Novel Kicks Writing Room: Sitting and Listening

Novel Kicks Writing RoomTuesday 25th October 2016: Sitting and Listening. 

For today’s prompt, it’s about getting out and about and listening.

When you have a few spare moments, go and take a bus journey or sit in a coffee shop. In fact, any busy area will do.

Try to make notes of what people are talking about. How are they speaking? How do they say things? Try to take as many notes of conversation snippets as you can (but not making obvious you are spying on people.)

Once you’ve done that, make up a story based around some of the dialogue you’ve picked up.

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Review: Start Now (A Creativity Journal) – Perfect For Writers

start-nowStart Now: The Creativity Journal is written and illustrated by Kate Neckel and published by Chronicle Books (August 2015.)

This is a book to pour ideas, doodles and dreams. There are illustrations to help spark creativity.
I love books like this generally. It appeals to the part of me that loves stationary and books to work through.

This journal is for people who want to create something.
It is so beautifully illustrated throughout and the cover is bright, colourful and inspiring too.

This book is full of ways you can be creative. You can do pretty much what you want.
You can write, jot down story ideas, doodle, sketch, write down sayings or quotes you find inspiring, song lyrics (your own or ones you like) and poetry. That is what I love about it. It gives you the space to get your ideas (any ideas) down on paper. One of the best things… you can make mistakes and it won’t matter.

It’s inspirational too. Although I did think there would be more than there are, there are prompts to help you along should you get stuck. For example, there is the list of the ten ways to curate your day which includes a suggestion to make snacks. Ha-ha. There is enough space to really make this book your own.
It’s a place to jot down all your thoughts and ideas in one place (a place where you can find order in the chaos.)

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Very Short Story

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 not a long story. 

Write a short story in a hundred words or less. Subject, characters and setting is your choice but it has to be told in a hundred words or less. If you need some inspiration, there are some prompts below.

Two members of the public are stuck in a lift with a celebrity.

The door at the end of a very dark corridor suddenly opens.

For one hour, you find you can suddenly see and talk to that one person you miss.

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Book Review: A Cornish Christmas by Lily Graham

cornish-christmasNestled in the Cornish village of Cloudsea, sits Sea Cottage – the perfect place for some Christmas magic …

At last Ivy is looking forward to Christmas. She and her husband Stuart have moved to their perfect little cottage by the sea – a haven alongside the rugged cliffs that look out to the Atlantic Ocean. She’s pregnant with their much-longed for first baby and for the first time, since the death of her beloved mother, Ivy feels like things are going to be alright.

But there is trouble ahead and suddenly she misses her mum more than ever. 

To give away a huge spoiler or not to give away a huge spoiler, that is the question.

And it is! There’s one thing I never do in my reviews and that’s to give the main points of a plot away and I’m tying my fingers in knots to stop them typing something yes, huge, about this story and a postcard…there, that’s the spoiler alert over with. If you want to know what I haven’t told you, there’s one good way – buy the book and read it!

All I shall say about the story is…Ivy and her husband Stuart have been trying and failing to get pregnant and finally make a break from London and move down to Cornwall. The change of scene and pace of life make all the difference, plus they get away from Stuart’s controlling mother, though Ivy feels a constant ache, she misses her deceased mother so much.

With the aid of new friends and finally re-acquainting herself with her mother’s old ones, Ivy struggles to accept that their dreams of a child may finally come true. Whilst Stuart makes a surprising success from producing condiments from his smallholding, his sister Smudge brings her own troubles to the fold.

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Books I Am Looking Forward To Reading: Part Three

bridget-jones-babyAs we reach the middle of October, there have and still are some fantastic book releases to come. Here are a few of the ones I am looking forward to reading…

The first book is Bridget Jones Baby: The Diaries. Now, I have to admit, I was not the biggest fan of Mad About The Boy. There were elements about it that were fine but I didn’t like what happened to Mark Darcy. From what I can gather, this book which was released on 11th October, is more along the story line of the recently released movie (which I am still yet to see.)

Bridget is finally pregnant in this latest novel. It is full of cheesy potatoes, outlandish advice from drunk singletons and smug mothers, scans and childbirth questions. Plus… who’s the father? (Bridget Jones Baby: The Diaries was released on 11th October by Jonathan Cape.)


Lyrebird is the new novel that is due for release by Cecelia Ahern. I love her novels and this one sounds like it is going to be great. In the deep of the woods, a young woman lives alone. She processes an extraordinary lyrebirdtalent – a gift that has earned her the nickname, Lyrebird.

When Solomon finds Laura’s (great character name. I know, I am a little biased) solitary existence, her life is turned upside down. She’s pulled from her peaceful home to the chaos of Dublin. Solomon is sure the world will embrace Laura but will she feel free to spread her wings or will she feel trapped?

This is due for release by HarperCollins on 3rd November 2016.


The next book I am looking forward to reading is We Were On A Break by Lindsey Kelk (Harper, 6th October.) I now have Ross from Friends in my head screaming “we were on a break.” It makes me want to binge watch Friends.

Liv and Adam have found themselves on opposite sides of a life they had mapped out. What should have been a proposal has now turned into a break. Friends and family think they are crazy. Liv throws herself into her work (she finds animals so much simpler than humans) and Adam tries to get himself out of the hole he has dug himself. The short break gets longer. Can and do they want to find their way back to one another?

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Observation

Novel Kicks Writing RoomTuesday 18th October 2016: Observation. 

Choose any colour. You can pick your favourite but it could be interesting to pick one you don’t like so much?

Now, either walk around your home, outside or take a break around your place of work for up to fifteen minutes. How many times have you seen that colour? Takes notes as you go around if you like.

Once you’re done, write about what you saw in as much detail as you can.

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Mick’s Musings: Time Flies When You…

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgTime flies when you’re having fun – and writing can be fun, though time flies in this case even if you’re not having fun. Of course, it can also behave as if you’ve got both feet stuck in quicksand.

This has actually got nothing to do with what I’m going to talk about today, it’s just something that’s been flitting around my mind for a while and I’m hoping that by laying it down on paper (so to speak) I’ll be able to get this wind-worm out of my head. Sorry if you’ve now got it.

Right, so what have I been up to since the last time I wrote?

For a start, there was the RNA Conference in Lancaster, probably the highlight of the writing year for me at the moment (at least until such a time as I get ‘that’ call) and as much fun as ever. My heartfelt, and belated, thanks to all who gave their time to present to everyone, word cannot be enough to express my thanks – quite ironic considering the purpose of the conference. Especially to Imogen Howsen for her ‘Speed Dating’ session. No, you did read correctly, though we didn’t come away with partners in that respect, but rather it was utilising the format to find Critique Buddies. I’ve come away with some terrific ladies – Lisa Hill, Elaina James, April Hardy, Sue Mackender, Samantha Bentall; Imogen has also foolishly looking at various attempts at my writing too and thanks out to Bernadette O’Dwyer as well for ‘being there’.

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Book Review: Learning To Fly by Jane Lambert

Forty-year-old air stewardess Emily Forsyth has everything a woman could wish for: a glamorous, jet-set lifestyle, a designer wardrobe and a dishy pilot of a husband-in-waiting to match. But when he leaves her to ‘find himself’ (forgetting to mention the bit about ‘…a younger girlfriend’), Emily’s perfect world comes crashing down.

Catapulted into a mid-life crisis, she is forced to take stock and make some major changes. She ditches her job and enrols on a drama course in pursuit of her childhood dream, positive that, in no time at all, she’ll be sexily sporting a stethoscope on ‘Holby City’, and her ex will rue the day he dumped her. Wrong! Her chosen path proves to be an obstacle course littered with rejection and financial insecurity.

If she is to survive, she must learn to be happy with less, and develop a selective memory to cope with more than her fair share of humiliating auditions. She tells herself her big break is just around the corner. But is it too late to be chasing dreams?

Learning to Fly is a wonderful debut novel about it never being too late to give yourself a second chance and having faith in yourself.

Quitting her job as a flight attendant, Emily decides to take a leap and fulfil her life long ambitions to be an actress. Things are not always easy for Emily as she tries to navigate the world of agents, other actors and auditions.

Jane Lambert has created a delightful, relatable main character in Emily. There were moments that had me laughing out loud or wanting to turn the page as I wanted to know what happened next. Sometimes, it was both at the same time.
There is a lot of love, warmth and humour in this novel.
It all felt very realistic when it comes to the ups and downs of a life in acting. One minute you’re on top of the world and the next, you’re spending many days in pajamas waiting for the phone to ring.

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Blog Tour: Extract From All She Ever Wished For By Claudia Carroll

All She Ever Wished For Claudia CarrollI’m excited to be welcoming Claudia Carroll (best-selling author and all round lovely lady,) back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her new book, All She Ever Wished For which was released by Avon on 6th October. 

Marriage. It’s a dream come true. Isn’t it?

One wet winter night, two women meet on a bridge. One is Tess Taylor, a personal trainer on the way to meet her boyfriend for date night. The other is Kate King, a celebrity married to a handsome billionaire who just happens to make her cry. In the cold dark evening, there is nothing to link them together but the bridge they shiver on. Little do they know they’ll both hold the key to each other’s future marriage…

All She Ever Wished For tells the story of what happens when your dream is about to come true. And what happens when that dream turns into a bit of a nightmare…

Thanks to Claudia and the lovely people at Avon, I have an extract from All She Ever Wished For to share with you. Enjoy! 

The present

‘The main thing is not to panic,’ says Bernard, my hubby-to-be, when I call to fill him in on what’s just happened, my imminent heart attack, etc.

‘Try not to panic?’ I say, doing the exact polar opposite. ‘Bernard, I’ve just been summoned for jury service, bloody jury service and you’re telling me not to panic?’

Claudia Carroll

Claudia Carroll

I consult the now half-scrunched letter in my hand for about the thousandth time today. ‘Here it is in cold, hard print. I’ve got to be at the Criminal Courts of Justice at 9 a.m. this coming Monday morning. So forgive me for panicking when this lands on me less than a month and counting before D-Day! Do you realise how much there’s still left to do?’

It’s a rhetorical question; of course Bernard hasn’t the first clue what’s left to do. After all, he’s a forty-three-year-old heterosexual male. What the hell does he know about weddingy floral centrepieces or alternate menu choices for coeliac lacto-ovo vegetarians?

‘Now I strongly suggest you stay calm dearest,’ Bernard says patiently. ‘All this panic is getting you nowhere.

A nice cup of tea, that’ll soon set you to rights.’

Bernard, it has to be said, thinks that there’s no drama in this life that can’t be instantly righted with a cup of Clipper gold blend.

‘The thing you have to understand,’ I sigh, regrouping and trying my best to keep cool, ‘is that with a wedding like this, there’s a whole clatter of stuff that you can only leave till these last, precious few weeks. So there’s no way in hell I can handle something as huge as jury service right now. Besides, I’ve got my family and pals all roped into helping me out before the big day, how could I possibly just skive off to court and leave them to do all the heavy lifting for me?’

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Book Release/Extract: Making It Up As I Go Along by Marian Keyes

making-it-up-as-i-go-alongMaking It Up As I Go Along (Notes By A Small Woman) by Marian Keyes has its paperback release today (released by Penguin) and is available in most UK bookshops and online.

Welcome to the magnificent Making It Up as I Go Along – aka the World According to Marian Keyes™ – A bold and brilliant collection of Marian’s hilarious and often heartfelt observations on modern life, love and everything in between.

From a guide to breaking up with your hairdresser to entering the fifties-zone, the joys of her nail varnish museum to singing her way through insomnia, Marian will have you laughing with delight and gasping with recognition throughout – because at the end of the day, each and every one of us is clearly making it up as we go along.

I have reviewed the book below but first, thanks to Marian and Penguin, I am able to share an extract from Making It Up As I Go Along with you. Enjoy….


Writers I Love

May I tell you about what turned out to be one of the happiest days of my entire life? I may? Tanken yew! Well! You know Sali Hughes, the brilliant journalist who writes for the Guardian on a Saturday and the Pool on a Wednesday? And has her own website,, where she does great videos called ‘In the Bathroom’, where she visits the bathrooms of famous and/or interesting people and discusses their beauty products and skincare and whatnot? Well, I’ve been a fan of hers for a long time because while she really loves all things beauty, she’s entirely honest and reliable and informative. She knows everything.
We first came into contact when I twittered asking people what I should do about the little broken capillaries on my face and everyone told me to email Sali – and she emailed me back immediately, giving me a variety of options and telling me the upsides and downsides of each. And after that we stayed in touch, and even though we hadn’t met in real life I loved her already because she has great sweetness and gentleness coupled with razor-sharp intelligence.

Also, she gives airtime to all kinds of brands, they don’t have to be big names and expensive, so she’s in nobody’s pocket, so I know that what she writes in her columns is genuinely impartial. Also, she’s wonderful for giving exposure to new and emerging brands, which thrills me because I am a divil for ‘New and Exciting’.

And now she’s after writing a book, called Pretty Honest, and it is the ABSOLUTE BEAUTY BIBLE – it covers everything from the very basics, such as identifying your skin type, to how to manage your beauty when you’re going through something awful like cancer, and she demystifies the ‘anti-ageing’ industry, separating out cod science from things that do actually work. (As well as acknowledging that there’s nothing wrong with looking your age – basically she gives you every option.)

marian-keyesEvery woman should have this book. Because beauty stuff is a passionate hobby of mine, I thought I knew a bit, but compared to Sali I know nothing and I’ve already consulted the book many times.
So anyway, there I am, living in Dublin and, you know, living a quiet life, seeing my mammy and the Redzers and the Praguers and going for walks with Himself and Posh Kate and Posh Malcolm – when Sali sends me this invitation to a lunch. A foncy lunch – being thrown for her by Bobbi Brown – yes! The make-up brand Bobbi Brown! And I was invited!

There were only twenty people invited and I was one of them – and when I saw the list of the other invitees, didn’t I nearly get sick! They were all writers or journalists that I hold in HUGE regard: India Knight, Jojo Moyes, Sam Baker, Polly Samson, Miranda Sawyer, Hadley Freeman, Lucy Mangan, Maria McErlane, Georgia Garrett, Julia Raeside, Jo Elvin, Camilla Long, Sophie Heawood, Bryony Gordon and Sarah Morgan. Also invited were three amazing women from the Estée Lauder group: Jay Squier, Cheryl Joannides and Anna Bartle.

My immediate impulse was that I couldn’t possibly go, that I didn’t belong, that I wouldn’t fit in, and then I thought, ‘Feck it! I want to go. I’m GOING!’
And this was huge for me because I’ve been mad in the head (MITH) for so long that I’ve had to keep my life very small and safe because it was all that I could cope with. But I realized I was ready to go into a daunting, intimidating situation and try to hold my own.

And off I went. And I really hope you don’t think I’m being a boasty-boaster, I just wanted to let you know that if you’ve suffered from the MITH-ness yourself and you think you’ll always feel terrible, it may not be the case for ever.

I ‘jetted’ in from Dublin – normally, when I travel by air, I simply fly, but because this was so glamorous I ‘jetted’ – and the lunch was upstairs in the private room in Balthazar and I had to scuttle past the welcoming committee to go to the Ladies to do last-minute checks on myself, only to discover that – horrors! – I’d somehow managed to leave Dublin without my comb!

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Backwards Coming Forward.

Novel Kicks Writing RoomWednesday 5th October 2016: Backwards Coming Forward. 

Today’s writing prompt is about writing and starting at the end. Go through your ideas journal and pick a story that sparks inspiration.

Now, begin writing it but start at the end and work your way back. Start with the last line and end with your first line.

Then, once you’ve finished, read it forward.

If you need a little inspiration, try these….

A clown who ends up with his own circus but starts out as a lawyer.

A family who end up living on another planet because they’ve had to abandon their own.

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October’s Novel Kicks Book Club: The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

51xvmauzoalWelcome to the Novel Kicks Online Book Club.

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 in the comments box below. A good thing about our 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.

For October, we’re reading The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett. 

For fans of One Day, Life after Life and Sliding Doors. 

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. We follow three different versions of their future – together, and apart – as their love story takes on different incarnations and twists and turns to the conclusion in the present day.

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Review: Collection of Harry Potter Colouring Books

Harry Potter colouring books Harry Potter colouring booksI am Laura, and I am a Potter Head. I will never grow tired of these amazing stories. When I received these wonderful colouring books in the post for review, I was beyond excited. I love an adult colouring book. It’s an activity I’ve liked all my life and find relaxing (and can be for a lot of people especially if you have anxiety or have trouble relaxing.) I have found that people either do love them or hate them but I find colouring books can be really good for wellbeing and mental health.

I received the full size version of The Magical places edition,  the compact edition of the Harry Potter colouring book as well as postcard editions. It was hard to decide which one to try first.
The illustrations in these books are beautiful and really capture the greatness of this incredible world. The details within them are great and a wide range of characters and places are represented.

I decided to try the Hogwarts crest first in the postcard edition. What is good about these is that you don’t have to have a good knowledge of the colours. You can choose how you want it to look or simply (as I did) look up an example and copy the colours.

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Blog Tour: The Million Dollar Blog by Natasha Courtenay-Smith

natasha-courtney smith million-dollar-blogI am delighted to be a part of the blog tour for The Million Dollar Blog which is a new how to practical guide for people who want to build a successful blog and is written  by Natasha Courtenay-Smith.

About The Million Dollar Blog: In a world where everyone wants to blog and blog posts are ubiquitous, how do you stand out? How do you blog your way from nobody to somebody?

How do you make money blogging, how do you start your own blogging business, and how do you, as a business owner, use content to build your brand and drive your success?

Through a combination of practical advice and interviews with some of the world’s most famous and successful bloggers, vloggers and content strategists, including Seth Godin, Lily Pebbles, Grant Cardone and Madeleine Shaw and dozens more, entrepreneur and digital strategist Natasha Courtenay Smith shows you how to build a blog that will increase your profile, create new opportunities, earn money and change your life.

blog-tourFor this blog tour, I’ve been invited to talk about my journey into blogging. I have to admit, when I first started, the idea of blogging terrified me. In some ways it still does.

I began Novel Kicks back in August 2009. I can’t quite believe I have been blogging for that long. It originally began as a forum for myself and fellow writers to talk about writing and to post work.

That is still the fundamental principle of my site but it’s also evolved into a place that has all my favourite things. I love writing stories, I love escaping into books. Everything I post on Novel Kicks is something that I am very interested in. This blog is very personal to me and above all, even after seven years I am still enjoying building it up. This is a lot of my passions in one place.

When interviewing authors, I try and keep the questions fun but I also want to ask them how they approach the writing and editing process. As a new writer, these are pieces of advice I find most helpful and I hope other people do too.

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Competitions: Winner of September’s Blind Date With A Book

September Blind Date With A BookIt’s time to announce the winner of September’s Win a Blind Date With a Book competition.

It is very easy to judge a book by its cover. I know I do it. Our competition is one with a twist. It’s your chance to win a blind date with a book.

I didn’t reveal what the title was of this month’s book was nor did I reveal the cover. All I did reveal is that the themes included ‘childhood, siblings, friendship, family, triumph and tragedy.’

Well done to Carol Peace from West Yorkshire who has won this month’s book. The new competition for October is coming soon.


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October’s Book Club

October’s Book Club


Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.


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