Thursday, 5 May 2016

When I Was Invisible by Dorothy Koomson


1988. Two eight-year-old girls meet for the first time. With almost identical names and a passion for ballet, the girls become best friends.

2016. The two girls - now grown women - have led very different lives since they last saw each other two decades ago. One has been homeless for most of her adult life, the other became a nun. Though bound by a secret from their past, the women are no longer friends, no longer even acquaintances. But their past is catching up with them and the women are on course to reunite and deal with the secrets that set them on their current paths.

As a massive fan of Dorothy Koomson, I've been eagerly awaiting the publication of her latest novel and I wasn't disappointed as I delved into the stories of Roni and Nika. I was quickly drawn in by Dorothy Koomson's beautifully crafted words, intrigued by the secrets the women held. The book reminded me a lot of The Ice Cream Girls, one of Dorothy's previous novels, with the two female protagonists bound by their shared past which has set them on completely different paths in life. As The Ice Cream Girls is my favourite Dorothy Koomson book to date, this was no bad thing at all! Childhood friendships often don't stand the test of time but it is clear something drove these girls apart, pushing them to such extreme circumstances. I was gripped by the stories, particularly Nika's as the true horrors of her life since she disappeared from her home at seventeen are revealed. I quickly connected to her, gripped by her story and while she's learned to shut down her feelings and therefore rarely shows them, the emotions jumped off the page through the writing. Nika has suffered some truly dark moments and I often feared what was around the corner for her.

There are a lot of damaged relationships within the book, whether between parent and child, lovers, friends and family and for me, some of the most heartbreaking aspects of the book centred around these cracks. The raw emotion as Nika is let down by those she trusts the most, those who should love and protect her no matter what, is palpable and I felt her devastation. I also felt for Roni too but it was Nika I felt the strongest connection to, who I felt compelled to keep turning the pages to find out how it was all going to turn out for. Nika is such a strong character - because she's had to be to survive and I was hoping she'd be able to soften by the end, to be able to let down that guard she'd needed to protect herself for so many years.

I loved the book in a my-heart-just-might-break-any-minute kind of way as I went on quite an emotional journey with Nika and Roni. There's sadness, fear and anger in abundance but there are also uplifting moments, moments of love and friendship that shine through all the torment.  When I Was Invisible takes a glimpse into the harsh reality of what life is like for some and while it wasn't always a comfortable read, it was certainly powerful. I was gripped by the book, by the characters and by the hope for the future for Nika and Roni.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

April In Pictures

So April. We're well into spring now, right? Hmm, maybe not. Spring 2016 is having a bit of an identity crisis. We have had some sunshine - I even managed to sit out and read in the garden, which was lovely. But it's also been a bit crap and is giving winter a run for its money in the freezing-your-nips-off stakes. And the rain! And hail! And snow! You know. You were there. Unless you were lucky enough to be away somewhere warmer, in which case we can no longer be on speaking terms.


Despite the rain and the hail and the snow, we did manage to get out and about a bit. During the Easter holidays, we went to the fair. It was a bit rainy and a lot chilly but Isobel had fun. After a go on the bumper cars, it confirmed that I should never EVER be allowed behind the wheel of a vehicle (even one made for crashing into others).



I read some fantastic books during April and, as stated above, even managed a bit of outdoorsy reading. And also quite a lot of tea.


I've picked a few of my favourite Luna photos from the month (I couldn't resist). I particularly like the pissed-off-after-being-woken-from-a-nap pic. I look quite similar in the mornings. But with less fur.


Other stuff that happened in April: puppet-making with Isobel at her school, working on the second draft of my latest book (with some extra plotting) and the return of Trios, which I was very excited about.


I hope you've had a good April. Despite the rain and the hail and the snow :)

Don't forget, you can see loads more photos over on Instagram!

Friday, 29 April 2016

FREE on Kindle Unlimited


Two of my novels, A Beginner's Guide To Salad and Everything Changes But You are part of Kindle Unlimited, which means if you subscribe to KU, you can download them for FREE!

If you don't subscribe to KU, the books cost just £1.99 each.

A little bit about the books...


Ruth loves nothing more than curling up in front of the telly with a family-sized bar of chocolate. She doesn’t do diets and she certainly doesn’t do exercise. But all that changes when she’s invited to her school reunion.

Bullied at school for being overweight, Ruth’s first reaction is to rip the invitation into a million pieces. But then Ruth hatches a plan. She’ll lose the weight and arrive at the reunion looking gorgeous and glamorous, leaving her old classmates in awe. Especially her former crush, Zack O’Connell.

With the help of her friends and a new, unbelievably hot colleague, Ruth begins her transformation. With six months until the reunion, losing weight will be a piece of cake, right?

A Beginner's Guide To Salad is available here



Ally Richmond is dreading turning thirty and bidding farewell to her youth. And when her husband says he wants to start a family, she begins to panic.

Is this all that life has to offer from now on? Popping out babies and growing old gracefully? She wants a life crammed with glamour and spontaneous adventure, not one full of dirty nappies and night feeds.

When Ally makes a silly birthday wish for a new, exciting life, her wish is granted.

But when Ally is presented with the freedom and opportunities she craves, she soon realises this new life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and that there really is no place like home.

Everything Changes But You is available here


If you've read either of the books - or both! - I'd love it if you would pop a little review on Amazon as every one really does help. Plus, I will send you a squillion virtual hugs and kisses and all the good thoughts I can think of :)


Thursday, 28 April 2016

Reach For The Stars


When Elaina James got in touch about a blogging event she was organising around music and writing, I knew I wanted to take part immediately. For me, writing and music go hand in hand. I can't write without music playing, whether I'm using it as a tool for setting the mood of the scene I'm writing or simply as background noise. I can't write in silence. It's just plain weird. And I can't write with the TV on (unless it's on a music channel) but music strikes a perfect balance. I don't find it intrusive as I would a TV program and it takes away the silence - perfect!

Music also helps me with characterisation. When I was trying to figure out who Ruth - the main character from A Beginner's Guide To Salad - was, I turned to her fashion and music choices. Ruth's sense of style is bold and cheerful, bordering on the quirky and I wanted to emulate this with her iPod playlist.

Ruth is a massive fan of cheesy pop. It's certainly cheerful and can be quirky (Aqua's Barbie Girl is a perfect example) and it fit Ruth's personality perfectly. It also helps that I like a bit of cheesy pop myself so it wasn't too much of a chore to set up a playlist on Spotify for Ruth and listen to it whenever I was writing her scenes.

S Club 7 became a firm favourite of Ruth's as the first draft progressed and I rediscovered the joy of the chirpy group myself. So when the band reformed for a nationwide tour in 2015, I made sure I had tickets to see them live.


It was an amazing night and I'm sure Ruth would have LOVED it (I certainly did). The group performed all their hits and everyone joined in. When silver star confetti fell down during one of their songs, I took a couple of pieces home as a memento of the night. I wanted to frame one of the stars so I printed out a quote from one of my favourite S Club songs, Reach and glued the star next to it.


At the time, I was a self-published writer still dreaming of a traditional publishing deal and I found the lyrics inspiring. With the star confetti and lyrics framed, I put it on my desk to act as inspiration whenever I was writing.


A few days after I'd been to see S Club 7, I received an email from Carina UK, an imprint of HarperCollins. I'd submitted a Christmas story to them (The Mince Pie Mix-Up) and they wanted to publish it. And not only that, they were offering me a two-book contract. My dream! It was coming true! Now, I'm not saying the star confetti has magical powers or anything but it - and the song - are very special to me.




You can find out more about Elaina's James's blogging event on Mslexia here or visit her blog.

Monday, 25 April 2016

The Wedding Date Quiz

https://www.goodreads.com/quizzes/1119083-the-wedding-date

If you've read The Wedding Date, you can now test your knowledge by taking the quiz over on Goodreads.

Can you remember which musical is Delilah's favourite? Who her besties are?

Click here to take the test. Do let me know how you on. I got 10/10 *smug face*

If you haven't read the book, there are more details to follow...


About The Book


Delilah James, singleton and smoothie-addict, has six months to find a date for her oldest friend’s wedding. Oh, and to prove to her ex, best man Ben, that she has totally moved on since he dumped her out-of-the-blue nine months, eight days and seventeen hours ago…

So, with her two BFFs playing Cupid, Delilah launches herself into the high-tech, fast-paced and frankly terrifying world of dating. Luckily there’s the hot new guy at work, Adam Sinclair, to practice her flirting on – even if, as a colleague, he’s strictly off-limits!

Yet time’s running out and date after disastrous date forces Delilah to tell a little white lie – and invent a fake boyfriend! But will her secret crush on Adam ruin everything? Does she even care about Ben anymore? And is it too late to untangle her web of lies and take a real date to the wedding…?


Monday, 18 April 2016

The Wedding Date: My Dream Cast


A fun part of writing a book is 'casting' your characters (you know, just in case your book ever makes it onto the big screen or telly...) and I've picked out my dream cast for The Wedding Date. Now I just need a call from the producers...

My Dream Cast

Delilah James:
Jodie Comer



Lauren McIntosh:
Karen Gillan



Ryan Ford:
Ashley Taylor Dawson



Adam Sinclair:
Aidan Turner



Katey-Louise Brinkley:
Lucy Fallon



About The Book


Delilah James, singleton and smoothie-addict, has six months to find a date for her oldest friend’s wedding. Oh, and to prove to her ex, best man Ben, that she has totally moved on since he dumped her out-of-the-blue nine months, eight days and seventeen hours ago…

So, with her two BFFs playing Cupid, Delilah launches herself into the high-tech, fast-paced and frankly terrifying world of dating. Luckily there’s the hot new guy at work, Adam Sinclair, to practice her flirting on – even if, as a colleague, he’s strictly off-limits!

Yet time’s running out and date after disastrous date forces Delilah to tell a little white lie – and invent a fake boyfriend! But will her secret crush on Adam ruin everything? Does she even care about Ben anymore? And is it too late to untangle her web of lies and take a real date to the wedding…?



Friday, 15 April 2016

#AmWriting: Pausing To Brainstorm



Last month, I blogged about diving into the second draft of my latest book. I knew there was a lot of work to do in this draft, especially with Quinn, one of the main characters. I needed to develop her character more and improve/clarify her storyline as it was all a bit repetitive and well, crap.


I made lots of notes before I started the draft and added to them as I worked but Quinn's story was still niggling at me. I got to about half-way through the draft before Easter and decided to have a few days away from it so I could hopefully see it more clearly and eat chocolate. Mainly eat chocolate, if I'm honest.


After a few days away from the book, I still wasn't happy with the way Quinn's story was progressing and decided it needed an overhaul. Her story wasn't working. It was boring and whiny and if I didn't like it, who would?


Instead of diving back into the book, I sat down with my set of multi-coloured pens and markers (they always help) and paper and started from the beginning with Quinn, jotting down everything I knew about her and brainstorming fresh ideas.



I felt much better once it was all down on paper and was ready to return to the second draft - but from the beginning again rather than the half-way point I'd left it at. Quinn's story is around a third of the entire book and I've already wrote some new sections and tweaked others so hopefully, by the end, I'll have a draft I'm much happier with.