Book News

Kindle March Book Haul

HarperCollins, May 2019

There have been lots of great novels already released this year and plenty more on their way. 

I am looking forward to reading many of these books. I wanted to do a book haul for titles that I have ready to read on my kindle.

The Furies by Katie Lowe sounds absolutely amazing.

In 1998, a sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on school property. Her body is dressed in white and posed on a swing. The cause of death is unknown.

There are four girls that know what’s happened. They’ve managed to keep their secret. Until now.

I don’t know why but I am getting a little bit of a Virgin Suicides vibe from this novel and I can’t wait to read it.

This is due to be released on 2nd May 2019.

 

Half a World Away is the new book by Mike Gayle. I have adored this man’s novels for many years and always get a little excited when he released a book.

Hodder & Stoughton, June 2019

HarperCollins, April 2019

The general summary of this novel is Kerry Hayes is a single mum, a cleaner, and is Mariah Carey’s biggest fan.

Nick is a successful Barrister. He has a wife, a daughter and has a big house in Primrose Hill.

These two are strangers who have nothing in common and who may as well be living worlds apart.
It wasn’t always this way. They are both about to discover who they really are.

 

The Rules of Seeing by Joe Heap is another book I am looking forward to reading. The cover is beautiful.

The release of the paperback is on 18th April. The basic story surrounds Jillian (Nova to all but her mother,) who has lived thirty-two years in the dark.

She is now learning to see. The sky is blue, and green and grey. A whole spectrum of colours that are as changeable as her mood.

The one thing she can see is that Kate is going to change her life forever even though they have only just met.

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Book Review: The Newcomer by Fern Britton

I can’t hold in the excitement I feel to be welcoming Fern Britton to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her new novel, The Newcomer which has been released today. Happy publication day, Fern. 

 

She arrived in the village on the spring tide and hoped to be at the heart of it, knowing its secrets and weathering its storms.

It was to be a new beginning…

It’s springtime in the Cornish village of Pendruggan and as the community comes together to say a fond farewell to parish vicar, Simon, and his wife, Penny, a newcomer causes quite a stir…

Reverand Angela Whitehorn came to Cornwall to make a difference. With her husband, Robert, by her side, she sets about making changes – but it seems not everyone is happy for her to shake things up in the small parish, and soon Angela starts to receive anonymous poison pen letters.

Angela has always been one to fight back, and she has already brought a fresh wind into the village, supporting her female parishioners through good times and bad. But as the letters get increasingly more personal, Angela learns that the secrets are closer to home.

With faith and friends by your side, even the most unlikely of new beginnings is possible.

 

I have become a fan of Fern’s novels and so I was looking forward to reading The Newcomer.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Throughout this book, I was glued. I was sneaking a page or a chapter in whenever I could.

Angela was a believable and relatable character who is trying to make a difference. The supporting characters are also great.

Whilst reading, I felt like I was by the water in this lovely Cornwall village and that is always good for the soul. The plot had many twists and turns and never quite went in the direction I was expecting it to.

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NK Chats To… Susan Lewis

Hello Susan. Thank you for joining me today. What inspired One Minute Later?

It was meeting twenty-one-year-old Jim Lynskey who is waiting for a new heart.

 

How has your approach to the writing process changed since your first novel? 

I think it’s more or less the same. I explore ideas, let my gut instinct decide which is the right one to go with and then I devise the characters I think will be best to tell the story.

 

Is there a particular place you like to write? Do you need coffee to write? Music? 

I always write in my study at home – I can’t seem to do it anywhere else – I tend to drink tea more than coffee, and I work in silence apart from the comforting snores of my little dogs. I also have a lovely view of the countryside through the French windows which can be very nourishing.

 

Which three characters from fiction would you invite to dinner and why? 

I’d invite Thorfinn from King Hereafter because he could tell us the true story of Macbeth. Any hero from Georgette Heyer because they’re so dashing and romantic and probably Elizabeth Bennett because she’s so sharp and witty.

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Book Extract: Summer on the Italian Lakes by Lucy Coleman

Hello and welcome to Lucy Coleman. She joins me today with the blog tour for her latest novel, Summer on the Italian Lakes. 

Bestselling Brianna Middleton has won the hearts of millions of readers with her sweeping and steamy love stories. But the girl behind the typewriter is struggling…. Not only does she have writer’s block, but she’s a world famous romance author with zero romance in her own life.

So the opportunity to spend the summer teaching at a writer’s retreat in an idyllic villa on the shores of Lake Garda owned by superstar author Arran Jamieson could this be just the thing to fire up Brie’s writing and romantic mojo?

Brie’s sun drenched Italian summer could be the beginning of this writer’s very own happy ever after…

 

Lucy and Aria have shared an extract today. 

 

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

 

Dringggg. Dringgg. Dringgg.

The shrill ring of the doorbell makes my heart almost leap out of my chest. It must be a parcel because ringing three times is unnecessarily insistent. Delivery drivers these days need to zip around and I always feel guilty if I can’t instantly fling open the front door, because every second counts. A glance at the bedside clock tells me it’s only just after eight. But I do have a dozen sentences on the page in front of me that I haven’t yet deleted, so I haven’t totally wasted the last two hours.

Reluctantly, I push back the duvet cover and rush downstairs, feeling guilty that I’m still in bed and so far away from the door. It doesn’t help that I seem to have developed this unstoppable urge to buy things online. I’m waiting for a tempered glass screen protector for my iPad at the moment. It’s shatterproof and resistant to fingerprints. And it was on sale at the bargain price of two pounds and ninety-nine pence! How could I resist?

I pop on the chain and open the door a full six inches, peeking out and with my hand ready to grab the parcel. Three familiar faces stare back at me with looks ranging from mildly uncomfortable to horror-struck. To my utter dismay, standing on the doorstep is not only my mother, Wendy, but my best friend, Mel, and the fearsome Carrie herself.

‘Darling, can we come in?’ Mum’s voice is soft and full of compassion. A fourth person suddenly appears.

‘Morning, lovely.’ It’s Dad and he’s trying to sound upbeat. It comes out staccato fashion and even his lop-sided smile smacks of discomfort.

‘Can you take the chain off, Brie? I’m gasping for a cup of tea.’ Mel, too, sounds decidedly awkward.

I snap the door shut and stand, half leaning against the wall for a few moments while I try to collect my thoughts. I’m in no fit state to receive company and neither is the cottage. I wonder what the hell they want at this time of the morning?

I leave the chain on and ease the door open to peer around the edge once more.

‘Um… it’s a bit early, guys, and I’m not up yet. Can you come back later?’

Carrie suddenly strides forward blocking out my view of the others.

‘Open the door, Brie, this is an intervention. We aren’t going anywhere, so you might as well let us in now.’

One look at her face and I quiver, my hand reluctantly sliding back the chain. As I step aside it feels like a crowd is filtering into the hallway of my sanctuary.

‘Right,’ Dad says, looking decidedly embarrassed as he tries not to stare at me. And I can’t blame him. Even I don’t recognise me sometimes when I catch sight of myself unexpectedly in the mirror. ‘I’ll, um, put the kettle on then.’

I watch as he heads off to the kitchen and when I turn back, everyone is staring at me.

‘What on earth have you done to your hair?’ Mel asks, looking appalled.

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Book Extract: Mummy’s Favourite by Sarah Flint

Happy Friday and a big hello to Sarah Flint. She is here with the blog tour for her latest novel in the D.C. Charlotte Stafford series, Mummy’s Favourite, released by Aria in January

He’s watching… He’s waiting… Who’s next?

Buried in a woodland grave are a mother and her child. One is alive. One is dead. DC ‘Charlie’ Stafford is assigned by her boss, DI Geoffrey Hunter to assist with the missing person investigation, where mothers and children are being snatched in broad daylight.

As more pairs go missing, the pressure mounts. Leads are going cold. Suspects are identified but have they got the right person?

Can Charlie stop the sadistic killer whose only wish is to punish those deemed to have committed a wrong?

Or will she herself unwittingly become a victim.

Sarah and Aria have shared an extract today. 

 

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

He was Hunter by name and certainly a hunter by nature, though his look was more prey than predator. At thirty years old, he’d had the appearance of an old man, short, chubby, bald and ruddy faced. Now, as a fifty-six-year-old Detective Inspector, his body was at last representative of his age.

Charlie loved the man, not in a romantic way; he was old enough to be her father. But he was everything she aspired to be: a fearless leader, a principled, hard-working officer and a thief-taker second to none; but with the added benefit of being highly organized and always punctual. She knew beneath the stern veneer that he loved her, in his own way, too, although he would never in a million years admit it and treated her more like an errant schoolchild.

Judging by his reaction today, however, she was lucky he had still assigned her to do the enquiries.

Anyway Paul was only teasing. He could be a mischievous bugger sometimes and she knew that he had long ago worked out that she had a soft spot for Hunter. He only had to mention their boss’s name to get her blushing.

She put her arm around Paul’s waist and squeezed him back. She instinctively recognized a friend, foe or neutral, almost within minutes of a first meeting, and he was definitely a friend. He also had the knack of seeing through her outwardly hard-working, happy, confident exterior to the insecure, vulnerable soul underneath. Not many people could do that; she put on a good act.

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Book Review: Written From The Heart by Trisha Ashley

Tina Devino makes more money teaching people to write than writing herself. A middling romance novelist who dreams of penning a bestseller, she’s increasingly forced to compete with younger, blonder debut authors for her publisher and agent’s attention.

Feeling forgotten, Tina realises the only way up is to take her career and destiny in hand and build her own happy ending; which is perfect because, for a romance writer, Tina isn’t the most traditional of women… Although she does see her long-term partner lover friend, Sergei, once a week which is ‘quite enough, thank you very much’. But her uncomplicated love life might soon need some unravelling when a mysterious Tube Man, unwelcome ex-husband and a shadowy figure in a butterfly mask waltz into the picture.

Only Tina can work through the drama and claim the life she’s always wanted… but will she succeed?

 

Previously released and long out of print, as ‘Happy Endings’, this is nevertheless a very well told story. As an example of a best-selling author’s evolving style and confidence, it is invaluable.

The characterisation is wonderful, with Tina (IMHO) a terrific amalgam of a lot of Romance Writers I know, which make it a very personal read (for me at least).

I would give the writing a Five Star, though I would have to agree with a couple of the other reviews in that the abrupt ending is well, abrupt and you do find yourself wondering about a few loose threads not being tied up.

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Book Extract: The Secret To Falling in Love by Victoria Cooke

Hello to Victoria Cooke and the birthday blog blitz for her novel, The Secret to Falling in Love. Happy Book Birthday Victoria. 

Lifestyle journalist and thirty-something singleton Melissa hashtags, insta’s and snapchats her supposedly fabulous life on every social media platform there is.
That is until she wakes up on her birthday, another year older and still alone, wondering if for all her internet dates, love really can be found online? The challenge: go technology free for a whole month!

Forced to confront the reality of her life without its perfect filters, Melissa knows she needs to make some changes. But when she bumps into not one, but two gorgeous men, without the use of an app, she believes there could be hope for love offline.
If only there was a way to choose the right guy for her…

 

I have reviewed the book below but first, Victoria has shared an extract from the novel. I hope yo enjoy.

 

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

Here, main character, Mel, is reflecting on her grandmother’s romantic encounter with her grandad. This memory helps plant the idea of a technology detox in Mel’s mind.

I stumbled across a picture of me and my grandma. My throat ached as a lump formed. She’d died just two months ago, and I’d missed her ever since. She was my rock who I could talk to about anything; she knew me better than anyone else on the planet. I lifted my glass.

‘To you, Gran – I hope you’re raising hell up there.’ The last time I’d spoken to her, she’d told me to stop worrying about finding a man.

‘You’re not going to find anyone in there,’ she’d scolded, pointing to my laptop. ‘Do you think that’s how I met Grandad?’

I didn’t reply. Gran’s questions were usually rhetorical, which you discovered if you tried to answer.

‘No, I put on my make-up; made sure my best dress was darned, washed and pressed; and I went out and smiled at boys. It was easy to catch an eye or two.’ I’d chuckled at the time. Of course, things were different these days, but I enjoyed her stories so played along. ‘Grandad asked me if I wanted a drink. But I said a firm no.’

‘No?’ I’d queried, wondering if she’d not been attracted to him at first, if she was trying to tell me to just settle for someone.

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NK Chats To… Amanda Brooke

Hi Amanda, thank you so much for joining me today. I am very happy to be part of the blog tour for your book,  Don’t Turn Around. Can you tell me about it?

My latest book is set ten years after the death of seventeen year-old Megan McCoy and is told from the perspectives of Meg’s mum, Ruth and her cousin, Jen who was also her best friend. Meg died from suicide and her parents have established a helpline in her memory to reach out to young people in crisis who need someone to talk to.

The family are trying to rebuild their lives but there are questions that haunt them. What hold did her boyfriend have over her and why did she protect him to the very end? Was the brief note she left meant to be a cryptic message or did someone destroy part of the note before her father found her body?

The family think they have accepted there will be no answers until a young woman phones the helpline and reveals things that only Meg could know. Is she suffering as Meg had suffered and can they save her?

 

What’s your writing day like, where do you like to write, do you prefer silence and what keeps you motivated throughout your writing time?

I gave up a career in local government two years ago to become a fulltime writer and it’s so much easier having a set routine rather than fitting writing in around the day job.

My writing room was my son’s bedroom but working from home can be quite sedentary and I adapted my treadmill so I could walk and type on my laptop for the first hour or two each day. It was a great plan but as you know, it was a very hot summer last year, and my treadmill started billowing smoke! Unsurprisingly, I haven’t used it since but I have a dog now and we go out for long walks once I’ve met my daily word count. She’s the incentive I need to keep the words flowing so that we can escape together.

 

What elements do you believe make a good suspense novel? What are the common mistakes made if you’re writing one for the first time?

The best compliment you can give a writer is that their book was a page turner and that’s particularly important when it comes to suspense novels. Making the reader want to read on is an art and to get it right you have to consider the pace and structure of your story.

Each chapter should give the reader something but also leave them wanting to know more.

The characters are also key as the reader has to be invested in them. Protagonists should be relatable and that means giving them flaws as well as strengths, whilst the reverse is true of antagonists who can benefit from having something about them that makes them human.

 

What is your favourite word and why?

Having a favourite word can be problematic if it sticks in your mind and you find it appearing in one page after another. Hopefully, the repetitions are picked up during editing but often it’s a surprise to see how many times your copyeditor has to flag up overused words.

One word that I fell in love with at the start of my writing journey was ‘unfettered.’ It described perfectly the decision one of my characters had to make in my first novel, Yesterday’s Sun. She was to sacrifice her life for that of her child and her decision needed to be unfettered by other influences, such as the love for her husband or the dreams she had beyond becoming a mother.

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NK Chats To… Steven J. Gill

Hi Steven. Welcome to Novel Kicks. Can you tell me about your novel, The Rock ‘N’ The Roll ‘N’ That and what inspired it?

The novel in very simple terms is about a band.

A middle-aged man stumbles across said band as they prop up the bill in a subterranean haunt in Manchester.

He offers to manage them, and their journeys begin.

The backdrop is essentially to highlight love and friendship and the insecurities/successes/predicaments that middle-age can bring.

In terms of what inspired the novel, I’d previously read a book that used the music industry as a backdrop but felt it could be done better. I then attended the inaugural Festival Number 6. In North Wales and after an enjoyable afternoon at the literary stage, had somewhat of an epiphany and decided I would set to and get my book written.

The coupling of the music industry and this ‘new-breed’ of middle-aged felt like it had a lot mileage. Forty-something is now such a different beast in comparison to previous generations. And that opens a wealth of possibilities and jacking your job in to mange a band is well within the realms of possibility this day and age.

 

What’s your typical writing day like, where do you like to write and do you prefer silence? What keeps you motivated when writing?

It tends to fit in around work and I work in a room with a table, a huge bookcase and a stereo. I like to write for a couple of hours at a time. And I do very little in silence!

A perfect writing day involves no work. Get up and do a couple of hours. Go to the gym. Come back and eat couple more hours writing. Go for a walk for an hour mid afternoon and then a couple more hours writing. Breaking the creative process up allows for thinking time.

Motivation is progress in simple terms – be it writing or editing etc.

 

What’s your route to publication?

I ran a social media crowdfund campaign to gauge interest and to ‘out’ myself as a writer. The response was great, and I used the monies to get the book professionally edited and launched via Clink Street.

 

Do you have a favourite word?

Tough question and it can easily change from day-to-day – much like my favourite Beatles track – but let’s say preternaturally today.

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NK Chats To… Hanna Jameson

Hanna Jameson is the author of The Last, published by Viking, 31st January.

Hi Hanna, thank you so much for joining me today. Your book is called The Last and it’s been released today. Can you tell me a little about it and what inspired it?

The Last is a murder mystery narrated by an American academic, stranded in a remote hotel in Switzerland following the outbreak of nuclear war. It was inspired by me needing to write something else before I ran out of money, and also our political landscape. I started writing it almost immediately after the 2016 US presidential election, an event that I think many still haven’t recovered from. I tried to channel that sadness and anger, and also the ever-looming dread and grief about the impending climate apocalypse, into something constructive. Otherwise I’d just be yelling on Twitter.

 

Which author has inspired you the most and why?

This is a tough one, but taking someone’s work as a whole, probably J.G. Ballard. His work affected me profoundly when I was a teenager and it dictated a lot of my future taste. People describe The Last by referencing Agatha Christie but I’ve never read Agatha Christie. The influence I was drawing from was actually Ballardian; novels like Concrete Island and High-Rise, which create this atmosphere of extreme claustrophobia in an intimidating – almost devastating – amount of abandoned space. I was obsessed with his particular brand of near-future dystopia and I think he is still unparalleled.

 

What’s your typical writing day like, where do you like to write and do you prefer to write in silence?

I either write at home with headphones on, or at a coffee shop with headphones on. The latter gets expensive so I only do it when I need to get words out quickly, or when I’ve been struggling to focus. I like coffee shops because, even though I put my headphones on to lock down my emotional space with my own playlists or even a TV show in the background, I can still see and hear activity, which is very motivating and distracts the part of my brain that likes the distract me. I only work in silence when reading my work out-loud, which I always do when editing.

 

What is your route to publication?

Same as everyone else’s. A lot of hard work and perseverance, deluded levels of self-belief, that only amounted to anything due to luck.

 

What elements do you feel make a good novel?

Character, character, character. I could not give less of a shit about your plot or how good it is if I don’t care about your characters. If I realise I don’t care, I shut the book. In terms of creating good characters, there are many ways to do that. It mostly involves being honest, aware of how your limited perspective could cause you to rely on harmful stereotypes instead of empathy and genuine attempts at research and emotional interpretation.

 

What is your favourite word and why?

It changes all the time according to mood, but I love the word ‘epicaricacy,’ which is the English word for ‘schadenfreude.’

 

Are you able to tell me a little about your current work in progress?

I’m working on two projects currently. One is a TV show, a historical drama. The other is my fifth novel, which – like The Last – is also a near-future dystopian thriller.

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Book Review: An Unconventional Affair Book 2, A Risk Worth Sharing by Mollie Blake

Black Opal Books, Jan 2019

This second part of An Unconventional Affair finds Barrington Stone working in Australia for a year. Tranquility “Tee” Hammond, fifteen years his senior, has ended their affair, but for Barrington it was never over. He can’t wait for the year to pass to go back to her. However, after a drunken encounter, with a woman he later discovers is a sex worker, his life is changed forever. How can he possibly leave Australia, now that he has a daughter?

After accepting that Barrington won’t be coming back to the UK, Tee rekindles her relationship with the charming-yet-unconventional Sebastian Chandler, owner of a motorsports racetrack. Although living with Sebastian is “complicated” and life for the couple isn’t perfect, they are settled and Tee is happy.

But everything changes when Barrington returns. Tee’s heart is in turmoil, and Sebastian is afraid he will lose the woman he loves. As the plot thickens and twists unravel, Barrington must decide if there is one risk worth sharing.

An Unconventional Affair Book Two, A Risk Worth Sharing is the latest novel in the Cheshire Love Stories series.

Tranquility ‘Tee’ Hammond has ended her relationship with Barrington Stone. Heartbroken, Barrington focuses on his new temporary job in Australia as he tries to forget the love of his life.

Then he finds out something that will keep him in Australia longer than a year; something that will change his life forever.

Tee, also brokenhearted finds comfort in the arms of an old friend, Sebastian.

Years later, when Barrington returns to the UK, Tee doesn’t know how to handle it.

Sebastian also senses the threat.

Can Tee and Barrington be together again?

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Upcoming Books & Book Haul

Viking, January 2019

New books, new books, oh how I love new books.

This my first book haul post of 2019 and the following is a list of books I am very much looking forward to reading.

The Last by Hanna Jameson is due for release on 31st January.
As a nuclear weapon detonates over Washington, historian Jon Keller is on a trip to Switzerland

As the reality of what’s happened unfolds, he wonders if his wife and children are still alive. Jon is also wishing he’d not ignored Nadia’s last message.

Twenty people remain in Jon’s hotel waiting and just trying to survive. One day, the body of a girl is found murdered. The killer is someone in the hotel. Jon decides to investigate but what justice can he hope for when society doesn’t exist anymore.

This book sounds so interesting and one I am so looking forward to reading.

 

Penguin, January 2019

Another book which was released this month was the latest by the brilliant Jane Fallon, Tell Me a Secret. I am so excited about reading this book.

Holly and Roz spend most of their time together. They share everything.
When Holly gets her chance at a dream job, she assumes Roz will be happy for her.

Something is off.

As Holly begins to look at Roz’s life beyond their friendship, things don’t add up. Was Holly wrong to trust Roz with her secrets?

 

One Minute Later by Susan Lewis is due to be released next month and again, the story sounds very intriguing. I am loving all the mysteries right now.

HarperCollins, February 2019

An overall description of this book is Vivienne is living the dream. She has a beautiful home, great friends and a successful job.

Then, on the afternoon of her twenty-seventh birthday, one minute changes everything.

Forced to move back to the small seaside town she grew up in, it doesn’t take long for her to remember the reasons she left.

Shelley’s family home has always been a special place until something bad happens.

As Viv and Shelley’s worlds begin to entwine, it only takes a moment of truth to unravel all their lives.

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NK Chats To: Jenni Keer

Hi Jenni, thank you for joining me today. Your novel is called The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker. Can you tell me about it and what inspired the story?

You are very welcome – it’s lovely to be here. Your virtual sofa is very comfy!

Hmm… how to sum up my book. I guess The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker is a heart-warming story with a variety of themes. I set out to write a romance but the book became so much more and, in a way, is two love stories; Lucy and George, but also Lucy and Brenda. It was the powerful intergenerational friendship between these two women and how they deal very differently with Brenda’s dementia diagnosis, that became the central theme. For the romance, I was initially inspired by a locket of my mother’s and my working title was Lucy’s Locket until it was picked up by the publisher. This mysterious piece of jewellery leads to lots of mishaps and comedy moments for Lucy but also makes her reassess her romantic options in life. It was a fun book to write.

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Do you need coffee? Silence?

I weave my writing around part-time work, care for my mum and the hectic taxi service I appear to be running for my four teenage sons. My most productive times are during the school day – when the house is silent, and evenings – when it is not. I also work at the weekends when I can. I’ve developed a cunning strategy that involves wearing enormous headphones as a signal that I’m writing. If there is a lot of noise, I play music (I have a playlist of familiar songs so I’m not distracted by them) but I also cheat and pretend I’ve got music on so the boys leave me alone. It’s coffee during the day, and wine or tonic water at night – although the wine is only for weekends. Interestingly, some of the best comedy scenes have been wine-fuelled.

The other thing I do, to combat the isolation and to spur me on, is to meet up with my writing buddy, Clare Marchant, in our “virtual” office. It means we check in throughout the day with wordcounts and this accountability helps us both to focus. I do hate it when she leaves the virtual biscuit tin empty though…

 

Do you have a certain place you like to write?

I have an office – which is actually a desk in the corridor between the living room and the downstairs loo. I’m lucky to have this permanent space as a lot of writers work on the kitchen table or on their laps. It’s a total mess, like Lucy’s desk, but it’s mine. I have two screens set up (invaluable for editing) so it’s tricky for me to move. Research and planning I can do anywhere.

 

What’s your writing process like from planning to editing?

Planning – ha ha ha. You are funny. I am such a pantser and every time I begin a new novel I’m determined to plan. My second book for Avon (out next summer) was the first time I’d had to write a synopsis before writing the book and boy was that hard – but I did it. I’d like to get better at planning, but my brain doesn’t work that way and I’m what I like to call “an onion writer” – I write in layers. I get a rough first draft down and then I go over and over and over it, perfecting, editing, adding description etc. until I’m happy. Luckily, I love editing and always see it as an opportunity to make the story even better. Some of my best ideas come right at the end of the process and then I have to go back and weave it all in. I honestly don’t know how people plan.

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Book Extract: When Polly Met Olly by Zoe May

I am happy to be welcoming Zoe May to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her novel, When Polly Met Olly.

Polly might spend her days searching for eligible matches for her elite list of clients at her New York dating agency, but her own love life is starting to go up in smoke.

Even worse, she can’t stop thinking about the very person she’s meant to be setting her latest client up with… surely it can’t get any worse!

But then Polly bumps into oh-so-handsome Olly, who heads up a rival agency, and realizes that perhaps all really is fair in love and dating war…

 

I have reviewed the book below but first, Zoe and HQ have shared an extract today. 

 

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

 

Chapter One

Surely, I’m not qualified to be a matchmaker?!

You’d think getting a job at a dating agency might actually require you to have found love, or at least be good at dating, but apparently not. I’ve been single for three years and I haven’t had a date for six months, yet I’m pretty sure I’m nailing this interview.

‘So, what kind of message would you send Erica?’ Derek asks, handing me a print-out showing a dating profile of a pretty, tanned brunette. Derek is the boss of To the Moon & Back dating agency, although with his nicotine-stained teeth, lurid purple shirt stretching over his giant pot belly and cramped city office, he’s not exactly what I imagine when I think of Cupid.

What kind of message would I sent Erica? When Derek says ‘you’, he doesn’t mean me, as in Polly Wood. He means me pretending to be 34-year-old bachelor Andy Graham, because that’s what my job as a matchmaker would involve. While Andy, and the rest of the busy singletons on the agency’s books, are out earning the big bucks, too busy to trawl internet dating sites looking for love, I’ll be sitting here with Derek, firing off messages on their behalf in the hope of clinching dates. It’s a little morally questionable I suppose, since the women will be chatting to me beforehand, and will no doubt become enamoured with my witty repartee and effortless charm, but to be honest, I haven’t really given the moral side of it much thought. According to Derek, it’s what all dating agencies do, and anyway, ethics somehow stop being so important when you really need cash.

 I try to put myself in the mindset of Andy, while thinking up a message for Erica. I only know about him from reading a form he’s supposedly filled in, which Derek gave me to study five minutes earlier. According to the form, Andy is an ex-army officer turned property surveyor. He grew up in a small town in Ohio where his family still reside. His younger brother, aged 31, has already settled down with a wife and three kids, and reading in between the lines, I get the impression that Andy feels he’s beginning to lag behind. He works long hours, reads Second World War history books in his spare time, enjoys visiting aviation museums and likes to play tennis at the weekends. Oh, and he has a penchant for Thai food.

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Book Review: Christmas At The Chocolate Pot Café by Jessica Redland

A few minutes of courage might change your life…

Emotionally, Tara Porter finds the festive period a challenge. Christmas Day is a reminder of the family she lost, and New Year’s Eve holds bitter memories of the biggest mistake of her life: marrying Garth Tewkesbury. Shunning invitations to celebrate, she seeks refuge in her flat with only her giant house bunny, Hercules, for company.

Professionally, though, it’s the best time of year. Tara’s thriving café, The Chocolate Pot, is always packed. With the café hosting a wedding and engagement party, it’s shaping up to be the café’s best Christmas ever.

When former nemesis, Jed Ferguson, threatens the future of The Chocolate Pot, Tara prepares for a fight. The café is everything to her and she’s not going to let anyone or anything jeopardise that.

Tara badly misjudged ex-husband Garth and, since then, has refused to let anyone in. After all, if you don’t let them in, they can’t hurt you. But has she misjudged Jed too? Is it possible that he’s not the arrogant, deceitful man from whom she bought the café 14 years earlier? Can she find the courage to find out for sure?

Tara runs a successful café and has done for the last fourteen years. However, she lives quite an isolated existence preferring to spend time alone with her house bunny, Hercules rather than socialising. She also has a complicated history surrounding her family and secrets she has preferred to keep hidden from people, even those she would call her friends.

These past events have caused her to be guarded but can she find the courage she needs to move on?

First… oh my, this book cover. I am totally in love. Immediately, before I’ve even started to read, I am in this Yorkshire town surrounded by snow and Christmas. With my husband being from Yorkshire, it brings back some lovely memories.

Tara is a wonderfully complex main character but she felt very real to me. I found her extremely relatable.

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

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