Thursday, 30 May 2013

Book Of The Month - May

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.

With This Kiss
Lady Grace Ryburn is in love with a dashing young lieutenant, Colin Barry,
but she turns away, thinking that Colin is in love with her sister.
Should Colin throw propriety to the winds, imitate his pirate father,
and simply take what he most desires?
Seduced by a Pirate
After years at sea, Sir Griffin Barry comes home to claim his wife.
But is Phoebe his wife, if their marriage was never consummated?
As an infamous pirate, Griffin claimed and kept gold and jewels . . .
but this is one treasure that will not be so easy to capture.

As You Wish is made up of two novellas; With This Kiss and Seduced by a Pirate. Both stories are connected, though they take place eleven years apart, and I thought they were fun - and a little bit naughty - stories that you could read in a day or two. As You Wish is the first book by Eloisa James that I've read but I enjoyed it and would definitely read more.

You can click here to see my review over on Novelicious or click here to see all 'Books Of The Month'.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Guest Post & Giveaway: Jane Lark

Illicit Love is inspired by the memoirs of a real courtesan. But while I’ve developed the historical setting of Illicit Love through reading letters and memoirs, which you can hear all about on my history blog, my writing has developed through the years I’ve spent building up an understanding of people, through personnel management. 

An abiding theme has always come through to me, in my research, as I read the words written by people hundreds of years ago, that although the world about them, and the rules they lived by were different, people thought and felt as we do now.

In the years I’ve worked in learning and development and people management. to do this well, I’ve had to establish a level of emotional intelligence, an understanding of people, and learn how they think and respond.

We are all very individual, but, there’s a theory, a theory I believe in through observation, that there are four categories of personality. These were defined all the way back in ancient Greece. The four humours are Melancholia, Sanguine, Choleric, Phlegmatic. They were named by Hippocrates, and this early definition forms the basis for most modern studies on psychology.

And, yes, that is where our word ‘humour’ comes from, Hipocretes classification of personality. 

So how does this sort of theory impact in my writing? Well, none of us fall into one of these humours, we are a mix of them, but we do tend to have one we lean more towards. The personalities, accompanying these humours are described as;

Sanguine = Courageous, hopeful sociable, pleasure seeking and amorous

Choleric = Passionate, energetic, easily angered and bad tempered.

 Melancholic = Introverted, organized, despondent, sleepless and irritable,

Phlegmatic = Calm, unemotional, shy, constant and loyal

Although the full theory is more complex than this, this gives you taste. So imagine now, when building my characters, I have before me, many squares, like puzzle pieces, except they do not have a definite place, I can move them around and put them in any order to make a picture. So I can build my characters from all these pieces and make them all a little different.

And having worked with so many people observing their ‘humours’ and how they respond, and act, speak and move, in comparison to these, I have a huge archive of practical experience to bring my written characters to life too.

So now you are wondering about the characters of Illicit Love. Ellen, is a mix of Sanguine and phlegmatic, and Edward is a mix of Choleric and Melancholic. Which one is their predominant humour? I’ll leave you to read it and decide.

So now then, have a think, what ‘humours’ can you spot in other characters you’ve read, or people you know? And if you had to create a character, what squares would you put together to develop their picture. Then you have to think how that might mean they react, think and feel.

About Illicit Love 

‘Hiding her self-deprecating smile behind her fan, Ellen glances over its top at the gorgeous man across the table. Is it very wrong for her sinful body to want a man like that? How would it feel? How would it feel to be free from her so-called protector for an hour or two and play his games with a man of her choice? Choice was a holy grail; a cup fallen woman longed to drink from. And she’d love defying Lord Gainsborough.

As though pulled by an invisible cord winding between them, Lord Edward’s gaze lifted to her while he contemplated Lord Gainsborough’s call. His eyes widened, darkening, perhaps reading hers, and what appeared to be amusement twitched his lips before he looked back at his cards.’

Trapped under the reign of a cruel keeper, Ellen Harding longs to be free. Under his oppression, her soul and conscience have died while her body lives on, fulfilling his dissolute desires. She is empty––a vessel––deaf to the voice of morality and blind to shame.     

When her eyes are drawn to a beautiful man for no other reason than his looks, she imagines what it would be like to escape her chains for a night by giving her body to him.

But Edward Marlow is kind and gentle when he touches her, and her subconscious whispers, this man could be her salvation. Yet how can he help her when she has secrets which prevent her freedom?

Edward is restless, lonely, and a little angry with his lot in life—it is his only excuse for being drawn to another man’s mistress. The woman’s dark hair and pale eyes are striking, and he cannot take his gaze off her while she watches him over the top of a fan with an illicit intent in her eyes. 

 Once he’s known her, he cannot forget her, and once he’s seen the evidence of her supposed benefactor’s brutality, he wants to help her. But how can he when she will not run any more than she will speak of her past?

When a desperate Ellen finally relents and shocks Edward from his sleep, he doesn’t hesitate, he helps her flee .He just doesn’t know he’s running headlong into the secrets of her past.

Can love redeem a life of sin?

In the words of Harriette Wilson, the real 19th Century courtesan, who inspired this love story, ‘and then - and then - and then…’

 If you read, Illicit Love, I value feedback, so please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads, or any other site you like, and you can also let other readers know what you think on the
Illicit Love Book Club page.

I hope you enjoy it.

Thank you for this chance to speak about, Illicit love, Mama J hearts. I appreciate the opportunity to share the things which have inspired me.

Jane Lark  


You can win a signed copy of Illicit Love plus the goodies pictured.

To enter, simply fill in the form below and leave a 'pick me' comment.

UK entries only please

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Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Giveaway Winner: Signed Copy of The Bow Wow Club by Nicola May

Thank you to everyone who entered or tweeted about the giveaway. Rafflecopter has picked a winner at random and the winner is:

Helen M

Congratulations Helen and thank you again to everyone who entered. I'll be hosting another giveaway tomorrow!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Giveaway Winner - The Wish List by Jane Costello


Thank you to everybody who entered the giveaway or tweeted about it. If only I had a magic wand to make all the wishes in the comments come true!

Rafflecopter has randomly selected a winner from all the entries and that winner is:

Gillian H

Congratulations, Gillian and thank you again to everyone who entered. Don't forget you can still enter to win a signed copy of Nicola May's The Bow Wow Club and I'll be hosting another giveway on Wednesday.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

A French Affair by Katie Fforde

Sisters Gina and Sally know nothing about antiques so they're a little overwhelmed when their aunt Rainie leaves them her stock and pitch in the French House in her will. The French House, owned by the perpetually grumpy Matthew, is an antiques centre within the village of Granmore-on-the-green, where stall holders rent space to sell their pieces. Rainie has left the sisters a little money to start them off and a challenge to make a profit.
With the help of Matthew, the sisters decide to give it a go but it is Gina who really rises to the challenge, learning the art of antiques by getting stuck in at the French House and at markets and fairs. Gina is starting to fall in love with both the antiques trade and her new colleague, Matthew when she discovers the French House is in trouble. If Matthew loses the antiques centre, a business he inherited from his father, Gina, Matthew and the other stall holders will lose their livelihoods. Not willing to sit back and lose everything she has worked hard for, Gina hatches a plan to save the centre.
A French Affair is a lovely, light read that thankfully isn't too laden with antiques, despite the the storyline as, like Gina in the beginning, I know nothing about antiques. It is much more about saving the failing business and thwarting its enemies, such as Yvette, Matthew's vindictive ex. There is also the matter of Gina's attraction to Matthew. The course of true love certainly doesn't run smooth in this book!
In the beginning, Gina and Sally seem very close as sisters so I was quite shocked by Sally's attitude part way through and couldn't believe how selfish she was being. Sally is the more laid back and fun of the sisters but this did put me off her for a while. I also wish Matthew could have been a bit softer around the edges and less stubborn at times. I know he's under a lot of stress due to his failing business and money worries but I would have liked to have warmed to him a little more.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and liked how Gina breathes new life into both the French House and its owner.
Thank you to Century for sending me a copy to review.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Guest Post - Ros Rendle

“Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
Albert Camus

 To have the sympathy, empathy, compassion, enjoyment and trust of others is so important to me, both within my family and with others. Such is the value of friendship.

My life is (probably) a mix of serendipity and (hopefully) a touch of sagacity. That happy accident mixed with a touch of (maybe) clever judgement is what I would like to think I have achieved but there is often something that smacks me in the mouth when least expected. I remain an optimist as far as friendships are concerned, however, because they are always there to support.

 In my book ‘Peace of Time’, Jenny, the protagonist, had to make one of the most difficult decisions of her life. She knew she couldn't put it off any longer. What should she do? Life was so complicated. This is a contemporary romance featuring marriage and health issues that many readers will recognise. Discover unexpected twists in the plot and realistic, likeable characters. Her friendships play key roles throughout.

My mum was a published author several times over. She always urged me to ‘get the book out’ but I always seemed too busy with work and family life. Now has been the time to do it and I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole process from research to writing, finally, the last page! Whilst she is no longer physically here I have dedicated my first book to her – a good friend as well as my mum.


I am currently half way through my second book and have ideas for two more. I think I need more TIME!

Finally, a favourite friendship quote of mine is the following:                                       

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. “Pooh?" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. "I just wanted to be sure of you.”
A.A. Milne,

Peace of Time is available now as a paperback here or as an ebook here
You can contact the author on twitter: @ros_rendle

Monday, 20 May 2013

A Chat With Nicola May plus A Giveaway!

Nicola May is the author of The Bow Wow Club, the story of a woman finding love again after the death of her husband. You can see my review here and Nicola has kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions.

When did you realise you wanted to become a writer?
I sort of fell into it really. I was dared to run a half marathon way back in 1996 and started to write a humourous training diary. People read it and thought it was good. I was quite into astrology at the time and also had been on a few disastrous dates so the idea for Star Fish was born. Main plot being that Amy can’t find love and decides to date each sign of the zodiac to try and find her ‘sole mate’.

Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?
In a word - long! Basically, an agent took me on back in 1996 and tried to get me published traditionally with both Star Fish and Working it Out to no avail. After a life changing incident in 2010, I thought what the heck; I’ll have a go myself. So I found myself a local book printer, a designer and an editor and Working it Out hit the shelves in May 2010. I haven’t looked back since.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Never give up. Don’t talk about writing, just write.

The Bow Wow Club is a follow up of your previous novel, Working it Out. Why did you decide to revisit Ruby?
Ruby is just so fun and gutsy. Readers quite often tell me how much they love her. She is easy to write as I guess there is a lot of her in me. I also hope she comes across as a ‘real’ character that everyone can relate to. She’s not fluffy or flaky. She makes mistakes like the rest of us. Also her band of friends is very likeable and again such good fun to write.

Who was your favourite character to write in The Bow Wow Club?
I adore Ruby my heroine for the above reasons. However, Simon Dye who runs The Bow Wow Club, is possibly my favourite new character to write. He has a lot of layers and flaws. You will see him being bold & brash but underneath he is sensitive and kind. He is also hilariously funny. Watch out for his comments on Fanny the wonder dog!

What has been your greatest experience of being a published writer?
Winning my award at the Festival of Romance for The School Gates last year was a great feeling. It’s getting easier now but when I first self-published, the stigma was evident. This, however, with the ever evolving digital book industry is changing for the better. A good book is a good book, fact! To this end I am delighted that The Folio Prize is now open to self-published authors as well as those from traditional publishing houses.

What was the first book you bought yourself?
I can’t remember exactly but I’m sure it would have been by Enid Blyton. I still have my Famous Five, Noddy and Secret Seven collections.

And what was the last book you read?
When I’m writing I find it hard to find the time read too. When I eventually get on holiday, I literally eat books! The last book I read was The Thread by Victoria Hislop. 

Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
Once I have recovered from the whirlwind of launching The Bow Wow Club on May 14th, I am going to start the sequel to The School Gates. Plot ideas are already flowing around my mind.

*     *     *     *      *
Thank you for answering my questions, Nicola.
The Bow Wow Club is available now and you can win a signed copy by filling out the form below and leaving a comment, answering the following question:
In The Bow Wow Club, Ruby is distraught when her wedding ring is stolen. What is your most prized possession that you would hate to lose?
You can earn extra entries in the giveaway but these are optional.

The giveaway ends at midnight on Sunday 26th May and the winner will picked at random and announced on the blog on Tuesday 28th May.
UK only please
Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Giveaway - The Wish List by Jane Costello

This month, I'm hosting 3 giveaways and first up is The Wish List by Jane Costello.

There are six months left of Emma Reiss's twenties. . . and she has some unfinished business.

Emma and her friends are about to turn thirty, and for Emma it's a defining moment. Defined, that is, by her having achieved none of the things she'd imagined she would. Her career is all wrong, her love life is a desert and that penthouse apartment she pictured herself in simply never materialised. Moreover, she's never jumped out of a plane, hasn't met the man she's going to marry, has never slept under the stars, or snogged anyone famous - just some of the aspirations on a list she and her friends compiled fifteen years ago. As an endless round of birthday parties sees Emma hurtle towards her own thirtieth, she sets about addressing these issues. But, as she discovers with hilarious consequences, some of them are trickier to tick off than she'd thought…

To enter, simply fill in the form below and leave a comment telling me if you had one wish, what would it be? And no wishing for more wishes - that's cheating! You can add more entries by following the instructions in the form but these are all optional.

The competition will close at midnight on Wednesday 23rd May 2013. A winner will then be picked at random and announced on the blog on Friday 24th May 2013.

This is a UK only giveaway.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Guest Post: Susi Osborne

I don’t know about other writers, but I always seem to have great difficulty trying to come up with the perfect title whenever I write a novel.
The fact is, that if you’re already a bestselling author, with thousands of adoring fans queuing up to buy your next blockbuster before it’s even reached the end of the first draft, then the title would obviously be of lesser importance. It would still be great to have a good title of course, but not quite so imperative. The author’s name, in itself, would attract readers to the book. Lucky author!

However, for somewhat lesser mortals like myself, things are different. My name is actually quite renowned, I have to say, although I admit that it is more in the context of Ozzy and Sharon and George than it is in that of Susi. But anyway, Ozzy and Sharon have the addition of a ‘u’ in their surname, so no wonder they’re on a higher pedestal than little me!

So yes, for lesser known writers, the title and cover mean everything. You can have the best story ever written (in your opinion!) and a clever blurb and first sentence that are so intriguing they capture the reader in an instant, but unless the title and the cover have attracted the reader to the book in the first place, then you have lost.

The cover is really down to the publisher. However, as I say this I know that if my publisher, or more particularly a certain young gentleman at the art department therein, will be gasping with shock at the words I just uttered. Okay, I admit it – I’m fussy! But it’s my book…my baby…I know what I want and… We sort of negotiate, and compromise - in a nice way of course!

The title, however, is a different story (no pun intended!). The title I agonise over, it has to be just right - there’s no going back. For two of my novels I really struggled, they were completed long before anything I was happy with came to mind. I write contemporary women’s fiction – ‘emotional rollercoasters’ is probably the best way to describe them, although the humour outweighs the sadness.

The first one I wrote was the story of Tom and Kate, who lived their perfect life in a bubble of happiness until one fateful day when tragedy struck. The devastation they suffered touched the lives of friends and family around them, leading to unexpected twists and turns and changes in relationships. Title? I had absolutely no idea. Until suddenly one day I heard someone on TV talking about how the ripples of life affect everything. I almost kissed the television! In my novel shockwaves from the tragedy ripple out to touch the lives of others – The Ripples of Life was born!

Amazingly enough, the title of my second novel came to me in a flash of inspiration before I’d even started to put pen to paper (yes, I write longhand!). I knew I wanted to write about two sisters who had led two very different lives as a result of a mysterious separation at a very young age. Grace lives at the centre of a chaotic but happy family and cares for her mother who has dementia. When a letter arrives from her long-lost sister, her whole world is turned upside down. In a shock revelation Grace discovers why her sister has always been referred to as ‘Disgrace’. Grace & Disgrace – an obvious title really, wasn’t it?!

My third novel came out very recently, 25 April this year, in fact. It actually links together my first two books to form a trilogy, although each book does stand quite happily alone and is a complete story within itself. In this third book, secrets are revealed and lies uncovered – Tom has betrayed Kate and destroyed their marriage by sleeping with her former best friend. But despite all of this, Kate still gets butterflies whenever she sees him. She knows that deep down she still loves him, but could she ever trust him again? The strong friendship Kate has with Grace shines through as they support each other…and as I hovered over the title! But there it was, staring me right in the face. Secrets, Lies & Butterflies – I should have known it all along!

Susi Osborne’s books:-
Secrets, Lies & Butterflies
Grace & Disgrace
The Ripples of Life
are available from all good bookshops and online retailers.

Susi also organises Northwich LitFest.

You can follow Susi and keep up with all of her latest news on Twitter @susiosborne or Facebook on her Author Page.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

The Bow Wow Club by Nicola May


Ruby Stevens' husband died 15 months ago and while she still misses George and would do anything for him to be with her again, she is beginning to pull herself out of the swamp of grief. But her progress is halted when she's mugged while out shopping. The thieves take her purse, which contains her wedding ring. Ruby is distraught but a passing stranger takes her for a cup of tea to calm her down.
Michael can't help being drawn to Ruby as he comes to her rescue following the mugging. Michael has been hurt in the past and thinks Ruby can heal his heart while he heals hers. But Ruby isn't quite ready to say goodbye to George and finds it difficult to start a new relationship. To help her deal with this new stage in her life, she volunteers at the Bow Wow Club, a club for 'boyfriends of widows, wives of widowers' to share her feelings. The Bow Wow Club is run by Simon, a camp vicar with a fondness for drink. Here, Ruby meets lots of colourful characters, from scruffy tourettes sufferer, Jimmy to sex mad Cali and fireman Nick.
The Bow Wow Club is a follow up of Nicola May's previous novel, Working It Out, which I haven't read yet but it doesn't matter as The Bow Wow Club works as a standalone novel and all important back story is explained. I immediately sympathised with bereaved Ruby as she struggles with her life without George. She's only in her thirties and her married life with George was just getting started, with discussions about starting a family, when George died. I can't imagine the anguish she must have felt when her wedding ring, which George had thoughtfully had engraved, was stolen.
Michael was very sweet coming to Ruby's rescue and he obviously adores her. His feelings for Ruby inspire him to write the romance novel he's always wanted to write but, to be honest, Michael's writing disturbed me a little. It started off as a romance but quickly became erotica and a way to vent his anger at his past relationship. I think I would have warmed to Michael a little more without his nasty side coming out through his writing. I know he was still angry with his ex and this was his way of exacting revenge but I was left worried about whether he really did think his novel was romantic!
My favourite part of the book was the time Ruby spent at the Bow Wow Club as Simon, the vicar who runs the group, quickly became my favourite character. He's so camp and has a biting wit but he is caring too. The club contains some eccentric characters who are a lot of fun despite the problems they are experiencing.
The Bow Wow Club is the first Nicola May book I've read but I enjoyed following Ruby's story and meeting her array of quirky friends.
Thank you to Nicola May for providing me with a copy to review.
I will be chatting with Nicola May next week and you will have the chance to win a signed copy of The Bow Wow Club.

Monday, 13 May 2013

A Chat With Tom Winter

Lost & Found tells the story of two lonely people struggling through life who are brought together by an undelivered letter. You can see my review here and the author, Tom Winter has kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions.

When did you realise you wanted to become a writer?
Wanting to write is one of my earliest memories. I remember when I was about four, I took my mother’s diary and started filling it in with fictional details; all mono-syllabic stuff about going to the zoo and things like that. “This is my snot” was one of the highlights, with a big arrow pointing to a smear of nasal debris.

By the age of eight or nine my writing had obviously improved somewhat because everyone at school was convinced I would one day be a poet. I recall writing a poem that made my teacher cry, though in retrospect I can see she may have had a drinking problem.

Can you tell us a little about your journey to publication?
Ah, the journey! The odyssey, more like it! I think the biggest frustration for me was the years and years I spent trying to find my voice as a writer. It was a bit like building a fire: the hearth seemed to be full of the right stuff and I kept striking matches, but nothing would catch. Then, after more than a decade, I simply sat down one day and started writing. The words kept flowing week after week and eventually I had a book. That manuscript got me my first agent, who was based in New York. Although we had some good feedback from publishers in the US, none of them made an offer. It was a very difficult period for me because it was the expectation of this moment that had kept me going for so long. I finally had an agent and a manuscript in circulation, and yet nothing had changed. Cue many months of self-pity!

To cut a long story short, I started to write Lost & Found about a year later. My agent liked the manuscript, but she wanted to try selling it in the UK first, so she introduced me to an agent friend of hers in London, and he introduced me to one of his colleagues, which is how I came to meet the wonderful Juliet Mushens. From that day forward, I knew both the book and I had found our proper home. Juliet became my sole agent and quickly sold the UK and Commonwealth rights. Then the foreign-language rights started selling, which was a really amazing experience.

Funnily enough, I no longer have any interest in seeing my first manuscript get published. Writing it was a good experience, and it proved to be an important stepping stone to Lost & Found, but that’s all. I can see now that I needed to write it for my own growth, not to share it with the world at large.

What was your inspiration for Lost & Found?
In very broad terms, Lost & Found is a synthesis of my personal experiences and observations. I wanted to write about loss and regret, but keep it blackly comic. I also wanted to show how powerful it can be when people reach out and connect with one another. At its heart, I believe Lost & Found is a fundamentally hopeful book.

There are a lot of colourful characters in Lost & Found. Who was your favourite to write?
It was a pleasure to share my life with all the characters, but I’m especially fond of Albert. It’s been very rewarding to hear other people’s reactions to him. He really seems to win hearts!

In terms of pure writing pleasure, I loved writing all the scenes with Mickey Wong and Mandy. In fact, the barbecue chapter with Mandy and her husband still makes me laugh!

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Don’t give up! Family obligations, day jobs, noisy neighbours, self-doubt… the list of challenges and distractions goes on and on and on. Just remember it’s a well-trodden path, so keep going.

I think it’s also important to keep the submissions process in perspective. It’s true there are likely to be some rejections along the way, maybe even many, but if you believe it’s an impossible task, there’s no room for hope. The reality is that agents and publishers are signing new writers all the time. Just keep going!

What was the first book you bought yourself?
Wow, I can’t even remember! I was addicted to the Puffin Club when I was a child. Even now the logo makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. And my local library was like a second home throughout my childhood. I think it’s fair to say that books were my entire world.

And what was the last book you read?
I haven’t been reading much for the last six months because I’ve been so busy on my new book. When I’m reading for pleasure, my preference is generally non-fiction (Malcolm Gladwell and Jon Ronson are two of my favourite writers). One of my most recent fiction reads was A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan. An utterly brilliant book.

Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently finishing a second book for my publisher, Constable & Robinson. It’s about a brother and sister who are each at a massive crossroads in life. Essentially it’s a story of how we choose to react to disappointments and frightening possibilities. Much like Lost & Found, it deals with some difficult subjects, but hopefully with a wry turn of phrase that makes the journey enjoyable

*       *       *       *       *

Thank you, Tom for taking the time to answer my questions.

Lost & Found is available now.

Friday, 10 May 2013

So I had just started writing a new book...

... (which would be Book 4) when I received the next in the line of rejections for Book 3. Except this one came with feedback. I'd been wanting one of these for a long time after receiving many generic rejections but, I have to tell you, it stung.

How could they not love my book? How could they find fault with it?

Ok, I'm not that much of an ego maniac but it was quite tough to read a criticism of my work but I knew, once I'd stopeed wanting to weep into my beloved manuscript, it would be useful to me. So I gave it a couple of hours and read it again.

How could they not love my book? How could they find fault with it?

Only kidding. I could see where they were coming from (though it had never occured to me to question this part of my story before) so I decided to leave it for a while and have a good think. Could I change this part of my story, which is pretty important being the whole driving force of my main character? Did I want to change it?

The answer ended up being yes to both. To begin with, I didn't want to touch my precious manuscript but I had to give it serious thought - an agent had read my work and flagged a major problem with it. I'd be a fool to simply ignore it (even if I decided not to change it in the end).

So I thought about it. A lot. Could I do away with that aspect of the story? Probably but it would change the motivation of the MC and an important chunk of who she was. It had to stay.

Could I tweak it? Yes, I could. I could change the aspect the agent didn't believe in while still having the same outcome. And, putting my bruised ego aside, I like the changes I'm going to make. It fits better and makes more sense.

So that's what I'm going to do. Book 4 is going on hold for a short while so I can go back to Book 3 for another draft and hopefully improve it.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Guest Post: Pauline Wiles

The inspiration behind Saving Saffron Sweeting

I was never in doubt that my debut novel would be light-hearted women’s fiction, often known as chick lit. It’s a genre I delight in reading myself, and I’m tickled pink by the possibility that after a tough day, a woman might curl up with my writing as a calorie-free form of entertainment and escape. Plus, I knew I didn’t have the writing skills to attempt something more highbrow: my goal was unpretentious, energetic story-telling.

As a Brit now living (happily) with my husband near San Francisco, I’ve wondered from time to time whether I would stay in California or return to England if my marriage came unstuck. Generally, when I’m gainfully employed, I tend to think I would remain in the USA, but, during the time my own business was struggling, it did occur to me that without hubby, I’d be homeless, jobless and pointless! So, this is the situation the main character, Grace, finds herself in at the start of Saving Saffron Sweeting: not only is her husband cheating, but he’s doing it with her best interior design client.

Added to that, I’ve always been fascinated by the difference in what people (both men and women) say they’ll do if their partner is unfaithful, and what actually happens. The overwhelming majority of my friends tell me that if their other half ever cheats, then it’s game over. But, looking at both public figures and private couples, when infidelity does occur, it’s rarely that clear-cut. So, this was a theme I thought was worth exploring. Grace, of course, declares her marriage to be toast and makes a beeline for England. But she soon finds that running away is not as simple as it seems.

Finally, Saving Saffron Sweeting was a way for me to pay tribute to the little things about England that I miss. I deliberately peppered the book with British slang, filled it with afternoon tea and cakes, and included traditions like Bonfire Night. Although the village of Saffron Sweeting is fictional, I researched several locations around Cambridge to make sure it felt authentic. And many of my favourite places in London and East Anglia get a mention, too. For any author who has re-located and is feeling a teeny bit homesick, I highly recommend setting your novel in your hometown. Not only do you stay connected, but it’s also a wonderful excuse for some ‘research’ trips!

Saving Saffron Sweeting is available on Amazon now and you can find out more about the book and the author at and on Goodreads

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Cover Stars: Happy Families by Janey Fraser

This year I decided to start a Book Of The Month feature to give a special mention to the wonderful books I have read. So I thought why not celebrate wonderful book covers too?

They say don't judge a book by its cover but we all do, right?

Feel free to add your thoughts on the covers or even suggest your own 'cover stars'.
Happy Families by Janey Fraser
I read Janey Fraser's The Au Pair last year and loved the cover because of the little details giving the cartoon people character and I love the cover for Happy Families for the same reason. The teenager has his skateboard at his feet and is busy on his phone while there is havoc within the house. The two younger children are scrapping downstairs, knocking ietms over while the mother is telling off another child upstairs. While all of this is happening, the cat is cleaning itself in the window, being truly cat-like and not giving a shit.
I love all these little details and, in a way, it's telling a story itself. The title may say Happy Families but you already know that isn't going to be the case.

Click here to see all Cover Stars

Friday, 3 May 2013

Just What Kind Of Mother Are You? by Paula Daly

Lisa Kallisto is a frazzled mum of three, struggling to juggle parenthood with a demanding full time job running the local animal shelter. She’s so tired and stressed that she forgets her daughter’s best friend is supposed to be staying over for the night to work on a school project. Thirteen year old Lucinda isn’t picked up from school but, because her parents think she's with Lisa, nobody notices she is missing until the following morning.
Crime is very low in the Cumbrian village where Lisa lives but Lucinda’s disappearance is the second to occur within a matter of weeks. Molly Rigg, also thirteen, was recently abducted, drugged and raped before being dumped, naked from the waist up, in the freezing rain. Fearing the same will happen to Lucinda, Lisa is consumed with guilt, petrified of what the poor girl is being subjected to. Lucinda could be dead by now and Lisa blames herself. DC Joanna Aspinall is assigned to Lucinda’s case and knows they must act quickly to find the girl and whoever is responsible for her disappearance before they take another girl.
Just What Kind Of Mother Are You? is set in a village where not much happens when suddenly two horrific crimes take place. Lisa is caught up in the middle and feels responsible for Lucinda’s disappearance. Her husband, Joe tries to be supportive but even he thinks his wife messed up. Lisa is left feeling helpless as the investigation begins. She wants to make amends for her actions, to make it up to Lucinda’s mother but how can Kate ever forgive her for what she’s done? Kate is falling apart and Lisa tries to help her and can’t help noticing there is something strange going on within the family.
What Kind Of Mother Are You? is told from the perspective of Lisa as she deals with her guilt, DC Aspinall as she investigates the disappearance and, chillingly, the abductor. On some level he knows what he is doing is wrong but he justifies his actions and begins to plan his next attack.
I was quickly caught up in the story as the day unfolds and it transpires Lucinda has been missing all night. By the time the investigation began, I was hooked and found it very difficult to put down as I was desperate to know who had taken Lucinda and what had happened to her. It’s the kind of book you tell yourself you’ll read one more chapter but are still devouring pages five chapters later.
I liked how the books deals with both the investigation, uncovering the secrets and lies, and the lives of the victim’s family and friends as they try to deal with the devastating event. Adding the abductor’s disturbed thoughts only added to the atmosphere and the fear that he will strike again.
I thought What Kind Of Mother Are You? was a brilliant thriller, tangled up with lies and family drama and I look forward to reading more from Paula Daly in the future.
Thank you to Transworld for sending me a copy to review.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

A-Z Challenged

So that's it - the A-Z Challenge is complete. I don't know about you but I could do with a rest now!

This was the first A-Z Challenge I've taken part in and it was a lot of fun, though far more difficult to think of what to write for some letters than I thought (and I may have had to resort to a teeny weeny bit of cheating).

I met lots of new bloggers along the way and I'd like to thank everyone who visited my blog and commented. I hope I've replied and visited blogs in return to all - that was my aim but it did get a bit hectic on some days!

I thought I would compile a list of my A-Z (it took so much effort, it'd be a shame for it to disappear straight away!) so here it is: