Friday 30 January 2015

Everything Changes But You: Inspiration From Film & TV

In Everything Changes But You, Ally makes a birthday wish that comes true. Ally is bored with the life that she has with her husband, Gavin and wishes for a more exciting life. So she should be happy when wakes up and her life has changed beyond recognition. But is the grass truly greener for Ally?
I love films and TV shows with a fun, magical element. Films where wishes are made but the outcome isn't quite as rosy as the character believed it would be, or the characters learn that their lives were pretty damn good to begin with. Usually the characters learn some valuable lessons about themselves along the way so that when they do return home/back to normal, they can appreciate what they have.
With these films and TV shows in mind, I was inspired to write one of these kinds of stories of my own and Ally and Everything Changes But You were created!
There are lots of films and TV shows along this theme, but my favourites are:

Samantha Who is the only one in my list that doesn't have a magical/otherworldly element to it, but in the show Samantha suffers from memory loss after an accident. As she begins to put the pieces of her life back together, Samantha realises she wasn't a very nice person at all and I also drew inspiration from this too!

Be careful what you wish for...

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

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

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

But when Ally is presented with the freedom and opportunities she craves, she soon realises this new life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and that there really is no place like home. But can she find her way back - or is she stuck in this new reality forever?

Thursday 29 January 2015

Book of the Month: January

Jane Shemilt


She used to tell me everything.

They have a picture. It'll help.

But it doesn't show the way her hair shines so brightly it looks like sheets of gold.

She has a tiny mole, just beneath her left eyebrow.

She smells very faintly of lemons.

She bites her nails.

She never cries.

She loves autumn, I wanted to tell them. She collects leaves, like a child does. She is just a child.



Naomi is still missing. Jenny is a mother on the brink of obsession. The Malcolm family is in pieces.

Is finding the truth about Naomi the only way to put them back together?

Or is the truth the thing that will finally tear them apart?
*     *     *     *     *
I was intrigued by Daughter as soon as I read the blurb. It sounded like such a gripping read - and it really was! I was quickly drawn into Jenny's world as the events of her daughter's disappearance unfold and I was eager to keep reading to find out exactly what happened and how the family would deal with the fallout. I thought the writing was excellent and instantly hooked me in. I'm very much looking forward to reading more from Jane Shemilt!
You can read my full review of Daughter here or see all Books of the Month

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Guest Post: Katie Stephens

Pub date 23 January 2015

When most people come back from a holiday of a lifetime, they are left with amazing memories and wonderful photos. As much as these memories and photos stay with you, it is inevitable that over time the memories fade and other things in life take their place. This happened to me following a trip to Kenya in 2001. It was an amazing holiday with a group of 30 people, of whom I knew four when I arrived at the airport – this was my then boyfriend, his best friend and his wife, and a guy I used to babysit for about 15 years earlier. We were actually heading off on a cricket tour with my boyfriend’s old school and, though I was initially apprehensive about going away with so many strangers, I returned to England with 30 friends, oh and a fiancĂ©!

Every aspect of the trip was amazing and where I am really lucky is that I have been able to relive some of the trip in my latest book, Catching Lightning. 

Catching Lightning tells the story of Mel who has spent the past 14 years resenting her parents for abandoning her at a boarding school in England while they went back to Kenya, a country that even though she was born there, she hates, to run an orphanage and school for their charity. A tragic accident forces her to return to Kenya for her parents’ funeral but meeting the gorgeous, English educated Sam was not part of the plan. Finding her mother’s diaries reveals a lot of unanswered questions and the discovery of a detailed itinerary of a trip round Kenya that her parents dreamed of making with her makes Mel realise that maybe she had things wrong.

The trip that Mel and Sam go on follows a similar route to the one we did on our holiday and meant I could relive those special moments, such as the Giraffe Manor, the David Sheldrick Wildlife Centre and Karen Blixen’s House. They also do the overnight train from Nairobi to Mombasa. This was one of those experiences that, as much as I am glad that I did it, it is not one that I would choose to repeat!

After spending time in Mombasa and in the Masai Mara we returned to Nairobi and on the last day of our trip a small group of us went to an orphanage on the outskirts of the city. This was truly moving experience and it was this trip that provided me with the inspiration for the book and the setting of the Centre that Mel’s parents ran. The children had so little and yet were so grateful for the little that they did have.  

In Catching Lightning I hope I give readers a glimpse of the beautiful country that Kenya is and for those, like me, who are lucky enough to have been there, I hope this book brings back some great memories.


Katie Stephens works in PR and lives in Surrey with her husband Will and two young daughters.

In 2008 Katie signed herself up for a creative writing course and absolutely loved it. She then found herself spending all her spare time (not much with 2 young children) at the computer. Her first novel Candles on the Sand, set on the Amalfi Coast, was published in 2011 went on to become an Amazon bestseller.   

If you would like to appear here on the blog via a guest post, email me at
More details here

Monday 26 January 2015

#AmWriting Christmassy Things (Still)

Yes, I'm still in Christmas mode as I'm working on a festive novella to be released later in the year. It's another 'be careful what you wish for' kind of story (like my novel Everything Changes But You) and sees a return of Clementine, the sort-of guardian angel! I love Christmas so I don't mind prolonging the festive period at all!
I'm also working on a full-length novel, which is a sequel to A Beginner's Guide To Salad. It will be a while until it's published as although I finished the first draft way before Christmas, it needs a LOT of work. I've had some breathing space away from the book and I've realised it isn't at all what I want to convey so, after a lot of thought and scribbling down ideas, I've decided it needs an overhaul. A third of the book is being deleted (ouch), a third is being completely revamped and the last third needs some major tweaking due to all the changes. I'll let you know how it's all going next time!
As well as the novella and the novel, I'm also writing a short story for Valentine's Day. This one is just for fun though and I'll be posting it here on the blog and over on Wattpad next month.

Friday 23 January 2015

Everything Changes But You: Fun Facts Part 1

  • Ally and Gavin were named after two characters from the BBC drama, Cutting It, although in the show Ally’s actual name is Alison and not Alana as in Everything Changes But You.

  • Ally, Gavin, Jared, Freya, Jimmy, Linda and Bob are all characters from my previous book, A Beginner’s Guide To Salad. Westerley’s gets a little mention too!

  • Naming Clementine posed the biggest problem of all the characters. The short list comprised of Meredith, Theodora and Clementine.
  • My favourite childhood book is The Animals of Farthing Wood by Colin Dann, so I named Ally and Gavin’s local pub The Farthing in honour of it.

  • The video for Take That’s ‘Everything Changes’ takes place in Diner 360 (as written on the window), so I named a cafĂ© Diner 360 in the book.

  • While writing the first draft of Everything Changes But You, I was introducing my children to Sabrina The Teenage Witch, so it seemed fitting to name Ally and Gavin’s former school Westbridge High after Sabrina’s school.

  • Keith Barry was a character I resurrected from a previous (unpublished) book I wrote. I loved his character so much, I had to bring him back.

  • The Housing Warehouse is based on a real shop not far from where I live. I based a Christmas short story there, which you can read here

Be careful what you wish for...

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

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

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

But when Ally is presented with the freedom and opportunities she craves, she soon realises this new life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and that there really is no place like home. But can she find her way back - or is she stuck in this new reality forever?

Wednesday 21 January 2015

Cover Stars: Revamped

During 2013 and 2014 I blogged about the book covers that had caught my eye, whether it was because of the style, colours used or its overall gorgeousness. I want to keep doing that but this year I'd like others to join in too! I'd love to hear what kind of covers other people like. I have a preference for pointy-toed silhouettes - but what do YOU like?

The book cover can be an upcoming or new release or something you've had on your bookshelf for years and years - anything goes!

If you'd like to take part, simply send me an email at and tell me which cover you love and why. I don't need an essay (unless you want to write one. Some covers deserve reams and reams to explain their loveliness!), just a couple of lines will do.

It would be great if you could attach an image of your chosen cover (just because there can be multiple covers of a book due to changes and I don't want to display the wrong one).

Don't forget to add your links to you and your social media so people know where to find you!

You can see all 'Cover Stars' posts here

Monday 19 January 2015

New Feature! Book Crafts: Valentine's Day Card

I have a lot of books and am constantly being sent copies for review and while I'd love to have a library-sized collection of books, it just isn't possible in my little house. Every now and then I'll have a clear-out and pass books on, either to people I know or charity shops.

But what do you do with proof copies that can't go to charity shops?

I've seen this question posed frequently on Twitter and it got me thinking. I can't just throw a book away but could I make use of it another way?

I decided I would take one book proof and, over the year I will see if I can make things with it. I will make and post one item each month and post it here on the blog!

Valentine's Day Card

As it is Valentine's Day next month, I thought it would be a nice idea to make a card. I have to say, cutting into a book goes against my bookish beliefs but I'm quite pleased with the result. As the card would be for a male recipient, I didn't want it to be too girly so kept it simple.

It was really easy to make (once I'd got over my cutting-into-a-book anxiety).
I drew a heart onto the page and cut it out before sticking it onto some pale green paper, which I then cut round to create a narrow border. I stuck the heart on a cream card blank.
I then wrote 'I LOVE YOU MORE THAN BOOKS' (which must be a LOT, obviously) in green metallic marker and drew around the letters with a fine black marker.
To finish off, I stuck a pale green button on the heart.
And there it is! One  card for the Valentine of a book-lover.
Click here to see all Book Crafts 

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Book Birthday: A Beginner's Guide To Salad

One year ago today, my first novel, A Beginner's Guide To Salad was published! I was so nervous as Ruth's story was released - would anybody buy it? Would they like it? - but I've been so pleased with the feedback I've received so far.

I love Ruth and it makes me smile every time somebody tells me that they've enjoyed the book. I'd like to thank everybody who has read the book (and people have, as crazy as that sounds. People are reading my little book. To date, A Beginner's Guide To Salad has sold almost 3,000 copies, which amazes me!) and those that have left reviews as it really does help.

I had a lot of fun writing the book and getting to know its characters and the fun didn't stop there. I've been lucky enough to appear on other people's blogs (links to these are on the right-hand side. Down a bit. Keep going), taking part in features, guest posts and Q&As. And then of course there is the blog tour. I'd again like to thank the hosts who took part and helped me to spread the word.

I also put together some Book Extras and a Pinterest board (any excuse to play with Pinterest!)

It's been a fantastic year and I've learned a lot about publishing books (it really doesn't stop when you push that Amazon button). Of course I've still got a lot more to learn but that's all part of the fun, right?

So, Happy Book Birthday A Beginner's Guide To Salad. Let's hope the next year is as good as the last!

A Beginner's Guide To Salad is currently on sale. For the whole of January it will be just 99p/99cents!
[Amazon UK     Amazon US]

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Daughter by Jane Shemilt

Mum of three Jenny is kept busy as a GP but although she doesn't get to spend a great deal of time with her teenage children, their family works.
Until her fifteen-year-old daughter Naomi disappears one night.
Jenny thought she had a close relationship with Naomi. She thought her daughter told her everything but as the investigation into Naomi's disappearance begins, Naomi's secrets unfold and Jenny realises she didn't know her daughter at all.
I've been itching to read Daughter for ages and I am so glad I finally have. Daughter quickly had me hooked, desperate to know what happened to Naomi and whether the investigation would be successful. The book is told from Jenny's point of view and I couldn't help sympathising with her as she muddled through the stresses of bringing up three teenagers as well as keeping up with her hectic life as a GP. As a reader, I knew that something terrible was about to happen to her and her family but Naomi's disappearance is a complete shock to Jenny, especially when she starts to discover the things her daughter has been hiding from her.
The book is told from around the time Naomi disappears and one year later, as the family is still trying to come to terms with losing Naomi. Jenny's daughter is still missing and her grief is palpable. Jenny's anguish and desperation pours from the pages as she attempts to move forward. She is no longer living a life but existing as best as she can under the circumstances and, again, I felt for her as she was stuck in limbo, not knowing what had happened to her daughter.
Daughter switches quite frequently between the time periods, showing glimpses of the aftermath as the events of Naomi's disappearance take place. While this could slow down the pace of a novel, I thought it was a great way to tell the story and it really kept me gripped. If I'm honest, I wasn't overly keen on the way the novel ended but it didn't impair my enjoyment of the book as a whole. I loved it and thought Jane Shemilt's writing was superb. I'm certainly looking forward to reading more from her in the future!

Monday 12 January 2015

Guest Posts

In 2014 I had some great guest post from authors - and I'd love to help spread the word of books and authors again this year, whether it's from authors (both traditionally and self published) or readers!

Would you like to shout out about your book? Or have you read a book that you loved and want to spread the word? If so, get in touch.

If you'd like a guest post spot on the blog, simply send me an email to with your guest post and the images and links to you and your book that you'd to like to use, as well as any links to your social media so people know where to find you.

As a vague guide, guest posts should be around 300-500 words and must be about books or writing.

Possible topics could be:
  • inspiration behind your book and/or book titles
  • when you decided to become a writer
  • favourite books/authors
  • favourite childhood book
  • your top ten books or covers

But feel free to be creative and write about your own topic - as long as it centres around books or writing!

If I'm going to use your post, I will email you with a date of when it will go up on the blog. Please make a note of it so you can let your friends and followers know when the time comes and you can also answer any comments that may be left for you.

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or email me at the above address.

You can find past guest posts here

Friday 9 January 2015

Quiz: Which 'Everything Changes But You' Character Are You?

What is your idea of a great night out?

A: A night in the pub with my friends. A few drinks, a bit of gossip and lots of laughs and I’m happy!

B: Anything that doesn’t involve cooking, cleaning or refereeing between squabbling kids.

C: First of all, I need a fab dress and amazing shoes. Add some celebs (footballers or film stars. No soap actors – ugh) and non-stop cocktails and I’m there.

D: I don’t really go on nights out. I’m a bit of a workaholic.

If you had one wish, what would it be?

A: I’d wish for a bit more excitement in my life.

B: I’d wish for a housework fairy to visit a couple of times a week. Of course my husband and kids think there already is a housework fairy…

C: David Beckham

D: I don’t make wishes, Petal. I grant them.

What is your best trait?

A: I used to think I was loyal to my friends and family but now I’m not so sure

B: I’d like to think I’m a calming and reassuring presence

C: I can stretch both legs behind my head

D: I can make your dreams come true

And your worst trait?

A: I’m not as loyal as I once thought I was

B: I guess I’m a bit of a pushover

C: I can be a bit loose-knickered

D: I’m not so good with the paying-attention thing

It’s your birthday. What’s number one on your present wish list?

A: A new handbag

B: Bubble bath and the promise of an hour of peace

C: David Beckham

D: I’d quite like a new nightdress.

What do you look for in a potential partner?

A: He has to be a good friend first

B: I want someone who is going to be a good father

C: Money and/or celebrity status

D: Patience. He’ll need it, believe me

What do you look for in a friend?

A: Kindness

B: Loyalty

C: Someone who looks good but not so good that they steal all the attention from me

D: Patience. They’ll need it, believe me

You have a crush on a guy. And then you find out he’s married. What do you do?

A: A crush is fine. But I would never actually do anything about it

B: I haven’t had a crush in over a decade. I’ve forgotten what it feels like

C: Push up bra, killer heels, the tiniest, tightest dress I can find. He will be mine

D: Magic his wife away. Only kidding, Petal. I’d wish them both well and move on

Family is…

A: … very important to me

B: … my husband and children

C: … something I take for granted

D: … everything. You should cherish your loved ones

If you were a Disney character, who would you be?

A: Cinderella

B: Snow White

C: Ursula

D: Tinkerbell

Mostly As

You are Ally.

Ally likes to think she is loyal to her friends and family, but sometimes the allure of something better is too much. Ally is warm and loving but she hasn’t quite figured out what she wants from life yet, which can be confusing.

Mostly Bs

You are Francine

Francine is reliable and steady. If you have a problem, she will offer sensible advice but she won’t tell you what to do. Family and friends have the upmost importance to Francine.

Mostly Cs

You are Martine

Martine is strong-willed and knows what she wants and will go for it, whatever the consequences. She can be loyal to her friends, but don’t be surprised if she turns her back on them if the mood suits. Martine can be impatient and selfish, but she is always up for having fun.

Mostly Ds

You are Clementine

Clementine is sweet and kind, but she also has a wicked sense of humour and likes to tease. She can be ditzy at times, but she will always do her best.

Be careful what you wish for...

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

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

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

But when Ally is presented with the freedom and opportunities she craves, she soon realises this new life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be and that there really is no place like home. But can she find her way back - or is she stuck in this new reality forever?

Wednesday 7 January 2015

Reading Challenge 2015

I've seen a few reading challenges on twitter and pinterest over the last few weeks so I decided to create one for myself! As most of the books I read are sent to me by publishers to review, it's a bit of pot luck whether or not I'll meet some of the challenges but that's all part of the fun.

Here's my challenge

I've printed out my challenge sheet so I can fill it in as I go along and see how many I can meet by the end of the year.
If you'd like to join in the reading challenge, you can download and/or print it here 

Tuesday 6 January 2015

January Sales: A Beginner's Guide To Salad

It's been almost a year since A Beginner's Guide To Salad was released and, as it also happens to be January with sales on wherever you look, I thought I'd lower the price of the book to celebrate! For the whole of January, A Beginner's Guide To Salad will be just 99p (or 99c if you're in the US).

The book is available to download from Amazon (click here for UK or click here for US) and here is what it's all about:

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

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

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

If you've read A Beginner's Guide To Salad already, I would love it if you could spare a few minutes to write a review. Remember, you can also add the book on Goodreads, view the Pinterest board or read the 'Book Extras' here on the blog!