It’s the most wonderful time of the year on Castle Street, and there’s a paw-some new business opening….
It had always been Tabby’s dream to work with cats and an inheritance from her beloved nanna has finally made that a reality. Idyllic Castle Street in Whitsborough Bay couldn’t be a better place for pastry chef Tabby to open a cat café with her boyfriend, Leon.
But when Leon leaves her in the lurch, the pressure mounts for Tabby. With Christmas fast approaching, she has to open the café on her own – a daunting prospect, especially when she’s been hiding her health issues from the ones she loves.
Faced with local resistance to the café – and somebody seemingly determined that she won’t succeed – Tabby will need her friends, family and cats more than ever to recover her broken Christmas spirit and pull together for a Christmas miracle.
Will the cat café bring the festive joy to Castle Street as Tabby had hoped or will it be a cat-astrophe? And can the magic of Christmas on Castle Street mend Tabby’s broken heart as well as her business?
Tabby’s dream has always been to work with cats and, with the opening of her very own cat café looming, the only thing that would make it perfect would be for boyfriend, Leon to return so they can run it together liked they planned. However, not everything runs smoothly.
My third Christmas themed novel in so many days and I’m totally ok with it. I am a big fan of Jessica Redland and her Starfish Café series so I was excited to be invited onto the blog tour for her new standalone novel, Christmas at the Cat Café. Christmas and cats! No brainer.
It isn’t hard to like Tabby. She’s a cat lover, she’s going after her dream and even when life throws relationship issues at her, she keeps going but also learns to accept her limits.
I’m so pleased to be welcoming Helen Rolfe back to Novel Kicks. She’s here with the blog tour for her latest novel, Christmas Nights at the Star and Lantern, which is book six in the Heritage Cove series.
A wonderful story of love, friendship and opening your mind and your heart to new possibilities that will enchant fans of Holly Martin and Heidi Swain.
The Copper Plough is at the heart of village life for the residents of Heritage Cove, and never more so than at Christmas, when the tree glows in the alcove and the smell of mulled wine carries out onto the street. So when new owners for the beloved pub arrive and decide to shake things up, not everyone welcomes the changes with open arms.
Local bakery owner Celeste is ready to keep an open mind. But she’s shocked to discover that one of the new landlords is Quinn, a former Navy sailor with whom she had a short but powerful romance years earlier.
Fate may have brought Quinn and Celeste back together, but life seems determined to keep them apart. Can the villagers learn to embrace the newcomers this Christmas? And will Quinn and Celeste find a way back to each other before snow falls over Heritage Cove?
Celeste, along with her sister Jade, own and run the bakery in Heritage Cove. There is nothing they like more than the Cove at Christmas, especially when it means a drink in the local pub. It’s where the village can embrace the festive atmosphere by celebrating by the real Christmas tree and the roaring fire. So, when the pub changes hands and name, the whole village is worried about how much their local will change. For Celeste, the new owners bring another problem.
I was so excited to be invited onto the tour for Christmas Nights at the Star and Lantern. Not only because it’s a festive themed novel but also the cover is beautiful. The Star and Lantern Pub also has a lovely ring to it.by
In this epic and unforgettable love story, set in the wilds of Missouri and the glamour of high society Boston at the dawn of the Gilded Age, one woman’s life changes forever the day that a stranger turns up on her doorstep.
Missouri, February 1874: The last thing struggling homesteader Ginny needs is a scandal on her hands. But when a badly injured drifter arrives at Snow Farm in desperate need of medical attention, Ginny’s kind nature and good upbringing means she has no choice but to treat his wounds and care for him until he’s back on his feet, no matter the danger he might pose.
Ginny’s been running the farm and looking after her fourteen-year-old sister Mary-Lou since their papa died two years ago, each morning pulling on his old leather coat and pushing her feet into stout boots that come up to her knees, before heading out to tend to the cattle. She’s determined to hold onto the one thing that connects them to memories of their parents – whatever the cost. And when their uninvited guest – Lex – is well enough he offers his help, and she surprises herself by accepting it.
But not long after Lex moves on, Ginny realises that her heart has gone with him. And when the farm’s fortunes take a turn for the worse, she faces her hardest test yet. Can she save the only home she’s ever known, and everything she holds dear? And what if doing so means risking a chance at love and happiness she never expected to come her way?
Imogen has shared an extract with us today so you know the drill – coffee/tea, comfortable chair and enjoy.
*****beginning of extract*****
This is part way through the second chapter. Mary Lou has brought an injured man to their isolated rural homestead. Ginny is concerned that her 14-year-old sister doesn’t understand the danger this man might bring them, given it is just the two of them who live there.
Snow Farm, Missouri—February 1874
Ginny lifted out a screw-top jar and some bandages. “This is comfrey and elder salve. It will take down the swelling.”
The man nodded his approval and Ginny massaged the milky-colored gel into his ankle. The astringent smell filled the room.
He looked up at her, as if remembering there was a second young woman in the room. “Not for a few days.”
“I’ll get you something.” Mary Lou glanced at Ginny for approval to return to the kitchen and Ginny nodded.by
In Mistletoe Gardens a legend exists: anyone who kisses underneath the mistletoe will be guaranteed another year of love…
When local baker Essie Browne discovers that Mistletoe Gardens is to be demolished in January, she’s determined to save the place she loves so much. So Essie proposes building a life size gingerbread house to bring in the crowds…just how hard can it be?
Well, quite hard actually. Essie can bake gingerbread blindfolded, but she hasn’t got a clue how to build an actual house with it! She needs help – and fast!
Enter local builder, Joss Hallissey. Essie is convinced that with Joss’s help they can pull this off. There’s just one tiny problem: Joss hates Christmas, gingerbread, and… well, just about everything else too.
Joss the Grinch makes it clear that her idea is ludicrous and pointless, but he reluctantly agrees to help with her plan.
Will the gingerbread house be enough to save Mistletoe Gardens? Or will Essie’s chance for a magical kiss under the mistletoe be lost forever?
When Essie discovers that her town’s beloved Mistletoe Gardens is going to be demolished at the end of the Christmas period, she is devastated; especially as there is so much history attached to the Gardens.
She then has an idea to build a life-size gingerbread house that will then house Father Christmas in the build up to the festive season. To begin with, no one believes in her idea which is a problem as that includes the builder she needs to help bring her vision to life.
Can Essie bring the residents of Folkhornton on side to help her save Mistletoe Gardens before it gets demolished and turned into flats?
She’s a self-made fitness sensation. He’s a billionaire mogul. They’re sworn enemies and rivals… aren’t they?
Blake Avery knows all about hard work. She’s gone from making videos in her teenage bedroom to founding a booming fitness business and opening a state-of-the-art Manhattan gym. Now she’s on the cusp of realizing her wildest dreams, and she’s not going to let anyone stand in her way.
Certainly not man-of-the-hour Gabriel Mercer. He might be one of the biggest names in the fitness world and set women’s pulses soaring more than a grueling HIIT workout, but he grew up in a billionaire dynasty and had everything handed to him – or so Blake thinks.
But when Blake publicly criticizes Gabriel, she sparks a feud that neither entrepreneur is willing to back down from. And in an industry that seems determined to keep pushing them together, can Blake hold on to her grudge? Or will she finally warm up to Gabriel’s charm?
In ten years, Blake Avery has managed to turn making fitness videos in her bedroom for You Tube, into a very successful company. She is on the verge of taking it public and so has no time for distractions or spats.
That doesn’t stop her from calling out billionaire, Gabriel Mercer and his claims that he is self made despite coming from an already rich family. As you can imagine, he doesn’t take it well.
I loved Love Quest by Camilla Isley so I was so happy to be invited onto the tour for Not in a Billion Years.by
A high-intensity personal trainer
The secret to Brooks’s success as a Manhattan gym owner? Being motivated to disprove everyone who ever doubted him. So he’s not about to let a perky newcomer like Izzy tarnish his reputation. Even if watching her lead a salsa class on his premises gets his own heartbeat raised…
His beautiful British rival
Every time influencer Izzy slams Brooks in her fitness blog, her book sales soar. But when their escalating media feud forces them to be up-close-and-personal for two weeks, she realizes there’s much more to Brooks than that lean and muscled body.
And a competition that’s got their hearts racing…
Soon Izzy and Brooks are finding all kinds of creative ways to work up a sweat. A passionate workout is easy, but can their rivalry give way to a lasting partnership?
Brooks is the owner of the most successful gym in Manhattan. He’s worked hard and he intends to keep it that way. What he doesn’t count on is a visit from the successful Izzy, who wants to use his gym to record one of her famous salsa classes.
It’s not long before the pair clash but can they work through their differences to get through a challenge to swap workout routines for two weeks?by
For Iris, each visit to her mother in St Mabon’s Cove, Cornwall has been the same – a serene escape from the city. But today, as she breathes in the salt air on the doorstep of her beloved childhood home, a heavy weight of anticipation settles over her. Iris knows she’s adopted, but any questions about where she came from have always been shut down by her parents, who can’t bear to revisit the past.
Now, Iris can’t stop thinking about what she’s read on the official paperwork: BABY GIRL, FRANCE, 1939 – the year war was declared with Nazi Germany.
When Iris confronts her mother, she hits the same wall of pain and resistance as whenever she mentions the war. That is, until her mother tearfully hands her an old tin of letters, tucked neatly beside a delicate piece of ivory wool.
Retreating to the loft, Iris steels herself to at last learn the truth, however painful it might be. But, as she peels back each layer of history before her, a sensation of dread grows inside her. The past is calling, and its secrets are more intricate and tangled than Iris could ever have imagined.
The year is 1939, and in Paris, France a young woman is about to commit a terrible betrayal…
This book sounds incredible. OK, now it’s time to reveal the cover. Drumroll…….by
Lambing season always brings the unexpected… But no one expected murder
Jude Gray never thought she’d find herself widowed and running a working farm full-time, but here she is, living in the small Malvern village her husband Adam spent most of his life in.
After a particularly gruelling lambing season, she is looking forward to some time off, but there’s no rest for the wicked, especially when she finds the body of one of Adam’s oldest friends on her farm.
Jude refuses to believe the official line, that Sarah’s death was a suicide, and starts an investigation of her own. But as the body count rises, danger creeps ever closer to Malvern Farm.
A killer is on the prowl. And all that stands in their way is one woman – and her dog.
After the death of her husband, Jude finds herself running a farm in Malvern. As a gruelling lambing season is about to end, Jude finds herself facing another challenge – solving the mysterious death of her friend. The trouble is, how do you solve a death that everyone else thinks is suicide?
Murder on the Farm is the first book in the Malvern Mysteries book series and I’m already a fan.by
A getaway to remember…
It’s Holly’s best friend’s hen do and the plan is a week away in the South of France.
With little Hope still so very young, it’s going to be difficult for Holly to tear herself away, but Ben is the perfect co-parent and her own parents are just down the road, so – Holly decides – there’s really nothing holding her back, is there?
Will the sunshine and sea air help her get back to who she really is? Or will this be the perfect distraction, a chance to have a holiday fling?
Bask in the sunny skies of France with everyone’s favourite sweet shop owner – because everyone deserves a break, don’t they?
Holly is on her way to the south of France to celebrate her friend’s hen do. With Hope being so little, Holly is finding it hard to leave her daughter but with ex-boyfriend, Ben being such a great co-parent and it only being for four days, she is eventually convinced to go.
Looking forward to celebrating with friends and having a brief rest, she doesn’t count on meeting the gorgeous Evan.by
Welcome to The Pumpkin Patch at Pickle Grove.
Andi is worried that her relationship with Drew has become dull and boring. They never do anything exciting these days, in or out of the bedroom. So when a swoon-worthy stranger appears she is instantly swept off her feet.
When they unexpectedly meet again, they realise they have more in common than they thought possible so draw up a pact to spice up their lives! The plan they conjure up while working together at The Pumpkin Patch, to make their partners jealous, brings them closer than ever.
Andi plucks up the courage to finish with Drew but there are no signs of Andrew doing the same and she thinks she’s lost him forever.
With meddling exes, misunderstandings and miscommunication getting in the way, can The Pumpkin Pact bring them back together?
This cover is making me want to grab this novel, head down to Starbucks for a Pumpkin Spice Latte and find a comfortable seat for a reading session. How about you?
Click here to buy The Pumpkin Pact on Amazon UK.
About Charlie Dean:
Charlie loves exploring love in all its forms, be it romantic, friendship or family and all that these relationships entail.
Her stories are romances with a sprinkling of spice.
Say hello on Twitter.
We have said goodbye to August (not quite sure how. It went so fast,) and we say hello to September.
When I was a child, I used to love this month because it meant I had an excuse to buy new stationary. This has no relation to the new book club pick, I just wanted to share. Haha.
This month, I have picked The Woman Who Lied by Claire Douglas.
I can’t wait to read this novel. It sounds so intriguing and I’ve heard great things about this author and her books.
I hope you join me by taking part in discussion below.
Anyone can take part in our book club, at any point in the month. Plus, you can do so from the comfort of your armchair, sofa. You get the picture.
I’ve posted a question below to kick off the discussion.
I hope to see you in the comments.
About The Woman Who Lied.by
Lexie Dunbar is a book lover. And her favourite place in the world is her local bookstore, Book Ends. So when she hears that it’s going to be sold, Lexie decides she needs to do something to help.
Lexie’s plan to save the ailing shop is fully underway until gorgeous-but-grouchy artist Tobias Black arrives on the scene determined to turn the bookstore into an art gallery. Lexie is horrified; the last thing the quaint town of Bracken Way needs is a pretentious artist, even if he does seem to charm everyone but her.
Tensions continue to rise until Tobias discovers a shocking secret that shows they might have more in common than they realise. As sparks fly, can Lexie and Tobias work together, or will opposing ideas get in the way of them finding their very own happy ever after…
OK, are you ready to see the cover for this fantastic sounding novel?
On an anonymous online dating app, LittleMissPerfect meets HotAussie007 and it’s love at first click. In real life, a smart but spiky woman in STEM, research scientist, Dr Eden, meets a laid-back Aussie marketing manager, Finn, at the big pharma company where they both work in California. They’re forced to compete for special projects funding, and both their jobs are on the line.
Eden just wants to win at science and in life. It’s not happening! She can’t stand Finn’s too-cool-for-school, nice guy act, or his delectable forearms that keep invading her space. While Finn is stupidly attracted to Eden, when she’s not telling him off, he isn’t free to pursue her. He’s stuck in the worst position in his professional life, and doesn’t see a clear way out. He can’t tell her the whole truth about what’s going on at work or in his personal life. . . or it could all blow up in his face.
When they realise the truth about their online alter egos, dating is off the table. Can they ignore their inconvenient attraction, and work together to take down their unethical boss? Or will intense rivalry cause their IRL work lives and online love lives to collide and explode like a science experiment gone wrong?
Cassandra has shared an extract with us today so grab that drink, those biscuits, a comfy chair and enjoy.
*****beginning of extract*****
The following excerpt is from Chapter Two of Dating Little Miss Perfect, © Copyright Cassandra O’Leary, 2023. Reproduced and shared with permission of the author.
This chapter starts in the hero, Finn’s, point of view. He’s just received the latest in a series of flirty online messages from LittleMissPerfect, an anonymous prospect on the dating app he’s using. They are yet to meet in real life. But it’s his cranky work rival, Dr Eden, who is on his mind. And later, we find out Finn is on Eden’s mind too! They work in a big pharma company in California, and they’re being forced to compete for special projects funding and to collaborate, to a certain extent.
Finn stared at his phone in the palm of one hand while rubbing the back of his neck with the other. LittleMissPerfect’s opening gambit was a tease. Normally, he’d fire back, saying he’d love to take her downtown. Get down and dirty. But today? Another woman occupied his thoughts like an invading army.
Cupcakes? Doctor Eden bakes cupcakes?by
How can life be too busy for love?
Phoebe Dashwood is living the dream. She’s running her own successful vet practice, Puddleduck Vets, alongside her grandmother’s animal sanctuary.
She’s also dating the gorgeous, yet slightly broken Rufus Holt, the most eligible bachelor in the New Forest.
So why isn’t she blissfully happy?
Both Phoebe and Rufus are consumed 24/7 by their own commitments. Their relationship is always last on the list.
Phoebe juggles quirky, yet demanding clients and their pets whilst widowed Rufus is consumed by his anxieties, responsibilities of fatherhood and the unenviable tasks of being a Lord in waiting with a huge estate to manage.
Phoebe knows that when you’re a vet, there isn’t always a happy ending. But will there be a happy ending for Phoebe, Rufus and everyone else at Puddleduck Farm?
Is it ever really possible to have it all?
Things seem to be going well for Phoebe Dashwood. Her Veterinary Practice is doing well and she is now in a relationship with Rufus Holt, the handsome lord of the manor.
However, as both of them try to balance their work and relationship, can it survive?
It was so lovely to be able to catch up with Phoebe, Maggie and all the people at and around Puddleduck Farm.by
One murder mystery weekend. Two rival sleuths.
They’re looking for answers. But will they find love?
Kate Brannon is delighted to be attending her first murder mystery weekend in a movie-worthy Victorian manor house. Still getting over being dumped, cracking the case would be a welcome boost to her flagging confidence. And the prize money wouldn’t hurt either.
But Kate’s dreams of victory become a nightmare with the arrival of Max Ravenscroft. Smart, enigmatic and annoyingly handsome, Max is Kate’s sleuthing nemesis.
When she and Max are forced to work together, Kate despairs. But, as the investigation brings them closer, she finds being his partner in solving crime isn’t all bad.
With growing suspicions that the game is rigged against them, can Kate and Max beat the odds to find the killer? And, as their partnership deepens, can they find romance too?
A sweet romantic comedy with a cosy mystery at its heart. Perfect for fans of Kathryn Freeman, Laura Jane Williams and Katie Fforde.
OK so that’s a little about the novel. Time for the cover. Drumroll……. Continue readingby
Hi Margaret, thank you so much for inviting Novel Kicks onto the blog tour for your novel, Two’s Company at the Forest Light Show. What’s your typical writing day like and how long does the writing process take you overall?
I’m a binge writer so when I get in the zone I keep going as long as possible! This usually happens when my son is at school and the house is quiet. I can write from nine a.m. to three p.m. with only short breaks. I find it the best way to keep the flow of the story going. On good days, I’ll write in the evenings as well.
Overall, I’m quite a fast writer, but to do that I spend a lot of time planning the books before I write a word. Once I know exactly where I want the story to go then I start. sometimes they detour here and there from the plan but generally speaking it keeps me on track and means I always know what I need to write.
Which songs would make up a playlist for your book?
That’s a really tricky question. I’m not sure what would fit this particular book. I’m thinking some power ballads for Cha and maybe something classical for Nick! Something that shows their opposite personalities.
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve discovered since you’ve started writing?by
Cath Beckinsale is in a jam. She’s a single mum of three, with her 40th birthday in sight and a precarious hold on employment. And she can’t quite let go of her late husband Gaz, whose ashes are still in an urn on the kitchen table.
To make ends meet a student lodger seems like the perfect solution – after all, what’s one more child in the house? But when Dan flies in from the US, complete with guitar and chest hair on display, it’s immediately clear that he’s no teenager, but someone who quickly sends life in an unexpected direction.
Sal has shared an extract today. We hope you enjoy it.
*****beginning of extract*****
Widower and mum of three Cath has agreed to take in a student lodger to help make ends meet. Recommended him by a colleague, she spends a tipsy evening with best friend Sindy looking up the American teenager she thinks she’s getting, as well as ogling over a same-name-but-different-state guy. However, a misunderstanding about Kansas vs Arkansas means she’s in for a surprise….
Of course, it’s only the following weekend as I’m on the way to the airport that the full force of what I’ve let myself in for comes rushing at me like a tidal wave of WTAF? I’ve left Jack and Eric at home with Sindy, who assured me that inviting someone I know barely anything about to come and live in my house, without so much as having had a conversation with him, is a great idea. I guess it happens all the time on Airbnb, right? Still, my stomach is doing all manner of odd things as I pull into the car park.
Minutes after I get to the gate a stream of people starts to emerge from the exit, their weary faces lighting up as they spot waiting relatives. I check the photo of Dan I saved to my phone. No sign yet, but he’s probably slowly lolloping his way from the plane, peering through his hair curtains and taking in a brand-new country. As I’m watching it all unfold, a man, I’d say in his mid-thirties, emerges from the exit carrying a large rucksack and a guitar. He’s over six-feet tall and archetypically handsome, a mop of loose brown curls framing an elfin face rescued from femininity by a defined jaw and strong straight brows. His cheeks dimple as he smiles at the striking young air stewardess walking alongside him. I can’t make out what he’s saying, but she is lapping it up as she overtly throws her head back in amusement and lightly touches him on the arm.by
New beginnings don’t always mean painful endings . . .
A fabulous, timeless story of friendship set in Devon from bestselling author Jennifer Bohnet.
As time ebbs and flows over the summer both Katie Teague and her godmother Mattie Cranford discover their lives are at a crossroads
Mattie shackled to the family wool shop for over 50 years, feels life has passed her by. She dreams of seeing the world and shaking off a lifetime of regrets.
When Katie is made redundant, Mattie seizes the moment and asks Katie to move back to her home town of Dartmouth and breathe new life into the rundown wool shop and to her surprise Katie agrees.
As Katie settles back into the rhythm of Devon life and renovating the shop, Mattie sets off on a luxury cruise.
But the arrival of Katie’s ex-boyfriend with an unexpected dream job offer threatens to unsettle the calm waters.
Will she sacrifice the shop and Mattie’s happiness – or her own career?
Haunted by the past and determined to keep the grief to herself, Mattie has never allowed herself to venture beyond the seaside town she grew up in. Taking over the family business when she was young, she resigned herself to that life.
However, when a need to spread her wings in later life begins to take hold and on hearing that her Goddaughter, Katie is in need of a job, Mattie begins to formulate a plan; one that may change more than just her life.
Having previously read Christmas on the Riviera by Jennifer Bohnet, I was excited to be invited onto the blog tour for High Tides and Summer Skies.by
July, 1936. As the Queen Mary sets sail across the Atlantic, Alice can’t wait for the summer of adventure that lies ahead. She’s excited to explore the huge ship, with its shops, animals and even celebrities on board.
As Alice’s sailor father focuses on winning a prestigious race, she witnesses a shocking attack. Alice and her new friend Sonny start to uncover a dark plot to sabotage the race, and as they investigate gold bars, anonymous notes and lost silk gloves, secrets in their own lives come to the surface.
While fog threatens the boat’s journey, and dangerous enemies show themselves, Alice and Sonny are in their own race to solve all the mysteries unfolding. But what they discover might change both their lives forever…
I have reviewed the book bel0w but first, here is an extract from the book. Enjoy.
*****beginning of extract*****
A buzz of anticipation and excitement made Alice’s fingers tingle, as she stepped away from the station platform and onto the dock. Grey smoke puffed lazily from the red and black-tipped funnels of the Queen Mary into the hot July air, like three simmering pots preparing to boil. She sucked in a breath of awe. It was the largest vessel she had ever seen, its riveted hull so tall it blotted out the sun. Her father had said that, if the ship was placed vertically from bow to stern, it would even be taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris!
Looking around, Alice saw that the other passengers from the train she had travelled on to Southampton docks had already hurried off to the baggage hall, leaving her alone. She glanced at her watch. Her father had promised to meet her from the train and he was late. As she looked for him, the clamour of noise was like a discordant band as motor cars expelled expectant passengers, and giant cranes with claw-like feet sent packages cocooned in rope nets into the ship’s cavernous hold.
An epic battle where heroes fight and die to protect a Kingdom from Viking invasion…
King Aethelred the Unready’s Kingdom of the English is threatened. Olaf Tryggvason and his fleet of Viking warships snap at the coastal edges like ravenous wolves, and Sweyn Forkbeard, King of the Danes, has landed in East Anglia with an army of battle-hardened warriors.
Ealdorman Byrhtnoth of Essex must stand against them faced with overwhelming odds, forging his legend in the blood of his deadly enemies.
By his side, his Thegn, Beornoth, a brutal warrior and savage Saxon fighter is torn between his need to protect his loved ones, and his duty to fight for his Lord.
As the Vikings raid and slaughter, Beornoth is forced to fight for the survival of his oath sworn brothers, his Lord, and the Kingdom itself when all roads lead to the fateful Battle of Maldon.
A thrilling story, packed with war, vengeance and visceral combat.
Olaf Tryggvason and his vikings have set up along the coast, threatening the way of the life for the Saxons as they go from town to town taking and killing all that they can. Ealdorman Byrhtnoth of Essex, along with his Thegn, Beornoth stands against them but can they withstand the threat or will Olaf triumph?by
Hi Jessie, thank you so much for joining me today with the blog tour for your novel, Saving The Good News Gazette. What’s your typical writing day like? From idea to finished book, what’s your writing process like and how long does it typically take you?
As I have a full-time job and two children, it typically takes me about a year from start to finish and involves me initially researching and jotting down plot points and characters, and ends with a triumphant email to my editor with a manuscript attached! In between, there’s plenty of hours at the computer, a few head in hands moments, and a lot of support from my lovely husband and children.
In terms of a typical day, it usually starts with a 5am alarm and a huge cup of coffee, and then I sit down and write for an hour or so until the children come downstairs and start asking for breakfast. I then spend a day at work and in the evening, after the kids have gone to bed, I’ll often sit back down at my computer again. As I say, I have a very supportive husband!
What are the challenges you found when writing your novel especially
when it’s a part of a series?
Keeping the whole thing feeling familiar yet fresh for readers. I want people to feel like they’re reading something new, while enjoying the comfort that comes from hanging out with old friends.
What songs would make up a playlist for your book?
Most of The Shires’ playlist! Ours is a busy household, so if I need to write at the weekend when everyone is around, I’ll often stick my ear pods in to drown out all the noise. The Shires has probably been the most played soundtrack to The Good News Gazette series so far.
Eleanor Oliphant. Her character was painted so beautifully, with so many quirks and imperfections, that I’d love to meet her in person.
Which authors do you admire?by
It’s summer and fingers crossed, we get some lovely days to sit and relax with a book in the garden but even if we don’t, I am hoping you’ll join me in reading this month’s choice.
The book I have chosen this month is one I have been looking forward to reading since I saw the Netflix show.
It’s Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah.
Usually, I try to read the book before seeing any kind of TV/film adaptation but having heard so many good things about the TV series, I couldn’t resist. What about you? Do you prefer to read the book before adaptation?
Our book club is open to anyone, whether you’ve already read the novel or will be reading along with me and taking part can be from the comfort of the sofa, armchair – wherever you read.
I’ll put a question in the comments below to kickstart the discussion. Looking forward to seeing you there.
About Firefly Lane –
It is 1974 and the summer of love is finally drawing to a close. The flower children are starting to realise that you cannot survive on peace and love alone.by
You know I love a cover reveal. Today, I’m so excited to be welcoming Olivia Lockhart to Novel Kicks. I’m helping to reveal the cover for her upcoming novel, The Bridesmaid’s Brother, due to be released on 19th September.
For Penny Archer, dating after forty has proved to be less ‘silver foxes and romantic dinners’, and more ‘last chance bargain bin’. She’s met every liar and cheater in the dating pool, and after one heartbreak too many, she is officially sworn off men.
A strong, single mum, she doesn’t need a partner, and besides, the family planner is crammed with work commitments, school meetings, puppy classes, chores for her ageing parents and, of course, her beloved book club. Although a cuddle now and then wouldn’t go amiss…
Penny jumps at the chance to let her hair down at a friend’s wedding, blissfully unaware that she’s about to crash into a stranger’s life in the most mortifying manner.
Can something that begins in disaster ever end in happiness, or is it all too good to be true? Will Penny ever turn the pages of her own book towards that happy ever after?
OK, now you’ve read a bit about the novel, are you ready to see the cover. Drumroll………..by
When it comes to saving yourself, who will you betray?
Louise has a shadowy past that she wants to break free from and when she develops an unlikely friendship with Isabelle, her neighbour, she finally finds the family she’s always yearned for.
But Louise knows more about Isabelle than her new friend realises, more specifically about her imprisoned husband – and the circumstances behind his arrest.
Louise is faced with a choice: to continue lying to her only friend or tell the truth and ruin any chance she has of starting over…
When Louise befriends her new neighbour, Isabelle, she sees a chance to break away from her past.
However, Louise is keeping a big secret. One that, if it comes out, could ruin the new life she has found for herself.
This was the first book by Alison Stockham I had read. The premise for the book intrigued me so I couldn’t wait to get started.by
Wartime secrets, smugglers’ caves, skeletal remains. And the holiday’s only just begun…
July 1923 – Iris Woodmore travels to Devon with her friends Percy Baverstock and Millicent Nightingale for her father’s wedding to Katherine Keats.
But when Millicent uncovers skeletal remains hidden on the private beach of Katherine’s former home, Iris begins to suspect her future stepmother is not what she seems.
The police reveal the dead man is a smuggler who went missing in 1918, and when a new murder occurs, they realise a killer is in their midst. The link between both murders is Katherine. Could Iris’s own father be in danger?
Iris Woodmore is traveling to Devon to see her father marry Katherine Keats. Iris can’t help but be suspicious of her future Stepmother.
When she and her friends find a skeleton in the caves below the home Katherine used to share with her first husband, this does nothing to soften Iris’s fear that Katherine is keeping secrets.
Can Iris solve the mystery before her father marries Katherine and potentially marries a murderer?
I fast became a fan of Iris and her friends having read the previous novel in the series, The Body at Carnival Bridge. Therefore, I was looking forward to the next in the series, A Killing at Smugglers Cove. If this is the first book in the series for you, don’t worry. I haven’t read all of them yet (I plan to,) and I could keep up well.by
She didn’t go to the jungle to meet the man of her dreams. Luckily, Dr Logan Spencer is NOT the man of her dreams!
As epic meet-cutes go, travel photographer, Winter Knowles thinks finding a gorgeous naked man outside her Thailand villa is pretty perfect. But then she discovers the naked heartthrob is none other than Dr Logan Spencer, her gruff standoffish (but sexy as hell) jungle expedition leader.
Dr Logan is on the mission of a lifetime. There’s a lost city of gold to discover and he doesn’t need any distractions – especially not the stubborn, sassy beautiful photographer type! His reputation is on the line.
These arch rivals get off on the wrong foot. But when the heat rises in the jungle, Winter and Logan are forced together in the face of danger. Is trusting someone with your life the best meet-cute of all?
(This title was originally published as From Thailand With Love.)
Photographer Winter Knowles is about to embark on a jungle expedition. Problem is, her new boss, Logan, is as unfriendly as you can get. Will Winter and Logan get through the expedition in one piece?
This didn’t hinder my enjoyment of this book or my ability to keep up with what’s going on. I will be adding the first book to my TBR pile though.
I really did fall in love and became invested in these characters.by
A Courtesan’s Worth is a steamy Regency Romance described as ‘Bridgerton meets Moulin Rouge’ (but don’t worry, there’s a happily-ever-after!). It’s the against-all-odds love story of a famous courtesan and a curate-turned-novelist, inspired by the salacious memoirs of Regency courtesan Harriette Wilson, and also by my years-long interest in the sex workers of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain.
What’s your typical writing day like?
It primarily involves carving several pockets of writing between other responsibilities. I find setting timers on my computer helps me stay focused.
What are the challenges you found when writing your novel?
On some days, it seems that everything about writing a novel is a challenge. But I’d say the hardest thing is not letting myself give in to imposter’s syndrome or self-doubt. Creatives must fight a near-constant battle with the little hater in our heads that tells us we aren’t good enough, but it’s a worthy fight to fight! I try and remember there are people who genuinely love my novels, and knowing that they will receive joy reading them is very motivating.
Which fictional character would you like to meet and why?
Perhaps Elizabeth Bennet, from Pride and Prejudice. I think she’d be a great bestie and loads of fun.
Well-developed character arcs and a structured plot are the critical building blocks of a good story, but of course there must also be an emotional element. Readers need to care about the characters, and in order for that to occur, an author must develop character agency. This is why I have no worries about AI taking over fiction – an author must be a student of human nature!!
From idea to finished book, what’s your writing process like and how long does it typically take you?
I’m a plotter, so typically I spend about two to four weeks working first on character arcs and then developing the plot. Before I start writing, I have every scene in the book mapped out. The first draft takes about two to three months, depending on how much revision I do along the way. I then start my revision process, which takes another couple of months. So all in all, from beginning to having a draft to send to my editor, it takes me about five to six months to write a novel.
Tasha Jenkins has finally found the courage to leave her abusive husband. Taking her teenage son with her, Tasha checks into a hotel the night before their flight out of D.C. and out of Kordell Jenkins’s life forever. But escaping isn’t so easy, and Tasha soon finds herself driving back to her own personal hell. As she is leaving, a white woman pounds on her car window, begging to be let in. Behind the woman, an angry man is in pursuit. Tasha makes a split-second decision that will alter the course of her life: she lets her in and takes off.
Tasha and Madison Gingell may have very different everyday realities, but what they have in common is marriages they need out of. The two women want to help each other, but they have very different ideas of what that means . . .
They are on a collision course that will end in the case files of the D.C. MPD homicide unit. Unraveling the truth of what really happened may be impossible‒and futile. Because what has the truth ever done for women like Tasha and Madison?
Madison and Tasha meet by chance. Tasha wants to leave her abusive husband and Madison has found out her husband might be having an affair.
A plan is hatched. Both husbands must die but will both women follow through with it?
Warning- a few spoilers ahead!
To use the word enjoy to describe how I feel about this book would feel strange considering the themes it explores – domestic violence, child abuse, revenge, affairs, murder.
Compelling would be a better way to put it I think.
Madison is a VERY complicated character and my sympathy for her and the empathy I felt was a bit of a rollercoaster. She has a very intricate history which involves abuse from a parent. This is enough to give anyone a skewed view of the world. It doesn’t excuse her actions but it at least gave me an understanding of them.by
Hello and yes, of course! I used to be an entertainment reporter in Los Angeles and then I moved back to the UK and met and married a Scotsman (whose eyes are remarkably similar to someone’s in the book) and now we live on a farm where the learning curve was STEEP.
I was getting regular queries as to when I was going to write about us and, rather than writing about our actual lives, I thought it’d be fun to write a variation on a theme. When I was thinking about it Outlander was (and still is) huuuuuge. I had never really watched it and had a friend who was a superfan. I think superfans are amazing.
So I decided to combine a few ideas into this one madcap adventure about a fully immersive Jacobean experience and, of course…falling in love when you’re out of your depth.
What’s your typical writing day like?
I’m an early to bed early to rise kind of gal (clearly destined to be a farmer, LOL). I usually get up around five or six and go straight to the keyboard. I write until about lunchtime and then it’s over to the farm. The only variation is if the dogs or cows need seeing to and then I do whatever needs to be done with them first and then head to the keyboard.
Oh, gosh. That’s tough to quantify. I have a billion ideas all the time, but I would say three to four months is my usual stint on a book. Saying that, I’m writing a couple of crime books right now and they are taking longer!
What songs would make up a playlist for your book?by
I am so pleased to be welcoming Francesca Scanacapra to Novel Kicks with the blog tour for The Daughter of Paradiso. Hi Francesca. Can you tell me about your novel, The Daughter of Paradiso and what inspired it?
This is the third book in the series and follows Paradiso and Return to Paradiso. We are now in the early sixties and the protagonist, Graziella, has left her abusive husband and is making a new life for herself and her young daughter in her old childhood home, Paradiso.
The main theme which drives the story is women’s fight for equality in a time and place where men are still very much in charge. However, the story is not all about struggle and injustice. There is also a strong theme of friendship and community.
Much of the inspiration for this has come from having moved recently to rural Lombardy, where the books are set. Social and family bonds are still very strong here. In this very moment, as I sit at my desk with the windows wide open, I can hear the loud conversations of group of elderly gentlemen who congregate outside a neighbour’s house every day to gossip and put the world to rights.
What’s your typical writing day like? From idea to final draft, how long does it take you to write a book?
My most productive time for writing is the morning and I am usually at my desk by 9am. How long I write for depends on how the inspiration is flowing on the day. Sometimes I won’t come up for air until the evening. However, if the muse isn’t with me, I’ll take myself off and do something else. For me, that works better than trying to fight against a poor writing day.
Previously, when I still had a day job, completing a novel took years. Now that I write full-time, I’m averaging around six months; although I seem to write around 80% of the book in a few weeks and the remaining 20% takes far, far longer.
What are the challenges of writing an historical novel?
It can be tempting to include too much history, and I was guilty of this when I first began writing. I had to learn the art of peppering the narrative with just enough historical information so as not to interrupt the flow of the story.
Giving a sense of time works best when little details are integrated into characters’ opinions, actions and beliefs, as well as the homes they live in, the clothes they wear and the food they eat. This makes for a far more engaging read than simply writing long paragraphs of exhaustively-researched facts.
It would be extraordinary to meet Jean-Baptiste Grenouille from Patrick Suskind’s astonishing book, Perfume, the Story of a Murderer. This character is both a victim and a villain. Although his actions are diabolical, he is able to justify them both to himself and to the reader, and even to gain the reader’s sympathy. So yes, I would be intrigued to meet him, but it would probably be prudent not to do so alone.
Which authors do you admire?by
Will one summer in Sicily change her life for ever?
After her marriage falls apart, Ursula Quinn is offered the chance to spend the summer working at a hotel on a beautiful island off the coast of Sicily, Italy. Excited by a new adventure, she sets off at once.
At Residenza dei Tringali, Ursula receives a warm welcome from everyone except Alfio, son of the Tringali family. He gave up his life in Barcelona to help his mother Agata with the ailing business, and is frustrated with Ursula’s interference – and she in turn is less than impressed with his attitude. As they spend more time together, though, they begin to see each other in a different light.
But what with Ursula’s ex-husband on her tail, family secrets surfacing and an unexpected offer that makes Alfio question his whole life, there’s plenty to distract them from one another. Can she face her past and he his future, and together make the most of their Sicilian summer?
I’ve been a fan of Sue Moorcroft’s for years now and was so pleased when this new book, ‘An Italian Island Summer’ landed in my lap.
As always, Sue doesn’t shy away from telling a romance with added grit. Ursula is coming out of a bad marriage and her family believes she’s a lot more ‘vulnerable’ than she believes she is, for reasons I’ll let you find out. In need of a change of scenery as well as of job, she plans on going off to Italy to learn about ceramic decoration.by
Chef Maria is running a successful cookery school in her home village of Petalidi, Greece – but she is also running from the secrets of her past.
Food journalist Kayla thought this was going to be just another work trip. But right before she leaves for Greece, she discovers that her whole life is built on a lie.
Jewellery-maker Alessandra has always lived according to her own rules – despite what it has cost her to do so. But she has just had some devastating news.
As these three very different women come together at the house in the olive grove, unlikely friendships blossom and a season of self-discovery begins. Will the sumptuous flavours, sapphire waters and golden sands of Greece give each of them the answers they so desperately seek?
Three women, all facing their own demons.
Maria has been running her cooking school in Greece for ten years, having come back from New York with both physical and emotional scars. However, the village she grew up in is not very keen to have her back.
Kayla is a celebrity chef who has come to Greece to interview Maria. However, secrets and past trauma threatens to bring her perfect life down around her.
Alessandra is bold and doesn’t hold back but behind the bravado lies heartbreak.
Can these three women hold each other up when outside forces want to see them fall?by
He’s a detective, a dancer, he has no respect for authority - and he’s the best hope Blackpool has for keeping criminals off the streets. Meet Detective Declan Miller.
A double murder in a seaside hotel sees a grieving Miller return to work to solve what appears to be a case of mistaken identity. Just why were two completely unconnected men taken out?
Despite a somewhat dubious relationship with both reality and his new partner, can the eccentric, offbeat Miller find answers where his colleagues have found only an impossible puzzle?
DS Declan Miller is back to work following the murder of his wife.
His first case is a double murder. Can Declan cope with a new partner, a complicated case and his continuing need to go against authority?
The first detective series in 20 years from author, Mark Billingham – you bet I’m excited.
I am a big fan of the Tom Thorne novels so I was intrigued to see if Declan Miller could immediately step out of Thorne’s shadow. Short answer… YES.by
Cheerful text and whimsical illustrations bring alive this heart-warming story of kindness and inclusion featuring a character with Down syndrome.
When young Jana receives heaps of beautiful socks from her parents after learning how to put on socks all by herself, she can’t wait to show her friends at school. They are always kind and patient with Jana when they play together. Jana decides to share a pair of her new socks with each and every friend. This calls for a school sock parade! All of the children had so much fun showing off their colourful socks together that they gave a very special and huge gift for their kind and generous friend, Jana, a box of more socks!
Author Sally Fetouh was inspired to write this touching story by her own daughter who has Down syndrome, feeling it was important for her and other children like her to be able to see themselves in literature. Two years ago, after reading a different story about a girl with Down syndrome to her daughter’s preschool class, Sally says, “The children were so engaged in the story and asked questions. They were very accepting and loving of their friend—my daughter. I left with a heart overflowing with emotion and that inspired me to write my story.”
Jana loves her colourful socks and has just learnt to put them on by herself.
She wants to share this love with her school friends.
This book is so wonderful. I am honoured to be part of the Book Birthday Blitz.
Jana is such a sweet, loveable character and you can’t help but warm to her. Also, I want her sock collection.by
A forbidden romance in occupied Norway…
Narvik, 1940. After Laila awakens to the sight of warships in the fjord, it isn’t long before she turns resistor to the brutal Nazi regime. She is horrified when local girls begin affairs with enemy soldiers, yet against her own principles, she finds herself falling in love with German soldier, Josef.
Josef is not like the others. He becomes involved in helping her and the locals with resistance activities, risking his life on more than one occasion.
But then Laila finds out she is pregnant. With Josef sent to the Russian front, and Laila cast out by her family, she turns to a home for women which promises to care for her and her unborn child. But instead, she finds herself caught in a system of evil far beyond what she thought possible…
Laila has watched her hometown of Narvik in Norway fall under German occupation. As the locals adjust to the new rules, Laila meets Josef, a German solider. He seems different to the others, but she’s determined not to get close to him. Instead, she wants to do what she can for the resistance.
However, she is pulled to Josef and soon they are in love but with what consequences?
This novel. Wow.by
How deadly is the fight for equality?
It’s 1922, and after spending a year travelling through Europe, Iris Woodmore returns home to find a changed Walden. Wealthy businesswoman Constance Timpson has introduced equal pay in her factories and allows women to retain their jobs after they marry.
But these radical new working practices have made her deadly enemies.
A mysterious sniper fires a single shot at Constance – is it a warning, or did they shoot to kill? When one of her female employees is murdered, it’s clear the threat is all too real – and it’s not just Constance in danger.
As amateur sleuth Iris investigates, she realises the sniper isn’t the only hidden enemy preying on women.
Iris has just returned from Europe and in 1920’s Britain, she knows her trip will have raised some eyebrows. She is soon kept busy when someone attempts to shoot local business owner, Constance Timpson.
When one of Constance’s employees is found murdered, Iris finds herself unravelling another mystery. Can she find the answers before someone else gets hurt?
This was the first book I have read in the Iris Woodmore Mysteries series. I could keep up with what was going on but reading the first two books would enrich the knowledge around these very established characters if you wanted to read those prior to reading The Body at Carnival Bridge.by
Why would an airline pilot exchange a world of comfort for life on the streets?
In 2006, Miranda meets an itinerant in the wood, she takes him home. He refuses to stay, desperate to return to the streets. Miranda gives him some money and forgets the incident.
Fifteen years later, the SeeMs Detective Agency is investigating an abandoned house and discovers a homeless man was found there: murdered.
No one knows who the dead man is or how he died, and, with one hundred and fifty unidentified street deaths per year, no one has time to find out.
But, the SeeMs Detectives have both time and a client.
Their investigation takes them into a surprising world of aviation, night-clubs and the homeless.
What they discover threatens one of their team. Can they save their colleague before the homeless man’s killer strikes again?
Gina has shared an extract from The Mystery of the Homeless Man with us today. Enjoy!
*****beginning of extract*****
Stevie is interviewing Amy as a possible suspect for the Neil (homeless man) ’s death. This extract is Amy, who is an airline pilot, describing her engagement to Neil and why she broke it off.
‘Poor Neil.’ Amy blew out heavily. ‘OK. He had a lot of charm,’ she added, almost as though she was talking to herself. ‘He did have something, but, you know, once a drunk always a drunk. He was dangerous. He would drive drunk. I’d never do that.’
Her hand automatically moved to the little scar on her hairline. Stevie wondered if she got that from Neil, but Amy was still talking.by
Harriet Adams was a West End rising star until a lapse in judgement cost her: her dream job, her boyfriend and so-called friends.
She packs up her life and moves back to Sunderland where she gets a rare second chance at a career she thrives in. As she’s about open a shiny new musical in front of a home audience, she vows that this time, nothing is going to get in her way. With everything riding on this, she’ll play it safe, work hard and most importantly, stay away from theatre guys.
Cue Liam Wright, Assistant Stage Manager.
Liam is everything Harriet didn’t know she needed in her life, but he also has a secret. One that could advance his own career if he cashes it in. The only catch? It will ruin any chance of happiness with Harriet if she finds out.
Harriet and Liam share a love like no other, but will that be enough to save their budding relationship when the time comes?
Harriet has returned to her home town of Sunderland, after leaving her job in the West End. She now has a chance to return to the stage at a theatre she has loved since she was a child. All she wants to do is work hard and do the best she can as she tries to put her past mistakes behind her.
Enter from the wings – Assistant Stage Manager, Liam. Sparks immediately fly. Can they find their way to the happy ending or will forces conspire against them?
I love stories like these – ones that just pull you in from the beginning and just give you happy vibes as you hope the main characters get their happily ever after. I wanted that a lot for Harriet and Liam.
Harriet has a lot on her shoulders and I wanted to give her a big hug. I wanted things to work out for her.by
My life was perfect until she came along. Norah.
Younger, prettier and about to marry my own ex-husband, they are a walking cliché.
I hate her. I hate them both.
She’s taken everything from me – my husband, my life, my home – but I refuse to allow her to take Cassie, my beautiful daughter. That’s a step too far.
Now I’ve discovered that Norah plans to have a baby of her own and that causes me no end of problems. She could destroy everything and reveal my deepest, darkest secrets.
That can never be allowed to happen.
No matter what it costs…
Norah is about to marry Alice’s ex husband, Mark. Now Norah is dead. Did Alice kill her?
It’s going to be so hard to talk about this book without giving things away but I am going to give it a go.
These are all believable characters. All have secrets and flaws and at one point, I suspected everyone! The discord is threaded through this story so well and the tension and suspense builds nicely.by
Fiction Friday is our weekly writing flash fiction prompt.
The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can.
Don’t edit, just write. Once you’re done, you’re welcome to share in the comments but there’s no obligation.
Today’s prompt: Magical Builder.
Your character’s profession is a carpenter. They have been doing this for years but lately, business has been slow.
On the morning they decide to close the business down, a customer comes in asking your character to build them an object.
Once this object is built, the character realises it has magical powers. Word soon spreads as they continue to create objects that then become magical. They don’t know how they are managing it but as they are now successful, they don’t want to stop.by