Competitions: September – Which Book is This Anyway?

rp_Mystery-Competition-300x1931-300x193-300x1931-300x1931-300x193-300x1931.jpgFancy a book surprise through your letterbox? Welcome to September’s Which Book is This Anyway?

Many of us judge books by their covers and make our choices based on that and the accompanying blurb. Our competition adds a little mystery.

The prize for this competition is a book but the identity of that book will not be revealed until the lucky winner receives it. It could be a recent new release or a well-known classic. Who knows? We may reveal the genre but the book title is a surprise. If you feel like having a guess in the meantime though, that’s OK, just comment below (you don’t need to guess to enter. You just need to leave your name. The guessing is just for fun.)

All we will reveal about September’s choice is this book includes a murder mystery. The main protagonist is an interesting narrator who likes investigating, lists and patterns. This has been described as a remarkable book.

How to enter:

Comment on this post before the closing date which is Tuesday 29th September 2015 at 23.59. One winner will then be chosen at random from the entrants and announced on the Novel Kicks blog on Wednesday 30th September 2015. If you fancy having a go at guessing what book it could be, that’s OK too although it’s not compulsory.

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Writing Room: Current Affairs Writing Prompt

rp_writeanything-300x19911-300x1991-300x199.jpgTuesday 1st September 2015 – Current Affairs.

Today’s prompt…

Pick up a newspaper or go online to any news site. Pick a news article that interests you and use that as inspiration for a story. Put in an unexpected twist. Try to write at least seven hundred and fifty words and feel free to share by posting in the comments below if you wish to.

Have fun.

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Blog Tour: Gilly MacMillan Talks About Her Writing Process

Gilly-MacmillanI’m pleased to welcome Gilly MacMillan to Novel Kicks today. As part of the blog tour for her novel, Burnt Paper Sky, Gilly shares details about her writing process. 

After I finished writing Burnt Paper Sky, I made a resolution, and that was to make sure that my writing process for my second book would be much more organized and efficient.

I had started Burnt Paper Sky with little more than an idea of the type of book I wanted to write, an opening scene, and a vague concept of what I wanted the fate of the missing boy to be. I also had a piece of paper with a rough pencil sketch showing where the plot points should probably go, once I’d thought of them. That was it. The rest I made up as I went along, with the result that I got so much wrong in my first draft that I had to spend over a year rewriting it.

So, for my second book, I had better intentions. I would plan it, I thought, I would organize the material and map out the plot, the pacing and the characters and do all the things that I’m probably supposed to do, and might have been taught to do had I been on a course.

That resolution lasted about two days, during which I stared at a blank page that had ‘synopsis’ written at the top and couldn’t think of a single bit of detail to put down. I was absolutely paralysed. I had an idea for the book, and a main narrator, but still I couldn’t do it. Grey mist had descended.

What that showed me is that I am, resolutely, a seat of my pants, make it up as you go along writer, and that’s because, simply, I get my best ideas when I’m actually writing. That’s when the characters develop and interact with one another, and become rounded, and that’s when ideas begin to spark. I get some fireworks in the grey mist.

So I’ve had to accept that, much as I’d like it to be different, and more predictable and controlled, my actual process is a bit messy and very intense.

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September’s Book Club: The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon

Word ExchangeBook Corner is our monthly online book club. Anyone can join.

How it works…

We love books and we love chatting about them even more. Every month, we pick a new book for discussion. We will post a question to kick things off and then you can talk about any of your thoughts about the book in the comments box below. The best thing about our book club is that EVERYONE CAN TAKE PART. It’s open to all. You can read the book at any point in the month or if you’ve already read it, tell us what you think.

This month, our pick is: The Word Exchange by Alena Graedon.

About the book…

Imagine a world without words. A world in which books, libraries and newspapers are things of the past. A world where personal devices provide all you could want or need.

Anana Johnson and her father, Doug, are hard at work on the final edition that will ever be printed of the English Dictionary. But one evening, Doug disappears and Anana unearths a single written clue: ALICE.

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Competitions: Which Book is This Anyway – August Winner

rp_Mystery-Competition-300x1931-300x193-300x1931-300x1931-300x193-300x1931.jpgIt’s time to announce the winner of our Which Book is This Anyway book competition for August.

Many of us judge books by their covers and make our choices based on that and the accompanying blurb. Our competition adds a little mystery.

The prize for this competition is a book but the identity of that book will not be revealed until the lucky winner receives it. It could be a recent new release or a well-known classic. Who knows? We may reveal the genre but the book title is a surprise.

All we revealed about August’s choice is this book is contemporary fiction. It’s a whimsical tale of romance, good friends, Mr Right and dreams. I loved this book when I read it. Plus it has a BEAUTIFUL cover.

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Blog Tour: Higher Ed by Tessa McWatt

Tessa McWatt 2I am pleased to be welcoming author, Tessa McWatt to the blog today and her blog tour for her new novel, Higher Ed (published on 27th August 2015 by Scribe.)

Hi Tessa, thank you so much for joining us. Can you tell us a little about your new book, Higher Ed and what inspired the novel? 

The novel was inspired by teaching in higher education and by current issues of austerity and funding cuts in the public sector. I wanted to examine how in difficult financial times people cope and how these issues affect relationships. I also wanted to see if I could write a novel the way a filmmaker makes a film, by editing elements together that exist separately, outside of the ‘frame’ of one another. So I wrote each character’s story separately and then interwove them in the editing process.

 

How much planning did you do before beginning Higher Ed? What elements needed to be in place before you started? 

I planned to write 4 different strands of the story and then weave them together. I added the fifth strand because it seemed like the right balance, the right number of voices. I saw the whole thing as a hand, with the five fingers contributing to the whole picture of how we work together.

 

Your book features five people who live in London. What challenges did you face writing from five peoples point of view? 

I loved the challenge of writing from five points of view. In each one I had a special relationship with character and voice. The challenge was to make them sound distinct.

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Writing Room: Another Galaxy Writing Prompt

rp_writeanything-300x19911-300x199.jpgWednesday 26th August 2015: Another Galaxy.

Today’s prompt: Your setting is another galaxy where there is a small cluster of planets ruled by a council made up of one person from each.

Some of the planets have a human population and others are not. Your character is part of the council’s secret intelligence agency and you get information that could spell disaster.

Write a minimum of 1,000 words but names, the amount of planets etc is up to you. Have fun.  Continue reading

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Mirrors

rp_friday-300x16411111111111111-300x164-300x1641-300x164-300x1641-300x16411-300x164.pngFriday 21st August 2015: Mirrors

Fiction 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: Your character is cleaning a room. The relationship they have to that room is up to you whether it’s their room or a relative or friend or enemy. When cleaning the mirror, you find something hidden behind it. Begin with the sentence, ‘it fell to the floor.’ Carry on the story.

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Author Interview: The Self Esteem Team

selfI am very pleased to be welcoming The Self Esteem Team to Novel Kicks today. The team, Natasha Devon, Grace Barrett and Nadia Mendoza work to challenge stereotypes, reduce the stigma surrounding mental health and they aim to educate young people (as well as teachers and parents) about self esteem. With individual experiences of their own, the team have just released their book, The Self Esteem Team’s Guide to Sex, Drugs and WTFs!? We catch up with them to talk about their book, what they do and their writing process.

Welcome Ladies. Can you tell us about The Self-Esteem Team and how it originated? 

Tash: In my teens I struggled with an eating disorder. Despite having been a ‘straight A’ student with ambitions to be Prime Minister, my illness gradually chipped away at my potential, so that by the time I was 25 I had no job, no money, no friends and no life.

After I recovered, I was determined that no other young person should suffer the same fate and began devising a self-esteem lesson that I took to schools and colleges all over the UK. This was the class which went on to create the building blocks of SET. Demand was soon so high, I recruited Nadz and Grace. Now we visit four schools a week working to improve students’ confidence and have also branched out into mental health, offering classes not only in body image, but bullying, exam stress, self-harm, and how to handle difficult feelings, too. We’re also campaigning for wellbeing to be at the centre of the curriculum, instead of tacked on as an afterthought. After all, if you don’t have your health, grades mean nothing.

 

You all have your own story to tell. Can you each tell us a little about your own experiences?

Nadia Mendoza

Nadia Mendoza

Nadz: When I was younger, there were troubles at home which led me to hide away in my bedroom a lot rather than confront them. As I became more and more withdrawn from life, by the time I started secondary school, I was a timid and easy target for bullies because I never bit back.

Lonely, frustrated, and with a complete lack of emotional vocabulary to talk about my feelings, one day I locked myself in my room and cut myself.

What started as an impulsive act on a random day in my first year at secondary school, went on to have a hold over me for two decades. I used self-harm as a ‘friend’ to turn to when my head went black. Only now, having recovered, can I see how self-destructive it was and how I treasured it more than it ever did me.

With the help of CBT [Cognitive Behavioural Therapy] and a very lucky break in journalism, I eventually found my feet after university. Now, I hope to speak for every kid who feels they’re not ‘cool’ enough and let them know it’s okay to be different. And that different can actually be fun.

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Rhodia Essentials Box Review/Competition

rhodia_essentialsbox rhodia_essentials
I was over excited when the Rhodia Essentials box landed on my doorstep. It’s stationary. Enough said really. I have a slight obsession with notebooks, pens and pencils in particular (it’s getting out of control in fact,) so this box is right up my street. Up until now, I have been unfamiliar with this French brand but I am pleased I’ve discovered it.

The box itself is good quality and I like the orange colour scheme. It’s bright (which makes a change from all of my black covered notebooks.) It contains one A5 size notebook (the cover flips upwards.) There are two A6 size notebooks and there is also a shopping list style notebook. Completing the box, is two Rhodia pencils with an eraser on the end. I write with pencils a lot and always carry one in my bag. I’ve been carrying one of these around for a while and it is very durable and smooth across the page. It’s lovely and so comfortable to write with. I like that you get two pencils too.

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Blog Tour: Mile High by Rebecca Chance – Author Interview

Mile HighI am very pleased to be welcoming author, Rebecca Chance to Novel Kicks today. Her novel, Mile High was released on 13th August 2015 by Pan.

First class is about to get dangerous . . . Pure Air’s new LuxeLiner is flying from London to LA – its inaugural journey – with a first-class cabin packed with A List celebrities. As the feuding crew compete to impress their famous passengers, the handsome pilot tries to win the attention of a pretty young stewardess.

But one VIP singer is battling something seriously sinister: watching her every step is a very determined stalker, someone who will go to any lengths to get the star to satisfy their desires. At thirty thousand feet there is nowhere to run, and nowhere to hide . . .

As part of her blog tour for her new novel Mile High, we got to chat with Rebecca.

 

Welcome Rebecca. Thank you so much for joining us. Your new book is called Mile High. Can you tell us a little about it and where the idea originated?

It’s a glamorous thriller set onboard a night flight from London to LA, on a very luxurious plane whose first class cabin is absolutely gorgeous! Because it’s a new route for the airline, there’s a whole gaggle of A-list celebrities aboard to publicise it – a beautiful singer who’s going through heartbreak, a very randy chef, an Oscar-nominated actress. And the airline boss too, who’s modelled on quite a famous one… But there’s also a stalker on board who’s determined to join the Mile High Club with the singer, so the tension builds all the way through to a very dramatic ending.

 

What planning did you undertake before beginning this book? Did you get any first hand accounts of what it is like to work as cabin crew?

OH yes! I have several flight attendant friends and they were fantastic at giving me advice and telling me all sorts of saucy behind-the-scenes stories! I sat down with them over drinks and listened for hours before I even started to outline as I wanted the book to be as accurate as possible.

 

What is your writing day like and where do you like to write? Do you have any writing rituals?

Get up around 9, have a very strong cappuccino, read through my Facebook and Twitter, read what I wrote the day before, tell myself I have to start writing before I turn on Judge Judy. Turn on Judge Judy….
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Blog Tour: Ally Hughes has Sex Sometimes by Jules Moulin – Review

Ally Hughes Has Sex SometimesLife is a juggling act for single mother Ally Hughes. Between the classes she teaches at the local university, a monster of a boss, a home that’s falling apart at the seams and a young daughter who doesn’t miss a trick, there isn’t time for anything else in Ally’s life. Especially romance.

Then she meets Jake, and for one incredible, mind-blowing weekend, anything seems possible. But timing is everything and as the weekend draws to a close, fate is not on Ally’s side.

Ten years later, and fate has Jake knocking at Ally’s front door. Now the one that got away is back, and Ally has some serious decision-making to do…

Is there such a thing as perfect timing? Or is love always a game of chance?

The premise for this book intrigued me so I was excited when asked to be a part of the blog tour for Ally Hughes has Sex Sometimes. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this novel but the title is brilliant. I love it. I feel that this book is exploring the idea that it is never too late to seek a happy ending. You just need to have the courage to take it.

It took a while for me to get into this novel but once I got into my stride, I found myself falling into it in a big way. I couldn’t stop reading. I got involved with the characters specifically Ally and Jake (I really liked them as a couple. Jake, even at twenty-one seemed a mature voice.) Ally is now in her forties. She has spent most of her time either raising her daughter or looking after her ailing mother. At the beginning of the novel, her daughter is now twenty and her mother has passed away and she finds herself at a point where she doesn’t know what to do – a situation many people find themselves in at some point in their lives. She can’t quite let go of the responsibilities that don’t exist anymore.

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