Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Confession

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

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: Confession. 

Your character is living in a country that, to the outside world is perfect. The truth is that the government is oppressing its citizens.

This character has lived in this country all their lives.  Age, sex and life situation is your choice.

Your story begins when your character commits a serious crime.

Law enforcement is trying to get a confession and your character has been given a piece of paper and pencil.

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Book Review: The Flower Arranger from JJ Ellis

Agora Books, 26th September 2019

Today’s blog tour features the debut novel, The Flower Arranger from JJ Ellis. 

And now he knew what was wrong with the arrangement. It was the Ma… the negative space… There was only one thing beautiful enough to fill it and — finally — she was with him. Ready, if not willing, to play her role.

Holly Blain wants to cover real news. The entertainment beat — pop stars and teen trends — was not why she moved to Tokyo. When she meets Inspector Tetsu Tanaka, head of Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police’s Gaikoku-jin unit, it might just be her big break.

Tanaka isn’t so sure. Always one to do things by the book, he’s hesitant about bringing this headstrong reporter into his carefully controlled investigation.

But young women keep disappearing and Tanaka is given no choice. He and Blain must trust each other if they are to stop a tormented killer from bringing his twisted plan to its shocking conclusion.

Filled with twists and turns, this unforgettable thriller is JJ Ellis’ first novel.

Holly Blain is quite new to Tokyo and wants to make her mark as a crime reporter. Covering the entertainment wasn’t exactly what she envisioned when she thought about her reporting ambitions.

She is delighted when she is introduced to Inspector Tetsu Tanaka from Tokyo’s Metropolitan Police’s Gaikoku-Jin unit. He could be her way to gain the scoop to further her career.

Tanaka isn’t so sure about Holly and keeps her at arm’s length.

Wow…. just wow.

The Flower Arranger is the debut novel from JJ Ellis but it won’t be the last I read from this author.

Told from the point of view of Tanaka, Holly and the killer, this book pulled me in from the moment I picked it up. I found it compelling and quite frankly unputdownable.

I had what I call itchy book fingers when I was forced to put it down. I just wanted to pick it up and continue reading.

The setting is so vivid. I have never visited Japan but I could see myself walking the streets with the characters. I felt totally emerged.

Tanaka is a strong and believable character. He’s an honourable policeman and wants to do his due diligence. He is one for the rules and his reaction to Holly was an interesting one. His relationship with her has a fascinating arc to it and I certainly want to see these two together in another novel.

Holly was more of an enigma to me. Not a lot is given away about where she’s come from and what has happened before she reached Tokyo. This is a book in itself I think and one that I would also read. There is certainly more to Holly than we see here. She and Tanaka are total opposites but they work.

It took me a few pages to get my head around who everyone was. Not a bad thing, just me.

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Upcoming Novel Releases

Chatto & Windus, Sept ’19

Autumn is on its way (even though the weather can’t quite make up its mind.)

What this does mean is a great list of fantastic novel releases and here is my first list of the books I am looking forward to reading.

The first book on my list has already come out but it is one I am incredibly excited about. It’s one I’ve been waiting years for… The Testaments by Margaret Atwood.

Ever since I read the Handmaid’s Tale when I was sixteen, I have been wanting to know what happened next. The TV show has been great for that but there is something for me about a novel straight from the original author that makes it extra special. I am also interested to read it having had the perspective from the TV show and the continued development of the characters from that. I have heard such good things about this book.

Released on 10th September, The Testaments picks up fifteen years after the end of the first book, Gilead maintains its power but there are signs that it’s beginning to crumble from within. Three women’s lives converge with explosive results.

 

HarperCollins, Sept ’19

The second novel in the list is another book I have been waiting so long for and that is Postscript by Cecelia Ahern. I have been fortunate enough to get an advanced copy and I am planning on reviewing soon.

I adored PS I Love You and so the sequel had a lot to live up to. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work. The first one had such a unique plot. How was the story going to carry on?

I won’t say too much now about my thoughts at this stage but a summary of the plot is that Postscript starts seven years after the end of PS I Love You and six years after Gerry’s last letter.

A group contacts Holly. They call themselves the PS I Love You club and they are asking her for help. She begins a relationship with the group and is soon finding herself drawn back to the feelings she thought she had left behind.

It has been released today (19th September) so is available to read now.

 

A Patchwork Family: Taking Chances by Cathy Bramley is part three in a four-part serial and is due to be released on 3rd October.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Freewriting with Prompts

It’s another freewriting exercise today. 

If you have something in mind already, then fantastic.

Write up to a 1000 words.

If you’re stuck as to where to start, there are five prompts below to hopefully inspire a story. You could always combine a couple if you like.

 

1. Write a letter to September.

2. Your character wakes up discovering that they are back at school.

3. You are stuck in a locked room alone with the person you despise the most.

4. You are confronted by the person you’ve been saying horrible things about online and they know it’s you.

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Book Review: We Met in December by Rosie Curtis

Hello to Rosie Curtis and the blog tour for her latest book, We Met in December. 

What if you couldn’t get away from the one who got away?

This December, unlucky-in-love Jess is following her dream and moving to Notting Hill. On the first night in her new house-share she meets Alex, the guy in the room next door. They don’t kiss under the mistletoe, but there’s still a spark that leaves Jess imagining how they might spend the year together – never mind the house rule against dating…

But when Jess returns from her Christmas holiday, she finds Alex has started seeing Emma, who lives on the floor above them. Now Jess faces a year of bumping into the man of her dreams – and, apparently, the woman of his.

Jess is determined to move on and spend the year falling in love with London, not Alex – but what if her heart has other ideas?

 

We Met in December tells the story of Jess and Alex.

Jess has just moved to London after breaking up with her boyfriend. She is looking to go after the career she has always wanted.

Alex was a successful lawyer and has now given that up to re-train as a nurse. He has made a promise to himself that, after a break up with his fiancée, he would focus on his career. He did not count on meeting Jess.

First, I am completely in love with this cover. It is so beautiful.

We Met in December is told from the point of view of both Alex and Jess. I liked this as it gave me a better overall idea of what each were thinking. It’s proof that misunderstandings and assumptions can be the cause of many problems between people that’s for sure.

These two were both wonderful, compelling characters and I came to care for them a lot. I found them to be characters I really liked and want to spend time with in real life.

I also loved the supporting characters, especially Nanna Beth, Rob and Becky. I want to know more about their lives.

I became so invested in this story. I want to be a roommate in this house. It’s like a rom-com movie and I could see it as such.

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Book Extract: A Question of Us by Mary Jayne Baker

Hello to Mary Jayne Baker and the blog tour for her novel, A Question of Us. 

Two best friends. Eight pub quizzes. One shot at love…

There are some people who seem like they have all the answers in life. Clarrie Midwinter isn’t one of them.

At the age of 26, tomboy Clarrie is still struggling to become a ‘proper’ grown-up.

She’s eternally strapped for cash, she hasn’t had a date in nearly a year and her attempts to quit smoking tend to take a nosedive after the second pint. Most annoyingly of all, her ladykiller best friend Simon just won’t stop asking her out.

The only thing keeping her sane is her pub quiz team, the Mighty Morphin Flower Arrangers.

But when Simon bets her a date their team will win the quiz league, Clarrie is forced to confront what she really wants out of life – and love. Is it finally time for her to grow up?

 

Mary Jayne and her publisher have shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

 

***** beginning of extract*****

 

‘The chances of me getting lucky with Sally Pemberton are slim to none,’ Dave said.

‘The chances of Si getting lucky with Sally Pemberton, and me therefore receiving the knock-on benefit of a faster pint, are about 99.9 per cent. I’ll take those odds.’

Clarrie was still squinting at the photo of the dog, which was small and Ewok-like with curly beige fur.

‘I reckon it’s a cavapoo,’ she said.

Si shook his head. ‘That’s not a thing.’

‘It is too a thing, the woman next door to my mum’s got one.’

‘What, so it’s half poodle, half fizzy wine?’

She nudged him, smiling. ‘Half Cavalier King Charles, you div.’

‘You know, dogs really went downhill when they started breeding them for comedy portmanteau purposes.’

‘Go on then, write it down,’ Dave said, rolling the pen to Clarrie. ‘You’re captain, you get final say.’

‘All right.’ She jotted it into the answer box. ‘But if it’s wrong, it’s wrong. I don’t want it following me to the grave like Sonny and the fifth Marx brother.’

Sonny scowled. ‘Do we have to bring that up every week? Anyone could’ve made that mistake.’

‘Very true,’ Dave said gravely. ‘I’m sure Karl had plenty of time after writing Das Kapital for a bit of slapstick fun with the family.’

‘Oh, knob off, can you?’ Sonny rubbed a V-sign at Dave against his cheek. ‘Eight years ago I got that wrong. Jesus.’

‘Still funny though,’ Dave said, grinning. ‘Right, I’m off to the bar. Same again, you lot?’

Jeff was half asleep again, but he flickered to attention when he heard the magic word ‘bar’.

‘Another Landlord for me, young Davy.’

‘Si?’

‘I’ll skip this round.’ Simon waggled his still half-full beer. ‘All right with what I’ve got for now.’

Clarrie glanced at the dregs of her pint. She had to work tomorrow. Probably should go easy…

Oh, what the hell.

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My Writing Ramblings: The Clerk

I am having one of those ‘eeeek’ moments with this post.

One of the things I try to encourage on this blog is sharing work. As writers, feedback is important but for me, also putting my work out there is one of my greatest fears.

Today, I am posting a short story I’ve written.  It’s called The Clerk. This is probably the first one I have properly finished that hasn’t been part of a writing course assignment. It was originally written for a competition.

As a newbie writer, I have not had the courage to post anything like this on Novel Kicks.

You could say I am putting my money where my mouth is. So, here goes. I hope you enjoy it and if you don’t, that’s OK too.

I’m off to hide under my duvet.

 

***** Beginning of The Clerk*****

 

I open my eyes.

It takes moments to focus. Below my arms is the rough fabric of a green worn armchair. Around me, the windowless circular room is cluttered with endless piles of neatly stacked paper.

I can hear noise but I can’t see where it is coming from. When I manage to stand, I can just about see a typewriter that seems to be operating on its own.

I move around, not wanting to disturb anything. I don’t see a door.

‘Ah, there you are dear.’

A small, plump woman dressed in a black baggy cardigan, a long skirt with her hair pulled into a bun shuffles into the room. Placing the papers she is carrying down on the nearest table, she takes a seat, gesturing for me to do the same.

‘Come on girl, time is short.’

‘Where am I?’

A tea-tray appears and floats toward us. She hands me a cup.

‘I’m dreaming right?’

‘I suppose you are in a sense.’

‘Where am I?’

‘Not the most original of questions dear. You can do better.’

‘You don’t know me.’

‘I do my dear.’

‘I’m sure I’ve not met you before.’

‘I have known you from the moment you were born.’

She pours more tea.

‘Let me explain, dear. I’m Bertha. It is my job to document.’

‘Document what exactly?’

‘Your life my dear.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘I am a clerk. Everyone has one. I document all the events of your life.’

‘My…’

‘All this, she says, pointing to the papers, ‘is your life.’

Anxiety sets in, ‘how am I here?’

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Alphabet Sentences

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

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: Alphabet sentences.

Your first sentence for today’s story is ‘All he could see was smoke.’

Now, carry on the story but with a little twist.

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A Moment With… Barbara Wallace

A big welcome to Barbara Wallace who is here to share some fun facts about her novel, One Night in Provence, plus she’s sharing a deleted scene!

Without further ado, over to you, Barbara.

Hi! Thank you for letting me visit.

I’m going to share with you a little secret. As much as writers love telling stories, the actual process of writing a book can be a long and boring process. After all, you try and spend months with the same two people in your head. Therefore we sometimes – okay I sometimes – make up little inside jokes and references as a way of making the work fun.

What I’d thought I’d do today is share some of those behind the scenes facts. I’m also sharing some of the great historical facts I learned while doing research. Provence and Nantucket are both rich with history. Because Philippe is an historian, I was able to weave in a few facts, but just as many ended up discarded. (Until now.)

Lastly, I decided to share a deleted scene with you all as well. I thought it might be fun for you to see the kinds of things that editors suggest we cut.

So, without further ado, let me present, Ten Fun Facts About One Night in Provence (whether you wanted to know them or not.)

The Destination Brides series was originally named Bucket List Brides. We conceived the idea during a brainstorming session on Facebook Messenger. It began as an excuse for Donna Alward, Nina Singh and I to work together on a project. We asked Liz Fielding to join us because working with her was on our personal bucket lists.

Jenna Brown and her colleagues Shirley and Donna were named for my fellow romance authors Jenna Bayley Burke, Shirley Jump and Donna Alward.
In the book, Shirley is dating a man named Joe. In real life, Shirley will be marrying her fiancé Joe this fall.

Chateau de Beauchamp is based on a real five star French hotel: La Bastide de Gordes. Sadly, I haven’t been there. Never been to Provence either. I’ve spent exactly eight hours in France. Long enough to do a hop on/hop off tour of Paris.

Equally sad is the fact that those eight hours are more than I ever spent in Nantucket – despite living four hours away. By the way, The Whaler Inn in Nantucket – the Merchant auction takes place – is also based on a real hotel. The Ocean House Resort in Westerly, Rhode Island. That hotel was recently named one of the best in the country. Oh yeah, and Taylor Swift lives down the street.

The White Terror that Philippe refers to when he first meets Jenna was an uprising staged by the royalists following the French revolution. Members of the noble classes briefly fought back by conducting nighttime terror raids.

The Tour Magne in Nimes is real and you can climb the stairs. It was built by the Romans in 15 BC.

Philippe’s apartment is located in Arles. Vincent Van Gogh also lived in Arles. In fact, I imagined Philippe’s apartment overlooking the park near Van Gogh’s famous yellow house. While living in the Arles, Van Gogh decided to focus many of his paintings on a single theme: Sunflowers. Arles is also where Van Gogh severed his ear.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Putting an Idea Together

With National Novel Writing Month just over a month and a half away, I thought it would be nice today to generate some ideas using magazines as inspiration.

This part of the writing process has been scary for me but I also find it fun, especially when doing something like the following exercise.

Gather as many magazines as you can. Cut out any words, images and phrases that interest you/catches your eye for any reason.

Once you’ve done that, put them all in a hat.

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Cover Reveal: Coming Home to Merriment Bay; Part One: A Reunion by Emily Harvale

I am particularly excited to be helping to reveal the cover for Coming Home to Merriment Bay; Part One: A Reunion by Emily Harvale.

 

About Coming Home To Merriment Bay; Part One: A Reunion.

After eighteen years apart, reclusive Cat Devon still recognises her mum’s handwriting. Plucking up the courage to open the letter, its contents send Cat racing to Merriment Bay, the seaside village where she grew up.

On arrival, Cat and her teenage daughter, Kyra are shocked to find the situation is worse than expected. But despite everything, Cat considers herself to be an optimist at heart and Kyra takes after her. Looking on the bright side may not improve the situation, but it definitely can’t make it worse.

When clearing out the house that, even now, Cat fondly thinks of as home, she stumbles upon more than just memories in the battered leather trunk in Granny Viola’s bedroom. She discovers a faded photo of an RAF pilot, a pile of unopened letters, and a mystery waiting to be solved. Who is the man in the – clearly treasured – photo? Cat didn’t know her granddad. Could this be him? A man even her mum never met.

Cat and Kyra are intent on finding out. But that’s not all Cat’s determined to do. It’s time she came to terms with the issues in her past, and made peace with her mum and her gran. All the while avoiding bumping into the one man she never quite got over … and keeping a few secrets of her own.

 

Drumroll……….. here’s the cover.

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Book Extract: One Day in Winter by Shari Low

I am happy to welcome Shari Low back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her book, One Day in Winter.

 

On a cold December’s morning…

Caro sets off to find the truth: has her relationship with her father been based on a lifetime of lies?

Cammy can’t wait to surprise the woman he loves with a proposal. All he needs is the perfect ring.

Lila can no longer hide her secret. She has to tell her lover’s wife about their affair.

After thirty years, Bernadette knows it’s time. She’s ready to leave her controlling husband… and never look back.

Over the course of twenty-four hours, four lives are about to change forever…

 

Shari and Aria have shared an extract today.

 

***** beginning of extract*****

 

Caro

 

‘No, please, you go first.’ The elderly man smiled gratefully, as the young blonde woman held the train door open for him. He’d read the Daily Mail. These… what was it they called them? Millennials? Anyway, according to the papers, the young ones these days were all supposed to be so entitled and self-centred that they didn’t give a hoot for anyone else, but this young lady certainly didn’t fall into that category. Actually, now that their faces were so close together, maybe not so young. Perhaps late twenties? Thirties? Pretty, and without all that make-up the young ones wear nowadays. Eyebrows like snails, some of them. But not this lovely woman.

Caro returned his smile and held the train door open until the gent had, painstakingly slowly, climbed the step on to the train. No hurry. She’d waited this long to make the journey south to Glasgow. Although, right now, there was a huge part of her that wanted to stay in the comforting cocoon of home city.

Aberdeen train station was bustling with commuters arriving from less expensive postcodes. A city with the third largest population in Scotland, after Glasgow and Edinburgh, in the heyday of the oil industry, this had been boomtown. The black gold that was pumped in from the oil rigs off the coast had seeped into every brick of the granite that lined the streets, bringing American oil companies, financial investment, big spenders and the air of confidence that it would last forever.

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Book Review: A Perfect Cornish Christmas by Phillipa Ashley

Christmas in Cornwall is just around the corner…

But after last Christmas revealed a shocking family secret, Scarlett’s hardly feeling merry and bright. All she wants this Christmas is to know who her real father is.

So Scarlett heads to the little Cornish town of Porthmellow, where she believes the truth of her birth is hidden. She just didn’t bargain on being drawn into the Christmas festival preparations – or meeting Jude Penberth, whose charm threatens to complicate life further.

Everything will come to a head at Porthmellow’s Christmas Festival … But can Scarlett have the perfect Christmas this year, or are there more surprises on the way?

Firstly, Phillipa has created the type of village that I think we’d all love to live in…or maybe that’s just this reviewer?

In our second visit to the Cornish village of Porthmellow, we are treated to the ime after Scarlett’s worst Christmas ever, and how her sister Ellie and her deal with the fall-out. This is so much a family story, though with more twists and turns than a snake!

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Novel Kicks Book Club: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Scholastic Press, Aug 2014

Hello September. 

When I was growing up, I really love this month. Yes, it meant going back to school which I never really minded, but it also was a chance to get new stationery. Fellow addicts will know what I am talking about.

The excitement over new pens and pencils, the feeling of a new notebook. All that potential. In-fact, I still have that feeling now.

Keeping with the theme of stationery and school, the book I have chosen this month is To The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. 

I’ve posted a question below to start the discussion. Anyone can take part so if you fancy reading along and commenting or have read it, I am looking forward to seeing you in the comments section.

 

About the book: 

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Book Extract: Nadine by John Steinberg

A big hello to John Steinberg and the blog tour for his novel, Nadine.

London 1974 – and Peter Greenberg is riding high. Thanks to his magic touch, every play he puts on in Theatreland is a hit and the money is rolling in. The young man’s empire feels secure – but then everything changes. One evening, he calls in to see a rival’s musical and falls head over heels in love.

The beautiful Paris-born dancer who catches his eye is Nadine – a major star in the making. Like Greenberg, the young dancer too is in love – but with someone else. The eternal triangle is complicated by the birth of a child, and by tragic secrets that go back before World War Two; slowly, those secrets reveal themselves in a drama that out-performs anything on the West End stage or Broadway.

Nadine is a poignant story of unrequited love, a love that will one day be returned – and in a most unexpected way…

 

John has shared an extract today. Enjoy.

 

 

**** beginning of extract*****

INTRO

Greenberg has lost his theatre and his luxurious Georgian home. His wife has run off with his accountant with whom she’s been having an affair and he’s been relegated to living in a one bed flat above a North London Florists. With too much time on his hands, Greenberg is teetering on the edge of depression.

A phone call from an unexpected source, Nadine’s father, offers him a lifeline and a chance to salvage his reputation.

 

*****

 

Jacques Bertrand had described himself perfectly. Medium height, with a full head of white hair and a tanned complexion. He resembled Alan Ladd, the 1940s Hollywood actor, Greenberg thought to himself. They had arranged to meet at Nadine’s graveside. It was probably his last chance, Jacques said, to see where his daughter had been laid to rest and to beg for her forgiveness.

 

***

Greenberg couldn’t believe what the other man was proposing. The chance to put together a major musical production based on his daughter’s life seemed completely surreal. It was, in the old man’s words, his ‘last opportunity to try to make up for the despicable way he had discarded Nadine when she had needed him most’.

Alors, Monsieur Greenberg, do we have an agreement?’ the old man said, suddenly coming to life.

‘Jacques, it’s very kind of you, but I’ll need to give it some thought. What you are asking is a huge commitment.’

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