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.

Book Extract & Review: A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft

I can’t think of a better way to start a Monday than a visit from Sue Moorcroft and the blog tour for her new novel, A Summer to remember.

 

WANTED! A caretaker for Roundhouse Row holiday cottages.

WHERE? Nelson’s Bar is the perfect little village. Nestled away on the Norfolk coast we can offer you no signal, no Wi-Fi and – most importantly – no problems!

WHO? The ideal candidate will be looking for an escape from their cheating scumbag ex-fiancé, a diversion from their entitled cousin, and a break from their traitorous friends.

WHAT YOU’LL GET! Accommodation in a chocolate-box cottage, plus a summer filled with blue skies and beachside walks. Oh, and a reunion with the man of your dreams.

PLEASE NOTE: We take no responsibility for any of the above scumbags, passengers and/or traitors walking back into your life…

GET IN TOUCH NOW TO MAKE THIS A SUMMER TO REMEMBER!

 

Mick has reviewed the book but first, Sue and Avon have shared an extract with us all today. 

 

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

Surprised into rising and facing the direction the voice had come from, Clancy had to grab the back of the bench as her head swam anew. A short, rotund woman with a dandelion clock of white hair and a sweet smile shuffled around the house. ‘Are you are our new Evelyn? I’m Dilys, from number two. I thought I’d say hello.’ By now Dilys was standing in front of Clancy, daisy-strewn wellies peeping from beneath a rose-splashed skirt. Her eyebrows bobbed enquiringly.

‘I’m taking the caretaker’s job, yes.’ It was impossible not to return Dilys’s smile; it was so twinkly and warm. ‘I was just wondering where I could find a supermarket. Or furniture shops. Aaron had to rush off before he could tell me.’ She supposed she was lucky that she had money in the bank but she hadn’t really bargained for the hassle of furnishing the Roundhouse when she decided to launch herself towards Nelson’s Bar.

Dilys’s grey eyes twinkled as she turned and let herself down stiffly onto the bench beside Clancy. ‘Furniture? I expect he’ll just bring the other stuff back. They stored it up at De Silva House – Aaron’s parents’ place – because Evelyn had her own.’

Clancy suppressed a wriggle of hurt that Aaron hadn’t mentioned something that, clearly, would make her life easier. Evidently, he didn’t want her here. So what? She’d been unwanted by people much closer and more important to her than Aaron De Silva. Her ex-fiancé and work colleagues, for example. And with her parents it had always only been fifty-fifty.

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Book Extract & Review: Tick Tock by Mel Sherratt

You made it everyone. It’s the weekend. Today, I am pleased to welcome back Mel Sherratt and the blog tour for her new book, Tick Tock. 

 

TICK…

In the city of Stoke, a teenage girl is murdered in the middle of the day, her lifeless body abandoned in a field behind her school.

TOCK…

Two days later, a young mother is abducted. She’s discovered strangled and dumped in a local park.

TIME’S UP…

DS Grace Allendale and her team are brought in to investigate, but with a bold killer, no leads and nothing to connect the victims, the case seems hopeless. It’s only when a third woman is targeted that a sinister pattern emerges. A dangerous mind is behind these attacks, and Grace realises that the clock is ticking…

Can they catch the killer before another young woman dies?

 

Mel and Avon have shared an extract today. Enjoy. 

 

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

‘Robert?’ Perry queried.

‘Robert Carmichael. He’s the PE teacher. The classes get very competitive and it gives the pupils a good workout in the fresh air.’

‘Who owns the field where Lauren was found?’ Grace questioned.

‘Arthur Barrett and his family – a local farming generation. The school have been using it with their permission for over twenty years.’ Nathan shook his head in disbelief. ‘I hope I don’t have to suspend Robert for not watching them all.’

‘He can’t have eyes in the back of his head,’ Perry said.

‘I guess. But it only takes one person to blame him. And me.’ Nathan ran a hand through his hair and swallowed.

‘Although, according to some of the pupils, he shouted at them to hurry up a few times.’

‘We need a list of the pupils who took his class, too,’ Grace said. ‘We’ll have to speak to them all over the course of the next day or two. If there aren’t enough teachers spare to sit with the pupils, or if any parents or guardians specifically want to be with their children when we speak to them, we’ll arrange appointments. Whatever happens, everything will be dealt with in a sensitive manner.’

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Cover Reveal: Singles, Set and Match by Elaine Spires

Happy Tuesday all. I’ve got another cover reveal for you. Today, it’s Singles, Set and Match by Elaine Spires

The fifth and final book in the Singles’ Series takes us to the Mediterranean island of Ibiza then back to the Caribbean island of Antigua, where it all began.

After making a hard decision two years earlier Eve Mitchell has moved on with the hand that life has dealt her and she finds herself on the White Island working a tennis holiday.

While it isn’t a job she would have chosen, in her typical pragmatic way Eve gets on with it, working hard to ensure that her diverse group of singles, with their hopes, expectations character flaws and baggage, have the best time possible.

And as she binds together tennis sessions, social gatherings, meals and trips Eve hears some tragic personal news that brings her to another crossroads in her life. Will she and the love of her life Melv finally make a life together and live happily ever after?

 

And now for the cover for Singles, Set and Match. Drumroll….

 

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Cover Reveal: The Quiet Ones by Theresa Talbot

Happy Monday all. I am excited about all the new fiction coming up and today, I’m taking part in the cover reveal for The Quiet Ones by Theresa Talbot. 

If only they could have spoken up…

When the supposed suicide of famous Scottish football coach Harry Nugent hits the headlines, the tabloids are filled with tributes to a charitable pillar of the community that gave so much back to sport and to those less fortunate.

But something isn’t right. Normally celebrities are queuing up to claim to have had a very special relationship with the deceased, but new editor, Oonagh O’Neil is getting the distinct impression that people are trying to distance themselves from Harry.

Oonagh’s investigation leads her to uncover a heartbreakingly haunting cover-up that chills her to the core… and place her in mortal danger from those willing to protect their sadistic and dark secrets at any cost…

Perfect for fans of Patricia Gibney, Angela Marsons and Cara Hunter.

 

OK, so for the cover. Drumroll….

 

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Cover Reveal: The First Lie by A.J. Park

It’s time for another cover reveal. Today, it’s The First Lie by A.J. Park.

We’ve all had sleepless nights thinking about it. You’re home alone. Someone breaks in. In defending yourself, you end up killing the intruder.

Now you’re the one the police want.

That is the situation that criminal barrister Paul Reeve arrives home to find. His wife Alice stands in the bedroom, clutching a bloodied letter opener in her shaking hand.

“What have you done, Alice?”

“I didn’t have a choice…”

We would all believe the person we love most.

But would we all make the same choice Paul and Alice make next…?

 

OK, so now the cover. Ready? One… two… three

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: First Line

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: Your character is in their 50’s. Single and they don’t have any friends. With this information in mind, use the line below to begin your story.

‘He wanted her job, and it would be easy enough to discredit her.’

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Cover Reveal: Daddy’s Girls by Sarah Flint

I am thrilled to be taking part in the cover reveal for Daddy’s Girls, the latest novel from Sarah Flint. 

D.C. Charlie Stafford is about to face her toughest case yet… Someone is watching, waiting and preying on those who are at their weakest Uncover another gripping case in Sarah Flint’s latest action packed novel.

 

About Sarah:

With a Metropolitan Police career spanning 35 years Sarah has spent her adulthood surrounded by victims, criminals and police officers. She continues to work and lives in London with her partner and has three older daughters.

Like Sarah’s page on Facebook: @SarahFlintBooks
Follow Sarah on Twitter: @SarahFlint19

 

Now, time for the cover. You ready? Drumroll…..

Ta-dah!

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Book Review: Crikey A Bodyguard by Kathryn Freeman

Hello and welcome back to Kathryn Freeman and the blog tour for her novel, Crikey a Bodyguard. 

She’s got the brains, he’s got the muscle …

When Kelly Bridge’s parents insist on employing a bodyguard for her protection, she’s not happy. Okay, so maybe not every woman is on the cusp of developing a vaccine against a potential biological terrorist attack – but crikey, it’s not like she’s a celebrity!

Ben Jacobs flunked spectacularly out of school, so he knows his new client Dr Kelly Bridge spells trouble for him. But on a conference trip to Rome he finds things are worse than he thought. Not only is he falling for the brilliant scientist, he’s also become horribly aware she’s in grave danger. As they go on the run, dodging bullets and kidnappers, can he resist his feelings and keep her safe?

 

Kelly is a successful Scientist who is working on vaccines. She has never entertained the idea that she would be in enough danger to need a bodyguard but finds herself with Ben. He’s ex military turned bodyguard who is focused and good at what he does… until he meets Kelly. They are total opposites. Could they be at all compatible?

Throw in a kidnapping plot and it’s an explosive story.

Crikey a Bodyguard is unlike anything I’ve read. It’s a romance, adventure and mystery all rolled into one.

Ben is a solid leading man. He’s the kind of man you want in bad situations.

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NK Chats To: Elle Nash

Hi Elle, thank you for joining me today. Can you tell me a little about your book, Animals Eat Each Other and what inspired the story?

Hi Laura, thanks so much for having me. Animals Eat Each Other is a book about a girl who falls into a relationship with a couple, right after graduating high school. The couple, Matt and Frances, find themselves enamored with her, so much so that Frances even renames her: Lilith. Things become complicated when the three of them become dishonest with each other about their true feelings, and Lilith must explore these new boundaries in the wake of her own nihilism about herself and how she gives and receive love, raising questions about her own self-worth.

The biggest inspiration for the story was just how I felt at the age of nineteen. I felt lost, had been burned in love by a couple different people through high school up until that point, and became very jaded. I wanted to write the sort of book about not just love but also about bisexuality that I would have wanted to read as a young woman, without tokenizing the ‘sexual awakening’ aspect of the coming of age story we’re all so used to.

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Is there somewhere specific you like to write?

My typical writing day is haphazard and on the fly. I am the mother of a young and vivacious toddler so I tend to write whenever I can get it in. In the morning before she wakes up, it’s 15 minutes here or there, during naps if I can, at night when everyone is asleep. I’ll even bring my laptop with me in my car if we’re running errands. If she naps before we get to our destination, I’ll sit in parking lots and type up notes and write then, too. I also write into my notes app on my phone a lot, and even dictate thoughts to myself to transcribe later. I feel a bit like I’m collaging most of the time.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

Very tough question. Probably the word “spell.” There’s a lot to it. I view the practice of writing as a form of magic— like manifesting, conjuring something from the ether. The very idea of “spelling” a word, like carving something down onto a piece of paper or an object (or the internet) is a form of making a spell, of manifesting. You can out people under a spell with your words, by transmitting the feeling of a thing through atmosphere and character and mood. It’s a pretty powerful thing to think about.

 

Which authors have inspired you?

So many! Elizabeth Ellen, author of Person/a; Juliet Escoria, whose book Juliet the Maniac was just released; Mary Gaitskill, who has a great number of short story collections. Tom Spanbauer and Chuck Palahniuk’s early work were very inspiring to me as a young aspiring writer, along with Octavia Butler, whose book “The Parable of the Sower” really changed my life.

 

What are you currently working on?

I just shoved aside a second novel manuscript for a bit so I could focus on some short stories. It’s been fun.

 

What songs would be in the playlist for this novel?

Oh, so many, but here is a shortened list:
“10 or a 2 Way” by Korn
“F*** the Pain Away” by Peaches
“Tourniquet” by Marilyn Manson
“I’m Not Okay (I Promise)” My Chemical Romance
“Screaming Infidelities” by Dashboard Confessional
“With Teeth” by NIN
“King of the Closet” by Blindside
“Blood Pig” by OTEP
“WOW” by Marilyn Manson

 

What is your writing process like from idea to final draft? How long does it take you to write a book?

My first book took three years to finish a first draft, and then another year to get it to a publishable, final draft. I had never written a novel before and I had zero planning put in it whatsoever. It just kind of started as a short story and I kept expanding and expanding until it was more of a novel. The current book I’ve been writing, I actually planned out a lot beforehand, and challenged myself to finish a first draft in twelve weeks, which I finished in eleven, then spent a couple of weeks revising. I’m currently letting it sit for a bit before I go back to do more revisions and see if there are other structural issues I need to take care of.

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Book Extract: Son of the Moon by Jennifer Macaire

Hello to Jennifer Macaire and the blog tour for her novel, Son of the Moon. 

Alexander the Great journeys to India, where he and Ashley are welcomed with feasts and treachery.

With their son, Paul, being worshiped as the Son of the Moon, and Alexander’s looming death, Ashley considers the unthinkable: how to save them and whether she dares to cheat Fate?

Jennifer has shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

 

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

I climbed down the scaffolding and dashed across the floating bridge, grabbing for handholds as the river tossed it about. I had to run across a muddy, blood soaked battlefield. I leaped over bodies of men and horses, sliding and stumbling, my breath whistling in my tight throat. I knew I had to get to Alexander. He was so unrestrained. His joy and grief knew no bounds. This loss would devastate him.

I scrambled over the last twenty meters, calling Alexander’s name. He sat cradling his horse’s head in his lap, saying over and over, “Buci, Buci, Buci…”

He looked up as I arrived. “Ashley,” he said hoarsely. Then, “Your nose is bleeding.”

“Don’t worry about me.” I squatted down next to him. “You were wonderful,” I said. “Incredible. I watched the whole battle from the tower. Now I know why men will study this battle, sing songs about it, and write stories about it for thousands of years. It was amazing.”

“Do they really?” He smiled, but tears ran down his cheeks. “Was it so great?” His voice was raw and broken.

“More than great,” I assured him. I looked down at his hands, wrapped in Bucephalus’s mane. One of them was bleeding and swollen. “If you want, I’ll make you a bracelet with some of his hair.”

“I’d like that,” he said simply, and watched as I carefully plucked ten hairs from the horse’s long mane. “He was my horse,” he said softly.

“He was more than that!” I said. “Why, if everyone had a horse like Bucephalus, they would be the luckiest of men.”

“As was I.”

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: The Whimsical Fairy

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: a whimsical fairy. 

Your character is a fairy who is, well, away with the fairies in her/his own little world. They have earned their wings but on their final warning.

Your setting is a secret room in a library. In this room, there are boxes filled with…..

Continue the story.

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Cover Reveal: The Road to Cromer Pier by Martin Gore

Today I am taking part in the cover reveal for Martin Gore’s new novel, The Road to Cromer Pier. 

Janet’s first love arrives out of the blue after forty years. Those were simpler times for them both. Sunny childhood beach holidays, fish and chips and big copper pennies clunking into one armed bandits.

The Wells family has run the Cromer Pier Summertime Special Show for generations. But it’s now 2009 and the recession is biting hard. Owner Janet Wells and daughter Karen are facing an uncertain future. The show must go on, and Janet gambles on a fading talent show star. But both the star and the other cast members have their demons. This is a story of love, loyalty and luvvies. The road to Cromer Pier might be the end of their careers, or it might just be a new beginning.

Ready…. Ta Dah! Such a lovely cover it is too.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Free Writing

For our writing group today, it’s a bit of free writing.

I have started a story below. Writing for a minimum of five minutes, continue the story. You can either keep the current POV or maybe carry it on using the point of view of the person being followed?

Have fun.

*****

I watch from the other side of the road whilst she waits in line for her coffee. She hasn’t spotted me. Her head is looking down at the phone in her hand; a small smile plays on her lips as her fingers fly across the screen.

I wonder who makes her smile like that. An agonising feeling of jealousy rises but I quickly try and brush it aside. I need to keep my focus. I am so close.

I come out of the shadows and begin to follow her when I see her finally leaving the busy coffee shop, almost loosing her in the crowds of people on the pavement. I keep my distance, careful not to be seen.

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Book Review: Sleep by C.L.Taylor

All Anna wants is to be able to sleep. But crushing insomnia, terrifying night terrors and memories of that terrible night are making it impossible. If only she didn’t feel so guilty…

To escape her past, Anna takes a job at a hotel on the remote Scottish island of Rum, but when seven guests join her, what started as a retreat from the world turns into a deadly nightmare.

Each of the guests have a secret, but one of them is lying – about who they are and why they’re on the island. There’s a murderer staying in the Bay View hotel. And they’ve set their sights on Anna.

Seven strangers. Seven secrets. One deadly lie.

Someone’s going to sleep and never wake up…

Anna is in a car accident which kills two of her colleagues and severely injures another.

In order to try and move on with her life, Anna splits with her boyfriend, Alex and ends up working at a hotel on the remote island of Rum in Scotland.

When tragedy strikes further, she and the guests discover they are cut off from the rest of the Island.

Messages for Anna begin to appear. Each one is more sinister than the last. She soon realises she has nowhere to hide.

I am a fan of C.L. Taylor’s novels. I tend to start reading and before I know it, I’ve reached the end and it’s 2am in the morning. I have not wanted to put it down. It was certainly the case with Sleep.

C.L. Taylor has such a unique way of drawing you into her novels. The beginning of this book is a prime example.

The tension is built at a great pace. I thought I had it sussed and then something else would soon happen to debunk my theories. I couldn’t see the end coming.

Anna is a damaged character. She has been through a lot. I felt sorry and protective of her as she tries to move on from her life.

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A Moment With… Iain Maitland

Iain Maitland has joined me today with the blog tour for his latest novel, Mr Todd’s Reckoning.

Norman Bates is alive and well… He’s living just next door

Behind the normal door of a normal house, in a normal street, two men are slowly driving each other insane. One of them is a psychopath.

The father: Mr Todd is at his wits end. He’s been robbed of his job as a tax inspector and is now stuck at home… with him. Frustrated. Lonely. Angry. Really angry.

The son: Adrian has no job, no friends. He is at home all day, obsessively chopping vegetables and tap-tap-tapping on his computer. And he’s getting worse, disappearing for hours at a time, sneaking off to who-knows-where?

The unholy spirit: in the safety of suburbia, one man has developed a taste for killing. And he’ll kill again.

 

Iain is chatting today about getting into Mr Todd’s head for the novel. Over to you, Iain. 

Mr Todd’s Reckoning tells the story of two men, Mr Todd, the father, and Mr Todd, the son, living in a small, rundown bungalow during a long and endless summer heatwave. The younger Mr Todd is unemployed and has various mental health issues. The older Mr Todd has just lost his job and is angry and frustrated. Each man drives the other mad.

Getting inside Mr Todd’s head – both heads really, the father and the son – was easy to do. The two men were based, at least to begin with, on my eldest son, Michael, and me. I was writing from deep within myself.

Michael went to university, as so many teenagers do, away from home. He struggled with issues of low self-esteem and anxiety when he was there. Left unchecked, these turned eventually into depression and anorexia. He spent time in hospital and five months in The Priory. For a while, we thought we would lose him, either through anorexia or by taking his own life.

I understand now, to some degree, how someone with mental health issues thinks and acts. I read some of Michael’s diary entries from when he was in the Priory – they were the basis of a memoir we wrote together when he was getting better, Out Of The Madhouse (JKP Books). The younger Todd began as a fictionalised version of Michael, or someone much like him – someone with some of his issues anyway.

I’ve written in the national media, The Guardian etc, and in a memoir, Dear Michael, Love Dad (Hodder) about my childhood. My father brought his teenage mistress to live in the family home with him, my mother and me when I was six. Strange times, and they got much worse over the years. Lots of intense and negative feelings that I had in my childhood – being unwanted, feeling like an outsider, believing I was useless – were easy to dredge up when I wanted them.

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