Tuesday 30 April 2013

Novelicious Books

I love Novelicious. It's the place for Women's Fiction - from reviews and interviews, writers' rooms and top tips to Ask the Editor - and now it has gone one step further and is now going to actually publish top Women's Fiction.

The Novelicious Books digital imprint was launched today and my twitter timeline went nuts and rightly so. Novelicious Books looks (have you seen the website? It looks fab) and sounds amazing, with writers receiving a massive 50% of the royalties.

So if you write Women's Fiction, go check it out!

In April...

... I read:

 ... I took part in the A-Z Challenge for the first time

... enjoyed a rare night out with The Husband, staying in Manchester's Midland Hotel (which was very posh)

... and welcomed two new fluffy editions to the family - our new bunnies, Leah and Cinnamon

A-Z of Writing - Z

As in 'in the zone'. I like to write with music in the background. It can be from my own music collection or the radio, which is strange as the talking between the music doesn't bother me but I can't write with the television on as the voices distract me.
I usually write when my children are at school/nursery or they're in bed as I can't concentrate if they're in the same room as they (quite rightly) demand my attention.
So, to get 'in the zone' I need a kid-free room with no television but music in the background.
What do you need to get 'in the zone'?

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Monday 29 April 2013

Book Of The Month - April

I've read some fantastic books since starting this blog and I'd like to give some of them a bit more recognition. So I've decided to add a new feature to the blog and give a special mention to one outstanding book each month. Feel free to add your thoughts of the chosen book in the comments below or even recommend an outstanding book of your own.

What if your best friend's child disappears? And it's all your fault.

This is exactly what happens to Lisa Kallisto - overwhelmed working mother of three - one freezing December in the Lake District. She takes her eye off the ball for just a moment and her whole world descend into nightmare. Her best friend's thirteen-year-old daughter Lucinda has gone missing and now, devastated by this and publicly blamed, Lisa sets out to right the wrong.

But as she begins peeling away the layers surrounding Lucinda's disappearance, Lisa learns that the quiet town she lives in isn't what she thought it was, and her friends might not be who they appear to be, either.
It's been a tough decision picking a Book of The Month for April as I've read some fantastic books this month. It took me a while to choose but Just What Kind Of Mother Are You? nudged itself to the front as I was so gripped by it, reading it in only a couple of days. I would like to mention Mystery of Mercy Close by Marian Keyes, The Death of Bees by Lisa O'Donnell and Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle, all of which were in the running alongside Just What Kind Of Mother Are You?
Like I've said, I was gripped by Just What Kind Of Mother Are You? and was desperate to know who had taken Lucinda and what would happen to Lisa and her friendship with Kate. It must have been a terrible position for Lisa to be in so I sympathised with her from the start. She's a busy, frazzled mum and she made one mistake but one that will effect the lives of not only Lucinda and her family but Lisa's too.
It really is a fantastic book and my review will be here on the blog on Friday.

Click here to see all 'Books Of The Month'.

A-Z of Writing - Y

YouTube can be a great source of information for a writer. I used it quite a bit while writing my last book because my main character joins the gym and I wanted to find out about spinning classes and Zumba etc without actually having to join the gym myself (the idea of which is ludicrous). I got to research these classes without getting off my arse. Perfect!

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants 

Saturday 27 April 2013

A-Z of Writing - X

Ok, I cheated again. But X is really really difficult.
When I say Extreme Writing, I'm talking about NaNo and the like where people batter their keyboards for a month and try to get as many words down as possible, polishing later on.
I've never attempted NaNo because I'm usually in the middle of a second draft when it comes around. I quite like the idea of the challenge but then I worry the pressure would be too much. Maybe I'll try it one day and find out.
Have you ever tried NaNo? How did you find it?

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Friday 26 April 2013

Lost & Found by Tom Winter

Carol has been trapped in an unhappy marriage for years. Bob is a good man but Carol simply doesn't love him and has only really stayed with him for so many years because of their daughter. But Sophie is seventeen now and Carol thinks the time is right to finally leave Bob. Just as she's about to announce her intentions, Bob receives some devastating news and Carol finds herself tethered to her husband once again. Frustrated, Carol begins to write anonymous letters, pouring out her feelings to the universe.
Albert is hurtling towards retirement. After so many years dedicated to the Post Office, it seems he is no longer needed. As his leaving date looms, Albert is given the task of sorting through the sacks of undeliverable mail. While he is sifting through the piles of mail, he is drawn to an envelope without an address and a smiley face in place of a stamp. He opens the letter, not knowing that doing so will change his life.
Lost & Found is told in an amusing way, though the lives of Albert and Carol are far from cheerful. Both are lonely and struggling. Carol has never really loved Bob, only marrying him because she was pregnant, and has never been able to escape. She doesn't have a great relationship with her mother and an even worse one with her daughter so the only person she has to confide in is her oldest friend, Helen. Carol scoffs at the idea of writing to the universe when Helen first suggests it but, in sheer desperation, she gives it a go.
Widower Albert lives alone with only his ageing cat, Gloria for company. I felt for Albert as he was pushed out at work, taking away the job he'd taken pride in but was now deemed too old to carry out. Being at work is the only social interaction Albert seems to have, apart from with his vile neighbour, Max who seems to prefer taunts and insults to conversation. Albert is clearly a lonely, isolated man so when he discovers Carol's letters he clings to them and the prospect of friendship.
Lost & Found is full of colourful characters, from the horrible Max, Albert's straight-talking colleague, Mickey and Carol's neighbour, Mandy. The book, despite tackling some difficult topics, is told in an amusing, often laugh out loud way but if you're looking for a light, joyful read this probably isn't for you. Albert and Carol lead completely different lives but both ache with loneliness and loss and an inability to change what life has thrown at them.
Thank you to Constable & Robinson for sending me a copy to review

A-Z of Writing - W

Word count is obviously quite important to a writer, whether you have a limit (for a short story, for example) or a number you're aiming for. I write chick lit and aim to write between 80,000 and 90,000 words.
I like to keep track of my word count on my blog and use a little counter. It can look a bit poor when I first start as the counter is blank but the words soon begin to tot up and I find it spurs me on as the bar fills up.

My progress bar is nice and full at the moment as I've finished that particular book but when I start my new one (very, very soon), all that lovely green in the bar will be gone.
How many words do you aim for? And do you keep track of them?
This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Thursday 25 April 2013

A-Z of Writing - V

I've found Miranda Dickinson's vlogs a huge inspiration. I stumbled upon them quite late on but I went back to the beginning and soon caught up with them. I love being able to 'go behind the scenes' with a published writer as she writes her books and Miranda also answers questions sent into her.
You can find Miranda's vlogs here

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Wednesday 24 April 2013

A-Z of Writing - U

I thought I would share a few websites I find useful, either for tips on writing and the submission process or simply inspiration:
A couple of the blogs haven't been updated for a while but the information is all still there.
Do you have any useful websites that you'd like to share?
This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Tuesday 23 April 2013

A-Z of Writing - T

A strange thing has happened. Titles used to be a thing of frustration. I enjoyed writing books but I did not enjoy trying to find a fitting (not totally shit) title. But the book I have just finished and the one I am about to start both had titles from the very beginning. They both came very easy to me.
It feels quite weird not having to worry about it. But I'm in no hurry to go back to the hair-pulling-out-what-am-I-going-to-call-this days.
How do you find naming your books? And do you have any tips for finding that elusive title?
This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Monday 22 April 2013

A-Z of Writing - S

Ah, stationery *sighs happily*
I love stationery, whether it's fancy pens, gorgeous notebooks or even little plastic storage boxes. I wish I had an office at home so I could fill it with cute stationery. It would take forever to kit the office out - I spent ages agonising over which pink pen I should buy a couple of weeks ago - but it would be glorious. A rainbow of pens, piles of notebooks, at least three staplers, a staple remover claw thingy, a drawer FULL of post-its.
It would be heavenly.
Are you a fan of stationery?
This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Saturday 20 April 2013

A-Z of Writing - R

Following on from yesterday's Q is for Querying (and Submitting), is rejection. Rejection sucks. It doesn't matter how much I prepare myself for a rejection (and I do. Glass half empty and all that), I'm still gutted every time I receive one.
I usually know what's coming when I see an envelope on the mat with my own handwriting but last week I received a rejection ninja-style. For some reason it didn't come in my own SAE (the handwriting on the front was much neater than mine. It was lovely *jealous*) so I thought 'Ooh, what's this? Oh.'
Rejection is disappointing - whether you're expecting it or not. I used to throw a great big internal tantrum, asking myself what was the point as I obviously wasn't good enough (and other similar whingy whiny stuff) and I still do a little bit. But I am learning to deal with rejection. The tantrums are reducing and you never know, one day I may not have them at all.
How do you deal with rejection?

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Friday 19 April 2013

A-Z of Writing - Q

Ok, I cheated a teeny tiny bit today. In the UK we don't generally send out queries but I'd already planned a post for S and Q is a hard letter to match up with a writery word (please don't now flood me with millions of Q words. It'll only make me look and feel beyond stupid).
And it's my blog so I'll cheat if I want to.
So Q is for Querying... and also Submitting.
I'm submitting my book at the moment. I've done this before and I'm sure I'll do it again. I was 20 the first time I submitted a book and I cringe when I think about it. It was shiiiiiiit. Really, really shit. I'm not surprised it was rejected (although at the time I obviously thought it was a work of brilliance). I am surprised the agencies didn't track me down and destroy my computer and every pen, pencil or crayon in the house to prevent me ever writing another word again.
Yes, it really was that bad.
I've submitted my books to agencies on and off during the past ten years and I hope my writing becomes slightly less shit with each one.
Go on then. Make me look stupid and give us a Q word for writing.
This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Thursday 18 April 2013

A-Z of Writing - P

I didn't use to plan very much. A quick scribble about the characters, maybe the briefest of outline and that'd be it.

Not anymore. It seems with every book I write, I plan more and more. I now plan each chapter before I write the first word. A few years ago I would have thought that'd be the most boring way to write. I would have planned the book and lost interest in it immediately but I've changed. I now find the obsessive planning helps a LOT and I don't get bored of telling the story and then telling it all over again.

I'm busily planning my new book and I can't wait to get stuck in properly.

Are you planner? Or a pantster?

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Wednesday 17 April 2013

A-Z Of Writing - O

This is probably the hardest part of writing a book for me, apart from writing the synopsis which comes afterwards. The opening chapter is quite scary. I don't know my characters that well yet. I've thought about them. I probably have a profile about them. I even know their story - both their back story and what is about to happen to them. But we don't have the same connection we will 80,000+ words later.
Later on, when I'm in the swing of things, I'll power through. It won't be plain sailing but I won't agonise over every word like I do in the opening chapter, when I'm staring at an almost blank page and trying my hardest to make it perfect (which it won't be, not at this stage).
Do you dither over the opening chapter like me? Or do you just fly through it? (and if you do, HOW???)

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Tuesday 16 April 2013

A-Z Of Writing - N

I'm not talking about spouses or partners nagging us to get off the computer. This is more like my earlier Daydreaming post. There is always a character or story in my head, nagging to be put on paper. Having just finished a book, I'm planning the next one and am hoping to start writing it soon but already a new story is nagging at me. Not that I mind. Perhaps nagging is too strong a word. I like having those stories up there. I can't imagine what it would be like if they suddenly stopped - apart from it being even more boring when I can't sleep and have no plots to ponder.

Are you nagged by stories?

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Monday 15 April 2013

A-Z Of Writing - M

Now, I'm not saying writers are liars. They're not going to spout Pinocchio noses for telling fibs but we do make stuff up. All the time. A great big chunk of my life has been spent making stuff up, either down on paper or in my head. But do you know what? I like making stuff up. It's fun. I can create my own worlds and control many, many people. They do and say as I please and, best of all, the good guys always win.
So hurrah for making stuff up!
This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Saturday 13 April 2013

A-Z Of Writing - L

Love is an important part of what I write. I write about falling in love, falling out of love, unrequited love. One day I may even write about forbidden love.

What is the most important part of what you write?

And what is your favourite love story of all time?


This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Friday 12 April 2013

The Mummyfesto by Linda Green

When the lollipop lady outside the school Sam's young sons attend is told she is about to lose her job due to government cuts, Sam feels she must do something. The lollipop lady is important, keeping the local children safe as they walk to and from school. So Sam joins forces with with Jackie and Anna, fellow parents at the school and together they fight the governments decision.
Upon their success, Sam is asked whether she would like to form her own political party. Sam has never been particularly politically-minded before but she's fed up with how the country is being run and decides to form a new family-friendly party. With friends Jackie and Anna on board, they devise a manifesto - or rather a mummyfesto - stating their core values and the things they want to change, and throw themselves into the next general election.
When I first received The Mummyfesto I was worried it would be too politically heavy for my liking but I found the underlying story was about the three women and their family issues. Sam has two young sons, one of which has an incurable disease which has left him wheelchair bound and reliant on machines to keep him healthy. Sam works at a children's hospice and when she finds out their government funding is about to be significantly reduced, she's even more determined that things must change to support the nation's families.
Jackie has family troubles of her own. Not only does she have a six year old daughter to take care of, her mother is suffering from Alzheimer's and is needing more and more care. Anna's teenage children are causing her concern; her 15 year old son is hanging out with the wrong crowd while her 13 year old daughter is being bullied, something her school refuses to tackle.
Despite their family commitments, the three women forge ahead with their plans, determined to change the way the country is run, not only to benefit their own families but those of the whole country. The women aren't always supported in their plans but they are strong and courageous enough to put themselves into the political world and challenge what they deem to be major flaws. Each woman is different, bringing something unique to the party. I liked that they were parents and friends above all else and that they supported each other through their troubles.
The children in The Mummyfesto are extremely important in the book as they bring humour and warmth and are also a major drive for Sam, Jackie and Anna to form the party. The children aren't just in the background - children and family are at the core of the new political party and they're at the core of The Mummyfesto too.
Thank you to Quercus for sending me a copy to review.

A-Z Of Writing - K

I write chick lit so there has to be some amount of kissing involved (it's like an unwritten law and who wants to read chick lit without a bit of romance and smooching? Not I). But I find writing kissing scenes a bit cringey. I don't think I'm much cop at writing smoochily. I don't want to tread into Mills & Boon territory but neither do I want celibate characters or chaste pecks on the cheek.
How do you feel about smooching scenes? And what is your favourite movie kiss? (for research purposes and because I'm nosy)

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Thursday 11 April 2013

A-Z Of Writing - J

I love a book that makes me laugh out loud and, even better, I love reading back through my own work and making myself laugh. I write light-hearted books and try to add humour into them because those are the kinds of books I like to read and I enjoy writing them too. I also like historal novels and the odd crime/thriller but I know I don't have it me to write one.
Do you write the kind of books you enjoy reading? And can you tell us a joke?

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Wednesday 10 April 2013

A-Z Of Writing - I

Inspiration is everywhere - whether you're looking for characters or storylines or even the motivation to write your book.
Magazines, newspapers, the news and good old fashioned ear-wigging are great sources for inspiration but what happens when you have the ideas but no motivation? I love reading the acknowledgements in books and some of them are fantastic for inspiring the writer inside me. I also find success stories spur me on as well as author interviews and writers' blogs and tweets.
What inspires you to write?

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Tuesday 9 April 2013

A-Z Of Writing - H

I write Chick Lit and in Chick Lit there are always heroes and heroines. The heroes don't have to be super, they don't have to run into burning buildings or rescue damsells in distress (although they can) but they do have to fall in love with our heroine. It also helps if the reader falls in love a bit too.
What qualities do you look out for in a hero/heroine?
This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Monday 8 April 2013

A-Z Of Writing - G

I like to set myself goals. It gives me a bit of a drive, to keep myself from slumping in front of the telly instead of writing. I also set myself goals when I'm floundering.

I used to struggle to finish a book. I'd start off with gusto, thinking I had the BEST idea. A few chapters in and I'd start to wane. I'd keep going but it would become more and more of a slog until I gave up completely. So many of my books have ended this way.

But then a couple of years ago I started to set myself 'baby steps'. A whole book was daunting so I'd break it down. I'd have three goals: Write Chapter One, Write Three Chapters, Write Five chapters. I'd cross off each goal until all three were completed and then I'd set myself three more goals: Write 6,000 words, Write 8,000 words, Write 10,000 words.

They were only tiny goals to aim for but it did the trick and kept me on track. The goals would get slightly bigger as the novel went on until the last goal: Finish the book.

I haven't had to use the 'baby steps' for a while now but I do still set myself goals: finish the first draft by Christmas or finish the final read-through before half term.

Do you set yourself goals?

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants

Saturday 6 April 2013

A-Z of Writing - F

There is something so exhilarating about finishing a first draft. You've spent months working away, building characters and telling their stories and sometimes it feels like you're getting nowhere. And then you finish. You reach the end. It may not be perfect but you've done it. You've written a book.
Oh, the relief! We won't focus on how much more work there is to do. That first draft is done and you deserve a pat on the back.

How do you feel when you finish a first draft? And do you reward yourself in any way?

This post is part of the A-Z Challenge. Click here to see all the other participants