Blog Tour

Book Review: A Messy Affair by Elizabeth Mundy

The only way is murder…

Lena Szarka, a Hungarian cleaner working in London, is forced to brush up on her detective skills for a third time when her cousin Sarika is plunged into danger.

Sarika and her reality TV star boyfriend Terry both receive threatening notes.  When Terry stops calling, Lena assumes he’s lost interest. Until he turns up. Dead. Lena knows she must act fast to keep her cousin from the same fate.

Scrubbing her way through the grubby world of reality television, online dating and betrayed lovers, Lena finds it harder than she thought to discern what’s real – and what’s just for the cameras.

 

I am very happy to be involved in the blog tour for A Messy Affair by Elizabeth Mundy.

Lena is an Hungarian cleaner who works in London. She uses the cover of her job to solve the murder of reality TV star, Terry Tibbs.

Whilst trying to figure out who killed Terry and keep her cousin safe, she’s struggling to determine what is real and what was for the cameras.

I had not read any of the previous books in the series but this didn’t seem to matter. I didn’t feel that I was playing catch up.

Lena is a feisty character and I immediately liked her. The supporting characters were all intriguing too.

Reality TV plays a big part in the plot along with revenge, obsession and murder. It’s a good study at how reality TV is blurring the lines between what is real and fiction and like Lena, I was desperate to find out what was what.

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Book Review: The Afternoon Tea Club by Jane Gilley

I am pleased to be welcoming Jane Gilley and the blog tour for her latest book, The Afternoon Tea Club. 

Marjorie, Stacy, Raymond and Dora each hold a different story to their chest – lost loves, abandoned dreams, crippling self-confidence issues, and simply feeling invisible. For each of them, the thought of letting those stories out is almost as terrifying as letting strangers in, and that makes for a very lonely life indeed.

But when these four strangers who have struggled to “fit in” end up on the same table for an event at their local community centre, little do they know that their lives are about to be entwined and changed forever because of an Afternoon Tea club.

Cue an unexpected journey of self-discovery, some unlikely new companions, and plenty of tea and biscuits along the way…

 

This novel had me at the title. Tea is one of my favourite things. There’s a lot more to it than that though.

The Afternoon Tea Club focuses on Marjorie, Dora, Raymond and Stacy.

All vary in ages but all are harbouring their own secrets and insecurities. These four characters are also lonely in their own ways.

When The Afternoon Tea Club is announced in their local area, each of our main characters goes although some are more reluctant than others. Dora, Raymond, Marjorie and Stacy are four unique characters who have more in common than they realise. I don’t want to say too much about the plot because, as normal, I hope you will decide to discover this book.

Marjorie carries a lot of learned behaviour and has much emotional baggage tied into the relationship with her husband.

Dora also has a lot of hurt from her past and it’s been something she’s been running from for a long time.

Raymond is probably one of the sweetest fictional characters I have come across. He’s a simple man who is still in love with his wife ever after her death.

Stacy is missing so many aspects of love from her life and she almost has to hit rock bottom to find herself again.

I think out of all of the characters, I related to Stacy the most. She and I don’t share life experiences but there was just something about her. Although, I think she may be a little braver than me.

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Book Extract: Country Lovers by Fiona Walker

A big lovely welcome today to Fiona Walker and the blog tour for her novel, Country Lovers.

 

They say you should never go back, but glamorous Ronnie Percy did just that, to the home she ran away from with her lover.

But not everyone is finding it easy to forgive and forget.

Daughter Pax, fighting for custody of her small son as her own marriage disintegrates, is furious to have to spend New Year’s Eve waiting for some stranger her mother has invited to help run the family stud farm.

Even more annoyed is the staunchly loyal stud head groom, Lester. Does Ronnie think he’s lost his touch with the horses? And anyway, who is this so-called Horsemaker, Luca O’Brien? Why does he seem to be running away from something? And what is the true story of his relationship with grey stallion Beck, once destined for the Olympics, now broken and unrideable, screaming his anger from the Compton Magna stables.

Passionate, sexy, gripping, laced with her trademark wisdom and humour, this is bestselling Fiona Walker at her dazzling best.

 

To celebrate the release of Country Lovers, Fiona has shared an extract today. I hope you love it as much as I did. 

 

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

 

Convinced the stud’s revival would bring her family closer together, Ronnie refused to be daunted by the hard work needed to make it profitable by the trustees’ deadline. She just had to attract owners, generate stud fees and sell horses fast. Horse-trading was in her blood.

In the room behind her, Ronnie’s two small dogs were rooting round the skirting boards on the hunt for mice, sneezing at the dust. Tough, low-slung black and tans – mother and daughter Lancashire Heelers – their tails gyrated at fresh scent.

‘Catch ’em, girls,’ she urged. ‘Got to make this place habitable.’ She glanced round the room, part of a long-neglected staff flat. Blast the housekeeper for going AWOL just when they needed her most, a handwritten note delivered last week to say she was fed up working for nothing.

Well, she couldn’t afford to buy Pip back when she had a new work rider to pay.

Hired before she’d changed her mind about staying on, Luca O’Brien was an added expense Ronnie knew she must justify. Having poached him from a big Canadian showjumping yard, she’d vetoed both daughters’ demands to withdraw the job offer at the last-minute. No rider could make a horse look as good as Luca; added to which he wasn’t afraid to muck in and get his hands dirty, could manage a yard, and never stopped smiling. Lester had his teeth gritted too tightly in disapproval to muster much joy these days.

She watched the small, bowed figure in the distance, throwing open the gate to the winter turn-out then limping back to the broad-span barn to let out a stampede of yak-like woolly beasts, kicking and squealing as they charged into the field to shake off the straw, playfight and roll. Somewhere beneath all the matted hair and mud were some decent youngsters, she hoped. And whinnying furiously from his stallion box in the yard, trumpeting his superiority, her beautiful grey powerhouse would wow fellow breeders just as soon as she figured out how to defuse the bomb in his head.

Her phone face lit up on the windowsill, notifications pinging. ‘At last!’

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Book Review: Eve’s Christmas by Julie Butterfield

Working for a department store where Christmas arrives in August, Eve prefers her own festivities to be low key with nothing more complicated than an oven ready turkey and frozen peas while she spends the day in her pyjamas. Unfortunately, this year her husband has invited his best friend to visit, the glamorous and sophisticated Abby, and Eve reluctantly decides that she needs to inject a little sparkle into their laid back and slightly shabby Christmas.

So the celebrations are upgraded to include champagne and canapes along with homemade gravy and organic turkey and plans are made for a Christmas that looks as though it has emerged from the pages of a glossy magazine.

But even the best laid plans can go wrong and as Eve struggles with her mini Yorkshire puddings and an interfering cat, she is suddenly faced with an unexpected guest and an explosive secret that threatens to put her vision of a perfect Christmas in jeopardy.

Eve prefers the quiet life at Christmas especially as working in a department store means that the festive season arrives in summer.

This year though, she has to trade her PJ’s and minimum efforts for all out glamour and perfection when her husband announces that his best friend, Abby is coming to stay for twelve days over Christmas.

Her home is soon covered with pages ripped out of magazines, pages of notes and failed cooking attempts as Eve becomes slightly obsessed with making everything perfect. She is surrounded by an excited youngest daughter, an eldest daughter who doesn’t waste a chance to remind her of the amount of waste generated over Christmas and a confused husband but she gets tunnel vision and is soon even redecorating the spare room in anticipation of Abby’s arrival.

I had a mixture of sympathy and annoyance toward Eve at the beginning of the book as I had a feeling it was not going to go as planned.

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Audiobook Review: Murders of Old China by Paul French

One country rich in history, 12 unsolved murders. Reopening the archives on China’s long forgotten past.  

Why did a remote police station, built to combat pirates, find itself at the centre of a murder-suicide after a constable went on the rampage? How did Chinese gangsters avoid conviction after serving a deadly dinner to Frenchtown’s elite? And why is the Foreign Office still withholding a key document to solving a murder that took place in the Gobi desert in 1935?

By delving deep into 12 of China’s most fascinating murder cases, Murders of Old China delivers a fast-paced journey through China’s early 20th-century history – including its criminal underbelly. 

Uncovering previously unknown connections and exposing the lies, Paul French queries the verdict of some of China’s most controversial cases, interweaving true crime with China’s chaotic and complicated history of foreign occupation and Chinese rival factions. 

I rarely feature non-fiction on Novel Kicks but when I was asked if I wanted to take part in the blog tour for Murders of Old China and read about the premise, I jumped at the chance.

Murders of Old China is an Audible original and is narrated by the author, Paul French. He looks at twelve murder cases that happened in China in the early 20th century.

Each chapter focuses on a different case and even though it’s non-fiction, it felt that I could have been reading a fictional murder mystery novel. Some of it was almost unbelievable.

The mystery and the twists and turns in these cases appealed to my love of puzzles and history.

This has made me want to know as much as possible about this era that I have previously not known anything about.

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NK Chats To: Sasha Wagstaff

Hi Sasha, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me a little about Christmas in Chamonix and what inspired the novel?

Hi there! Thank you for putting these fabulous questions together for me. So, first things first – I absolutely loved writing Christmas in Chamonix. I have recently fallen in love with skiing (although I have really struggled with it – Lily’s fear of heights echoes my own!) and I have always adored Christmas. My parents have always been huge fans of Christmas and made it such a special time of year for myself and my brother, with lots of traditions and magical moments – which I now carry out with my own children.

So Chamonix was mostly inspired by my absolute love of Christmas. But it was also the opportunity to take readers into a beautifully Christmassy environment – with falling snow, gorgeous, festive decorations and the delicious food and drink involved. Add skiing into that – and I was in writing heaven! Skiing is such an exhilarating sport…it’s amazing if you master even a small part of it, let alone manage to ski down a steep mountain and not fall over!

 

How do you approach the planning of a novel and how has it evolved since your debut novel?

I approach the planning of a novel with military precision – and always have done. With lots of creativity thrown in, of course, but for me, it’s about being organised and disciplined. So I begin with the idea. I expand it with lots of notes (I use a different, A4 sized notebook with a lovely cover for each new novel) and begin writing character notes to flesh out my main players. I then write a synopsis which will be two pages or fifteen, depending on how much of the story flows out at that stage, but the main point is to get down the beginning, the middle and the end. After that, I write a full version of this, which is where I will structure scenes and make sure each section moves smoothly on to the next one. With some cliff hangers thrown in here and there. I find this process easier and more fun than I used to in the early days and it also makes writing the novel itself fairly straight forward as I have a strong structure as a guideline and I’m essentially then delving into the thoughts and feelings and emotions of my characters.

 

Do you think character or plot is more important?

Well, that’s a seriously good question! Ok. So even with a killer idea, if you don’t have the right personalities in place to play the story out, it’s going nowhere and it’s just a concept with no heart and soul. Equally, if you have fantastic lead players and strong secondary characters but no real idea of what the story is about or where it’s going, the reader won’t feel invested as there isn’t anything for them to connect with and relate to. For me, they are equally important. You need a killer idea and you need relatable characters your readers can fall in love with and care about.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

My favourite word….I’m loving these questions! I love the word ‘serendipitous’. Which means ‘occurring or discovered by chance in a happy or beneficial way’. I just think it’s a really positive word and one which puts me in a strong headspace of believing that everything happens for a reason and that there is something to be grateful for everywhere you look.

 

Can you tell me about your typical writing day, where you like to write, do you need endless amounts of coffee and silence or do you prefer noise?

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NK Chats To… Emma Jackson

Hi Emma, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me about your new novel, A Mistletoe Miracle?

Beth, my heroine, has returned to her childhood home – the Hotel Everdene – after a bad breakup. Her confidence is badly shaken & she’s struggling to know what to do next in life. When her mother is stranded in a blizzard, Beth is left in charge of the fully booked hotel, feeling completely out of her depth. But one thing Beth isn’t, is a quitter and, with a bit of help from Nick, a gorgeous guest, she does her best to make sure Christmas doesn’t end in catastrophe!

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Do you need coffee? Silence? Where do you like to work?

It varies through the week. On a Monday & Tuesday, when my 3yo is in nursery, I usually get back from the school & nursery run by 9.30. Then I run around tidying up the mess from breakfast, make a start in some housework & settle down to write at my desk at around 10.30-11.00. I have a fantastic pull down desk in my bedroom which my partner put in as a surprise for me when I was away at the RNA conference in July & I love it so much. I always have music playing, the house is so quiet without the kids in it, and I probably spend too much time creating special playlists for each project. The rest of the week when I have my 3yo home, writing takes place in the evenings on the sofa with my headphones on!

 

Emma’s writing space

What’s your route to publication been like?

It feels like it has been very long. I started writing my first novel over a decade ago & I did query it but in hindsight I had no clue what I was doing! Writing became sporadic over the last eight years as we started a family & I became a stay-at-home mum. Some people might think that gives you lots of time to write but I find it so hard to concentrate on writing with my kids around me.

Then I joined the RNA at the beginning of 2019 & really got serious about finishing my manuscript, sending it for the NWS critique & submitting it. Orion announced their new digital first imprint called Dash at the RNA Conference & I sent it along. Overall, I probably submitted A Mistletoe Miracle to twenty agents & publishers, and entered half a dozen competitions. So, lots of no’s but you only need one yes!

 

What would be on a playlist for this novel?

As I mentioned earlier I have an extensive playlist for this novel on Spotify (which I’m going to make available very soon). Also, Beth is a music tutor so music is very important to her & lots of songs feature in the story. Three Little Birds by Bob Marley, Come Away with Me by Norah Jones & Words Are Dead by Agnes Obel all play a significant part in her journey.

 

What’s your favourite word?

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Book Review: It’s Not PMS, It’s You by Rich Amooi

Hello to Rich Amooi and the blog tour for his novel, It’s Not PMS, It’s You. Welcome, Rich. 

Ruth “Ruthless” Harper is on the verge of becoming managing partner at her all-male consulting firm and she won’t let anything stand in her way. That includes men, relationships, and that dreaded F word, FEELINGS—distractions she eliminated long ago.

After the worst day ever (a near-death experience and a public wedgie, for starters), Ruth realizes she doesn’t want to live and die alone. She puts together a business plan to find the perfect man and dives head first into the murky online dating pool. All she wants is a high-powered executive who understands how important her career is. If only it were that easy.

Problem is most men are intimidated by Ruth’s confidence and shocked by her bluntness. The exception being her landscape designer, Nick, whose cool demeanor and unsolicited dating advice are driving her nuts. He’s the antithesis of the business-oriented man Ruth envisions for herself, so why do all signs keep pointing back to him?

 

Ruth is a workaholic and has been too busy for love. She’s about to become a managing partner in her all-male consulting firm and she is not going to let anything stand in her way.

However, after experiencing the worst day which includes a near death experience and a public wedgie, she makes a plan to meet the perfect man. She doesn’t want to end up alone.

Nick, who Ruth has employed as a landscape gardener isn’t intimidated by her confidence or bluntness.

Can Ruth’s perfect man be closer than she thinks?

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. From the first chapter however, I knew it was going to be a book I was going to love. I couldn’t put it down. I mean, the title alone is brilliant.

Ruth is a funny, real, relatable character who doesn’t apologise for who she is and knowing what she wants.

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NK Chats To… RE McLean

Say a big hello to RE McLean and the blog tour for her novel, Murder in the Multiverse. Thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell me about your book, Murder in the Multiverse and what inspired the story.

Thanks for having me here! Murder in the Multiverse is a geeky mystery, the kind of thing you’d enjoy if you like Jodi Taylor or Douglas Adams. It’s about Alex Strand, a physics postdoc who finds herself recruited to the top-secret Multiverse Investigations Unit. The MIU is based in the parking lot of San Francisco PD (in a Tardis-like VW campervan) and investigates crimes by visiting parallel worlds where the crime hasn’t happened – yet.

 

What’s the challenges of writing something like Murder in the Multiverse? Do you have an idea of where you want the series to go?

The main challenge is writing a book where the solution to the mystery always has some kind of link to quantum physics, while not being a quantum physicist myself. I’ve dealt with that by making the physics very silly – hard science this is not!

I have a ten-book outline for the series storyline. Each book will be focused on one specific crime, and take place in a new parallel universe. But the twin threads of Alex’s search for her mother across the multiverse and her growing relationship with Sarita, the mysterious materials scientist, will drive the series plot.

 

What’s your writing day like, where do you like to write and do you have any writing rituals?

I like to write in my local library, and I have a Spotify playlist to help me focus. And Schrödinger the quantum cat sits on my desk while I write!

 

If you could go and investigate anywhere, where would it be and why?

Definitely Silicon City, the parallel universe in Murder in the Multiverse. It’s got an augmented reality version of the internet and you can conjure up a plate of cookies just by thinking about it. And all the doors go swish-thunk, like in Star Trek.

 

Which songs would be on a playlist for this book?

Good question! I’ve been putting together a playlist for Alex and her team, which you can find on Spotify. Alex is into retro tech (and music) and can only get to sleep to the sound of the Cheeky Girls. Her partner, Sergeant Mike Long, prefers easy listening. Alex wants to pull her eardum out with a fish hook when he puts that on the radio.

 

Do you think character or plot is more important?

I normally start a book with a concept, then decide who’s going to have to live with the consequences of that concept, then write the plot around that. Normally the characters come first for me, but I think both character and plot are equally important (and interwoven).

 

Which other authors have inspired/influenced you the most?

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Book Review: The Perfect Widow by A.M. Castle

I’d like to welcome A.M. Castle to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her novel, The Perfect Widow.

Louise Bridges has the perfect life.

A loving husband, Patrick. Two adorable children. A comfortable home.

So when PC Becca Holt arrives to break the news that Patrick has been killed in an accident, she thinks Louise’s perfect world is about to collapse around her.

But Louise doesn’t react in the way Becca would expect her to on hearing of her husband’s death. And there are only three plates set out for dinner, as if Louise already knew Patrick wouldn’t be home that night…

The more Becca digs, the more secrets she uncovers in the Bridges’ marriage – and the more she wonders just how far Louise would go to get what she wants…

Is Louise a loving wife – or a cold-hearted killer?

 

Louise Bridges has the perfect life. She has the husband, two wonderful children, the house, the car and the lifestyle many would and do envy.

When the police arrive to tell Louise that her husband is dead, her veneer doesn’t falter.

Becca, who works for the police sees something strange in Louise’s behaviour. What starts as curiosity turns into obsession as she tries to prove whether Louise is just grieving or whether she murdered her own husband.

This isn’t a normal crime whodunnit. It’s unique in its set up and it’s unlike anything I have read, especially in this genre.

It’s told from a ‘then and now’ structure with a POV from both Louise and Becca. I liked this as it gave me an insight into each of their motivations and character.

Louise is a character I tried to empathise with but I found this hard to do. However, I don’t think I was meant to like her and I needed to question her motives and decisions. It was like she was set up to put the reader on edge and this added to the tension throughout the novel. I loved this aspect. Although I didn’t like her, I wanted to understand her and that made me want to keep reading and for this reason, I think she was very well-developed.

Becca is a character I found to be quite a sad and lonely woman; similar to Louise really. Becca sees work as a way to fill her life and escape her reality. Both in their own way are seeking validation.

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Book Review: Snowdrops on Rosemary Lane by Ellen Berry

I am pleased to be welcoming Ellen Berry and the blog tour for her new novel, Snowdrops on Rosemary Lane.

 

Last winter she had a plan.

Lucy fell in love with tumbledown Rosemary Cottage as a child. So thirty years on, when she loses her city job and discovers the cottage is for sale, it feels like fate. She’ll raise her children in Burley Bridge and transform the cottage into a B&B with her husband.

But a year can change everything . . .

Now Lucy is juggling two children and a B&B, but on her own. Christmas looks set to be their last on Rosemary Lane – until she meets James, a face from her past and someone who might offer a different kind of future . . .

Should Lucy leave the cottage behind? Or could this winter on Rosemary Lane be the start of something new?

 

I am not crying, I have something in my eye…. OK, I am crying.

It was hard not to reach for the tissues with the latest book by Ellen Berry.

It focuses on Lucy, who after losing her job in Manchester, makes the decision with her husband Ivan to move to the picturesque village of Burley Bridge. It is not all plain sailing for Lucy and her family and there are many ups and downs along the way. Lucy wonders whether Rosemary Cottage is her forever home after all?

It’s not hard to feel love and empathy for Lucy especially as things happen for her pretty early on in the novel.

James, like Lucy is dealing with issues that I think a lot of people would be able to relate to. He and Lucy have many layers to them. I liked them both a lot.

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NK Chats To… Laura Briggs

Hello Laura and welcome to Novel Kicks. Can you tell me a bit about your book, Sea Holly and Mistletoe Kisses?

Hi Laura, and thanks so much for inviting me to share with your readers! Sea Holly and Mistletoe Kisses is a cosy Christmas read and the third book in my romance series known as ‘A Little Hotel in Cornwall’. It continues the adventures of Maisie Clark, an aspiring author who follows her writing dreams across the Pond to a quaint Cornish hotel by the sea. Readers can expect a festive, feel-good read, as Maisie and the rest of the staff at the Penmarrow prepare to host an ice sculpting competition at the historic hotel.

 

Are you able to tell me a little about what you’re currently working on?

Currently, I’m working on the edits for Book Four in the series, The Cornish Secret of Summer’s Promise. It features a daring heist, an unexpected secret, and a romantic crossroads that Maisie never expected!

 

When you begin a novel, what do you focus on first?

Hmmmm. I think it varies from project to project, but I tend to focus first on the central plotline or event that kicks off the story. Then the characters tend to develop alongside the twists and turns in the plot that help to bring the whole story together.

 

Which songs would be on a playlist for Sea Holly and Mistletoe Kisses?

Christmas songs! I have everything from classic to modern on my holiday music playlists, so it could feature anything from Bing Crosby to Mariah Carey songs.

 

What is your idea of a perfect Christmas? 

Oooh, that’s a tough one! I think something peaceful but festive and cozy that involves sharing the joy of the season with others would be a good place to start!

 

How do you approach the editing process and what is the biggest mistake that new writers make do you think?

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NK Chats To… Eliza J. Scott

Hello Eliza. I am so happy to be chatting to you today. I am excited to be heading back to Lytell Stangdale with A Christmas Kiss. What is this one about and how does it fit in with the others in the Life on the Moors series?

Hi there Laura, thank you for taking part in the Publication Day Blog Tour for A Christmas Kiss; I’m very happy to be chatting to you, too! So, this book sees us getting better acquainted with Zander Gillespie, who briefly featured in The Secret – Violet’s Story.

After a last-minute change of plans with his girlfriend, he finds himself – and his adorable black Labrador Alf – driving through a snow storm to his holiday cottage in a very wintry Lytell Stangdale. There, in an unusual set of circumstances, he meets Livvie.

Thanks to her boyfriend, she’s also had a last-minute change of plans and has come to Lytell Stangdale to lick her wounds. It soon becomes apparent that fate may have had a hand in their situation and they find themselves fighting a powerful mutual attraction.

Over the course of their story, we get to see all of the usual characters once again – Kitty, Molly, Vi, Jimby, Ollie and Camm feature heavily; a Life on the Moors book wouldn’t be complete without them! Hopefully, A Christmas Kiss should slot in rather well.

 

What is your writing process like from idea to the final draft, where do you like to write and do you have any writing rituals?

I have notebooks allocated to all of my different story ideas, it makes them easy for me to locate if an idea suddenly pops into my head. When it eventually comes to writing that story, I’ll grab the relevant notebook, sit at my laptop and start to plot it properly.

After that, I’ll then work on developing the characters – I go into quite a lot of detail for this so I get a really clear idea of each one of them in my head.

Once this is done, I launch into the actual writing of the story. I’ve learnt that I’m not the sort of writer who can just get anything down on a page for the first draft; I have to do as clean a first draft as possible, then go back and do a little editing the following day.

Once I’ve got that first draft done, I print it off and read through, making lots of notes along the way. I then edit the first draft and repeat the process of reading through and editing several times before I send it off to my editor.

Once it’s returned, I get stuck into her edits, check through them, amend them, get them proof read, then convert the document to a mobi and send it to my Kindle for another read through. Phew! It involves an awful lot of reading!

As far as writing rituals are concerned, I don’t have any as such, though I do need a regular supply of Yorkshire tea and plenty of ginger biscuits to nibble on!

 

How has your process evolved since your first novel? Is there anything you know now that you wished you’d known then?

I’d say I’ve become much more organised in my writing process since my first novel, which makes it much more enjoyable for me. Though, I wish I’d known that everyone has their own system that works for them, and that there isn’t a right or a wrong way; it’s okay not to just get words down if that process doesn’t work for you. Of course, if I’m pushed for time, I will just list ideas, conversations etc. so when I go back to my manuscript, I can flesh it all out and get it to make sense.

 

How important is planning when writing a series like this and what challenges did you face?

For me it was very important to plan, particularly for the first three books, as I had to ensure that time-lines matched. I’d say the challenges for making sure everyone’s age was right leading from one story to the next.

 

Do you think character or plot is more important?

For me, I think a story needs to have a good plot, otherwise there’ll be nothing to keep the reader interested. Though well-rounded characters are important, too; I feel they can help move the story along – does that make sense? I hope so!

 

Which fictional character (other than any of yours) would you like to spend Christmas with?

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Book Review: Starlight Over Bluebell Castle by Sarah Bennett

Hello to Sarah Bennett and the blog tour for her latest novel, Starlight Over Bluebell Castle. 

Jessica Ridley’s life has just been turned upside-down – and not in a good way! So when blast-from-the-past Tristan Ludworth invites her to stay at Bluebell Castle and transform it into a winter wonderland, it’s the perfect distraction for Jess and her two young children…

Jess is used to planning even the most elaborate events in her sleep, but she certainly didn’t expect to be working so closely with Tristan at the castle – or that she could still find him quite  so handsome after all this time!

And with a little holiday magic in the air, it’s becoming harder and harder to resist his charms. Can Tristan convince Jess to give love one more chance, just in time for Christmas?

 

Jess is on the up and up with her job. She also has a huge crush on her colleague, Tristan. Then, when they are on the verge of taking things beyond flirting, Jess leaves and both their lives take different directions.

Years later and Tristan and Jess’s paths cross again. Tristan has left London and returned to Bluebell Castle to help run his family estate. When he finds out that Jess’s marriage has ended and she needs a job and sanctuary for herself and her two boys, he offers Jess a job.

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Book Review: The Last Day of Winter by Shari Low

It’s a pleasure to be welcoming Shari Low back to Novel Kicks with the blog tour for her novel, The Last Day of Winter. 

One December wedding. One runaway bride. One winter’s day to bring everyone together again.

Today is the day Caro and Cammy are due to walk up the aisle. But Caro’s too caught up in the trauma of her past to contemplate their happy ever after.

Stacey’s decision to return from L.A. is fuelled by one thing – telling Cammy how she feels, before it’s too late.

Wedding planner, Josie, needs to sort the whole mess out, but she’s just been dealt some devastating news. Can she get through the day without spilling her secret?

On a chilly winter’s day, they have twenty-four hours to prove that love can lead the way to a brighter future…

 

The Last Day of Winter focuses on an ensemble of characters on a day just before Christmas. On the day Caro and Cammy are meant to go down the aisle, Caro’s past makes her doubt that this is her happy ever after.

The fate of the wedding is further put into question when Stacey returns to LA to tell Cammy how she feels about him.

Josie, the wedding planner needs to sort this out despite being given some devastating news.

Can love find its way within these 24 hours?

Shari, you made me cry again! I am not too proud to admit it either.

Oh, this novel.

First, the amazing characters. Each of them have their own, complicated feelings. All were developed well and nothing with any of them was black and white. Even where Caro is concerned, I felt enormous sympathy and empathy. This is a terrific ensemble of different personalities and they all fit together so well.

Plot wise, a lot is placed within the 24 hours in which it’s set but nothing feels rushed. The description of Glasgow sounds so incredible and it’s set at Christmas so it gave me all the early festive feels.

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

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