@DavidVidecette usually does the interrogating, but now it’s TWG’s turn! #AuthorInterview

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I am delighted to have author of ‘The Theseus Paradox’ and ‘The Detriment’, David Videcette, back for a visit today. So much so, he’s actually taking over The Writing Garnet today, as all of the blog posts published will be about him and his books -puts feet up-.
If you’re aware of David Videcette’s background, you’ll know that he is incredibly clued up on interrogation. So, instead of putting Mr Videcette to work and allowing him to interrogate TWG, I turned the tables and interrogated him instead!

I am SO excited about this interview it’s unreal, I got to interrogate the main man!
We had a good chat…hopefully I didn’t scare him off too much! Enjoy folks!

David Videcette, former detective with the Anti-Terrorist Branch.

  • Hi David, thanks so much for agreeing to a TWG interrogation! 

Thank you for having me back on The Writing Garnet, Kaisha!

  • Huge congratulations on the success of your first novel, The Theseus Paradox! Were you expecting the book to be received as well as that when you published it?

To be honest, no. The Theseus Paradox is based on a real-life case I worked on as a detective for many years. The book takes its name from Operation Theseus, which was the police investigation into the 7/7 London bombings. It’s a case very dear to my heart, and one which took over my life.  I wrote my thriller exactly how I wanted it. The original manuscript was read by all the major publishers who wanted me to alter the story to make fit whatever gap they had in their particular publishing list at the time, which I wasn’t prepared to do. Some of the publishers felt that I needed to make my main protagonist more likable, and tone down some of his wilder habits. One even wanted me to make it into a love story rather than a thriller. They said the book wouldn’t sell unless I changed various elements.

I guess all the conflicting voices condition you into thinking it won’t do very well, but the reality is – it’s been amazing. I’m glad I stood my ground and persevered with it. It’s a very personal, warts-and-all tale, which I suppose is why I didn’t want to sugar coat it. And I believe that readers respect the honesty, authenticity and integrity of it. They know it’s as close to crime fact as crime fiction ever gets.

  • David, some of my eagle-eyed readers may be wondering why they recognise your name from television, could you tell us a little bit more about yourself, and your background?

As a police detective with twenty years’ service, much of which was spent in specialist operations and counter units, I’m often asked to commentate on policing and terror operations for television and radio. I’ve also been lucky enough to work with Crimewatch, The Bill and a couple of TV documentaries over the years. On one police show for the BBC, I was followed by a camera crew every day for a year. People do sometimes say they’ve spotted me on the telly and moan at me if I’ve not go a suit and tie on!

  • I’ve noticed that your novels are also helping a rather special charity; the Police Dependants’ Trust. Could you tell us how your novels can make a difference for that particular charity, and why? 

Sales and downloads of The Theseus Paradox and The Detriment are supporting the National Welfare Contingency Fund which helps police officers who have been involved in a major incident such as a terrorist attack. The fund will provide assistance with personal care plans, welfare support officers and talking therapies – enabling officers and their families to better deal with the aftermath of a traumatic national incident.

There is a perception that police officers and emergency service personnel as a whole are immune to the events they have to deal with at work. Their mental wellbeing is often overlooked. Historically, post-traumatic stress disorder has been more commonly associated with combat veterans and sadly, there are few places that police officers can turn if they fall into crisis. That’s why the help that the Police Dependants’ Trust offers is so incredibly important and I’m very proud to support their work through sales of my crime thrillers. So please buy a book or donate directly to the PDT here!

  • Your new novel, The Detriment (published 29th June), is such an addictive read; how important was it to you to base events on real life situations/events?

I like to write what I know and know what I write, particularly around cases I’ve been involved in personally over the years. For the foreseeable future my books will always be based on real events. I try to immerse the reader in the investigation, as if they were there as a detective trying to solve each case. The reader gets the clues about what’s going on, just as I would as a police officer in real life. I enjoy providing an insider’s perspective and new insights into cases we all remember having seen on the news.

  • In case anyone is wondering, can ‘The Detriment’ be read as a standalone, or is it advisable to have read ‘The Theseus Paradox’ beforehand?

Detective Jake Flannagan’s journey in this series begins in 2005 with the 7/7 London bombings, and then moves onto the next major terrorist attack on home soil – the burning Jeep attack on Glasgow Airport attack in summer 2007. Chronologically and in terms of Jake’s relationships, it’s much better to read the books in order. Start with book one, The Theseus Paradox, and then read book two, The Detriment, as they are intended to be a series.

  • Jake Flannagan, what a character! Without landing yourself in any hot water, yet still being as honest as you can, was Jake based on a real person?

Let’s put it this way – I do all my own stunts…

TWG – well that’s one way to get the ladies to swoon!

– Have you ever found it difficult, whilst writing your novels, to differentiate between what’s real life and what’s made up? I mean, you have the knowledge to write 100% truth, why didn’t you?

I did set out to write an autobiographical, non-fiction book. However, the Official Secrets Act forbids me from actually writing a factual book. But what the law can’t do, is interfere with my artistic rights. So if I write something and say its fiction, then I don’t break any rules or any laws. The question is, how much of it is fiction? There are very few people who know the answer to that question, (even my editor!) and I leave it up to the readers to decide for him or herself…

  • What made you decide to make such a drastic career change, has it always been a dream of yours to write novels?

I used to read a lot of crime fiction as a police officer and I watch a lot of films. Often I’d see glaring mistakes in police procedure, in the plots – or know that things couldn’t happen in the way that they were being portrayed. This would pull me right out of the story and spoil my enjoyment. I guess for a lot of police officers or those in the emergency services, reading crime fiction is like taking a busman’s holiday. One of the reasons I have quite enjoyed writing books, is to cater to people like me. They say write what you want to read. I wanted to create a series that was so close to the truth, people couldn’t differentiate.

  • Not being rude or anything, Mr V, but I can’t quite see you penning a women’s fiction type novel in the future. That said, do you think you could write for a completely different genre? Show people your softer side maybe? 

Not many people know this, (*Writing Garnet exclusive reveal*) but many years before I started writing books, I wrote a dating blog, which was very popular with female readers.  My books do look at relationships, their dynamics, how these impact upon your life – so I do have a softer side, and I can alter my writing style to suit different audiences. But I love writing about crime and terrorism, so you won’t see me popping up on the women’s fiction, chick-lit or romance shelves just yet!

TWG – where can we see this dating blog? 😉 

– Which authors, if any, did you look up to as a child? Any favourite books from your childhood?

Danny The Champion of the World was my favourite book as a child. And it’s possibly responsible for my love of writing because I won a competition to meet the author, Roald Dahl. It was the first time I had read a book as a child where good people do bad things. I remember Roald making me feel completely at ease when I met him – so much so that it didn’t seem a big deal at all. I guess I have always had this experience in the back of my mind – never forget who your fans are!

– If you could put your name as the author of any book that has already been published; which one would it be and why?

Andy McNab’s Bravo Two Zero – it put fact/fiction crossover books back on the map and it shows that things in real life don’t always go according to plan!

– As an author of detective thrillers, how do you manage to switch off, especially as you’re reliving certain events?

I enjoy spending time with my girls, just doing the regular dad stuff like shopping, taxi driving or even the dreaded DIY! To really switch off, I love to watch films. It gives me an opportunity to empty my mind, and fill it with new stuff! I’m also a big fan of London’s fabulous museums and art galleries and will try to regularly catch whatever new exhibitions are showing when I can.

  • What is an average day for you (aside from showing your legs on social media)?

A typical day for me starts at 5.30am. Alongside my writing, I work as a security consultant for high-net-worth individuals based in central London, so much of time is spent trying to keep them safe from harm. I also regularly field calls from crime journalists asking for insights or opinion about this or that case, or asking me to write something for their newspaper or website. In the evening I might visit a radio or television studio to do interviews, or try to grab some downtime to write a scene for my latest book. I get home most days at 9pm, apart from the days I’m on after-school club pick-up duty!

  • What advice would you give to someone just starting out as a writer, with the aim of becoming published?

Look at the writing and publishing process as a series of small steps, because it can seem daunting at first. Keep putting one foot in front of another to get to the next destination, and don’t ever give up.

– Saving the best question until last so don’t let me down Mr.V! Will there be a third book? If so, when? I hate odd numbers so if there will be a third, will there also be a fourth? Do you have any exclusives for TWG? What do you have up your sleeve for the future?

There will be a third, fourth and many more books! I’m currently writing book three which has a much more international element to it and sees Jake working abroad just a short time after we leave him in The Detriment. I’m also working on a non-fiction investigation into a real-life unsolved crime which may turn into a book or a documentary. And I’d love to write a couple of prequels with Jake. I’ve got plenty up my sleeve, don’t you worry!

Thank you so much for answering all of my questions! It has been a pleasure to have you back on TWG!
It’s been lovely to chat to you, Kaisha.

Thanks for inviting me.

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“The truth costs nothing, but a lie can cost you everything…”

June 2007: a barbaric nail bomb is planted outside a London nightclub, a spy is found dead in his garden, and a blazing Jeep is driven into Glasgow airport. Three events bound by an earth-shattering connection that should have remained buried forever.

From the author of ‘The Theseus Paradox’, the smash-hit 7/7 thriller based on true events, comes the sequel about a real-life mystery that threatens to destroy a nation. Detective Inspector Jake Flannagan must uncover how a series of astonishing events are inextricably linked, before the past closes in on him.

We all have secrets we say we’ll never tell…

The Theseus Paradox is available to buy on Kindle or in paperback at Amazon, or via The Book Depository with free international delivery.

The Detriment can be ordered on Kindle with a paperback to follow soon.

If you’d like the chance to win a signed copy of David’s latest release, you can enter your email address here, and you’ll go into the hat each time he has a new book out.

Note from TWG.

Big thank you to, David Videcette, for taking the time out of his schedule to allow me to interrogate him! Absolutely fantastic! Stay tuned though as later on today, David Videcette returns to TWG (indirectly) as I review his new novel, ‘The Detriment’.

@LesleyPearse #25in25 #Tour! #Factoid from Lesley’s 17th book ‘Gypsy’ @ed_pr

Would like to start by saying a huge congratulations to, Lesley Pearse, on all of her literary success. 25 novels is an amazing achievement and I feel honoured to be bringing you a factoid from her 17th novel, Gypsy, as well as the details for her 25th novel, The Woman in the Wood.

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Factoid
‘Gypsy’ – first published in 2008.

Gypsy : To write knowledgeably about the Klondike Gold Rush I had to go to Dawson City, a difficult journey involving planes, ferries, railways and a coach. If I’d missed one I would’ve been in trouble as they were few and far between.

Buy ‘Gypsy’ now from Amazon UK

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From global No.1 bestselling author,

Lesley Pearse, comes her 25th unforgettable story

The Woman in the Wood

Published by Michael Joseph on 29th June, price £18.99 in hardback

Praise for Lesley Pearse’s novels:
“Glorious, heart-warming” Woman & Home
“Quintessential Lesley Pearse that will delight her army of readers” Daily Mail “Full of love, passion and heartbreak” Best
“Another superb tale” The Sun
“Epic romantic drama…4 stars” Heat
“Evocative, compelling, told from the heart” Sunday Express

Lesley Pearse is a global No.1 bestseller with fans across the world and sales of over 10 million copies of her books to date. A true storyteller and master of the gripping storyline, Lesley introduces us to characters that are impossible not to care about or forget. There is no formula to her books or easily defined genre and, whether historical drama like the No.1 bestseller, Belle or the emotionally powerful Trust Me based on the true-life scandal of British child migrants sent to Australia in the post-war period, she engages the reader completely. The Woman in the Wood is Lesley’s 25th novel.

The Woman in the Wood:

Fifteen-year-old twins Maisy and Duncan have always had each other. Until that fateful day in the wood…

1960: Maisy and Duncan Mitcham are woken one night to find their mother is being committed to an insane asylum. Soon after, their father packs them off to ‘Nightingales’, their grandmother’s country house in the New Forest. Cold and distant, she leaves them to their own devices to explore; a freedom they have never experienced before and which they love. That is, until the day Duncan doesn’t come home from the woods.

When the bodies of other young boys are discovered in the surrounding area the police appear to give up hope of finding Duncan alive and with Grandmother Mitcham showing little concern, it falls to Maisy to discover the truth. And she knows just where to start. The woman who lives alone in the woods. A woman called Grace Deville.

About Lesley Pearse:

Lesley Pearse was told as a child that she had too much imagination for her own good. When she grew up she worked her way through many jobs – from corsetry sales in Cooks of St. Pauls (featured in Dead to Me), to bunny girl to nanny; from gift shop owner to dressmaker – finally finding her true vocation when she became a published author age 49. Since then Lesley has become an internationally bestselling author, with over 10 million copies of her books sold worldwide.

A true storyteller and a master of gripping storylines, there is no set formula for a Lesley Pearse novel although strong heroines and difficult circumstances are pervasive. Whether historical adventures such as Gypsy or Never Look Back or the passionately emotive Trust Me, Lesley is inspired by stories of courage and adversity and often gives voice to women lost in history. She is passionate about her research and her stories have taken her far and wide; from Alaska to the Crimea. Lesley now lives just outside Torquay in Devon where she loves to spend time walking on the beach with her grandchildren and dogs.

A fantastic speaker and committed and passionate fundraiser for the NSPCC, Lesley is a much sought after guest at literary lunches, library events and festivals up and down the country. Lesley was also selected as the first Ambassador for National Libraries Day in 2014.

Novels by Lesley Pearse:

  1. Georgia
  2. Tara
  3. Charity
  4. Ellie
  5. Camellia
  6. Rosie
  7. Charlie
  8. Never Look Back
  9. Trust Me
  10. Father Unknown
  11. Till we Meet Again
  12. Remember Me
  13. Secrets
  14. A Lesser Evil
  15. Hope
  16. Faith
  17. Gypsy
  18. Stolen – A No.1 Bestseller
  19. Belle – A No.1 Bestseller
  20. The Promise – A No.2 Bestseller
  21. Forgive Me – No.1 Bestseller
  22. Survivor – No.1 Bestseller
  23. Without a Trace – No.1 Bestseller – over 200,000 copies sold to date.
  24. Dead to Me – published in paperback, 4th May 2017.
  25. THE WOMAN IN THE WOOD – LESLEY’S 25th BESTSELLER

    To buy Lesley’s new novel or any of her others, click here to go to her Amazon author page, where you can find all of her titles!

#yearofsayingyes #BlogTour! Author Hannah Doyle talks hygge! @HannahShowbiz @headlinepg

Year of Saying Yes blog tour poster
So, SO excited to be today’s stop on Hannah Doyle’s blog tour for her fabulous book, The Year of Saying Yes’. If you are aiming to be part of a squad this year, the #YesSquad is the place to be! Before Hannah Doyle’s book was released as a complete book, it was released in four separate parts. I still have the fourth part to read, and as soon as I have, those beauties will be reviewed on here. The first three parts are amazing.

For my stop on the tour, author Hannah Doyle has written a guest post about hygge. Intrigued? So you should be….
Over to you Ms. Doyle!

Hygge by Hannah Doyle.

#SayYes to getting hygge

Okay, so it gets dark super early and the temptation to stay in is high when the thermometer hits zero, but there is a positive to winter. Getting hygge with it!

(In my head, that totally rhymes with getting jiggy with it. Sadly the Danes pronounce it hoo-ga so that doesn’t actually work.)

Hygge. You know, the Danish concept that loads of people are banging on about right now. It basically boils down to being cosy. Search for #hygge on Instagram and you’ll find over a million snaps of things like hot water bottles and cute cushions. What’s not to love!

To celebrate the launch of my new ebook The Year of Saying Yes, I thought I’d put together my top five ways to hygge the heck out of your life. Enjoy.

1. Develop a candle habit

Of course one solitary candle on a table won’t do! You need multiples. The more the merrier, and get them going as soon as daylight starts to fade to give your home a cosy glow. 

2. Get your mull on

Mulled wine is the ideal drink for hygge-lovers. You don’t even need to make your own, just buy a bottle and add a couple of slices of orange while it’s warming through. Breathe in that spicy smell and pretend that you’re by a frosty fjord somewhere Scandinavian. 

3. Cosy knits are compulsory

Curl up in your warmest jumper, grab a good book (*shameless plug* maybe try mine?!) and relax. 

4. Start obsessing over interiors

Especially things like terrariums (try saying that after a glass of mull!), cashmere throws and hand-printed ceramic bowls. Basically anything to your home a little extra cheer. 

5. Gather your best ones

Nothing spreads the love like hanging out with your favourite people in the whole world. My best friends have selfishly scattered themselves across our fair isle, the brutes, so we don’t get to hang out that often, but when we do we spend a whole weekend bonding and I come away feeling so blooming hygge about life.

Happy hygge-ing everyone!

Obviously folks, play safe with the candles. I know Hannah is talking about being cosy, but there is a difference between being cosy and looking like a roasting chestnut on an open fire! If you managed to spot the oh-so-hidden shameless plug by the lady herself, it might be useful to add a link and the book info for you. You know, just in case….

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Hannah Doyle’s THE YEAR OF SAYING YES will make you dirty-laugh, feel warm and fuzzy, and rediscover life’s magic – all thanks to one little word: ‘yes’. Fans of THE BAD MOTHER’S DIARY, Colleen Coleman’s DON’T STOP ME NOW, Anna Bell’s THE BUCKET LIST TO MEND A BROKEN HEART and Joanna Bolouri’s THE LIST, you’re in for a real treat.

Dear Readers,

I hold my hands up: I’m stuck in a rut. For three years and counting I’ve been hopelessly in love with the same guy – and the closest we’ve ever got is a drunken arse grab (NB: this doesn’t count). My favourite hobby is googling cats for spinsters and I’m sick of my shoestring salary that barely pays for my shoebox flat.

I need a head-to-toe life makeover. Enter my ‘Year of Saying Yes’, which is where you come in. To help me sort out my sorry life, I need you to #DareIzzy. For the next 12 months I’ll be saying ‘yes’ to your challenges, no matter how wild, adventurous or plain nuts they are. ‘No’ is not an option!

Here goes… Wish me luck! I’m going to need it.

Love,

Izzy x

Buy now: Amazon UK // Amazon US // Kobo

Summer with the Country Village Vet #BlogTour! @ZaraStoneley @HarperImpulse #Guestpost #Review

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Honoured to be today’s stop on Zara Stoneley’s blog tour for her latest novel, Summer with the Country Village Vet! I was lucky enough to read this book before it was published, and today I am able to share my review of the book with you all. Not only that, author, Zara Stoneley, has written a guest post just for us. Of course – it’s animal related!! Enjoy!

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Seven reasons why an author needs a four-legged friend
by Zara Stoneley

A dog needs walks. Which are essential if you want to avoid writer’s bum, or an expanding middle.

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People will stop and chat if you’ve got a dog – and after several hours with only a laptop for company it’s nice to talk. Plus you get some fresh air; the pale interesting look doesn’t work for everybody.

A four-legged friend will curtail any hermit-like tendencies. You’ll need to put down the laptop, get out of bed, brush your hair (bed hair only looks good on the very attractive) – oh, and dress. Your furry friend will need food and attention. A dog might bark, but a cat is master of the not-so-subtle hint.

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Sometimes you just need a cuddle! Stroking a pet relieves stress. It’s proven. And talking to a pet isn’t crazy, some people think that talking to yourself, or even worse your characters, is a little bit loopy – talking to your guinea-pig is fine, more than fine. Totally acceptable.

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Animals understand when you’ve just read a review saying somebody hates your book, and all you want to do is weep. Or you want to tear your hair out, because you’re halfway through writing the next and have just decided it’s the biggest load of rubbish you’ve ever read. They’re non-judgemental, they’ll listen, however long you drone on. They’ll never interrupt and tell you to get a grip. They’ll give you a look that says ‘you can do it, but how about we share some cake first?’

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Your four-legged friend will give you inspiration. How many books have you read that didn’t feature a single animal? And even if Freddy the hamster doesn’t actually make it on to the pages, just watching him will make you smile, and remind you how lucky you are to be doing what you love.

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Your cat won’t let you get above your station. Forget the fact that your editor loves your work – your cat has brought you a mouse. A live one. Your cat will remind you that even though a reader has just told you your book is fabulous, you still look stupid running round the kitchen in your pyjamas trying to catch a rodent. You’re a mere human being, not a soon-to-be-famous author.

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A horse can give you a better workout than the gym – lugging bales of hay around is only the start of it. There’s the mucking out, the trudging across field knee deep in mud to bring your little darling in, and then of course there’s the riding. And the added bonus that you might meet a hunky farmer or farrier who makes the perfect hero!

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So that’s my top seven excuses, sorry reasons, for having a four-legged and furry companion.

Why seven? It’s my lucky number! And now I’m heading back to a darkened room to grapple with my edits, but I will of course emerge briefly at 5pm. Saffy the cat will insist.

Ahhhh look at those animals!! I want to cuddle those dogs, how cuuuuteeee!!! Thank you, Zara Stoneley, for the extremely awww-tastic guest post!

Here is my review of Zara Stoneley’s brand new novel, enjoy!

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‘All the ingredients for a perfect, summery read…it really captured my heart’ Cressida McLaughlin

‘Sprinkled with oodles of charm…I simply adored this book’ Christie Barlow

Fall in love with a brand new cosy romance series from bestselling author Zara Stoneley

When Lucy Jacobs is made redundant from her inner-city teaching job she fears her career is over. Teaching is all Lucy knows and she’s determined to get back in the classroom as fast as she can.

Except the only job on offer is at an idyllic village school in the middle of nowhere – Lucy’s idea of hell. Where are the disadvantaged kids who need saving, where is the challenge?

But as Lucy finds herself welcomed into the warm-hearted community of Langtry Meadows, she begins to realise new challenges await – like frogs in the classroom, a rather difficult donkey, and a very brooding local vet…

Local boy Charlie Davenport has his own issues about living in the close-knit village of Langtry Meadows. His private life is already fuel for the well-meaning gossips and the very last thing he needs is to get close to the new school teacher…no matter how lovely she is.

But as summer days drift away Langtry Meadows weaves its magic, Charlie and Lucy both get the chance to turn over a new leaf and start anew…maybe with each other?

A fun, romantic story to make you smile and long for your own country escape.

Praise for Summer with the Country Village Vet:

‘Beautifully written tale straight from the author’s heart’ The Writing Garnet

‘Like a summer breeze, gently warming your heart…be prepared for love, laughter and escapism’ My Chestnut Reading Tree

‘A zingy, romantic and fabulously heartwarming book … My ultimate summer read’ Petra Pippa Q.

What does TWG think?

Summer with the Country Village Vet, is one of those books where pretty much all of the storyline is linked, in one way or another. Cue ultimate vague review, and rightly so! Just like Zara Stoneley’s previous novels, they’re to be devoured with your own eyes so that you can appreciate every single thing, and no less.

At the time of reading Stoneley’s book, I was going through a really rough patch and I couldn’t wait to lose myself in Zara Stoneley’s majestic words. Now, before you start thinking that this book is all kittens, puppies, and glorious scenery (trees and people included) due to the colourful cover, be prepared to open your mind. Why? Because, whilst the storyline has light-hearted and fun elements to it, it also contains deep emotion, heart breaking circumstances, as well as deep and meaningful reminders.

Charlie, the village vet, seems to have all the women in the village tongue-tied and creating hefty vet bills due to their constant ‘need’ to see the vet. I don’t think that it’s their animals that are needing a thorough checking over either!

Lucy, the main character, is trying to get her foot back on the teacher ladder, and ends up making friends with several children in the local school. Oh, and their frogs.

Personally, the storyline ran a lot deeper than I had anticipated. I too, thought that the storyline was going to be fluffy and serene, but it wasn’t. And, to be honest, seeing as I was going through a situation at the time, just like in the book, I was able to relate to certain characters even more. Not only that, it made me quite emotional. I really wanted to reach into the book and give the characters involved, a really big hug.

As emotional as those parts were, they made me feel whole and gave me the support I needed which I wasn’t getting in real life. For an author to be able to unintentionally do that, just wow, incredible.

‘Summer with the Country Village Vet’ made me smile, laugh, cry, reminisce, and of course – go ‘awwwww’ more times than I could count. The entire novel had everything I could have ever wanted in a book! Zara Stoneley, once again, has written flawless descriptions that became vivid imagery in my mind. I have absolutely no idea how she does it, all I know is that she is absolutely brilliant at it.

There was nothing I disliked about it, at all. The pace was on point. The characters (albeit two who needed their heads banged together to see sense), were such fun to be around, especially the children. Hilarious! The vet, well, he was a lovely addition to the storyline. Cough.

But for me, the real star of the show was Zara Stoneley’s incredible story telling, she has completely blown me away with the mixture of cute, sassy, and heart-felt moments. This book, really is, a beautifully written tale straight from the authors heart. You can tell that the author has put her heart and soul into every situation, every character, the animal stars, and every emotion. It’s clear at the start, and it remains clear at the end; this is by far Zara Stoneley’s best book yet.

A beautiful, life affirming and heart warming tale about love, life and learning to have faith in your instincts. Not everyone’s life is picture perfect yet Stoneley, has proven in her new book that lives can be anything BUT picture perfect and yet still fill your heart with joy.

Thank you Zara Stoneley & HarperImpulse.

Buy now from Amazon UK

#GuestPost by ‘A Secret Sisterhood’ authors @Emmacsweeney & @EmilyMidorikawa #literary

To celebrate the release of their new literary inspired novel, A Secret Sisterhood, authors Emma Claire Sweeney and Emily Midorikawa have written a guest post about their own ‘sisterhood’ style friendship. It is a pleasure to welcome Emma Claire Sweeney back to TWG, alongside Emily Midorikawa.

Before I share the guest post, swoon over the stunning cover of their book and read the blurb below;

Secret Sisterhood revised cover

Male literary friendships are the stuff of legend; think Byron and Shelley, Fitzgerald and Hemingway. But the world’s best-loved female authors are usually portrayed as isolated eccentrics. Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney seek to dispel this myth with a wealth of hidden yet startling collaborations.

A Secret Sisterhood looks at Jane Austen’s bond with a family servant, the amateur playwright Anne Sharp; how Charlotte Brontë was inspired by the daring feminist Mary Taylor; the transatlantic relationship between George Eliot and the author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Harriet Beecher Stowe; and the underlying erotic charge that lit the friendship of Virginia Woolf and Katherine Mansfield – a pair too often dismissed as bitter foes.

Through letters and diaries which have never been published before, this fascinating book resurrects these hitherto forgotten stories of female friendships that were sometimes illicit, scandalous and volatile; sometimes supportive, radical or inspiring; but always, until now, tantalisingly consigned to the shadows.

A Secret Sisterhood evolved from the authors’ own friendship. Their blog, Something Rhymed, charts female literary bonds and has been covered in the media and promoted by Margaret Atwood, Sheila Hancock and Kate Mosse, showing that the literary sisterhood is still alive today.

Guest Post.
Travellers on the Same Road
By
Emma Claire Sweeney and Emily Midorikawa

We got to know each other sixteen years ago, during a time when we were both living carefree lives as young English teachers in rural Japan. Emily lived in a tiny apartment surrounded by car parks and convenience stores; Emma in a tatami-floored house that looked out onto rice paddies and groves of bamboo. Here, each of us secretly picked up our pens.

We soon began to take the three-hour round trip between urban flat and country home, forging our friendship in both the ice cream parlours of the neon-choked city and in bath houses hidden up dark mountain lanes.

But it took almost a year of friendship before we shared our hopes of becoming published writers. Emma had decided by then to leave her mountain village, while Emily would be remaining for another twelve months.

When we arranged to meet for a farewell dinner, we had no idea that we’d come to look back on this evening as a key moment in our friendship. We chose a garlic-themed restaurant in Emily’s local shopping mall, which had become by then an eccentric favourite of ours. Seated at a table covered in a chequered plastic cloth, we talked about news from home, plans for the future, the books we loved. 

And then, over the course of the next hour, while twisting strands of spaghetti around our forks, we ‘came out’ to each other as aspiring authors. Neither of us had much to show for these aims just yet: diaries kept this past year, a few short stories. We understood next to nothing about the book industry either. Nonetheless, by the time we laid our cutlery down, we had something perhaps more precious: we knew that we had a friend with the same dream, and that by supporting each other, we could follow it together.

But we could hardly have predicted that our paths over the coming years would take such parallel routes. We got places on graduate creative writing programmes and secured agents at around the same time. 

While we felt grateful that we could share these celebratory moments with a friend, we each had a niggling worry that the literary success of one of us before the other might threaten the friendship we both held so dear.

 This proved a fear we would not end up having to face any time soon, since we’d spend a decade-and-a-half submitting books to publishers, and watching as the rejection slips racked up. 

Remembering that long-ago meal in a Japanese shopping mall, Emily wondered whether we’d have embarked on this literary journey at all had we known how little further forward we’d have come by now. Though equally downcast, Emma reminded us both that it wasn’t the writing itself that was getting us down, but the lack of improvement in our writerly prospects. 

Before the month was out, though, Emily would receive the news that she’d won a major competition for unpublished novels, and, to our delighted surprise, just days later, a publisher made an offer to bring out Emma’s novel, Owl Song at Dawn. 

Our early fears had proven unfounded. What’s more, not only did we join in with our friend’s celebrations, these felt less like individual achievements and more like moments of shared triumph.

We’d long wondered whether our favourite authors of the past had enjoyed such a sense of collaboration. Wordsworth and Coleridge came to mind, Byron and Shelley, Hemingway and Fitzgerald. But we struggled to name many friendships between female writers. 

Did Jane Austen forge a friendship with another female writer? Was there another woman to whom George Eliot turned to for literary support?

We discovered that Jane Austen benefitted from an unlikely friendship with a family servant, the amateur playwright Anne Sharp; Charlotte Brontë was inspired by the daring feminist Mary Taylor; George Eliot shared her experience of stratospheric literary fame with Harriet Beecher Stowe, the author of internationally bestselling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin; and Virginia Woolf was spurred on to produce her best work by her rivalrous friendship with fellow modernist Katherine Mansfield.

We decided that the richness of these stories deserved to be written up in a book. And so, when publishers offered to bring out A Secret Sisterhood, we were offered the chance to celebrate a truly joint endeavor – the sort of collaboration that the two young writers who ‘came out’ to each other in that Japanese shopping mall could hardly have dared dream.

Joint bio:

Writer friends Emily Midorikawa and Emma Claire Sweeney are the authors of A Secret Sisterhood: The hidden friendships of Austen, Brontë, Eliot and Woolf. They also co-run SomethingRhymed.com, a website that celebrates female literary friendship. They have written for the likes of the Guardian, the Independent on Sunday and The Times. Emily is a winner of the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, Emma is the author of the award-winning novel Owl Song at Dawn, and they both teach at New York University London. 

You can follow them on Twitter via @emilymidorikawa and @emmacsweeney, and Emma has an author page on Facebook.


I have their book ready and waiting on my TBR pile for review, which I aim to read as soon as I can so that you can swoon over the front cover year again! Or, seeing as the Jpeg doesn’t do it justice in the slightest (the real deal is shiny), you can buy your very own copy right now from: Amazon UK // Waterstones // Book Depository.

#BlogTour! The Cafe in #FirTreePark – Katey Lovell @Katey5678 @fictionpubteam @Harperimpulse

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I am incredibly honoured to be kicking off Katey Lovell’s blog tour for her brand new book, The Cafe in Fir Tree Park! Being asked by the author, personally, to take part in her blog tour, really made me feel all fuzzy. It truly means a lot to me when I get asked by publishers etc to be part of blog tours, but there is also something incredibly moving about being asked to take part in a tour by the author themselves.
Totes emosh.

As you can see on the blog tour banner (how stunning is that btw!!) above, there are some pretty shamazing bloggers taking part in this tour, including Harper Impulse themselves! All of the bloggers listed are incredible so please make sure you take a peak at their stops on the relevant dates!

On my stop today, I have a guest post from author of #FirTreePark, Katey Lovell, AND I will be reviewing her book TWG style! I hope you enjoy reading my review as much as I adored reading this book.

First up is the guest post where Katey Lovell describes the ‘second book’ difficulties.

‘The Difficult Second Book’

By Katey Lovell

Although I’d heard authors mention the challenges of penning their second novels, until I started writing The Café in Fir Tree Park I’d never given it much thought.  In my mind I’d done everything right in the planning stages, making detailed notes for months in a brand new notepad bought especially for the project.  I thought I was prepared, but when it came to writing the actual novel I struggled.  

Being honest, I more than struggled.  I reached 10,000 words and seriously considered telling Harper Impulse I couldn’t fulfil my contract.  Every word I’d written seemed disjointed.  The characters were new and their dialogue sounded clunky to my ears.  Whenever I spoke about the novel with friends, I referred to it as ‘the bloody park book’. 

It wasn’t that I didn’t have passion for the project, because I did.  The problem was, I’d lost all faith in my writing ability.  I’d forgotten novels don’t arrived fully formed. What I’d drafted wasn’t as polished as the finished manuscript for The Singalong Society for Singletons.  Of course it wasn’t! First drafts are messy and clunky.  There will be gaping plot holes, and inconsistencies, and the finish line of ‘THE END’ will seem unreachable at times.  That’s the process of creating a novel, but I’d somehow managed to erase it from my mind in the months between novel one and novel two.  It completely crushed my confidence.

By the time The Singalong Society for Singletons was released in October, I had seven weeks left until my deadline and half the novel to write.  Thankfully, with the help of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in November) and a wonderful set of friends cheering me on, I wrote my heart out.  Lovely reviews for my first novel flooded in, and I believed I could do it again.  The characters came to life and I cared about their fates, which brought the heart back to what I was writing.  As a reader I’ve always been attracted to characters I can root for, and I’ve found that’s followed through to my writing too.  If I feel disconnected, it’s hard to find the motivation to sit down and write, but as soon as it all clicked, the excitement returned.  

The Café in Fir Tree Park took sweat and tears (no blood, thankfully), but I’m incredibly proud of the finished novel.  The pain it caused was necessary, because I believe it’s the best thing I’ve written.  I still get that unpleasant twisting in my stomach as I remember how overwhelmed I felt when writing it though.  The pressure I’d piled on myself was unreal!  

Funnily enough, although getting a first draft of my third novel Joe and Clara’s Christmas Countdown was a challenge, it was far less stressful overall.  Maybe I have learned lessons, after all…

Such an honest and insightful guest post, thank you Katey. Readers: the next time you consider posting online how ‘expensive’ an e-book is at 2.99, come back and read this. It takes months of hard work and dedication to get books written. Or, as Katey Lovell says; ‘sweat and tears’.

Read on for my review:

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Maggie’s café is at the very heart of Fir Tree Park. Business is booming, her lemon drizzle is the stuff of legend, her children are happy and life is good. But she hasn’t had it easy. When her husband Clint was sent to prison, she had to raise Josh and Kelly alone. But Clint can’t hurt them now, and there’s no denying that Paolo, the Italian football coach she spies every weekend out on the green, is more than easy on the eye.

It may be summer outside, but a new arrival in Fir Tree Park sends an icy chill through the café…

What does TWG think?

Ever since I had the pleasure of reading Katey Lovell’s previous novel, The Singalong Society for Singletons, I was impatiently waiting for her new book to be released into the wild. Katey Lovell’s books are like a legal addiction; as soon as you finished one, you want another! No pressure of course…

Unfortunately, this beauty didn’t stay in my hands for too long as I struggled to put it down once I started reading. Maggie runs her own cafe in Fir Tree Park; a place where everyone can come to relax and eat multiple slices of her legendary lemon drizzle cake. Although most of the treats Maggie baked I wouldn’t say no to. Food porn alert! Mmmmmmm cake. Maggie’s life hasn’t always been as fluffy as her muffins, risen like her Victoria sponge cake, or soft and addictive like her cookies. In fact, her life has been as flat as a pancake. Well, by life I mean her self-esteem (or lack of), thanks to her wonderful husband, more affairs than a baker’s dozen and a prison sentence. Heart throb eh!

Part of me was expecting a calm, leisurely paced novel with more cake than Mr Kipling, so when I realised that Katey Lovell’s novel had more turbulent situations than a coffee, walnut and cinnamon cake had ingredients, I truly was pleasantly surprised.

There is a lot of character swapping throughout the novel, with different chapters being led by various main characters. Usually I find that sort of thing far too confusing, however, #FirTreePark needed the differences in character point of view. It worked incredibly well, I wasn’t at all confused, but most importantly, it tied all the turbulent circumstances together whilst creating another level of intensity.

I am a sucker for a bit of drama, especially when there are skeletons in the closet (as long as they don’t involve me); #FirTreePark has enough skeletons for everyone. I had no idea that the storyline would reach the conclusion that it did. In all honesty, it caught me off guard a bit because it came out of nowhere, and I loved it!

The Cafe in Fir Tree Park is, without a doubt, one of my most favourite books so far this year. All of the intense moments blew me away, the characters were written absolutely brilliantly and so three-dimensional, the setting was described in such a relaxing manner, AND the different character viewpoints meant multiple shocking revelations. What more could anyone want from a book?

Unbelievable! I adored this book from start to finish, it kept me on my toes and warmed the ice from around my heart. I am in awe at Katey Lovell’s literary skills and her outstanding story telling; The Cafe in Fir Tree Park came to life and so did the characters in it.

A flawless, intense, and mesmerising novel that is full of emotion, secrets, heart-warming moments, the true meaning of love and learning how to make the most of your life before it’s too late.
Life is too short to live with regrets, and life is too short to not read The Cafe in Fir Tree Park. You just have to…like right now. I’m being serious.

Fabulously flawless, written with perfection, a showstopper of a conclusion; pretty much like Maggie’s lemon drizzle cake. Wow!

Thanks SO much Harper Impulse.

Buy NOW from Amazon UK

#Blogtour! 5 1/2 things Amanda Robson wishes she knew! #Guestpost #Obsession @AvonsBooksUK

Thrilled to be hosting today’s stop on Amanda Robson’s blog tour for ‘Obsession’! Are you obsessed yet? Amanda Robson has written a guest post about the 5 (and a 1/2) things that she wishes she knew when she started writing, just for us. Enjoy!
Before that though, please find all the details of her brand new book!

obsession cover

One evening, a wife asks her husband a question: who else would you go for, if you could?

It is a simple question – a little game – that will destroy her life.

Carly and Rob are a perfect couple. They share happy lives with their children and their close friends Craig and Jenny. They’re lucky. But beneath the surface, no relationship is simple: can another woman’s husband and another man’s wife ever just be good friends?

Little by little, Carly’s question sends her life spiralling out of control, as she begins to doubt everything she thought was true. Who can she trust? The man she has promised to stick by forever, or the best friend she has known for years? And is Carly being entirely honest with either of them?

Buy now from Amazon UK

Guest post.


5 (and a ½) Things I Wish I knew When I started Writing

  1. It’s all about the story, and every story needs conflict. Don’t include any scenes that don’t move the story forward, and always remember that every scene needs to contain conflict.
  2. Speech in a novel is not like real speech. No way. To begin with I used to make conversations as real as possible – but real conversation is only interesting sometimes. Speech needs to be more ‘West Wing’ than polite conversation. Think about it. Much of the time polite conversation is padded out with fillers, that are interesting to you when you are talking to your friends, but are boring for a reader. For example,

  ‘How are you?’ 

 ‘How was your journey?’

 The reader does not need to know that the tube was six minutes late. 

Cut out unnecessary conversation fillers as much as possible. Heighten all conversation. Over-egg it so that the characters seem endlessly pithy and witty.  Never repeat in conversation something that the reader already knows. Every conversation, like every scene, needs to pull the story forwards. Every conversation, like every scene, needs conflict.

  1. The writing strength is in the verb. Use adjectives sparingly. This is probably one of the first things you will be told on any writing course and at first it is hard to believe. It is true though and eventually I got used to rarely using them. Remember the advice is sparingly – not never. It is great fun when you do. Like sprinkling sugar, or salt, across your food, it adds to the taste and most of us love it. But too much ruins rather than enhances. 
  2. If you are passionate about writing you are probably a creative thinker. That is what a lot of us have in common. So, if you have a vivid imagination, treasure it. I really mean it, treasure it. A lot of people can write well. Only some can write well and make up an interesting story.  
  3. Have a simple structure to hook your writing on. My early novels failed because I was trying to interweave too many different threads that didn’t mesh. It frustrated me for years.  The basic structure needs to be as logical as a maths equation. Balanced. It needs to add together and work.

5a  Listen to others’ comments about your work but retain your self-confidence. If you listen too hard to everyone else and act on their every suggestion you will lose the purpose, the thread of your novel. You will end up with everybody else’s hotchpotch, not your own well-considered work. Move through the noise around you by listening to your own gut feeling and building on it. 

What a fantastic guest post! Huge thank you to Amanda Robson for sharing her tricks of the trade. Most certainly useful for any budding writers out there!

The tour isn’t over yet, all the other bloggers on the tour are listed below:

Obsession

#BlogTour! #Guestpost from ‘First Time Mums’ Club’ author @lucie_wheeler @HarperImpulse

First Time Mums Club

Today I have the honour of closing Lucie Wheeler’s FIRST EVER blog tour! If you missed any of the blog posts on the previous days, all of the bloggers who have taken part are listed above. I’m not biased or anything as I am a blogger myself, BUT, what a fabulous bunch of bloggers on this tour!! Don’t you agree? The excitement on social for Lucie Wheeler’s debut novel has been outstanding, I am truly blessed to be part of a fantastic group of bloggers for a truly inspirational author.
Today I have a guest post from the lady herself, Lucie Wheeler, but if you did miss my review of her debut novel ‘The First Time Mums’ Club’, you can check it out here: #BookReview! The First Time Mums’ Club by Lucie Wheeler (@lucie_wheeler) @HarperImpulse

My ideal writing environment.
by Lucie Wheeler

There are people who can write anywhere, and there are people who can only write in certain places. I think I fall in between. Generally, as a rule, I write in my office upstairs, which is the box room. I have my desk in there which I bought from Ikea, a steal at £40, a cube unit (also from Ikea) which stores anything and everything and a few filing cabinets for all the boring stuff. It is a room which I really wish I could spend some money on and jazz it up into a fantastic little writing room full of inspiring quotes and beautiful furniture… but that will have to wait. Right now, it serves its purpose and that’s what is important. So I generally do my writing in there. 

However, I also have my laptop which I can take with me anywhere I go and I can still write. Sometimes this is just downstairs on the sofa so that I can spend time with my family alongside writing or catching up with work emails. And sometimes this will be in my car, in the car park at gymnastics, whilst I wait for LO. I do occasionally venture into the garden too – but I get frustrated with the glare from the sun so it doesn’t happen often. 

So what do I need from a writing space? Whether I am in my office at home, or in the car, I need relative silence to function. I am not a writer who can listen to music and write. Sometimes I use music to get a ‘feel’ for a scene or try to encourage an emotion out of me so that I can write about it, but when it gets down to the nitty gritty of writing a story, I like it to be quiet. I like to let the story talk to me and run away with my imagination. Saying this, I can work with a little background noise. The TV is on at the moment and I can concentrate fine (unless something like The Great British Bake Off or The Apprentice is on!) I can also write in the library when I am at uni (because I have a lot to do and not a lot of time so sometimes my writing has to happen whilst at university) and the library isn’t silent. But… I can’t concentrate in a place like a coffee shop. I think because the talking there is closer to me and more in my personal space, whereas in the university library, it is a large space and the chatter tends to be a dull hum rather than an interesting conversation that I want to earwig in on – and let’s face it, we authors love an earwig on a conversation. It’s where half our material is inspired from! 

And I am definitely a straight-to-computer type of writer. I can’t do longhand. Whilst this is fine for notes, I simply cannot write fast enough. I like the speed of typing as the idea unfolds in my head and my hand doesn’t write fast enough. And when I try to do it, the words become illegible and it’s a waste of time. So for me, typing is the way forward. 

So there you have it. As long as I have a computer and fairly quiet surroundings, I can write pretty much anywhere. Although if we are talking about an absolute ideal writing environment – I wouldn’t say no to a balcony in a tropical climate with a cocktail and the sea to look at… who wants to take me?

Haha I don’t think many people will be disagreeing with Lucie on her dream writing location, would we? I certainly wouldn’t! It’s fun to see what an authors life is like BEHIND the book. Big thanks to Lucie Wheeler!

If you still haven’t been able to get your paws on a copy of ‘The First Time Mums’ Club’ yet, here are all the details of the book and the ‘to buy’ link:

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Meet Pippa…

After years of trying and a failed IVF attempt, Pippa is thrilled to see two little lines appear on a pregnancy test. Finally a precious baby to call her own. This is all Pippa has ever wanted…if only husband Jason could show just a little excitement.

Imogen…

A baby is the icing on the cake for Imogen and Alice – proof that their love for each other can overcome any obstacle. But when Imogen starts receiving malicious texts, it’s clear that not everyone is thrilled about the girls’ good news.

And Ellie…

A drunken one-night stand and Ellie’s life is ruined! Pregnant, jobless and the relationship with her best friend, Chris, over- forever. Because Chris just happens to be the father of Ellie’s baby…and potentially the love of her life!

For these first time mums the road to motherhood is bumpier than most!

Buy now from Amazon UK!

#Guestpost Marcia Spillers @mysterwriter2 (Murder at the Mystery Bay Hotel) @brookcottagebks

Murder at the Mystery Bay Hotel Tour Banner(1)

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Can Delphie Beauchamp, a Texas born research librarian fresh from a break-up with her two-timing boyfriend, help best friend and newly elected Chief of Police Em Landry, solve a double homicide in the old Mystery Bay Cemetery? Chief Landry needs Delphie’s help in solving the murders, along with determining why specific graves from the early eighteen-hundreds have been vandalized. Her canine best friend in tow, a twenty-two-pound dachshund named Huckleberry, Delphie heads for the tropical island of Mystery Bay, Florida where she begins a journey that includes a pinch of gold, a touch or romance, and a wallop of ghosts, in a race to solve the mystery, of the Mystery Bay Hotel.

EXCERPT

The smell of the ocean, crisp and briny like a jar of pickles, held just a hint of murder in the air. I picked up my luggage from the small carousel inside the terminal and opened the glass door of the Mystery Bay International Airport. The sultry, mid-October sunshine hit me all at once, along with the sweet fragrance of the red, frangipani trees that bordered the edges of the sidewalk. Amazing how paradise was just a plane ride away.

“God, what a beautiful day.” I dropped my suitcase on the pink-hued coral sidewalk and pulled out my sunglasses. Before I could slip them on, Huckleberry, my twenty-two pound, red Dachshund whined for me to take off his winter sweater. Poor little guy. The outfit worked great for the chilly October weather in central Texas but not the south Florida humidity.

“Sorry, Huck.” I unhooked his leash and pulled off the sweater. Stretching out his long body, Huckleberry trotted over to the nearest hibiscus bush and hunched over.  Seconds later he sighed in relief.  

I coughed and fanned the air. Guess he wasn’t that hot in his sweater after all.

BUY LINKS

AMAZON US

AMAZON UK

Guest post from the author.

Craft vs. Creative Talent

Craft or creative talent was a burning question that was asked in many of the creative writing classes I attended when I first began to write. The instructor would begin the class by asking if a person could learn the craft of writing well enough to write a great book, or was creative talent the main factor in getting a book on a best sellers list regardless of how well the book was written?

For clarification, let’s get a few definitions going, so we’ll have a better idea of the two before we make a choice. Merriam-Webster defines the word “craft” as “an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill.”
The word “talent,” is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a special ability that allows someone to do something well.”

Something to ponder, correct?  If you had to choose between the two, which one would you pick? One of the best classes I’ve taken for learning the craft of creative writing began with a simple exercise.  The exercise?  Write down twenty things that must happen in the book.  Simple, right?  But wait.  There was a problem. How do you know what twenty things to choose for your book?  Is that a function of craft or creative talent?

Once you decide on the twenty things, then the trick is to arrange them into a well-written, attention-grabbing, heart-pounding novel that involves sub-plots, character arcs, scene arcs, dialogue that rings true and forever changes the reader.

Again, craft or creative talent?

One of the arguments I’ve heard in favor of creative talent, is that a spectacular story can override a book that might not be quite as well written as it should.  The reader may have to struggle over improper grammar or sentence structure, weak plot or character development, but if they can do that, a page-turner could reside within that manuscript. Of course, one can also argue that a well written book may be so well done that it leeches any creativity out of the story line and leaves the reader dissatisfied without knowing why. I find each of these arguments to be true, although both leave something to be desired.  

When a reader decides to pick up our book, or download our e-book, we, as writers, are asking them to suspend their reality for a time and come into our world.  They are trusting us to provide them with an experience that makes it worth their time, and money.  When we don’t live up to their expectations, then we fall short as writers and leave them feeling disappointed and disjointed.  It’s not a good feeling, and something I don’t care to experience myself.

So, what is the answer?  For me, it’s caring enough about your work as a writer to provide the best experience possible for your reader.  It’s making sure you learn the craft of writing to turn your creative talent into an impossible to put down novel.  It’s taking the time to do the job right, without any shortcuts.  In other words, it’s combing the two, craft and creative talent, as well as you possibly can, so your reader will be left with an experience that will last them a life-time.

About the author.

Marcia Spillers has been a Librarian/Archivist for more than twenty years.  Currently a school librarian, she lives in Austin, Texas with her two chows, Bella and Susie Bear.  Marcia spent seventeen years in south Florida perfecting her writing skills, along with completing the Writer’s Program at UCLA.

Blog:  http://www.marciaspillers.com/blog/

Website:  www.MarciaSpillers.com

@mysterywriter2

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marcia.spillers.7

 

#AuthorInterview with Karen King (@Karen_king) for the ‘Perfect Summer’ #blogtour #extract

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Super excited to be hosting today’s stop on Karen King’s –  ‘Perfect Summer’ blog tour! Karen is definitely not a stranger to TWG HQ itself, but she is a stranger when it comes to a TWG interrogation! Well, she was ;). Enjoy!!

Hi Karen! Thank you so much for joining me on my blog today! Are you ready for your interrogation? I’ll be gentle, honest….
Thank you for inviting me along, Kaisha. I’m ready to go. *Takes a deep breath. *

Before we begin properly, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what brought you onto the path of writing?
Well I’ve always loved books, both reading and writing them. I had my first poem published when I was about eleven and that inspired me to carry on. As I got older, got married, had children, I still scribbled away but didn’t send anything off for years. Then I started sending stories and articles to children’s and teen magazines. Finally, Jackie magazine offered to buy an article off me. I was so chuffed! Then I wrote more for them, articles, stories, photo stories.

You write books for multiple audiences aside from women’s/contemporary fiction; could you tell us a little bit more about how you came about writing for multiple audiences?
I’ve always written for different genres because not long after I had my first article published in Jackie I was asked to write for young children’s comics and before I knew it I was writing for a living. But, with a family to support, that meant I had to keep writing, and selling my writing, so I often accepted commissioned work and wrote everything from picture books, joke books, story books, even plays. Now I find it difficult to write for one genre as I have so many ideas buzzing about in my head.

I will always hold your novel, ‘I do…or Do I?’ close to my heart as it’s such a fantastic novel (as well as the fact that my quote still gets tweeted to this day). What inspired you to write such a bold novel about such a relatable topic?
What a lovely thing to say. Thank you, Kaisha. And yes, your fabulous quote is very popular! The idea formed when I read somewhere that the night before her wedding Princess Diana was wondering if she was doing the right thing and her sister told her that she couldn’t pull out because her face was on the tea towel. I started wondering how many women got swept along with the wedding plans, maybe because of their partner, friends, or family, but it wasn’t really what they wanted. How many women were settling for marriage to ‘safe’ partners because they didn’t want to hurt their feelings. And gradually the idea fleshed out into a woman who is about to get married when she meets her first love again, and discovers they both have feelings for each other. I tweaked it a bit, made Timothy not so ‘safe’, brought in a pushy ‘monster in law’ and the story took off from there.

Between you and me, deep down did you secretly want to ruin a character’s life in the above book (or any others), or are you too nice for that?
Of course I’m too nice for that, Kaisha! 😊

Your new YA novel, ‘Perfect Summer’, is set to be published on the 10th May, congratulations! What awaits us beneath the front cover (totally not asking for spoilers)?
Don’t be fooled by the title as this is rather a gritty book.  It’s set about thirty years in the future when society is so totally obsessed by perfection that plastic surgery (now called body enhancement) is the norm and anyone who is slightly different, or disabled in any way is looked down upon. Morgan, the heroine, has a friend called Summer who is beautiful, rich, has cool parents and a seemingly perfect life whereas Morgan isn’t so beautiful or rich and her little brother Josh has Down’s syndrome.  Morgan and her family get a lot of hassle from the Ministry who want them to put Josh in a Residential Learning Centre, where most disabled children are sent, but Morgan’s family refuse. Then one day Josh goes missing and the authorities aren’t interested so Morgan and Sumer decide to investigate. They, along with another teenager called Jamie whose little sister, Holly, has gone missing too, uncover a sinister plot involving the kidnapping of disabled children and find themselves in danger. Can they find Josh and Holly before it’s too late? Expect a few shocks and to shed a tear or two.

I have noticed that you also have a written a book which reminds me of shortbread, The Millionaire Plan. How difficult was it to write ‘millionaire plan’ instead of ‘millionaire shortbread’? This is a genuine question!!
It was quite difficult actually because the heroine Amber, had a ten-point plan to bag herself a millionaire and I quoted one of the ten ‘rules’ consecutively at the top of each chapter – so then of course I had to write the chapter to fit the rules! It was easier than making ‘millionaire shortbread’ though as I’m not a brilliant cook – I’m more of a ‘food heater’. You know, out of the freezer into the micro or oven.

Okay, ‘Perfect Summer’ is a YA novel, but if you could describe YOUR perfect summer in three words, what would they be?
Sun, sea and spritzer.

Some of your readers may be aware of one of the genres you write, and not the others. If a reader came to you asking you to persuade them to read your YA novel (they had never read that genre before), what would you tell them?
 A lot of adults read YA, in fact more than half the YA readership is adults according to the Guardian. I think this is mainly for two reasons, the escapist appeal of books like Harry Potter or Divergent, or the issues raised by books like The Fault in our Stars by John Green or Speak by Laure Halse Anderson – and by my own book, Perfect Summer. YA deals with topics in a lighter way than adult fiction and the books are often a pacier read so I’d say give it a go, what have you got to lose?

I have dabbled in a few YA novels in the past, do you have any favourite authors from that genre (aside from yourself obviously, goes without saying!)?
Yes, I’ve read quite a lot of YA but it’s hard to choose a favourite, there’s so much talent out there. I guess top of my list of YA books is Ash by Malinda Lo, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon and The Uglies series by Scott Westerfield – I was chuffed when one reviewer likened Perfect Summer to a cross between The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and The Uglies.

When you start planning your YA novels, how difficult is it to switch your mindset to ensure you do end up writing a story of that genre, and not any other genres?
It isn’t too difficult because for me the character always comes first, and it’s their story. I start writing straight away from ‘inside my character’s head’ so my mindset is in that genre and age group – hopefully!

I’m assuming you’re very well read (when you aren’t writing) what five things do you look for when it comes to other storylines by other authors? What keeps you hooked on a book?
I read in lots of different genres but the main things I look at are the title, cover, back blurb, first page and character voice. Those are what draw me in. And it’s the character that holds me, I need to care what happens to them, to want to find out if they make it through.

What five things are most likely to turn you off about a book?
A boring character, a story plot that’s going nowhere, too much blood and gore, graphically- detailed sex and lots of descriptive passages.

I ask this question to every author I interview; what was your most favourite book as a child and why?
The Just William books by Richmal Crompton because they made me laugh out loud.

Which books by other authors, if any, have stayed in your head long after you have finished reading them?
Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, the Samaria series by Sharon Shinn, Before I Go To Sleep by S.J.Watson and Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.

Do you look up to any authors, or secretly wish that you had written one of their books? (If yes, please share who and which one!!)
In the romance genre I love the work of Sophie Kinsella, Mandy Baggot and Sue Moorcroft. I can’t say there’s any book I wish I’d written because we all write differently so it wouldn’t be the same story if I wrote it – and probably not as successful!

A little birdie told me that July of this year will be when another book is added to your collection, you’re very busy! What exciting things can we expect with ‘A Cornish Hotel by the Sea’?
Yes I’m really excited about this one. I holidayed in Cornwall for years, and lived there for almost a decade so writing the book brought back many fond memories for me.

The blurb says ‘Ellie Truman’s widowed mum is struggling to keep Gwel Teg, the family hotel in Cornwall, afloat.  Ellie is determined to do everything in her power to help her, even if that means moving back to the sleepy Cornish village she fled from broken-hearted a few years ago. Things go wrong from the start and she’s grateful for the help from hunky guest, Reece Mitchell. But does Reece have ulterior motives? Will Ellie’s efforts be for nothing?’

So expect some clashes with a feisty, kind hearted heroine and a hunky not-quite-what-he-seems hero in a fantastic summer setting.

Are you preparing yourself already for readers to start saying ‘oh no, not another book set in Cornwall’? I have never been to Cornwall but it certainly seems a popular setting for books, does that concern you?
No not at all. It’s a lovely setting for a book. Sun, sea, sand and romance – what more can you want? Apart from a long, cool spritzer, of course!

TWG does like an exclusive, so, putting you on the spot now, do you have any exclusives for me? Do you have any new books being published after the July one? Please tell me alllllll; I won’t share your secrets….intentionally ;).
Well I am working on another three books; a YA, a chick lit and an emotional drama but that’s all I’m saying for now. 😊

Thank you so much for your time and good luck with the release of your new book, Perfect Summer, on the 10th May! As always I will cheer-lead you and your books. I hope to see you back on TWG soon, you’re welcome any time! Thank you for interviewing me, Kaisha, and for your support. It’s much appreciated. 😊

So today we have learnt that Karen is far too nice when it comes to ruining a characters life (hmmmm!!!! 😉 ), and how she struggled not to write ‘shortbread’ for one of her books! Write shortbread, eat shortbread; same thing really isn’t it? Mmmm I want some now! Thank you, Karen, for allowing me to interrogate you today!

For those of you who wish to find out more about Karen’s upcoming book, ‘Perfect Summer’, keep reading for the blurb and an extract!

perfectsummerBlurb

Set in a society obsessed with perfection, 15 year old Morgan is best friends with the
seemingly perfect Summer. But when Morgan’s brother, Josh, who has Down’s syndrome, is kidnapped, they uncover a sinister plot and find themselves in terrible danger.

Can they find Josh before it’s too late? And is Summer’s life as perfect as it seems?

Extract

Summer and I hurried upstairs while Josh was busy watching TV. Summer plonked herself down on my bed while I got my things ready.
“Want some music?” I asked, pressing the silver button on the comm-panel. The
latest hit from Krescendo, our favourite band, blasted out and a hologram of them playing beamed onto the wall. Then I pressed the green button, my wardrobe doors glided open, and a rail of clothes slid out. I glanced over at Summer, feeling awkward as always, that my room was so small and my wardrobe so sparse. Summer’s wardrobe was a huge walk-in affair full of designer clothes. Luckily, she was sprawled out watching Krescendo so I quickly grabbed the clothes I needed for the weekend and shoved them in my rucksack. Thank goodness I’d found an immaculate emerald green Maliko dress at the recycle store the other week. That would be perfect for Roxy’s. I knew Summer would let me borrow her clothes but felt better if I wore something of my own.
I took out the dress and zipped it into a freshpack to keep it crease-free. I glanced at
the image screen on my bedroom wall and grimaced. My make-up needed renewing and
some strands of my chestnut hair were escaping from the ponytail I’d swept it into. I swiftly fixed it and applied more make-up. I didn’t want to turn up at Summer’s looking a mess, Tamara and Leo expected everyone to always look their best.
“Ready.” I pressed the buttons on the CP again to close my wardrobe doors, and
switched off the music.
“Have a nice weekend,” Mum said as we popped in to say goodbye. She looked so
pale, with dark circles under her eyes. I could tell the visit from the Ministry had upset her and hesitated for a moment, wondering if I should stay. But Dad was due home soon and I was so looking forward to the weekend. I loved going to Summer’s house and being spoilt for a bit. It was like living in another world. She was so lucky.
“Thanks, we will.” I leaned over and tousled Josh’s chestnut curls. “Bye, Josh.”
“Play, Maw,” he said, scrambling up.
“Maw going out now. I’ll play with you when I come back.” He puckered his face as
if he was going to cry, but Mum took his hand. “Come on, Josh, let’s pick some tomatoes for tea.”
Josh’s face lit up. He loved helping Mum in the garden. Everyone had a vegetable
patch, compost and water butt by order of the Ministry as part of the Planet Protection
Programme. I hated gardening but Josh loved helping Mum water the plants with the rainwater collected in the butt, and picking the vegetables. Summer’s parents had a gardener, of course. Mum led Josh out into the garden while we went out the front door. before Josh could realise I was leaving. I had no idea how much I was going to regret not playing with Josh one more time. Or not kissing him goodbye.

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Author Bio

Karen King is the author of over 120 children’s books and has had two YA’s published,
Perfect Summer and Sapphire Blue. Perfect Summer was runner up in the Red Telephone Books YA novel competition in 2011 and has just been republished by Accent Press.
Karen is also the author of two romance novels, and has been contracted for three chick lit novels by Accent Press. The first, I do?… or do I? was published in 2016 and the second, The Cornish Hotel by the Sea, is due out in the Summer. In addition, Karen has written several short stories for women’s magazine and worked for many years on children’s magazines such as Thomas the Tank Engine and Winnie the Pooh as well as the iconic Jackie magazine.
When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.

Author links