Friday, 30 January 2015

Everything Changes But You: Inspiration From Film & TV

In Everything Changes But You, Ally makes a birthday wish that comes true. Ally is bored with the life that she has with her husband, Gavin and wishes for a more exciting life. So she should be happy when wakes up and her life has changed beyond recognition. But is the grass truly greener for Ally?
I love films and TV shows with a fun, magical element. Films where wishes are made but the outcome isn't quite as rosy as the character believed it would be, or the characters learn that their lives were pretty damn good to begin with. Usually the characters learn some valuable lessons about themselves along the way so that when they do return home/back to normal, they can appreciate what they have.
With these films and TV shows in mind, I was inspired to write one of these kinds of stories of my own and Ally and Everything Changes But You were created!
There are lots of films and TV shows along this theme, but my favourites are:
  • Big
  • 13 Going on 30
  • Eve's Christmas
  • Freaky Friday
  • Vice Versa
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Liar Liar
  • Being Erica
  • Samantha Who
Samantha Who is the only one in my list that doesn't have a magical/otherworldly element to it, but in the show Samantha suffers from memory loss after an accident. As she begins to put the pieces of her life back together, Samantha realises she wasn't a very nice person at all and I also drew inspiration from this too!
Everything Changes But You is available from Amazon now

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Book of the Month: January

Jane Shemilt


She used to tell me everything.

They have a picture. It'll help.

But it doesn't show the way her hair shines so brightly it looks like sheets of gold.

She has a tiny mole, just beneath her left eyebrow.

She smells very faintly of lemons.

She bites her nails.

She never cries.

She loves autumn, I wanted to tell them. She collects leaves, like a child does. She is just a child.



Naomi is still missing. Jenny is a mother on the brink of obsession. The Malcolm family is in pieces.

Is finding the truth about Naomi the only way to put them back together?

Or is the truth the thing that will finally tear them apart?
*     *     *     *     *
I was intrigued by Daughter as soon as I read the blurb. It sounded like such a gripping read - and it really was! I was quickly drawn into Jenny's world as the events of her daughter's disappearance unfold and I was eager to keep reading to find out exactly what happened and how the family would deal with the fallout. I thought the writing was excellent and instantly hooked me in. I'm very much looking forward to reading more from Jane Shemilt!
You can read my full review of Daughter here or see all Books of the Month

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Guest Post: Katie Stephens

Pub date 23 January 2015

When most people come back from a holiday of a lifetime, they are left with amazing memories and wonderful photos. As much as these memories and photos stay with you, it is inevitable that over time the memories fade and other things in life take their place. This happened to me following a trip to Kenya in 2001. It was an amazing holiday with a group of 30 people, of whom I knew four when I arrived at the airport – this was my then boyfriend, his best friend and his wife, and a guy I used to babysit for about 15 years earlier. We were actually heading off on a cricket tour with my boyfriend’s old school and, though I was initially apprehensive about going away with so many strangers, I returned to England with 30 friends, oh and a fiancĂ©!

Every aspect of the trip was amazing and where I am really lucky is that I have been able to relive some of the trip in my latest book, Catching Lightning. 

Catching Lightning tells the story of Mel who has spent the past 14 years resenting her parents for abandoning her at a boarding school in England while they went back to Kenya, a country that even though she was born there, she hates, to run an orphanage and school for their charity. A tragic accident forces her to return to Kenya for her parents’ funeral but meeting the gorgeous, English educated Sam was not part of the plan. Finding her mother’s diaries reveals a lot of unanswered questions and the discovery of a detailed itinerary of a trip round Kenya that her parents dreamed of making with her makes Mel realise that maybe she had things wrong.

The trip that Mel and Sam go on follows a similar route to the one we did on our holiday and meant I could relive those special moments, such as the Giraffe Manor, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Centre and Karen Blixen’s House. They also do the overnight train from Nairobi to Mombasa. This was one of those experiences that, as much as I am glad that I did it, it is not one that I would choose to repeat!

After spending time in Mombasa and in the Masai Mara we returned to Nairobi and on the last day of our trip a small group of us went to an orphanage on the outskirts of the city. This was truly moving experience and it was this trip that provided me with the inspiration for the book and the setting of the Centre that Mel’s parents ran. The children had so little and yet were so grateful for the little that they did have.  

In Catching Lightning I hope I give readers a glimpse of the beautiful country that Kenya is and for those, like me, who are lucky enough to have been there, I hope this book brings back some great memories.


Katie Stephens works in PR and lives in Surrey with her husband Will and two young daughters.

In 2008 Katie signed herself up for a creative writing course and absolutely loved it. She then found herself spending all her spare time (not much with 2 young children) at the computer. Her first novel Candles on the Sand, set on the Amalfi Coast, was published in 2011 went on to become an Amazon bestseller.   

If you would like to appear here on the blog via a guest post, email me at
More details here

Monday, 26 January 2015

#AmWriting Christmassy Things (Still)

Yes, I'm still in Christmas mode as I'm working on a festive novella to be released later in the year. It's another 'be careful what you wish for' kind of story (like my novel Everything Changes But You) and sees a return of Clementine, the sort-of guardian angel! I love Christmas so I don't mind prolonging the festive period at all!
I'm also working on a full-length novel, which is a sequel to A Beginner's Guide To Salad. It will be a while until it's published as although I finished the first draft way before Christmas, it needs a LOT of work. I've had some breathing space away from the book and I've realised it isn't at all what I want to convey so, after a lot of thought and scribbling down ideas, I've decided it needs an overhaul. A third of the book is being deleted (ouch), a third is being completely revamped and the last third needs some major tweaking due to all the changes. I'll let you know how it's all going next time!
As well as the novella and the novel, I'm also writing a short story for Valentine's Day. This one is just for fun though and I'll be posting it here on the blog and over on Wattpad next month.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Everything Changes But You: Fun Facts Part 1

  • Ally and Gavin were named after two characters from the BBC drama, Cutting It, although in the show Ally’s actual name is Alison and not Alana as in Everything Changes But You.

  • Ally, Gavin, Jared, Freya, Jimmy, Linda and Bob are all characters from my previous book, A Beginner’s Guide To Salad. Westerley’s gets a little mention too!

  • Naming Clementine posed the biggest problem of all the characters. The short list comprised of Meredith, Theodora and Clementine.
  • My favourite childhood book is The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann, so I named Ally and Gavin’s local pub The Farthing in honour of it.

  • The video for Take That’s ‘Everything Changes’ takes place in Diner 360 (as written on the window), so I named a cafĂ© Diner 360 in the book.

  • While writing the first draft of Everything Changes But You, I was introducing my children to Sabrina The Teenage Witch, so it seemed fitting to name Ally and Gavin’s former school Westbridge High after Sabrina’s school.

  • Keith Barry was a character I resurrected from a previous (unpublished) book I wrote. I loved his character so much, I had to bring him back.

  • The Housing Warehouse is based on a real shop not far from where I live. I based a Christmas short story there, which you can read here 

Everything Changes But You is available from Amazon now

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Cover Stars: Revamped

During 2013 and 2014 I blogged about the book covers that had caught my eye, whether it was because of the style, colours used or its overall gorgeousness. I want to keep doing that but this year I'd like others to join in too! I'd love to hear what kind of covers other people like. I have a preference for pointy-toed silhouettes - but what do YOU like?

The book cover can be an upcoming or new release or something you've had on your bookshelf for years and years - anything goes!

If you'd like to take part, simply send me an email at and tell me which cover you love and why. I don't need an essay (unless you want to write one. Some covers deserve reams and reams to explain their loveliness!), just a couple of lines will do.

It would be great if you could attach an image of your chosen cover (just because there can be multiple covers of a book due to changes and I don't want to display the wrong one).

Don't forget to add your links to you and your social media so people know where to find you!

You can see all 'Cover Stars' posts here

Monday, 19 January 2015

New Feature! Book Crafts: Valentine's Day Card

I have a lot of books and am constantly being sent copies for review and while I'd love to have a library-sized collection of books, it just isn't possible in my little house. Every now and then I'll have a clear-out and pass books on, either to people I know or charity shops.

But what do you do with proof copies that can't go to charity shops?

I've seen this question posed frequently on Twitter and it got me thinking. I can't just throw a book away but could I make use of it another way?

I decided I would take one book proof and, over the year I will see if I can make things with it. I will make and post one item each month and post it here on the blog!

Valentine's Day Card

As it is Valentine's Day next month, I thought it would be a nice idea to make a card. I have to say, cutting into a book goes against my bookish beliefs but I'm quite pleased with the result. As the card would be for a male recipient, I didn't want it to be too girly so kept it simple.

It was really easy to make (once I'd got over my cutting-into-a-book anxiety).
I drew a heart onto the page and cut it out before sticking it onto some pale green paper, which I then cut round to create a narrow border. I stuck the heart on a cream card blank.
I then wrote 'I LOVE YOU MORE THAN BOOKS' (which must be a LOT, obviously) in green metallic marker and drew around the letters with a fine black marker.
To finish off, I stuck a pale green button on the heart.
And there it is! One  card for the Valentine of a book-lover.