Laura

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

Book Review: Meet Me at Pebble Beach by Bella Osborne

Regan is holding a winning lottery ticket.

Goodbye to the boyfriend who never had her back, and so long to the job she can’t stand!
Except it’s all a bit too good to be true…
When Regan gets pranked, she finds herself jobless, homeless and boyfriendless in one fell swoop.

Luckily her friendly seaside community provides a beacon of hope, proving to Regan that sometimes you really can rely on the kindness of others – and one local in particular, a handsome fireman called Charlie, helps Regan realise that this could be her chance for a fresh start.

Armed with a list of ways to change her life, Regan decides it’s time to step out of her comfort zone. Because – as Charlie knows all too well – life is for living . . .

 

Regan is in a relationship with a man who cares more about the state of his flat than about her and she also has a job she hates.  When she believes she has won the lottery, she quits her relationship and her job. When she finds out it was all a practical joke, she is now jobless, homeless and no longer has a boyfriend.

I knew from the first few pages that I was going to love Meet Me at Pebble Beach. Bella has a writing style that immediately draws me in and before I know it, it’s the early hours of the morning and I have missed out on sleep.

I loved Regan from chapter one and can relate to her. She’s a bit naive and doesn’t always make the best decisions but, like all of us, she is muddling along the best she can. Her heart is in the right place and she’s courageous for causes she believes in and people she loves. Even when I knew she was making a potential, avoidable mistake, I willed it to be OK.

Charlie and Kevin. Oh, can I give you both hugs?

Meet Me at Pebble Beach is such an interesting premise. Regan does what many of us dream of doing if we win the lottery and I felt so sorry for her when it didn’t go as planned. I have never wanted to slap a character more than Alex in that moment.

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Book Review: A Deadly Inside Scoop by Abby Collette

A big massive social distancing hug to Abby Collette. She’s here today with the blog tour for A Deadly Inside Scoop. This is book one in her Ice Cream Parlor Mystery series. 

 

Recent MBA grad Bronwyn Crewse has just taken over her family’s ice cream shop in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and she’s going back to basics. Win is renovating Crewse Creamery to restore its former glory, and filling the menu with delicious, homemade ice cream flavors—many from her grandmother’s original recipes. But unexpected construction delays mean she misses the summer season, and the shop has a literal cold opening: the day she opens her doors an early first snow descends on the village and keeps the customers away.

To make matters worse, that evening, Win finds a body in the snow, and it turns out the dead man was a grifter with an old feud with the Crewse family. Soon, Win’s father is implicated in his death. It’s not easy to juggle a new-to-her business while solving a crime, but Win is determined to do it. With the help of her quirky best friends and her tight-knit family, she’ll catch the ice cold killer before she has a meltdown…

 

Brownyn is excited for opening day. She’s just taken over the family business which is making and selling ice cream. Her grandparents legacy is in her hands and she can’t wait to get started.

Opening day doesn’t go as planned though. When the snow keeps people away, Brownyn takes a walk and ends up finding a dead body; not how she expected the day to go.

OK, Abby, you had me at ice cream. Hahaha.

I loved the sound of this novel the moment I was asked to take part in the blog tour.

I was immediately drawn into the mystery of this book, made even harder to put down as the story progressed. I am fast becoming a fan of cozy mysteries.

I loved the intrigue. I was continuously trying to guess what had happened but kept running into plot twists. I suspected everyone at some point. So much drama in such a small town.

This small town sounds adorable and is full of interesting and loveable characters. Bronwyn is such a relatable person and I really cared what happened to her and her family. I had a special soft spot for Pop Pop. Plus, it goes without saying, the cat.

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Book Review: The Game’s Gone by Simon Barnes

No one would call David Rose – or ‘Rosie’ as he’s known to one and all – a star, but he’s good at his job and proud of his work as a sportswriter for a national newspaper. He’s used to seeing flashier talents come and go – both on the field, and in the competitive world of the press. Football comes first in the way he spends his working life, but he’s happy to pitch in whatever the sport – from Formula 1 to Test cricket in the West Indies, the Olympics to a heavyweight championship bout in Japan. 

He’s used to the ups and downs of a journalist’s life and has learned to keep his own head safely down – until an especially venal boss pins his own misdemeanours on the entirely innocent Rose. Rosie’s revenge is slow but sweet, as he manoeuvres through a world where egos clash, money talks and you’re only as safe as your latest by-line. 

 

David Rose or ‘Rosie’ as he is known is a sports writer for a national newspaper. He’s not a star but he’s good at what he does, he puts the work in and he takes pride in what he does.

Books relating to sport is not usually something I would pick up. However, I am pleased to have taken part in the blog tour for this book. As an Audible original, it was narrated by Colin Mace and he did this very well. I felt he really helped bring over the various personalities of the characters.

This book reminded me of Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch in style but Simon Barnes covers a wide range of sports. I could tell that he brought a vast amount of personal experience to this story.

I have to admit, at the beginning of the book, I didn’t like many of the characters. Even Rosie grated on me a little, mostly down to comments about women. The Game’s Gone does well to shine a light on how it would have been. As a result of this, it took a while for me to settle into the narrative but what I found as I progressed were very intriguing and interesting characters, especially David Rose.

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Book Extract: When Darkness Begins by Tina O’Hailey

A lovely hello to Tina O’ Hailey. I am pleased to be welcoming her and the blog tour for her latest novel, When Darkness Begins, book one in the A Darkness Universe series. 

If you could change time to save your first love—even if it meant turning your back on the universe—would you?

It is time for the Vechey youth to earn their place as time-guardians. The near-immortal Vechey protect the universe from the devastating Manipulators—devourers of souls, mindless seekers of chaos. First, the youth must survive a mysterious and deadly ritual created by the all-powerful clan leader Eterili. Having regenerated thousands of times with the birth of each universe, Eterili is taking this one as hers and bending all in it to her grand designs.

Catha’s time-slipping skills are underdeveloped. She is time-blind—unable to see through time, unable to protect herself from the ritual. The Vechey shun her for being different. Her parents ignore her as if she were already dead.

Aithagg loves Catha unconditionally and will do anything to save her. He tries desperately to unlock the ritual’s mysteries and find a way to help Catha survive with him. Or will saving Catha enable the Manipulators to destroy the universe?

 

Ahead of its publication on 28th May, Tina has shared an extract from When Darkness Begins with us today. It sounds great and I hope you enjoy it. 

 

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

 

Chapter 6…Home Before

The six youths each straightened and in unison, or near it, began to articulate, “I will go forth and find my time, my place, my home. Turning away from my family and my friends, I will dedicate my eternity to keeping the universe whole. Should another adjust my time, my place, my home I will defend it until my last thought, through all eternity.”

Eterili called from her squatted position, “What do you protect?”

“Time.” The answer—cracking adolescent voices. “Why?” An aged croak.

“Lest the sky pull my bones apart as the tribe is lost across all of time.” Whispers.

“Who do you protect time from?”

“The Manipulators who would destroy time, the universe, and all in it.”

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Book Extract: The Scribbler by Iain Maitland

I am happy to be welcoming back Iain Maitland to Novel Kicks. He is here with his new novel, The Scribbler. 

 

‘He’s back, Carrie. The Scribbler is back.’

DI Gayther and his rookie colleague DC Carrie have been assigned a new caseload. Or rather, an old one… cold cases of LGBTQ+ murders dating back to the 1980s and beyond. Georgia Carrie wasn’t even born when the notorious serial killer began his reign of terror across the East of England. Roger Gayther was on the force that failed to catch him and remembers every chilling detail. Now, after all these years, there’s a sudden death featuring The Scribbler’s tell-tale modus operandi. Can Gayther and Carrie track the murderer down and bring him to justice before the slaughter starts again?

 

Iain has shared an extract with us today. 

 

‘Inside the Mind of a Killer.’ 

 

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

 

The man with the gloves knew this moment had been coming for a long time now. Had known, one way or the other, for almost half his lifetime. He had thought, on and off, how it might all end. Being overpowered by someone stronger than him, most likely. Or spotted with somebody who was later reported missing. His van seen, the registration noted down carefully. Two and two put together. The knock on the front door late one night.

And he had thought about what he would do when it did. He’d rush out of the kitchen through the living room to the back door by the vegetable garden to get away. But he knew there would be other police out there, maybe armed, just waiting, in hiding for him.

There were other possible endings. He would fight back if he were overpowered and held down by his planned victim as they called the police on their mobile phone. He’d struggle endlessly for the chance to escape. He’d never give up.

But, of all the various permutations, he had never imagined it would end this way. A police patrol car on his tail, playing with him, toying, as they closed in on his van.

He looked again at the wing mirror, saw the police car was still there, so close to him now that if he braked, it would be sure to crash into his van.

Did not know what to do. A sense of helplessness.

He could accelerate away, racing for his life. But they would most likely keep pace, forcing him off the road. An unseemly scramble as he tried, unsuccessfully, to get out of the van and run. Even if he got away, where would he go? They had his registration number, knew who he was, where he lived.

Brake sharply then. The police driver and passenger, taken by surprise, shaken by the crash. Dazed and bewildered, he could take his chances with them, armed with his screwdriver and Stanley knife. Up and out of his van fast, to the police car, tugging open doors, slashing and stabbing them. It was quiet here, on this road. No one around. Nobody to see. No one to interrupt him. If he were quick, could brace himself for the crash, have the element of surprise on his side, he could just about manage it.

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Book Extract: Sing Me a Secret by Julie Houston

I am pleased to be welcoming back Julie Houston to Novel Kicks and the blog tour for her latest novel, Sing Me a Secret.

 

The four Sutherland sisters have all had very different paths in life, but one secret and a slighty tense production of Jesus Christ Superstar are about to bring them all back together again…

When the news that pop-superstar Lexia Sutherland is returning to Westenbury, not everyone is thrilled by the news – including Lexia. There are too many memories she doesn’t need to face – or need re-surfacing. Meanwhile, Juno Sutherland just wants a little peace and quiet.

As the local village doctor, she’s got her priorities in order; kids, job, husband, tenacious pony, a role in the village musical… So when the sexy new locum turns up – and steals her office – the last thing she needed was to be hit with rising temperatures and an over-active imagination.

Will these sisters be able to uncover the past, deal with the future and put on the performance of a lifetime?

Return to Westenbury this spring and find out.

 

Julie and Aria have shared an extract with us today. Enjoy!

 

 

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

 

‘Morning, love, it’s me foot.’

Juno looked up from trying to get the computer to actually log on and made two new year’s resolutions to: a) get herself to work at least half an hour before kick-off and b) be ready with a big smile on her face rather than the usual panicked, hell-I-can’t-even-log-on face.

‘Ah, Mr Kendal.’ She looked up at the octogenarian sitting in front of her and slipped into caring, enquiring GP speak. ‘How are we? You’ve a problem with your foot?’

‘Been hurting to buggery since yesterday.’ He winced as he spoke and proffered one shod foot in Juno’s direction.

‘In your left foot? And where did the pain start?’ She’d finally managed to log on and brought up Mr Kendal’s notes which she scrutinised. Hmm, diabetic. Not good to have a pain in your foot if you were diabetic.

‘In Aldi.’

‘Sorry?’

‘It started when I was in the tinned-food aisle in Aldi. I just fancied some beans. I know they make you fart – excuse me French, love – but you know, when you get the taste for beans on toast, you just have to go with it.’

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Book Extract and Review: The Hopes and Dreams of Libby Quinn by Freya Kennedy

A big lovely welcome today to Freya Kennedy. She’s here with the blog tour for The Hopes and Dreams of Libby Quinn. Here’s a little about the book…

 

Libby Quinn is sick and tired of being sensible.

After years of slogging her guts out for nothing at a PR company, she finds herself redundant and about to plough every last penny of her savings into refurbishing a ramshackle shop and making her dream of owning her own bookshop become a reality.

She hopes opening ‘Once Upon A Book’ on Ivy Lane will be the perfect tribute to her beloved grandfather who instilled a love of reading and books in her from an early age.

When her love life and friendships become even more complicated – will Libby have the courage to follow her dreams? Or has she bitten off more than she can chew?

 

I have reviewed the book below but first, Libby and Boldwood Books have shared an extract today. I hope you enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

Libby knew the bag for life at her feet, crammed with cleaning products, would be just as woefully inadequate for the task ahead as a spoonful of Calpol would be to a woman in labour, but still she insisted on bringing it with her. She’d use everything in it, and more – much more – over the coming months, but bringing it with her gave her a sense of making the place her own before she even picked up the keys. Her plan, after all, was to move into the flat upstairs as quickly as possible so that she could work on the refurb morning, noon and night. A teeny, tiny, hopelessly optimistic part of her held on to a glimmer of hope that the flat would be a stylish time capsule of a home, ready to move in to bar the flick of a duster and a quick spray of Zoflora.

‘Are you sure we can’t come with you?’ her dad asked as they sat around the breakfast table. Just like Libby, both Jim and Linda Quinn had been unable to lay on in their beds and had been fizzing with a sense of shared excitement.

‘I need to put on my big-girl knickers and do this myself,’ she told them. Which wasn’t exactly true. Her boyfriend of eight months, Ant O’Neill, was going with her to pick up the keys from her solicitor’s office. An accounts manager for a nationwide banking chain, he exuded an air of calm and professionalism which none of the Quinn family seemed to be in possession of at that moment. He would be able to help her keep her emotions in check and not sob all over the young solicitor who had finalised the paperwork for her. ‘You can meet us there in a bit,’ she said. ‘When I’ve had a moment to adjust. Maybe eleven or so?’

Jim nodded. ‘Of course, pet,’ he said. ‘Your grandad would be very proud, you know,’ he said, his voice cracking, and Libby was forced to wave him away, unable to say anything else for fear of her own floodgates opening.

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NK Chats To… Derwin Hope

Thank you so much for joining me today, Derwin. Can you tell me a little about your book, Charles Dickens: My Life?

It is the life story of Charles Dickens using his own words to tell his story. On a number of occasions Dickens expressed the wish to write his own life story, but he died prematurely in 1870 at the age of 58 without doing it.

Now 150 years later and for the first time I have collected up all the various pieces of that jigsaw of things that he said about his life and put them into the narrative. It produces the nearest thing to an autobiography that is now possible.

Details of me, what I have done, and the written comments of people who have read my proofs can be seen on my official website at www.dickensmylife.com.

 

What challenges did you face when writing this novel?

The overwhelming challenge of hunting out things he actually said and did, as distinct from what other people have said about him in the last 150 years.

 

How did you approach the writing process for this novel?

I began my research about 25 years ago, became more focussed about collecting up the relevant pieces after I became a Judge in Portsmouth (his birthplace) in 2004 and visited the bedroom of his birth, and once I had retired in 2014 spent nearly 4 years putting all the pieces I had found together into a continuous narrative.

 

What do you think Charles Dickens would feel about the current state of the world?

I suspect he would be highly critical about it, as he was in his own day. He never trusted most politicians, having seen them at work in Parliament in his early career as a Parliamentary reporter. He later referred to Parliament as “The Dustheap of Westminster”. He was equally damming on the politicians he saw in America, as well as the way the press reported things over there.

He said many of the newspapers were only fit to be used as a water closet doormat. He was a Radical by nature and had a huge social conscience and whenever he saw anything that he felt was socially wrong he spoke out strongly against it. He became the people’s champion and that is why he was so loved in his time, apart from the brilliant fictional novels he also wrote. I think he would have taken the same approach to the social issues of today if he was alive now.

 

Which Charles Dickens character would you like to meet and why?

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Book Extract: Trust in You by Julia Firlotte

I’d like to give a lovely welcome to Julia Firlotte. She is here with the blog tour for her novel, Trust in You.

 

Here’s a little about the book… 

From the moment she met him, Ella Peterson had questions. As always, though, she’s too shy to ask.

Older and sexy as hell, mysterious Adam Brook soon sweeps sheltered Ella off her feet; but is he as perfect as he appears to be, or is there more to him than he’s telling her?

Ella’s world has already turned upside down after moving from England to rural Kansas. She and her sisters were hoping for a more secure future, but instead find that life can be tough when jobs are scarce and the stakes often higher than anticipated.

When events spiral out of Ella’s control, she learns the person she needs to rely on most is herself and her instincts on who to trust in the future.

It’s just that her instincts are screaming at her to trust Adam; it’s what he tells her that makes that a problem.

 

Julia has shared an extract from Trust in You today. Enjoy. 

(Language warning.) 

 

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

 

I feel like I’m melting inside with the way his warm brown eyes are caressing me affectionately.

‘You know, you’re a fucking beautiful drunk,’ he says.

‘A beut…iful drunk?’ I ask him.

‘Yeah.’ He smiles watching my face but doesn’t say anything further, just brushes my hair off my forehead. ‘Listen, I know you probably won’t remember this tomorrow, but about Saturday, I really don’t want it to drive a wedge between us,’ he says softly.

‘Ok,’ I answer him, slightly breathless. I could lie in his arms forever; it feels absolutely amazing after our argument earlier. He smiles at me, like he can see my mind isn’t really on what he’s saying. ‘Did you know you’ve got a twin?’ I mumble at him. He rolls his eyes at me and his smile is so sexy I’m mesmerised. ‘Lucky me! Now I have two of you.’ I giggle girlishly, finding my own joke hilarious. He leans his head down and bumps his nose against mine in response.

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Book Review: A Shop Girl at Sea by Rachel Brimble

I am pleased to say that Rachel Brimble is here with the blog tour for her latest book in the Pennington’s series, A Shop Girl at Sea.

 

Bath, 1912.

Amelia Wakefield loves working at Pennington’s, Bath’s finest department store. An escape from her traumatic past, it saved her life. So when Miss Pennington sets her a task to set sail on the Titanic and study the department stores of New York, she couldn’t be more excited – or determined!

Frustrated with his life at home, Samuel Murphy longs for a few weeks of freedom and adventure. Meeting Amelia on board the Titanic, Samuel can’t help wonder what painful history has made the beauty so reserved. But he already has too many responsibilities for love.

Ruby Taylor has always kept her Pennington co-workers at a distance. Making sure her little brother is safe has always been her priority. But when that means accepting Victoria Lark’s offer of sanctuary, more than one of Ruby’s secrets is under threat of being revealed…

 

I was very excited about being invited onto the blog tour for this book. I found the premise of it intriguing.

Amelia is looking at an opportunity she never dreamed she would have. She has been asked by Elizabeth Pennington to head to America, with a view to gaining insight into American fashion. What’s more, Amelia is to get there by sailing on the new, luxurious Titanic. She can’t wait. The only downside is that the boring Mr Weir is to accompany her.

On board, it is better than she ever dreamed. She also meets Samuel. He is on his way to America as a member of the crew and he knows he has met someone special when he first sees Amelia but before they have a chance to really get to know each other, tragedy strikes and it has them questioning everything they have ever known.

 

This was my introduction to Rachel’s novels so I’ve not read the previous three books in the Pennington’s series. This did not cause a problem though. There are reoccurring characters but this can be read first if you wish to.

I loved the different personalities in this book, male and female. I feel there was a wide spectrum. The majority of the female characters in this novel are strong, independent and relatable and I loved them, all for different reasons. Amelia is strong and knows what she wants, Elizabeth is proof you can be nice and be successful and Ruby… oh Ruby, I just wanted to wrap her up and look after her. Rachel has created real, vulnerable, courageous characters that are developed well.

The plot moved at a good pace and without giving too much away, I am pleased that it didn’t dwell too much on the actual sinking. It didn’t stop me from being in tears though. What it did concentrate on was how the characters reacted to their situation and I could really feel all the emotions. The imagery was vivid; everything was described so well.

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Book Extract: A Wedding in the Olive Garden by Leah Fleming

I am happy to be welcoming Leah Fleming to the blog today and the blog tour for her latest novel, A Wedding in the Olive Garden.

 

Here’s a little about the book…

Can an island in the sun provide the second chance Sara needs?

A warm and uplifting novel about love, friendship and new beginnings on the beautiful Greek island of Santaniki.
Sara Loveday flees home and crisis to the beautiful island of Santaniki. Here, amid olive groves and whitewashed stone villas, where dark cypress trees step down to a cobalt blue sea, Sara vows to change her life. Spotting a gap in the local tourist market, she sets up a wedding plan business, specialising in ‘second time around’ couples.
For her first big wedding, she borrows the olive garden of a local artists’ retreat, but almost at once things begin to go wrong. To make matters worse, a stranger from Sara’s past arrives on the island, spreading vicious lies. Can her business survive? And what will happen with the gorgeous new man who she’s begun to love?
This is a gorgeous, warm-hearted and uplifting novel conjuring the local colour, traditions and close bonds of island life.

 

To celebrate the release of A Wedding in the Olive Garden, Leah and Head of Zeus have shared an extract today. Enjoy.

 

 

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

 

The fan in the taverna kitchen did nothing to cool tempers as Mel Papadaki was giving her husband Spiro an earful. ‘Do you call this clean? Look at those stains. Mama will have a fit to see such a mess in here… Can I not leave you five minutes to water the pavement…’

‘Enough, woman!’ Spiro threw off his apron. ‘If you can do better, I’m off. The ferry is due and I have passengers and wine to collect. We need more—’

‘So you can drink it?’ Mel yelled back. She could give as good as she got. The fiery Italian half of her could shout with the best of them. She was in no mood to compromise, with his mother Irini sick, no doubt listening into their arguments with glee. Spiro could do no wrong in her eyes.

She wiped the sweat off her brow as the hairnet scratched her forehead. The Santaniki heatwave was unbearable. Oh, to be cooling in Yorkshire drizzle than trying to cook and clean, up and down stairs at Irini’s command while Spiro swanned off to the harbour for a smoke. Yes, she knew he was back on the fags behind her back. It had been a tough winter with storms and little work for a builder. Times were tough for Greece. At least their own house was almost finished but cash was tight. He was at a loose end and touchy. Too many fry-ups thickening his waistline. Much as she loved the bones of him, he was letting himself go.

Mel stared at the pile of fresh tomatoes, peppers, courgettes and onions she had picked from their vegetable garden ready to make a cooling gazpacho. Irini came down to inspect the menus and threw out her suggestion with a wave of her hand. ‘That’s not Greek food. You cannot serve that.’

‘But English customers will love something cool and refreshing like this,’ Mel argued.

‘We are not serving that today,’ Irini muttered and that was that. A Sheffield girl married to a Cretan was never going to be easy but she would bloody well make a batch for her and the boys for lunch later. Loading the dishwasher, she heard her mobile ring. What did he want now? It was a garbled message about a booking but the signal was weak so she stepped outside in the square to catch the details.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Stranded

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: Stranded.

You wake up to find that you’re on a deserted Island. You don’t remember how you got there. The last you remember, you were at home.

There doesn’t seem to be anyone around until you are approached by an animal. Yes, this animal seems to be able to walk like a human can.

What shocks you even more is when this animal smiles at you, welcomes you to the island and hands you a tent.

Continue the story…

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Planning Short Stories

Today, I want to go back to the beginning and look at planning. 

I am quickly becoming aware that I am not a writer who can just sit down and write. I need to know where I want my story to go or I end up with a lot of similar scenes as my story goes around in circles as I have no idea how to move it forward.

So, today’s exercise is the following…

Make a plan for a story, in note form that’s related to one of the following topics..

Inheriting an old house.

A blind date

Broken down car in a deserted area

A holiday that goes wrong

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A Moment With… Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead

I am very happy to be welcoming Catherine Curzon and Eleanor Harkstead to Novel Kicks today. They are celebrating the publication of The Man in Room 423, which they have co-written. 

 

About The Man in Room 423…

In a heady cocktail of passion and poison, who can you really trust?

When Lizzie Aspinall and her sister meet for cocktails in a high-rise bar, the last thing she’s expecting is to spend the night in the arms of the nameless man in room 423. As a one-night stand with a stranger turns into a steamy affair with a dedicated detective, Lizzie finds herself in the sights of a stalker.

Ben Finneran has spent ten years pursuing a ruthless serial killer who poisons victims at random before disappearing into the shadows. He wants to believe that the attraction he and Lizzie share is just physical, but when they find themselves falling for each other, is Ben unwittingly leading a murderer straight to her door?

Pursued by the past and threatened by the present, who can Lizzie and Ben really trust?

 

Catherine and Eleanor have joined me to talk about what it’s like to co-write a book, the highs, challenges and how the work is divided. Over to you, ladies. 

Catherine and I first crossed each others’ paths about three years ago when we were writing historical non-fiction for the same publisher, Pen and Sword. We got into a conversation one day about joint fiction writing, and after some hilarious conversations about Georgian gentlemen, we started to write a sandbox.

It started off with a plot but as we wrote it, it became huge and sprawling, written with the sort of freedom that isn’t possible with something that’s aimed for publication, and to be honest, written entirely to entertain ourselves. We’d written a huge amount in only a few weeks, by which point Catherine said maybe we should aim for publication.

Catherine had had a couple of titles out with Pride, who publish LGBT+ fiction, and we realised that the sandbox had some wonderful moments that could be developed into fully-fledged novels. The first novel to emerge was The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper, a romance about First World War soldiers, which was published in April 2018. Since then, Pride have published five more Captivating Captains novels, and five short stories. Our first title for their Totally Bound imprint was The Ghost Garden. It was published early in 2019, and we were very excited when it was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Novel Awards 2020. This year, we have two romantic suspense novels out from Totally Bound – The Colour of Mermaids and The Man in Room 423.

As to the how of our writing… we talk about ideas for stories in Messenger, then before we get writing, we’ll often have a Skype first. Then we write in Google Docs, which gives us a great deal of freedom because you can access the same document on a computer or a mobile device. I end up writing on my phone in all sorts of places – on the bus, in the tearoom at work, in the waiting room at the doctor’s, in the chair at the hairdresser’s waiting for my dye to finish!

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Book Review: The Forgotten Sister by Nicola Cornick

I was pleased to be invited onto the blog tour for The Forgotten Sister by Nicola Cornick. 

In 1560, Amy Robsart is married to Robert Dudley, an ambitious member of Queen Elizabeth’s royal court and a favourite of the Queen.

There has been little love in Amy’s marriage to Robert. Amy plans her escape but the consequences of this will echo through the centuries.

In the present day, Lizzie Kingdom is forced to withdraw from the public eye after a scandal. She encounters Johnny Robsart and their fate will entwine in many ways. Is Lizzie brave enough to search for the truth?

 

Oh this book. It’s historical fiction at its best.

Told from both Amy’s point of view in the 1500’s and Lizzie’s point of view in the present day, it’s all weaved together so well. Both women are strong and are prisoners in their own way as men try to govern their fate. The parallels between the two women and their timelines are put together perfectly.

The supporting characters represent a good mixture of personalities, each with their unique voice. Each character is flawed and real in their own way and I grew to like them, except for Robert Dudley, who is as vain and power-hungry as I imagined him to be. He’s so unlikable and has no redeeming features at all.

Avery particularly caught my attention and I’d love to know more about her and what she has experienced.

I loved the story set in the present day, but as Elizabethan history is one of my favourite eras, Amy’s story immediately piqued my interest and continued to do so throughout the majority of the book.

That’s not say that I found Lizzie’s story boring. Quite the opposite in fact. Throughout the book, I was intrigued as to how her story would end. This book is full of surprises and was so immersive as I tried to figure out how it all slotted together.

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

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