements for True Blue. Writing a novel is a BIG thing (I compare it to building a house.) Successfully completing and publishing three novels – well – I’m very proud of myself. The sense of relief coupled with the nervousness you feel prior to publication gives you a rush of feeling that is overwhelming.

This book completes a story arc I conceived years ago, and to see characters I have lived with for so long reach a resolution is very satisfactory.

True Blue Acknowledgements.

We all dream of falling in love, but to my mind the gift of lasting friendship is equally precious. I hope this book does that gift justice.

As of the publication date of this book, I still haven’t met ‘the one’ but I like to imagine there is a Diver or Simon out there for me somewhere. In the meantime, my life is full and happy because I’ve nurtured friendships. I’ve met amazing people and fallen in love many times, sometimes romantically but more often and more lastingly with the outstanding individuals I get to call friends.

So, this book is really a love story about friendship, and that is why I’ve dedicated it to my Aunty Dorothy (Dorry) and Aunty Gemma, dear friends of my mum’s, two amazing women who have been in my life since I was born. Both are perfect examples of ‘the family you choose’.

I also want to make special mention of some of my friends – redheaded and otherwise (it’s true that I have a thing for ‘gingers’ and have several of them in my life). For this book I am immensely grateful to two school friends. The first a redhead, Louise Wallace, who in real life is not only a fiercely loyal friend but also a super, duper, incredibly successful (very proud of her) lawyer who loves a glass of champagne. For the record, Louise is not Ali (she is much kinder, even more intelligent, very well adjusted and has a lot more friends); but she also did me the honour of reading an advance copy of the manuscript (even before Alex my editor saw it), bravely battling all the typos etc. and she checked Ali’s meteoric career success as a young lawyer so I had my facts straight. And the second, a brunette, Sarah Brunskill (nee Hues), who, for the record is not Charlie, but whose enviably long legs, super model figure, love of a good chinwag, wicked sense of humour, self-deprecation, kind-heartedness and brilliant listening skills inspired parts of her.

While I’m on the subject of reader friends, I’d also like to thank my developmental readers Alice, Beth, Kevin, Sarah, Sheelagh and Susan for their feedback on the earlier drafts – you made this book better and I truly appreciate your time and input. And, of course, my eternal gratitude goes to my dream team – editor Alex, illustrator Esme, cover designer Andrew, coach Beth, assistant Lily and proofreader Lisa – for giving me the practical tools and support I need to get my stories out there into the world. I couldn’t do this without you.

True Blue is the third novel in my Live, Love, Travel series and completes the story arc I’d imagined when I first sent Tracy and Charlotte to Zephyr and set their adventures in motion. It finally gives Charlie the happy ending I’d imagined for her years ago, when I came up with the characters for Endless Turquoise and realised she had to love and value herself before any man would. Tracy clearly had no problem with self-image from the get-go, so it was easy to give her hers.

I’d always intended for my main characters to meet – just not in the first book. They are very different women – in age, background, appearance, dance skills and self-esteem – but what they have in common is that they are both good people: open minded, optimistic, great friends and generous listeners. I really enjoyed writing the final chapters of the book – using Zephyr as the connection between all the various storylines but setting the denouement in Mallorca and Greece. These are places I adore and which, in a period where I didn’t travel out of the Caribbean, I was able to revisit in my imagination.

Because this story focuses on Ali and Charlie, we also spent a lot of time in Wiltshire, which was bitter-sweet for me. I think this may be why the book took me longer to finish than I had anticipated. I got pretty emotional when I was writing about village life, as I still miss my parents every day, but it made me happy, too, because when I was writing about Puddlington they were there with me again.

And finally, some of my early readers have said that they love the book but miss having Zephyr in the mix – did you? Don’t worry if you did, the Caribbean will star again in the next stories in this series:

Ultramarine Dreams – can Ali overcome her addictions and help the Cherish Zephyr team foil corrupt Minister Everett and the dreaded BeachLuxe development?

Green Flash – will perennial bachelor Chix handle the unwanted media attention and Ambrosia’s diva-ish ways after their love affair becomes front page news?

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