Novel Kicks Writing Room: Childhood Stories

rp_writeanything-300x19911-300x1991-300x1991-300x199-300x1991-300x199-300x199-1-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-1.jpgTuesday 23rd August 2016: Childhood Stories. 

Think about a story you used to be told when you were little about something that happened in your parents or grandparents childhood.

Write down as much information as you can remember.

Now take that incident and write about it in the first person and present tense. Who was there? What happened?

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Blog Tour: If I Only Had A Duke by Lenora Bell – Author Interview and Book Review

41I5v96odWL._UX250_I’m very happy to be welcoming Lenora Bell to Novel Kicks today and her blog tour for the latest novel in the Disgraceful Duke series, If I Only Had a Duke which is due to be released by Piatkus on 30th August 2016.

After four failed seasons and a disastrous jilting, Lady Dorothea Beaumont has had more than enough of her family’s scheming. She won’t domesticate a duke, entangle an earl or vie for a viscount. She will quietly exit to her aunt’s Irish estate for a life of blissful freedom. Until an arrogant, sinfully handsome duke singles her out for a waltz, making Thea the most popular belle of the season.

Well, the duke ruined her plans and now he’ll just have to fix them.

Dalton, Duke of Osborne, is far too heartless for debutantes or marriage – he uses dalliances to distract from his real purpose: finding the man who destroyed his family. When his search leads to Ireland, the last thing he needs is the determined, achingly innocent Thea, who arrives in the dead of night demanding he escort her to her aunt. His foolish agreement may prove his undoing. The road to the Emerald Isle is fraught with unforeseen dangers, but the greatest peril of all might just be discovering that he has a heart . . . and he’s losing it to Thea.

I’ve reviewed the book below but first, I’ve had a chat with Lenora. Hi Lenora, thank you so much for joining me today. First, can you tell me a little about your typical writing day and how many words you aim to write on a daily basis.

Hi Laura! Thanks for having me here at Novel Kicks! I see you have a cat named Buddy. Every writer should have a cat, don’t you think? They’re such good companions for long writing sessions. They just curl up and sleep to the sound of your clicking fingers on the keyboard as if it were rain pattering on a tin roof. (Yes, Lenora, I totally agree!)

Writing for me is both agony and ecstasy. There is a certain amount of slogging through the trenches that needs to happen before the words on the page learn to fly. A typical writing day for me means churning out extremely rough stream-of-consciousness pages and then spending three times as many hours trying to wrestle those rough pages into something fit to be seen by other eyes. I may have ten rough pages and only produce one edited page *sigh*. But when things go right there truly is no better feeling.

 

Do you have any writing rituals (plenty of coffee, writing in silence etc?)

Coffee, of course! Absolutely necessary for those late night writing binges. I find what helps me the most to focus on the emotional heart of scenes is to do some yoga and light a candle before I write, and then stop every hour or so and take a quick yoga break. It helps me focus as well as helps stretch all those cramped writing muscles.

 

Your new book, If I Only Had a Duke is the second in the Disgraceful Duke series. Can you tell me about it?

I’m so excited about this book! It’s the second in the Disgraceful Dukes series and is loosely inspired by the Wizard of Oz. If you read it with that in mind you’ll find subtle references throughout the novel. This is the story of Lady Dorothea Beaumont, who’s had more than enough of her family’s scheming and just wants to escape from London and live a quiet life as a spinster, and Dalton, Duke of Osborne, who uses public spectacle to distract from his true purpose—finding the man who destroyed his family.

 

How did you approach writing this novel in terms of planning and research?

I worked closely with my fabulous editor at Avon Books, Amanda Bergeron, on planning and plotting. Sometimes my plots tend to wander and she always reined me in and redirected me to the heart of the story. As for research, I read books and watched videos on everything from Regency-era traveling coaches, ships, and gaming hells to etiquette and recipes for trifle. It was tons of fun!

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Competitions: Five Copies of Ready Steady Mo! -Winners

Ready Steady Mo!Thanks to Hodder Children’s Books, we had five copies of Ready Steady Mo! to give away. All you had to do was answer the following question;

What sport is this book about:

A) Cycling

B) Running

C) Swimming

And of course, the answer was B, Running. 

Congratulations to Susan Dias, Maryanne Pike, Naomi Farquharson, Katie Skeoch and Charlotte Rooney who have all won a copy.

Ready, Steady Mo! is a fun, action-packed rhyming picture book that will get kids reading, and running too.

Run on the pavement

Run on the grass

Run in the playground

Perhaps not in class!

 

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Book Cover Reveal: It’s a Wonderful Life by Julia Williams

It's a Wonderful LifeOK, so we are technically still in Summer but I am a little obsessed with Christmas (if you’ve not guessed already) and one of the things I love most about this time of year is the Christmas themed books that get released.

That is why I am over excited to be part of the cover reveal for the new novel by Julia Williams.

Her new novel is classic Julia, it’s due out on the 3rd November 2016 and it’s Christmas themed. It’s called It’s a Wonderful Life (I just say that and get the festive feels.)

Isn’t this cover just beautiful? I absolutely LOVE it. What do you think of the cover?

Christmas with the family. Cosy, relaxing…and a total nightmare?

Driving home for Christmas, Beth has everything she wants. The kids and the house, the career and the husband. So why is it that when the New Year comes, she can’t stop thinking about her old college boyfriend?

Her husband Daniel is tasked with bringing a struggling school up to scratch, but when family life catches up to him, can he be a good father and a good teacher at the same time?

Beth’s sister Lou has just been dumped…again. Single and childless, she can’t help but be jealous of her sibling’s success. But is the grass really always greener?

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Mythical Creatures

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

Today’s Prompt: Mythical Creatures.

There is a meeting today. The attendees are a dragon, a fairy, a mermaid, a unicorn and bigfoot. They are all meeting up for their weekly catch up over a drink.

Write about their evening. What would they talk about? Do they get on well? What would their day have been like?

Write up to 1,700 words.

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Latest Book Releases: 18th August 2016

Notting Hill Press, 18th August 2016.

Notting Hill Press, 18th August 2016.

Hello all. It’s another Thursday which means another load of book releases. I wanted to share a couple of them that I am looking forward to reading.

I love Michele Gorman’s style of writing and therefore have really enjoyed all the books I’ve managed to read so far. Life Change (which is due out on Kindle today,) is released by Notting Hill Press and sounds great (this book was originally released as Bella Summer Takes a Chance which is one of Michele’s books I’ve not read.)
Michele is really good at the feel good romantic comedy and this book sounds like it is no exception.

The general information on the story is that Bea has been through some big life changes recently (including loosing her job, her flat and finishing a long-term relationship over a takeaway.) With no boyfriend, no job and nowhere to live, things are very shaky for Bea for the first time in thirty-eight years.

Things are not made any easier but the fact that dating has moved on too. With online dating and apps she has no idea how to date anymore.

She used to dream of a music career but the best she can do is performing to drunks in pubs. She’s beginning to wonder whether anything is easy after all.

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My Back To School Stationery Wish List

polka dot pensAs you may have guessed, I have a bit of an obsession with stationery. There is nothing like a new notebook or finding a nice pen.

I did used to dread September and having to go back to school after having six weeks off. The one thing I did look forward to though was the chance to go shopping for all the back to school supplies – you know; the beautiful rucksack that costs more than your pocket money allowed or the five pack of pritt stick your brain convinces you that you’re going to need for the new year at school and will then spend the next nine months in the back of your draw.

As we’re nearing September, I wanted to share my wish list for back to school stationery. I can still want all these even though I’m not at school anymore and haven’t been for a while right? Please? Pretty please? (I’ve tried to include links as I love posts like this and I like knowing where I can get things if any of the items takes my fancy.)

The first item I’ve chosen for my back to school wish list are these Polka Dot Gel Pens from Paperchase (I could seriously spend all my money in that place if I didn’t stop myself. Somehow I don’t think my lack of rent money would be appreciated though.)
What I love about these is that they are so colourful. You have green, purple, blue, red and yellow so if you’re like me and you like to use various colours to brighten up a planner or a notebook then these are perfect.
They are soft grip and retractable too so perfect for those long note taking sessions.
(A pack of five is £4.00 at http://www.paperchase.co.uk)

 

purr maidsThe second thing on my wish list is also from Paperchase and it is this Purr Maids A5 subject notebook.
This collection from Paperchase I think is among my favourites. It’s cats. That’s me pretty much sold. It’s so cute and like the pens, it’s very bright and colourful.
What I like about this notebook is that it has five sections with colourful dividers so you can keep all your notes for each subject separate and organised.
There are 100 sheets (so 200 pages.) It’s close ruled paper and it’s spiral bound which I find easier to use if taking notes (especially if you need to remove any. It really irritates me when I have to rip a page out of a notebook and it leaves a messy heap of the page behind.)
(Purr Maids Subject A5 notebook is from Paperchase and is £8: http://www.paperchase.co.uk)

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Book Review: Smoke by Dan Vyleta

Smoke

W&N, 7th July 2016

Smoke opens in a private boarding school near Oxford, but history has not followed the path known to us. In this other past, sin appears as smoke on the body and soot on the clothes. Children are born carrying the seeds of evil within them. The ruling elite have learned to control their desires and contain their sin. They are spotless. It is within the closeted world of this school that the sons of the wealthy and well-connected are trained as future leaders.

Among their number are two boys, Thomas and Charlie. On a trip to London, a forbidden city shrouded in smoke and darkness, the boys will witness an event that will make them question everything they have been told about the past. For there is more to the world of smoke, soot and ash than meets the eye and there are those who will stop at nothing to protect it . . .

Imagine a world where sin were rendered visible by smoke; where evidence of your deeds and intents was visible for all to see. Large cities like London are hives of sin and corruption, wrapped in smoke and stained with soot, where the common people are forced to live in the thick of it while the very wealthy move out into the countryside away from the corruption and into the fresh air where their own smoke can dissipate.

The children of the wealthy are schooled in how to be mindful of their thoughts and actions so as not to smoke and it is in once such school that  the story starts.

Thomas is a young boy who until very recently was home schooled, until a powerful sponsor secured his place at a well-respected school outside of Oxford. On a school trip into London to observe the sinful city Thomas sees something which causes him to question the true nature of smoke.

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My Writing Ramblings: Dream a Little Dream of Strangeness.

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225.jpgHappy Wednesday everyone.

How lovely has this weather been? It’s been absolutely gorgeous. On Sunday I went with some family over to Moors Valley Country Park near Bournemouth. I remember going there a lot when I was a child. There was such a magic to all the woods that seemed to go on for miles.

I would love reaching the climbing structures (and was very annoyed that I am now too big to go on them. It does suck being a grown up sometimes.)

If anything, the lake and the surrounding area is just as beautiful and I will never stop loving the steam train that runs around the park. As I passed the play area and saw the climbing frame, the zip wire and the area with the slide that looks like a castle, it brought back so many memories.

On Monday I also got a chance to spend the day at Sandbanks beach which is one of the most beautiful beaches. It was lovely to just swim in the sea and sit in the sun. As we had family staying, there has not been a lot of writing and planning but there has been a bit of chilling out and it’s been nice.

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Writing Room: Magazine Roulette

rp_writeanything-300x19911-300x1991-300x1991-300x199-300x1991-300x199-300x199-1-1-1-1-1-300x199-1-1.jpgTuesday 16th August 2016: Magazines Roulette. 

For today’s prompt,  we’re taking inspiration from magazines.

Try and gather up as many magazines as you can.

Cut out anything that catches your eye; pictures, words, phrases. (If you have no magazines, you could always use what is available online and write down any ideas on small bits of paper.)

Put them all into a bowl. Pick out two or three and write a short story based on each.

Don’t write more than three hundred words per story.

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Blog Tour: Learning To Fly by Jane Lambert – Extract

Learning to FlyI am pleased to be welcoming Jane Lambert to the blog today and her tour for her novel, Learning to Fly. 

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 posing in Prada on the red carpet and her ex will rue the day he dumped her. Wrong! Her chosen path proves to be an obstacle course littered with odd jobs and humiliating auditions; from performing Macbeth single-handedly at Scone Palace to chauffeuring the world’s top golfers at St Andrews – and getting hopelessly lost.

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?

Jane has very kindly shared an extract from the novel. Enjoy. 

******

It is never too late to be what you might have been ̴ George Eliot

Reasons for and against giving up the glitzy, glamorous world of flying:

Pros:

  1. No more cleaning up other people’s sick.
  2. No more 2 a.m. wake-up calls, jet lag, swollen feet/ stomach or shrivelled-up skin.
  3. No more tedious questions like, ‘What’s that lake/ mountain down there?’ and ‘Does the mile high club really exist?’
  4. No more serving kippers and poached eggs at 4 a.m. to passengers with dog-breath and smelly socks.
  5. No more risk of dying from deep vein thrombosis, malaria or yellow fever.
  6. No more battles with passengers who insist that their flat-pack gazebo will fit into the overhead locker.
  7. No more wearing a permanent smile and a name badge.
  8. No danger of bumping into ex-boyfriend and his latest ‘I’m-Debbie-come-fly-me’.

Cons:

  1. No more fake Prada, Louis Vuitton or Gucci.
  2. No more lazing by the pool in winter.
  3. No more ten-hour retail therapy sessions in shopping malls the size of a small island — and getting paid for it.
  4. No more posh hotel freebies (toiletries, slippers, fluffy bathrobes etc.).
  5. Holidays (if any) now to be taken in Costa del Cheapo, as opposed to Barbados or Bora Bora.
  6. No more horse riding around the pyramids, imagining I’m a desert queen.
  7. No more ice skating in Central Park, imagining I’m Ali MacGraw in Love Story.
  8. Having to swap my riverside apartment for a shoebox, and my Mazda convertible for a pushbike.

 

‘Cabin crew, ten minutes to landing. Ten minutes, please,’ comes the captain’s olive-oil-smooth voice over the intercom. This is it. No going back. I’m past the point of no return.

The galley curtain swishes open — it’s showtime!

I switch on my full-beam smile and enter upstage left, pushing my trolley for the very last time …

‘Anyheadsetsanyrubbishlandingcard? Anyheadsetsanyrubbishlandingcard? …’

Have I taken leave of my senses? The notion of an actress living in a garret, sacrificing everything for the sake of her art, seemed so romantic when I gaily handed in my notice three months ago, but now I’m not so sure …

Be positive! Just think, a couple of years from now, you could be sipping coffee with Phil and Holly on the This Morning sofa …

Yes, Phil, the rumours are true … I have been asked to appear on Strictly Come Dancing. God only knows how I’ll fit it around my filming commitments though.

Who are you kidding? A couple of years from now, the only place you’ll be appearing is the job centre, playing Woman On Income Support.

This follow-your-dreams stuff is all very well when you’re in your twenties, or thirties even, but I’m a forty-year-old woman with no rich husband (or any husband for that matter) to bail me out if it all goes pear-shaped. Just as everyone around me is having a loft extension or a late baby, I’m downsizing my whole lifestyle to enter a profession that boasts a ninety-two percent unemployment rate.

Why in God’s name, in this wobbly economic climate, am I putting myself through all this angst and upheaval, when I could be pushing my trolley until I’m sixty, then retire comfortably on an ample pension and one free flight a year?

Something happened, out of the blue, that catapulted me from my ordered, happy-go-lucky existence and forced me down a different road …

‘It’s not your fault. It’s me. I’m confused,’ Nigel had said.

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Competitions: Five Copies of Ready Steady Mo! To Give Away…

Ready Steady Mo!

Hodder Children’s Books, 26th July 2016

Ready, Steady Mo! is a fun, action-packed rhyming picture book that will get kids reading, and running too.

Run on the pavement

Run on the grass

Run in the playground

Perhaps not in class!

 

To Enter:

We have 5 copies to give away. To be in of a chance of winning, answer the following question before the closing date of Sunday 21st August 2016 at 23.59: 

What sport is this book about:

A) Cycling

B) Running

C) Swimming

The winners will then be picked at random from the correct entries and announced on the blog and contacted via e-mail on or after Monday 22nd August 2016. UK only.

Good Luck.

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Extract: Because of You by Helene Fermont

Because of you Hélene FermontBecause of You by Helene Fermont is released today by Fridhem Publishing.

Because of You spans 36 years in the life of Hannah Stein, a Swedish teenager who arrives in London, at the tail end of the disco era, for a gap year before embarking on a teaching career. The people she meets change the course of her life irrevocably and the novel charts her changing personal and professional fortunes over the next three decades. Because of You is about love, coming of age, friendship, bereavement, stillbirth and rape. Its themes include redemption, acceptance, fidelity and family. Because of You is a story that every woman can relate to. 

Thanks to Hélene, Fridhem and Palamedes PR, we have an exclusive extract to share with you. Enjoy.

As soon as Easter and Passover were over, Hannah organised a meeting between her grandmother and friends. “I booked a table at Cosmo,” she told the girls. “Ella and Granny’s old friends Katja and Tanya will be joining us.” May was approaching and with it, sunny hot weather. The ladies made the effort to look their best.

Opting to wear a light blue dress, her hair in a soft shade of red perfectly matching her lips, Zipporah admired Tanya and Katja’s bright kaftans, the latter wearing a turban to conceal her loss of hair due to old age. Meanwhile, Hannah assisted dressing Ella, choosing a lavender dress with matching jacket. Rosie and Sanna also made the effort to dress up.

Seated at the large table in the buzzing restaurant overlooking the crowd around them, Rosie kept thinking everyone looked wonderful. “You look years younger than your actual age!” she blurted out, referring to each by surname.

“Please don’t! Unless you refer to us by first name, we’ll feel ancient,” Zipporah whispered in her ear.

It was difficult choosing from the extensive menu. “I’m postponing my diet,” said Sanna. This place’s worth it.”

Nodding her agreement, Katja replied, “You’re a girl close to my own heart. Women are wrong assuming being thin as a stick’s attractive – men prefer a fuller, feminine figure!” Her Russian accent matched that of her friends’. Beaming, Sanna wholeheartedly agreed.

“I’d never contemplate cutting down on my food, neither would Tanya,” Katja added, winking at the larger woman seated next to her.

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Competitions: August’s Blind Date With A Book

IMG_7335I hope everyone is enjoying their August. It’s time for this month’s Blind Date With A Book.

It is very easy to judge a book by its cover. I know I do it. The cover is the thing that initially catches our eye in the book shop. It can sometimes completely sell the book or make you walk by it without giving it a chance. Our competition is one with a twist. It’s your chance to win a blind date with a book.

I’m not going to reveal what the title of this month’s book is nor will I reveal the cover. All I will reveal is that the themes include ‘secrets, lies, murder mystery and betrayal. 

How to enter: 

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: A Different Fate?

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

I adore reading. I love getting to the stage where I can see where the character has ended up. However, I know I will sometimes read a book and wonder what would have happened had the story gone the way I thought it was going to go and didn’t.

Think about one of the books you’ve read where the ending didn’t finish the way you wanted.

Rework it the way you wanted it to play out rather than how it ended.

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