Laura

I’m Laura. I started Novel Kicks in 2009. I wanted a place to post my writing as well as give other writers like me the opportunity to do the same. There is also a monthly book club, a writing room which features writing prompts, book reviews, competitions, author interviews and guest posts. I grew up by the sea (my favourite place in the world) and I currently live in Hampshire. I am married to Chris, have a cat named Buddy and I would love to be a writer. I’m trying to write the novel I’ve talked so much about writing if only I could stop pressing delete. I’ve loved writing since creative writing classes in primary school. I have always wanted to see my teacher Miss Sayers again and thank her for the encouragement. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything I can get my hands on, I love reading, dancing like a loon and singing to myself very badly. My current obsession is Once Upon a Time and I would be happy to live with magic in the enchanted forest surrounded by all those wonderful stories provided that world also included Harry Potter. I love reading chick lit. contemporary fiction and novels with mystery.

Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Fictional Best Friend

Novel Kicks Fiction FridayFriday 24th February 2017: Fictional Best Friend

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 involves a fictional best friend. 

Out of all the fictional characters you like (or don’t like,) which one would you like to hang out with for the day?

What sort of things would you get up to? Where would you go?

Build a short story around these ideas. Begin with the sentence, ‘we left at 9am.’

 

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Blog Tour: Micro Thriller Challenge With Rachel Abbot To Celebrate The Release of The Sixth Window

I am super pleased and excited to be welcoming Rachel Abbott back to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her fabulous new novel, The Sixth Window.

Rachel AbbottEighteen months after Natalie Gray loses her husband Bernie in a horrific hit and run accident, she finds love with his best friend, Ed Cooper, and moves into his home with her teenage daughter Scarlett. But she begins to suspect Ed has a dark side –and even darker intentions.

Natalie has to get her troubled child to a safer place, but when Scarlett starts to hear voices coming from the empty apartment next door it seems she has unwittingly moved them into the heart of danger.

DCI Tom Douglas is also chasing the truth. As his investigation into the suicide of a teenage girl draws him ever closer to Natalie and Scarlett, will he be too late to protect them from the threat they face, or from the truths that will tear their lives apart?

For this blog tour we have something special and a little bit different. Rachel and I have co-written a little micro thriller. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I enjoyed writing it.

 

Sixth Window_Micro Thriller_Novel Kicks_v1

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My Writing Ramblings: General Catch Up

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225-1-1-300x225.jpgGreetings one and all. How has everyone’s week gone? It’s hard to keep the smiles going when there is so much negativity going on in the news and bad weather going around isn’t it?

I just wanted a catch up this week. It’s been a little bit of a quiet one. I’ve managed a little work toward the novel and hope to start writing on 1st March.

As we race toward the end of February, I am looking back on this month and finding that it went by in a bit of a blur.

My weeks tend to be like that if I am with the day job especially when I am working more night than day shifts. Night shifts are a curious thing. It makes you feel as though you have permanent jetlag (I call night shift me, ‘zombie Laura,) but there is something lovely about being awake in the early hours. It’s always so quiet.

When work does get in the way (or other commitments,) it’s easy for me to fall out of any routine I have begun to build up.

I will have my days off, start to develop routines and habits and then the work days will come and the motivation will waver. I am not sure why this happens. It’s not all the time but it’s frustrating all the same. Tiredness is such a productivity killer.

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Blog Tour: Extract From If Ever I Fall by S.D Robertson

S.D RobertsonA lovely big massive welcome to S.D Robertson and the blog tour for his new novel, If Ever I Fall which was released by Avon on 9th February 2017.

Dan’s life has fallen apart at the seams. He’s lost his house, his job is on the line, and now he’s going to lose his family too. All he’s ever wanted is to keep them together, but is everything beyond repair?

Maria is drowning in grief. She spends her days writing letters that will never be answered. Nights are spent trying to hold terrible memories at bay, to escape the pain that threatens to engulf her.

Jack wakes up confused and alone. He doesn’t know who he is, how he got there, or why he finds himself on a deserted clifftop, but will piecing together the past leave him a broken man?

In the face of real tragedy, can these three people find a way to reconcile their past with a new future? And is love enough to carry them through?

 

Stuart and Avon have kindly given me an extract from the novel to share with you today. I have also reviewed the book below. Enjoy.

 

If I Ever FallMorning, Jack. You’re up bright and early.’

Miles is unloading a large bag of beans into the built-in coffee machine above the oven. I smile at him, say good morning and accept his offer of breakfast. But behind the facade I’m cracking up. How did I get here? I’ve no memory of waking, getting dressed and coming downstairs. And what happened yesterday? Or the day before? My memory’s all messed up: confused by shadows of half-remembered dreams.

The last thing I remember for sure is being in the car with Miles in the village and that weird incident in the hardware shop. Was it real or a dream?

I should tell Miles what’s going on. He is a doctor after all. But I’m not sure I trust him. I’m not convinced he’s ever taken me to the hospital. He says I’ve been there, but I’ve no memory of it.

There’s something off about all of this. What if he’s drugging me? Mind-altering substances could explain a lot. Maybe even what I saw – or thought I saw – in the shop. How has this not occurred to me before?

I wait until he’s finished with the coffee machine and then, as he looks at me, hold my hand to my stomach and wince.

‘Problem?’ he asks.

‘Stomach cramps. Think I’d better get to the toilet.’

‘Oh dear. Hope it’s not the crab we had last night.’

Crab? I’ve no memory of that. Shutting the kitchen door behind me, I head to the foot of the stairs. I wait there for a moment, to make sure he’s not coming after me. Then I slip out of the front door.

It’s cold outside this morning, another biting wind blowing in off the sea. Again, I don’t have my jacket with me, but there’s no time to find it now. I have to get out of here. As far away as possible. And it has to be now.

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Courses and Competitions: From First Draft to Final Draft

notebookWriters & Artists and William Ryan have joined together to present a ten-week course called ‘From First Draft to Final Draft.’

Through this course, essential elements of the writing craft and how you can apply it to your own manuscript will be discussed. It also includes exercises that will directly involve your novel-in-progress.

The course consists of evening sessions which take place on Wednesdays for ten weeks (this excludes two reading weeks.) The sessions run from 6pm until 8.30pm.

Held at Bloomsbury in Bedford Square in London, it runs from 15th march 2017 until 31st May 2017 and it is £1250.00.

The course features feedback on your novel’s premise and sample chapters by William and a literary agent, practical sessions based around your own writing, three critiques and twenty-five hours of advice from a combination of authors and publishing professionals. You will also get a copy of The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook which is essential for any writer.

For a more detailed course breakdown, details of who will be speaking and details of how to book (including how you could potentially pay in instalments,) visit: https://www.writersandartists.co.uk

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Blog Tour: Extract from The Frog Theory by Fiona Mordaunt

Fiona MorduantToday I am pleased to be saying hello to author, Fiona Mordaunt and the blog tour for her novella, The Frog Theory which was released by Clink Street Publishing on 14th February 2017.

Tragedy and comedy in perfect proportion.

Kim and Flow are the best of friends, living on a council estate, making money selling drugs.

Just around the corner in a smarter part of Fulham is Clea, a well-heeled young woman coping with a violent home life at the hands of her twisted step-father.

The Principal runs a famous college for problem teens. Fostering guilty secrets which distance her from her own children, she resists the advances of a man she sees on the train every day.

When Kim and Clea meet by chance, Kim is smitten but worried about her. Using the anecdote of the frog theory – that it will jump straight out of boiling water and live, but stay in and die if heated slowly from cold – he wakes her up to the dangerous situation she’s in at home.

Serendipity and a cake-fuelled food fight that goes viral will bring Kim, Clea, Flow and The Principal together in weird and wonderful ways in this frenetic, laugh-out-loud story about love, conscience and lion-hearted nerve.

I have reviewed the book below but first, thanks to Fiona and Clink Street Publishing, I have an extract to share with you. Enjoy.

 

 Smart ShoesKim meets the principal for the first time.

The Frog Theory CoverKim was used to teachers and probation officers trying to make an effort, trying to understand him, gently coaxing; this was new. ‘What kind of fucking teacher are you? You don’t know anything!’ he accused. It had taken a lot for him to come there and try for once in his life. ‘Sitting behind there in your smart suit with your smart nails and your smart hair and, and…’ he searched for something else to say.

‘My smart shoes?’ she suggested with a raised eye-brow.

Kim shifted awkwardly.

‘I couldn’t see your shoes.’

From the waist down she was concealed by a large, low-skirted desk. Strewn across it were some letters showing her home address, he memorised it, might come in useful. ‘I’m sure they’re smart, though,’ he added politely as an afterthought, wishing to appear respectful after a less than perfect beginning.

‘Sit down and tell me your name,’ said the principal.

He did as he was told.

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My Favourites: My Writing Playlist

Warner Bros. 2016

Warner Bros. 2016

I love music. It’s one of my great loves along with books. It doesn’t take long after a song I like comes on before I am tapping my foot, singing  under my breath or if I’m alone in the house or in my car full on singing and belting it out.

Music is also a big part of my writing routine. I’m not one of these people who can write in silence. Being in silence reminds me of exams and I hated exams. I’d always be worried that I’d say something to myself out loud, embarrass myself et cetera so I don’t have great associated memories.

Writing with music playing calms me down, makes me smile and helps me to focus on the job at hand. Now onto my playlists. I debated whether to share my taste in music (as some of it is very questionable,) but here goes.

Listening to music has been made so much easier with Apple Music and Spotify. As I said, my music taste is a little bit strange. Its full of all sorts of songs (plenty of them cheesy, you know the embarrassing kind.) My iPod and playlists are full of those songs you can’t help but love but are quick to skip over if there are people with you. You know what ones I mean.

When I’m writing, I like songs and albums that will either make me happy or chill me out. I find music a little bit less distracting than TV box sets (although that doesn’t stop me playing back to back episodes of Gilmore Girls.)

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Character and Dialogue

Novel Kicks Writing RoomFor today’s writing exercise I wanted to look again at characters and dialogue.

Turn on the TV and try to catch any programme or film that is currently ending (basically in its end credits.)

Whilst watching the end credits, try to write down as many names as you can. Names that you like, dislike or intrigue you. Maybe a name triggers an idea for story in the future?

Once you have a list, pick three names that stand out to you the most and write a short bio for each of them. Write it like you would a CV.

Now place all of them in an interview situation where you are only allowed to use dialogue. They can all be in a group interview or in separate rooms. Logistics is up to you.

 

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Blog Tour: Author Interview with Mhairi Macfarlane

140917_MHAIRI_MCFARLANE24385aWho’s That Girl is the brilliant novel from Mhairi Mcfarlane. I’m so incredibly excited and honoured to be welcoming her to Novel Kicks today. I’ve reviewed Who’s That Girl below but first, I have a chat with Mhairi about her book, her writing process, who from the fictional world she’d like to hang out with and writing advice I am going to print out and pin to my desk.

 

Hi Mhairi, it’s lovely to welcome you to Novel Kicks today. Could you tell me a little about your novel, Who’s That Girl? 

Lovely to be here! Who’s That Girl? is about Edie Thompson, 36, who is caught kissing the groom on his wedding day. She has her reasons, but no one wants to hear them, and it causes a scandal that sees her carefully managed life in advertising in London fall apart. She she has to go home to Nottingham and face her demons, and her grumpy younger hippy sister, Meg. She gets a temporary assignment ghost writing a celebrity biography and meets a hot new actor, Elliot Owen. Together they help each other tackle fame and infamy.

 

who's that girl pbWhat’s your writing process like? Are you much of a planner or edit as you go? 

I am such an ex journalist in this respect: I edit like fury as I go along, I don’t know how else to be: it has to feel more or less right or I can’t move forward. It’s a good thing in it that I tend to be quite clear in my tone and intent from the start, and I don’t have – my editor gives side eye here – HUGE rewrites later, but it doesn’t make me all that speedy, either. I have to bully myself to move on and not torture myself over it being exactly where I want it and polished to a high shine. Which no first draft ever is, really.

If you mean plot planning, I work to a rough A to Z outline but there’s a fair amount of free styling along the way.

 

Do you have any writing rituals for example writing in silence, chain drinking coffee? 

Oh I hammer through great pails of black coffee definitely. No rituals, I’m not one of those ordered Kon Mari-ish writers with five fresh pens and a 9am on the dot start at a sun lit desk and all that. I can’t cope with music when I write, way too distracting, but oddly I can cope with the bang and clatter of a coffee shop, so if I get cabin fever, I take my laptop to Caffe Nero. Then of course I sit down next to five shrieking students and I start scowling as if they’ve brought their lattes into my library.

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Cover Reveal: Lost For Words by Stephanie Butland

Our second cover reveal of the evening (we are being spoilt today) comes from Stephanie Butland. 

Her novel, Lost For Words is due for release by Zaffre in April. A novel based in a bookshop is one I am really looking forward to reading. Plus, the name of the main character is just fabulous.

About Lost For Words: 

Loveday Cardew prefers books to people. If you look closely, you might glimpse the first lines of the novels she loves most tattooed on her skin. But there are things she’ll never show you.

Fifteen years ago Loveday lost all she knew and loved in one unspeakable night. Now, she finds refuge in the unique little York bookshop where she works.

Everything is about to change for Loveday. Someone knows about her past. Someone is trying to send her a message. And she can’t hide any longer.

Lost for Words is a compelling, irresistible and heart-rending novel, with the emotional intensity of The Shock of the Fall and all the charm of The Little Paris Bookshop and 84 Charing Cross Road.

One, two, three…. time for the cover!

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Cover Reveal: The Secrets of Ivy Garden by Catherine Ferguson

It is cover reveal time here at Novel Kicks. 

The featured cover is for the fantastic new novel from Catherine Ferguson. It’s called The Secret of Ivy Garden and it is Catherine’s fifth novel. It is due for release by Avon on 3rd April 2017.

About The Secrets of Ivy Garden: 

When Holly breaks up with her boyfriend Dean, she’s at a loss as to what to do next. But things go from bad to worse when her beloved grandmother Ivy dies – and Holly is left in charge of sorting out Ivy’s house and garden. As she sorts through her grandmother’s belongings and makes her way through the wilderness outside, Holly soon finds that there is more to Ivy than meets the eye, and uncovers a surprising family secret that changes everything…

This is a heart-warming and hilarious story from Catherine Ferguson about starting over, learning to garden and most of all learning to love.

Are you ready for the cover… drum roll…..

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Book Review: The Other Side of You by Amanda Craig

Abacus, February 2017

Abacus, February 2017

Will must run from the gang that controls the estate where he lives or die. He has witnessed the murder of his Aunty and so he is running for his life. He needs to find somewhere to hide

In doing this, he ends up in the area outside the estate he has known all of his life. It’s all very different. People don’t walk around looking over their shoulder and businesses thrive.
He finds shelter in what he calls a ‘glass house.’

Soon after that, he meets Padma and falls in love. He feels he could actually make his life better. Then his past catches up with him.
This book is based around/ is an updated version of Beauty and The Beast. When I started reading, I did wonder how this was going to be achieved. The story is so well-known. It’s all be integrated really well.

The description of the green house and the plants are so vivid. I felt as though I was there. The writing is fast paced and page turning.

I read this in pretty much one sitting (it’s a hundred pages long) but it drew me in. I even like how Amanda included the roses.

Will has been told he is one thing all of his life. He assumes that all he has ever known is all he will ever be. Escaping shows him a different path. You’ve just got to want it. Also, first impressions and appearances are not always to be trusted.

This is a great addition to the Quick Reads library. I enjoyed it very much.

 

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Start The Next Sentence With

rp_friday-300x16411111111111111-300x164-300x1641-300x164-300x1641-300x16411-300x164-300x164-300x1641-300x1641-300x164-300x164-300x1641-300x164-300x164-1-1-1-1-1-300x164-1-1-300x164-1-1-1-1.pngFriday 17th February 2017: Start The Next Sentence With…. 

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: Use the last word of each sentence to begin the next one. 

For example, The cat came in from outside. Outside was cold. Cold was making it’s presence known.

Start off your piece off with the following sentence; ‘I looked at the clock. I couldn’t wait.’ 

 

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My Writing Ramblings: Books, Books, Books!

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225-1-1-300x225.jpgHello all. How is everyone?

This week has been a little bit of a quiet one for me. It’s mostly been consisting of night shifts which has meant that I have been mostly trying to sleep during the day. That sounds amazing when you’ve not got people ringing the doorbell and buses thumping by. Oh, and a cat craving attention. Even when I close the door, we will meow until I have opened it.

It’s that law of when you need to sleep, you can’t and when you get to work, all you want to do is fall sleep. Then when you get to sleep, you wake up and clock watch. My head will remind me of things before I sleep – embarrassing moments in my life (it likes reminding me of those.) My to-do list, that I need a drink of water. It will helpfully wait until I have almost dropped off. Does this happen to anyone else?

I have been managing t0 get a lot of reading done this week which is great. I have read some great books this month too; Who’s That Girl by Mhairi Macfarlane, If I Ever Fall by SD Robertson and The Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott (reviews and blog tours coming soon.)

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Stationery Spotlight: Letters and Doodles to Kickstart Creativity

formletters

Abrams, September 2016

Finding the time to write can sometimes be hard to do. Work, school runs, bedtime routines… there are many things in life that can get in the way.

The other battle is once you’ve sat down to write, your inspiration disappears and that blank space on the page can be incredibly daunting. No matter how long you sit there, the words will not come.

This is why I like writing prompts. Your brain is like a car engine. It works better when it has warmed up. Today I wanted to share two books that I’ve found so helpful.

Form letters by Laura Olin is a series of letters where you fill in the blanks. In the form of a workbook, it has a series of pages that include a letter to an internet friend who you’d like to know better, a note of encouragement to yourself, a letter to your sibling, your valentine and the ex whose instagram you’re stalking.

‘Fill in the blank notes to say anything to anyone.’

If you need something to get the creativity going, this book could be perfect. You never know what these letters will spark.

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