mick arnold

Book Review: The Best Christmas Ever by Karen King

Lexi Forde adores Christmas. She’s especially looking forward to it this year as it’s the first Christmas with her boyfriend Ben and her older brother is visiting from Canada with his family.

They’ll all be spending Christmas at her parents’ house in Devon.

But when Lexi surprises Ben at work, she sees him kissing someone else and discovers he’s been having an affair. Devastated, she travels to Devon alone.

She’s determined not to let her break-up spoil her family Christmas. But when she arrives, Lexi discovers the council won’t allow the Christmas tree on the green to be decorated this year; it’s too dangerous and has to come down. Lexi is desperate to save their favourite family tradition and make this Christmas extra special.

Can she save the tree and mend her broken heart in time for Christmas?

*****

The first Christmas book I read this year is a…cracker! Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

This is a multi-generational story set in a charming village in Devon.

Lexi is back home for the holidays but not with whom she thought was a wonderful boyfriend in tow.

With a Christmas-mad family (including a Grandma who she’s worried will get arrested at any moment), a new hunky man on the block looking for a new start whilst trying to keep a nutty but sweet pooch on the leash (I’ll stop), this was a book I found very difficult to put down.

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Book Review: Under The Italian Sun by Sue Moorcroft

A warm, sun-baked terrace.

The rustle of verdant green vines.

The sun slowly dipping behind the Umbrian mountains.

And the chink of wine glasses as the first cork of the evening is popped…

Welcome to Italy. A place that holds the answer to Zia-Lucia Costa Chalmers’ many questions. Not least, how she ended up with such a mouthful of a name.

When Zia discovers that her mother wasn’t who she thought she was, she realises the time has come to search out the Italian family she’s never known.

However, as she delves into the secrets of her past, she doesn’t bargain on having to think about her future too. But with local vineyard owner, Piero, living next door, Zia knows she has a serious distraction who may prove difficult to ignore…

This summer, join Zia as she sets out to uncover her past. But can she find the future she’s always dreamed of along the way?

Want to know what love feels like? Read a Sue Moorcroft novel!

‘Under the Italian Sun’ is the forthcoming novel by this Amazon and Sunday Time best-selling author. When I get my hands upon the new novel, I’m all a quiver as I know I’m in for an exciting, but above all else, romantic ride. This novel didn’t disappoint in any way.

A little about the book, as I hate giving out too much if anything at all about the plot, if I can help it. This is the story of Zia and her journey to find her family; it’s not an easy one. Dumping her cheating boyfriend – a rotter of the highest order, I may add – she goes off to Italy with her best friend (also going through man problems) to see if she can find out more, especially about the father she never knew.

Zia isn’t prefect, making as much trouble for herself as she finds herself in, and that’s the beauty of her character. It’s not easy to write someone who you love, yet at the same time, feel like shouting at the screen, “Wake up woman!” Ms. Moorcroft is the master of this. I also loved her love interest, Piero and the fire between them burns as hot and cold as you could wish for.

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NK Chats To… M W Arnold

Hello Mick. I am so very pleased and proud to be welcoming you to Novel Kicks. What’s the experience been like so far compared to your first novel, ‘The Season for Love’?

Hi Laura, it’s wonderful to be back celebrating my second novel, I’m delighted to be here. It’s never easy to obtain a contract for a book, and for some reason, in my opinion, if it’s not already in place, obtaining that second one is always the most nerve-shredding. When the email offer came through for this one, it was like a weight lifting from my mind.

 

Can you tell me a little about your first historical saga, ‘A Wing and a Prayer’ and what inspired the story?

Because of ill health, I hadn’t been writing, I’d wanted to but it hadn’t been working. My author friends had all been encouraging me to try, so when a friend suggested I try something new rather than to pick up an unfinished project, it was like a serendipitous moment. I was watching a program on tv called, Spitfire Women, about the lady pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary in WW2. Before I was even aware I was doing it, I found myself scrolling around the internet and the beginning of a story idea reared its head. For this prod up the proverbial, I have two excellent authors and good friends to thank; best-selling romance author Sue Moorcroft and historical saga author par excellence, Elaine Everest. Also, after finding out so much about the brave women and men of the ATA, I wanted to write a kind of tribute to them. I hope I’ve done so.

 

What are the challenges of setting your novel in WWII?

Getting your facts right. Well, that’s only partially true, as in this day and age of the internet, you really shouldn’t be getting anything wrong, though it does happen. The other part, at least so far as I’m concerned, is making sure your characters behave and talk as they did back then. Compared to my romance, which was set in contemporary times, this was initially much harder to write until I got into the swing of it and now, it’s quite natural. Now I’m well into writing the third book in the series, writing as if my mind is back in the 1940’s seems natural. My main issue is, and will probably remain, writing in US English, as my publisher is based in the USA and prefers this. It still looks strange to me.

 

What’s your writing process like from first idea to final draft? Are there any challenges when writing a book series?

A lot of my ideas, when I first tried my hand at writing, came from listening to Radio. I’d hear a song and that would spark an idea. I still have a folder with about 20 idea for stories, some are brief outlines, a few lines, some are up to 6 or 7 pages, quite full of detail, a few even with a start, a middle and an end. I’d like think I can get back to some of those at some point. For this saga series, once the idea came, I was able to start writing pretty fast. I like to begin a story as soon as the idea hits me and as I’m more of a panster than a planster, I can get the first draft down pretty quickly, even taking into account that my first drafts are more akin to between a second and third draft, as I edit as I go along; each chapter has to read right before I can move on to the next one. I also keep each chapter as its own file, as I find it much easier to go to what I need to if, well, I need to.

So far as writing a series is concerned, this is my first series as ‘The Season for Love’ was a standalone romance, I’m kind of learning my own way as I go along. I’m sure everyone who writes a series has their own ways, so there may be an easier way than the one I’m using, but so far, it works for me. I like to, if it’s possible, to leave each chapter on a cliffhanger. That’s not possible with a series of books, so far as the end of the book is concerned. I’d like to, but each book has to be able to be read as a standalone too, so that’s out of the question. What I have to do is give the reader an enjoyable reading experience, whilst making them want to find out what the characters get up to next. It’s a nice feeling to know that I’ll be coming back to these characters again too.

 

You are a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association  Do you feel that the RNA New Writers’ Scheme is worth joining if you’re wanting to start writing a novel?

My route to publication was through this esteemed scheme so, yes, very much so. I know so many authors who became published by joining the NWS scheme of the Romantic Novelists Association. It’s one of the hardest things to accomplish, having a book published and the support which this scheme provides is invaluable. I would recommend it to anyone who wishes to become an author.

 

What’s your favourite word and why?

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Book Review: Christmas Wishes by Sue Moorcroft

Hannah and Nico are meant to be together.

But fate is keeping them apart…

As soon as Hannah bumps into her brother Rob’s best friend Nico in Stockholm, the two rekindle a fast friendship. But Hannah has a boyfriend – and Nico has two children to look after.

When Hannah loses her beloved shop in Stockholm, though, she is forced to move back to the little village of Middledip – only to find Nico has just moved in too. Under the same snowy sky, can the childhood friends make a romance work – or are there too many obstacles standing in their way?

I have just had the honour of reading the latest novel by Amazon #1 author, Sue Moorcroft, ‘Christmas Wishes’.

I’m a strong believer that there comes a time in every author’s career where they bring out ‘That’ story. ‘Christmas Wishes’ is ‘That’ story.

I’ve been left, in particular order – breathless, doubled-over in laughter, in tears, seething with anger. I don’t think I’ve ever ‘seethed with anger’ at a character? Wait until you meet Albin!

This story has a detectibly simple premise (IMHO) – can Hannah ever trust another man? More to my opinion, can any man deserve her trust, let alone her love? Is Nico, her Swedish protaganist, that man?

Wonderfully written from start until finish and chock full of storylines you will find in few other romance authors lexicon. Food and alcohol disorders, substance abuse, you name it, it’s pretty much here.

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Book Review: Summer on a Sunny Island by Sue Moorcroft

This summer, sparks are flying on the island of Malta…

When Rosa Hammond splits up from her partner Marcus, her Mum Dory suggests a summer in Malta. Not one to sit back and watch her daughter be unhappy, Dory introduces Rosa to Zach, in the hope that romance will bloom under the summer sun. But Rosa’s determined not to be swayed by a handsome man – she’s in Malta to work, after all.

Zach, meanwhile, is a magnet for trouble and is dealing with a fair few problems of his own. Neither Rosa or Zach are ready for love – but does fate have other ideas? And after a summer in paradise, will Rosa ever want to leave?

What better way to prepare for the coming summer than the latest Sue Moorcroft novel, ‘Summer on a Sunny Island’.

As the title states, such is the content.

Set on the glorious and stoic island of Malta, located in the Mediterranean Sea, this is the perfect foil to put you in the mood for a holiday, even though we can’t right now. This book will certainly help you pretend you’re there.

I’ve been to Malta, a good while ago admittedly, but I was transported back to happy memories of when I’d only recently been married.

Sue has the gift of being able to describe a location and to make you feel as if you are in the centre of the action. This is integral cog in her stories. I can still feel the Maltese sun on the back of my neck the day after finishing this novel.

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Book Review: Taking a Chance on Love by Erin Green

One question can change everything.

Meet Carmen, Polly and Dana – all happy and successful women, with very different views on relationships.

Carmen has made a life with Elliot for the past eight years. She’s ready for the next step but a proposal seems to be as far away as ever.

Polly is devoted to her family. But after her parents’ bitter divorce, she’s wary of marriage – even after sharing twenty years and one son with Fraser.

Single mother Dana longs for companionship, despite her dedication to raising her son Luke. Finding the right person to bring into their lives feels impossible – until a unique way to select a potential Mr Right comes along.

With 29th February fast approaching, will they each take the chance this Leap Year to take control of their fates?

The perfect feel-good book for a Leap-Year; albeit, with a twist.

This is the tale of three women, Carmen, Polly and Dana, all with different expectations on their relationships with their men.

We are taken on a roller-coaster of a ride with all having to endure unexpected complications along their journeys.

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Book Review: A Convenient Marriage by Jeevani Charika

Chaya is a young woman torn between her duty to family and her life in the UK. While her traditional Sri Lankan parents want her to settle down into marriage, what they don’t know is that Chaya has turned away the one true love of her life, Noah, terrified of their disapproval.

Gimhana is hiding his sexuality from his family. It’s easy enough to pretend he’s straight when he lives half a world away in the UK. But it’s getting harder and harder to turn down the potential brides his parents keep finding
for him.

When Chaya and Gimhana meet, a marriage of convenience seems like the perfect solution to their problems. Together they have everything – friendship, stability and their parents’ approval. But when both Chaya and Gimhana find themselves falling in love outside of their marriage, they’re left with an impossible decision – risk everything they’ve built together, or finally follow
their heart?

Will they choose love, or carry on living a lie?

 

Featuring a subject that is obviously close to the heart of the author, ‘A Convenient Marriage’ has, at its centre, two main themes; arranged marriages and a couple of LGBT characters.

Let’s get the wee bit about the story out of the way (for more details…buy the book!)

Getting married to satisfy the expectations of family and society, Gim and Chaya are two of the most satisfying, realistic characters I’ve come across for a good while. The way the author has drawn them and the culture they come from really touched me.

This is a novel where the power of culture and family are central to all that’s wrong with large parts of some societies and because of that, all down to this readers upbringing, I did find that a little hard to understand. However, in the end, this is a novel about friendship and all that should be important.

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Book Extract & Review: A Summer to Remember by Sue Moorcroft

I can’t think of a better way to start a Monday than a visit from Sue Moorcroft and the blog tour for her new novel, A Summer to remember.

 

WANTED! A caretaker for Roundhouse Row holiday cottages.

WHERE? Nelson’s Bar is the perfect little village. Nestled away on the Norfolk coast we can offer you no signal, no Wi-Fi and – most importantly – no problems!

WHO? The ideal candidate will be looking for an escape from their cheating scumbag ex-fiancé, a diversion from their entitled cousin, and a break from their traitorous friends.

WHAT YOU’LL GET! Accommodation in a chocolate-box cottage, plus a summer filled with blue skies and beachside walks. Oh, and a reunion with the man of your dreams.

PLEASE NOTE: We take no responsibility for any of the above scumbags, passengers and/or traitors walking back into your life…

GET IN TOUCH NOW TO MAKE THIS A SUMMER TO REMEMBER!

 

Mick has reviewed the book but first, Sue and Avon have shared an extract with us all today. 

 

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

Surprised into rising and facing the direction the voice had come from, Clancy had to grab the back of the bench as her head swam anew. A short, rotund woman with a dandelion clock of white hair and a sweet smile shuffled around the house. ‘Are you are our new Evelyn? I’m Dilys, from number two. I thought I’d say hello.’ By now Dilys was standing in front of Clancy, daisy-strewn wellies peeping from beneath a rose-splashed skirt. Her eyebrows bobbed enquiringly.

‘I’m taking the caretaker’s job, yes.’ It was impossible not to return Dilys’s smile; it was so twinkly and warm. ‘I was just wondering where I could find a supermarket. Or furniture shops. Aaron had to rush off before he could tell me.’ She supposed she was lucky that she had money in the bank but she hadn’t really bargained for the hassle of furnishing the Roundhouse when she decided to launch herself towards Nelson’s Bar.

Dilys’s grey eyes twinkled as she turned and let herself down stiffly onto the bench beside Clancy. ‘Furniture? I expect he’ll just bring the other stuff back. They stored it up at De Silva House – Aaron’s parents’ place – because Evelyn had her own.’

Clancy suppressed a wriggle of hurt that Aaron hadn’t mentioned something that, clearly, would make her life easier. Evidently, he didn’t want her here. So what? She’d been unwanted by people much closer and more important to her than Aaron De Silva. Her ex-fiancé and work colleagues, for example. And with her parents it had always only been fifty-fifty.

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Book Review: A Gift From Woolworths by Elaine Everest

As the war moves into 1945 the lives of the women of Woolworths continue.

When store manager, Betty Billington, announces she is expecting Douglas’s baby her future life is about to change more than she expects.

Freda has fallen in love with the handsome Scottish engineer but will it end happily?

Maisie loves being a mother and also caring for her two nieces although she still has her own dreams. When her brother appears on the scene he brings unexpected danger to the family.

Meanwhile Sarah dreams of her husband’s return and a cottage with roses around the door but Woolworths beckons.

Will our girls sail into times of peace, or will they experience more heartache and sorrow? With a wedding on the horizon, surely only happiness lies ahead – or does it?

A Gift from Woolworths is a gift from the wonderful Elaine Everest.

As the 5th and (so far?) last of the Woolworth novels from this author, we are left with a fitting final chapter to the story of Betty, Freda, Maisie, Sarah and all the ensemble cast. Though possible to read as a stand alone, it’s no less enjoyable for that, this is a series that asks to be read in order.

This Wonder of Woolies (yes, I had to get that in here somewhere) is a book that’s full of wonderful characters, searingly tense situations and scenes that will have you crying. Showing the skill of an author who will be long-followed, this is a book that should be devoured with relish, or a bar of your favourite chocolate.

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Book Review: A Christmas Gift by Sue Moorcroft

a christmas giftA big lovely welcome back to Sue Moorcroft. We are very happy to be the first stop on blog tour for her new novel, A Christmas Gift which has been released today by Avon. 

Georgine loves Christmas. The festive season always brings the little village of Middledip to life. But since her ex-boyfriend walked out, leaving her with crippling debts, Georgine’s struggled to make ends meet.

To keep her mind off her worries, she throws herself into organising the Christmas show at the local school. And when handsome Joe Blackthorn becomes her assistant, Georgine’s grateful for the help. But there’s something about Joe she can’t quite put her finger on. Could there be more to him than meets the eye?

Georgine’s past is going to catch up with her in ways she never expected. But can the help of friends new and old make this a Christmas to remember after all?

Welcome to a Middledip Christmas! Yes, it’s ‘that’ time of year again and we can rejoice with the release of the latest novel from Amazon and Sunday Times best-selling author, Sue Moorcroft. And, even better, for long-standing fans, she’s taken us back to Middledip! Don’t worry if you’re new to reading this author, by the time you’ve finished reading this book, you’ll be dying to check her back catalogue to discover more of this enchanting village she has created.

So, what do we have here? Well, I’ll start by stating that you won’t get too much about the story itself from me, as I don’t believe in giving too much away (you’ll find that on other reviews), I prefer to concentrate on other things.

A Christmas Gift Blog Tour - NovA wee snippet of story – Georgine France isn’t having the best of times since her boyfriend walked out on her, leaving her to deal with his debts, and when her sister comes to stay after splitting with her husband for reasons she doesn’t quite reveal, the prospect of producing the Christmas Play for the Performing Arts College she works for, suddenly turns into more work than she’d like. Throw in a blast from the past in the form of the enigmatic Joe Blackthorn, who has more than a few secrets of his own to sort through and you’ve got the enthralling tale of the year!

Sue is a (and I hope she’ll pardon me the choice of word) mistress of emotion, and she takes us through the wringer here, to be sure (Georgine’s father is not in the best of health either). All the main characters are beautifully rounded and, as is always the case with Sue’s novels, she has some of the best secondary characters that could be written. I always feel like I’ve been introduced to a new family by the time I’ve finished reading a Sue Moorcroft story, and that is just the same here.

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Book Review: Dreaming of Christmas by T.A.Williams

dreaming of christmasIt’s the dream Christmas: snow, mountains… and, er, an ex-boyfriend. But can Zoe still find love in the Alps?

Dumped on Christmas Eve by her long-term boyfriend, it’s been a rough year for Zoe Lumsley. But then she gets an invitation she can’t refuse: an all expenses paid skiing holiday with old university friends.

The bad news: her ex, Grant, will be there with his new girlfriend. But so will her former flatmate Billy, the organiser, and in the meantime he’s done rather well for himself. As Christmas in the Alps approaches, it’ll be great to see the old gang. Some more than others…

My thanks to Netgalley for the ARC first of all.

This was my first book by T.A.Williams and believe me, I’m so annoyed! So very annoyed at myself, because it’s the first of this author’s that I’ve read! Dammit! On the plus side, as it’s the first, that means I’ve plenty more to look forwards to.

Now, if that isn’t a hint that this’ll be a very good review…I give up.

The main protagonist, a certain Zoe (Clumsly) Lumsley was dumped on Christmas Eve by her longtime boyfriend from university, Grant.

A year later, unhappy in her journalistic job and dreading the forthcoming Christmas anniversary, she finds solace in an unexpected all expenses paid holiday in Austria from another of her flatmates from university, albeit one now more known for being a reclusive IT billionaire. together with the other residents of the flat. This, unfortunately, includes Grant.

A series of adventures ensue with much skiing, quaffing of top quality wine and champagne, with all the protagonists having something to hide including, though she doesn’t realise it until near the end of the book, Zoe herself.

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Mick’s Musings: A Catch-Up

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgI shall start by saying, sorry; then sorry; then sorry again. Sorry for not having written for a long, long time. I’ll start by explaining, a little, why that’s been the case.

Just after last New Year, I fell ill, and fell hard. I’m still trying to recover and there’s no date when I can think that will be the case yet. Because of this, I’ve hardly done any writing, though I’ve been advised by my many author friends that if I can, this would be a helpful thing…I’ll see what I can do and you’ll find out the results here. I’ll really try to make that before too long.

So, what have I been doing these long months? And they have been long, believe me. I don’t think I’d have made it this far without all the kind thoughts and support that I’ve had from too many individuals to thank here. Hopefully though, you’ll know who you are, but again, you don’t know how much you’ve all meant to me.

Basically, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and I mean a lot, though not doing as many reviews as perhaps I should. I’ve seen a few movies too, not anything heavy as I can’t take that right now. I’ve watched the entire series of Star Trek Enterprise and found it was much better than I remembered. So there’s a recommendation for you.

I’ve watched as friends of mine from the Romantic Novelist’s Association have gained their first contracts and releases as well, and I couldn’t be happier for them. You’ll have to forgive my memory as I can’t remember you all, but a shout out to you: Tora Williams for ‘Bound to Her Blood Enemy’. Also a forthcoming Christmas novella, ‘The Gift of Time’.

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Blog Tour: One Summer in Italy by Sue Moorcroft

one summer in italyA lovely big welcome to Sue Moorcroft and the blog tour for her latest novel, One Summer in Italy. 

When Sofia Bianchi’s father Aldo dies, it makes her stop and look at things afresh. Having been his carer for so many years, she knows it’s time for her to live her own life – and to fulfil some promises she made to Aldo in his final days.

So there’s nothing for it but to escape to Italy’s Umbrian mountains where, tucked away in a sleepy Italian village, lie plenty of family secrets waiting to be discovered. There, Sofia also finds Amy who is desperately trying to find her way in life after discovering her dad isn’t her biological father.

Sofia sets about helping Amy through this difficult time, but it’s the handsome Levi who proves to be the biggest distraction for Sofia, as her new life starts to take off…

 

Mick Arnold has reviewed the novel, plus Sue has shared a recipe but first, an extract..

*** start of extract***

The next day, Sofia set out down the hill to visit Gianni at Hotel Alba, butterflies doing aerobics in her stomach and Via Virgilio’s crawling traffic loud in her ear. Her thoughts were on what lay ahead – getting to know her uncle’s family. Her family, in fact.

1D420D12-02B0-4A15-8790-97E4C3D82D76At the beginning of her journey she could see Hotel Alba on the facing slope but it was hidden from her view by a multitude of other buildings as she got down into the centre of Montelibertà. Traversing both Piazza Roma and Piazza Santa Lucia, busy with tourists and loud with as many English and American voices as Italian, she followed the route she’d memorised up Corso Musica, a street that, once past the theatre with a sort of bandstand outside, quickly narrowed. It wasn’t until she branched into Corso Sant’Angelo and rounded a sharp bend that Hotel Alba popped into view again.

Sofia paused to drink it in. Tall and white with the ubiquitous terracotta tiled roof, it was probably twice the size and twice the age of Casa Felice, and looked as if it was a cut above. Stonework framed the windows and arched like eyebrows over the doorways. Imposing urns set at intervals around the building were extravagantly planted with red, white and purple petunias. The road and pavement leading up to the hotel were cobbled, and the main doors stood welcomingly ajar.

Subduing an urge to retreat, if only to the nearest large window to check her appearance after a twenty-minute walk, Sofia strolled through the imposing doors, hoping her attack of nerves didn’t show. In the vaulted reception area, the ceiling was hung with impressive glass chandeliers. Walls and ceilings were painted white but the floor was glossy black marble, and the sofas dotted about were black too. Bureaus and side tables were painted a dull pewter. Paintings depicting busy market places and teeming cafés dotted the walls, bold splashes of colour standing out against the otherwise monochrome elegance.

Several guests sat around with either phones or tablets in their hands. Sofia guessed that the best free wifi was in this area.

***end of extract***

 

Sofia’s Lasagne

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Mick’s Musings: I’m Being Published!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgA final (finally!) blog post prior to publication!

Firstly, I owe a huge apology to Laura. I’ve been promising this new post for what would seem like to her (and is) yonks now. No excuses, though believe me, I’d like to use a few…I simply haven’t gotten around to it. To say it’s been busy would be to put things mildly, though that’s mainly been down to the day job leaving me so tired at night. That isn’t likely to change anytime soon, so I’m following the advice I’ve always been given about writing, and making the time.

So…news time. As of the time I write this (the 3rd December), my debut book will be released in less than two weeks, December 16th to be precise. I’m toying with the idea of actually being awake at midnight for a change just so I can watch it go ‘live’ on the download sites. As of yet, I can’t make my mind up if this is a dumb idea or not? I kind of expect, if I don’t stay up, to wake up to find it’s all been a dream and I’m not getting published. You wouldn’t believe the amount of my writer friends who’ve told me how stupid I’m being when I say that.

Yes, as of quite shortly, I will have accomplished a major dream and joined the ranks of the published writer, and have earned the right to call myself an ‘Author’. And I’m still waiting for it to fall down around my ears. Can’t help it, sorry. A big thank you has to go to Laura for supporting me on this site over the last few years, she’s absolutely wonderful and has always been there for me. I can only wish her as much luck with her own writing. You know where I am!

And what’s been keeping me so busy? Apart from the day job, that is. It’s all been a little bit of a rush job the last few months, getting things ready with the book. I’d been told that this may be the case by my publishers but I had no idea how much of a rush job it would turn out to be. You see, my Editor was ill for much of the last few weeks when I was supposed to get the edits through, so it was a case of hurry-up-and-wait and then ‘get-these-back-to-me-by-when. I think I got the edits in and out, and in and back and out in a space of about two weeks of mayhem. Not too much to do in the end, though a few plot inconsistencies were uncovered in the process. Nothing major, apart from revealing a couples grave at the end who’d been nice and alive all through the book. So, see, minor.

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Book Review: The Little Village Christmas by Sue Moorcroft

The Little Village ChristmasWelcoming Sue Moorcroft back to Novel Kicks is a lovely way to kick off a Monday morning. She’s here with the blog tour for her latest novel, The Little Village Christmas which has recently been released by Avon digitally with the paperback release following at the beginning of November. 

Alexia Kennedy – interior decorator extraordinaire – has been tasked with giving the little village of Middledip the community café it’s always dreamed of.

After months of fundraising, the villagers can’t wait to see work get started – but disaster strikes when every last penny is stolen. With Middledip up in arms at how this could have happened, Alexia feels ready to admit defeat.

But help comes in an unlikely form when woodsman, Ben Hardaker and his rescue owl Barney, arrive on the scene. Another lost soul who’s hit rock bottom, Ben and Alexia make an unlikely partnership.

However, they soon realise that a little sprinkling of Christmas magic might just help to bring this village – and their lives – together again…

Christmas wouldn’t feel like Christmas, even in October, if there wasn’t a new Sue Moorcroft novel to enjoy – I was not disappointed.

Will that do? It should suffice as the line above should be all you need to know, assuming you’re familiar with the stories of Ms Moorcroft. If you’re not, then read on, but by the time you get to the end of this review and have then purchased the book, savoured the beautiful front cover and finally sat down to read said story, I’m certain you’ll be in agreement with my succinct review above.

Still not convinced? Very well, but be warned, if you want a more complete story outline, I suggest you go elsewhere. That’s not my style. I tend to give a brief overview of what happens, and concentrate on the writing style and characterisation, plus a small deal of procrastination thrown in for you fellow writers out there.

So, who do we have here? Our main characters are Alexia, an Interior Decorator who’s taking on one final project in her home village of Middledip (hurrah!) before, she hopes leaving for bigger things in London. However, as they do, the best laid plans fall apart when conmen steal all that’s worth stealing from The Angel Community Cafe she’s thrown into a steamy relationship with Ben, relatively new to the village who’d previously kept to himself for reasons that become clearer as the story progresses, that flounders and very nearly burns before it’s had time to get started.

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Mick’s Musings: I’m Celebrating…

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgTo those of you who were avidly following my previous blog post…are any of you still around? I wouldn’t blame you if you weren’t, it’s been so long since I last wrote one. To you, I offer my humble apologies and even more so to Laura who gave me this opportunity in the first place. Sorry chuck!

So why haven’t I hardly done any posts this year? Have I been alive? Have I done anything? Has anything happened to me? In words as few as possible…YES!!!!

As you may recall from my first post and onwards, I’ve told you about what I’ve been doing so far as my quest to attain publication pertains (please note the use of complicated words!) and a few months, I managed to attain that holy grail. Well, kind of. I’m a born pessimist, so until the actual day, there’s still plenty of time for things to go pear-shaped.

Suffice to say, I’ve now signed my first contract and ‘The Season For Love’ is due to be e-published, on both sides of the Pond no less, around the beginning of December. I still can’t believe it! In fact, I could fill this whole post with exclamation marks, but in the hope that you’ll actually read this, I won’t…but I could! Sorry, couldn’t resist that one.

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Book Review: Confetti at the Cornish Café by Phillipa Ashley

Confetti at the cornish

Maze, May 2017

Cal and Demi are preparing to launch their beloved Kilhallon Resort in Cornwall as a wedding venue. With the cliff-top setting and coastal views, it’s the perfect place for a magical ceremony.

But their first clients are no ordinary couple. The bride and groom are internationally famous celebrities Lily Craig and Ben Trevone. As secrets surface and truths are told, can Demi and Cal ensure that Kilhallon’s first wedding is a success? One thing’s for sure, this will be a Cornish celebration to remember . . .

It’s always a sad moment when you come to the end of a beloved series. Harry Potter, the original Star Wars Trilogy, and my latest – ‘Confetti at the Cornish Café’ is the third and final book in the ‘Cornish Café’ trilogy; unless Phillipa can be persuaded to keep them going? But would that be a good thing? All good things come to an end, is a very true saying and some things go on way past their sell-by-dates. This is not the case here.

I have enjoyed, to say the least, Ms Ashley’s tales of Demi and Cal and the third, unusual but certainly important character, Kilhallon (the estate in Cornwall where the story is mainly set). There are many books where the location is important, but few that earn the right to be counted as a character in their own right (Mandalay in Rebecca comes to mind). I want to visit Cornwall again now to try and search it out, but know that despite the beauty of the county, I’d be disappointed.

Ms Ashley has been extremely clever with her pacing of these novels as hints have been dropped about the cause of Cal’s behaviour, which were revealed in ‘Christmas at the Cornish Café’, but here we finally get to meet the little girl from his past that has so affected him, and the way it was written brought tears to the eyes of this reviewer. But what about Cal and Demi you ask? Do they finally get together?

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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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Mick’s Musings: Remembered How To Write

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgAt last, I’ve picked up my metaphorical pen and started writing again. After a couple of months of reading some very good books, especially some nice proofs (thank you Rosie Marguessen), I decided that it was about time I picked up my writing hat again. This was helped by the results of an online Pitch Event in the USA that I attended back in February.

The results were as good as could be hoped for, a couple of agents after mixed bags of both my current books; including two who asked for the complete manuscript!

Can anyone guess the problem there? Though one is as finished as it can get, the one’s that wanted the complete m/s for wasn’t. Or rather it was but only up to the second draft. Very clever bod that I am. So, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks going through two more drafts until it’s at such a state I felt I could send it off. Fortunately, both agents in their replies state that it’s ok to say if I’m a first time author and seeing as I’m not published, I took that as an okay to say I was; so I did. What will happen from these, who can tell, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

These two weeks of hectic writing, reading, re-writing, re-reading (you get the picture) has also reminded me to send this latest off to the RNA’s NWS scheme. I didn’t last year, which is kind of a waste, but as I didn’t feel it was worth sending off a half-finished effort, I didn’t trouble the readers. However, the bug is BACK!!!! So that’s going to go off shortly, today if I get my finger out.

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Book Review: The Girl on the Beach by Morton S. Gray

the girl on the beach

Death By Choc Lit, January 2017

Who is Harry Dixon?

When Ellie Golden meets Harry Dixon, she can’t help but feel she recognises him from somewhere. But when she finally realises who he is, she can’t believe it – because the man she met on the beach all those years before wasn’t called Harry Dixon. And, what’s more, that man is dead.

For a woman trying to outrun her troubled past and protect her son, Harry’s presence is deeply unsettling – and even more disconcerting than coming face to face with a dead man, is the fact that Harry seems to have no recollection of ever having met Ellie before. At least that’s what he says …

But perhaps Harry isn’t the person Ellie should be worried about. Because there’s a far more dangerous figure from the past lurking just outside of the new life she has built for herself, biding his time, just waiting to strike.

 

Recently, I’ve had the privilege of reading some novels before their published date; my thanks to those who’ve been so generous to allow me to do so, you know who you are. Around two weeks ago, I was accorded the honour of being sent a copy of the author Morton S Gray’s debut novel ‘The Girl on the Beach’, published by Choclit.

I’ve read a few debuts over the years and obviously some are better than others. If you’re lucky, you’re left doing a passable goldfish impression with your mouth simply repeating, ‘OMG! OMG! OMG! Whilst some honestly leave you wondering how on earth they got published. This novel sits firmly, as in set-in-stone firmly, in the former category. I finished it last night and just sat there enjoying a special feeling…you know the one where you know, you just know that you’ve found a special author and you’re going to be ticking off the days on your calendar until their next release!

Those who read my reviews will know that I don’t tend to give much away about the plot, it spoils the twists and turns – and there are plenty here – that a good author will sprinkle around their work. Ms Gray’s story is as much ‘Suspense’ as ‘Romance’ and considering the subject matter, this is just as well. Because of this, I have to explain what I mean and tell you a little more of the story than I normally would. I prefer to concentrate on how the writer…um, writes.

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Book Review: Winter’s Fairytale by Maxine Morrey

Carina, November 2015

Carina, November 2015

A few weeks before Christmas and a sudden blanketing of snow has closed the roads and brought public transport grinding to a halt, stranding Izzy miles from home and in desperate need of rescuing.

That doesn’t mean she’s looking to bump into Rob and spend a cosy weekend holed up in his swanky flat watching London become a winter wonderland! Because Izzy and Rob have history…

Six months ago, they were standing in the vestry of a beautiful country church, while best man Rob delivered the news that every bride dreads on their big day.

But at the time of year when anything is possible, can Rob and Izzy let go of the past and let Christmas work its magic? Or will this be one holiday wish that Izzy lets walk right out of her life…

 

My first thought was – ‘…and this is a debut novel?’

That should say about all you’d need to know how much I loved this book.

Maxi has crafted and woven a beautiful tale where you’re rooting for the two protagonists to get together from the first time we meet them on the pages. Izzy was jilted at the altar and promptly broke the nose of the Best Man when he came to break the bad news – pretty good considering she’s on the petite-side and Rob’s a strapping rugby-playing fellow.

As life has it, Izzy makes wedding dresses for a living and it’s through her business, and the fact that fate conspires to bring the pair together all the time, that ‘something’ begins to grow between the two of them. Life being what it is though, it’s never going to be that simple and there are many misunderstandings and false starts before love finally finds a way.

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Mick’s Musings: Felicitous Yuletide Greetings to you all!

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgWell, here’s my final blog post of the year and it’s been a strange last couple of months. My personal writing has kind of ground to an unwilling halt for the last two months and I know the exact reason. I’ve transferred back to my old position at work and am often not getting home until nearly half seven in the evening and am simply too tired to pick up my laptop and write. I’m perfectly aware of what everyone, including myself, always tells anyone who wants to write – write at every opportunity etc… – but sometimes, that’s just not possible; especially when you don’t ‘like’ your day job that much

Which brings me onto my New Year’s Resolution; ignore the feelings above and WRITE!! Simple as that and I’ll do my best to hold myself to it. I was doing quite well with my writing for the first ten months of this year and I want to get back to how I was then. Here’s hoping for a better year at work.

So, what have I been doing if I haven’t been writing? Since I last wrote, I’ve devoted quite a lot of time to my reading specifically that of two FRC’s I’ve been fortunate enough to be invited to read.

The first was the smash hit on Amazon by the wonderful Sue Moorcroft ‘The Christmas Promise.’ I’m fortunate enough to be a member of her Facebook Group #TeamSueMoorcroft and because of my participation in the promotion of her through Twitter and Facebook, I was given the opportunity to read a preview copy of this fantastic novel. In the weeks leading up to its release on Kindle, I sent out daily ‘Twitter-Teases’ about it and enjoyed myself immensely. If I’m lucky, perhaps I should now consider myself friends with Sue? I wouldn’t be presumptuous enough to assume that, but I would be honoured if this were true.

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Book Review: A Cornish Christmas by Lily Graham

cornish-christmasNestled in the Cornish village of Cloudsea, sits Sea Cottage – the perfect place for some Christmas magic …

At last Ivy is looking forward to Christmas. She and her husband Stuart have moved to their perfect little cottage by the sea – a haven alongside the rugged cliffs that look out to the Atlantic Ocean. She’s pregnant with their much-longed for first baby and for the first time, since the death of her beloved mother, Ivy feels like things are going to be alright.

But there is trouble ahead and suddenly she misses her mum more than ever. 

To give away a huge spoiler or not to give away a huge spoiler, that is the question.

And it is! There’s one thing I never do in my reviews and that’s to give the main points of a plot away and I’m tying my fingers in knots to stop them typing something yes, huge, about this story and a postcard…there, that’s the spoiler alert over with. If you want to know what I haven’t told you, there’s one good way – buy the book and read it!

All I shall say about the story is…Ivy and her husband Stuart have been trying and failing to get pregnant and finally make a break from London and move down to Cornwall. The change of scene and pace of life make all the difference, plus they get away from Stuart’s controlling mother, though Ivy feels a constant ache, she misses her deceased mother so much.

With the aid of new friends and finally re-acquainting herself with her mother’s old ones, Ivy struggles to accept that their dreams of a child may finally come true. Whilst Stuart makes a surprising success from producing condiments from his smallholding, his sister Smudge brings her own troubles to the fold.

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Mick’s Musings: Time Flies When You…

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgTime flies when you’re having fun – and writing can be fun, though time flies in this case even if you’re not having fun. Of course, it can also behave as if you’ve got both feet stuck in quicksand.

This has actually got nothing to do with what I’m going to talk about today, it’s just something that’s been flitting around my mind for a while and I’m hoping that by laying it down on paper (so to speak) I’ll be able to get this wind-worm out of my head. Sorry if you’ve now got it.

Right, so what have I been up to since the last time I wrote?

For a start, there was the RNA Conference in Lancaster, probably the highlight of the writing year for me at the moment (at least until such a time as I get ‘that’ call) and as much fun as ever. My heartfelt, and belated, thanks to all who gave their time to present to everyone, word cannot be enough to express my thanks – quite ironic considering the purpose of the conference. Especially to Imogen Howsen for her ‘Speed Dating’ session. No, you did read correctly, though we didn’t come away with partners in that respect, but rather it was utilising the format to find Critique Buddies. I’ve come away with some terrific ladies – Lisa Hill, Elaina James, April Hardy, Sue Mackender, Samantha Bentall; Imogen has also foolishly looking at various attempts at my writing too and thanks out to Bernadette O’Dwyer as well for ‘being there’.

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Book Review: You And Me Always by Jill Mansell

Headline Review, June 2016

Headline Review, June 2016

Lily’s always been surrounded by love.

Ever since her mother died, she’s been cared for by friends who are as close as any family. 

Coral, her mum’s best friend; Patsy, her old babysitter – and even Dan, Patsy’s incorrigible younger brother – have always been there for her. 

But when she chance comes to meet the man who was the love of her mother’s life, Lily knows she has to take it. Getting to know him could change everything, and not just for Lily…

I really didn’t think it would be possible for this sparkling author to top ‘Three Amazing Things About You’. If you haven’t read that one of Jill’s yet, then make that the next one you read after ‘You and Me, Always’, before the movie comes out! Well, maybe not, but someone really should turn it into one.

Sorry, I digress. ‘You and Me, Always’ is top-notch writing and un-put-down-able reading. If, like me, you see a blurb that mentions a movie star or someone fleeing something, that always starts an alarm bell ringing, but no need to worry here. Jill’s characters are always well thought out and the character of Eddie is nicely believable, things don’t even veer towards pie-in-the-sky world when the story deals directly with the world of celebrities.

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Mick’s Musings: And It’s Goodnight From Him….

rp_Mick-Arnold1-224x30011.jpgAnd it’s good night from him.

A simple line, but by gum, I wish I could have written it! So, another of the great entertainers takes their final curtain call in a year that so far, I for one wish we could do without. We’ve lost so many already this year. You’ll be missed Ronnie Corbett.

As writers, we’re always hoping to come up with that ‘killer’ line, those few words that, on their own don’t mean anything, but put them together in the right order and bam! Of course, it’s the 400th anniversary of a certain gentleman’s birth this year who’s become the go-to writer for killer lines. Yes, I am taking about the Bard of Avon, William Shakespeare, but don’t worry, this isn’t going to be another half-baked celebration, for a start, and please don’t tar and feather me, I’m not a huge fan. I can just about take some of his comedies, but any of his serious plays usually send me to sleep – sorry.

My point is simply that we use his killer lines in our everyday speech, most of the time without knowing it, and wouldn’t we all love to be quoted! In the good way of course. It’s only six words, ‘And it’s good night from him’, but so memorable. I think we could all quote scenes from our favourite novels, but most of us wouldn’t be able to quote a favourite line, or perhaps rather one that would stand out for longer than a few months in our minds.

Which brings me onto the update on my present WIP. I talked in my last Blog update about how hearing a radio interview had interrupted the flow of what I was writing at that time, if you recall. The new one, tentatively entitled ‘Three Little Words’ (but very likely to change. Not because I don’t like it, but because it’s already been taken a number of times), and as of the last few days, I have finished the first draft with the word count standing at 81,986 words. Deciding that I’d like to get about 10,000 words done from Monday to Friday kept me on track.

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Book Review: Is This Love? by Sue Moorcroft

Is This Love by Sue MoorcroftHow many ways can one woman love?

When Tamara Rix’s sister Lyddie is involved in a hit-and-run accident that leaves her in need of constant care, Tamara resolves to remain in the village she grew up in. Tamara would do anything for her sister, even sacrifice a long-term relationship.

But when Lyddie’s teenage sweetheart Jed Cassius returns to Middledip, he brings news that shakes the Rix family to their core. Jed’s life is shrouded in mystery, particularly his job, but despite his strange background, Tamara can’t help being intrigued by him.

Can Tamara find a balance between her love for Lyddie and growing feelings for Jed, or will she discover that some kinds of love just don’t mix?

Where to start? Are there enough superlatives to describe this story? No. there you go, one of the shortest book reviews you’ll ever see.

Seriously? Yes, seriously, I finished this book about half an hour ago and have since being thinking, cogitating and generally mulling over how to put into words my thoughts on this story. I’ll do my best, though for those other fans of hers, I doubt if anything I’m going to say will come as a surprise.

Ms Moorcroft doesn’t pick easy subject matter, that much you already know if you’ve read any of her other books, for this, she should be congratulated. No picking the tried, tested, or easy route for her and perhaps other writers in the Contemporary Romance genre would do well to take a leaf from her book.

There are three central characters in ‘Is This Love?’ Two conventional, Tamara and Jed, around whom the conventional love story is centred and then there’s Tamara’s elder sister Lyddie. Lyddie is the glue that binds Tamara’s family together; Lyddie is a kind, generous thirty-something woman; Lyddie is a kind, generous, thirty-something brain-damaged woman. That got your notice.

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Mick’s Musings: Authors Meet Up

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(L-R) Georgia Hill, Mick Arnold, Linn B Halton and Tora Williams

I went to an author/blogger meet up in Birmingham recently and I’d like to start by thanking the wonderful Kim Nash for not only taking the trouble to arrange it, but also for being such a gracious host; thank you Kim.

To those of you whom I didn’t get around to meeting, I’m sorry and, if like me, you’re down to go to the next one in London, I hope to at least be able to say hello and maybe share bookish experiences with you. I’ll be the one in the corner, looking not unlike a startled rabbit (but with slightly less hair).

Swift hello’s to a few that I did manage to meet, starting with the lovely Sue Moorcroft (always great to catch up) and the other members of her Facebook Team Moorcroft whose names I can recall. Louise Styles, hi and very good to meet and talk to you; Mark West, Sue told me about a short story you wrote (think it was yourself?) about someone with a foot fetish, thanks for the nightmares; Kim Nash, thanks again and very nice to put a person to the face. Bookaholic Holly, Georgia Hill, Janice Preston, Linn B Halton and undoubtedly others whose names I can only apologise for forgetting. Just think of a goldfish with amnesia and that’s me with names.

This was my first meet up of this kind and there are already two others this year that I’ve accepted the kind invitations to go to. If you’ve never been to one of these and you find an invite drop into your Facebook account, then I can honestly say that (assuming you’re either an author or blogger, or for that matter a keen reader) you won’t be in the company of such a warm and welcoming group of people – ever!

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Mick’s Musings: Fun! Fun! Fun!

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

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

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

Thank you Kate T for the suggestion.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Mick’s Musings: Time is an Abstract Concept

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

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

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

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

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

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Mick’s Musings: Looking for an Agent!

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

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

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Spotlight: Our Favourites Reads of 2014.

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

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

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

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

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

Click here to read Bella’s Scribblings.

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Mick’s Musings: Jealous?

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

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