Category: The Last Hotel

How to start writing your book

How to start writing your book

Want to start writing your book? Are you itching to write that memoir, that sweeping romance but are stumped for a place to start? How do you start your book? Starting something is often the hardest part of any project. Concede this and that is a start in itself. Get organised. Write down some ideas. Do phrases or images come to mind when you envision your book? Well, jot them down to.  They could be memories, scenes, snatches of dialogue or you may even have some plot sorted. This is your inspiration that will kick start you into writing mode. You need to use some, but maybe not all of this for the start to your book.

In school they teach that there are three main parts of a story. First, (surprise!) there is a beginning that leads into the conflict which is the longest part. In this part the plot develops so characters interact in a way that should captivate the reader and want them to read on.  Then follows the resolution or ending that usually tidies things up.

Making a start

The beginning of any book must act as an introduction. If it is a non-fiction or fact-based book, then the beginning introduces the topic and aspects of it that will be covered in the book. Sometimes there are chapter headings at the start or an index at the end to make this clear. For fiction, we don’t have these. Sometimes authors include a prologue to introduce a historical period or give some background. Publishers have told me that this is not so popular now. Everyone is in a rush to get into the book as everyone is always in a rush these days. That is why we need to chill out with the slower pace of a book! Reading books is good for you.

The start of a fiction book establishes the setting, time and characters.  It sets the story in motion and if done well should carry the reader along with it into the following chapters. Think of it as the start of a movie. If the first ten minutes of the film don’t grab you, then you are inclined to switch channels. For me, I love a film set in exotic places. The scenery can suck me in. But if the characters are not exciting as well, if they just talk and don’t engage me, I will flick channels.

Start with some action

For men, the beginning of a film and probably a book often needs to be action packed or they get bored. But action takes different forms. There is physical action and there is action dialogue wherein two characters are interacting. They may be arguing which could include some physical action too. Or they just be talking about someone or something that is interesting. They could be plotting a murder or robbery or talking about how they can get away from one they already have committed. Either way, the viewer wants to know more. So, we keep watching.

A film can start with the actual murder and proceed into a ‘who dunnit’. Click the link to read the interesting history of this genre. That is pretty addictive too and this works in books as well. Agatha Christie is the queen of mysteries or ‘whodunnits.’ Whatever the beginning it has to hook you. That is why the beginning is often referred to as ‘the hook.’ They use this term in advertising too. You will watch an ad if it hooks you early on. Cute animals always do this for me. But others like sexy women or hot men or cars.

The start is the appetiser.

A good start of a book as in film makes you anticipate more. Like an appetiser for the main course. It must tantalise with a little but not overwhelm the reader with names and details. It’s tough but worth taking the time to get it as right as you can. Now, one mistake many writers make, me included, is starting too early and trying to explain everything. This is the undoing of a good beginning. For the start of a novel, you do not have to start at the beginning of the character’s story. It is better to just hop in at some interesting point in his/her journey than ramble along for pages telling us about him/her. Just like a film. Start with some action not just a long shot of the scenery.  Overly descriptive starts to novels are not so in anymore.

Descriptions can set the scene. They tell us where we are in place and time. However, overly long descriptions of the setting can bog us down. Novelists of previous eras did use description a lot more. If you read any Jane Austen, Conrad or Dickens you sure notice the slow pace of the action compared to today’s novels. They lived in a slower paced world, so their writing reflected this. Now we live in an instantaneously gratifying world that is fast paced so we aren’t into that anymore. So, with that point, I should move along myself.

Introduce the characters

Start with the character’s dilemma. It could be a letter or parcel they receive, an unexpected visitor or event that plunges them into a dilemma or situation. In my novel The Last Hotel, my beginning includes the unexpected events in the lives of a few of my characters that leads to their eventual meeting at the last hotel open on the French Riviera. So the book starts there in the beautiful French Riviera village of Beaulieu-sur-Mer and presents Lotte and her father who will later host these characters at their hotel. It is a short chapter about the dreams of Lotte and her father. The second chapter skips across the world to Australia. Sasha has just won a ballet scholarship for The Nice Opera. Chapter after chapter introduces the rest of the characters. Readers have reported this worked for them. They wanted to keep reading as they had become interested in the characters and their situations.

Tangling the characters

You may have watched films presented this way. Snapshots of people’s lives that will soon cross and tangle. I used this tangling method in another book. Colour comes to Tangles. In this one, ‘Tangles’ refers to the tangling of the characters but also it is the actual name of the hairdressing salon, Tangles, where the characters meet. A dilemma soon arrives wherein Tanya, the hairdresser’s friend goes missing. Also, to confound matters more, a new interesting tenant arrives to set up practice upstairs from the salon. Tanya at first only catches glimpses of this colourful new tenant but she knows from the business plaque and brochures that she is a colour therapist. How interesting, she muses. She anticipates meeting her as does the reader. The arrival of Vidisha this exotic Indian woman and the disappearance of Josie are more than enough to keep Tanya and the reader occupied and continue reading.

Note that I didn’t have to tell the whole story of Tanya’s divorce or how or why Vidisha came to Australia. That will emerge later. It is better to emerge later as by then we want to know these things. Telling us all this too soon will be more like reading a newspaper article or biography. Novels must enthrall and entertain not just inform. If you are asking questions as you read then that means the book is working its magic. And books should be magic. They should transport you to another exciting world of places and people where anything can happen.

starting your book

Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

Please be kind, review our books!

Please be kind, review our books!

Authors need encouragement, please review our books.

Reviews are the bread and butter for authors. Please be kind, review our books. As an avid reader I make a habit of reviewing every book I read whether I was impressed with it or not. Usually, I do this on Goodreads as it is so easy. This click takes you to my soon to be released fourth book. You just find the book you want to review, click on it, and under the book details is a place to leave a rating (one to five yellow stars) or below a blank box to write something about the book. This written comment is far more encouraging for the author and more informative for a potential reader. But I post a comment politely and make it more about my preferences not their bad writing.

On Goodreads as on many book platforms you can join up as a reader and list your finished reads like you are part of a club. Reading (and writing) are lonely pursuits, so it is nice to sometimes share with others. This feedback from readers allows other readers to decide if the book is for them before they buy it. Few readers actually bother to write a review. It’s less than 10%. So, authors need all the reviews we can get and preferably positive ones. After all, we make no money from books. Too many middlemen take that. It’s a mug’s game. Please be kind and review our books.

Too difficult to be nice? How about a star rating instead.

But if you feel you can’t possibly say anything good then just pop a one or two star. This is kinder than a brutal slaying. Consider how you would feel if someone roasted your book baby alive. Books take about a year to write and almost twice as long to get published. So please review our books.

Unless you are an author who opts to be an Amazon uploader in which case it’s instant. I tried this for my contemporary romance, Colour comes to Tangles, just to experience the spontaneous buzz. But I do prefer the wait and the box of books that come all the way from London. My fourth book, Time Heal my Heart just arrived this week that way. Twenty-five copies hot off the press.

Someone left a two-star review for me last week. Fortunately, my first ever. This one was long and ranting as well. The reader did not like my ‘overuse’ of commas, and she found a typo that I was aware of but powerless to fix post publication. So let me know if you too feel I am guilty of comma overuse. As the review was for my debut novel and I’m now up to book 5, I won’t lose sleep over this one.

It is far outweighed by good ones like this lovely one from another author and besides I’ve learnt a lot since book one and become a better writer and certainly know editors miss a lot of unintentional errors. Once a book is published traditionally it is very expensive to request a typo correction. With uploaded to Amazon self-published books, it is as easy as it was to publish. Just a click away.

We all need praise and encouragement, please review our books

I am now a little conscious of it lest it is true. It is possibly Prowriting aid‘s fault as they keep flagging my lack of comma, so I let them override my text and add one. They just did it. I’ve given you the link to a comparison of the most common writing, spelling and grammar aid . Are there too many commas for your liking too?

Encouragement is not just needed for authors but for everybody. Praise is lovely. We bask in it, like the morning sun. Try to find the good in people not the bad. The same goes for books.

Kindness matters especially for authors

So please hold or bite your tongue and let the emotions calm. Not easy but counting to ten helps. Or walk away, make a coffee. Whatever. It deflects the moment and helps compose a kinder or more instructive rebuke.

The one thing the whole world needs is more kindness, more saying sorry, more good listening to other’s concerns. oh, no, more commas! It would be lovely if everyone respected each other’s opinions, rights and values. I know, a pipe dream. But it’s good to dream, good to be positive. Oops, more commas. Sorry.

But, seriously, let’s use our voices for good not to tear down others. One day someone might tear you down and then you will know how it feels. Have a nice day and please be kind when you review for our books.

Photo Source

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels: Whispers through TimeThe Last HotelColour Comes to Tangles and the latest World War One romance, Time Heal my Heart. Joni also has many posts on a women’s blog; https://whisperingencouragement.com/ and has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.

The Crazy Writing Process for ‘The Last Hotel’!

The Crazy Writing Process for ‘The Last Hotel’!

OnlineBook.org offers reviews of member’s books by other members. Recently, an author reviewed my second novel, The Last Hotel. This came as a pleasant surprise as I never solicited a review. So, I posted it here as these reviews are not posted on Amazon or Goodreads where most readers look to read opinions on books. Here it is, below and this is the link to it; An author’s review of The Last Hotel. If only this reviewing author knew the crazy writing process involved in writing this book.

However, the review does offer a unique insight into this novel that had to write itself because the author only had one hand! As my husband kept telling me, ‘Writing a book, what a dumb idea!’ I added in a few headings/comments to break up this review, so easier to read and please read on if you are interested in the crazy writing process for The Last Hotel.

An Author’s Review of The Last Hotel

“The Last Hotel by Joni Scott is a thought-provoking and immersive novel that explores the depths of human nature, the pursuit of purpose, and the complexities of relationships. Scott’s eloquent writing style and meticulous attention to detail bring the story to life, enveloping readers in a world that is both familiar and unsettling.

The novel follows the lives of five strangers who find themselves mysteriously trapped in a desolate hotel. As they navigate their way through the eerie corridors and interact with one another, their individual stories gradually unfold. Scott skillfully weaves together their narratives, delving into themes of regret, forgiveness, redemption, and the universal search for meaning.

Based on real events and people

The characterization in “The Last Hotel” is one of its greatest strengths. Each character is distinct, flawed, and burdened by their past. Scott takes the time to delve into their inner struggles, fears, and desires, allowing readers to form a deep connection with them. The evolution of these characters throughout the story is both realistic# and compelling, as they confront their demons and discover hidden strengths within themselves.

The setting of the hotel itself is masterfully crafted. Scott’s vivid descriptions create an atmosphere of tension, with its dilapidated walls, flickering lights, and a lingering sense of unease. The hotel serves as a metaphorical backdrop, representing the characters’ emotional and psychological states, adding an additional layer of depth to the narrative.

Scott’s exploration of existential themes is thought-provoking and raises profound questions about the human condition. Through the characters’ introspection and interactions, the novel prompts readers to reflect on their own lives, purpose, and the choices they have made. It encourages a deeper examination of personal growth, self-reflection, and the impact of our actions on others.

Literary fiction!

However, while “The Last Hotel” is a captivating read, there are moments when the pacing feels sluggish. Some sections could benefit from tighter editing and more concise storytelling. Nonetheless, the compelling characters and intriguing premise keep readers engaged, even during these slower moments.

In conclusion, “The Last Hotel” by Joni Scott is a richly crafted novel that offers a profound exploration of human nature and the search for meaning. With its engaging characters, atmospheric setting, and thought-provoking themes, it is a must-read for fans of literary fiction. Despite some pacing issues, Scott’s storytelling prowess shines through, making this an enjoyable and worthwhile read for anyone seeking a thought-provoking and immersive literary experience.”

Strangers meeting

As a newbie writer, I am pleased by this appraisal, especially the inclusion of my style as literary fiction. It sounds much better than chic lit or women’s fiction! It is interesting what other people find in your writing. I realised The Last Hotel is character driven rather than plot driven. After all, it was the gathering of desparate and disparate individuals at the Nice Airport in 2020 that inspired the book.

There was no crime ever intended, I was just fascinated watching these airport strangers interact (me being one of those strangers) and decided to write down some ideas for a second book, also unplanned. At the time, in March 2020, I was crippled by CRPS so could barely write let alone brush my teeth or hair. It was my medical condition of CRPS that had brought me to Italy. I had come for a cure in a clinic in Genova.

Writing a book, what a dumb idea!

This cure did eventuate, but it took a while over the next two years to fully recover as I underwent rehabilitation. I can type today, brush my teeth and hair but back then at the airport as we tried to find a flight home, I was a one-handed, one-armed ‘cripple’ of sorts, still in immense pain from the CRPS. So, writing another book was a dumb idea, my husband’s words exactly. As he struggled along with both our cases from hotel to hotel as there were few flights available, he kept muttering these words. ‘Writing a book, what a dumb idea!’

But as we waited, day after day in budget airport hotels, the idea of this book was persistent in my mind. There was nothing else to do. We had to stay in isolation. Written permits allowed one trip out a day for food or medical purposes. There was only a small grocery store a block away. Even the vending machine had run out of food. Pressing the button for tomato soup only yielded a mug of hot water. Our tiny hotel room was equally disappointing. It had two bunks, a cubicle bathroom and a limited view of the Nice airport. If you climbed on the top bunk, you could see a scattering of planes going nowhere. They were as grounded as we were.

Writing filled the hours.

With an uncertain future, a cancelled holiday and no physiotherapy available, there was nothing to do but write this ‘dumb’ book. This was only possible by tapping away with my good left hand on the old iPad I had brought along. If only the people at the airport knew I had borrowed them for my novel. There was the young ballet dancer with a dream of dancing in the Nice Opera. He had only just arrived form Melbourne the week before and now had his contract on hold. I named him Sasha.

Then there was the mother and daughter planning a year in Provence. I called them Deborah and Andrea. The two young Brits who had just lost their dream jobs in St Tropez, they became my Kaz and Lou. The very helpful young Brit who carried people’s bags up and down the stairs because the elevators and escalators were turned off, well, he became Will. As I never took their details, these people may never know they are in a book. The hotel in lovely Beaulieu-sur-Mer is fictional but there is one like it in Beaulieu and there is even a bookshop next door, just near the market square too, where my hotel/pensione is based. I checked it out on Google Earth.

Getting it all together, The crazy writing process.

I had my characters, the reason for their meeting was the real reason they assembled at the airport ie Virus Alert 2020. Now I just had to get them interacting at The Last Hotel. This happened over a period of five months, after we finally scored a flight home to Australia. With my swollen right arm and hand on a pillow, that busy left hand of mine tapped out the story.

Finally, by September it was as finished as I could manage. It needed editing but my previously good left hand was worn out. It developed strange callouses that developed into dePuytren’s nodules so then I had no good hands. In despair, I sent the whole thing off to Tellwell Publishers, hoping they could sort it into a book. This they did and gave it a lovely cover. Maybe they should have accelerated parts of the book and edited more. But it was during global lockdown when things slowed down to a snail’s pace, even at the publishers.

My fourth book has only just been released due to this Covid effect. Two years at the publishers for this baby has been another long wait. But hopefully, there will be more good reviews and happy readers. Let me know.

Joni Scott is an Australian author with three published novels: Whispers through Time and The Last Hotel and Colour Comes to Tangles. Joni has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.

A Cure for CRPS

A Cure for CRPS

What is CRPS?

CRPS. What the hell is that? How often do we see an acronym, a sequence of letters that does not register recognition? Well, the answer to what the hell is CRPS? Is just that ‘hell.’ The words may you ‘burn in hell’ may as well define CRPS.

Dubbed ‘the most painful disease known to humankind’ and ‘the suicide disease’, CRPS or Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, is a neurological condition characterized by intense pain, burning, inflammation, swelling and loss of movement.

It is a disproportionate response by the sympathetic nervous system to an injury to an extremity, a foot or hand. Often the initial injury is minor, a sprained ankle, a broken toe or wrist. But for some reason in some unfortunate people, the body responds by establishing a pattern of self-harm that can spread through the body in time, rendering the individual a cripple incapacitated by pain 24/7.

It can happen out of the blue to young or old, healthy or not. Millions world-wide suffer this incurable disease. All doctors can offer is pain relief via CBD oil or ketamine infusions and ongoing physiotherapy. Why am I writing about this in my usual history blog? The answer is I write this not to elicit pity but to give hope to others. You may have CRPS or know someone with it.

Oh, no! I have CRPS.

CRPS chose to attack me in January 2020 after a routine surgery for a broken right wrist. Plunged into excruciating pain, I could not comprehend what was happening to me. I googled and googled trying to come to terms with my diagnosis. I cried for days as all sites confirmed the prognosis of ‘incurable’, ‘debilitating’.

Until I dared the universe by typing in ‘cure for CRPS’. Not expecting any response, just ‘n0 results’, I was cheered to see the words ‘CRPS Italy’ and another Complex Truths.org. detailing treatments at clinics in North Italy. I read on, thankful I am a biochemist and could understand the medical jargon.

It seemed despite the defeatism of all the other sites, that there was a chance, a good chance of recovery for this dreadful condition. 100% within a year of diagnosis and at best 70% for individuals who had suffered longer. Compared to the cost of long-term pain relief and physiotherapy, over many years, the treatment in a clinic over two weeks seemed reasonable. Plus, a trip to beautiful Italy alone would surely cheer the soul!

The crippling pain spread to my shoulder and neck, immobilizing my entire upper right side. I felt there was no time to lose. With the help of my son and an interpreter, I booked treatment for the infusions for March 3, 2020. This necessitated flights from Australia to Rome then a train trip to Genova.

OFF in search of a cure!

All seemed to be going well for me until Coronavirus erupted in North Italy just days before my flight. As the virus already threatened Asia through which I had to fly, I could not get a refund. I am so glad now because if I had not gone then in early 2020 during that small window of opportunity, then when would I have been able to? Australia and many countries closed their borders soon after and Covid 19 became a global pandemic.

Yes, I received my treatment, four Neridronate infusions over a fortnight in a beautiful clinic set high on the hill overlooking Genova harbour. Yes, I recovered 90% of my function so that today I am only limited by residual stiffness in my right side that could have been prevented if I had been able to access rehabilitation soon after the treatment.

LOCKDOWNS, 1, 2,3 and 4

But instead of a restorative holiday afterwards, my husband and I had to flee Italy. While I was in hospital, lockdowns 1, 2 3 and 4 closed Italy. There were no ristorantes or cafes open to enjoy the usual vibrancy of Italian life. Borders to the east and north had closed. Only the French Italian border was still open. We set off from Genova railway station escorted by local police. All tourists had to leave.

After reaching the border and finding San Remo deserted, we continued on to Nice, hoping to find a hotel and reschedule our flight home. Our pre-booked three-week holiday, post treatment, could no longer happen as all borders were closing making being a tourist untenable. Also, to our alarm, hotels were closing one by one, like a pack of dominoes. Unable to secure a flight on our visits to a barely-functioning Nice airport, we took refuge in hotel after hotel, unsure of our immediate future. We met similarly stranded people from all over the world. They all had interesting stories.

At that point, I knew I would write up my story about CRPS if I recovered so others would know of the ‘cure’. But one day at the airport we met a young ballet dancer, a mother with a teenage daughter and a very helpful young chef from Torquay, all trying to get flights home. Why not add the plight of these people into my book and write not a non-fictional true story but a blend of fiction and true life?

THE LAST HOTEL

That was the moment when The Last Hotel was born, my story of love and loss, of lockdown and family, my story of hope. While recovering at a snail’s pace, I tapped out my ideas onto my old battered iPad. I could only use my left hand so it was a one -handed slow process, particularly for capital letters and punctuation. Once we finally arrived home in Queensland, Australia, I continued the writing in lockdown finishing the book in five months.

As I could not edit the typing easily, I sent the book to Tellwell for a tidy up. The result is I believe the only novel with a CRPS affected character (Maggie). But there are many other more interesting characters to meet, stranded in my last hotel. An inspiring novel based on a true story. Be encouraged on my women’s blog site./https://whisperingencouragement.com/

Joni Scott is an Australian author with two published novels: Whispers through Time and The Last Hotel. Joni also co-hosts a women’s blog; https://whisperingencouragement.com/ and has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.

 

Writers of the Jazz Age

Writers of the Jazz Age

Novels of F. Scott Fitzgerald

I love the imagery and depiction of the 1920’s idol rich in The Great Gatsby, so I read Tender is the Night, another of Fitzgerald’s novels written post WWI. The writing style is very different to that in The Great Gatsby and difficult initially to become immersed in. But I persisted and found this tragic love story very haunting and beautiful. This Jazz Age novel interested me for another reason. I set my novel, The Last Hotel (Tellwell) in Beaulieu-sur-Mer which is where the opening chapter of Tender is the Night is also set but of course a century earlier. I was so surprised when I read the opening lines of the novel.

“On the pleasant shore of the French Riviera, almost halfway between Marseilles and the Italian border, stands a large, proud, rose-colored hotel.’

How’s that for coincidence! A hotel!

Except that my hotel is neither large nor pink. But it could be considered proud due the quality of its occupants, my lovely characters.

The French Riviera and Writers of the Jazz Age

The 1920’s Riviera was a magnet for writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Hemingway to while away their summers mingling with other writers and artists. They would laze on the beaches glorying in the idyllic Mediterranean climate, and drink cocktails at sunset in their hotel bars. Somewhere in between they would pen a few words of their latest work in progress. To understand the frenetic jazz era, you must reflect on the horrors of WWI that wiped out a whole generation of young men. Then The Spanish Flu wiped out a heap more. The crazy pace and vanity of the 1920’s was a reaction to these tragedies. A sort of ’Live like you never have before’ mentality. We may see our own version of The Jazz Age once Covid-19 is over.

Who Was Francis Scott Fitzgerald?

Francis Scott Fitzgerald was born in 1896 in Minnesota. He was named after cousin, Francis Scott Key who wrote the lyrics to the American national anthem. ‘Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light…’etc. Fitzgerald entered Princeton in 1913 and apart from study, he wrote musicals. He dropped out in 1917 to enlist in the US Army and before going off to fight in WWI he submitted his first hastily finished manuscript, A Romantic Egoist, lest he die in the fighting. None of us writers have that sort of deadline!

Of course, he survived to write the novels This Side of Paradise, The Great Gatsby and Tender is the Night. He and Hemingway stole all the best book titles! None of these masterpieces sold well in his time and he spiraled into alcoholism beside his mentally ill wife Zelda. He sadly died an untimely death at just 44, never achieving full recognition for his beautiful haunting prose.

 Ernest Hemingway

Fitzgerald’s life rather parallels that of Ernest Hemingway, another American who went to Paris after WWI. Both men with accompanying women and alcohol issues liked to travel around while they wrote, often spending long periods in The Riviera. Hemingway also frequented Spain and was fond of bull fights and hunting. I find his books rather shocking in their depiction of cruelty to animals especially bulls. Neither does he write with the beautiful flowing prose of Fitzgerald but instead in a blunt, terse way. Possibly a man’s writer. He too stole all the best book titles. The Sun Also Rises, To Have and Have not, For Whom the Bell Tolls and Farewell to Arms. They sound wonderful but sadly though they sound inviting, his writing is not for me. But it is interesting to see the different styles of these writers of The Jazz Age.

Joni Scott is an Australian author with two published novels: Whispers through Time and The Last Hotel. Joni also co-hosts a women’s blog; https://whisperingencouragement.com/ and has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.

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The Last Hotel-Interview with Author

The Last Hotel-Interview with Author

An Interview with Joni Scott, Author of The Last Hotel

First of all, congratulations on publishing your book. How long did it take to write it?

Thank you, Maureen and thank you for taking a chance on me and my book. The Last Hotel was very keen to be written, occupying my mind day and night so it took five months then a few months back and forth with publisher about edits, quotes, possible inclusion of song lyrics etc

Given that the story is inspired by real events, are there details that you chose to omit from this book?

I changed names, businesses and did not mention the airline company that we flew with as I gave them negative press. I didn’t want to get sued by an airline! Only the first half of the book is based on real events, up to the meeting of strangers at the airport.

After that fiction took over. I have never been to Beaulieu-sur-Mer, only passed it on the train that night we fled Italy for France. The name caught my fancy as it translates as ‘beautiful place by the sea’ When I met the interesting people at Nice airport the next day, I had the idea for the book, like a light bulb moment.

My husband and I shuffled around hotels for another week and kept bumping into Kaz and Lou the two young women who lost their jobs in St Tropez, but we never saw the others again. I don’t know if they went home soon after or stayed put in France. I so wished I had taken names and addresses so I could tell these lovely people that I put them in a book!
The second half of the story is a “what if’” version of life. Personally, I would have loved to have stayed and met Lotte and Rene and darling Henri and Juliette. But they are fictional characters I imagined just like the bakery and bookshop.

Sitting on my couch back in Australia, I walked through the places in Beaulieu on Google Earth and discovered that in the street there really is a bakery and bookshop! How cool is that! Maybe someone will ask them, “are you the bakery in The Last Hotel?” I hope a reader will go there to check out the town. I intend to when we can travel overseas again.
In reality, we managed a flight home early May. I started writing the book the day I returned home. It was so vivid, I had to get going with it despite only having one functional hand, my left one.
I did not get the use of right one back until November 2020 and it is still very stiff. 

Have you ever considered writing a personal memoir?

I think every book I have written (now 3) contains aspects of oneself ie memories of childhood, relationships. Who would want to read my memoir anyhow? haha

What was the hardest scene to write?

The chapter where I introduce Jenny’s family. I rewrote the part about Pieter quite a few times as I didn’t want to offend any lesbian readers and having no experience of them, I wasn’t sure how Pieter should think .In the end I chose confusion for her as she is still young and discovering herself.

In your opinion, is it prudent for people to start travelling again?

We can travel much yet . However, I understand people have been cooped up so long in Europe and Britain that if the governments don’t allow it, there could be mass anarchy. We have had it so easy in Australia, particularly Queensland compared to the rest of the world. We only had to wear masks for a short time yet people still complained. Time will tell if it is prudent to allow travel again. Once it is the European summer, there could be another wave.

If you could go back in time before the pandemic, what would you do differently?

I would still risk the trip to Italy. If I had not gone in the slim time frame of those few days, before we couldn’t go overseas and before Italy shut borders, I would still be in agony with my arm, shoulder and hand. Literally it was like being on fire 24/7.

I am on a Facebook group for CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome), and people suffer terribly. Many have experienced it spreading from limb to limb or over the whole body. It is called the suicide disease. So, I feel so fortunate to have been able to have treatment and get 80-90% better.

The treatment is most effective in the first year. If I had not gone when we did, who knows when I could have gone to Italy for the infusions? The Last Hotel would not have happened and that would be sad. The book will always be so special to me as I wrote it tapping with my left hand in such adverse conditions ie right arm propped up on pillows, ergonomic keyboards, mice, apple pencils, dictate devices etc. Everyone said I was crazy!

What do you miss most about pre-covid life?

In Australia, it has not been bad but overseas, people have been separated from loved ones and how the very demonstrative Italians, French and Spanish have managed without all those hugs and kisses, I cannot imagine. I suppose social distancing has led to people being wary of each other which is rather sad .If it goes on too long, I will miss travelling overseas.

Is there something we can cherish about this new way of life?

Appreciating home life more? I have enjoyed being home more, writing, doing jig-saws etc. while I recuperated my right side. I am grateful to be healthy and home in Australia. So many Australians are still stranded overseas. If we had stayed on the Riviera, would we still be there, unable to get home?

Is there another book in the making?

Yes, a few. I have finished the sequel to Whispers through Time, my first historical novel based on the family research of my sister. This ‘sequel book’, Time, Heal my Heart, is both a stand alone romantic chronicle of life during world war 1 and a sequel to the story of Winifred, my grandmother. The book is at the publisher now and will be released this year. Again, very interesting characters invited themselves into my book and set up their own sub plot! I had to put up a sign, No Vacancies! lol
Also I am part way through another book, ‘Tangles’, inspired by my hair dresser. I realised hair dressers are part psychologists, meeting and advising so many people, so I have a full complement of characters in this modern day drama of life in the suburbs. A real woman’s book, this one, with an interesting Indian sub-plot.

Where can your fans and well wishers connect with you?

I have a few websites, one on Austen Macauley Publishing, then my official one is joniscottauthor.com then an author site on Goodreads. Reviews are welcome!

The Last Hotel is available in paperback and kindle format and now audiobook.

The Last Hotel review

The Last Hotel review

Post by Laura Bach » 26 Jul 2021, 06:43
[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of “The Last Hotel” by Joni Scott.]

We all went through this pandemic together and gathered all sorts of stories about it. Authors are the ones who decide to share their experiences, thus giving us precious books like The Last Hotel by Joni Scott. Set on the beautiful French Riviera in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, the novel tells of the first wave of the covid-19 pandemic and how a group of people found peace during such a chaotic time.

The Last Hotel brings together people from all over the world. Whether it’s a ballet dancer who comes for a new job in Nice, an ill woman who seeks a cure in northern Italy, or just people who need to get away from their lives, they will all find themselves both in danger and in absolute peace together.

I was especially touched by Maggie’s story, an Australian woman who flies to Italy with her husband in search of a miraculous cure for her rare pain disease, CRPS. Maggie was well until her wrist pain turned into “the most painful disease known to humankind,” making her feel ill and old. The promise of a cure gives her hope, but that changes when Italy is hit by the virus. Every hotel starts to close on her and her husband like they will be forced to go home, spending lots of money and not solving anything. But due to some very kind bakery owners, miracles do happen. The way Joni Scott described Maggie’s fear of the pain made everything so real and helped me empathize with her character. This vivid depicture of life makes a powerful impression on the reader. The way the author paints the warm colors of the French Riviera inspires me to want to visit it immediately, as the pandemic could never take away the beauty of this piece of heaven.

The beginnings of the chapters are sprinkled with concerning news about the pandemic. The events accurately match the restrictions and lockdowns that were in place at that time, making everything feel real. Even though the subject is heavy, the author delivers it in a light manner, emphasizing the great things that were born out of this unique experience, like some life-long friendships and romances. Actually, after reading the whole book, it seems that the characters needed the virus in order to rediscover themselves.

Since this book will have the characters stuck in lockdown for some time, it’s only natural to be focused on their development. The Last Hotel has a large cast of characters, all with different stories that lead them to the same place at the same time. What’s heart-warming is how they all end up as a ‘pandemic family.’ Small romances are bound to happen, teaching us that it’s never too late to find love. The characters are full of life and personality. I loved that the author paid close attention to how characters speak, like adding accents to French people speaking English. Other characters have speaking impairments, like stuttering. Also, all characters have a backstory and are constantly growing, culminating in a beautiful artistic moment.

Reviews of The Last Hotel by Joni Scott

Reviews of The Last Hotel by Joni Scott

Some online reviews of The Last Hotel

Maureen’s Lifestyle Blog , 16/5/2021. It’s a New Day! The Last Hotel by Joni Scott

The Last Hotel is a heart warming romance novel about a young couple starting their life together, an older couple solidifying their union and yet another couple getting a second chance at love. The narrative falls into place naturally because it is a true account written by one of the guests who stayed at René’s hotel. However, names have been changed to protect the privacy of the characters. I rate this 5 out of 5. This is a hope filled, light hearted story that is sure to uplift your spirit. The world is opening up again, but things may never go back to how they used to be. This is a reminder to live our lives to the fullest despite the fact. Sometimes we need a pandemic to discover ourselves !

Samama Reza,   rated it as amazing

The Last Hotel is the first book I ever read that spoke about the pandemic, so when I say I haven’t read anything like this before, I MEAN IT.
The description of southern France given in this book was so beautifully written, that I actually felt like I was walking through the streets of Beaulieu-sur-Mer, enjoying their wonderful weather and eating the best baguettes and pastries while admiring their perfect view.
This book also gave me a deep insight on Europe; it gave me details on how the comforting vibe of that continent suddenly changed during the pandemic, how the friendly ambiance of Europe changed into a fearful one. The first chapters made me wish I could’ve visited Italy and France, the chapters that came next made me glad I hadn’t.

As I read about the corona virus from this book, everything felt and sounded so surreal. I couldn’t believe it that we actually walked through a pandemic! It all sounded so weird and dystopian yet all of it was – and still is, very real, the corona virus is still out there, and it still is so scary.
In the future, when people forget how the pandemic actually changed the world, they can step back and read this book to remember! And the ones who did not exist in this era, can read this book in the future and get a glimpse of how life was during the LOCKDOWN.

This book is about different people, with different backgrounds from different sides of the world getting locked in an unknown country and finding each other in The Last Hotel available – a small cozy hotel over a sweet smelling bakery that was next to a bookshop. The strangers, with time, became family and found love and new meaning in their lives in the process. They fell in love with France.

Although the lockdown brought new opportunities into the lives of the characters in the book to shine, it was so different for many people in real life. There were people who were depressed for the first time, because before the pandemic, they never had the time to think alone. There were also many people who wished for nothing but their loved ones to stay healthy, and there were many who ended up losing their loved ones too.
We can never forget, the pandemic might have been a refreshing newness for some, it was a terrible turn in life for many – and it still is.
Stay safe everyone, and take care of each other.

5/5 stars from me as I really enjoyed the book immensely!

 

Sequel to Whispers Through Time

Sequel to Whispers Through Time

I have finished writing the sequel to Whispers through Time. Trying to find an original title was not easy. Hemingway took the best of them! I  So hoping the title, Time, Heal my Heart is unique and fitting for this sequel to my first historical romance novel. It captures the themes of the book, Time and Love.

TIME HEAL MY HEART

 

TIME HEAL my HEART is in the process of being published with Austin-Macauley, London where its predecessor, Whispers Through Time,  the first book in my Time Trilogy was published in 2020. Hopefully, it will be released mid to late 2022. Time Heal My Heart  can be read as a stand alone novel or exciting sequel to Whispers through Time. A wonderful saga of love, loss and family, it continues the story of sisters Winnie and Francesca now in Sydney, Australia. Their lives, like millions world wide, are thrown into unexpected turmoil by the outbreak of World War One. Gustave their brother is soon fighting on the Western Front in France as he was already part of the Royal Fusiliers. The sister’s  new husbands are obliged to support the war once Australia joins the British War Effort. The women too are swept up in the domestic war effort, The Home Front. An intriguing subplot follows the secretive love story of Lisbette, Winnie’s French-born neighbour, relocating the storyline to the magical isle of Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. Another parallel storyline centres on war torn France involving the tragedy of shattered war orphans. But as storylines must, these threads weave together to create a tapestry of love and loss in wartime.

For those wondering whether Francesca finds love again after her tragic affair in Whispers Through Time, the answer is a resounding yes. But it would be a spoiler to tell you the identity of the lucky fellow. It is Winifred this time who has loss she must recover from. In this respect I stayed faithful to the real life events of my grandmother’s life. As this book is set during World War One, it encompasses a challenging time for our characters. Both Australia, the sister’s new home and England, their childhood home are at war and soon the whole world is embroiled in conflict when America enters in 1917. The horrific violence, lasting five years, culminates in the Spanish Flu outbreak of 1919. I was researching this flu when COVID happened in 2019 exactly a century later. Such a sense of deja vu! As some may know, I had a medical crisis and terrible diagnosis of CRPS in January 2020. I lost the use of my right side and so could not do much especially write. Instead of finishing the novel, I booked into a clinic in Italy that offered a cure for CRPS. Unfortunately Covid broke out there just before my flight. But I still went, had the treatment in lockdown in Genova, Italy which inspired me to write The Last Hotel. This story is partly based on my flight from Italy to the French border and subsequent lockdown on the French Riviera in the last hotel open. During lockdown near Nice, in Beaulieu-sur-Mer, I started writing The Last Hotel with my left hand, finishing it when I finally managed a flight home to Australia later that year.

Only once this contemporary novel was published in March 2021 did I resume Time, Heal My Heart. By then I could use my right hand again though the recovery was only 80 per cent. I’ll never be a speed typist but can slow poke along in a lop-sided fashion.
So please stay tuned for the continuation of the life of sisters Francesca and Winifred! The final book in the trilogy will not take so long, I promise as already half written.

SUNNY COAST TIMES – Joni Scott Author

SUNNY COAST TIMES – Joni Scott Author

Two Sunny Coast siblings have created a unique literary work that melds facts from their own family history with fiction.

Heather Carlisle, from Little Mountain, researched her family tree over 15 years before her sister Joni Scott Ryall, from Mudjimba, filled in the gaps, silences and mysteries with the magic dust of fiction.

The result is a historical novel called Whispers Through Time, recently published by Austin-Macauley in London, that focuses on another two sisters, now lost in time: their grandmother and great-aunt.

First-time novelist Joni says writing the fictional part was made easier by having some facts to base the story upon.

“I think the book chose me as it seemed to flow rather effortlessly and surprisingly quickly from somewhere within me,” she says. “I was on holidays and reading The Distant Hours by Kate Morton. She is an Australian author who writes fantastic novels wherein a character in the present discovers secrets about her family in the past. I really enjoy this style of book and so, having time to spare, decided to try writing myself, using my sister’s research of our maternal grandparents’ lives.

“Also, as all my grandmother’s siblings (all seven of them who reached adulthood) have no living descendants, I had free rein to create their characters and some of their actions.

“As I am a maths and science teacher, I had never attempted an extended fiction writing exercise before. Once I started this totally unplanned project, I found this new activity totally compelling, so compelling that I even continued to write a chapter a day as my husband and I toured South-East Asia for six weeks in April 2019.”

The story is one of love and loss, set in the first decades of the 20th century and encompassing the Boer Wars and Titanic tragedy, and travelling to the outposts of the British Empire. It revolves around the lives of the sisters’ grandparents, Walter and Winifred. With present-day granddaughter Heather, or Heady as she is known, trying to reconstruct the past, the story moves between past and present.

“The nature of time is an ever-present theme that waxes and wanes like a tide throughout lives,” Joni says. “There are the what-if moments, the only-if moments, and the sad reality that past and present generations can never meet, forever separated by time. Family is also a strong theme throughout, and the novel touches on women in the Victorian patriarchal society.”

Joni says Heady, a retired personal assistant, began the research into their family tree as a search for answers.

“Heady felt frustrated by the fact that her mother and aunt knew nothing about their own parents,” she says. “She started research with a search for the grandparents’ marriage certificate, then continued backwards to London and the 1800s using Census and registry records.

“Ever the organised one, she has the patience and tenacity to research family history. This she has done for about 15 years.”

Joni says the sequel, Time, Heal my Heart, is well on its way but its progress has been delayed by what she calls “an unexpected turn”.

“I wrote another novel, The Last Hotel, soon to be released by Tellwell,” she says. “It is a story within a story too. Interestingly, I was up to the research on the Spanish flu for the before-mentioned sequel, when COVID happened. Bit spooky, sense of deja vu. At the same time, I acquired CRPS, a supposedly incurable and debilitating nervous disease. I lost the use of my right arm and hand, so could not write, let alone brush my hair.

“Just before COVID hit Europe, February 28 to be exact, my husband and I flew to Genova in Italy for some prebooked treatment … While we were there the lockdowns occurred, starting at stage one and proceeding to stage four. Our hopes for a holiday after treatment were dashed
as border after border closed around Italy. Though we were only 10km from the Red Zone in Lombardy, the virus never invaded Genova while we were there. But we had to leave under the new regulation that tourists must leave. Hotels were closed so being a tourist was suddenly untenable.

“The police escorted us to the station from where we travelled towards the French border … France was not yet in lockdown but soon was and hotel after hotel closed. Hence the book title, The Last Hotel, inspired by this. Stranded strangers meet up at the last hotel open and magic and love happen. It is an uplifting story despite being based in the epidemic.

“I am very proud of this book baby as I wrote it while recovering in quarantine, back in Australia, totally with my left hand on the iPad.”

Whispers Through Times and The Last Hotel are available online from www.joniscottauthor.com, as well as online through Author Academy Bookstore, Harry Hartog Maroochydore and Berkeleouw Book Barn in Australia.