Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Go Back and Read The Instructions

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: Go back and read the instructions.

Your character has invented a time machine. Now it is time to write the instruction manual, including a content page.

For example:

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October: Recent and Upcoming Releases

Bantam Press

I am excited to be writing about a whole load of new novels being released soon and there are some fantastic sounding titles in my list this week.

Coming out on 29th October is the latest Jack Reacher novel from Lee Child. It’s called Blue Moon.

Two rival criminal gangs are competing for control. They have not counted on Jack Reacher.

He is trained to notice things; like the elderly man sitting near him on the Greyhound bus with an envelope full of money and the other passenger hoping to get rich. He had not counted on Jack Reacher either.

I have to put my hands up and admit that I have not read a Jack Reacher novel but I may have to start as this sounds brilliant.

I saw the movie and didn’t hate it as I know a few people did. Are you a fan of Jack Reacher?

Let me know why and which book I should start with in the comments below.

 

Headline

From Lee Child to the Queen of crime novels. The latest novel from Martina Cole, No Mercy has been released this week.

This is another author I don’t know a lot about which is strange considering I love my crime novels but my Mum loved her books.

In No Mercy, Diana Davies has been head of the family business since her husband died. She’s a woman in a man’s world but no one would dare mess with her.

Her only son is about to enter the business and even though he a born criminal, this doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have to earn his mother’s trust along with everyone else.

His blind spot is his wife and three children. He has a painful truth to learn.

 

The Puzzle of You is the latest novel from author, Leah Mercer and is due to be released on 1st November and is a book that sounds totally up my alley.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Alphabet Story

Welcome back to another writing exercise. 

Today, I wanted to do an alphabet story. This exercise sounds fun but also a challenge.

Write a story but start each sentence with a different letter of the alphabet. In order.

For example…

Albert heard a knock and immediately opened the door.

Beaming at him, Tina stood in the hallway, a bag of groceries in her hand.

Come in,’ he said, stepping aside and letting her into the flat.

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NK Chats To… Stephen Clark

Hi Stephen, thank you for joining me. Can you tell me about your writing day, where you like to write and do you have any writing rituals?

Thanks so much for having me. When it’s time to write, that’s when I hunker down in front of the TV or get on Twitter or remember that I have a wife and kid. Basically, I procrastinate as long as possible until the muse possesses me and compels me to burn the midnight oil in the solitude of my den.

It’s not that I like to write in my den or any place of isolation for that matter. But when I’m in the zone, it’s best to leave me alone. I don’t have any writing rituals per se, but I need to create some, especially when the muse goes MIA.

 

Your novel is called Hands Up. What is it about?

Hands Up follows three characters from different worlds on are on collision course after a deadly police shooting spins their lives into chaos. Officer Ryan Quinn is on the fast track to detective until he shoots an unarmed black male. Now he embarks on a quest for redemption that forces him to choose between conscience or silence.

Jade Wakefield is an emotionally damaged college student who lives in one of the city’s worst neighbourhoods. She sets out to find the truth and get revenge after learning that there’s more to her brother’s death than the official police account.

While mourning the death of his son, Kelly Randolph returns to his hometown broke and broken to seek forgiveness for abandoning his family 10 years earlier. But when he is thrust into the spotlight as the face of the protest movement, his disavowed criminal past resurfaces and threatens to derail the family’s pursuit of justice.

 

 

What’s your writing process like from idea to final draft?

It’s like a sausage factory on fire. It’s not pretty or safe. As Ernest Hemingway said, the first draft of anything is s***. My writing process aims to turn that s***, speck by speck, into gold.

 

 

What music would be on a playlist for Hands Up?

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Unexpected Speech

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: Unexpected Speech. 

 

Your character is walking along the street when they are called over by a person they have never met before.

Before they know it, they are being led, by this stranger down a narrow corridor, through a door and onto a stage where there is an unusual looking audience.

Your character is asked a question. All eyes are on them.

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Book Review: Let It Snow by Sue Moorcroft

A big welcome to the fantastic Sue Moorcroft and the blog tour for her latest novel, Let it Snow. 

Family means everything to Lily Cortez and her sister Zinnia, and growing up in their non-conventional family unit, they and their two mums couldn’t have been closer.

So it’s a bolt out of the blue when Lily finds her father wasn’t the anonymous one-night stand she’d always believed – and is in fact the result of her mum’s reckless affair with a married man.

Confused, but determined to discover her true roots, Lily sets out to find the family she’s never known; an adventure that takes her from the frosted, thatched cottages of Middledip to the snow-capped mountains of Switzerland, via a memorable romantic encounter along the way…

 

It may be October but it’s never too early for a Sue Moorcroft Christmas novel.

To add the topping to the cake, we’re welcomed back to the village of Middledip, Sue’s wonderful setting for quite a few of her stories. Because of this, we get a smattering of the inhabitants we’ve grown to love and this gives the novel an atmosphere of a family christmas.

Say hi to Lilly Cortez and Isaac O’Brien, out main protagonists, along with Doggo of course, a very friendly Dalmatian.

Fans of Sue will be familiar too with Tubb the Pub who has a central role in the main story. It’s very nice, this reviewer believes, that this much-loved character has more than a peripheral part in this story. In fact, this novel is chock full of wonderful, rounded, well-written characters, including Carola who’s a particular favourite of mine from Middledip.

Switzerland bounds to life off the pages to such a degree that you feel like you’re walking in the snow-clad towns, villages and fields of this Alpine country. It certainly made me wish that I could go for a visit. Here, you have a roadtrip combined with a love story that will have you silently screaming for a happy ending!

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Book Extract: One Christmas Star by Mandy Baggot

I am happy to be welcoming back Mandy Baggot. She is here with the blog tour for her novel, One Christmas Star. 

 

Emily Parker is set to have the worst Christmas ever!

Her flatmate’s moved out, she’s closed her heart to love and she’s been put in charge of the school original Christmas show – with zero musical ability.

Disgraced superstar, Ray Stone is in desperate need of a quick PR turnaround.

Waking up from a drunken stupor to a class of ten-year-olds snapping pics and Emily looking at him was not what he had in mind.

Ray needs Emily’s help to delete the photos, and she needs his with the show.

As they learn to work together they may just open their hearts to more than a second chance…

 

To celebrate the release of One Christmas Star, Mandy and Aria have shared an extract today. 

 

 

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

‘Tangfastic?’

Before Emily had a chance to reply, the sharing-size bag of Haribos was pushed under her nose by Dennis Murray, the forty-something teacher of the Year Five class. He shook the plastic and all manner of gum, sugar, sweet and sour flew into Emily’s sinuses in one mammoth rush. She picked out a sweet simply to get the bag away from her nose. Popping it into her mouth, the bitterness hit her taste-buds straight off, contorting her expression. She watched, one eye squinted, as Dennis put five sweets into his mouth at once, double-chin wobbling. He was a walking, talking pick ‘n’ mix addict but still his capacity for sugary sweet treats astounded her. Simon had liked sweets – Maltesers, Minstrels, Mars Bites, all the chocolate. Simon had liked chocolate the way Emily liked cheese…

‘So, what do you think the budget meeting is going to be about this time?’ Dennis asked, nudging Emily’s arm as the other teachers joined them in the main hall used for assemblies, performances, lunch and meetings such as these. ‘Christmas cancelled? No unnecessary expense until we’re back in January?’

‘I don’t know,’ Emily answered. ‘But no matter what it is, I can’t protest.’ She lowered her voice and leant a little into Dennis’s personal space. ‘Susan caught me giving Jayden Jackson help with his project this morning and I bought him a bagel because I know he isn’t getting breakfast at home.’ She wasn’t getting breakfast at home herself, but only because the cupboards always seemed to be bare now Jonah had gone. Plus, really strong coffee almost counted as a meal, didn’t it?

Dennis sucked through his teeth, bits of gum crushed between his canines. ‘A double-whammy.’

‘I know,’ Emily said with a sigh. ‘I only narrowly managed to avoid the proverbial third thing because the Sellotape on the Christmas stars held out just long enough until Susan had closed the door behind her.’ But she knew she was under scrutiny and it made her nervous. She pulled at the sides of her maroon corduroy skirt, shifting her bottom on the too-small chair. Had she picked one of the children’s chairs and not a grown-up one. That was exactly how her luck was right now…

‘Definitely no extra baubles for the Year Six Christmas tree this year then,’ Dennis remarked, chewing on more sweets.

Emily’s phone erupted, tweeting like a bird, from inside her all-colours vintage carpet bag. It had been a bargain. Well, actually it had been quite expensive, but it was a genuine 1950s artifact. And she’d been quite emotional on that particular visit to the antique boutique. Emotion and her love of vintage were a heady mix…

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Book Extract: Magic Under the Mistletoe by Lucy Coleman

What better treat on a Tuesday than to have Lucy Coleman visit Novel Kicks with the blog tour for her festive novel, Magic Under the Mistletoe. 

 

Christmas and romance are in the air…

It’s December 23rd and while everyone else is rushing home for the holidays, workaholic Leesa Oliver is dreading switching on her out-of-office for the festive season. And it seems her equally driven boss, Cary Anderson, isn’t relishing spending Christmas at his family’s country estate either.

So together, they draft an unexpected Christmas contract: They’ll spend half of the holidays with each other’s families, pretending to be a couple. Leesa knows the insufferably good-looking Cary will make her Christmas more bearable, but what happens after the last of the mince pies have been eaten…?

Leesa signed off on a sensible business agreement, but somewhere, amongst the fairy lights and carols something seems to have changed… It seems there might just be some magic under the mistletoe this Christmas!

 

Lucy and Aria have shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

 

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

 

Standing beneath the steady stream of hot water without the overhead shower wetting my hair isn’t easy but it’s so refreshing. By the time I’ve dried, changed my underwear and donned the crease-resistant, long-sleeved top rolled up in my hand luggage, I at least have a bit of my sparkle back. A quick brush of my hair, a squirt of deodorant and then perfume, and I’m done.

Making my way back into the open area of the lounge and scanning around the sea of occupied seats, I look for Cary. His head appears above the crowded masses as he stands to wave at me and I head in his direction. He, too, is looking a little more refreshed, I notice as I sink down very gratefully into the squishy leather seat next to him.

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My Writing Ramblings: September Favourites

Before we get too far into October, I wanted to share some of my favourites/things I enjoyed from September.

My first favourite is series two of the Netflix show, Mindhunter.

OK so technically this was released in August but as I didn’t do a favourites for last month, I can give it a mention.

Series one, episode one had me totally hooked on this show. I pretty much bingewatched it over a day. I was beyond excited to get into the second series especially when you take into account how series one ended.

This was just as brilliant and amazing as the first and focuses on the Atlanta child murders whilst also continuing some plot points from the first series.

This series was incredible and I can’t wait for series three. It’s well written, has brilliant acting and is just… awesome. End of. If you’ve been wondering whether to give it a go, please do.

 

My second favourite is an app and it is Layton: Pandora’s box HD for mobile.

I have been a massive fan of the Professor Layton games from when it appeared on the Nintendo DS. I am not a big gamer but I love puzzle games and so this is right up my street.

Although I have played Pandora’s box before, it has been so long, it’s like playing a new game especially as I think they have added some new puzzles. I don’t remember playing them anyway so even if you’re familiar with the game, I think you will get something from this new format.

I was delighted to see it was available on the App Store and I love the fact that I can play it when I have a few minutes without having to carry the DS around.

 

The book I most enjoyed last month is I Wanted You to Know by Laura Pearson.

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Book Review: Creative Writing Skills: Over 70 Fun Activities For Children by Lexi Rees

I am pleased to welcome Lexi Rees to Novel Kicks with the blog tour for her non-fiction workbook, Creative Writing Skills which includes over 70 activities to help develop your child’s writing. 

Discover the secrets to becoming an amazing author.

Find your creative spark.

Grow your skills and confidence.

Have more fun with your writing.

Packed with top tips, this awesome workbook has everything you need to know about creating colourful characters, perfect plots, dynamite dialogue, and lots more …

 

I have many ‘how to write’ books and I wish half of them were as fun as this book.

Creative Writing Skills contains exercises, tips from the author and fun illustrations. With it being a workbook, your child can engage with the exercises directly. There are also opportunities to draw as well as writing using prompts.

For me, it’s a really good grounding for your child to begin and further develop writing stories. Also, it will give them an understanding of the writing process which, as someone who is trying to write a book is something that is so important. I really wish I’d had this book as a child.

Topics include looking at characters and building a profile, descriptions, settings, structure (there is a fun rollercoaster diagram which I will be using myself,) themes, genres, voice/POV, dialogue and sparking ideas; everything they will need to develop their stories.

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Book Review: Wrapped Up for Christmas by Katlyn Duncan

A big hello to Katlyn Duncan and the blog tour for her novel, Wrapped Up For Christmas.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… but not for Angie Martinelli…

Having lost her boyfriend, job, and apartment all in the space of a week, Angie has no choice but to leave California and return to her family in New England.

Determined not to let life weigh her down, Angie finds work at the local mall where she worked as a teenager. After an embarrassing run-in with a handsome stranger, Nick, she’s convinced her luck is about to change.

But Nick has secrets of his own… and as the first flakes of snow begin to fall, Angie can’t help but wonder if she’ll ever find love.

 

Angie has found herself living back at her parent’s house in an attempt to escape a bad break-up and the loss of her job. Desperate to find work and having no offers in event planning, Angie takes a job as an Information Specialist at her local mall.

The need for this job becomes even more apparent when, at a café, her card is declined. This is where she meets Nick, when he kindly pays for her drink. Embarrassed, she leaves, knowing at least she will never see him again. That’s what she thinks.

One of the things I love most about this time of year are the Christmas stories that begin to appear on bookshelves. I know, I have mentioned this love before. I am Laura and I love Christmas. There, I said it.

I was excited to be reading Wrapped up for Christmas and couldn’t wait to start reading.

This book was so easy to fall into. Angie is a wonderfully open, endearing character. She has disappointments but she is resilient and I find that inspiring.

Nick is the perfect love interest. He is just what you want from a love story and I wanted things to work well for him, especially once you meet his Dad. Nick’s story is probably one a lot of people can relate to around this time of year.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Pictorial Inspiration

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: Pictorial Inspiration. 

Write about what this picture inspires….

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Novel Kicks Book Club: Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Happy October.

October is one of my favourite parts of the year.

Not only is it my birthday month, it’s also Halloween so, for the book club, I wanted to pick something gothic and this one has been on my list for a while.

This month’s book is called, Coraline by Neil Gaiman, with illustrations by Chris Riddell.

Although it’s marketed at 9 -10 year olds on Amazon, for me, it has an interesting premise and is totally suited to the countdown to 31st October. The fact that there is a black cat on the cover had nothing to do with my decision. Cough. Haha.

 

Here’s a little about the book.

There is something strange about Coraline’s new home. It’s not the mist, or the cat that always seems to be watching her, nor the signs of danger that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, her new neighbours, read in the tea leaves.

It’s the other house – the one behind the old door in the drawing room. Another mother and father with black-button eyes and papery skin are waiting for Coraline to join them there.

And they want her to stay with them. For ever. She knows that if she ventures through that door, she may never come back.

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Book Review: I Wanted You To Know by Laura Pearson

It is lovely to welcome back to Laura Pearson and the blog tour for her latest novel, I Wanted You to Know.

 

Dear Edie, I wanted you to know so many things. I wanted to tell you them in person, as you grew. But it wasn’t to be.

Jess never imagined she’d be navigating single motherhood, let alone while facing breast cancer. A life that should be just beginning is interrupted by worried looks, heavy conversations, and the possibility of leaving her daughter to grow up without her.

Propelled by a ticking clock, Jess knows what she has to do: tell her daughter everything. How to love, how to lose, how to forgive, and, most importantly, how to live when you never know how long you have.

From best-selling author Laura Pearson comes her most devastating book yet. Honest, heart-wrenching, and emotionally raw, I Wanted You To Know is a love letter to life: to all its heartache and beauty, to the people we have and lose, to the memories and moments that define us.

I Wanted You To Know is Laura Pearson’s third novel.

 

*****

 

Jess isn’t like other girls her age. Instead of being at university, spending time with her friends and enjoying her youth, she’s facing the fact that her baby daughter will probably grow up without her.

Jess has terminal breast cancer. As she tries to come to terms with her fate, she writes a series of letters to her daughter – to try and be there even when she can’t be. She wants to tell Edie everything and she doesn’t have long to do so.

Oh Laura, you did it to me again. You made me cry. I knew this would happen the moment I started reading and that was just the authors note. I like the fact that it’s a mixture of letters and prose; the style makes it easy to know what’s going on in Jess’s head. I got so invested in this story and have a massive book hangover.

I couldn’t help but feel such empathy and love toward Jess as a character. She felt so real to me.

To be honest, I don’t think there was a completely unlikable character in the whole novel. Everyone has their layers, complexities and flaws. It’s all explored so well.

Aside from what I’ve said already and as normal, I am not saying anything else about what happens to Jess and her loved ones. That is something I suggest you find out for yourself.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Step Back in Time

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: Step Back in Time. 

Your character is disillusioned with life.

He or she is going through a marriage break up, the children don’t want to know them and to add insult to injury, they have lost their job.

They are sat drinking and then make a wish to be able to have a do-over.

When they wake up, they are eighteen again. Carry on the story…

 

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