Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Accident by C L Taylor

 
Sue's fifteen-year-old daughter has been in a coma for the past six weeks after being hit by a bus. Everyone thinks it was an unfortunate accident, except Sue. Sue is convinced Charlotte purposefully stepped in front of the bus but can't imagine what would make her daughter do such a thing. When she finds Charlotte's diary, Sue starts to piece together the events, secrets and lies that led to a young girl trying to end her life and she begins to question how well she knew her daughter.
 
After reading Cally Taylor's previous novels, Heaven Can Wait and Home For Christmas, I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy The Accident, especially when I started to hear such wonderful praise for the book. While Heaven Can Wait and Home For Christmas are chick lit novels, The Accident is a psychological thriller and I was interested to see how the transition would go. It went very well. The Accident is a brilliantly paced thriller with plenty of twists and turns that prevented me from putting the book down. Instead, I greedily devoured the whole novel in one day and while that meant a very late night, it was worth the zombie-like state the next morning.
 
While Sue starts to gather clues as to what happened to her daughter to make her step in front of the bus, we also discover Sue's past through her diary entries, which grow increasingly chilling. These diary entries give us an insight into Sue's life and explains why she has become the woman she is and I found the diary and the main plot to be as gripping as each other. I was hooked as each twist had me reading on, eager to find out what had happened to Charlotte and was certainly kept on my toes throughout. Sue isn't sure who she can trust anymore, so she is forced to carry out the investigation by herself, but she is determined to uncover the truth, no matter what, which showed incredible strength under the circumstances.
 

I really enjoyed The Accident and I'm looking forward to future publications from this brilliant author.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Book of the Month: April

 

The Dead Wife's Handbook
by
Hannah Beckerman
 
 
 
'Today is my death anniversary. A year ago today I was still alive.'

Rachel, Max and their daughter Ellie had the perfect life - until the night Rachel's heart stopped beating.

Now Max and Ellie are doing their best to adapt to life without Rachel, and just as her family can't forget her, Rachel can't quite let go of them either. Caught in a place between worlds, Rachel watches helplessly as she begins to fade from their lives. And when Max is persuaded by family and friends to start dating again, Rachel starts to understand that dying was just the beginning of her problems.

As Rachel grieves for the life she's lost and the life she'll never lead, she learns that sometimes the thing that breaks your heart might be the very thing you hope for.
 
 
*     *     *     *     *
 
 
I'd heard a lot of great things about The Dead Wife's Handbook, so I was looking forward to getting stuck in myself. I felt an instant connection with Rachel and could feel her heartbreak and frustration as she witnesses the lives of her husband Max and their daughter Ellie continuing without her, first dealing with their loss and then slowly beginning to move on. I was drawn into the lives of Max and Ellie as they coped without Rachel, seeing snippets of their day to day lives from Rachel's limited perspective, and by the end I didn't want to let any of them go. I thought The Dead Wife's Handbook was a poignant but wonderful debut.
 
You can see my full review of The Dead Wife's Handbook here
 
Click here to see all Books of the Month

Monday, 28 April 2014

Out and About

I've been guest posting and answering a few Q&As over the past couple of months. I usually share them over Twitter, but I thought I would share them here too! So here I am, out and about in the blogosphere:

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And you can also see more guest posts and Q&As from my Beginner's Guide blog tour. All posts can be found here

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Blog Tour: A Place To Call Home

Today I'm pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for A Place To Call Home, with an interview with the author, Carole Matthews.



Can you tell us about your new book?
This is my twenty-fourth novel. Have no idea how that happened! This is a book that I’m very proud of and is the story of Ayesha who escapes from an abusive relationship for the sake of her young daughter, Sabina. They find themselves living in a home of disparate characters but, somehow, manage to find the love and sense of belonging that they crave. When something happens to threaten their safety, Ayesha has to decide how she will protect her daughter - no matter what the cost. It’s sad, happy and, ultimately, uplifting.


What was your inspiration for A Place To Call Home?
I recently visited Sri Lanka and the people and country were so delightful that I thought I might like to base a story there. As it was, I spoke to a number of women who said that it was becoming more common for them to have to leave their villages to make arranged marriages abroad due to the shortages of eligible men. That gave me the kernel of the idea. I also wanted to tell a story about how a ‘family’ can be made up of members who aren’t necessarily blood relatives. I think it’s something that’s becoming more common nowadays.

What has been your greatest experience of being a published writer?
I’ve done some pretty amazing things over the past seventeen years, so there are a lot to choose from. I think being chosen as a book club pick in America has to come high on the list. My fourth novel, For Better, For Worse, was chosen by Kelly Ripa for her book club. It went from no 340,000 on Amazon to number 3 the same afternoon. It then went on to become a USA Today bestseller and was on the New York Times extended list.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Write every single day. It’s the only way to develop your voice and to actually get a book finished. Even if you can only do half an hour, make sure that it’s productive time. If you have to book yourself a babysitter or a cleaner to give you some free time then do it. You owe yourself to give your book the best chance.

What was the first book you ever bought yourself?
What an excellent question and, sadly, one that I can’t answer. I have absolutely no idea. How tragic! Though I can remember what the first record I bought was and where I bought it! I have vivid memories of borrowing lots of books as a teenager and having a diet of Jackie Collins, Sidney Sheldon and Harold Robbins. The first book that strongly affected me was Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger, but I don’t think that I bought it for myself. I adore bookshops, but can’t remember which was the first one I went into either. How awful. I shall now have a period of trawling my memories to see if I can recall. In my defence, I’ve done quite a lot since then!

What was the last book you read?
An easier one! I’ve just finished Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty. Thoroughly enjoyed it. The story is about a woman who is having an extra-marital affair and then something truly awful happens to her. It raised an interesting dilemma. I’ve recommended that we read it at our book group as I think we could have a good old chat around it.

Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently doing the final edits on my Christmas book for this year which is called The Christmas Party. I’ve loved writing this one. It’s funny and sad and I have the best pantomime baddy in the book. It’s also the perfect excuse to eat mince pies in April. 




Friday, 25 April 2014

Giveaway Winners: #FreebieFriday

 
Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaways, either here or on Twitter, or helped spread the word. Rafflecopter has selected the winners at random and an email has been sent out.
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
Congratulations! I hope you enjoy your prizes.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Giveaway Winner: Chocolate!

 
Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway or shared it on Twitter and Facebook. Rafflecopter has selected the winner at random and an email has been sent out. They are:
 
a Rafflecopter giveaway
 
Congratulations! I hope you enjoy your prize.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman

 
 
Rachel was in her mid-thirties when she died suddenly and unexpectedly, leaving behind a grieving husband and their young daughter. It has been a year since Rachel's death and since then, she has been looking down on her family, watching as husband Max and their daughter, Ellie cope without her.
 
I'd been looking forward to reading The Dead Wife's Handbook as I thought it had an interesting concept and I've heard some wonderful things about it - and now I can see why. I thought the book was such an interesting and compelling read, not to mention an emotional journey as both Rachel and her family come to terms with her death. My heart went out to Rachel as she looks on as her family struggle with their grief, unable to comfort them and I could feel her frustration and helplessness, but it was Ellie I felt for most. Ellie is only young and is sometimes confused about the loss of her mother and what lies ahead for her. She was probably my favourite character from the book as I thought was she was a lovely little girl who was battling such horrific grief, often with a maturity beyond her years. Like Rachel, I wanted to scoop her up and give her a big cuddle.
 
As well as Max and Ellie, Rachel's death also impacts on her mum, Celia and best friend Harriet's lives, and we see how the different people from Rachel's life react when she is gone. I really felt for Celia, who had leant on Rachel quite a lot over the years. She still has Ellie, but she doesn't see her as often as she would like and I could understand her developing fears as the book moves along. The book could have been quite depressing as Rachel watches her loved ones continuing without her, but while there are some moving, poignant moments, there are plenty of lovely and uplifting ones too, which made it a great read.
 
I loved Hannah Beckerman's writing style. I was immediately comfortable when I started reading the book and soon felt like I'd known Rachel and her family for a long time. The Dead Wife's Handbook is the kind of book that I wanted to go on and on, so I can see what happens next in their lives.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Giveaway Winners: The Best Thing That Never Happened To Me

 
Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway or shared it on Twitter and Facebook. Rafflecopter has selected the winners at random and an email has been sent out. They are:

C
 
Kayleigh B
 
Sheerie F
 
Congratulations! I hope you enjoy your prizes.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Writing Book 2 - Part 4


Covers, Titles & Blurbs

Covers
One of my favourite parts of self-publishing A Beginner's Guide To Salad was getting the chance to design the cover myself. I hadn't a clue how to do this but decided to learn as I went along - and I'm still doing that now! I love playing around with the program and figuring out new techniques. It's sometimes quite hard translating the image in my head onto the computer screen, but it's fun seeing what I can come up with.

I originally created a cover that was pretty close to the image in my head, but after leaving it a while, I decided it wasn't right and started it from scratch. The new cover is a simpler design, but I love it and can't wait to share it. It isn't quite finished yet as it needs refining, but it'll be 'out there' soon.

Titles
Sometimes titles are easy. But (for me, at least) mostly they are not. For Book 2, the title was inspired by (nicer talk for 'stolen from') a Take That song. I knew the plot of the book, I knew my characters, but I didn't have a clue what to call it until a particular song was played on the radio. It was a proper Eureka! moment and it stuck.

Blurbs
I've read a lot of blurbs over the years, but I feel like a newbie when it comes to writing them, having only ever written public ones for A Beginner's Guide To Salad and A Beginner's Guide To Christmas. When submitting to agents I always dreaded writing the synopsis - urgh - but I have discovered that blurbs are HARD. You have to sum up your book in not a lot of words while making it sound vaguely interesting. You'd think writing an 80,000 word book would be the hard bit - Ha! I've had a few goes at writing the blurb for Book 2. I think I'll need a few more!

As well as sharing the cover, I'll be sharing the title and (severely practiced) blurb soon!

Thursday, 17 April 2014

The Chocolate Box: A Short Story And Giveaway

***Please note: the giveaway has ended***


As it's almost Easter, I thought I would write a chocolate-themed short story and give away a load of chocolate (yes, you may call me the Easter bunny).





 
Kat Reese’s morning was not going well. Her hair wouldn’t stay secured in its bun, the toaster had decided to pack in mid-toast and she had a ladder in her only clean pair of tights (one day Kat may be organised enough to stick a load of washing in the machine before she runs out of clothes, but that day wasn’t near).
But Kat didn’t have time to rectify any of these things. She was currently flinging open her front door, preparing to leap over the doorstep as she called a hasty goodbye to her housemate.
‘The toaster’s broken and there’s no milk.’ There wasn’t any cereal either. Or tea bags, and Kat was pretty sure she’d used the last of the sugar last night. Steph was not going to be a happy bunny that morning, especially as it had been Kat’s turn to shop (she’d forgotten, ok? Nobody’s perfect).
Kat turned away from the sound of an irate Steph as her feet left the ground. She was a gazelle, flying gracefully through the air, soaring in a beautifully executed arc. But then she was distracted by an object sitting on the doorstep and she landed awkwardly, twisting her ankle upon impact.
‘Ouch.’ Kat limped back towards the step. She was running late for work, but curiosity won and she scooped up the exquisitely wrapped rectangular box. The purple paper was thick and gleamed in the weak morning sun, the thick organza ribbon and bow a contrasting lime green. Kat was about to push the door open again and cheer Steph up with the news that she had a surprise gift – because it would be for Steph. This sort of thing always happened to her – when she spotted the label. She lifted it, her brow creasing as she read.
For Kat? For her? But why? It wasn’t her birthday (neither was it Steph’s birthday, but as previously stated, this sort of thing always happened to her).
It wasn’t April Fool’s Day, was it?
‘For me?’ Kat didn’t understand what was happening – was the gift a hoax? Some kind of mix up? – but she didn’t have time to dwell. Flinging the box under her arm, she scurried out of the small garden, wincing with each step as pain shot through her ankle. The pain had almost receded by the time she reached the village green and pushed her way into The Green Teapot.
‘Sorry I’m late. Bad morning. Hello Mrs Freeman. How’s your Arthur’s back? Still playing up?’ Kat dashed across the tea room, only wincing very slightly now, and dumped the rectangular box on the counter en route to the tiny cloak room. She’d pushed a couple of stray grips from her handbag into her hair by the time she returned, so she looked almost presentable.
‘What’s this then?’ Enid Thomas, owner of The Green Teapot and Kat’s boss, was standing at the counter, head cocked towards the rectangular box.
‘Oh that.’ Kat tied her apron around her middle and joined her at the counter. ‘That’s nothing.’
‘Doesn’t look like nothing, duck.’ Mrs Freeman had risen to her rickety little legs to have a gander. ‘Looks right fancy to me. Who’s it for?’
‘Erm, me. I suppose.’ Kat grabbed a cloth and moved over to a table by the window. She knew it didn’t need wiping down, but it gave her something to do and meant she didn’t have to flash her reddened cheeks at anybody.
‘Ooh, is it your birthday?’ Mrs Freeman sat back down again. Her legs weren’t what they used to be. ‘Many happy returns, duck.’
‘It isn’t your birthday until September.’ Enid lifted the label, a smile creeping onto her face. For Kat. With no indication of who had sent it. ‘It looks like you’ve got yourself a secret admirer to me.’
‘Don’t be daft.’ Kat wasn’t the sort of girl who had admirers, secret or otherwise. Her last relationship ended almost two years ago and she hadn’t had a sniff of another since.
‘I’m not being daft.’ Enid wished Kat would take a bloody good look in the mirror and see how lovely she was. In fact, she wished the girl would get out more so potential suitors could see how lovely she was too. Kat wasn’t going to meet a nice chap serving tea and cake to pensioners in the village’s tea room, was she?
Or maybe she was, judging by the mysterious gift.
‘Come on, open it.’
‘Do I have to?’ Kat stopped wiping down the table by the window, fearing she’d create a hole in the middle if she continued to scrub unnecessarily.
‘Yes!’ Of course she had to open the gift. Enid was dying to know what was inside.
‘I’d hurry up if I were you, duck.’ Mrs Freeman tapped her watch with a wrinkled finger. ‘Hetty Carmichael usually comes in for an iced finger before her knitting club and you know what a terrible gossip she is.’
‘She’s right. It’ll be all round the village that you’ve got a man on the go if you don’t get it open quickly.’ Enid pounced on the parcel and shoved it at Kat, fingers itching to undo the bow herself.
‘Well?’ Mrs Freeman’s rickety legs suddenly took on a Usain Bolt quality as she rushed across the tea room to peer down at the box through her thick glasses.
Kat pulled back the thick purple paper. ‘It’s a box of chocolates.’
‘But not any old chocolates.’ Enid recognised the name, although she’d never had the pleasure of tasting their chocolates. ‘They’re from that expensive shop in town.’
Who would send Kat expensive chocolates? Or any chocolates at all? Her last relationship had dented her confidence so much (being told you’re fat, ugly and stupid on a daily basis will do that to you) that she barely left the house these days. Ted Grayson had pinched her bottom the other day as she bent down to pick up his dropped changed (which, in hindsight, was not accidental, the mucky old git), but he wouldn’t go to all this trouble or expense.
Kat lifted the lid to reveal row upon row of luxury chocolates, each a perfect square enclosed in its own plum-coloured paper case. The chocolates were decorated with golden floral patterns, black and white swirls and lime green and purple geometric shapes. Kat had never seen anything like it. The closest she’d ever got to luxury chocolates was a giant tin of Roses at Christmas.
Kat pushed the box towards Enid and Mrs Freeman. ‘Come on then, dig in.’
‘Oh no, love. They’re yours,’ Enid said. Mrs Freeman had already stuffed one into her mouth.
‘I can’t eat them all to myself.’ See, Kat wasn’t a greedy pig with no self-control. Where was her ex when she needed to prove him wrong?
‘Maybe one then.’ Enid gave Mrs Freeman a sharp look. She was chomping her second chocolate, with a third selected and warming in her fingers. ‘So, who do you think sent them to you?’
Kat selected a chocolate painted with a dainty gold daisy chain. ‘No idea.’ She popped the chocolate into her mouth, her eyes widening at the sheer sumptuousness as it melted on her tongue. ‘Oh my, that is good.’
‘I don’t think I’ve had one of those.’ Mrs Freeman stooped to take a look in the box but her fingers paused mid-air at the frosty look Enid shot at her. ‘But I’m pretty full.’ Losing interest, Mrs Freeman wandered back to her table where she slurped her tea and tried not to sneak longing looks at the chocolate box.
‘Do you think they’re from Norman Greene?’
Kat closed the box and hid it under the counter, away from any prying village gossips that may come their way. She pulled a face at Enid’s suggestion. ‘Norman Greene is almost seventy.’
‘But he’s always had a thing for you.’
‘Norman Greene has a thing for anything in a skirt,’ Mrs Freeman piped up. ‘Sorry, duck.’
So it was back to the drawing board then. Enid and Mrs Freeman threw a few ideas around while Kat wondered if crawling into the refrigerated display counter would eventually freeze her to death, which would be preferable to this conversation.
‘How about that young chap who was in here at the weekend. You know the one.’ Mrs Freeman waved her hand about, as though she could waft his name into her brain. ‘He was in here with Mavis Butterworth. Her grandson or something.’
Enid gasped, slamming her hand down on the counter (which stung a little, but she didn’t let on). ‘Yes! He was her great-nephew, if I recall. Here to put her a new bathroom in. He spent quite a while chatting to Kat, actually. What was his name?’
Kat’s cheeks were on fire. She really should climb into the refrigerated counter. ‘I can’t remember.’ Kat could remember. She could remember everything about Mavis Butterworth’s great-nephew, from his name (Spencer), to his job (builder, mostly new-builds, but able to turn his hand to most plumbing and electrical jobs too) and his hobbies (plays rugby, the odd round of golf and is a member of a film club). She could remember his close-shaven hair and the way it invited her fingers to stroke it (which thankfully she had fought), the wide smile that had oddly put her at ease despite his evident hotness, and his eyes. His eyes were probably her favourite part about Spencer. They were so warm and friendly yet mesmerising. So much so that she’d almost refilled his lap with tea instead of his cup.
‘What was his name?’ Enid was pacing the floor now, her fingers cupping her chin as she tried to pull the name from somewhere.
‘Didn’t it have something to do with that telly program?’ Mrs Freeman wafted the air again with her hand. ‘You know the one. My Arthur used to like it.’ That narrowed it down a bit then. ‘He was an utter fool, always breaking things and falling over. Used to make my Arthur howl, he did. What was his name?’
Enid shook her head. She hadn’t a clue what Mrs Freeman was banging on about.
Kat knew.
‘You know it, you do. He had a wife.’
Enid caught Kat’s eye, ready to share an exasperated look, but she suddenly stood straighter, pointing at her. ‘You do know his name.’
Mrs Freeman thumped her hand down on the table, rattling her cup and saucer. ‘Frank! His name was Frank!’
Enid folded her arms neatly across her chest, her eyes never leaving Kat’s. ‘Is his name Frank?’
‘How would I know?’
‘I get the feeling you do.’
‘Your feeling is wrong.’ Kat picked up the cloth and attacked the counter top. ‘I don’t remember what his name was. In fact, I don’t think he mentioned it.’
‘Doesn’t matter, duck,’ Mrs Freeman said. ‘You can ask him yourself.’
Kat’s hand froze on the counter as the door tinkled open. She turned slowly and there he was. Spencer. Good grief, he was even more handsome than she remembered.
‘We were just talking about you,’ Mrs Freeman piped up. Kat dropped the cloth before she shoved it into the old girl’s chops to shut her up.
‘Oh?’ Spencer was now fully in the shop, seeming to fill the small space with his bulk. Kat couldn’t tear her eyes away.
‘Ignore her. Her mind’s playing up again.’ Enid shot Mrs Freeman a warning look before smiling at Spencer. ‘What can I get you?’
‘I just came to have a quick word with Kat.’
‘Is it about the chocolates?’
Kat wanted to die. She pleaded with Enid telepathically, begging her to zip it.
‘You got them, then?’ Spencer turned to Kat, but she was too busy examining the floor tiles to notice and it was Enid who answered on her behalf.
‘She did, yes.’
Please shut up, Enid.
‘I take it you want to take our Kat out on a date. Tonight perhaps?’
Noooooooo!
‘Um, yes, actually. Kat?’
Kat was still admiring the tiles. They were very nice tiles that she could stare at forevermore.
‘She’d love to. Pick her up at seven. You know her address.’
‘Enid!’ Kat finally tore her eyes away from the tiles. What was the mad woman doing?
‘What? You want to go out with him, don’t you?’ Kat did, very much so. More than she’d wanted to do anything in a long time. But it had to be some kind of piss take. Men like Spencer didn’t ask podgy girls like her out. ‘Then it’s arranged. Have fun for a change, Kat. No excuses.’
Kat was sure she could come up with a dozen excuses if she’d been given a minute. Which was why Enid had bulldozed her into it.
‘I’ll pick you up at seven then,’ Spencer said, looking from Kat, to Enid and back again, not sure who he should be talking to.
Enid nudged Kat when she failed to respond. Quite hard. ‘Ouch. Yes, seven would be great.’
‘I’ll see you later then.’
Kat rubbed her ribs as Spencer turned to leave. Was it really possible that this man liked her? He had gone out of his way for her this morning – twice.
‘See you later. And Spencer?’ Spencer turned towards her, flashing a wide smile that she found herself returning, though she was sure hers wasn’t quite so dazzling. ‘Thanks for the box of chocolates.’
 
 
And now for the giveaway!


 
You can win the chocolate pictured above by filling in the rafflecopter form below. The giveaway closes at midnight on Wednesday 23rd of April. The winner will be picked at random by rafflecopter, notified by email and then announced on the blog on Thursday 24th April. This is a UK only giveaway.
 
Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Quiz: Which Beginner's Guide Girl Are You?

If you've read A Beginner's Guide To Salad (or even if you haven't - there aren't any rules here), why not take the quiz to find out which Beginner's Girl you are.


Which Beginner's Girl Are You?

What is your best trait?

A: Loyalty

B: I’m so laid back, I’m horizontal. Literally, most of the time

C: Patience

D: My boobs. That’s not a trait? Oh well, I’m choosing them anyway.



What is your worst flaw?

A: I can’t pass a chocolate bar without eating it.

B: I can’t pass a man without sleeping with him.


C: I’m too trusting at times.

D: I don’t have any flaws, darling. They were nipped and tucked years ago.


You organise a night out with friends. What will you be doing?

A: Bowling, followed by pizza. And ice cream.

B: Cocktails. Dancing. Flirting.

C: A night out in our local pub. Maybe karaoke if we’re feeling adventurous.

D: Men. Lots of men.


You’re hosting a dinner party. What do you cook?

A: I can’t cook, so I’d ask my housemate to cook while I make the table look pretty.

B: Takeaway counts, right?

C: Something pretty simple but delicious, like a carbonara.

D: I’d hire a professional chef, darling.


You’re going to an office party. Who do you bring?

A: My best friend/housemate

B: I’d go alone. But don’t worry, I won’t be leaving on my own *wink*

C: My boyfriend/husband/partner

D: Someone deliciously hot.


You have a crush on a guy. And then find out your best friend has already kissed him. How do you react?

A: I’d be gutted but I’d keep it to myself.

B: Who cares? Plenty more fish in the sea and all that.

C: I’d be disappointed but he obviously isn’t the guy for me after all.

D: I’d scratch her eyes out. Bitch.


How do you feel about marriage?

A: My dream is to meet the man of my dreams, fall head over heels and live happily ever after. I’m not sure it’ll ever happen though.

B: Not. For. Me.

C: I can’t wait to get married!

D: Been there, done that. Never again.


Which kind of pet would you prefer?


A: Dog

B: Fish

C: Cat

D: Animals are more trouble than they’re worth.


What is your ideal holiday destination?

A: Somewhere with a quiet beach where I can read a book.

B: Las Vegas

C: I love camping.

D: Somewhere where it’s hot and the men are hotter.


How would you describe yourself?

A: Bubbly and fun.

B: Passionate

C: Quite reserved

D: Sexy as hell, darling.


You’re getting ready for a big night out. What do you wear?

A: Something I feel comfortable in.

B: Something tight and short. I have a good figure – why not show it off?

C: A floor-length dress that sparkles.

D: Very little.



So which Beginner's Guide girl are you?



Mostly As:

You are Ruth.

Ruth isn’t the most confident of women but she likes to have a good time and she’s fiercely loyal. She cares about her family and holds her friendships very close to her heart.


Mostly Bs:
You are Erin.

Erin is young, free and single and she likes to keep it that way. She breezes through life and never lets herself get tied down but friendship is important to her. She can be flippant at times but she’ll always support you when you need it.


Mostly Cs:
You are Clare.

Clare is a reserved young woman but she knows her own mind and won’t let anyone walk all over her. She wears her heart on her sleeve, which can lead to heartache at times, but she is confident in who she is.


Mostly D:
You are Angelina.

Angelina is a passionate and determined woman who usually gets what she wants. She’s so focused on her love life, she doesn’t have time to build up friendships but she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Blog Tour: If I Could Turn Back Time by Nicola Doherty

 Today I'm pleased to be taking part in the blog for If I Could Turn Back Time with an interview with the author, Nicola Doherty.

 
Can you tell us about your new book?
If I Could Turn Back Time is about a girl called ZoĆ« who wakes up six months in the past, and gets a chance to fix the mistakes she made in her previous relationship. She also gets to re-apply for her dream job as a fashion buyer (she messed up the interview last time). But things are even more complicated second time around …

What was your inspiration for If I Could Turn Back Time?
I can remember very vividly the moment I thought of the idea. I was walking along Oxford Street just before Christmas, thinking about all sorts of things; regrets, decisions, mistakes, mishaps and various ghosts of boyfriends past. There was one particular relationship, when I was twenty-five, where I blamed myself for the break-up for ages. And I thought: what would happen if you COULD go back and change the past? What would happen if someone did go back, and didn’t make any of the mistakes she made with her boyfriend that led to their break-up ... what then? It was so exciting, I rushed straight home to write it all down.

What has been your greatest experience of being a published writer?
It’s all been incredible but in a strange way, I don’t think anything has ever equaled the very first email I got from my agent when she said she loved my book and wanted to meet me. I jumped up and down and screamed. Nowadays, I get a similar buzz each and every time somebody contacts me to tell me they enjoyed my book. That makes me very happy.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
I have some more advice on my blog but it can be summed up in two words: ‘Keep going’. Finish your work to your own highest standards, before you worry too much about getting published. Also, take up yoga. I never had back problems in my life before I started writing full time …

What was the first book you ever bought yourself?
It might have been an Enid Blyton – or Gnid Blyton as I thought she was called because of the handwritten font. I do remember wanting a Sweet Valley High and my mother refusing because it was so trashy (fair point!)

What was the last book you read?
The Go-Between by L.P. Hartley, which has the famous opening sentence ‘The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.’ It was wonderful – compulsive reading. Everyone should read it.

Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
A new series. I’m not allowed say too much about it yet but it involves travel, romance, lots of laughs, and some characters from my previous two books! 
 
 

 

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Blog Tour: The Best Thing That Never Happened To Me

Today I'm thrilled to be taking part in the blog tour for Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice's The Best Thing That Never Happened To Me.


I loved the book (you can see my review here) so I'm super duper happy to be giving away 3 copies of the book. The paperback isn't out until July, so you will receive an uncorrected paperback proof copy.

To enter, simply fill in the Rafflecopter form below. The winners will be contacted by email and announced on the blog on Monday 21st April.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thursday, 10 April 2014

A Chat With Cally Taylor

Can you tell us about your new book?
‘The Accident’ is a psychological thriller about a woman called Susan whose teenaged daughter Charlotte steps in front of a bus and falls into a coma. Susan’s husband Brian thinks it was an accident but Sue isn’t convinced and when she finds an entry in Charlotte’s diary that says ‘keeping this secret is killing me’ she sets out to discover exactly what that secret is. 


What was your inspiration for The Accident?
I was pregnant with my son when the idea first came to me. I wanted to write a novel about ‘keeping secrets’ but I had no idea who would be keeping the secrets or what those secrets would be. Then one day, when I was walking back from the supermarket – waddling along under the weight of my groceries – the first three lines popped into my head. I heard Susan’s voice as clear as day and I knew immediately that she was the mother of a teenaged girl who’d stepped in front of a bus. I kept repeating those three lines over and over again as I walked home so I wouldn’t forget them, then frantically scribbled them down. I kept writing and, less than two hours later, I had the first chapter.

I didn’t write any more until a couple of months after my son’s birth. As a new mum in a new town I was lonely, and very sleep deprived, and I missed writing so, in his naps, I started plotting the rest of the story. I finished the first draft in five months.


What has been your greatest experience of being a published writer?
That’s such a hard question to answer because so many wonderful things have happened to me but, if you twisted my arm, I’d chose the moment the postman gave me a box contained copies of my first novel. It was such a magical moment. I couldn’t stop stroking the cover and flicking through the pages because I couldn’t quite believe that it was really happening, that I was a ‘real life’ published author. It was something I’d dreamed of since I was eight years old.

I cried. A lot.


What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
If you’re reading this and you’re an aspiring author the chances are that you already read a lot, you already write a lot and you’ve already studied the craft of writing. Hopefully you’ve also joined a writing or critique group (in person or on line) so you’ve got some impartial feedback on your book. If you haven’t then I hugely recommend it. Getting feedback that something in your novel isn’t working can really hurt but you need to take that criticism on board and learn from it because the criticism won’t end when you get an agent or publishing deal. You’ll receive editorial feedback from your agent and editor and reviews – good and bad - from book bloggers, reviewers and readers. Grow a thick skin now and use the critiques you receive to become the best writer you can be before you send your manuscript to an agent. You only get one chance to impress them.

What was the first book you ever bought yourself?
Woah. That’s a tough one. I remember being at school and using my pocket money to buy little owl stamps that I stuck in a paper wallet. When the wallet was full I could then swap it for a book. But what did I buy? I honestly have no idea but the chances are it was probably something by Enid Blyton. My favourite childhood book is ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ and I’m pretty sure I read everything else she wrote after I’d read that.

What was the last book you read?
I’ve been told it’s a bit odd but I’m currently reading three books. I’ve got Rowan Coleman’s ‘The Memory Book’ in the living room. I read that in the evenings or when my toddler is happily playing on his own. I’ve got Mel Sherratt’s ‘Watching Over You’ in the bathroom and I read that when my toddler is having his bath. And ‘Apple Tree Yard’ by Louise Dougherty is on my bedside table.

Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on my second psychological thriller. It’s very different from ‘The Accident’ as it’s set in Nepal and it’s about four girls in their twenties going on what they think will be the holiday of a lifetime. And it will be – but not for the reasons they think. 


The Accident is available now

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Guest Post: Kelly Florentia

Guest Post by Women’s Fiction Writer Kelly Florentia
 
 
Hi Jennifer, thank you so much for having me on your blog today to talk about my new anthology, To Tell a Tale or Two, and my writing in general.

I’ve enjoyed writing ever since I can remember and used to write poetry when I was younger. I’ve still got them stuffed in a draw somewhere. But I think my love affair with writing fiction began when I sold my first story to Best magazine. The publication gave me a huge boost and turned me into a prolific short story writer almost overnight. My stories have now been published in women’s magazines worldwide and in charity anthologies.

People often ask me whether my characters are anything like me or people that I know, and if my stories are based on personal experience. I don’t write about my personal life, per se, but I sometimes write in scenes, especially humorous ones, that have actually happened. And I think most writers air some of their views via a character’s voice. That’s what makes a story breathe. I choose themes that I have an interest in, ones that have raised my curiosity, and I love doing the research to bring it all together. Some of it is done online but a lot of it is done by talking to people who’ve been through the experiences I’m writing about.

I create my characters by pinching features and attributes from several people. They’re hybrids, a concoction of people moulded into one. Once my heroine is born I follow her on her journey, always one step behind, as if I were her shadow and I tell her story. But a little bit of me always seeps through. It might be that we share the same star sign or sport, as with my protagonist Emma in my WIP novel. Or we might have a shared interest or taste. Audrey from my first novel Betrayal (not yet published) enjoys the same tipple as I do and also lives in North London. I find the story easier to tell if I’m familiar with the settings and locations but I love using my imagination for everything else. I’ve often heard it said that you should write what you know, but I think creating a world where anything and everything is possible is far more exciting!

Anyway, back to my current book. I’ve just released a collection of short stories in an anthology called To Tell a Tale or Two, which I affectionately call Tattoo. The book comprises ten very short stories about the highs and lows of love, relationships and family sagas. A couple of them have a ghostly theme, which may appeal to people who enjoy paranormal fiction. It’s an eBook and available to download onto your kindle or any device which supports the kindle app from Amazon. It’s been described as a quick read with clever twists and has received several good reviews. I put the cover together myself and I had a fabulous time creating a short trailer for it. Great fun!



Links:

You can download To Tell a Tale or Two -
http://9nl.be/kbnw

Facebook – http://facebook.com/kelly.florentia  

Twitter -
@kellyflorentia

Goodreads -
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7915633.Kelly_Florentia?from_search=true

Website -
http://www.kellyflorentia.co.uk 

YouTube Trailer -
http://youtu.be/jfLU6lguRjE

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

The Best Thing That Never Happened To Me by Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice

 
 
Eleven years ago, Holly and Alex were best friends. As teenagers, they fell in love but they never told the other how they felt and when Holly moved away to uni, they lost touch.
 
Eleven years later and Alex has landed himself a new job and is moving to London, which just happens to be where Holly now lives. Alex can't wait to catch up with his old friend and is sure his old feelings won't resurface now so much time has passed. Which is lucky, as Holly has a boyfriend that she's crazy about.
 
I was looking forward to reading The Best Thing That Never Happened To Me as I was intrigued by the joint authors. I was a fan of the Josie Lloyd/Emlyn Rees collaborations so I was hoping it would be something similar. I thought I might like it, but I wasn't expecting to love it quite as much as I did. I was immediately hooked by both the characters and the storyline and couldn't wait to find out not only what would happen next, but what exactly happened in their past. Even though the book is written by two different authors, the chapters were seamless and both jam packed with humour.
 
Although all the characters are great in their own ways, I think my favourite was probably Jemma, Holly's workmate. Her scenes were fantastic with plenty of laugh out loud moments. I also grew a bit of a soft spot for Alex's friend, Kev, which I wouldn't have believed was possible in the beginning!
 
The Best Thing That Never Happened To Me is a fun, light-hearted read and I loved it. I can't wait to see what Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice come up with next.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Cover Stars: The Best Thing That Never Happened To Me by Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice



Every month I choose my favourite cover from my TBR pile. Feel free to comment or add your own suggestions for ‘Cover Stars’.


Everyone remembers their first love.

Holly certainly remembers Alex. But she decided ten years ago that love wasn't about mix tapes and seizing the moment - though she's not exactly sure it's about secret dates with your boss, either.

But what if the feelings never really went away?

Alex wants to make every moment of his new job count. It's a fresh start in a big city, and he's almost certain that moving to London has nothing to do with Holly. Almost.

How do you know if it was meant to be. or never meant to happen at all?

 
*     *     *     *     *
 
 
If you've ever read my 'Cover Stars' feature before, you'll know that I'm a big fan of silhouette covers, so The Best Thing That Never Happened To Me was always going to be a contender. What I love about this cover though is the little details alongside the silhouette people, like the river flowing across the cover with little London attractions dotted along it. It's a lovely cover that definitely caught my eye.
 
You can see my review of The Best Thing That Never Happened To Me here on the blog tomorrow, and I'll be hosting a giveaway of the book on Saturday.
 
Click here to see all 'Cover Stars'
 

Friday, 4 April 2014

#FreebieFriday


Throughout April, I'll be giving away copies of A Beginner's Guide To Salad on Twitter every Friday. I'll be tweeting about the giveaway and all you have to do to enter is retweet!

You can follow me on Twitter here

As well as the giveaways on Twitter, I'll be giving away 4 copies here on the blog on the final Friday in April. All you have to do is fill out the rafflecopter form below.

The giveaway ends at midnight on Thursday 24th April and the winner will be contacted and announced on the blog the next day.

This giveaway is open internationally.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway