Monday, 30 September 2013

In September...

... I read:

 
 
 
... I took part in the Three Wishes Blog Blitz, with a short story and giveaway
 
... school started again so I bagged myself a new writing schedule
 
... made the Big, Scary Decision to self-publish my book
 
... set up a facebook page (and still have little clue of what I'm doing)
 
 
... took part in the Beyond Grace's Rainbow blog tour
 
... chose my Book of the Month and Cover Star
 
... had guest posts from Kathryn Player, Alicia Rades, Trish Hills and Jan Ellis
 
... and took part in Victoria Loves Book's feature, in which I picked 5 fictional characters to be deserted on an island with.


 
 

 

Friday, 27 September 2013

Book Of The Month: September

 
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.

September
 
 
 
Klara's mother disappeared when she was a young girl. Klara never knew where she went and then it was too late to find out as she learned her mother had died.
 
Years later, when Klara is married and thinking of starting a family of her own, she receives a mysterious letter. Enclosed is a key, which promises to answer the questions Klara has about her mother. The key belongs to a lock-up, inside of which Klara discovers her mother's possessions, including a diary she kept as a young woman.
 
I really enjoyed The Lies You Told Me, following Klara as she discovered who her mother was and what made her tick. I connected with Klara and felt for her as she finally found the long-awaited answers to her questions.
 
 
You can see my full review here or click here to see previous Books Of The Month


Thursday, 26 September 2013

Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream by Abby Clements

 
 
Amelia Grey is fed up with her life in East London, living in a cramped flat on a busy street and dealing with a classroom full of teenagers who have little desire to learn. As a child, she dreamed of living in the countryside and, after discussing it with her husband, they realise there is nothing stopping them from making the move. Both Amelia and Jack can commute to their jobs in London and while they don't have a huge budget, they can afford a cottage, leaving a little left over to bring it up to date.
 
Amelia and Jack move into their new cottage and set about achieving their dream. But the house needs a lot more work than anticipated and the move begins to take its toll on their relationship.
 
I've been looking forward to reading Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream as I enjoyed Abby Clements' previous books. The cover called out to me as it screams autumn, which is my favourite season. The book is perfect for curling up by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate, relaxing while poor Amelia tackles the huge renovation project.
 
Although Amelia is a likable character, she doesn't always make the best choices. I wanted her to have the beautiful home she'd always dreamed of but I didn't want her to lose Jack in the process. I thought she and Jack were a good pairing, with a lovely set of friends to support them so I began to worry as the move put strain on their marriage and it began to suffer.
 
I loved the sound of the cottage and its beautiful garden. With it came the mystery of the previous owner, Eleanor, and her earlier life. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book and I would have liked to have got to know Eleanor more, to explore her past a little deeper and find out what happens next, if anything.
 
Amelia Grey's Fireside Dream is a lovely book to curl up with now that summer is on its way out.


Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Guest Post: Jan Ellis


When my novella came out in July, I was intrigued by the reactions I got from friends: these ranged from jaws dropping in disbelief to barely suppressed hilarity. This is not because I can’t write – I write other stuff for a living – it was more the thought of a cynical old bag like me writing ‘chick lit’ that set them off.

The more polite amongst them said things like, ‘Gosh, I didn’t know you were writing a novel!’ My response to this was that I wasn’t, or at least I hadn’t intended to. So how did it happen? Well, I was originally approached by Endeavour Press to write a history book, but we couldn’t agree on a topic. ‘No problem,’ they said. ‘Have a go at some women’s fiction instead.’ Now, the first rule of being self-employed is to say ‘Yes’ to everything and figure out how to do whatever it is afterwards. Ignoring the fact that I hadn’t written stories since the age of about ten, I whizzed over a proposal, contracts were signed and off I went into the great literary unknown.

Fortunately for me, once I sat down and thought about the settings and the basic plot, I was amazed by how quickly ideas flowed. As soon as my heroine Eleanor Mace appeared, the personalities of her mother Connie, sister Jenna and other family and friends followed on quite naturally.

What I know about is non-fiction, so it made sense to me to put the characters in settings with which I was familiar. I wanted everything to be as realistic as possible so that readers would be caught up in Eleanor’s adventure and care which of the various men who cross her path she ends up with. As a result, her bookshop, the seaside town in Devon, the London locations and the city I call Chevandier are all based on real places. The main characters do a lot of eating and drinking, so I had fun checking that I had the correct food and wines for the French locations, and that the Eurostar timetables worked!

Two-thirds of the way through, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself. Smug in fact. Then I fell for the wrong male character, completely mucking up the story. Eventually, I figured out how to get everyone back on track, but it was an unsettling experience. I had heard ‘proper’ novelists talk about characters taking over and, frankly, had thought it was nonsense – and here were mine rebelling.

So apart from not to take anything for granted, what have I learnt? Well, that most of us probably do have a story to tell, even if it doesn’t always go the way we might expect it to. After all, we tell each other stories every day: what we did at work, what our children got up to at the weekend, what the new neighbours have been doing. Write it down. You might surprise your friends – and yourself!
 




An Unexpected Affair (Endeavour Press Ltd, £2.99) is available as an e-book from Amazon. You can find out more about Jan Ellis, read an extract from the novella and see photos of the settings at:
http://jlravenscroft.wix.com/janelliswriter.

You can follow Jan on Twitter at JanEllis_writer

Friday, 20 September 2013

Blog Tour: Beyond Grace's Rainbow

Today I'm pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for Beyond Grace's Rainbow with a Q&A with the author, Carmel Harrington.



Can you tell us about your book?
Beyond Graces Rainbow tells the story of a young single mother, Grace Devlin who finds out that she has cancer. She needs a bone marrow transplant from a family member, but as she is adopted this means that she must find out who her biological family is, which is a secret that has been veiled in secrecy for over 30 years.

To make matters more complicated, Liam, Graces ex-boyfriend and father to her son, is back in town and is determined to prove that he is worth a second chance. But can Grace dare to love again, especially now as she faces the biggest fight of her life? It is an extremely emotive story that will make you both laugh and cry in equal measures.

What was your inspiration for Beyond Grace's Rainbow?
The idea to explore what it would be like to be very sick and need the help of an unknown biological family actually came to me following a conversation with my best friend, who is adopted herself. We were chatting about how hard it is for adopted people to not know their family medical history, when they have not managed to trace their biological parents. So I decided to make Grace adopted who is suddenly faced with a double whammy – firstly she has cancer and secondly she needs to make a brave decision to start looking for her unknown parents.

What has been your greatest experience of being a published writer?
I have had quite a few over the past few weeks since HarperImpulse announced that I was joining their team, I’m not sure I could pick just one! Seeing the new book cover, working with such a team of professionals in HarperImpulse, reading all about my book in newspapers and the radio and tv interviews. It’s all been so much fun. But what I can tell you is that it has been everything and more than I ever could have imagined.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors
Keep believing in yourself, especially in those moments that are darkest. It is a tough industry to break into, but with hard work, determination and the right talent, it will happen for you. Just keep dreaming.

What was the first book you ever bought yourself?
Oh that is a really good question. Because I can remember the first book I ever borrowed from our library, but I am trying to work out what the first book I ever bought actually was! I am pretty certain it would have been one of Dean Koontz’s novels.

What was the last book you read?
The Outlaw of Cedar Ridge by Lori Connelly

Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
I’ve started working on my third book which is actually a sequel to Beyond Graces Rainbow. It takes up the story about a year later and catches up with old friends and also introduces some new ones too.



You can find out more about Carmel and her book on her blog, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads and you can buy the book from Amazon.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Guest Post: Trish Hills


MY LIFE IN BOOKS BY TRISH HILLS



1. Charlotte's Web by EB White. This is the first book I remember reading as a child. I still have my really old, battered paperback copy and also found a beautiful old hardback too. This book is so beautifully written and so poignant. I can't read it any more, it makes me cry, but I still hold it fondly as a favourite.

2. The Babysitters Club Series by Ann M Martin. This series basically shaped my “tween” years. They were fun, clever, inspirational. The girls (Kristy, Claudia, Mary Anne, Mallory, Jessie, Stacey, Dawn) formed a club to give childcare to all the neighborhood kids. They were organized, professional, caring and most of all, fun. I started babysitting aged 12 because I wanted to be like them. I even became a qualified first-aider and got my babysitting certificate!

3. Pet Semetary by Stephen King. This was the first “grown-up” novel I ever read. I was terrified but wanted to read something naughty that I wasn't supposed to. I was hooked! I quickly devoured every Stephen King book I could lay my hands on. I started collecting them and even when I moved from Canada to the UK in 2000, I brought my collection of around 20 hardbacks and 30 paperbacks with me. That was half of my packing allowance, but I wasn't letting them go! I now have over 100 SK books, many of them multiples. I don't read them so much any more. I find his style has changed since his life threatening accident. But I still get his new hardback for Christmas every year!

4. Jemima J by Jane Green. One of the first books I bought when I arrived to start my new life in England. Aged 23, I'd never heard of “chick-lit” and the cover was pretty so I picked it up. A whole new world opened up for me with that book! I was hooked on these happy, fun, realistic books. I kind of related with Jemima and wanted her to have her happy-ever-after. I'd never had such strong feelings for a character and their out-come before!

5. The Alchemist by Pauolo Cohelo. If ever a book enhanced my life, it was this one. I read it when I was at a particularly low point in my life and it really opened my eyes. It changed the way I was looking at things and made me re-evaluate my situation. It taught me that “when you want something, all of the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” If you really want something and you are willing to work for it, you will get there. It's a moving, emotional and inspirational read. One that I recommend to anyone who is struggling to find their path in life.

6. Dearest Rose by Rowan Coleman. I adore Rowan, I really do. I think she's kind, funny, down-to-earth and a brilliant writer. I read Dearest Rose in about 2 days, which is quick for me. I didn't want to put it down. I cared so deeply for Rose and Maddie. I cried, I laughed and best of all, I cheered for her. (I actually did!) This was such a moving, heartbreaking, empowering story. I think every woman should read this book and then go tell Rowan how much you loved it!

7. Like Bees To Honey by Caroline Smailes. I stumbled across Caroline by accident while tweeting with Rowan Coleman. I noticed Caroline is from the North West, like me. So I emailed her. I hadn't read her books but we started chatting. Long, easy emails were exchanged and I found out she was doing an event in my town. So I borrowed Like Bees To Honey from the library. I devoured the book in one sitting, something I had never done before. I was haunted by the characters, the words and the setting (Malta). No author had ever given me chills like that before! If you haven't read this, I urge you to! It will grip you and you will be hooked by the unique style of writing and the beautifully flowing words.

8. Wish You Were Here by Victoria Connelly. Ok, I put this on the list for a different reason. I loved this book. I really, really did. I adored the characters and the male hunk Milo. I loved the setting, the Greek Island of Kethos. But most of all, I loved that this was the first book I was ever asked to review. Handbag.com sent me this in the first bundle of review books and I was so proud and excited to be doing something I had always dreamed of! This was the first of many books and it has opened up so many doors for me.

9. Sunlounger Stories by Various Contributors and Belinda Jones. I've never been a huge lover of short stories, but having been offered the chance to review this, I was quite excited as it features some of my favorite authors. I changed my opinion completely! The stories were all fabulous and fun! Love, lust, passion, excitement, sun, sea, sex and sangria. What more could a reader ask for?? Each story was just long enough to make you care but short enough to make you desperate for a bit more. Delicious!! Added to that was the fact that my blog review got more hits than I'd ever had before and the banter on Twitter surrounding it was amazing! As was the long, fun email chat I had with Belinda! So much fun!

10. Secrets And Rain by Cally Taylor. As I said, I was never a fan of short stories. I am now. I love Cally's writing anyway so was excited to get a review copy of this collection of 12 short stories. I started reading it on my phone in a local tea rooms. Big mistake! I was sobbing into my brew after just a few lines of the first story! So beautifully written and so emotional! **Totes Emosh!** I adored every single story and even fell for one of the male leads! Sigh! Heartbreaking, sweet, full of hope, sad, joyous, adorable, I don't even have the right words! But this collection did more than just make me cry. It made me write! I, like most people who read a lot, have always wanted to write. I knew of the New Rose Prize short story contest but never thought of entering. After reading Sunlounger Stories and this one, I decided to give it a go. And I wrote around 1500 words in one sitting, barely even having to go back and make any changes. I decided to submit it (after some encouraging words from another author friend). EEEK! So now I just have to wait and see...

So there you have it! My life in books... I hope there's something in this lot that makes you want to read one of my favorite books.



You can find Trish on her blog or twitter:@TISHYLOU

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

The Lies You Told Me by Jessica Ruston



When Klara was a little girl, her mother left her. She and her father, Henry adjusted to life without the glamorous former model, Sadie but then another blow was delivered to young Klara; her mother was dead.

Klara didn’t probe too much into the circumstances surrounding her mother’s death – where Sadie had gone and why and what had happened to her. She was young and as she grew up, she learned how much her questions hurt her father and so she let it be and pushed her need for answers aside.

But years later, when Klara is married and thinking about starting a family of her own, she receives a strange letter and a key, claiming it holds the answers to what happened to Sadie. The key leads Klara to a lock up unit and begins a journey of discovery and mistrust as Klara follows the trail of her mother’s disappearance.

I’d been looking forward to reading The Lies You Told Me for quite a while as I was intrigued by the blurb and I wasn’t disappointed. The story opens with Klara receiving the key and note, signed by the mysterious N.R and I was quickly drawn in, wanting to keep reading to find out what secrets Klara would discover. Klara never really knew her mother as she was so young when she left but she begins to learn so much more about the younger Sadie and what made her tick, along with the reader.

I liked the character of Klara, even if I was never entirely sure why she kept the key and her discoveries from her husband, Mark. Although Klara and Mark didn’t have the best starts in life, I think they made a lovely, strong couple and I hoped that Klara didn’t jeopardise her marriage by keeping secrets from Mark and her actions as she tried to learn more about her mother.

The Lies You Told Me is an intriguing book, layered with mystery and powerful emotions and though it took a while for me to have any notion of where the book was heading, I enjoyed being led there immensely.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Cover Stars: Killer Queens by Rebecca Chance

 
 
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'.
 
 
Killer Queens

 
 
This month's 'Cover Stars' is a little different because it isn't just the individual 'Killer Queens' cover that I like but Rebecca Chance's covers as a whole. Her covers have a real brand so when you see that sparkly cover with the gorgeous, massive-heeled shoe, you know instantly that it's a Rebecca Chance book - and it's probably going to be a very naughty but nice book.


 
 
 
Click here to see all Cover Stars

 

Friday, 13 September 2013

Close My Eyes by Sophie McKenzie

 
 
It's been eight years since Gen and Art lost their daughter, Beth. They've tried to move on, undergoing several rounds of IVF but each attempt has failed and Gen isn't sure she can cope with another round. She can't seem to let go of her daughter. It isn't another child she wants - it's Beth.
 
And then one day there is a knock at the door. A woman Gen has never met before has a shocking claim; Beth is still alive.
 
The claim is ludicrous but the seed has been planted in Gen's mind. Nobody else believes there is the remotest possibility of it being true but Gen cannot let it pass and begins digging into her painful past, learning along the way that she can't trust anyone, even those she is closest to.
 
I absolutely loved Close My Eyes and devoured the book in just over 24 hours. I couldn't put it down as I was drawn deeper into Gen's story. She's still grieving over the loss of her daughter so when she hears the news that Beth is still alive, news that is absurd to everyone else, she clings onto it, almost willing it to be true. I felt Gen's frustration as those around her dismissed the idea and refused to co-operate but Gen is determined to discover the truth, with or without help.
 
Like Gen, I didn't know who to trust as layers of deception are revealed. There are clues and red herrings along the way, keeping the reader guessing until the very end. It's such a fantastic read, full of danger and intrigue as well as Gen's emotions, first the despair at losing Beth and then the hope that her daughter is out there somewhere. I connected with Gen's character and willed her on with her search, watching as she grew throughout the book, emerging from the protective shell she'd built around herself since the death of her child. Gen emerges as a fighter, determined to uncover the truth whatever the consequences. 

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Guest Post: Alicia Rades

How I Knew I Discovered My True Passion 
 
 
Writing is my true passion. As much as I’d like to say I’ve always known that, I haven’t. My first recollection of writing anything creative comes from when I was 8 years old. My grandmother had an old type writer, and I wanted to use it, so I wrote my first song.
 
I continued my journey by producing countless pieces of poetry. When I was in sixth grade, I started writing short stories and became convinced that I was going to write a novel someday.
 
But soon, those ideas faded. No one makes it as a writer, do they? In high school, life seemed too busy to keep writing. I had school, sports, and extracurricular activities to work around. 
 
Then when I 17, my sister asked, “You like to write, don’t you?” I remember saying, “Yeah…why?” reluctant to do anything with it. Then she gave me information that led to the start of my freelance writing career. I wasn’t sure that it was something I wanted to do at first. I mean, I liked writing poetry. The idea of making a little bit of extra money in my spare time without having to drive anywhere intrigued me, though, and I took her up on the offer.
 
I’m not going to be shy. I’ll admit it. I was a terrible writer then. Why anyone ever hired me, I don’t know. But as time went on, I started to realize that I really enjoyed writing blog posts and product descriptions. I eventually found myself spending heaps of time reading about how to write better, and the more I learned, the more joy I got from it.
 
But I wanted to learn more, so I started a blog. That eventually took me through different niches and four different blogs before I landed where I am today. Today, I write for money, I write for leisure for my blog and other blogs, and I’m slowly working on the first draft of my first novel.
 
So that’s my story, but how did I know. I’ll give you three great reasons.
  1. I want to learn. And then I want to learn more. I never get bored learning how to become a better writer. I never get bored practicing. Everything I write and read is a new experience, and I want to keep learning.
  2. I want to do it forever. I’m a student, and while I’m not going to school for any sort of writing degree, I find myself telling my husband every now and then, “I just don’t know what to do. I want to write forever, but I want to get my degree, too.” So I’ve decided that I will keep writing after I get my degree.
  3. I’m super excited about it. Every guest post, blog post, assignment, poem, and chapter excites me. I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing.

That’s my story. What is your true passion, and how did you know?
 
  
Alicia Rades has a passion for writing, and she has been freelance writing since 2010. If you’re like Alicia and love writing, check out her blog at
TheWritingRealm.com, and then check her out on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Facebook



Nope you haven't been sent back in time again - first I review Bridget Jones's Diary several* years after its release and now I've finally set up Facebook.

I really haven't much of a clue what I'm doing but I've set up a page here. I'm, er, sure I'll pick it up soon**


*ok, a million years after its release
**or maybe not

Monday, 9 September 2013

A Big (Scary) Decision


Just over a year ago, I started writing my third 'serious' book. I've been writing for as long as I can remember and started submitted my work to agents when I was 20 (but we'll gloss over that because the books were shit). Since then, I've been submitting books on and off and writing books that never even got that far but I decided to get serious about it a couple of years ago. I'd always wanted to have my books published but it wasn't going to happen by mucking about with half-written books and crappy drafts.

I set the evenings aside and I wrote. I set up my blog and twitter so I could connect with other writers. I submitted my work to agents and it was rejected. But this time was different. I wasn't giving up. I carried on writing. I submitted the next book. It was rejected. I carried on.

And then I wrote the third 'serious' book. I loved writing it. Really loved writing it. But it was rejected. It received feedback and nice rejections but it got nowhere. I couldn't stand the thought of shelving it with the others. I like this book. It's the sort of book I'd pick up off the shelf and I'd worked so hard on it.

So I've decided I'm going to self-publish it.

When I decided to give writing a real go, I told myself I wouldn't give up. So I'm not going to. If nobody else wants to publish it, I'll do it myself. I'll be scared doing it, but I'll give it a go and put my little book out there.

I've paid for the book to be edited and I'm planning on publishing it on Amazon in the new year. In the meantime, I'm working on a free Christmas short story that introduces the main character, Ruth. I'll be posting the covers and blurb for both in the next few weeks.

And now I've posted this announcement, there's no going back, is there? Eek!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Giveaway Winner

 

Thank you to everyone who entered my 'Three Wishes Blog Blitz' giveaway of an Amazon voucher. Rafflecopter has selected a winner at random:

Gillian H
Congratulations, Gillian. I hope you enjoy your prize!

Friday, 6 September 2013

A Chat With Georgina Troy

Georgina Troy is the author of A Jersey Kiss. You can see my review here and Georgina has kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions.

 

Can you tell us about your book?
A Jersey Kiss is about Bea Phillips, a divorced thirty-year-old who is fighting to keep the beautiful but rundown home her godmother left to her. Her ex-husband has other plans though and is fighting for what he believes to be his share of the value in the building. She’s attracted to Luke, a gorgeous builder with problems of his own, and to complicate matters further, Bea discovers that her new boss is the boyfriend she went out with at university who has returned to Jersey wanting to rekindle their romance.

What was your inspiration for A Jersey Kiss?
I’ve always lived in Jersey, apart from a year or so when I travelled, and wanted to write a romance based here. I’ve ended up writing three. There are many beautiful places to set scenes around the island and although it’s only a small place, a lot happens here, so if inspiration dries up slightly there’s always something to reignite the ideas. I’m a hopeless romantic and so dreaming up heroes was easy…

What has been your greatest experience since publishing your book?
Reading the five star reviews I’ve been given on Amazon and discovering that not only are people buying my book – thank you to everyone who has done so, including people in Germany and the United State who have bought A Jersey Kiss – but also that they seem to be enjoying it. It’s scary putting something you’ve imagined, written and worked on out there for everyone to read, so it’s a massive relief if people actually like what you’ve written.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Make the book the best you possibly can by editing, editing and then editing once again; find a couple of beta readers you trust and proofread as much as possible before publishing.

What was the first book you ever bought yourself?
I’m not certain, but I know one of the first books I bought would definitely have been The Old-Girl’s Network by Catherine Alliott. It was reading her books that began my love of chick lit!

What was the last book you read?
I’ve been focusing on the final edits for A Jersey Kiss, so haven’t had much time to read lately, but the last book I read was probably Christina Jones’ latest book, An Enormously English Monsoon Wedding. I love Christina’s books and have devoured them all and when she kindly agreed to read and subsequently give me a quote for the cover of A Jersey Kiss, I was overwhelmed.

Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
I’m proofreading the next stand-alone romance in the Jersey Romance Series, A Jersey Affair, which is about a jilted shoe-designer, Paige Bingham and how everything she works for is threatened when the man she had a brief holiday romance with, Sebastian Fielding, turns up in Jersey on business. A Jersey Affair will be published in January 2014.

Thanks for interviewing me, Jennifer!


You can find out more about Georgina on her blog, website, Facebook or Twitter

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

 
 
Bridget Jones is approaching 30 and still single, a fact those around her seem desperate to remedy, from her mother and her friends to Bridget's 'Smug Marrieds' friends. They attempt to set her up with men but Bridget isn't really interested. The only man she wants to date is her boss, Daniel Cleaver.
 
Told through Bridget's witty diary entries over the course of a year, we join Bridget as she tries to snare Daniel, lose weight and change her career path.
 
No, you haven't somehow slipped back through time. It's still 2013. But this is the first time I have read Bridget Jones's Diary. I've seen the film many, many times before but thought it was time I read the book. As I have seen the film and know it inside out, it was a little strange reading the book and knowing what was coming up, although the book and film aren't always identical. There was, however, the added bonus of feeling like I already knew Bridget extremely well, even from the beginning.
 
As I expected, Bridget Jones's Diary is a fun, laugh-out-loud read with a strong female lead character and an array of quirky friends, family members and work colleagues. I felt the book offered much more of an insight into the lives of Bridget's friends and her mother, who is amusing in her own special way, as well as delving deeper into Bridget's relationship with Daniel.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Guest Post: Kathryn Player

MY INSPIRATION FOR 'MOODY NOT BROODY'

Like a lot of people, I always wanted to write a book but I didn’t always know what I should write about. However, the relentless questioning about babies, and when was I going to have them, soon gave me my inspiration.

After you get married, everyone pops the question: when are you going to have children?

Every acquaintance starts poking their nose into your fertility levels, your family genetics, even your menstrual cycle. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but this pressure was exactly what drove me to write my book, 'Moody not Broody'.

When a woman gets married everyone expects her to have children, when children could be the furthest thing from her mind. I wanted to ridicule this issue with amusing and entertaining characters. Emma’s viewpoint comes from how I felt after I got married, in 2007.After I got married, I became frustrated by people’s questions and interference and I wanted everyone to see how it can make a young woman feel trapped.

My book is about Emma who has just got married and who’s looking forward to some time of domestic bliss with her new husband, Mike. Then, she is reminded of how she promised him children 6 months into their relationship and, worse still, Mike has never forgotten it. Plus, everyone else has decided that it’s time Emma had children. Emma tries to tell Mike how she feels but he believes she will change her mind and the book is about how they struggle to understand each other’s perspective. In an attempt to get herself out of this stalemate with her husband, Emma focuses on her teaching career and wants to help children with Special Educational Needs.

I must confess that the scenes in the book are loosely based on my own teaching experiences which I thoroughly enjoyed writing about, particularly as I have temporarily left teaching to raise my nine month old twin daughters, Charlotte and Emily. My main objective with this book was to entertain my reader, and I sincerely hope that it does.



You can find out more about Kathryn and her book on Twitter, Facebook or her website.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

New Writing Schedule



So, it's September, which means it's back to school time. My youngest is now in school full time, which means I have the whole day to write. I vow to use my time wisely and not piss about on twitter/ebay/google all day. I will write, write, write!

Ok, so that's a lie and I'll have broken my vow by 9:15. But nobody's perfect, right?

Monday, 2 September 2013

Short Story: Three Wishes [Three Wishes Blog Blitz]


Today I’m participating in the Three Wishes Blog Blitz, hosted by author Juliet Madison! From 2nd to 6th September you’ll have the chance to win some awesome prizes at all the blogs participating in the blitz, including mine. All you have to do is follow my instructions below for winning the prize I have on offer, and then you can click over to Juliet’s blog to enter her prize draw, and see the list of all other blogs taking part and enter their giveaways as well. How cool is that? Why is it called the Three Wishes Blog Blitz? Juliet’s new romantic comedy release, I Dream of Johnny, is about three wishes, a high-tech genie in a lamp, and one very unfortunate typo that proves magic isn’t all it cracked up to be…

 
 
 
 
 
‘Are you ready?’
Mel glanced up from her computer screen as her work colleague made his way towards her. Her hand slipped from her mouse as she allowed a small sigh to seep from her lips at the sight of Brendan. Distracted, she nudged her little pot of paperclips and, as she moved to right it, knocked over her long-forgotten cup of coffee.
‘Gah.’ Mel leapt from her chair as the cold liquid pooled on the desk and started to drip over the edge.
‘Here, let me.’ Brendan grabbed a handful of tissues from the box on the desk and mopped up the mess, dumping the sodden mass in the bin. ‘So? Are you ready to go?’
Go? Mel’s eyes swept across the office. She and Brendan were the only two remaining.
‘Not quite. I just have to finish –’
‘No, she doesn’t. She’s ready now.’ Joanna, Mel’s friend and colleague, marched into the office, her make up having been transformed from day to night in the ladies. ‘It’s Friday night, Mel. Come on or we’ll go without you.’
Duly warned, Mel shut down her computer and grabbed her coat and handbag. Joanna was right. It was a Friday night and the entire company had been invited to celebrate the Production Manager’s birthday in the pub.
‘We wouldn’t have gone without you, you know,’ Brendan whispered as Joanna led the way out of the building. The pub was a matter of feet away and, while Joanna and Brendan headed straight for the bar, Mel sought out the Production Manager to pass on her well wishes. Already sloshed, the Production Manager responded by squeezing Mel’s arse and trying his luck with a kiss. Leaping away, Mel collided with a table and sent three pints flying.
‘I’m so sorry. I’ll replace them.’ Mel’s cheeks were burning but her concerns were waved away.
‘Don’t worry about it. No harm done.’
‘No, really.’
‘I tell you what.’ The Production Manager clapped Mel on the back so hard, she stumbled and collided with another table. ‘If you have a dance with me, we’ll call it quits, yeah?’ Mel’s hand was clasped before she could respond and she found herself being dragged across the pub towards a makeshift dance floor where she was crushed by sweaty, roaming hands.
‘Mel! There you are. We’ve been looking for you everywhere.’ Brendan appeared by Mel’s side and plucked her away to safety.
‘What’s wrong?’ Mel asked as they hurried away.
‘Nothing. I saw Phil with his hands all over you so I came to rescue you.’
Her very own knight in shining armour! ‘Thanks. I didn’t know how to get away.’ They’d reached the table Joanna had secured and Mel dropped into a seat, accepting a glass of wine.
‘You’re too nice for your own good,’ Joanna told her.
‘It’s easy for you. All you have to do is flash your wedding ring. I have no valid excuse.’
‘How about telling Phil he’s a lecherous old toad?’ Joanna laughed at her friend’s horrified expression. ‘Maybe you could wish you had more balls.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘I mean this.’ Joanna pushed an empty beer bottle towards Mel. ‘They’re magic wish bottles. You write your wish on a piece of paper, roll it up and pop it inside the bottle. Then you write your name on another piece of paper and scrunch it up to make a sort of cork to seal your wish in the bottle and to also let the universe who the wish belongs to.’
Brendan snorted. ‘What a load of rubbish. I can’t believe you fell for that.’
‘It isn’t rubbish. It’s magic.’
In fact, the ‘magic wish bottles’ were a load of rubbish, the gimmick concocted when the landlord realised the empties hadn’t been collected. Sick of the sight of the bottles cluttering his yard, he’d devised the plan as the pub began to fill up with customers, seizing the opportunity to rake in a bit more cash from the gullible by charging a pound per wish.
‘You’re not seriously going to give it a go, are you?’ Brendan was aghast as Joanna began scribbling on a scrap of paper.
‘Why not? What harm could it do?’
Brendan shook his head and turned to Mel, who shrugged her shoulders before picking up a pen herself. Giving a tut, Brendan picked up his pint, but a couple of sips later, he created a wish of his own.
‘There.’ Joanna wedged the paper cork into her bottle and sat back with satisfaction.
‘What did you wish for?’ Brendan asked.
‘I can’t tell you.’
Brendan snorted. ‘In case telling me makes the wish void? Well, I wished for a hundred more wishes.’
Joanna gasped. ‘But that’s cheating.’
‘Is it against the rules?’ Joanna shook her head. There hadn’t been any rules on the handwritten poster. ‘Then it isn’t cheating. What did you wish for, Mel?’
Mel pulled her corked bottle into her chest. ‘None of your business.’ There was no way she was telling Brendan – or anyone else – what she’d wished for. It was far too embarrassing to share. Gathering all three bottles, she rose from her seat and scurried across the pub to get another round in, eager to rid herself of the wish. Squeezing through the crush of bodies, she made her way to the bar, but froze when she felt a pair of hands on her behind. Whirling round to face Phil, the bottles somehow slipped from her grip, arching in the air before shattering on the ground.
‘Oops. I was only going to ask if we could finish that dance.’ Phil slinked away, leaving Mel with a mess of glass shards and bits of paper.
 
Joanna’s head pounded as she sat up in bed, her stomach swirling with the movement. She’d been woken by her phone, its ringtone too cheery against her hangover. Her husband stirred beside her, but didn’t fully wake.
‘Hello?’ She’d already seen Brendan’s name on the display but couldn’t imagine what he could want from her on a Saturday morning.
‘You sound rough.’
Joanna felt rough. ‘Did you phone me with the intention of insulting me or did you want something?’
‘Sorry. I’m concerned, that’s all.’
‘It’s only a hangover.’ Which, thinking about it, was partly Brendan’s fault. Joanna had only stayed in the pub so late for his benefit, knowing that if she left, Mel would leave too. The pair obviously fancied each other but neither had the balls to do anything about it.
‘So what did you actually want?’
Brendan cleared his throat and when he spoke, the words spurted out of his mouth in rapid fire. ‘I was wondering if you wanted to hang out today. We could go for lunch or something.’
‘You want us to hang out?’ Joanna smiled as Brendan’s true intentions dawned on her. It wasn’t her he wanted to hang out with, but he was too chicken to ask Mel directly. ‘Ok. Lunch sounds great.’
They arranged to meet in a smart café in town and hung up. Joanna phoned Mel and arranged to meet her at the café before prodding her husband awake. There was no way she was turning up alone and playing gooseberry for the afternoon.
The café was heaving but Joanna spotted Brendan immediately.
‘I’m so glad you could come.’ Brendan rose from his seat, leaning in to kiss Joanna on the cheek. He’d obviously gone to the effort of grooming as his skin was baby soft and he smelled delicious but he must have run out of steam when it came to dressing. He was wearing a nice pair of jeans but had teamed it with a hideously baggy jumper.
‘Put those away,’ Joanna hissed as Brendan produced a bouquet of flowers.
Brendan flushed as he clamped his arms across his chest. ‘What are you talking about?’
‘The flowers. She’ll be here any minute. You don’t want to ruin the surprise.’
Brendan was about to question Joanna when he spotted her husband lurking in the background. Narrowing his eyes, he leaned in towards Joanna and lowered his voice. ‘What’s he doing here?’
‘You’ve met Lee before. He’s here to make up a foursome. It’ll be less awkward that way.’
‘Foursome?’
There was no need for Joanna to answer as Mel announced her arrival by tripping a waitress and upending her tray of pastries and coffee. Luckily nothing but Mel’s cheeks burned, and that was due to embarrassment rather than scalding coffee. Why did she have to make a fool of herself everywhere she went? Especially in front of Brendan?
‘Something really weird is happening today,’ she said once she was seated and greetings had been exchanged. ‘I seem to be really lucky. Whenever I want something – poof! – it happens. I didn’t want to wait for a bus and I didn’t have to. It sailed around the corner as soon as I reached the bus stop. And then there was this annoying kid playing his music too loud on the bus. I thought to myself, I wish his music would stop and guess what? His battery on his phone died.’
‘Lucky you,’ Joanna said. ‘I don’t think my head could stand a bus ride of noise.’
‘Are you still feeling poorly?’ Brendan reached across the table to take hold of her hand, which Joanna discreetly removed.
‘I’m fine. Shall we order?’
They ordered lunch and an uncomfortable atmosphere fell upon the table. Brendan sighed and rolled his eyes whenever Lee spoke and Joanna froze when she felt Brendan playing footsie with her under the table.
‘I’m starving,’ Mel complained. ‘I wish our food would hurry up.’ The words were barely out of her mouth before there was a stampede from the kitchen. Plates and dishes were set in front of them in a whirlwind of activity.
‘Do you see what I mean?’ Mel asked as the waiting staff wandered back to the kitchen in a daze.
‘Wait a minute. Did you wish our food would hurry up?’ Joanna asked and gasped when Mel nodded. ‘It’s the wish bottles from last night. It’s come true.’
‘But that isn’t what I wished for.’ She hadn’t missed the adoration in Brendan’s eyes but it wasn’t aimed at her. ‘My wish hasn’t come true.’
Joanna looked down at her chest with a sigh. ‘Neither has mine.’ She picked up her fork but her appetite had vanished. The uncomfortable air remained.
‘You should give the flowers to Mel now,’ she whispered to Brendan.
‘But they’re for you.’
Joanna gaped at Brendan. ‘Why would you buy me flowers.’
Brendan threw down his fork, attracting the attention of not only his table but the entire café. ‘I can’t pretend anymore, Joanna. I love you. Please say you feel the same.’
Joanne spluttered. ‘Of course I don’t.’
‘It’s because of these, isn’t it?’
Lee, who had jumped to his feet to deck the idiot declaring feelings for his wife, paused and gawped as Brendan lifted his tent-like jumper to reveal a pair of DD breasts.
‘They disgust you, don’t they?’
Joanna covered her mouth with one hand while the other pointed at Brendan’s inflated chest. ‘You got my wish! I wished for bigger boobs but you got them.’
Mel’s face turned a ghostly shade as she took in the scene before her. ‘Brendan, what did you wish for?'
Brendan finally covered himself and sank into his seat. ‘I wished for a hundred more wishes. I’m an idiot. I should have wished for Joanna’s heart.’
‘It’s already taken, mate,’ Lee reminded him.
Mel dropped her head into her hands. Brendan had wished for a hundred more wishes, which she seemed to be benefiting from. Joanna had wished for bigger boobs, which were attached to Brendan and Mel had wished for Brendan to fall in love with her.
‘I know what’s happened. And it’s all my fault.’
Mel explained about the broken bottles and how she had bought three new replacements.
‘I just shoved the wishes and corks in at random. The wishes obviously got mixed up.’
Lee rolled his eyes. ‘You can’t be serious.’
‘Look at my chest,’ Brendan growled. ‘It doesn’t get any more serious than that.’ Lee shielded his eyes in case Brendan flashed again. ‘We need to find a way to fix everything. Maybe we could go back to the pub and buy three more wish bottles.’
‘We don’t need to,’ Joanna said but Brendan strongly disagreed.
‘You were the one who wanted to get these –’ He looked down at his chest with distaste. ‘These things. I want them gone.’
‘Me too. They’re really creepy.’ Joanna shuddered. ‘But my point is, we don’t need the wish bottles. Mel still has 97 wishes. She could simply wish we were all back to normal.’
‘Do you think it would work?’ Mel asked.
Joanna shrugged. ‘There’s only one way to find out.’
‘Ok, here goes.’ Mel took a deep breath. ‘I wish Joanna, Brendan and I were back to normal.’ She expected a flash of lightning or at least a fluttering of glitter, but nothing happened.
‘Wait a minute. My chest feels funny. It’s tingling.’
‘I think we’ve all seen enough of your chest, sir.’ The café’s manager had been summoned and didn’t look happy about Brendan’s disturbing display. The party were asked to leave, but Brendan couldn’t have cared less as he patted himself down once they were outside.
‘They’re gone! It worked!’
‘How do you feel about me?’ Joanna asked.
‘You’re a bit bossy but you’re alright, I suppose.’ Brendan punched the air. ‘Yes!’
They turned to Mel, who gave wishing another go. ‘I wish Keanu Reeves would appear naked in front of me.’ Nothing. She grinned at Joanna and Brendan and they exchanged triumphant high-fives.
As they wandered away from the café, Brendan pulled Mel away from Joanna and Lee.
‘So if all our wishes were mixed up and I ended up falling in love with Joanna, does that mean you wished for me to fall in love with you?’
Mel tried to brush the very idea off with a laugh but couldn’t pull it off and instead resorted to blushing furiously.
‘You wasted a wish there then.’ Brendan paused in the street and pulled Mel towards him. ‘Because I’m already in love with you.’
 
The End

 
***GIVEAWAY HAS NOW ENDED***
 
I hope you enjoyed my short story. It was a lot of fun writing it!
 
And now for the giveaway. I'll be giving away an Amazon voucher (via email) of £10/US$15/AUD$20. To enter, fill in the rafflecopter  below and leave a comment telling me if you had one wish, what would it be?
 
The giveaway will end on Friday 6th September.
 
Once you’ve entered my giveaway, visit Juliet’s blog & enter her giveaway too, and visit any or all of the other participating blogs to enter more prize draws. You could potentially win a whole heap of prizes! Good luck! Visit the official Blog Blitz post here: http://julietmadison.wordpress.com/2013/09/02/3-wishes-blog-blitz-official-post/
 

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