Mick Arnold

Mick reviews books and will also be chatting about his experience as a male author in the romantic genre. Mick is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, New Writers Scheme. He lives in Northamptonshire and is the proud keeper of two cats, Gus and Elphaba. When he’s not trying to write books, Mick has a deep-seated love of reading that he’s brought from his teens to the current day with no signs of waning. He’s also mad on the music of the Beach Boys and enjoys the theatre and humouring his Manchester United supporting wife. Mick can be followed on Twitter: @mick859

Mick’s Musings: Fun! Fun! Fun!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgDoesn’t time fly when you’re having fun…now I need to find the time to have that fun.

When I’m writing, after the first few hundred words, so long as it’s flowing, it is fun. Characters I’ve created/am in the process of creating, stand up and wave their little paws at me (I like cats, heck knows why half the time, but my latest WIP has a quite prominent feline who seems to be making a bid for freedom) for attention and sit down to share a metaphorical cup of tea with me. Then there’s the (mostly) welcome appearance of a new character that I hadn’t even considered when the idea for the story first came to mind, and even after I’d actually done some planning!

With this WIP, it looks very much like it’ll now be starting at chapter three. So, what does that mean for the Prologue and the first two chapters? Well, not really wanting to throw anything away, I do believe that quite a bit can be incorporated into forthcoming chapters and I also have to admit, it does start off the story a lot better. It’s straight into mini-crisis, always a good way to start.

Thank you Kate T for the suggestion.

As far as these new characters? It’s a welcome to Tippy’s Posse. Okay, so she’s currently called Poppy, but I have a few too many characters whose names begin with the letter ‘p’, but I still like ‘Poppy’ so it’s really a case of watch this space.

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Book Review: Able Seacat Simon: The Wartime Hero of the High Seas by Lynne Barrett-Lee

51q5iv-ax6L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_Simon is discovered in the Hong Kong docks in 1948 and smuggled on board the H.M.S Amethyst by a British sailor who takes pity on the malnourished kitten. The young cat quickly acclimates to his new water-borne home, establishing himself as the chief rat-catcher in residence while also winning the hearts of the entire crew.

Then the Amethystis ordered to sail up the Yangtze to take over the guarding of the British Embassy, and tragedy strikes as the ship comes under fire from Communist guns. Many of the crew are killed and Simon is among those who are seriously wounded. Luckily, with the help of the ship’s doctor, the brave cat makes a full recovery and is soon spending time with the injured men in the sick bay, purring and keeping their spirits up. News of Simon’s heroism spreads and he becomes famous world-wide – but it is still a long journey back to England for both the crew and the plucky little cat known as ‘Able Seacat Simon’…

To discover a new author is one of the joys still to be found in life, and that is exactly what I’ve just done having finished this new book by the very talented Ms Barrett-Lee.

Based on true events during the Chinese Civil war, in its continuation phase after the Second World War, this is told from the point of view of the cat in the title. If you’ve not heard the story of HMS Amethyst, then this is actually a very good introduction to this riveting episode in the history of the Royal Navy.

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Mick’s Musings: Time is an Abstract Concept

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgTime is an abstract concept, and I don’t even know where I was going to go with that, only that I was going to point out that when you have too much of it, you tend to waste it, and when there’s not enough, we moan that we don’t have enough. I guess what I’m trying to say, in a very roundabout way, is that I wish I could go back in time this year and start it off by writing what I’m currently writing about.

As (in my case still a ‘would-be-writer’ – I refuse to assign myself the title Author until such a time as I manage to get myself published) this year, I’m now on my third ‘Work-in-progress’ and so ran out of that precious commodity to be able to submit a completed, not even first draft, to the New Writers Scheme for the first time since I was fortunate enough to join the hallowed ranks of the Romantic Novelists Association. I’ve been metaphorically smacking myself over the head ever since the realisation that I’d ran out of time hit me as I left this year’s conference.

Slight aside – thank you to all who put together this year’s conference (if they may be reading) particularly Jan and John (hope that’s right), a now expected highlight of my year that well lived up to hopes and expectations.

So, back to my subject for this long overdue new blog entry, what caused me to make such a foobar? You know how it is when you get that light bulb moment, that idea pops into your head and you go, ‘I must write about that. There’s a story that’ll knock your socks off!’ I had that three times this year.

The first came in about January and was a pure children’s story, a bit like The Animals of Farthing Wood meets Harry Potter – damn, that’s a good elevator pitch! The trouble was, about three chapters in, it wasn’t flowing as nicely as it needs to and I decided to leave it before I got too bogged down. But I still intend returning to it, the title alone keeps coming back to me, especially when I’m skimming through my writing folders on the pc; The Four Hedgehogs of the Apocalypse shall ride again!

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Book Review: Magic Sometimes Happens by Margaret James

Magic Sometimes HappensBook 5 in the Charton Minster Series, London-based PR and promotions consultant Rosie Denham has just spent a year in Paris where she’s tried but failed to fall in love. She’s also made a big mistake and can’t forgive herself.

American IT professor Patrick Riley ‘s wife has left him for a Mr. Wonderful with a cute British accent and a house with a real yard. So Patrick’s not exactly thrilled to meet another Brit who’s visiting Minnesota, even if she’s hot.

Pat and Rosie couldn’t be more different. She’s had a privileged English upbringing. He was raised in poverty in Missouri. Pat has two kids, a job that means the world to him and a wife who might decide she wants her husband back.

So when Pat and Rosie fall in love, the prospects don’t seem bright for them.

But magic sometimes happens – right?

Who doesn’t like a story with an opening scene that grips you and won’t let go!

This is my second Margaret James novel (the wonderful ‘The Wedding Diary’ was my first) and being a dedicated Choc-Lit follower I had a pretty good idea of what to expect and was certainly not disappointed, being up to the exacting standards set by the first novel I read by this lady.

Moving swiftly along from one viewpoint to the next, the pace of the story never gives up. With the added bonus of revisiting past members of the Dehham family, this is like curling up on the sofa with familiar friends and enjoying a cost night in.

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Mick’s Musings: Would You Call This ‘Procrastination’?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgArguably the most important part of any book written is the first chapter, in particular, the first page. Get this wrong, not only would you lose the reader, but more likely, you wouldn’t have had the novel published in the first place.

Now, for the latest story I’m writing I’m on the third different opening/prologue/first chapter. What this says about me as a prospective writer, I don’t know, but I suspect that it’s more of a common problem than I’m making it out to be. Have I hit on the opening? I don’t know. Two of my lead characters though are suddenly opening the book whereas before it was looking like they wouldn’t be making an appearance until at least the third chapter. But it feels right!

Does it read right though? Actually, yes and even more surprising since I had to decipher the scribbled notes I made before going to bed on Friday night! My Lady Wife is always saying I should have been a doctor, the state of my hand-writing. It’s short, just shy of 1,200 words, but just because it’s short, doesn’t mean to say it isn’t right. But, this is only a first draft, so undoubtedly there will be changes as the story progresses. At least it’s nice to meet these guys sooner rather than later.

So why did I bring up the dreaded ‘P’ word? Because it’s taken me a while to start up writing again. Yes, I know the old adage that you should write at each and every opportunity, no matter how rubbish it may come out. Continue reading

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Review: The Wedding Proposal by Sue Moorcroft

wedding proposalElle Jamieson is a private person, in relationships as well as at work – and for good reason. But then she’s made redundant and with no ties to hold her, Elle heads off to sunny Malta.

Lucas Rose hates secrets – he prides himself on his ability to lay his cards on the table and he expects nothing less in return. He’s furious when his summer working as a divemaster is interrupted by the arrival of Elle, his ex, all thanks to his Uncle Simon’s misguided attempts at matchmaking.

Forced to live in close proximity, it’s hard to ignore what they had shared before Lucas’s wedding proposal scared Elle away. But then a phone call from England allows Lucas a rare glimpse of the true Elle. Can he deal with Elle’s closely guarded past when it finally comes to light?

Let’s get things straight from the start. There is only one thing wrong with this book – it has an ending!

Sue weaves her charms on this charming love story set mainly in Malta. Taking me back to my honeymoon in style, we follow Elle and Lucas as life and misunderstandings and sometimes misplaced pride try their best to keep the two of them apart. Continue reading

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Mick’s Musings: Jealous?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgJealous? Nope, not the right word. Envy? Getting closer, if I’m being honest, but certainly very happy and proud are correct words to describe what I’d like to chat with you about today. If you’re a regular, or even if you’re not, on this wonderful site, then you may be aware of my good friend Bella’s column, Bella’s Scribblings-https://www.novelkicks.co.uk/bellas-scribblings-christmas-shopping/  – click the link for updates folks! But the reason for my kind of cryptic start to this column is the wonderful news that she’s got a two book contract with Harper Collins and the first, ‘It Started at Sunset Cottage’ is set to go on sale in February next year. I first met Bella at the Romantic Novelist’s Association Convention in Sheffield last year. Two newbies to the New Writer’s Scheme, both nervous and not sure what was going on, nor what to do, but she’s become a good friend and now, if I may say, an inspiration to those of us still hoping to get published. She’s worked very hard on this novel and without giving anything away, I would put it on your wish lists for a nice Valentine’s Day (yes, I’m fully aware that Christmas hasn’t even come along yet) present to yourself. So, where does that leave me? Well, I’ve submitted to just seven Agents/Publishing companies so far and, sniff, the first rejection came through this week. I slightly surprised myself but not cracking up completely when that email came through; though it was tempting, but I didn’t think my boss would understand a teary bloke at work. It’s actually made me more determined to approach others. I still have a couple on the list I was given by the RNA, so will have to print (yep, I did say ‘print’) out a couple and see if I can get those off shortly. Continue reading

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Mick’s Musings – Feeling Sorry For Myself

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x3001.jpgHi everyone and welcome to the week leading up to one of the most important dates of the year. Now, just in case my lady wife reads this entry, this does not include (in no particular order); your birthday, your sister’s birthday, our wedding anniversary (I am perfectly aware it will be 20 years next year btw) , the cat-who-must-not-be-named birthday, the multiple theatre dates on the calendar and of course, December 19th, when we first met (or a day or so either side.)

So what am I on about today? Well, whilst sat in my chair, trying to dedicate enough concentration in keeping anything I eat inside. I’m not feeling too well at the moment, had to go home from work yesterday and had an interesting night which didn’t involve much in the way of sleep. Of course, that gave me plenty of time in which to do a multitude of other things. I could have read War and Peace (ok, ignore that, me being silly as usual), or I could have continued writing a short story I’ve had on the go for a while, but it’s a little hard to balance a laptop whilst constantly trotting to the littlest room to throw up.

What did I do then? Even in this digital age, most of us will still have shelves full of bound bits of paper called, books. How wonderful it is to open a crisp new (or in this case, has been sitting there unread for a good while) tome and start to lose yourself in a new story. So, this’ll be a bit of a plug I suppose, but I feel no shame as it was a lovely little story. You will likely have heard of Michael Morpurgo, but this isn’t one of his most recent stories. This is from 1996 and is called ‘The Ghost of Grania O’Malley’ and for the first time I can recall, the heroine has cerebral palsy. Now, it’s not high-brow literature, there’s no real romance involved (after all the 2 leads are both young children) but it’s a sweet little story that I just couldn’t put down. The story brings together such topics as preserving nature, human greed for gold and ghost pirates; all the usual. But you’re rooting for Jessie and Jack from page 1 and I can’t recall 212 pages whizzing by so quickly. Got a few hours and want to relax the mind? Search out this book people. I’ve been a fan of Mr Morpurgo for a while now and if you’ve never read any of his books, you could do a lot worse than to start with this one. Continue reading

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Mick’s Musings – What’s That Nice Feeling?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x3001.jpgWell, the psychotic cat from hell deciding not to sleep on your head for one. That wouldn’t be too bad if she didn’t dig her claws in when she dreams.

Opening a fresh bar of chocolate – I may be a man, but I’m still allowed that one ladies.

But, on this particular day, it comes from having finished the edit of my book (I’ll call it a novel if it’s ever published), including adding in the bit I’d forgotten when I first finished it. You know, that bit that is one of the things you first think of when you’re planning and only realise you haven’t actually written in until you’ve finished? You should have heard the language when I realised that. But, at least it doesn’t read like it’s been shoe-horned in. If it had, it would have to come out, no matter how much I love that bit.

So, officially as Happy Bunny here – or at least until my wonderful readers (yep, I am creeping again) come back and tell me what a complete load of rubbish it is. Still, at least I like the main characters in this one – don’t get me started on my lead from my first book. I hate her!! Still like the actual story and don’t think it’s too badly written, for a first attempt, but oh the lead. Very few redeeming characteristics which, possibly, I could get away with if I was an established writer, so it could perhaps be re-visited at some point? Here’s where that time-machine would come in handy again. Continue reading

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How are things going with the edit?

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x3001.jpgThought it was about time I brought you up to date with how my ‘BIG’ edit is going. Well, so far the first eight chapters have gone out to my ever-so kind readers, who right at the moment, are ploughing valiantly ahead through the fog and mire of my writing. Honestly, if there were some kind of award that I could give for this service, I would. At least with a couple of them I have the honour and pleasure of returning the service.

I’ve found that when I open each chapter again, it’s like settling back into conversation with old friends. It’s not exactly been months since the words were written, but it’s the same kind of feeling you get when you’re walking down a street you’ve not been down for a while and approaching from the distance is a shape that’s familiar, yet at the same time somewhat of a stranger. So, open arms and embrace time.

Reading the words aloud gets me looks from my work colleagues when I do this at lunch-times, but I think most of them know what I write by now and have given up asking me where all the blood and gore is. That may be in the next one which is in the early planning stages – hello Mills and Boon Medical! And please don’t ask me where that idea came from. Actually, I think it was a song? BBC Radio 2 has a lot to answer for as I was driving in to work a while back and there was a Tina Turner song – Private Dancer – playing and I had to scribble down another idea when I got to work before I forgot.

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