Laura Parish

My Writing Ramblings: 15 Things About Me

I know I seem to be saying this a lot but WHERE DID FEBRUARY GO?

It has slipped away that’s for sure. How was it for everyone?

As it’s Friday and almost the end of the month, I wanted to do something a little different and something I have not really done before (or if I have, it was ages ago.)

As I was preparing questions for authors, I began to wonder how I would answer some of these questions if I were answering them. The variety of answers is one of the things I love most about doing author interviews. Everyone is so different.

So below, I am answering fifteen questions about me – things that you may not know, others I may have answered before. I would love to get to know you too. If you fancy a go at answering these, please do in the comments below. I think this is going to be fun. Here we go.

 

Do you have a middle name?

Yes, I do. It’s Elizabeth. I did remember asking my Mum once if it was in honour of anyone. I think she may have said The Queen. Even if she didn’t, I am taking that.

 

Where were you born?

I was born in Bournemouth, which, for people not from the UK, is a seaside town on the south coast of England. I adore it and miss living there. There was something so lovely about getting out of school and heading down to the beach for an hour after school or deciding to walk home after work and listening to the waves as I walked along. I find that sound calming.

 

What did you want to do for a job when you were younger?

I wanted to be a teacher. I was always in awe of them. They seemed to be all-knowing.

Yes, I was one of those students that loved homework although I think that was as much to do with the fact that, the more I did, the more new notebooks I could insist on having. My stationery addiction began early.

I would even pretend to teach classes when I was much younger, using the side of my wardrobe as a blackboard. My Mum wasn’t impressed. Hahaha.

It was only as I finished senior school that I moved away from teaching and went into radio broadcasting.

 

What’s my favourite holiday destination?

Oh Walt Disney World. No question. You can forget about being an adult and no one cares. In fact, it’s encouraged.

 

Who’s your favourite author?

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My Writing Ramblings – Goodbye January, Hello February

We are about to say goodbye to January and greet February.

My niece turned 21 this month and if there is one thing that has done, it’s made me aware of time.

As I get older, I am finding that time is going so much quicker. It was something my Mum would warn me about but it’s easy to take time for granted.

Time. We always think we have more than we do.

Amongst other things, I have been thinking about the time I give to writing.

For many years, I have wanted to write a novel. It’s been my dream for a long time. Yet, I don’t allow myself the time and commitment it needs.

Why don’t I?

Confidence and not knowing where to begin are elements for sure, but I am coming to the belief that I am not respecting my goal to be a writer. Or in fact, my right to call myself a writer.

“I don’t have time.” “I would have done it but I ran out of time.” 

These reasons are how I have justified it. When I sit back and look at it though, I realise that they are simply excuses.

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Book Extract: One Christmas Star by Mandy Baggot

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

 

Emily Parker is set to have the worst Christmas ever!

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

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

‘Tangfastic?’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My Writing Ramblings: September Favourites

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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My Writing Ramblings: The Clerk

I am having one of those ‘eeeek’ moments with this post.

One of the things I try to encourage on this blog is sharing work. As writers, feedback is important but for me, also putting my work out there is one of my greatest fears.

Today, I am posting a short story I’ve written.  It’s called The Clerk. This is probably the first one I have properly finished that hasn’t been part of a writing course assignment. It was originally written for a competition.

As a newbie writer, I have not had the courage to post anything like this on Novel Kicks.

You could say I am putting my money where my mouth is. So, here goes. I hope you enjoy it and if you don’t, that’s OK too.

I’m off to hide under my duvet.

 

***** Beginning of The Clerk*****

 

I open my eyes.

It takes moments to focus. Below my arms is the rough fabric of a green worn armchair. Around me, the windowless circular room is cluttered with endless piles of neatly stacked paper.

I can hear noise but I can’t see where it is coming from. When I manage to stand, I can just about see a typewriter that seems to be operating on its own.

I move around, not wanting to disturb anything. I don’t see a door.

‘Ah, there you are dear.’

A small, plump woman dressed in a black baggy cardigan, a long skirt with her hair pulled into a bun shuffles into the room. Placing the papers she is carrying down on the nearest table, she takes a seat, gesturing for me to do the same.

‘Come on girl, time is short.’

‘Where am I?’

A tea-tray appears and floats toward us. She hands me a cup.

‘I’m dreaming right?’

‘I suppose you are in a sense.’

‘Where am I?’

‘Not the most original of questions dear. You can do better.’

‘You don’t know me.’

‘I do my dear.’

‘I’m sure I’ve not met you before.’

‘I have known you from the moment you were born.’

She pours more tea.

‘Let me explain, dear. I’m Bertha. It is my job to document.’

‘Document what exactly?’

‘Your life my dear.’

‘I don’t understand.’

‘I am a clerk. Everyone has one. I document all the events of your life.’

‘My…’

‘All this, she says, pointing to the papers, ‘is your life.’

Anxiety sets in, ‘how am I here?’

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My Writing Ramblings: Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday!

Today is a celebration for me. Novel Kicks is ten years old.

Back in 2009, it was a little different to what it has now become but the main focus of it remains the same. I wanted somewhere for people who like to write fiction and for people who love to read to come and discuss books, stories and the writing of them.

I hoped then that I would still be going for as long as I could so to have made ten years, for me, is amazing.

Some times it’s been hard, like when I have been trying to run the blog alongside night shifts for work or where the anxiety has been a little strong. The to-read pile is something that remains taller than me but I still love it.

I love posting about books I’ve enjoyed reading or a writing prompt to help writers like me who need a push to write that story.

I have had the privilege to question some of my favourite authors about their writing days, favourite authors and fictional characters – writers I have and continue to look up to like Lisa Jewell, Giovanna Fletcher, Jane Fallon, Cecelia Ahern and Jane Green to name but a few. Many of these amazing authors I have met in person too and yes, I got completely tongued tied on most of these occasions. I seriously fangirled myself to embarrassment. Haha.

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NK Chats to… Jenni Keer

Jenni Keer

Hi Jenni, it’s great to be welcoming you back to Novel Kicks.

Thank you so much for having me back. I can’t believe my second book is out already. I had a real thrill ride with The Hopes and Dreams of Lucy Baker. The book had so many amazing reviews and I was delighted to get an Amazon bestseller flag. Let’s hope The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadowsis as enthusiastically received.

 

Which fictional character would you like to spend the day with? What would you do?

This is such a hard question. In fact, I left answering it until the end because there are so many characters I could have chosen. I considered people from historical novels where I would get the opportunity to spend some time in an exciting period of history – perhaps with a Regency lady or a certain Victorian cotton mill owner *wink*. I thought about characters with special powers, like Harry Potter and various superheroes (flying through the air with Superman would be a blast). I considered the simple rural idyll that would be spending a day with Anne Shirley at Green Gables, or Miss Marple in her beloved St Mary Mead. Perhaps I could pamper myself and spend the day with someone wealthy or influential, perhaps party with Jay Gatsby, or Holly Golightly? So many fabulous characters, so many choices…

In the end (wait for it…) it’s a toss up between Mr Daydream (who could give my imagination a boost and therefore some fabulous material for my novels) and Mr Impossible (so I can do EVERYTHING and ANYTHING) from the fabulous Mr Men. These were the very first books I read by myself and they have a special place in my heart. I’m sure I could have some up with something more intellectual but I’m embracing my inner child. Besides, I’m curious to see how they mange to drink a cup of tea with those stumpy little arms (Mr Tickle being the obvious exception).

 

Which songs would be on a playlist for The Unlikely Life of Maisie Meadows?

This is quite an easy question because Theo, who works with Maisie at the auction house, has a particular penchant for the 1980s. Although he is an expert in modern design (i.e. post-war) that’s the decade that really interests him, and this is reflected in his music taste. He plays a lot of The Jam, The Police, The Clash (late Seventies/Eighties) so a soundtrack would have to include these bands. This contrasts with the flamboyant Johnny (Maisie’s boss) who has more classical tastes, so perhaps some Mozart and a sprinkling of Shostakovich (as it is mentioned in the book). And then, to keep the author happy, I’d have to throw in a few recent dance tracks – which is largely what I listen to when I write. So it would be quite an eclectic mix.

 

How did your writing process differ from your previous novel?

In many ways it was quite similar. I’m a pantser, not a plotter, so apart from the bare bones of the story and a definite idea of the ending, I do tend to launch myself in rather randomly, not even writing chronologically. However, for Maisie I had to produce a synopsis for the publisher before I began writing and this did help me focus my ideas a bit more. There was also a time pressure for Maisie, whereas Lucy was written before I had a publishing deal so I had longer to play about with it. However, deadlines are Good Things. They help you focus.

The only thing I really did differently was a mid-book plan. I always refer to my first draft as the Bowl of Dropped Spaghetti stage – because in my head that’s what it feels like. After that, I need to pick all the jumbled spaghetti up and sort it out. Writing Maisie was the first time I’d produced a coherent plan but it was only at this post first-draft stage. I put all the scenes I’d written on Post-it notes and then planned the book – a bit backwards but it worked. My clever techie son set me up with two screens and I simply pulled across sections in order onto a blank document. I am at the Bowl of Dropped Spaghetti stage with Book 3 now so shall employ this method again.

 

Which authors have inspired you?

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My Favourites For May

Goodbye May and hello June.

I know I say this every month but it is hard to believe that we are almost to the longest day of the year when it doesn’t seem long ago we were celebrating new year.

I will admit, I am a Christmas girl but I am loving these longer summer evenings although does anyone feel they seem to have ages in the evening, get into something and then look up and it’s nearly midnight? Just me?

As it’s still the first week of June, I reckon I have just enough time to squeeze in a May favourites.

There were many things I loved in May. It was a little hard to pick a handful but, yep, I managed it. Haha.

The book I loved in May was Tick Tock by Mel Sherratt. I have already done a review of this book and if you want to read it along with an extract, click here.

It was great to be back with DS Grace Allendale and each book in this series just keeps getting better and better.

Grace and her team are investigating the murder of a young girl. The killer is out there and it all suddenly becomes very personal for Grace.

Tick Tock was full of suspense. I wanted to know what was going on but at the same time, I didn’t want it to end. It’s brilliant. An honourable mention to The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine which came a close second.

 

BBC

My favourite TV show in May was …. Line of Duty.

I was really late to this show having only finished watching the previous series days before the new one began. My husband and I were just gripped and it is so incredibly addictive. We saw the ‘are you still watching Line of Duty?’ a few times on Netflix which may as well say ‘are you still up watching this? Go to bed you idiot.’

This show is thrilling, brilliant and utterly frustrating. My favourite character is Ted Hastings. Go find those bent coppers, Ted.

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Blog Tour: Friendship Fails of Emma Nash by Chloe Seager

HQ, August 2018

HQ, August 2018

I am happy to be welcoming Chloe Seager to Novel Kicks today and the blog tour for her new novel, Friendship Fails of Emma Nash.

Emma Nash is back….and determined to work out the world of friendships and relationships once and for all (…ish).

Now she’s in the sixth form, Emma’s expecting life to be a breeze but when her best friend Steph suddenly has a boyfriend who she’s spending more time with Emma’s not sure what to do with herself.

So Emma’s got a mission in mind: making new friends. Signing up for the school fashion show seems like the perfect opportunity. Although soon, through a series of mishaps that are absolutely not Emma’s fault (well, sort of), her world is teetering on the edge of disaster again.

Would going back to creating a life for herself online reaaaaaallllyyy be so bad?

I have reviewed the book below but first, something a little different.

In the novel, the protagonist Emma tries to make new friends after feeling a little left out of her current friendship circle.

Chloe has suggested that I write about which fictional character I would like to meet.

This question is one I love to ask authors. I find it a fascinating one to ask and no two answers are the same.

The problem is, when I sat down to think about which character I would like to meet, picking one was a lot harder than I thought it would be (sorry to all authors to which I have asked this question.)

All the wonderful books I have read since my childhood, how can I pick just one? When I read, all the characters become as real to me as someone sat next to me.

So… I didn’t. I cheated and picked five, (I know, greedy right.)

Jennifer Ehle, Pride and Prejudice, BBC. 1995.

Jennifer Ehle, Pride and Prejudice, BBC. 1995.

When I made up my list of five, I started to think of all the different personalities. I imagined us all around the table. Of course, we may disagree but we would all be having a lovely time.

The first fictional character on my list is probably Elizabeth Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. I would maybe sneak Darcy in too. They come as a package deal right?

I would be so excited to be able to have a conversation with the popular Bennett sister. I’d want to know her true feelings about Mr Collins and Lady Catherine and about her life at Pemberley.

Lizzie is such a strong, opinionated and outspoken character, I’d be so interested to know what she’d make of the global political climate, social media etc. What would she make of today’s society? Would she embrace it or find it ‘somewhat savage?’

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The Princess Bride is 30! Book vs. Film

Princess_Bride_DVD_2D_StickerCould it really be possible that The Princess Bride movie is thirty this year? A staple of my childhood memories, I used to love watching this film. Many a time I would quote lines from the movie. Even now, as I reach my late 30’s, it still remains one of my top films.

OK, so it is a little cheesy but it’s brilliant.

Before I go on, I feel I do have to give a spoiler alert.

The cast is amazing. Of course, I can’t see Cary Elwes without also shouting ‘because unlike other Robin Hoods, I can speak with an English accent,’ as well as quotes from this film.

Mandy Pitinkin (Homeland) steals the movie with his turn as Inigo Montoya.

I remember always being a little fascinated by Andre The Giant.

Peter Falk (seriously, Colombo,) and Fred Savage who was well-known at the time for the Wonder Years. There were so many brilliant people in this movie.

I also can’t believe that this is the film that ‘introduced’ Robin Wright who is of course now kicking TV butt in House of Cards.

PrincessBride2The film has a whimsical feel to it that I loved even as a kid. Westley and Buttercup’s relationship was so romantic. I loved it. It had the sword fights yes but I adored it for the romance.

The movie is incredibly funny too. I watched it for the first time in a while and I still find it as comical as I did the first time I watched it.

When I think about my favourite element of it though, it has to be the quotable lines.

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Book Review: Cold Feet: The Lost Years by Carmel Harrington

Hodder & Stoughton, September 2017

Hodder & Stoughton, September 2017

Reeling from the sudden death of Rachel, his beloved wife, Adam has no time to grieve. He has to keep going, for the sake of their baby son.

Jenny moves back in with ex-husband Pete, eight and a half months pregnant with another man’s child. Can their relationship overcome past jealousies?

Karen and David agree to an amicable divorce – but that’s before he sleeps with the divorce lawyer . . .

 

Cold Feet is one of my favourite TV shows. It has been for a long time. I was so pleased when they announced they were bringing it back for a sixth and seventh season. Then once I realised that there was also a book, there was much excitement but also a little trepidation. Could the book live up to the greatness of the TV show? Would the characters feel the same?

In a nutshell, in my opinion. Yes.

The Lost Years focuses on the few months after Adam leaves Manchester with the baby, a suitcase and the memory of Rachel. He is with his Dad, not knowing what to do next.

Pete and Jenny are trying to navigate around their resurrected relationship and then the impending arrival of the new baby whilst Karen, David and Robyn are not sure what to make of their new dynamic.

I won’t go too much further into the plot but what I will say is that this book retains the charm.

I loved catching up with these characters. After five series I had become so invested in them. This book was like catching up with old friends and so I couldn’t put this book down to be honest.

I loved the fact that Rachel is still involved despite the fact that she isn’t technically around. The humour and warmth of the TV show still comes across. Also, like the TV show, there were moments when I was in tears.

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My Writing Ramblings: The Season of Literary Abandon Approaches

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225-1-1-300x225-1-300x225.jpgI love summer but I love when Autumn rolls around too and it’s for a few reasons. The colour of the trees, the excuse to cuddle up under a duvet as the weather gets cooler, Halloween and Christmas. I even love listening to the sound of the rain on the roof. Yeah, I am strange.

Another reason why I get so excited for this time of year is that the countdown has begun for National Novel Writing Month.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, it is ‘thirty days of literary abandon.’

Founded by a group of writers in San Francisco in 1999, the idea is that for thirty days between 1st – 30th November, we tell the internal editor to leave us alone and just write. It’s all about getting the fifty thousand words written rather than worry about the quality. There is a whole load of advice on how to approach editing once the challenge is done.

My internal editor has a lot to answer for and I think this is why I love this chance to say goodbye to it for a while. The community surrounding NaNoWriMo is incredible and so supportive. I really feel like I am a part of something.

This will be my seventh year participating but it still hasn’t lost any of its excitement.

Your book can be in any genre and POV you like.

My routine is that I buy a new notebook in October. I know, any excuse right? I always set out to plan what I am going to write. Some years have a more detailed outline than others and more often than not I will start out with a plan and end up a pantster by the end of the month. That’s part of the fun.

The advantage of this challenge is the fact that by the end, you will have words down on paper or computer. Even if you don’t finish, you will still have more words written than you did at the beginning of the month. It’s a fun way to write.

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My Life In Books Tag

Something borrowedI follow many book related people on You Tube. One of my favourite types of video to watch are the tags. In my perusal, I came across the ‘My Life in Books’ tag.

It looked fun so I thought I would answer the questions myself. If you fancy having a go too then I’d love to read your choices in the comments. Tags like these fascinate me as everyone will have various answers and rarely will two be the same. OK, so here we go.

Find a book on your shelf for each of your initials.

I wasn’t sure whether this meant titles of books or the author so as it is for fun, I have done both. My initials are LEP (Laura Elizabeth.) Looking at my shelf, I have Lisa Jewell (the L) with 31 Dream Street. I loved this book when I read it. It’s very romantic and whimsical and the cover is beautiful.

For the ‘E’ initial, I have Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin. I adored this book when I first read it. The behaviour of the characters (Rachel, Dex and Darcy,) are bad and yet I had sympathy for all of them. If you’ve not read this book (and the sequel, something Blue,) then I totally recommend them.

Boleyn GirlFor P, I have The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory. I have seen the movie but am yet to read the book. I love this era of history and I know that it may not be completely accurate but I still love it.

For the book titles with my initials, I have Landline by Rainbow Rowell (which I still need to read. So many books, so little time.)

E. A novel by Matt Beaumont. It’s written in the format of e-mails. If you’ve ever worked in an office, then this book will have you recognising many of the characters. I love it. It’s hilarious.

Finally, I have P.S, I Love You by Cecelia Ahern. I love this book (the film was OK but the book had more charm.)

 

Count your age along your book shelf.

Which book is it? I had to count, cough, thirty-five steps. The book is Battle Royale by Koushun Takami. This was a book that I borrowed from my friend Michelle. I’ve not read it or returned it yet (sorry Michelle) but it’s been on my TBR list for a while. I’ve heard it’s similar to Event Horizon.

 

Battle RoyaleBook set in your city, state and county?

I am originally from Bournemouth and this was the question I am struggling most with as I couldn’t recall any books set in my county or town. Then I spotted A Single Breath by Lucy Clarke on my book shelf. A fantastic book that is partly set in Christchurch which is close enough to where I grew up. Another book I totally recommend.

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Book Review: The Choir on Hope Street by Annie Lyons

choironhopestreet

HQ, April 2017

Nat’s husband has just said the six words no one wants to hear – ‘I don’t love you any more’.

Caroline’s estranged mother has to move into her house turning her perfectly ordered world upside down.

Living on the same street these two women couldn’t be more different. Until the beloved local community centre is threatened with closure. And when the only way to save it is to form a community choir – none of the Hope Street residents, least of all Nat and Caroline, expect the results…
Nat’s husband has just told her that he doesn’t love her anymore. She is left alone in the family home with their son. Her life is an organised chaos and she is not sure what she is going to do next.

Caroline’s life is well-ordered until her estranged mother comes to visit and turns Caroline’s life upside down.

Nat and Caroline couldn’t be more different and under normal circumstances, their paths wouldn’t cross. These women are not the most compatible of friends. They are thrown together when the local community centre is threatened with closure.

The question is, can they put their differences aside for the greater good?

Nat and Caroline both have their own struggles and both are very quick to judge the other – something I’ve certainly been guilty of in the past.

This story is told from both the point of view of Nat and Caroline so you get a real insight into thoughts and emotions of these characters and the world in which they inhabit. I quickly became attached to them.

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Blog Tour: Just For The Holidays by Sue Moorcroft

rp_Sue-Moorcroft-199x3001.jpg SuemoorcroftjustfortheholidaysI am very pleased and super excited to be welcoming the fabulous Sue Moorcroft and the blog tour for her new novel, Just For The Holidays, released today by Avon Books.

In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.

Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.

But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…

 

Mick has reviewed the book but first, Sue shares her top tips for surviving summer holidays. Over to you, Sue.

I love summer. I was brought up for several years in Malta and it’s there I think I must have developed my love of the sun. Here are my top tips for surviving summer holidays:
• Take plenty to read. Whether it’s your eReader, print books or magazines, just make sure everybody in your party has something. I know you’ve got your phones on which to browse the Internet or tablets to let you watch DVDs but airport delays or beaches lead to flat batteries, low signal or extortionate phone bills. I find a book a day a nice starting point. Loading my eReader for a trip is such a pleasure! And I generally take a magazine just in case something makes it impossible to read on my eReader and the app on my phone.

• Choose a holiday you actually want. This might sound like stating the flippin’ obvious but if you’ve browbeaten your holiday companions into going where you want, you may find that nobody has a good time – and that includes you if they remind you every five minutes and sulk. (Of course, if you’re the browbeaten one and you didn’t actually want to spend your holiday in a theme park, put your friends/family in a queue for a ride, find a sunny bench and take out your book …) Leah in Just for the Holidays allows her sister, Michele, to coax her into a holiday she doesn’t want and things go seriously wrong from the first. (It doesn’t help that Michele has a couple of secrets, including quite an important one that she hasn’t shared with Leah.)

Blog tour• If you can afford it, treat yourself to a pre-holiday pamper. Leg-waxing and gel nails can keep you feeling good all through your long-awaited holiday.

• Stay safe. It’s a shame we have to think this way but many a fabulous break has been ruined by theft of money and/or passports and returning to find the home ransacked. Be aware, use the hotel safe, visit one of the ‘information for travellers’ websites for advice pertinent to the place you’re visiting.

• Take at least one sweatshirt and a raincoat. Even hot countries have summer storms or freak weather.

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My Writing Ramblings: Inspirational Quotes

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225-1-1-300x225-300x225.jpgHello fellow writers. Happy Friday.

It’s been a funny old week hasn’t it with various things going on. One thing is certain for me though; there has been plenty to inspire stories.

One of the other things that I find inspires and motivates me are quotes.

I know that inspirational and motivational sayings are not everyone’s cup of tea. (My friend hates them,) but you should find whatever helps you (especially if you’re new to writing.)

I wanted to share some of my favourite quotes about writing. I hope they help someone out there to pick up that pen or open that laptop (note to self, take own advice.)

This is a list of my favourites. If you have one that is not listed here, let me know in the comments.

 

‘It always seems impossible until it’s done.’ – Nelson Mandela.

(This is one that comes to mind when I am trying to begin. It is always overwhelming when I read all these published novels and think that my yet unwritten first draft is never going to be as good. The thing to remember….. all these published novels started off like mine and yours.)

 

‘It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.’ – Walt Disney

(This is along the same lines as the first one and I remember it to remind me to have fun whilst writing and to not allow uncertainty cloud the fun element.)

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My Writing Ramblings: Every Word Counts

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225-1-1-300x225-1.jpgHowdy all.

We are now on that last stretch before the weekend with all the hope that the weather will decide to give us glorious, warm sunshine (I know but it’s good to be optimistic.)

I don’t know about you but April for me has just flown by. Life away from reading books and writing has kept me a little busy (there were also a couple of personal events that happened this month which meant some quiet days with a want to not do a lot.)

I have not done that much writing over the last month. I think I managed to do 2,000 words give or take. Those words still count and it’s still a decent word count to reach. It is easy to play down small words counts as only this and only that. It’s not easy to convince yourself that slow and steady is OK if it works for you to build your novel.

I go through this horrible habitual process when I begin something new. I will write, then I will stop, I will immediately read what I have written and then I will have this urge to begin again. I fight every time to break this habit.

A first draft is not going to be publication ready to begin with so every word you write does matter.

As a new writer, I tend to play down the whole thing; my brain won’t let me call myself a writer. Sitting in a room full of writers, I will feel like the impostor.

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My Favourites: Things I Loved in February

Kikki K Vanskap journalIt’s March! How did we get into March so quickly? We are already getting the lighter mornings and longer evenings and this is totally ok by me. The clocks go forward at the end of this month too.

Before we get too far into March, I wanted to look back over some of the things and products I have been loving in February.

An honourable mention needs to go to Gilmore Girls. This has been in a previous favourites and I am still making my way through it and loving it. I have managed to stay away from spoilers about it (especially around the latest episodes,) and I am hoping it stays that way.

OK, so lets begin with my favourites in stationery.

The first product I have loved in February is my Vanskap (which I believe means friendship in Swedish,) Personal Planner from Kikki K. It has cats on it people. Cats. I couldn’t resist it. Having been late to the Kikki K party, I missed this particular collection so I had to track this down on eBay but so worth it.

I have never really used Filofaxes. I tend to gravitate toward bound diaries. However, I have completely fallen in love with this planner. It’s fabric (not leather,) and it is such a pretty colour. The inserts all have cats on them and there are blank stickers so you can customise it. I think Kikki K are definitely bringing me around to the planners.

I am enjoying using this planner. I am enjoying it very much.

Pipsticks subscriptionNext up is a sticker subscription. I have an unhealthy love of stickers for someone who is in their thirties. I like decorating my diary, planner and notebook with stickers. It cheers up the page and makes me smile. I have recently subscribed to a sticker subscription service. It’s called Pipsticks, it’s based in the United States and it is amazing.

There are various types of stickers in the pack. It’s affordable considering it is coming from the states. If you’re into decorating diaries or planners, this could be a good way to get a monthly supply of stickers. If you’d like me to do a review of this subscription, let me know.

My book favourite this month was definitely When The Sky Fell Apart by Caroline Lea. It’s based in Jersey when the German army invades in World War II. It focuses on a small group of villagers and their will to not let bad circumstances dampen their determination.

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My Writing Ramblings: Count to Three and Then Begin

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225-1-1-300x225.jpgGreetings fellow writers.

It’s a quick catch up from me this week. As I get ready to begin to write my novel, I have been thinking a lot about what starting my book will actually mean to me.

Many people announce that they would like to write a book. It is said that everyone theoretically has a book in them.

However, despite what the overwhelming feeling of standing in front of books in a book shop will tell you, it is only a small percentage of the people who say they want to write a book, who then go on to get the courage and the motivation to get their bum in a seat and apply pen to paper or fingertips to keyboard (whatever your preference is.)

So, even beginning a book is a huge achievement.

Read advice then forge your own routine. Each person’s process will be unique to them.
Read, jot down ideas and practise your craft. Confidence is bred from experience and that can only mean one thing. You need to write.

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My Writing Ramblings: General Catch Up

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225-1-1-300x225.jpgGreetings one and all. How has everyone’s week gone? It’s hard to keep the smiles going when there is so much negativity going on in the news and bad weather going around isn’t it?

I just wanted a catch up this week. It’s been a little bit of a quiet one. I’ve managed a little work toward the novel and hope to start writing on 1st March.

As we race toward the end of February, I am looking back on this month and finding that it went by in a bit of a blur.

My weeks tend to be like that if I am with the day job especially when I am working more night than day shifts. Night shifts are a curious thing. It makes you feel as though you have permanent jetlag (I call night shift me, ‘zombie Laura,) but there is something lovely about being awake in the early hours. It’s always so quiet.

When work does get in the way (or other commitments,) it’s easy for me to fall out of any routine I have begun to build up.

I will have my days off, start to develop routines and habits and then the work days will come and the motivation will waver. I am not sure why this happens. It’s not all the time but it’s frustrating all the same. Tiredness is such a productivity killer.

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My Favourites: My Writing Playlist

Warner Bros. 2016

Warner Bros. 2016

I love music. It’s one of my great loves along with books. It doesn’t take long after a song I like comes on before I am tapping my foot, singing  under my breath or if I’m alone in the house or in my car full on singing and belting it out.

Music is also a big part of my writing routine. I’m not one of these people who can write in silence. Being in silence reminds me of exams and I hated exams. I’d always be worried that I’d say something to myself out loud, embarrass myself et cetera so I don’t have great associated memories.

Writing with music playing calms me down, makes me smile and helps me to focus on the job at hand. Now onto my playlists. I debated whether to share my taste in music (as some of it is very questionable,) but here goes.

Listening to music has been made so much easier with Apple Music and Spotify. As I said, my music taste is a little bit strange. Its full of all sorts of songs (plenty of them cheesy, you know the embarrassing kind.) My iPod and playlists are full of those songs you can’t help but love but are quick to skip over if there are people with you. You know what ones I mean.

When I’m writing, I like songs and albums that will either make me happy or chill me out. I find music a little bit less distracting than TV box sets (although that doesn’t stop me playing back to back episodes of Gilmore Girls.)

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My Writing Ramblings: Books, Books, Books!

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225-1-1-300x225.jpgHello all. How is everyone?

This week has been a little bit of a quiet one for me. It’s mostly been consisting of night shifts which has meant that I have been mostly trying to sleep during the day. That sounds amazing when you’ve not got people ringing the doorbell and buses thumping by. Oh, and a cat craving attention. Even when I close the door, we will meow until I have opened it.

It’s that law of when you need to sleep, you can’t and when you get to work, all you want to do is fall sleep. Then when you get to sleep, you wake up and clock watch. My head will remind me of things before I sleep – embarrassing moments in my life (it likes reminding me of those.) My to-do list, that I need a drink of water. It will helpfully wait until I have almost dropped off. Does this happen to anyone else?

I have been managing t0 get a lot of reading done this week which is great. I have read some great books this month too; Who’s That Girl by Mhairi Macfarlane, If I Ever Fall by SD Robertson and The Sixth Window by Rachel Abbott (reviews and blog tours coming soon.)

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More Books I’d Like To See Adapted For Film & TV

Macmillan, Feb 2017

Macmillan, Feb 2017

Once again, I have embarked on the Goodreads reading challenge for 2017.  Last year, I managed to get to the target of forty books but it was seriously by the skin of my teeth. I finished the last page of my book about three minutes before Big Ben donged in the new year. I know how to rock my new year you know.

This year, I have increased my book target by.. wait for it., one. I didn’t want to go crazy with the target as you can see.

As I was setting my target, I ended up having a look through all the books I have  read and logged since I joined in 2013. I’ve read over a hundred and seventy books. I know there are some I’ve not logged. One hundred and seventy. That, for me is an incredible number.

I then got to thinking about how many of them had been adapted into movies. The Girl on The Train for example. In a year where Hidden Figures will be coming to the big screen and adaptations of A Handmaid’s Tale (can’t wait,) and Anne of Green Gables are coming to streaming services, I thought I’d look through my list of ‘read’ books in my Goodreads list and share the ones I’d like to see adapted.

The first one on my list is one that I have mentioned recently and that is Before You Go by Clare Swatman. I love this novel so much. I absolutely adored this book. It was in my January favourites and even though it’s been days since I finished it I am still thinking about it. It has a Me Before You feel to it.

As I was reading, I could imagine the scenes in the book as a movie. I could see the settings so clearly. It would make a great adaptation. It would be one that made you cry though. For sure.

Zoe and Ed are two characters I loved very much and grew to care about. I am not sure who I would cast in the roles. No one seems right for me. I can cast my own stories but not always been good at casting other stores.

Zoe and Ed have been together for years. When Ed dies, Zoe is devastated but soon finds herself getting the chance to change her past and then hopefully, her future.

Black Dot Publishing, June 2016

Black Dot Publishing, June 2016

Kill Me Again by Rachel Abbott is a book I’d like to see adapted into a film. Actually, all of her novels would translate well. Although a film would be good, I can also see this as a TV show. I think it could be as good as Thorne: Sleepyhead.

Rachel’s novels are so moreish that I always manage to storm through them quite quickly. She is very good at the tension which is what you need for a good crime adaptation. I can hear the soundtrack music already.

Kill Me Again had me on the edge of my seat all the way through. Tom Douglas and Becky Robinson are worthy enough to fill the gap we have for a good detective duo (which is what I am going to need after Bones finishes.)

Maggie thinks she knows her husband. She comes home one evening and Duncan has disappeared. She also is not the only one looking for him. When a woman who looks like Maggie is murdered, DCI Tom Douglas is brought into investigate. If you’ve read it, who would you have in the main roles?

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My Writing Ramblings: My Writing Space

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225-1.jpgHello all. How is everyone’s week going? Can you believe we are already hurtling toward the middle of February? It’s incredible really.

I have been a little obsessed with Grey’s Anatomy, Gilmore Girls, Lucifer and reading loads this week. I always like to snuggle in and make my way through box sets when I am not working. It is so cold at the moment and I am not good with the cold at all to the point where the boy will make fun of me. I give as good as I get though.
Loads of TV time means lots of looking at Pinterest too. I can lose hours on that and You Tube.

I’ve been looking a lot at office spaces (I have been doing a little bit of planning as I have been looking at homes for my characters. Promise.) I am so nosey and love looking at other writer’s writing spaces.

I always think that having a lovely writing space is important. It’s also very personal. Some people like it to look minimal preferring not to have clutter. I always wonder how people manage this.

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My Writing Ramblings: The Power of Yes and No.

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225.jpgHello everyone. I hope you’re all having a wonderful start to February. January was a long old month (it always seems to be for me.)

I’ve attempted to jump into planning my novel over the last few weeks (at times I have been able.) I am discovering the power of yes and no.

I’ve previously not had a good track record when it comes to my writing time. I don’t always protect it. It has been easy for me to say ‘I’ll write some tomorrow.’

I am the queen of procrastination.

I think a lot of this is down to my attitude. I don’t see myself as a writer and so I reason with myself and say it doesn’t matter. Well, guess what… it does matter. It matters a lot.

One big lesson I am trying to take on board this week is the power of yes and no.

YES, I will make time to get to a specified word count so I gradually build my first draft. YES I will keep myself to that promise.

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My Writing Ramblings: Do You Have To Be A Reader To Be A Writer?

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225.jpgHello everyone. We’re over hump day and speeding toward the weekend. Yay!

I come to you today through a cloud of copious amounts of tea, coke zero and probably some of the worst night’s sleep I’ve had. Well, technically day’s sleep as I’ve been on night shifts for the last few nights.

Finding a positive in my sleepy, clumsy state, there is something I like about being awake at a stupid time of the morning (I will always prefer to be sleeping at night but when I can’t, I try to find good.) I like the stillness of the night time. The lack of busy. I find it incredibly calming.

When I don’t sleep, I read. I have been thinking a lot recently about the act of reading and why I like it. I do love the escape. I adore having access to the lives of the characters who inhabit the worlds I read about. I like discovering new book series and authors. There is not a lot that can beat that feeling I have when I discover an author and realise that there is already a vast catalogue for me to pick my next book from (which is pretty much what happened when I discovered Lisa Jewell for example.)

As I have been trying to write my own book, I have been wondering how much being a big reader helps with my writing.

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My Favourite Book Covers – Part Two

looking for alaskaI don’t think I will ever end my love affair with beautiful book covers. They are the thing that will attract me to a book. If it’s a pretty cover, I will sometimes stop reading and just look at it for a while (anyone else do that? Just me… ok.)

I have been thinking again about my favourite book covers. I did a post about this back in 2015 (want to see them, click here,) and I thought it was about time I thought about five more favourites.

It was hard picking just five. I think I have managed to narrow it down.

My first favourite is the 10th Anniversary edition of Looking For Alaska by John Green (HarperCollins Children’s Books, January 2015.) The original cover (which is black with a white daisy) is lovely but this cover is so beautiful.

Gold, the cover is gold. I brought a copy of this edition just because I loved the cover. I already had a paperback copy.

Miles’s life is one big non event until he meets Alaska Young. Alaska draws Miles into her reckless world and steels his heart in the process. His life will never be the same again.

My next favourite is Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven (Penguin, October 2016.) This cover is simple but yet so pretty. Sometimes less is more and this was one of my favourites from last year.

Holding up the universe little teashop of lost and foundEveryone thinks they know Libby – the girl once dubbed ‘America’s Fattest Teen.’ No one has looked past the weight to see who she really is.
She’s been trying to deal with the grief of loosing her mother.
Now she is ready for school. For new friends. For a new life.

My third favourite is The Little Teashop of Lost and Found by Trisha Ashley (which is due to be released by Bantam Press in March.)

This cover is absolutely stunning and I can’t wait to be able to add it to my book shelf. I absolutely adore it. The illustrations are just lovely and has such wonderful detail.

Alice was discovered on the Yorkshire Moors above Haworth as a baby.

Adopted but then later rejected by a horrible step-mother, Alice struggles to find a place where she belongs. Only baking brings her a sense of comfort.

When Alice does return to Haworth, she returns to baking. She makes friends but there are a couple of last twist and turns in her story.

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My Writing Ramblings: A Tip For Staying Focused

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225.jpgHello everyone. I hope you’re all having a good week. Can you believe we’re already halfway through January!

One of my new year resolutions was to try and be a little bit more productive. This is the year I want to start and complete my first book. Less talking, more doing.

I’ve been using something called the Pomodoro technique over the last few days. Many people have probably already heard of this but for those who are unfamiliar with it, it’s a helpful way to be more focused and disciplined.

There is a series of twenty five-minute sessions and then five minute breaks per twenty five minutes. During the timed session, you do one task and then completely focus on that. The phone goes to silent, the internet gets forgotten (yes, that one is hard to comply to.) You focus on one task for twenty five minutes.

Once that time is up, you walk away for five minutes. You get a cup of tea, have a little dance, grab some water. Then you come back and try again.

You know what, it works. I’ve managed to do some blog stuff, stay on top of my e-mail (for the most part,) and most importantly, some novel planning. Hurrah.

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My Writing Ramblings: New Year, New Goals.

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225.jpgHello 2017. I am hoping for a bit of snow. Building a snowman then going inside for hot chocolate, stew for dinner and then snuggling up with a book. I love snow provided I don’t have to drive in it.

Aside from the weather, this time of year always has me thinking about resolutions. I do try and make them every year. They usually last about a week and then I lose the plot with them. Thinking about it, I usually set resolutions that are unattainable. I set too many and then always end up disappointed. So, this year, I have only set three.

The first one is to write something positive and put it in the happy box that is sat on my desk. I did this the year before last and it really did make a difference to my frame of mind. I tended to add a thing a day toward the end of the day and this meant that I ended the day on a positive note. I got out of the habit over the last twelve months so I am pleased to be getting back to it. If this is something you’ve not done before, I recommend it.

The second resolution is to get more exercise. I love to swim. I find this form of exercise works for me so much more than going to a gym every day. I have never felt that comfortable at the gym especially since I did a Bridget Jones off a running machine when trying to pick up my water bottle. Yes, it was an embarrassing but funny sight! Swimming is much more my pace and it’s so great for thrashing out plot ideas and blocks as well as reducing anxiety. Also, if I manage to get healthy and loose weight, then that is a bonus too.

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My December Favourites

christmas-carol

Penguin Clothbound Classics

I know we are nearly halfway through January but I wanted to share some of my December favourites before we got too far into this month. I have not done a favourites post in a while so I thought I was a little overdue. Plus, I love reading these sorts of posts so I want to share some of my favourites from last month.

My first favourite from last month was this stunning version of Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol and other Christmas writings from the Penguin Clothbound Classics. I do have a paperback version of this book but there was something that drew me to this copy. The cover is so beautiful. It looks very nice on the bookshelf. I couldn’t resist treating myself to a copy prior to Christmas.
I adore A Christmas Carol and this puts me in such a Christmas like mood whenever I look at it. I can’t wait to read it at the end of the year.

My next favourite is a DVD of possibly my favourite Disney movie as well as one of my favourite films of all time. It’s the big sleeve edition of Beauty and The Beast. This is something else I may have treated myself to just before Christmas. It was one of those impulse buys. I knew that if I didn’t buy it, I would never see it again.
I, like many other fans of Beauty and The Beast were slightly disappointed that we were not going to be getting the 25th Anniversary special edition here in the UK. I believe this version to be the next best thing (I am so looking forward to seeing the live action version in March.)

This version includes the blue ray as well as the DVD version and there are four beautiful postcards of some of the characters in the movie. I love this and don’t regret buying it for an instant.

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My Writing Ramblings: My 2016 Round Up

MRC, Panic Pictures, Soundtrack New York, Trigger Street and Netflix

MRC, Panic Pictures, Soundtrack New York, Trigger Street and Netflix

Usually, as we reach the end of the old year and are approaching the new one, I am a mixture or happy, excited and nervous. I’m also a little sad that the year is coming to a close. However, 2016 has been a year I am quite happy to say goodbye to and won’t be too sad to leave.
It’s been a difficult year personally (probably the worst one I’ve had) and so I look towards 2017 with hope that it has got to be better than 2016. Please, 2017? Pretty please!?

One of the few saving graces of this year are the great TV shows I’ve discovered and amazing books I’ve read.
Thanks to Netflix and fiction, I’ve managed to procrastinate beautifully.

Some of my favourite shows this year have been House of Cards (such a fan of Kevin Spacey anyway but he’s brilliant in House of Cards,) The Big Bang Theory, which had me wondering why it had taken me so long to discover it and The Gilmore Girls. I want to go live in Stars Hollow.

Book highlights this year have included so many wonderful books. Some of my highlights have included The Third Wife by Lisa Jewell, Lyrebird by Cecelia Ahern, Bridget Jones’ Baby: The Diaries by Helen Fielding, No Turning Back by Tracy Buchanan, Lying in Wait by Liz Nugent, The Comfort of Others by Kay Langdale, Somewhere inside of Happy by Anna McPartlin and Hungry For Love by Lucy Beresford.

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My Favourite Christmas Books and Film Traditions

Penguin Classics, New Ed. Edition. Oct 2003

Penguin Classics, New Ed. Edition. Oct 2003

Happy Christmas Eve all. This has to be my favourite day of the year. Christmas day is great but the anticipation of Christmas almost being here is so magical and wonderful. Everyone has their traditions at Christmas whether it be seeing family, going for a Christmas day walk or snuggling down with a Christmas themed book or a movie. I wanted to share some of my Christmas story and movie traditions. There are certain ones that I try to watch and read every year. Some of these traditions I have had since I was a kid and some are fairly recent. I can never wait until 1st December to be able to begin them.

My first Christmas story/film tradition is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. I have been watching various adaptations of this all my life (I actually really love the version with Kate Winslet. Does anyone else?) This is the film I will usually put on when wrapping presents. The latest version I love is the Jim Carrey version although the scene where the candle changes faces quite frankly is creepy.
It wasn’t until last year though that I read the book these wonderful adaptations are based on. I don’t know why it took me so long. It’s full of great moments and in places, very funny dialogue. I love how faithful some of these film adaptations have been to the book. Reading this story though gave me a whole new appreciation for it. I will be trying to read it every year now instead of just watching it.

Snowman Enterprises, CH4 Television corp. TVC London. 1982

Snowman Enterprises, CH4 Television corp. TVC London. 1982

Hardcover Edition, Harper Collins, 2008

Hardcover Edition, Harper Collins, 2008

My next tradition is also a film adapted from a book and that is The Snowman. I mean, it’s a classic. I have been watching this animation since I was small and Christmas is not Christmas without it. This twenty minute film is so magical. I wanted to be able to build a snowman and go off to the north pole but I can’t remember the last time we had snow. I still hold out hope even though I am now in my thirties that we will get a white Christmas. It’s always good to hope right?
The Snowman is so wonderfully animated and even though it doesn’t have the happiest of endings, I can’t help smiling when I hear those first few beats of Walking in The Air and they begin to fly toward the North Pole. I notice something new every time I watch it. The Snowman is so timeless and will be part of my Christmas for years to come.

Speaking of which, The Gift by Cecelia Ahern is one of those Christmas stories that will have you reaching for the tissues as it will make you cry. It did me. Lou doesn’t have enough hours in the day. The advancement of his career comes at the sacrifice of spending time with his family. His life is turned upside down when he meets Gabe. Something happens where Lou can be in two places at once but can he discover what is important before it is too late?
This book has stuck with me for so long. Even years after first reading it I still think about it and this is a book I always try and read this time of year. It has such a lovely and important message especially for Christmas. If you’ve not added this to your Christmas reading list, I urge you to. It’s wonderful.

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My Writing Ramblings: Reflecting on NaNoWriMo 2016

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225.jpgNational Novel Writing Month 2016 is over. It’s unbelievable how quickly November passed. Saying that, I am looking forward to the moment where I can say so long to 2016. It’s been a strange year right?

On a personal level, November was a hard month for me as it would have been my Mum’s birthday on the 5th November. The first one without her was always going to be hard. NaNoWriMo was a good distraction.

It was nice to have a fictional world to disappear into for a while. The challenge of 50,000 words is good therapy.

This year, in terms of reaching a daily word count, it was one of my most successful years. I managed to do between 1,700 and 1,800 words per day every day. I got to the overall goal on 28th November so there was no rushing it at the last-minute.

The story I created was a mess. This time around, it was an opportunity to write through my grief. This story will probably never see the light of day again but I am still proud of myself. All things considered, I am very pleased.

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My Writing Ramblings: On Track For 50,000 Words

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225-1-300x225.jpgWow, we are already halfway through National Novel Writing Month. That is slightly hard to believe.

This month seems to be moving at an incredible pace.

Despite a few personal things I’ve had to deal with this month, so far, I am on track as far as the writing is concerned. In fact, I am slightly ahead of where I’d expect to be at this point in the month. As of yesterday, I’d passed the 30,000 word mark. I am very pleased.

My approach this month has been slightly different to previous years. At this point in the past, I have seen myself in various states. One year, I was already finished by now whereas the year before last, I finished on 30th November with two minutes to spare praying that my internet connection would hold long enough for me to be able to verify my win (which it did thank goodness!)

Where NaNoWriMo is concerned, I am very much a pantster. I tend not to plan much. I have a vague idea and tend to just go with it. With this writing challenge, I tend to like to see where the story will take me. (This month, the non planning was more that November jumped out at me slightly and I ran out of time.)

This year, I have been taking it slow and steady roughly writing 1800 words a day. I have to say, I am liking this pace. If I finish too early, then I don’t know what to do with myself.

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My Writing Ramblings: Taking Myself Seriously?

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225.jpgIt is amazing how quickly a week can go and how little you can actually achieve. It has been seven of those days that seems to have merged into one. Where the day job (or in my case this week has been my first lot of night shifts for months) has taken priority.

I have been trying to sneak bits and pieces in here and there. I’m still making my way through Emma. I am a little behind. I am not too worried about that. Reading Austen was never about how quickly I could get through them. If you’re reading along with me, how are you getting on?

I have been writing about two hundred words of a short story this week to make sure I at least write something. My planning has got to a stage where I need to sit down and map out plot so it is not something I have been able to do this week as I don’t want to rush it. I have done that before and it has not got me far. I am so tired from my shifts though that once I do get home, I just want to sleep. Surprisingly, I am not actually getting too worked up about it. I am still working my way through the plot in my head. That counts…right?

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My Writing Ramblings: Whoosh, There Goes My Deadline….

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225.jpg‘I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.’ – Douglas Adams.

Happy Friday all.

I can’t quite believe that August has gone and we’ve now reached September.

It’s been one of those weeks where the day job has kind of taken over. I’ve been on mid shifts which on the whole don’t bother me but it’s meant that productivity of everything else has been put on the back burner. This includes the Austen challenge.

However, I now have a few days off so I will be back on track with finishing Emma before I know it…I hope. For the people doing the Austen reading challenge with me, the book for September is Mansfield Park.

My deadline to begin my novel was yesterday.  I’ve not fully finished my planning so I’ve not started writing yet. Not finishing my planning has been my number one procrastination excuse. No more. I have given myself one more week.

I have so many feelings about beginning my novel. It has been something I have been talking about for such a long time. It’s this thing that has been built up in my head. I do worry about whether I am going to be able to begin it and keep going this time. However, I also think about when I’m a lot older and what I would regret more. Finishing a novel that possibly is not publishable but I’ve done it or not starting. Plus, there is also editing.

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My Writing Ramblings: Dream a Little Dream of Strangeness.

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225.jpgHappy Wednesday everyone.

How lovely has this weather been? It’s been absolutely gorgeous. On Sunday I went with some family over to Moors Valley Country Park near Bournemouth. I remember going there a lot when I was a child. There was such a magic to all the woods that seemed to go on for miles.

I would love reaching the climbing structures (and was very annoyed that I am now too big to go on them. It does suck being a grown up sometimes.)

If anything, the lake and the surrounding area is just as beautiful and I will never stop loving the steam train that runs around the park. As I passed the play area and saw the climbing frame, the zip wire and the area with the slide that looks like a castle, it brought back so many memories.

On Monday I also got a chance to spend the day at Sandbanks beach which is one of the most beautiful beaches. It was lovely to just swim in the sea and sit in the sun. As we had family staying, there has not been a lot of writing and planning but there has been a bit of chilling out and it’s been nice.

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My Writing Ramblings: Help! I’m Laura and I’m a PLL Obsessive…

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225.jpgHello Wednesday. How are you?

We are halfway through the week (unless like me you’re a shift worker.) I hope you’ve been making the most of the sunshine when it has dared to show itself (Sunday was incredibly warm.) What I love about summer is that I can emerge from the chair in my little writing nook and get outside for some fresh air and brightness. It is so quiet where I live and although it is surrounded by houses there is also a lot of woodland (perfect for if I need a walk for inspiration.) It is not near the beach (which I was only fifteen minutes away at the most growing up) but it is the next best thing for sure.

The Austen reading challenge is going OK. I am trying to read it around another book so not reading as quickly as I could be doing. Emma is one of the books I’ve not read so the plot is a little bit more unfamiliar to say, Pride and Prejudice. So far so good. Emma is actually quite a tragic character isn’t she. She’s so busy matchmaking that she doesn’t take care of herself.

The obsession I do have at the moment is Pretty Little Liars. I am a little late to the PLL party but I am wondering what took me so long. It’s so good. I’ve even got the husband watching it. All six and a bit series are currently on Netflix and I’ve managed to watch all of them. I am suffering from PLL withdrawal. This new obsession hasn’t helped my productivity one bit. I blame Netflix.

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My Writing Ramblings: The Austen Challenge and Other Things…

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225-300x225.jpgHappy Wednesday everyone!

I can’t quite believe that we are already into August. The time is slipping by me in a surreal manner this year. Today marks the third year we’ve been in our current house and yet it doesn’t feel like five minutes since we moved in.
Before we know it we are going to be pulling those clocks back (I know, I said it. Ssshh, I hear you cry.)

This week I’ve been mainly trying to sleep and failing. Being wide awake at 2am isn’t so bad when I’m on my days off but on workdays it means copious amounts of tea and numerous walks around the building just to keep myself awake. In the last few days I’ve managed to spill tea all over the carpet (and my bag didn’t escape unscathed either,) drop things, walk into the occasional wall and drop a can of coke on a concrete floor, which had it spraying out absolutely everywhere. Lack of sleep does not do anything for my coordination. Ha-ha.

The writing side of my week has shown some progress. Most of my characters have had biographies written about them now. It’s nice to have a sense of who my characters are. They are becoming much more real to me now. Now it’s time to work on the plot.

One thing I have set myself starting this month is my Austen reading challenge. When thinking about it, I’ve realized that I have Emma Jane Austennot read all of the Austen novels. I know!
So, the challenge is to read one a month for the next six months.
If you fancy reading along with me I am going to be reading them in this order…

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My Writing Ramblings: Well Hello There Summer…

rp_Laura-Book-300x2251-300x2251-300x225.jpgWelcome Summer. I’m pleased you could join us. I’d almost forgotten what you look like. Haven’t the last couple of days in the UK been absolutely glorious?

I do love winter. I love being able to come in out the cold, wrap up warm and snuggle. I love that chill in the air that carries with it the potential promise of snow and yes, I am a bit of a Christmas nerd.

However, I have to say that there isn’t much that beats lounging around midweek beside the sea in the beautiful summer sunshine with a cold drink, a notebook and a book which was pretty much my day yesterday.

This week has been a good one for me as I have tried to chill out a little, read, see friends and generally just watch the world go by. I feel I’ve not had much of a chance to do that recently. I’ve read some really great books (like Lying in Wait and I’m currently reading A Certain Age. Both are proving to be excellent although the jury is still out on A Certain Age as I am still reading it.)

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

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