Blog Tour: Spandex And The City by Jenny T. Colgan

LOCAL GIRL SWEPT OFF HER FEET

Mild-mannered publicist Holly Phillips is unlucky in love.

She’s embarrassed beyond belief when the handsome stranger she meets in a bar turns out to be ‘Ultimate Man’ – a superpowered hero whose rescue attempt finds her hoisted over his shoulder and flashing her knickers in the newspaper the next day.

But when Holly’s fifteen minutes of fame make her a target for something villainous, she only has one place to turn – and finds the man behind the mask holds a lot more charm than his crime-fighting alter-ego.

Can Holly find love, or is superdating just as complicated as the regular kind?

When I first got asked to read this book as part of the blog tour, I found the premise utterly intriguing although at the same time, not quite knowing what to expect. I’m a great fan of Jenny Colgan’s previous novels. I think it’s no exaggeration to say that I love her and her books, (for this novel, she’s writing as Jenny T. Colgan.)

This book is something very different not only for Jenny but also in general.

Holly hasn’t always been lucky in love and is under pressure from her friend to find someone when we meet her at the beginning of the novel.

When something happens that she’s not expecting, she meets Ultimate Man, the resident superhero.

Also, in the ensuing chaos following their meeting, Holly ends up experiencing her fifteen minutes of fame.

Fame and a new relationship with Ultimate Man and his alter ego is full of the ups and downs you’d expect when dating a superhero.

This book pretty much had me laughing from the beginning and I got drawn into it immediately. I couldn’t put it down.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: The Secret Mission

Novel Kicks Fiction FridayFiction 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 is about that secret mission.

You are carrying on your day as you normally do. You get up, have breakfast at the usual time and leave at 8.30am exactly.

However, as you pull out of your driveway, your car gets stopped by a black sports car. The passenger window opens.

‘Get in,’ says the stranger.

From there, you get pulled into a secret mission by accident and are forced to make up a new identity on the spot. Go!

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Blog Tour: Just For The Holidays by Sue Moorcroft

rp_Sue-Moorcroft-199x3001.jpg SuemoorcroftjustfortheholidaysI am very pleased and super excited to be welcoming the fabulous Sue Moorcroft and the blog tour for her new novel, Just For The Holidays, released today by Avon Books.

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…

 

Mick has reviewed the book but first, Sue shares her top tips for surviving summer holidays. Over to you, Sue.

I love summer. I was brought up for several years in Malta and it’s there I think I must have developed my love of the sun. Here are my top tips for surviving summer holidays:
• Take plenty to read. Whether it’s your eReader, print books or magazines, just make sure everybody in your party has something. I know you’ve got your phones on which to browse the Internet or tablets to let you watch DVDs but airport delays or beaches lead to flat batteries, low signal or extortionate phone bills. I find a book a day a nice starting point. Loading my eReader for a trip is such a pleasure! And I generally take a magazine just in case something makes it impossible to read on my eReader and the app on my phone.

• Choose a holiday you actually want. This might sound like stating the flippin’ obvious but if you’ve browbeaten your holiday companions into going where you want, you may find that nobody has a good time – and that includes you if they remind you every five minutes and sulk. (Of course, if you’re the browbeaten one and you didn’t actually want to spend your holiday in a theme park, put your friends/family in a queue for a ride, find a sunny bench and take out your book …) Leah in Just for the Holidays allows her sister, Michele, to coax her into a holiday she doesn’t want and things go seriously wrong from the first. (It doesn’t help that Michele has a couple of secrets, including quite an important one that she hasn’t shared with Leah.)

Blog tour• If you can afford it, treat yourself to a pre-holiday pamper. Leg-waxing and gel nails can keep you feeling good all through your long-awaited holiday.

• Stay safe. It’s a shame we have to think this way but many a fabulous break has been ruined by theft of money and/or passports and returning to find the home ransacked. Be aware, use the hotel safe, visit one of the ‘information for travellers’ websites for advice pertinent to the place you’re visiting.

• Take at least one sweatshirt and a raincoat. Even hot countries have summer storms or freak weather.

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NK Chats To Marilyn Bennett About Her Book, Granny With Benefits

marilynHello Marilyn. Thank you so much for joining me today. Your book is called Granny with Benefits. What is it about and how did the idea originate?

Hi Laura, thank you very much for inviting me.

The book is about a 39 year old single woman called Grace. Her grandmother passes away and Grace volunteers to clear out her belongings from the Sheltered Accommodation, but really it’s an opportunity to get her sticky paws on some beautiful coats and jewels that her grandmother owned. Grace is dressed head to toe in her grandmothers clothing when a handsome man, who is looking for accommodation for his father, comes to view the room. They strike up a meaningful conversation about life and love, a discussion Grace believes would not have happened had he not thought she was an old woman. Grace decides that she will use her Granny alto ego to engineer a date for herself with the man, but things do not go according to plan.

The idea originated from two separate conversations that I had with friends of mine. The first conversation was with one of my best friends, who at the time was single and very reluctant to join Match.com. It made her feel exposed and she felt that it was a digital meat market. We had a long conversation about dating. We came to the conclusion that the men we were meeting wanted someone to look after them. They were basically looking for their mothers. This sparked the idea of men looking for their mothers when dating in my head.

The second conversation was with male best friend. I suggested to him that as we both had single friends we should set them up on blind dates. He agreed to speak to his friend and I was horrified when he advised that his friend had given him right of veto to vet my friends via photographs to decide if they were suitable for a blind date. He thought it was a perfectly reasonable suggestion. I thought the pair of them had a bloody cheek!

But it got me thinking. I made me think about the fact that some of us have a checklist that we can’t deviate from when looking for a partner. We aren’t open to surprises. It also made me think about the fact that when you meet someone are you really meeting the real them? Aren’t we all on our best behaviour when first dating?

The two conversations made me want to explore the idea of getting to know someone in a dating scenario without them realising it. What would they reveal about themselves? I also loved the idea of being able to look at the process of dating and aging. Grace gets the opportunity to become her ghost of Christmas Future through her Granny alter ego and it impacts on her present life.

 

If you were suddenly given the courage to do the one thing you’ve always wanted to do but have not yet done, what would you do?

I would walk a tight rope. I suffer from vertigo and only discovered this in my late twenties. Even the thought of a great height makes me dizzy! I can change a light bulb and put up curtains, basically anything three rungs up a step ladder, but any higher than that and you’re on your own!

 

What’s your writing process like? When writing this book, did you plan much and did you edit as you wrote or once you’d completed the first draft?

I discovered my writing process and the fact that I could write a novel by accident! I had planned to write a short film and whilst plotting it turned into the novel.

I wrote the entire novel by hand in notebooks, so there was no editing. I have a computer, so I have no idea why I did it this way. I think it was my subconscious not quite convinced that I could write a novel, so didn’t want to commit to it fully. When I typed up the novel that served as my first edit. Then when I read it back, that was the second edit.

I then came across an organisation called Spread the Word and they offered one to one Fiction Surgeries, so I booked one. It was invaluable. Based on the Writer Development Manager reading a 3000 word extract from the novel, I was given some top tips on where it wasn’t quite working. One of the books recommended at the session was Stephen King’s On Writing. It is an absolutely fantastic book for any writer, but particularly a new one like me. Once I read that I knew what I needed to do with the novel. I didn’t touch it for four months then I gave it a complete restructure and further edit.

At this point I knew I had got it in the best possible shape I could on my own, so I then found an Editor. We did one edit and a final read through and the book was done!

I was quite a long journey, but I now have it down pat, which made writing my second book a much more refined process. Plotting is the key for me. I plot from beginning to end before I write a single word on the manuscript.

 

Which authors do you admire and why?

I was a prolific reader as a child, but then I discovered film and so most of the authors I admire are from my childhood.

I loved Roald Dahl books. His imagination seemed boundless. He seemed to have a knack/genius for creating fantasy worlds that were comfortably inhabited by real children. Nothing seemed impossible, but simply magical.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Interview Questions and Answers

Novel Kicks Writing RoomFor today’s writing group exercise, you’ll be interviewing your character.

Create a bunch of interview questions for one of your characters – general CV stuff but also personal questions like likes, dislikes, fears etc.

Do this for a character you’re currently working on or if you’ve not got a character who is suitable, create one named Bob James.

Now interview your character, asking them these questions. It’s interesting to see how your character will answer.

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A Moment With: Kate Hughes; ‘My Self-Publishing Adventure.’

kateI’m pleased to be welcoming author, Kate Hughes to the blog today.

She chats to us about her self-publishing journey and what it was like for her. Over to you, Kate.

So I’d written a book. Now what?

All the advice I read said ‘Get an agent’. It all sounded so straightforward. So I diligently ordered the Writer’s Handbook and began to contact the relevant agents listed within its many pages. Email after email was sent but gradually after reading what felt like the millionth rejection message, it finally dawned on me that it was pretty unlikely that I was going to get any interest. I was unpublished, unknown and unimportant.

What to do? I’d invested so many hours in writing my precious book that I wanted at least a few people to read it. A friend of mine had just self-published his first novel and was having a lot of success, so he convinced me to give it a go. After sorting out all the formatting issues, which for a technophobe like me was extremely demanding, Amazon were pretty good at taking me through the self-publishing process. I had to upload the correct format of my book (finally it looked like a proper book with chapters and everything) then I had to design the cover. Again, Amazon have a handy cover creator which allows you to use pictures and text on their program. I know many authors pay to have their own covers designed and they look amazing, however as I had no idea whether I was actually going to sell any copies yet I was loathe to spend money I didn’t have! I have to say I was pretty pleased with the finished cover anyway. Just a few more boxes to fill in then…

I self-published my debut novel Mr Brown’s Suitcase in 2014. BUT and this is a big ‘but’ (hence the capitals) now the real work began.

The book is out there but, in order to sell any copies, people have to know. If you go through a traditional publisher they’ll sort all that out for you, but down the self-publishing route it’s all your responsibility. That for me has been the hardest part. The huge problem is that there are so many self-published authors out there. The competition to get your book noticed in a crowded marketplace is a challenge. I also work in a profession (teaching) which isn’t known for its expertise in self-promotion so it didn’t come easily! I had to advertise on all my social media accounts and encourage friends and family to share the news and a link to my book, use word of mouth (i.e. drop into the conversation at an appropriate time, “Did you know I’ve written a book?”), ask book bloggers to review my book (and hope it’s positive!) and contact relevant websites who I thought might be interested. Phew!

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Descriptive Alphabet

rp_writeanything-300x19911-300x1991-300x1991-300x199-300x1991-300x199-300x199-1-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-1-300x199-300x199-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-300x199-1-1-300x199.jpgToday, we are going to write a descriptive alphabet.

On a piece of A4 paper, write the alphabet down the left side of the page. Leave enough room between letters to write a little glossary.

Now, look around the room you are in and fill in each letter with an object you can see.

Once you’ve done that, give each object a description. Give as much detail as you can in the small space you have.

You could also do another alphabet but this time, you could make up the objects and then descriptions for them.

 

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Novel Kicks Chats To: Emma Henderson, Author of The Valentine House

Emma Henderson author picHello Emma, thank you for joining me today. Firstly, What’s your writing day like?

It varies, depending on a lot of things – other commitments, my mood, the weather (yes, really). However, if possible, I do the bulk of my actual writing first thing in the morning. I’m an early riser, so this means no later than 6am in the winter and, often, as early as 4am in the summer. I love that time of day for its peace and quiet. No interruptions. And my brain seems to function best then. Later, if I can, I will go back to my writing and redraft or I’ll research things. There’s usually an energy dip in the afternoon, so that’s when I try to make myself do mundane but important tasks like tidying my desk (I’m a very messy writer), sorting, labelling.

 

Your new book is called The Valentine House. Can you tell me a bit about it?

The Valentine House is about an English family who go, every year, to their summer home, high up in the French alps and about someone from the village nearby called Mathilde. At the start of the story, Mathilde is employed to work as a servant for the family. She becomes involved with them in all sorts of ways, discovering a secret that affects them all. The novel explores the relationship between the two cultures and also the relationship between identity and place.

 

If you could have a chalet anywhere in the world, where would you have it and why?

I would have it in the French Alps. I can’t say where, precisely – there are so many beautiful spots to choose from. But somewhere that is accessible, yet feels remote, and, above all, somewhere with a view – of the mountains, a valley, a village, a river, a blue, blue sky. Why? Because I’ve seen chalets in places like that. They exist. It’s not a fantasy. People live in them. I’d like to be one of those people.

 

What’s your writing process like – edit as you go? Much planning?

My writing process is a mixture of editing as I go and planning. I’m not very good at planning in advance. I try to do it. I make myself do it. But I tend to write first and just see what happens. Usually, this results in a mess of words, which I then have to sort and turn into a novel. So the planning happens during and after, not before the writing, usually.

 

Do you have any writing rituals? Coffee, silence, tea?

No rituals, although I like silence and solitude. The only quirky thing is my use of 2B pencils. I have a big stock of them. I like to have them within arms’ reach wherever I am in the house. When things are going well, that means 2B pencils all over the place – on the floor, in my bed, next to the bath. They are used mostly for jotting, but sometimes for longer bits of writing, but my handwriting is terrible and, when I write quickly, even I find it difficult to read later. I have to type up my 2B jottings quickly, therefore.

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News: British Book Awards 2017

British Book AwardsWinners of British Book Awards to be announced on Monday 8th May 2017.

The British Book Awards brings together authors, publishers, booksellers, librarians and literary agents for a night to celebrate the book industry.

Hosted by Lauren Laverne, the ceremony takes place on Monday 8th May at Grosvenor House in London where the winners of the six categories will be revealed.

The categories include children’s, debut fiction and non fiction (which has been further split into Narrative and Lifestyle,) and this year, the awards have further expanded to include Crime and Thriller. There will also be a prize awarded for ‘Overall Book of the Year.’

All the shortlists have six books each.

In the fiction category, nominees include Sebastian Barry, Victoria Hislop, Sarah Perry, Jessie Burton, Maggie O’ Farrell and Paul Beatty.

Debut book of the year includes novels from Joanna Cannon, Emma Cline, Kit de Waal, Garth Greenwell, Barney Norris and Francis Spufford.

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My Writing Ramblings: Inspirational Quotes

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225-1-1-300x225-300x225.jpgHello fellow writers. Happy Friday.

It’s been a funny old week hasn’t it with various things going on. One thing is certain for me though; there has been plenty to inspire stories.

One of the other things that I find inspires and motivates me are quotes.

I know that inspirational and motivational sayings are not everyone’s cup of tea. (My friend hates them,) but you should find whatever helps you (especially if you’re new to writing.)

I wanted to share some of my favourite quotes about writing. I hope they help someone out there to pick up that pen or open that laptop (note to self, take own advice.)

This is a list of my favourites. If you have one that is not listed here, let me know in the comments.

 

‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ – Nelson Mandela.

(This is one that comes to mind when I am trying to begin. It is always overwhelming when I read all these published novels and think that my yet unwritten first draft is never going to be as good. The thing to remember….. all these published novels started off like mine and yours.)

 

‘It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.’ – Walt Disney

(This is along the same lines as the first one and I remember it to remind me to have fun whilst writing and to not allow uncertainty cloud the fun element.)

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Eavesdrop

Novel Kicks Fiction FridayFiction 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 gives you permission to eavesdrop.

Writers are good observers. Throughout today, try to catch people’s conversations. Write down any snippets that you find funny, outrageous or inspire something.

Once you have five, use them all in a fiction piece that begins with the following sentence:

‘I couldn’t believe she did it. I mean, the nerve.’

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Novel Kicks Book Club For May: The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson

gargoyle

Cannongate Books, Jan 2009

Welcome to the Novel Kicks Online Book Club.

I love books and I love chatting about them even more. Every month, I pick a new book for discussion. I will post a question to kick things off in the comments box below. A good thing about this book club is that everyone is welcome to 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.

The best part… it’s all from the comfort of your armchair/sofa/bed/comfy place.

This month, it is The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson.

A young man is fighting for his life. Into his room walks a bewitching woman who believes she can save him. Their journey will have you believing in the impossible. The nameless and beautiful narrator of The Gargoyle is driving along a dark road when he is distracted by what seems to be a flight of arrows. He crashes into a ravine and wakes up in a burns ward, undergoing the tortures of the damned.

His life is over – he is now a monster. But in fact it is only just beginning. One day, Marianne Engel, a wild and compelling sculptress of gargoyles, enters his life and tells him that they were once lovers in medieval Germany. In her telling, he was a badly burned mercenary and she was a nun and a scribe who nursed him back to health in the famed monastery of Engelthal.

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My Writing Ramblings: Every Word Counts

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225-1-1-300x225-1.jpgHowdy all.

We are now on that last stretch before the weekend with all the hope that the weather will decide to give us glorious, warm sunshine (I know but it’s good to be optimistic.)

I don’t know about you but April for me has just flown by. Life away from reading books and writing has kept me a little busy (there were also a couple of personal events that happened this month which meant some quiet days with a want to not do a lot.)

I have not done that much writing over the last month. I think I managed to do 2,000 words give or take. Those words still count and it’s still a decent word count to reach. It is easy to play down small words counts as only this and only that. It’s not easy to convince yourself that slow and steady is OK if it works for you to build your novel.

I go through this horrible habitual process when I begin something new. I will write, then I will stop, I will immediately read what I have written and then I will have this urge to begin again. I fight every time to break this habit.

A first draft is not going to be publication ready to begin with so every word you write does matter.

As a new writer, I tend to play down the whole thing; my brain won’t let me call myself a writer. Sitting in a room full of writers, I will feel like the impostor.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Use That Song

Novel Kicks Fiction FridayFiction 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 is all about using song titles.

Use the song titles below in your piece of writing that begins with the line, ‘What do you know about it?’

The song titles are:

What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?

Respect.

Thriller.

Can’t Stop The Feeling.

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Competitions: Winner of a Signed Copy of French Kissing by Lynne Shelby

Accent Press, 2015.

Accent Press, 2015.

Lynne Shelby is the author of French Kissing (released by Accent Press in 2015.) 

Lynne very kindly gave me a signed copy of her fantastic debut novel, French Kissing to give away to one winner. If you like romance, then this book is perfect.

Congratulations to Mary Lewis who has been chosen at random in our draw. I’ll be e-mailing you soon, Mary.

About the book:

Anna Mitchel has been writing letters to her French penfriend, Alexandre Tourville, for fifteen years, but hasn’t seen him since they met as children on a school exchange trip. When Paris-based Alex, now a successful professional photographer, comes to work in London, Anna fails to recognise him. Instead of the small, geeky boy she remembers, he is tall, broad-shouldered and gorgeous.

Anna’s female friends are soon swooning over Alex’s Gallic charm, and Anna’s boyfriend, Nick, is becoming increasingly jealous of their friendship.           

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