Novel Kicks

About Novel Kicks/Laura... Novel Kicks was founded in 2009 and is run by Laura who is currently living in Hampshire, and lives with husband, Chris and her cat, Buddy. She would love to be a writer. She’s trying to write the novel she thinks so much about. She’s loved reading and writing since ‘Creative Writing’ classes in primary school. When not trying to write the novel or writing snippets of stories on anything she can get her hands on, she loves reading, dancing like a loon, and watching Project Runway and Ugly Betty (her two TV guilty pleasures.) She also has an obsession with chocolate and Jammie Dodgers.

Postbag: February

We’ve received some fantastic books already this month. We wanted to share a selection with you….

polly2Polly and The Puffin by Jenny Colgan.

As well as her latest novel, Summer at the Little Beach Bakery coming out at the end of February, Jenny has her first children’s book coming out on 26th February. Illustrated by Thomas Docherty, it’s available in paperback and as an e-book. It arrived beautifully wrapped with a cuddy puffin too.

About the book:

Polly heard a CRASH downstairs. Was it a monster? NO! Was it a spider alien? NO!

It was a little puffin with a broken wing…

When Polly discovers an injured puffin, she and her mummy look after him in their cottage by the sea.

Slowly, Neil’s wing heals and Polly must prepare herself to say goodbye to her new friend. Will she ever see him again?

(Little Browns Books for Young Readers, February 2015.)

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A Moment With Jacqueline Harvey

jacqueline writingMy writing day varies depending on where I am in the world. When I’m at home in Sydney I usually work in my study. It looks out onto two sunny courtyards and across to the upper storey of a beautiful Queen Anne style home. Some days if I’m editing I might walk up to one of the local coffee shops and work there – I like to be around the hum of people depending on what stage of the writing process I’m at.

I start my day with a skinny latte but try to limit myself to one coffee, so after that I’ll have one or two cups of tea.

I’m usually at my desk by 8am and often work until 6pm. I’ve only been writing full-time for two years and one thing I’ve found problematic is my lack of movement! I have to make sure that I get up and walk every half hour or so. To that end I investigated a brilliant standing desk arrangement last year. It has a large flexible arm to hold the computer screen and keyboard so you can adjust it to a sitting position and then push it up so you can stand. The negative impact of sitting for long periods is frightening, apart from the inevitable weight gain, so I hope the standing desk will work for me.

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Writing Room: Party

rp_writeanything-300x1991.jpgWriting Room is our online writing group.

We post a prompt. It could be a first line, a suggested exercise to work on plot or characters or it could be about writing about a situation. Once you’ve written your piece, post it in the comments box below. Anyone is welcome to take part and it’s an opportunity to post work plus give and gain feedback.

Today’s prompt: Your character is about to enter a party where they don’t know anyone. Using only dialogue, they meet two new people – one of which they like a lot and one they instantly dislike. Where this party is, the age and gender of your character is up to you. Write between 500 – 750 words.

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The Rosie Effect Book Tour

rp_Graeme-Simsion-300x1681.jpg Graeme Simsion plans second UK bookshop tour.

Graeme’s novel, The Rosie Effect is due to be released by Penguin on 26th February 2015.

The Rosie Project tells the story of socially challenged Genetics professor Don Tillman and his unique challenge to find a wife and how his life is upheaved when he meets a girl called Rosie. It’s sequel, The Rosie Effect carries on and focuses on his life as he settles into a big city.

‘The Rosie Project has touched the hearts of millions worldwide with its irresistible blend of comedy, romance and poignancy. But it’s Don Tillman – a truly memorable creation who can proudly sit alongside Adrian Mole and Bridget Jones – who steals the show and we are thrilled to be reuniting him with thousands of readers and booksellers this Spring,’ says Maxine Hitchcock, the Publishing Director of Michael Joseph

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Author Interview: Julie Shackman

JulieHello Julie, thank you so much for joining us. Can you tell us about your debut novel, Rock My World and how did the idea originate? 

Ruby Cameron is an ambitious reporter for a local paper where she is fed scraps of news, and lives with a man whose “idea of living dangerously is to leave the heating on when we pop out to the shops”. But after catching her squeaky clean boyfriend in flagrante delicto she ups sticks and moves into her own small home, only to discover the ghostly presence of a cheeky rock star who becomes her confidant as the dynamics of her small town, and her feelings about her dashing new boss, begin to throw up more questions than she can answer. Will Ruby discover who she really is, and perhaps more importantly, who she wants to be? I love music, especially rock and have to have music playing whilst I’m writing and the idea for Rock My World just came about from that.

 

Do you cast your characters and if so, did you have someone specific in mind for Ruby? 

Yes, I tend to! I think my dream cast for Rock My World would be Santiago Cabrera for Stevie, my ghostly rock singer. He’s very attractive and has stage presence. For Ruby. someone lovely and passionate like Natalie Portman and for Matt, it would have to be the wolfish Bradley Cooper with those eyes of his!

 

What’s your writing process like – do you plan, edit as you go? 

I tend to make sketchy notes before I start and read over the previous day’s writing to polish it a bit before starting the next chapter. Then once I’ve finished my novel, I’ll go over it again a few times to see where I can improve it.

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Quick Spotlight: Real Monsters by Liam Brown


 

Real Monsters  is due to be released by Legend Press on 1st March 2015.

‘Real Monsters is the story of two young lovers with a war wedged between them; a surreal and ferociously recognisable allegory for our war-torn times,’ says the author, Liam Brown.

It is the debut novel from Liam who is also the lead singer and guitarist for the band, Freelance Mourners.

It will be available in paperback and eBook formats. Click here to view the book on Amazon UK.

 

About Real Monsters:

We are surrounded by monsters. The lines are now so blurred, no one knows who the real enemy is anymore.

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Author Interview: Kate Riordan

Kate-imageThe Girl in the Photograph was released by Penguin on 15h January 2015. Inspired by the beautiful Owlpen Manor in Gloucestershire, it’s the latest novel from author, Kate Riordan.

About the book:

When Alice Eveleigh arrives at Fiercombe Manor during the long, languid summer of 1933, she finds a house steeped in mystery and brimming with secrets. Sadness permeates its empty rooms and the isolated valley seems crowded with ghosts, none more alluring than Elizabeth Stanton whose only traces remain in a few tantalisingly blurred photographs. Why will no one speak of her? What happened a generation ago to make her vanish?As the sun beats down relentlessly, Alice becomes ever more determined to unearth the truth about the girl in the photograph – and stop her own life from becoming an eerie echo of Elizabeth’s . . .

 

In the video below, Kate talks about her inspiration for the book, her characters, what she wants the reader to take away from the novel and the themes of her novel. Click here to see a book trailer for The Girl in the Photograph. 

 

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Unlucky For Some?

rp_friday-300x164111111111.pngFriday 13th February 2015: Unlucky for some?

Fiction Friday is our weekly 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:

It’s Friday 13th. It is seen as unlucky for some. Is it unlucky for your character? Is your character superstitious?  Write about something that happens to them today and how they deal with it. Are they usually lucky but then experience bad luck or do they get a reversal of fortune on Friday 13th where they suddenly become lucky?

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Blog Tour: Don’t Mention The Rockstar by Bree Darcy

bree-darcyWe’re happy to welcome Bree Darcy to Novel Kicks. She is currently on her blog tour for her debut novel, Don’t Mention the Rockstar which was published as an e-book on 15th January 2015.

Hi Bree, thank you so much for joining us. Can you tell us a little about your book, Don’t Mention the Rock Star, and how the idea originated? 

It’s essentially a story that examines the power of first love and whether someone can ever truly escape its magnetic pull. Kellie is a reporter for a showbiz website and one day she gets a blast from her past – in the form of her teenage boyfriend Andy (who went on to become a mega-famous singer). But Kellie has moved on with her life and certainly isn’t looking for a do-over with him. The story alternates between past and present, so readers get a glimpse into their relationship and discover why they aren’t together any more. I have no idea where the idea originated, other than these characters crashed into my head one day and simply wouldn’t leave me alone until I resolved their story.

 

Out of all the books you’ve read, which three have made the most impact and why? 

The first book I remember being floored by was The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton. It’s a coming-of-age story set in the 60s and relates a tale about a guy called Ponyboy who’s dealing with gang rivalry. I have tried unsuccessfully to get my teen daughter to read it – or at least watch the film. Actually – even though the movie involved many of the 80s hottest young actors, such as Tom Cruise, Emilio Estevez, Matt Dillon and Rob Lowe, if you don’t know the story – read it, don’t watch it. The book is SO much better. Although I wonder if the drama of it all will seem a bit ho-hum to a teen today.

An obvious one for a chick lit lover perhaps, but I have to put Pride and Prejudice on this list. Loved Jane Austen’s humour, especially the exchanges between the meddling mother and the exasperated father; the characterisations of the different sisters, the thwarted romances, the repulsive Mr Collins and the haughty but hot Mr Darcy. He was, of course, the inspiration behind my pen-name.

I adored Where Rainbows End, by Cecelia Ahern, from the second I started reading it. I loved how over time something kept getting in the way of Rosie and Alex being together. I guess I have pursued a similar theme in my own book. And it’s probably why One Day by David Nicholls also struck a real chord with me too.

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Courses and Competitions: BBC 500 Words

BBC 500 wordsAre you aged between 5- 13? BBC Radio 2’s 500 words short story writing competition is back for 2015.

The competition is to encourage children to write and is open to ages 5-13. The competition will be split into two age categories: 5-9 and 10-13. (if you will be within the age of 5-13 on 29th May 2015 then you qualify.)

They are asking for an original piece of fiction, 500 words in length to be submitted by the closing date of Thursday 26th February at 19.00 (any entry made after this time wont be counted.)

It’s easy. Write your story, type it and then submit it via the 500 words website. It can be about any fictional topic of your choosing.

There are gold, silver and bronze prizes up for grabs in each age category.

Last year, the prizes was amazing. Not only were the gold winners in each age category awarded five hundred books for their school library, they personally won Chris Evans’ (BBC Radio 2’s breakfast show host,) height in books. That’s 1.88 meters worth of books.

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Author Interview: David Beckler

DavidHello David, thank you for joining us. Can you tell us about your novel, Brotherhood and how the idea originated?

Brotherhood is a novel about how ordinary people cope when violent criminals invade their lives. Most people turn to the police, but seventeen year old Philip Mason is suspected of murder so cannot. Instead he turns to his family, in the shape of his estranged uncle Byron and Byron’s friend Adam Sterling.
Although the novel begins with a murder – Philip’s friend Mugisa, a charismatic ex-child soldier from Uganda, kills another of their friends – I have concentrated on the effect of the killing on Philip’s and the victim’s families and friends. We do see the police investigation, through the eyes of DCI Siobhan Fahey, but I didn’t want to write a police procedural.
Both Mugisa and the victim’s uncle, gangster Ritchie McLaughlin – an uncompromising character I based on some of the people I met whilst working ‘on the doors’ in Manchester – are after Philip. His attempts to escape from them, and avoid being arrested, result in a fast paced thriller. Interleaved with the action, I wanted to contrast the relationships of Byron with his biological brother, Philip’s dad Samuel, and with Adam, a ‘brother in arms’. I also examine the relationship of Ritchie and his brother Kieran.

I have always enjoyed reading crime fiction and wanted to write crime novels which built on my experiences as a firefighter. I’d written two manuscripts featuring firefighter Adam Sterling, before I wrote Brotherhood.
The idea behind Brotherhood was to look at how easy it is for people, especially young men, to become involved in something they didn’t intend to, and end up in more trouble than they can handle. While visiting family in Ethiopia, I played football with a group of street kids. I thought about their likely futures and how, for so many kids who grow up on this continent, their lives can easily take a tragic turn. I incorporated the two strands, and the contrasting lives of Mugisa and Philip became entangled, with disastrous results for both of them – although Mugisa’s life had been a bit of a disaster long before he met Philip.

 

Do you plan before a novel and do you edit as you go?

The way I write is evolving as I gain experience. At first I began with just the main characters, an inciting incident – the ‘what if?’ question – and an ending. I had a vague idea of the bit in between. This meant that some scenes I wanted to include fell by the wayside and I had to do a lot of rewriting. I now prepare a more detailed plot which I make sure I keep to. I still have to do a certain amount of editing and rewriting but try not to do too much whilst writing the first draft as it slows the flow of the story.
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Competitions: Which Book is This Anyway?

IMG_5435Today we are launching our new monthly book-themed competition ‘Which Book is This Anyway?’

Many of us judge books by their covers and make our choices based on that and the accompanying blurb. Our new competition will add a little mystery.

The prize for this competition is a book but the identity of that book will not be revealed until the lucky winner receives it. It could be a recent new release or a well-known classic. Who knows? We won’t even reveal the genre. It’s a surprise.

All we will reveal about this month’s choice is this: ‘It is a highly emotive story which focuses on two people and the unusual friendship that develops between them.’

How to enter:

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Blog Tour: Death Falls by Todd Ritter

Death FallsDeath Falls by Todd Ritter has just been released as an e-book by Avon (released 29th January 2015.) We’d like to welcome Todd to our blog today. As part of the blog tour, Todd has shared an extract from his novel (released as Bad Moon in the US.) Enjoy.

Maggie tightened her arms around the infant. One of her children was missing. She wasn’t going to let the other out of her sight until he was found.

She descended the stairs into the living room. The TV was still on, still broadcasting surreal pictures from another world. A second astronaut had joined Armstrong, both of them leaping like jackrabbits across the moon’s surface. Maggie moved right past it, not caring. Her only concern was her children, not the moon, or the astronauts, or the fact that she was running outside in the rain in bare feet, denim cut-offs and a T-shirt stained with baby puke.

She made it to the end of the driveway before seeing two men approach the house. One of them was Ken. The other was Mort Clark. Maggie looked past them, hoping to see Charlie lagging behind. He wasn’t.

“Did you find him?” Maggie asked as she met them in the middle of the street. “Where is he?”

“I don’t know,” Ken said. “I have no idea.”

He looked pale and haunted — more ghostlike than those astronauts on TV. The rain had flattened his hair. Large drops of it clung to his beard.

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Competitions: Campari For Breakfast Winners

rp_campariforbreakfastsara_crowe-187x300.jpgCampari For Breakfast is the debut novel from author and actress, Sara Crowe.

Thanks to Sara and Transworld, we had two copies to give away.

Well done to Joanne Varney and Martin Turner who have both won a copy.

About Campari For Breakfast:

In 1987, Sue Bowl’s world changes for ever. Her mother dies, leaving her feeling like she’s lost a vital part of herself. And then her father shacks up with an awful man-eater called Ivana.

But Sue’s mother always told her to make the most of what she’s got – and what she’s got is a love of writing and some eccentric relatives. So Sue moves to her Aunt Coral’s crumbling ancestral home, where she fully intends to write a book and fall in love . . . and perhaps drink Campari for breakfast

(Released in paperback by Transworld on 29th January 2015.)

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Blog Tour: The Curvy Girls Club by Michele Gorman

rp_Curvy-Girls-Club-194x300.jpg

UK cover (Avon, Jan 2015.)

Curvy Girls Club UK eBook cover

US cover.

A huge welcome to Michele Gorman who is visiting our blog today as part of her blog tour for her new novel, The Curvy Girls Club. Today, Michele shares with us her inspiration behind her book:

Lots of people have asked me where the idea for The Curvy Girls Club came from and, as with most of my books, it began with a question.

I was talking to my mum, who’d just said “It’s easy for you, you’re skinny.”

“I’m not skinny,” I said. “I’m normal.”

She smiled. “Honey, look around you. You’re not normal. We are.”

That got me thinking about labels. What’s “normal”? Does it mean the norm? If so then Mum was right, “overweight” is normal. We use words like skinny and fat as judgmental words, when really, they’re just adjectives. Continue reading

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Blog Tour: That Part Was True by Deborah McKinlay

Photo credit: Paul Stuart

Photo credit: Paul Stuart

We happily welcome Deborah McKinlay to Novel Kicks and we’re pleased to be a part of the blog tour for her latest release, That Part Was True (published by Orion).

 

Welcome Deborah. Can you tell us a little about That Part Was True and the inspiration behind it?

I started with a seed of an idea – a woman who was profoundly isolated. That grew into the character of Eve, and the story developed from there.

 

Who would you invite to fantasy dinner party and what food would you serve?

Paddington Bear. Marmalade sandwiches (natch).

 

Which fictional character (books, TV or film,) would you like to swap places with for a day and why?

Holly Golightly. New York. The wit. The waistline.

 

Which three novels (out of all the ones you’ve read,) have impacted you most? Continue reading

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Review: That Part Was True by Deborah McKinlay

That-Part-Was-True-paperbackThat Part Was True is the latest novel from author, Deborah McKinlay.

Eve Petworth writes to author, Jackson Cooper to praise him for a scene in one of his books. So impressed by her letter, Jackson replies and soon they discover their shared love of cookery and food and start regularly writing to one another. A friendship develops and soon there is even a suggestion of romance despite Jackson already having quite a complicated love life. Eve also has a tense relationship with her daughter who is not far off getting married. Jackson and Eve soon realise that, beyond all the drama, they may actually have a chance together. All they have to do is actually meet.

I had very few expectations going into this novel when I picked it up. I will say though that it has one of the most beautiful book covers. I love it.

This book has been described as a cross between One Day and 84 Charing Cross Road. However, not having any knowledge of the latter, I didn’t have much to make the comparison. This is also the first of Deborah’s books I have read.

The novel is told from both Jackson and Eve’s point of view with their letters woven in within the chapters. It does jump around between the two of them but I liked this. Continue reading

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February’s Book Club: Everyday by David Levithan

everyday

Published by Electric Monkey, August 2013

Book Corner is our monthly online book club.

How it works…

We love books and we love chatting about them even more. Every month, we pick a new book for discussion. We will post a question to kick things off and then you can talk about any of your thoughts about the book in the comments box below. The best thing about our book club is that EVERYONE CAN TAKE PART. It’s open to all. You can read the book at any point in the month or if you’ve already read it, tell us what you think.

This month, our pick is: Everyday by David Levithan.

About the book:

Every day I am someone else.

I am myself – I know I am myself – but I am also someone else.

It has always been like this.

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Blog Tour: As Good as it Gets by Fiona Gibson

AGAIGToday we are hosting the blog tour for As Good as it Gets, the brilliant new novel from Fiona Gibson. A huge welcome back to Novel Kicks for Fiona who has kindly shared an extract from her latest book. Enjoy.

Chapter One

Present Day

  ‘Hey, beautiful!’ the blond boy yells, nudging his friend. They watch, admiring, as the shopping crowds mill around us. There are more glances as we walk: some fleeting, others more direct. All this attention isn’t for me; Christ no, that hasn’t happened since Madonna vogued in a gold conical bra. Even then, it pretty much amounted to a bloke up some scaffolding yelling, ‘Your arse looks like two footballs!’ I’d adored my stretch jeans until that sole cruel comment killed the love affair stone dead. Not that I’m the kind of woman to take any notice of construction workers’ remarks. I mean, I’ve only festered over it for twenty-three years… Anyway, of course it’s not me who’s causing virtually every young male in this over-heated shopping mall to perform a quick double-take. I am thirty-eight years old with wavy, muddy brown hair that’s supposed to be shoulder-length but has outgrown its style, yet isn’t properly long – it’s just long-ish. That’s what my hair is: ish. I am also laden with copious bulging bags, like a yak. Judging by the odd glimpse in mirrored surfaces, I note that I have acquired a deathly pallor beneath the mall’s unforgiving lights. I also have what the magazines term ‘a shiny breakthrough’ on my nose and cheeks. Continue reading

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Review: As Good As It Gets by Fiona Gibson

AGAIGAs Good As It Gets is the latest novel from author, Fiona Gibson.

I enjoyed Take Mum Out so I was looking forward to reading Fiona’s new novel. The book is told from the point of view of Charlotte Bristow. She is the wife of Will (who has been unemployed for a while and who is not her daughter’s biological father,) and mother to two teenagers, Rosie (who has just been spotted by a modelling agency) and Ollie. She was abandoned by Rosie’s father before she was born and hasn’t heard from him since. Charlotte and Will are in a little bit of a slump at the beginning of the novel.

At Rosie’s first photo shoot, Charlotte is talked into having some photos taken with her daughter for a feature a magazine is running and Charlotte ends up telling a couple of fibs. Before she knows it, her parents have received an e-mail from Frazer – Charlotte’s first love and Rosie’s father . He is wanting to make contact.

First of all, I wanted to say how much I love the cover of this book. So pretty.

I liked the main family. They seemed real and relatable. Charlotte was an interesting character. I found Will a little sulky at the beginning (understandable though considering his job situation,) but he changed gradually throughout the book. There were a few supporting characters but you don’t really get a chance to see them that much as the main focus is on Charlotte, Will and Frazer.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Celebrity Dinner

rp_friday-300x16411111111.pngFriday 30th January 2015: Celebrity Dinner

Fiction Friday is our weekly 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:

Pick four of your favourite celebrities and invite them to dinner. Write about the evening. What happens? Do they all like one another? Does it end well or in disaster?

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Review: That Night by Chevy Stevens

That NightThat Night is the latest novel from author, Chevy Stevens. Here’s the blurb:

Eighteen-year-old Toni and her boyfriend, Ryan, were wrongly convicted of the murder of her younger sister.

Seventeen years later, she’s out on parole and back in her hometown, but she’s struggling to adjust to a new life on the outside. Ryan is convinced he can uncover the truth; her mother still doesn’t believe Toni’s innocent; and the former high school girls who made Toni’s life miserable may have darker secrets than anyone can imagine. Before Toni can move forward, she must take a terrifying step back to her past to find out the truth and clear her name, before it’s too late.

I am new to Chevy’s books and so I didn’t know what to expect but reading the blurb, I found I was definitely intrigued. This book certainly appealed to my love of mysteries as I love trying to figure out what is going on.

That Night follows Toni through three stages of her life – her life as a teenager prior to the death of her sister, her situation through the trial and finally her life once she’s released from prison after serving her sentence for her sister’s murder.

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Book News: Neil Gaiman

Neil GaimanGreat news for Neil Gaiman fans.

The author of Stardust and The Ocean at the End of the Lane is due to release the third collection of short fiction. It’s called Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances and it’s due for release on 3rd February 2015 in hardback and e-book formats.

Trigger Warning mixes horror, ghost stories, science fiction and fairy tales and this also includes a never before published American Gods story, Black Dog.

Here’s a bit of the blurb:

In this new volume, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction-stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013-as well as BLACK DOG, a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods. Continue reading

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Blog Tour: Win a copy of Campari for Breakfast by Sara Crowe

campariforbreakfastsara_croweWe’ve been so delighted to be part of the blog tour for Campari for Breakfast. To celebrate the paperback release of Sara Crowe’s debut novel, thanks to Sara and Transworld, we have two copies to give away.

How to enter:

Simply comment on this post by the closing date which is 23.59 on Tuesday 3rd February 2015. The two winners will then be chosen at random from the entrants and announced on the Novel Kicks blog on Wednesday 4th February 2015. UK only. Good Luck!

(The winner will also be notified via e-mail. We will use the address you provide when you enter the draw. Don’t worry, it’s safe with us. Also don’t forget to check your junk folder. I try to get the prizes to you as quickly as I can. In this instance, the prize is coming directly from Sara’s publisher so please allow up to 28 days for delivery. If you’ve not received your prize after this time, please contact us via the blog and not social media as there is a danger with social media that we may miss your message.)

About Campari For Breakfast:

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Blog Tour: Campari For Breakfast by Sara Crowe

campariforbreakfastsara_croweWe are very happy to be welcoming Sara Crowe back to Novel Kicks to celebrate the paperback release of her debut novel, Campari for Breakfast (which is released by Transworld tomorrow.) Sara has kindly shared an extract from her novel. Enjoy.

(Warning: some bad language.)

Sue
Sunday 4th January 1987

It was easy persuading Dad to let me leave. In my heart I’d hoped he would object, but since it would give him more time alone with Ivana, he didn’t. Persuading myself was easy too. Stay in Titford or go to Egham? Most of my friends are having gap years picking strawberries, living in communes, whereas I want to go straight into life with no gap, and earn good money doing it. And so Titford holds nothing for a girl of my ambition any more.

It’s an understandable and terrible fact that Dad’s taste has deserted him since we lost mum. I think he just got so lonely that anybody would do. He met Ivana at Titford golf club. She was playing a round with his boss and Dad was to take them to dinner. She’d really been after the boss, but settled for Dad’s attentions because the boss was a terrible lecture. I don’t know much about her, other than she comes from somewhere in Denmark. She just appeared out of nowhere like bad wind.

The only things I have to show for my life so far are a love of words and some interesting relatives, and mum always drilled me to make the best of what I’ve got. So in the end my decision has absolutely nothing to do with Dad or Ivana. Ultimately I think Green Place will be a good place to write.

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Review: The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

rp_time-keeper-189x300.jpgI love Mitch Albom’s previous novels (he sits alongside Nicholas Sparks in the ‘authors who succeed in making me cry’category.) The Five People You Meet in Heaven would easily make my top ten. As a result, there was a high expectation for this book (first impressions – I loved the cover.)

It focuses mainly on three people: A young girl (Sarah) who wants to stop time forever. An older man (Victor) who wants to do all he can to extend his time and finally Dor, the time-keeper, who becomes obsessed with measuring time and eventually becomes Father Time. He is sent on a journey to find Sarah and Victor in order to be able to complete his mission and escape the prison he has found himself in.

This book is only 256 pages and so I read it over the course of twenty-four hours. The chapters are short which for me makes it very easy to read. Mitch has a very relaxed style to his writing that I love and therefore I find that the themes he covers are easier to digest as a result.

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Novel Kicks attends An Audience With David Nicholls

rp_David-Nicholls-300x199.jpgI was very excited to hear that David Nichols was returning to his home town to host ‘An audience with.’ I was very fortunate to be able to attend this recent event at The Point in Eastleigh, Hampshire (In association with Eastleigh Library 25th Anniversary events.)

When we arrived, we promptly found our seats in the main auditorium. I have to admit, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I had never been to The Point before despite having lived near Eastleigh for nearly two years. I have quickly become a fan of the venue. It’s big enough to not feel cramped and small enough that I didn’t feel a million miles from the stage area where two chairs and a table had been placed in the middle.

To begin with, David talked about how Libraries play a huge part for him and how he will often find himself writing in the British Library as well as the London Library. He then chatted about his time in theatre and how through working there he found his love of words.

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Mick’s Musings: Looking for an Agent!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgOkay, first things first, let’s be polite. May I wish each and every one of you a very Happy New Year and I hope you had a great Christmas too. So far as my Lady Wife and I are concerned, we’re still ploughing through the store of Christmas chocolate – it’s a dirty job, but someone’s got to do it! As for writing, 2015 for me is going to begin with unashamed ‘pleas’ (right word/expression?) as I am now stepping up my search for an Agent.

So, to refresh thy memories, I’m now in my 3rd year as member of the Romantic Novelist’s Association, New Writer’s Scheme (blurb just arrived to confirm in the post) and the tome I sent off to the Reader last year was deemed ready to send out to Agents, once the few amendments were made. It’s currently with 4 of these wonderful people and I did mean to send out for a few more prior to Christmas, but then I thought it wasn’t the best time at which to send it off, holidays on the way, parties etc., but now it’s time to hit the ‘Send’ button on my email and also get some ink for my printer. In the meantime, I’m going to put in the Synopsis below (resulting in a slightly longer blog post than normal.) Continue reading

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Reunion

rp_friday-300x16411111111.pngFriday 23rd January 2015: Reunion

Fiction Friday is our weekly 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: You’ve been invited to your school reunion. It will be the first time you’ve seen this group of friends since you left and things didn’t end the way you planned. Write about the reunion.

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Novel Kicks Chats To Chevy Stevens

ChevyStevensMainHeadshot--680x1024Hi Chevy, thank you so much for joining us. Can you tell is a little about your new book, That Night and how the idea originated?

THAT NIGHT is about eighteen-year-old Toni Murphy who is falsely convicted of killing her sister. Toni and her boyfriend, who was also convicted, spend years in jail. When they are released, Toni just wants to rebuild her life, but Ryan is determined to clear their names. Toni has to face her past and find out what really happened that night and who killed her sister. The spark for the story came from a show I watched about someone who’d spent twenty years in prison for a crime they didn’t commit.

 

Do you plan much before a novel and do you edit as you go?

I do plan quite a bit. I’m on contracts, so my editor has to approve my story idea, but I also like knowing that she is happy with my idea and we often end up brainstorming and she can notice some pitfalls before I do, which saves lots of rewriting. I try to do as much planning beforehand and get to know my characters as I find things flow better. However, lots of surprises still happen during the actual writing process when the story comes alive.

 

What is the hardest part of the writing process for you and which has been the most enjoyable?

I like the beginning stage when an idea is coming to life. Not the first, first part, when I’m not sure if the story is going to hold or if my editor is going to like it, but the stage right after that when we are brainstorming a really great idea and I can see how it’s going to unfold. But then the tough part begins, which is sitting down, day after day, and writing it! I like the editing stage, when it’s fine-tuning and adjusting. It’s like when you are cleaning your house and putting everything in order and you can see how nice it will look when it’s finished.

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Review: The Curvy Girls Club by Michele Gorman

Curvy Girls ClubKatie, Ellie, Pixie and Jane have all struggled with their weight. They all belong to Slimming Zone and are the best of friends. When they get a little fed up with defining their lives by their waistline, they decide to form a club where size doesn’t matter and they can all be themselves – The Curvy Girls Club.

Very soon, the club becomes very popular as more people sign up and it becomes more successful than all the girls could imagine. However, things aren’t as good outside of the club as each girl struggles with the ups and downs of life.

As someone who has always struggled with her weight there was a lot in this book I could relate to and I thought I was going to find it a little hard going to read because of that. This book handles the subject matter well and there is a lot of humour, fun and four great, strong, female characters. Each woman has their own personal stories and all are going through slightly different things.

Katie is in love with a guy at work and makes some bad decisions for herself (not realising that she has to practise what she preaches,) Pixie is a strong woman but needs to find the courage to leave a bad relationship and start over (her behaviour toward Katie wasn’t always good,) Jane who has forgotten how fabulous she is and Ellie who needs to tame the Continue reading

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Events: An Audience with David Nicholls

Picture credit: Hal Shinnie

Picture credit: Hal Shinnie

If you’re a fan of One Day and Us, there are still tickets available for An Audience with David Nicholls.

In association with Eastleigh Library 25th Anniversary events, David Nicholls will be at The Point on Saturday 24th January 2015.

He will be talking about screenwriting and his novels, including One Day and his latest bestseller and Booker shortlisted novel, Us. David will also be available for a book signing after his talk which will then be followed by a screening of One Day (12A.)

The event starts at 3pm and tickets are still available for £8. One Day will be shown at 4.30pm.

For more information or to book tickets, visit The Point’s website: http://thepointeastleigh.co.uk

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January Book Club: The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

time keeperBook Corner is our monthly online book club.

How it works…

We love books and we love chatting about them even more. Every month, we pick a new book for discussion. We will post a question to kick things off and then you can talk about any of your thoughts about the book in the comments box below. The best thing about our book club is that EVERYONE CAN TAKE PART. It’s open to all. You can read the book at any point in the month or if you’ve already read it, tell us what you think.

This month, our pick is The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom

About the book:

Banished for centuries, as punishment for trying to measure time, the inventor of the world’s first clock is finally granted his freedom, along with a mission: a chance to redeem himself by teaching two people the true meaning of time.

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Spotlight: Our Favourites Reads of 2014.

Happy New Year. As we say hello to 2015, it’s time to say farewell to 2014 but before we do, we wanted to have a quick look at the books we enjoyed reading in 2014.

rp_Bella-185x3001.jpg Mad About the BoyFirstly Bella, our Bella’s Scribblings columnist talks about her favourite book of 2014:

My favourite book of 2014 was Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding. I was more than a little concerned before I started reading this as I had heard the spoilers and I totally loved the first two books. I had no need to worry. The writing was as superb as ever and so was Bridget. She is still an amazing character who is now coping as a single parent and trying to date again with expected hilarious results. The characters were all vividly drawn and I was quickly immersed in Bridget’s world. A terrific story and a top holiday read. Loved it!

About Mad About The Boy (Jonathan Cape, 2013.)

What do you do when a girlfriend’s 60th birthday party is the same day as your boyfriend’s 30th? Is it wrong to lie about your age when online dating? Is it morally wrong to have a blow-dry when one of your children has head lice? Does the Dalai Lama actually tweet or is it his assistant? Is technology now the fifth element? Or is that wood? Is sleeping with someone after 2 dates and 6 weeks of texting the same as getting married after 2 meetings and 6 months of letter writing in Jane Austen’s day? Pondering these, and other modern dilemmas, Bridget Jones stumbles through the challenges of single-motherhood, tweeting, texting and rediscovering her sexuality in what SOME people rudely and outdatedly call ‘middle age’.

Click here to read Bella’s Scribblings.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Resolutions

rp_friday-300x16411111111.pngFriday 2nd January 2015: Resolutions

Fiction Friday is our weekly 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: New Year Resolutions. Have your character make a new year resolution list. Include things that ordinarily they would avoid. Then pick one or two and write about it. How does it go? What happens? Do they make a anti resolution list instead?

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Competitions: Christmas with Billy & Me Winner

rp_christmas-with-billy-and-me-214x3001.png

Penguin, November 2014

We had one copy of Christmas with Billy & Me by Giovanna Fletcher.

Well done to Lynne Cox who has won a copy of this lovely Christmas novella.

About Christmas with Billy & Me: 

Christmas has come to Rosefont Hill and it’s destined to be a particularly special festive season for Sophie May.

When a smitten stranger emails Sophie to ask her if he can propose to the woman he loves in her little teashop, the romantic in her finds it impossible to refuse. Even though Christmas is her busiest time of year she has her own sweetheart, Hollywood actor Billy Buskin, to lend a helping hand. How could she say no to making someone’s dream come true?

As Sophie and Billy work together to plan the perfect fairy-tale proposal for this couple, excitement in Rosefont Hill is mounting. Who is this mysterious man? And who is the lucky lady he’s about to get down on one knee for?

To view the e-book edition on Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk

To view the e-book edition in the ibooks store: https://itunes.apple.com

To view the paperback edition exclusive to Waterstones: www.waterstones.com

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Competitions: Win a copy of Christmas with Billy and Me by Giovanna Fletcher

Penguin, November 2014

Penguin, November 2014

We’re giving you the chance to win a copy of Christmas with Billy & Me by Giovanna Fletcher.

We have one copy to give away. It’s a great book to curl up with through Christmas. Scroll down for details on how to enter.

About the book: 

Christmas has come to Rosefont Hill and it’s destined to be a particularly special festive season for Sophie May.

When a smitten stranger emails Sophie to ask her if he can propose to the woman he loves in her little teashop, the romantic in her finds it impossible to refuse. Even though Christmas is her busiest time of year she has her own sweetheart, Hollywood actor Billy Buskin, to lend a helping hand. How could she say no to making someone’s dream come true?

As Sophie and Billy work together to plan the perfect fairy-tale proposal for this couple, excitement in Rosefont Hill is mounting. Who is this mysterious man? And who is the lucky lady he’s about to get down on one knee for?

How to enter:

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Bella’s Scribblings: Christmas Hiccups

So here it is, my last Novel Kicks column of 2014. I have had a brilliant time doing Bella’s Scribblings and I truly hope someone has been reading them (if it’s you Thank you!.

rp_Bella-185x3001.jpgNow it’s time for Christmas!

We three kings of Leamington Spa, one in a taxi, one in a car… Oops sorry got carried away with the festive spirit (it’s Baileys again this year although I did find myself teetering near the Sherry which is a worry.) So here we are, you can almost smell the turkey. I am getting more excited by the day as I count down the sleeps till Christmas! We are munching our way through the advent calendars and ticking off the jobs on the festive to do list. Only a couple of hiccups so far:

We merrily skipped off to the local garden centre last Friday after school to see Father Christmas (I did take the child in case you were wondering – but only because they wouldn’t let me in last time without one) but our trip was cut short as we were told that he only works weekends! Seriously? He only works one month of the year as it is – this flexible working thing has got totally out of hand!

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Author Interview: Susan Fletcher

SusanHello Susan, thank you so much for joining us. Can you tell us a little about A Little in Love and how the idea originated?

A Little In Love is the tale of Eponine from Les Miserables – an account of her childhood, and of her own role in the events of Hugo’s classic book. The idea was not, in fact, my own: I was approached by Chicken House and asked if I’d consider writing of Eponine for them. But as soon as the idea was shared with me, I loved it. I accepted very quickly – because of all the characters in Les Mis, it’s always been Eponine who I’ve found the most intriguing. She’s complex, feisty, flawed, selfless – and yet she is only peripheral in Hugo’s tale. It has been a joy to spend time with her, and finally give her a voice.

 

What were the challenges of writing a book around a character that was already so established and well known? 

The most intimidating part of the project was the idea that I might create an Eponine that others wouldn’t like – that she might not seem like their Eponine, the one they’d always imagined and loved from the book, musical or play. We all have our own idea of what a character looks like, sounds like or behaves: instinctively, I think, we can be protective of them! I knew who my Eponine was, but would she be other peoples’? I’m also aware that Les Mis has an extraordinary following and fan base; it has inspired passion in so many, and fierce loyalty. All this was quite overwhelming! But ultimately I felt that all I could do was treat Eponine with tenderness and deep affection, and to stay as faithful to the novel as I could.

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Courses and Competitions: Mslexia Short Story Competition 2015

shortstorycomp15If, like me, an early new year’s resolution is to enter more competitions and to get writing, then Mslexia are once again looking for entrants for their Women’s Short Story competition for 2015.

The closing date is 16th March 2015 so there is still plenty of time to get your entry in.

The stories should be up to 2,200 words in length and can be on any subject you like.

The 1st prize will be £2,000 plus two optional extras: a week’s writing retreat at Tŷ Newydd Writers’ Centre (accommodation only,) and a day with a Virago editor (click on the link further down for more information on what is and isn’t included with these options.)

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