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NK Chats To… Don Waitt

Hi Don, thank you for joining me for a chat today. Can you tell me a little about your book, The Revelation of Chester Fortunberry and what inspired the book?

You come into this world alone and you leave this world alone, which got me thinking about whether that world even existed before I came into it and will it exist after I leave it.

 

What’s your typical writing day like? Do you prefer silence? Lots of coffee?

I like to write in the afternoon. I prefer total silence, no distractions. I write on a desktop computer with a huge screen. Can’t do it on a laptop.

 

How do you approach the writing process, from idea, to planning, to final draft? How much prep do you feel you need to do before you feel ready to start writing?

For me, it all starts with the first paragraph of the book. Once I get that down on paper, then it’s off to the races. As all authors know, I don’t write the book; the book writes itself and goes in whatever direction it wants to. Kind of like a runaway train.

 

What is your favourite word and why?

Really. It’s a noun and a verb and an adjective and even an exclamation point.

 

What songs would feature on a playlist for your novel?

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: The Middle of the Action

Welcome back to the Novel Kicks Writing Room.

Today, I wanted to do some free-writing but focused around beginning the story in the middle of the action.

Using dialogue as your starting line, write up to 500 words of an action scene that puts the reader in the middle of the action. Continue to use dialogue as much as you can.

For example, ‘You need to jump. Now.’

Who your character is in terms of age and background is up to you.

You are welcome to use my example if you like.

Let me know in the comments if you try this and how you found it. What was easy or difficult about it?

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Book Review: Under A Starry Sky by Laura Kemp

One summer to change her life…

Wanda Williams has always dreamed of leaving her wellies behind her and travelling the world! Yet every time she comes close to following her heart, life always seems to get in the way.

So, when her mother ends up in hospital and her sister finds out she’s pregnant with twins, Wanda knows that only she can save the crumbling campsite at the family farm.

Together with her friends in the village, she sets about sprucing up the site, mowing the fields, replanting the allotment and baking homemade goodies for the campers.

But when a long-lost face from her past turns up, Wanda’s world is turned upside-down. And under a starry sky, anything can happen…

 

I have to be honest, this is not the kind of book I usually read. I am normally more of a crime/mystery/scfi kind of person.

All that said, I loved this book and read it from start to finish in one 7 hour stint!

The story follows Wanda Williams, a girl who has always dreamed of travelling but has never managed to leave due to family constraints.

I found the characters exceedingly well developed and I formed very clear images of them in my mind.

On several occasions, I found myself getting choked up or laughing out loud.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Freaky Friday

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: Freaky Friday

You have a chance encounter with the person you envied in school. You have always wanted to know what it was like to be them.

When you wake up the following day, you discover you and this person have swapped bodies. They are now you, you are now them.

Write about your day and how you attempt to make things right? Are things as great as you imagined?

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Freewriting Objects

Happy July everyone. 

For the writing room today, I thought we could do some free writing.

First, write down the first four objects that come to your mind.

You are looking under your bed for something.

At the very back, behind some bags, is a shoebox. It is dusty. It’s not been touched for a while. It’s a box you’ve never seen before and you didn’t put it there.

You open it and discover….

Set a timer – ten minutes per object. Write about finding each one.

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Novel Kicks Book Club: Never Greener by Ruth Jones

Black Swan, May 2019

Hello July. How are you?

A new month means a new book to discuss.

This month, I have picked a book I have wanted to read for ages – Never Greener by Ruth Jones.

If you like Gavin and Stacey, you will be familiar with Ruth Jones. I am a huge fan of that TV show and so I am intruiged about this book. I hope you will join me in reading and discussing this novel.

Anyone can join in at any time in the month. I have posted a question below to kick off the discussion. Hopefully see you in the comments below.

 

About Never Greener… 

The past has a habit of tracking us down. And tripping us up.

When Kate was twenty-two, she had an intense and passionate affair with a married man, Callum, which ended in heartbreak. Kate thought she’d never get over it.

Seventeen years later, life has moved on – Kate, now a successful actress, is living in London, married to Matt and mother to little Tallulah. Meanwhile Callum and his wife Belinda are happy together, living in Edinburgh and watching their kids grow up. The past, it would seem, is well and truly behind them all.

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Book Review: The Never Have I Ever Club by Mary Jayne Baker

Robyn Bloom thought Ash Barnes was the love of her life – until one day he announced he was leaving her to fly halfway across the world.

Months later, Robyn is struggling to move on – but then she has a brainwave: The Never Have I Ever Club. Her handsome next-door neighbour Will helps her bring their fellow Yorkshire villagers together for some carpe-diem-inspired fun.

From burlesque dancing to Swedish massages, everyone has plenty of bucket-list activities to try, but it doesn’t take long for Robyn to realise what – or who – her heart truly desires: Will.

There’s just one problem: he’s Ash’s twin brother.

Make that two problems: Ash is moving home… and he wants Robyn back.

Mary Jayne Baker is quickly becoming one of my favourite authors.

Once I started reading, I fell in love with the endearing town of Kettlewick and its wonderful inhabitants. I couldn’t even really dislike Ash. He certainly has the charm everyone alludes to.

Will sounds perfect. Even though I couldn’t figure out which twin brother was going to get the happy ending, I was very much Team Will. I am saying no more about that.

Robyn is a great lead character. She shows a loving, caring side to her that makes her incredibly likeable.

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Book Review: Monstrous Souls by Rebecca Kelly

Over a decade ago, Heidi was the victim of a brutal attack that left her hospitalised, her younger sister missing, and her best friend dead.

But Heidi doesn’t remember any of that. She’s lived her life since then with little memory of her friends and family and no recollection of the crime.

Now, it’s all starting to come back.

As Heidi begins retracing the events that lead to the assault, she is forced to confront the pain and guilt she’s long kept buried. But Heidi isn’t the only one digging up the past, and the closer she gets to remembering the truth, the more danger she’s in.

When the truth is worse than fiction, is the past worth reliving?

 

(Trigger warning – Monstrous Souls dives into the troubling world of child abuse and coverups.)

Monstrous Souls is the debut novel from Rebecca Kelly and is a throughly good read. It follows the aftermath of a traumatic event which left its one known survivor with a fractured life and fractured memory.

Fifteen years after the event, fragments of memory start to align and the lid is slowly lifted on a system of organised abuse of children, covered up and hidden at the highest levels.

At times the book can be hard to read, as the subject matter is disturbing, but the author does a wonderful job of drawing you though the story.

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Book Review: How To Save A Life by S.D. Robertson

You can’t have a rainbow, without a little rain…

When a stranger saves Luke’s life, he knows he’s been given a second chance. He’s going to make it count – and, determined to live each day to its fullest, he starts by saying yes to everything life has to offer.

Slowly but surely, Luke learns that a little bit of blue-sky thinking can go a long way, and things start to look up.

But when Luke’s new resolve is tested, will he return to his old ways? Or can one fateful moment truly save a life?

 

If any of S.D. Robertson’s previous novels are anything to go by, I knew that How To Save a Life was going to be an emotional rollercoaster before I even began. And yes, it was.

Oh Luke. He’s such a complex and compelling character. On the first few pages, he’s not the most likeable of characters. He reminded me a little of Scrooge in that he is cynical, a loner and has no interest in the world around him.

The author throws the reader straight into Luke’s life and the more I got into the story, the more empathy I felt for him. As you start to get to know his history, you begin to understand his choices and his demeanour. Also, as a character, he really does develop and evolve over the course of the novel.

The supporting characters are also strong, Meg and Nora especially. I felt so sorry for Rita. Grief presents itself in so many different ways and I had nothing but sympathy for her.  There were moments I could empathise with and parts I could relate to.

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Book Review: Agony Auntics by Julie Butterfield

As an agony aunt, Fliss Carmichael should have all the answers but when her own marriage begins unravelling at the seams, she hasn’t a clue where to start.

After a simple mistake causes an unintended role swap, she becomes the one seeking advice from an unlikely source!

When reading the blurb, I was immediately drawn to the premise of this novel and indeed, from the first page, I was drawn into the plot.

This book, told as narrative and a series of e-mails, focuses on Fliss and Ellie. I like how it’s told from the point of view of both and it goes between the two effortlessly.

Fliss is an agony aunt. It is not what she dreamed of being. It’s more a profession she fell into but, having been married for eighteen years, she has always believed that the sacrifices she made in her own career was worth it in exchange for her happy marriage.

However, when she gets an e-mail from Ellie, a woman who asks for advice in talking to the man she loves but has never spoken to, it forces Fliss to take a look at her own relationship with her husband, Jasper. She realises things are not so perfect.

I felt an enormous wave of love and empathy for both characters but especially Fliss. I’ve never really considered that this stranger offering advice is also a human being with their own complexities. Their lives can be as messy and beautiful. I had never considered that side of the coin before.

These women are at different stages in life and I liked the juxtaposition of the two. Most of all, I loved the relationship that developed between these two women and that it begins through the written word.

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Book Review: Tell That To My Heart by Eliza J. Scott

Jemima Dewberry wears her heart on her sleeve. Her weakness for bad boys, coupled with her track record for making bad decisions has led to endless heartbreak. The only trouble is, she can’t seem to kick the habit.

On top of that, her “dream” job at Yorkshire Portions magazine hasn’t turned out to be what she’d hoped, and she seems to have developed the knack of annoying her boss without even trying. It doesn’t help that the new girl seems to have taken an instant dislike to her. All that’s keeping her there are her best friends Anna-Lisa and Aidey, who have picked up the pieces of her shattered heart more times than they care to remember.

When Jemima’s latest boyfriend turns out to be no better than the rest, the hurt and humiliation is almost unbearable. She declares she’s finally through with love, and swears off men for life. But when charismatic Caspar De Verre walks into the office with his dangerous good looks and mesmerising smile, she’s utterly captivated, and her promises to Anna-Lisa and Aidey not to let her heart rule her head are soon forgotten.

But is Caspar all he seems? Anna-Lisa and Aidey have their doubts. And Herbert, the happy-go-lucky black Labrador Jemima’s looking after, doesn’t seem to like him either.

As Jemima falls for Caspar’s charms she finds herself being forced to confront the struggle between her head and her heart. But which one will prove the most powerful?

And will Jemima get the happy-ever-after she so desperately craves?

 

Tell That To My Heart is the first novel in the Heartshaped series. I loved Eliza’s previous series, Life on the Moors, so I have been looking forward to getting stuck into a new book from her.

Mim Dewberry should be enjoying the fact that she has the job of her dreams. In reality, she hates where she works. Also, having had her heart broken by her ex, she has sworn off men. Well, that’s until Casper begins work at her office. Even when her friends, Anna and Aidey share their misgivings about him, she doesn’t listen to their advice. Whether it’s advice she should heed, I am hoping you’ll find out for yourself.

This book was full of the same warmth and heart that I have come to love from Eliza’s books and I devoured this, not able to stop reading.

Mim felt like a sister and I became very protective of her. I wanted to hug her. Casper gave me a Daniel Cleaver/Jasper from The Holiday vibe and, like Herbert, I couldn’t quite decide if I liked him.

The plot is paced well and I couldn’t figure out how it would end. As normal, I am not going to say much more about the plot and what happens as I don’t want to spoil it but what I will say is that there are some very bad characters in this book. There was one in particular that I didn’t even try to like.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Trapped in a Lift

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: Trapped in a lift. 

Three people find themselves trapped in a lift.

These people have not seen each other for a few years.

They are all enemies.

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Book Review: The Beauty of Broken Things by Victoria Connelly

United by tragedy, can two broken souls make each other whole?

After the tragic loss of his wife, Helen, Luke Hansard is desperate to keep her memory alive. In an effort to stay close to her, he reaches out to an online friend Helen often mentioned: a reclusive photographer with a curious interest in beautiful but broken objects. But first he must find her—and she doesn’t want to be found.

Orla Kendrick lives alone in the ruins of a remote Suffolk castle, hiding from the haunting past that has left her physically and emotionally scarred. In her fortress, she can keep a safe distance from prying eyes, surrounded by her broken treasures and insulated from the world outside.

When Luke tracks Orla down, he is determined to help her in the way Helen wanted to: by encouraging her out of her isolation and back into the world. But Orla has never seen her refuge as a prison and, when painful secrets and dangerous threats begin to resurface, Luke’s good deed is turned on its head.

As they work through their grief for Helen in very different ways, will these two broken souls be able to heal?

From the moment I started reading The Beauty of Broken Things, I knew it was going to be a rollercoaster of a novel.

Many themes are explored including the loss of a spouse, mental health, trauma and PTSD and I feel this was done with empathy and sensitivity.

These characters find themselves in a rather unique situation and I immediately warmed to them. I felt so sorry for Luke and wanted to give him a big hug. His grief for the loss of his wife is palpable.

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Book Extract: The Summer Island Swap by Samantha Tonge

Welcome back to Samantha Tonge and the blog tour for her latest novel, The Summer Island Swap. 

Sometimes the best holidays are the ones you least expect…

After a long and turbulent year, Sarah is dreaming of the five-star getaway her sister has booked them on. White sands, cocktails, massages, the Caribbean is calling to them.

But the sisters turn up to tatty beaches, basic wooden shacks, a compost toilet and outdoor cold water showers. It turns out that at the last minute Amy decided a conservation project would be much more fun than a luxury resort.

So now Sarah’s battling mosquitos, trying to stomach fish soup and praying for a swift escape. Life on a desert island though isn’t all doom and gloom. They’re at one with nature, learning about each other and making new friends. And Sarah is distracted by the dishy, yet incredibly moody, island leader she’s sure is hiding a secret.

 

To celebrate the release of The Summer Island Swap, Samantha and Aria have shared an extract with us today. Enjoy. 

 

 

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

 

‘Being a veterinary nurse alone is more challenging than I ever imagined,’ she continued, ignoring my comment. ‘Look, Sarah – two other members of the lottery syndicate are also taking holidays. One of the surgeons is going on a cruise… I wish you would trust me on this.’

I opened my mouth to protest but the stiffness that had taken hold of her shoulders stopped me. We shouldn’t argue. It was rare that we both had a Saturday off. Tonight we were going to the cinema. My chest glowed at the prospect of Amy’s usual excitement over a blue slush drink and ketchup slathered hot dog. Sometimes it was hard to believe she was twenty-three.

But then I was twenty-seven and hadn’t even been kissed. Not properly. One-night stands and short relationships didn’t count. I meant proper kissing like you saw in the romantic movies I loved watching, where it was savoured on a bench or under a lamppost. I should have had that with Callum but looking back, the spark wasn’t there; I never got the sense of wanting a kiss with him to last forever.

‘A trip away is exactly what we both need,’ continued Amy as tentative rays of sunshine that had snuck through the blinds retreated behind assembling April clouds. ‘Especially you.’ Her voice sounded thick. ‘You’ve worked your guts out all these years, giving me a roof over my head and so much more – like funding my training to become a nurse at Paws & Claws. Words can’t explain how much it meant to me, having this flat, your home to move into when I turned eighteen and could finally get away from him.’

‘This has always been our home – even when you weren’t here.’

Her eyes shone. ‘Well, this is my small way of paying you back.’

‘There’s no debt.’ I rubbed her arm and crouched down by her side.

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Book Review: Beach Read by Emily Henry

I am pleased to be welcoming Emily Henry to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her latest novel, Beach Read. 

 

TWO WRITERS, ONE HOLIDAY. A ROMCOM WAITING TO HAPPEN…

January is a hopeless romantic who narrates her life like she’s the lead in a blockbuster movie.
Gus is a serious literary type who thinks true love is a fairy-tale.

But January and Gus have more in common than you’d think:

They’re both broke.
They’ve got crippling writer’s block.
And they need to write bestsellers before summer ends.

The result? A bet to swap genres and see who gets published first.
The risk? In telling each other’s stories, their worlds might be changed entirely…

 

January has just lost her father, she’s facing a publishing deadline and then she realises that her nemesis, Gus, is her new neighbour.

As they begin to talk and make a bet, they discover things about each other that they wouldn’t have imagined and revelations that will change their lives.

I love this novel and found it so addictive. I couldn’t stop reading and when I wasn’t, I couldn’t wait to get back to it.

Gus and January are enthralling characters and an interesting couple. Both felt so real and normal. They were flawed, layered, unique and each carry their own emotional baggage. I loved them as a potential couple. What actually happens, I am not going to tell.

The plot was compelling and unlike books i’ve read before. However, at the same time, it held the same charm that my favourite romantic comedies hold. In fact, I could see this as a movie. The setting was so vivid and I wanted to jump into the novel.

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