Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Fill in the Gaps

rp_friday-300x16411111111111111-300x164-300x1641-300x164-300x1641-300x16411-300x164-300x164-300x1641-300x1641-300x164-300x164-300x1641-300x164-300x164-1.pngFiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt. The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

Today’s Prompt: Fill in the Gaps: 

Fill in the gaps in this story. There should be five words (of any length) between each of them and it has to make sense.

….. ….. ….. ….. ….. snowfall ….. ….. ….. ….. …..elephant ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. double ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. massive ….. ….. ….. …… ….. again ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. clown ….. …… …… …… ….. disagreed ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. health ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. travel ….. ….. ….. ….. ….. season.

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Blog Tour: A Family Holiday by Bella Osborne

Bella Osborne 102715-0 A family HolidayI am extremely happy to be welcoming Bella Osborne back to Novel Kicks and her blog tour for her new novel, A Family Holiday.

She’ll do whatever it takes to keep this family together…

As the nanny to four quirky but loveable children, Charlie French has learnt that if there was ever a cement shortage Weetabix would be a viable substitute and that YouTube videos can go viral in seconds, much to her horror. But, most importantly, she’s learnt that whatever happens you stick together as a family.

When tragedy strikes, Charlie is forced to decide whether it’s time to move on or fight to keep the children she loves. With the distraction of the children’s gorgeous Uncle Felix and the chance of a holiday in stunning Antigua, she’s left wondering if turquoise seas can wash away their present troubles. Is the pull of white sand beaches too tempting to resist or will paradise fail to keep them all together?

A gorgeous summery beach read, perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Jill Mansell.

I’m reviewing the book below and we also have a great competition (details of which are also below,) but first, we chat to Bella about her favourite holiday themed films (which features some excellent choices). Welcome back, Bella. It’s so good to see you…

Hi Laura and thank you so much for having me on the Novel Kicks blog it is brilliant to be back! My latest novel is ‘A Family Holiday’ and as you may be able to guess a holiday is rather key to the story. So that got me thinking about what were my favourite films that featured a holiday as a key part of the plot and here they are:

My Top 10 Favourite Holiday Films

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Books I’m Looking Forward To Reading in 2016: Part Two

Falling by Jane Green2016 is shaping up to be a great year for book releases and I for one can’t wait for what’s to come (can anyone say Harry Potter and The Cursed Child?)

I wanted to share some more of the titles I am most looking forward to reading. What about you?

(Click here to read Books I’m Looking Forward to Reading in 2016: Part One.)

Falling by Jane Green (MacMillan, 14th July 2016.)

There is not long to wait for the latest novel by Jane Green (who is one of the most nicest women on the planet incidentally.) I’ve been a massive fan of Jane’s ever since a friend introduced me to her novels (I think the first one of hers I read was The Other Woman and since then, I’ve been a fan.) The sleeve for this book looks beautiful too.

Eight years ago, Emma Montague left behind the strict confines of her upper-crust English life – and rather dull boyfriend – and moved to New York City, where she immediately found success in the world of finance. But her soulless, cut-throat, all-consuming job has only led to another life she didn’t want.

Answering an online ad, Emma finds a tiny beach cottage to rent in the small town of Westport, Connecticut. It needs work – lots of work. But it’s the perfect project to satisfy Emma’s passion for interior design and gardening, if her new landlord, Dominic, is agreeable to the small changes she yearns to make.

To Emma, Dominic is also something of a fixer-upper. A local handyman with a six-year-old son, he’s a world away from the men she should be interested in, but he’s comfortable in his own skin, confident, quiet and kind. Slowly, over a shared garden, time spent with his son and late-night conversations, Emma finds herself falling for Dominic.

From friends to lovers happens as naturally as the changing seasons. But laying down roots doesn’t come easily when two lives as different as theirs merge into one. And Emma will realize that the seeds of happiness must be nurtured and cherished to grow into something strong enough to shelter all their hopes and dreams . . .


Three sisters three queensThree Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory (Simon & Schuster UK, 9th August 2016.)

I love history (especially the Tudor and Elizabethan era) and so this book looks right up my street. Also, just a heads up but The Other Boleyn Girl is going to be the book club title for July so keep an eye out for that.

“There is only one bond that I trust: between a woman and her sisters. We never take our eyes off each other. In love and in rivalry, we always think of each other.”
When Katherine of Aragon is brought to the Tudor court as a young bride, the oldest princess, Margaret, takes her measure. With one look, each knows the other for a rival, an ally, a pawn, destined – with Margaret’s younger sister Mary – to a sisterhood unique in all the world. The three sisters will become the queens of England, Scotland and France.
United by family loyalties and affections, the three queens find themselves set against each other. Katherine commands an army against Margaret and kills her husband James IV of Scotland. But Margaret’s boy becomes heir to the Tudor throne when Katherine loses her son. Mary steals the widowed Margaret’s proposed husband, but when Mary is widowed it is her secret marriage for love that is the envy of the others. As they experience betrayals, dangers, loss and passion, the three sisters find that the only constant in their perilous lives is their special bond, more powerful than any man, even a king.

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Book Review: A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

A Little Life

Picador, March 2016

When four graduates from a small Massachusetts college move to New York to make their way, they’re broke, adrift, and buoyed only by their friendship and ambition. There is kind, handsome Willem, an aspiring actor; JB, a quick-witted, sometimes cruel Brooklyn-born painter seeking entry to the art world; Malcolm, a frustrated architect at a prominent firm; and withdrawn, brilliant, enigmatic Jude, who serves as their centre of gravity. Over the decades, their relationships deepen and darken, tinged by addiction, success, and pride. Yet their greatest challenge, each comes to realize, is Jude himself, by midlife a terrifyingly talented litigator yet an increasingly broken man, his mind and body scarred by an unspeakable childhood, and haunted by what he fears is a degree of trauma that he’ll not only be unable to overcome – but that will define his life forever.

At 720 pages this is probably one of the longest books I have read in a while but it is also one of the most moving, well-written novels I have read for some time.

Hanya Yanigahara is a fantastic writer and this book is an emotional rollercoaster ride you will still be feeling even after finishing. This is not a happy, light read. It will break your heart at times and make you want to cry; it will also take hold of you, strap you in tight and won’t let you go until you make it to the end.

We meet the boys in their first dorm together during college. Their friendships are still reasonably fresh and new and we see each character as a young student working towards their chosen career. As the book progresses we see each of them start jobs, fall in love, break up, go on holiday and generally live their lives. However, the main focus of A Little Life is on Jude, who has many deep, dark secrets about his horrific past. As we see him grow older the past comes back to haunt him again and again and we see how he struggles to live a normal life compared to the rest of them.

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Courses and Competitions: Mslexia’s Children’s Novel Competition 2016

WebsiteimageAre you an unpublished female novelist or are you thinking of writing a children’s novel? Mslexia are now taking submissions for their 2016 Children’s Novel Competition.

This competition welcomes books written for children (who are able to read for themselves) as well as Young Adult and can be in any genre.

The first prize is £5,000 and five finalists will also receive an invitation to a special networking event with literary agents.

It is £25 per novel to enter and you’ll need to submit the first 3,000 words of your completed children’s novel (which needs to be at least 15,000 words to qualify.)

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Writing Room: One and Then The Other…

rp_writeanything-300x19911-300x1991-300x1991-300x199-300x1991-300x199-300x199-1-1-1.jpgTuesday 21st June 2016:

Today’s prompt – One and Then The Other… 

Find a news article that catches your eye. This news article needs to involve more than one person. It can be from a newspaper or an online site.

Write 500-700 words about the incident from someone involved. Whether you write in the first or third person is up to you.

Once you’ve done that, write 500 – 700 words again but from the point of view of another person mentioned in the article.

Re-read both of the pieces you’ve written. Are there any differences or similarities?

If you like, you could now merge them together with dialogue between the two.

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Author Interview: L.R Garner

Leslie Garner HeadshotL.R Garner is the author of The Golden Princess (which is published by Xlibris,) and I’m pleased to welcome him to Novel Kicks. Hello. Thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me about your book, The Golden Princess and how the idea originated?

The idea for the book came  from our mother.  She was afraid of the family splitting up and losing contact with each other.  My contribution was to write to each of us sibling families.  As each  had a girl  and not a son, I decided on a girls story.  However, I included a general letter with each chapter I wrote.  The best subject I could come up with was the royal family as they were well-known to everyone.  I have always has a good imagination.


Alice uses her supernatural powers – which superpower would you like to have?

The power I would like to have would be mind reading.


Can you tell me about your typical writing day?

I do not have a typical writing day.  I write when I have an idea to record and the situation allows.


What were the challenges of writing The Golden Princess?

The challengers I had to face were the differences in ages of  the girls I was writing for.  6 t0 8 year olds  and how to keep both age groups interested.


How do you approach the process? Do you plan a lot, edit as you go? Did the characters come before the plot?

I planned the book to fit the idea of long-term contact.  I decided to write a chapter each three months so each chapter had to be complete in itself.  Only a few of the chapters had the “more next chapter” final paragraph.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Turn To Your Right…

rp_friday-300x16411111111111111-300x164-300x1641-300x164-300x1641-300x16411-300x164-300x164-300x1641-300x1641-300x164-300x164-300x1641-300x164-300x164.pngFiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt. The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

Today’s Prompt: Turn to the Right. 

Write about the thing you see when you turn immediately to the right. Write down as much detail as you can.

Is it a person or an object? What happens if this object suddenly begins to start moving by itself?

Give this object an actual name.


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Courses and Competitions: Creative Writing For Beginners

UntitledHave you always wanted to write a novel but haven’t known where to start? (Yes. I have.)

The Writers’ Academy (Penguin Random House) is running a Creative Writing Course for Beginners.

Through this course you will gain insight into writing techniques employed by best-selling authors, Contributors include Audrey Niffenegger (author of The Time Traveller’s Wife,) SJ Watson (Before I Go To Sleep) and Rowan Coleman (The Memory Book.) You will also benefit from the knowledge of the Random House editors.

Rowan Coleman

Rowan Coleman

Whatever genre you’d like to write, this course can help equip you with the literary tools to start writing.

In this course there will be weekly activities that will guide you through topics like character, plot, point of view and description.

There are various start dates throughout the rest of the year. The next course begins on 27th June 2016 so there is still time to enrol. The next available start date after this current run is September.

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Writing Room: Getting Down To Detail

rp_writeanything-300x19911-300x1991-300x1991-300x199-300x1991-300x199-300x199-1-1.jpgTuesday 14th June 2016: Getting Down To Detail.

Today’s exercise: Write about five hundred words about yourself, a friend or someone you don’t like. It can also be about a character in progress. Write about physical appearance, likes, dislikes, hobbies etc.

If you can, once you’re done, try to then leave your writing for twenty-four hours.

Once you’ve returned to it, re-read it. Edit it down. Cut it in half to two hundred and fifty words. Only leave in what is necessary.

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Wild Life Book Trailer by Liam Brown

Wild LifeWild Life is the latest novel from Liam Brown, author of Real Monsters.

It’s been released today (13th June 2016) by Legend Press. Check out the great book trailer below.

‘When we moved into the wild, the wild moved into us.’

When a troubled advertising salesman loses his job, the fragile wall between his public and private personas comes tumbling down. Fleeing his debtors, Adam abandons his family and takes to sleeping rough in a local park, where a fraternity of homeless men befriend him. 

As the months pass, Adam gradually learns to appreciate the tough new regime, until winter arrives early, threatening to turn his paradise into a nightmare. 

Starving, exhausted and sick of the constant infighting, Adam decides to return to his family. The men, however, have other plans for him. With time running out, and the stakes raised unbearably high, Adam is forced to question whether any of us can truly escape the wildness within.

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Author Interview: Lauren Westwood

Lauren WestwoodLauren Westwood is the author of Finding Home and I’m pleased to be welcoming her to Novel Kicks. Hi Lauren, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me about your debut novel, Finding Home and how the idea originated?

Thank you for having me and Finding Home on your blog today!

The idea for the novel started over six years ago when my partner and I were looking to move out of London when our daughter was born. We both love old houses, and were looking for ‘the right’ house within commuting distance of our workplaces. Unfortunately, our search area kept expanding and pretty soon, we were looking in a huge area that had estate agents scratching their heads. Let’s just say, I encountered many during this process! When we did eventually find ‘the right’ house – three of them, in fact – and put in offers, we ended up getting gazumped by other buyers. It took several years before we finally got lucky. Overall, it was quite an emotional process – sometimes stressful, sometimes exciting – and I sometimes felt like I was living in a novel. Based on my own experiences, I could see how a young, somewhat quirky, romantic like Amy Wood could find the process captivating – and fall in love with a crumbling old house like Rosemont Hall.


How do you approach the process of writing – do you plan much? Edit as you go?

I normally have the basic idea in my head and also some plot milestones – so I know point A and point B in advance, but not necessarily how I’m going to get there. In general, I try to write the first draft through without going back too much. For me, that makes the ideas flow more freely, and I’m often surprised how a scene ends up. However, I am trying to be a little more disciplined with my next novel, and doing more plotting in advance. It has more of a mystery focus, and that requires more early thought on pacing, clues, and structure.


Can you tell me a little about your typical writing day and do you have any rituals (writing in a particular place, must have a hot drink, write in silence?)

I wish I had a typical day! When I first started writing almost ten years ago, I did a lot of writing in a notebook during my commute. Back then I had more time, and longer quiet moments to write. Nowadays, life is pretty full-on with three children, working as a lawyer, writing, and doing publicity. I rarely have a quiet moment, so I’ve learned to work more efficiently, and with more distractions.

My best writing time is usually mornings. I get up very early, put the coffee maker on, and type away in the kitchen before the children get up and it’s time for work and the school run. When I’m working on something new, I try to do at least 500-1000 words a day. If I have more time, I try to do some editing on something else. My favourite part is ‘getting in the zone’ and putting the words down for the first time. I’m less keen on the editing part!

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Book Review: The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

W&N, May 2015

W&N, May 2015

Eva and Jim are nineteen, and students at Cambridge, when their paths first cross in 1958. Jim is walking along a lane when a woman approaching him on a bicycle swerves to avoid a dog.

What happens next will determine the rest of their lives.

Have you ever considered what if? “What if I said yes to that guy” or “what if I said yes to going to that party?” This book explores three what if situations involving the main characters, Eva and Jim. In each situation or “version” as the book calls it Eva makes different decisions, which sets her on different paths throughout her life.

However, just like in real life, certain events do still occur in all 3 versions; the events that cannot always be controlled by decisions such as birthdays and death. This makes the story much more realistic and adds another layer to each story as we see how each different version of Eva copes with these events.

I love the character of Eva as you see how she adapts to different situations. She is loving, kind-hearted but is also a strong female shown through how she copes through many difficult situations.  She will do everything she can to protect her family, even sometimes if that means sacrificing her own happiness. In this book we see many different sides to Eva as well as Jim. We see the highs and the lows of their relationship and how one small decision can have such a major effect on their lives.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Looking at Things From a Different Angle.

rp_friday-300x16411111111111111-300x164-300x1641-300x164-300x1641-300x16411-300x164-300x164-300x1641-300x1641-300x164-300x164-300x1641-300x164-300x164.pngFiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt. The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

Today’s prompt: Pick a situation from real life experience or from somewhere online like a news article or maybe take a section of your favourite story.

Look at the story from a different angle. Write it as though something in the story happened differently. For example, what if it were the white rabbit just sat there reading and minding his own business outside his burrow in Wonderland and Alice walks by. The rabbit then follows her into our world. What if the villain is really the good guy and vice versa?

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Latest Book Releases

Endof WatchHappy Thursday everyone. It’s time for another round up of the recently released books. Any take your fancy?

End of Watch by Stephen King (Hodder & Stoughton, 7th June 2016.) 

This had its hardcover and electronic release today. Although it is a standalone novel, it’s also the last in the Hodges Trilogy. I have to admit, I’ve never read any of Stephen King (his book ‘On Writing’ has been recommended to me so many times.) I might have to start though.

Retired Detective Bill Hodges now runs a two-person firm called Finders Keepers with his partner Holly Gibney. They met in the wake of the ‘Mercedes Massacre’ when a queue of people was run down by the diabolical killer Brady Hartsfield.

Brady is now confined to Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic, in an unresponsive state. But all is not what it seems: the evidence suggests that Brady is somehow awake, and in possession of deadly new powers that allow him to wreak unimaginable havoc without ever leaving his hospital room.

When Bill and Holly are called to a suicide scene with ties to the Mercedes Massacre, they find themselves pulled into their most dangerous case yet, one that will put their lives at risk, as well as those of Bill’s heroic young friend Jerome Robinson and his teenage sister, Barbara. Brady Hartsfield is back, and planning revenge not just on Hodges and his friends, but on an entire city.

The clock is ticking in unexpected ways …


TheFiremanThe Fireman by Joe Hill (Gollancz, 7th June 2016.) 

This book has been on my TBR pile for a few weeks and I’ve been trying to get to it. It looks so interesting. I am looking forward to reading.

Nobody knew where the virus came from.
FOX News said it had been set loose by ISIS, using spores that had been invented by the Russians in the 1980s.
MSNBC said sources indicated it might’ve been created by engineers at Halliburton and stolen by culty Christian types fixated on the Book of Revelation.
CNN reported both sides.
While every TV station debated the cause, the world burnt.

Pregnant school nurse, HARPER GRAYSON, had seen lots of people burn on TV, but the first person she saw burn for real was in the playground behind the school.
With the epic scope of THE PASSAGE and the emotional impact of THE ROAD, this is one woman’s story of survival at the end of the world.

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