Happy birthday to me! TWG turns ONE! #happybirthdayTWG #bookblogger #authors #firstbirthday

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AHHHHHHHHH!! Happy birthday to TWG! One year ago today, 15th March 2016, my first ever blog post was published. I even remember which one it was too – The woman who upped and left – Review. I didn’t even think anyone would read my reviews, let alone be following me a year down the line. It has been a surreal year for TWG and I have loved every single moment of it. Well, most of it!

This last year I have:

– Created a signed book collection of 35 books, containing novels from authors such as Lindsey Kelk, Jodi Picoult, Carol Wyer, Paige Toon, Sophie Kinsella, Michelle Visage, David Videcette, Mary-Jane Riley, Liane Moriarty, Sue Moorcroft, Sue Watson, Sam Carrington, Louise Jensen, Tilly Tennant, Sue Fortin, Jan Brigden, Laura James, Marcie Steele, Holly Martin, Sarah Morgan, Elli Darkins, Eva Jordan, Lisa Jewell, Cathy Bramley, Mhairi McFarlane, Susan Gander, Rosie Blake, Heidi Swain, Milly Johnson, Jennifer Bohnet, and Rebecca Raisin.

Huge thank you to the authors who have sent me those signed books as a competition prize or for another reason, thank you to the publishers, and thank you to the authors for signing those books so that they were available to buy. I feel extremely lucky and I will forever be grateful.

– Became friends with most of those authors above, AND MORE. A year ago I was in dream world when it came to authors tweeting me back. A year later, I am still in dream world when they do that and have to pinch myself when I am in conversation with them. Am I dreaming?

– Found some truly loyal bloggers to build brilliant friendships with. I also am so thankful to Joanne R for taking me under her wing at the very beginning, making sure that I wasn’t on my own in a huge group.

– Huge thank you to Anita Chapman for letting me know about Book connectors FB group! Without you, I don’t think I would have known anything about it.

– Received books to review from publishers and authors I have admired for many, many years. Every time I get book post it feels like it’s my birthday all over again. Thank you to Accent Press for being the first publisher to put me on their blogger list, and a huge thank you to all of the other publishers who continue to bless me with bookpost and book related things. Living the dream.

– This last year I also met Jodi Picoult. Another author who I have admired for many years and made me catch my breath when I met her, with fellow blogger Dee. Amazing experience.

There are so, SO many highlights from this past year, I couldn’t begin to list them all. I have been on several hundred blog tours, taken part in multiple cover reveals, been lucky enough to interview Jenny Colgan, Ali McNamara, Carol Wyer, Cathy Bramley, Andi Michael, Tilly Tennant and many, many more. My interviews are no longer called ‘interviews’, some authors know of them as interrogations! A fellow blogger, Lorraine, let me know that I was now the ‘blogger who made authors cry’ (in a good way), with my reviews. I don’t set out to do that (honestly)! A special thank you needs to go to Carol Wyer and Kim Nash. When I first started blogging, I had no idea about most things yet Carol became such a good friend in such a short space of time, becoming the support network and confidante that I treasured, and I still do. Carol stood by my side and championed me and TWG from the very beginning, and she still does to this day. I will always be grateful for your kind words and support Carol, you truly are one of kind. As for Kim Nash, you were the first publisher I ever spoke to directly (well, over e-mail) and we built a good friendship from that moment. Plus, you had copious amounts of patience with me when I kept pestering you! Thank you for believing in me now and today.

This last year has seen me read a total of 214 books (so far), with 154 books being from 2016 and 60 being my current total. I have been lucky enough to try so many new authors and fall in love with genres I never thought I would see myself reading. I have been made to feel included to various book groups on FB and this whole year has seen my blog posts being shared far and wide by bloggers. BLOGGERS, thank you for always sharing my posts, championing my reviews and being such stars. You are all incredibly wonderful and it’s a pleasure to become your friends. You all know who you are!

This year has also seen an article of mine get published on mental health and illness website, The Mighty. Within 2 weeks it had been shared over 3000 times. You can find my article here. I also have had one of my quotes published on the back of a paperback, with another one (or two) to be expected further on in the year. I have also found my quotes on publishers publicity pictures, and yes, a year later the feeling is still surreal with every new one. Thank you.

This post could go on forever, as there are so many people I would like to thank for helping my dream get on its way to becoming a reality. Reading books is my only respite from the hell of daily life and for that reason, I will forever be in authors debt for writing those books that allow me to travel to France, New York etc, or allow me to ‘work’ in various different places without having to worry about my P45!

Ever since I was a little girl, I have wanted to write and be involved in books/writing some way or another. I’m involved in books thanks to my blog. I just need someone to give me that break to change my life, and allow me to work freelance as a writer/publicist etc. It’s getting to a point now where the chances of me working outside are slim. Fingers crossed that 2017 allows me to get even closer to getting that job. Thank you all for following my blog, supporting me, reading my posts and just being you.

Lots of love,

TWG x

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What’s on your mind #TWG? Can storylines ever be ‘too real’? #Discussion.

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I know, I know, I’m sorry! There has been plenty on TWG’s mind since we last took a trip there, but I haven’t been able to extract my thoughts just for you, until now! Honoured? Should be!

I have a feeling that this weeks topic might cause a large discussion as I believe that a lot of you will have an opinion about it. Please don’t shy away, get involved in this discussion, as well as any others, by commenting on this post! Let me know what YOU think!

TWG is talking about storylines this week. Can a storyline ever be TOO real? I know that people often read for amusement or to escape their personal struggles and reading a book mirroring those struggles, might be distressing. Do those types of books put you off? Do you prefer reading books that have storylines that are completely different from your own life and what you have been through or are going through? Or, do you find those storylines refreshing?

Tough one really, isn’t it? Personally, I read for amusement and I aim for books that are hilariously different. For example; Kitty French – Melody Bittersweet and the Girls Ghostbusting Agency or Carol Wyer – Life Swap. There are many, many more that take me away from my struggles for the time it takes to read that particular book. However, I find it extremely refreshing to read a book that has a character with an illness the same, or similar to one of mine, or a storyline based on something that I have been through. Whilst reading about those topics can be quite emotional and often gut wrenching, I think that tough situations need to get highlighted within books. Sometimes, if an illness or event gets brought up in the media, there is a higher chance of a negative spin on it because people are uneducated about it. But, put that into a book where the reader is absorbing the information in their own way, the topic is seen in a completely different light. It’s as though the fictional book is educating the reader.

Several months ago I read a book that highlighted an illness that a lot of people know OF, but they don’t know IT; The Years Of Loving You by Ella Harper. For me, seeing my symptoms in black  and white, but really being the characters symptoms, was emotionally refreshing. It gave me hope that maybe just ONE person will read it and be able to approach the situation completely differently to help a loved one. I do think that books that are close to the reader’s life, often take away the ‘taboo’ heading for that particular topic. Even though they are fictional characters, it as though you have an ally, someone who knows what you’re going through. Either that makes me sound extremely odd now, or it’s widely agreed with. Someone please say yes…

Don’t get me wrong, I can see that reading a book that reminds you of a time you’d rather forget, isn’t good and that’s where the ‘too real’ factor might come in.

It really is a tough one to gauge, especially when every reader has their own likes and dislikes when it comes to books, as well as having their own troubles to contend with. I am really intrigued to hear your thoughts on this one so please do comment on the post, or tweet me @kaishajayneh and let me know if there is such a thing as being too real, where books are concerned!

#Discussion – What’s on your mind TWG? Do readers expect too much from books, or are we easily pleased?

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TWG is back for another ‘What’s on your mind TWG?’! Fellow blogger Rachel Gilbey inspired this weeks discussion after one of her posts in a blogger group.

This week I am asking you; as readers, do we expect too much from books? Does reading a lot of books make you harder to please? OR are we as readers easily pleased? Do we go for the books that other people LOVE and make ourselves LOVE them to fit in?

I must say, I am incredibly curious as to what your replies to this discussion will be! It’s a topic that is incredibly in-depth and will take more than TWG to understand it, but a girl can try…right?

Have you ever read multiple books from one genre and found that you were harder to please, the more you read? Years ago I used to think that if you’ve read one chick flick book, then you’ve read them all. Complete ignorance on my part. Whilst a lot of people associate chick flicks with ‘boy meets girl, get married, happily ever after’, that is definitely not the case. Don’t get me wrong, chick flicks/romantic comedies have a higher rate of happily ever afters, but to judge the books by that concept is like judging a crime novel for having too many murders!

I have read a lot of romantic comedies, and I will continue to do so because different authors have different approaches to the genre. After all, different people lead different lives and interpret situations in multiple ways. Back in the day, I was quite hard to please in terms of books as I had gotten far too comfortable with the same author, the same style of books. Ultimately you’re setting yourself up to be picky doing that. There are thousands of books out there these days, books that will suit every type of reader, but do we STILL expect too much?

It’s a hard question to answer, very hard. Some readers may expect a lot from the books that they read and put certain authors on a pedestal, and then get miffed if their next books don’t live up to their expectations. Writing that last sentence made me feel so bad for authors. I’m aware that they need to be prepared for their work to be critiqued, that’s the hardship of putting something out in the big wide world as everyone has got an opinion. But, are we being too fussy?

When you pick up a book to read based on other people’s opinions, there is a chance that you will have their thoughts in your mind as you read the book. When you pick up a book based on your own wants from a book, you’re probably choosing the book based on what you’ve read before, or what you know.

I know what books I like to read, but as I get older, I enjoy finding the books that are out of my comfort zone, trying something new or finding a new author. It’s exciting to find a book that you can sink your teeth into, or cry at. That type of involvement from a book can be priceless and sometimes our own expectations can hinder it. When I read books, I don’t sit with a checklist and compare it against other books because that isn’t fair to the author. Every author writes their own books based on their own research, simple. A new book is a fresh start, and in my opinion, reading a lot of books doesn’t make you expect too much, it just makes you more aware of what you like and what you don’t.

That being said, I would never insult an author personally if their book was not my type of book, I chose the book to read, they didn’t force it upon me. I also wouldn’t be nasty about a book that I didn’t enjoy and whilst I always find the positives, some authors do need to know that every book isn’t going to be a 4 star rating from every reader.

What are your thoughts? Do you have high expectations? As always, please do let me know, get involved! Thank you to Rachel Gilbey for being my inspiration behind this weeks post!

#Discussion – What’s on your mind TWG? – Can a book really speak to you, or is that just wishful thinking?

It’s that time of the week again! Well, kind of. I am actually a day late in posting this feature this week, I do apologise! I haven’t had any readers kick me up my toosh toosh to remind me, so I’m hoping you still enjoy the feature!
I wrote on the facebook page (feel free to ‘like’ the FB page here) for this blog that this weeks feature will have a more personal element added. Although, I don’t know how much more personal it can get, after all, it is about my mind ;).

So, the topic that has been on my mind is: ‘can a book really speak to you, or is that just wishful thinking?’

I’m sure many of you have read books that you could relate to for multiple reasons, whether it’s because of a character’s personality or even certain events within the story. It’s crazy how something based on ‘made up’ events, can make you feel as though you are reading about your own life.

If you have felt as though a book has spoken to you, which one was it? In what way did it speak to you? As usual, I would love to hear your thoughts and personal feelings on this topic. If something I too personal for you to share, please don’t feel that you have to share if you don’t want to.

I have been a bookworm for many years but when you’re reading books as a teenager, it’s less likely that you would sit there dissecting a book like you would as an adult. Don’t get me wrong, there are hundreds of relatable books out there for young adults which cover some unfortunately ‘popular’ subjects. For example, suicide, teen pregnancy, self harm, cyber bullying, sexual assault, just to name a few. Those subjects in particular are usually seen as ‘taboo’ subjects because nobody really knows what to say. It could be possible that anyone going through those issues in their life, may not feel comfortable talking to anyone close to them about it. So when an author is willing to write about situations that crop up in everyday life, those books could become a lifeline for readers in terms of feeling less alone. That is when books will shout from the rooftops.

I read a book at the start of the year that didn’t just speak to me, it shouted at me. Have any of you read The years of loving you – Review by Ella Harper? The book has such a relatable storyline for me, and millions of other people I’m sure. Life changing illnesses, also known to be chronic illnesses; parkinsons, depression, fibromyalgia, arthritis, crohns disease, hypothyroidism, again just to name a few.
**Please note that I have only selected a few, I do know that there are a lot of other illnesses at different levels, but as the book contains one of the illnesses that I stated above, I named the branches of that illness.
‘The years of loving you’ takes you on THE journey. The journey of oblivion to destruction in just one afternoon. The journey of grief. The journey of multiple masks and trying to find one that fits. To read such an emotional journey, having just had my path re-routed on THE journey for the sixth time in nine years, caught me off guard. The feelings that I felt, moments when I felt as though I was crazy for feeling like I do, someone in the book had the same thoughts and feelings and they were struggling with it too.

Can you see why the book didn’t just speak to me? When you find characters to be incredibly real, it can make you feel as though you have someone who knows exactly what you’re going through, or went through. Has anyone else ever felt like that?

There are a lot of books where I find the characters speak to me within a book. To be honest, sometimes I do find a character or two that I wish I could have a stern word with haha. One of the lovely ladies in a book by Darcie Boleyn spoke to me because of her wisdom…and the fact that I wanted a best friend like her!

In my opinion, yes, I believe that books can speak volumes. Not just in emotional ways due to certain events, but in eye-opening ways that can make you start thinking about your own life. It’s books like that, that I believe to be little gems. Small in size but the volume is immense. I thank each and every author out there for taking the time to write such moving and soul capturing books. As a reader that relies on books as an escape from a daily struggle of continuous pain and illnesses, when you find a good book that triggers your emotions and thoughts as well as relatable factor, it’s like having a pocket-sized friend. Only YOU know what it holds. Beauty is within, just like the contents of a book.

My question to you, can a book really speak to YOU?

Blog tour stop for ‘When he fell’ by Kate Hewitt.

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Blurb.

‘The powerfully gripping new book from USA Today bestselling author Kate Hewitt.

Josh and Ben are nine years old and best friends, until a single, careless act in the school playground destroys the lives of both families – and wrenches their small Manhattan school apart. As both mothers Maddie and Joanna try to find out what really happened between the boys, they discover the truth is far more complicated and painful than either of them could have ever realised… with lasting repercussions for both families. And when tragedy strikes again in the most unexpected of ways, the lives of these two women will be changed once more, and this time forever.’

Big thank you to NeverlandBT, Kate Hewitt & Netgalley for allowing me a copy of the book for my honest opinion.

My goodness me, where to start! I didn’t read the blurb before I agreed to do the tour as I wanted to find out the whole story by myself, I chose to review it purely based on the title and the fact that Kate Hewitt would be a new author for me.
As a mother myself, reading this novel hit home in many, many ways because the main storyline is something I wouldn’t be able to ever comprehend if it happened to my child.
Maddie and Ben are a team. She would do anything to protect her son from harm and she expects the school he attends to do the same whilst he is in their care. Unfortunately, a playground incident happens involving Ben and his best friend Josh and Maddie is left trying to find out exactly what had happened and why. Easier said than done when people at the school decide that it’s much better to keep the information to themselves. But is it?
Ben’s best friend Josh finds himself spiralling lower and lower into a depressed state, much to the sadness of his parents Lewis and Joanna.
I found ‘When he fell’ to be an unpredictable, heartfelt and emotional read. I think that Kate Hewitt has written about such a sensitive and devastating subject with incredible detail which made the story stand out and not seem like she hadn’t done her research. Clearly, she has. For the majority of the story, I felt like I was standing behind Maddie and seeing everything that she saw. Very cleverly written to be able to make the reader move into the story so to speak, but I found that incredibly emotional. Being totally honest, halfway through I felt like I shouldn’t carry on reading it because of the topic covered, especially with how deep and harrowing it got. However, the story had me gripped and I wanted to find out exactly what happened that day at school. Why the head teacher wasn’t volunteering information, and why Josh didn’t want to talk about it. Why didn’t he want to talk about it?
Several times throughout the book, I did get frustrated because I was desperate to find out why, I wanted answers for Maddie and Ben and they’re characters in a book! Joanna, Josh’s mum, has fears about her and Lewis’ relationship, especially as Lewis and Maddie spent time together during the children’s playdates. She thinks her son isn’t watching her body language or facial expressions, but he is, he can tell something is wrong. The calm before the storm. Joanna’s fears sound so minor compared to Ben’s accident, but everything isn’t as it seems.
I honestly thought I had guessed what the outcome would be when I was three-quarters of the way into the novel. I was wrong. Completely wrong. It’s not often I say this, but I loved being wrong in this instance because the last quarter of the story popped up from nowhere. Jaw dropped, gasping and going ‘oh my…..’. That is the sign of a very good writer because not only did Kate Hewitt manage to make me feel like I was IN the book, she had a way of connecting with my emotions. I say that like she wrote the book for me, hah. No, I mean it seems like she intended to connect her words with the reader and feed the reader such a poignant and memorable storyline.
The events that happened within the book are real life events for some children, which makes the storyline even more emotional. That said, Kate has written such a powerful book, especially when I keep thinking about it despite finishing the book a week ago. Such a talented writer, I cannot wait to read another of Kate Hewitt’s books!

Buy ‘When he fell’ from Amazon UK
Buy ‘When he fell’ from Barnes & Noble
Buy ‘When he fell’ from Kobo
Buy ‘When he fell’ from Google Play
Buy ‘When he fell’ from Waterstones
Buy ‘When he fell’ from WHSmiths

Kate Hewitt social links.

when he fell author
Kate’s Facebook
Kate’s Twitter
Kate’s Instagram
Find Kate on Goodreads
Kate’s Blog

If you fancy a chance at winning a paperback copy of ‘This Fragile Life’ by Kate Hewitt, click the link to enter! Good luck!

 Enter the giveaway!

 

The Blog Tour bus has stopped right here with ‘Something Old, Something New’ with Darcie! (and Annie!)

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“Annie are you okay? Are you okay? Are you okay Annie?” -moonwalks-. I wonder if anyone has moonwalked down the aisle on their wedding day…hmmm. Darcie, did Annie? I’m curious now. Oh, sorry, you’re not here for my thoughts on dancing are you? Pfffffttttttt! Well, that’s alright then because I have something WAYYYY more interesting than me moonwalking to MJ.

Welcome to today’s Blog Tour Stop for Darcie Boleyn ‘Something Old, Something New’! (Courtesy of @NeverlandBT)
Buy Something Old, Something New from Amazon UK


‘A heartwarming, giggle­inducing romance from Darcie Boleyn, just in time for the wedding season! Will you marry me…again?
When Annie Thomas agrees to give her ex away at his wedding to his boyfriend, she thinks she’ll be fine. With her three children at her side, she can handle anything. Then she finds out her gorgeous first ex-­husband Evan Llewellyn is flying in from his glamorous life in New York to attend as well! An unexpected pregnancy ended their relationship and as she stumbles throug
h the ups and downs of life as a working single mum – helping everyone else find a happy ending along the way – Annie refuses to believe their old and incredibly hot spark can still exist. It’s only when she and Evan are forced to face up to the past together that they’ll discover if they can have their own happily­everafter too!’

I must admit, I was extremely excited about reading this book and being involved in the tour that I read the book a couple of weeks ago, ready. Eager much?
‘Something Old, Something New’ gives you an insight to Annie’s past, present and personality. On the topic of personality, if you could choose the most bizarre name for a dog, what would it be? I wonder what Annie called her dogs….
Annie Thomas hasn’t had the most straight forward life so far; one child with her first husband, two children with her second gay now ex-husband, and a neighbour who believes in finding her own Prince Charming…in lycra.
Annie was asked to give her ex husband away at his wedding, naturally she agrees, but that was before she realised she would have not ONE ex husband in the same room as her, but TWO ex husbands. Will the flutters in her tummy for a certain ex husband fly away? Or will Annie’s past come back to life right in front of her?

To be honest, I was hooked by the first word in the book! My sort of woman is Annie! If you’re not hooked by the third or fourth page then I want to know why. The cringe factor and hilarity is on point right from the beginning of the book. I had to read the rest of the first chapter through my fingers because I was laughing so hard and had no idea what Annie was going to get up to next. I certainly won’t be looking at lolly sticks without laughing from now on let me tell you!
The way Darcie has written Annie’s character, I could tell she had a bond with her. Annie is such a warm, funny and engaging character, it was hard not to love her. She constantly thinks about her past and wants to not make the same mistakes as before, so it’s like she is always on tenterhooks. I mean, who doesn’t think about their past and their mistakes? Everyone does or at least has done. Annie wants the best life for her children and her close friends, whilst in the process putting herself last. I thoroughly enjoyed this book because of all the giggles, the realness of the storyline, especially with the ‘unconventional family’. For me, it flowed excellently, every single word in the novel had a right to be there if that makes sense!
As the story progressed, I began to learn more about Annie’s children and her exes. With the newfound information I was urging Annie to make a decision. I predicted the story would unfold in a certain way, and it did. Now, that did not disappoint me at all because I’m all for cheerleading, especially when you’re hopeful about the characters and their lives when you read such a wonderful book.
Darcie has written about real life struggles and circumstances in such a refreshing way. Instead of making a bad situation all fluffy and false outcomes, she has made them….real, made them fit in with now because someone somewhere is going through those things. Darcie has written about fear, sadness, hope, but most of all, love. There’s one thing writing about love and not having anyone believe it, but to write about love in multiple forms and write it in a memorable and outstanding way is incredible. I think that shows how wonderful of a writer Darcie is if she can portray all of that within the storyline and characters.
Seeing as this is a romantic comedy, do you think I cried whilst I read it? Of course I did! Reading ‘Something Old, Something New’ was like watching your best friends wedding video. Emotional but utterly brilliant. If I could pack up and move into Annie’s house, I would. Thank you Darcie for a truly exceptional and thought provoking read. You have made me believe that it’s okay not to be perfect, as long as you are true.

About the author:

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Darcie’s Twitter
Darcie’s Facebook
Darcie’s Blog (1)
Darcie’s Blog (2)

Darcie Boleyn has a huge heart and is a real softy. She never fails to cry at books and movies, whether the ending is happy or not. Darcie is in possession of an overactive imagination that often keeps her awake at night. Her childhood dream was to become a Jedi but she hasn’t yet found suitable transport to take her to a galaxy far, far away. She also has reservations about how she’d look in a gold bikini, as she rather enjoys red wine, cheese and loves anything with ginger or cherries in it – especially chocolate. Darcie fell in love in New York, got married in the snow, rescues uncoordinated greyhounds and can usually be found reading or typing away on her laptop.

Before you go, fancy a chance at winning a copy of Something Old, Something new? Well here is your chance to!
Click here to enter the giveaway!

 

TWG welcomes the fantastic…..Tilly Tennant!

As soon as I heard that a certain lovely lady had a new book coming out VERY soon (more details in a minute), I just had to hunt her down and grab her for a feature on my blog! Okay, to clarify, I didn’t hunt her down, nor did I grab her. I merely tweeted her one afternoon, but that doesn’t sound as interesting does it? ANYWAY! Huge warm welcome to Tilly Tennant on her first ever visit to The Writing Garnet! I can assure you now, it most certainly won’t be the last time either!

As I’ve already said, Tilly has a new book coming out on the 15th June 2016 called ‘The Little Village Bakery’ (Honeybourne Book 1). Want to see the cover? Of course you do!

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Isn’t it gorgeous?! Luckily for you though, if this cover tickles your taste buds already (see what I did there?!), you can pre-order it for £1.99 (pricing correct as of 10th May 2016) on Amazon UK! Super excited to read this. Mmmm, cake.

Tilly has kindly written a feature for the blog, a letter to her unpublished self. Have you ever written a letter to a younger version of yourself, or even as a child to your grown up self? If you have, please let me know! So here is Tilly’s letter, enjoy.

A LETTER TO MY UNPUBLISHED SELF
By Tilly Tennant.

Dear Tilly,
Listen up! I know you have this grand delusion that you’re going to be a famous singer but, really, nobody wants to hear it. You think you open your mouth and you sound like Mary Poppins. The reality is that you crack mirrors, dogs howl and small children flee. Ditch the warbling. Have you thought about writing books? You love reading, right? You love wordplay and humour? You love happy ever afters? Sometimes you get grumpy that the story you’re engrossed in doesn’t turn out the way you want it to? Well, hold the phone, because if you’d written it, it would have been exactly the ending you wanted to see. See? I won’t bull you; it’s going to be tough. Possibly tougher than one of your Sunday joints. Almost certainly tougher and less financially rewarding than singing (at least, other people’s singing). You will have to hold down about fifteen jobs for a while. You will have to work late into the night and get up at the crack of dawn to start all over again the next day. You will sit in darkened rooms on the sunniest days of the year when everyone else is out leaping in fountains and eating ice-cream because you have a deadline.
At times your kids will think you’ve left home when you’ve actually been holed up in the loft for three days crying over a plot that won’t work. There will be times when you want to throw the laptop from the nearest window, times when your characters will misbehave, times when it seems that nobody wants to buy the stories you’re peddling and when they do they only have bad things to say about them. But one day, one glorious, heavenly-choirs- massing-in- the-clouds day, someone will love what you do. Enough to hand you a contract and take you under their wing to nurture what you grain of talent you have. One day, you’ll publish that book. That’s when the adventure really begins. And in the words of a wise old(ish) Irishman: Life is a rollercoaster, you just gotta ride it. That’s my advice. So, what are you waiting for?
Love from Tilly xxx

So thank you to Tilly for sharing her humorous yet very honest letter. Also thank you to Mr Ronan Keating and his lyrics for appearing in that letter, and thank you to both of them for making the song now STUCK in head. Very much appreciated! Ahhhhheeeeeemmmmmm!

If you love Tilly’s style of writing and wish to stalk, I mean, follow her (still stalking!). Okay, scrap that. If you wish to keep updated with Tilly’s upcoming novels and singing (I jest) then you can grab her just like I did at the following links:

Tilly’s Twitter
Tilly’s Facebook
Tilly’s Website

An interview with…..

Several readers over on the Facebook page might remember me dropping hints about an interview, yes? Okay, this author is extremely well known and has written many books about food, and a puffin. Any ideas?

The Writing Garnet is absolutely thrilled to welcome Jenny Colgan! You might be familiar with some of her books, for example, Little Beach Street Bakery. (Amazon) and more recently The Little Shop of Happy-Ever-After. (Amazon). I have admired her work for a while so I was extremely honoured to be able to have a chat with her about her work. Enjoy!

First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time for this interview!

Garnet:  Could you tell us a bit about you and your background before you began writing?
Jenny: I worked in the NHS for a few years, not very successfully! I always wanted to be doing something else. 

Garnet: Have you always wanted to become a published writer?
Jenny: Well yes, but I didn’t really think it would ever actually happen. I just kept plugging away at it, but I was quite surprised when it actually came true.

Garnet: Several of your books are about working in food retailers, how were you able to create such realistic situations? Have you worked in a bakery or chocolate shop before?
Jenny: I’ve worked in bars and restaurants of course, but never things like bakeries. My father ran a small business so I know how hard people have to work to do it. I don’t know how realistic it is really, I rarely show people struggling with VAT!

Garnet: How hard was it to find the inspiration for each of your books?
Jenny: Not really difficult, I think of stories I’d like to tell and settings I personally like. We moved as a family to Scotland last year so I know I wanted to write about that experience.

 Garnet: If you could pick one character from any of your books, who would it be and why?
Jenny: Well, that depends what for! I’m very fond of Rosie & Stephen in the Rosie Hopkins series, I like them a lot.

Garnet: Have you ever disliked any of the characters in your stories?
Jenny: Of course, I always have baddies. Most recently Mrs Manse in the Bakery books was a fairly implacable enemy.

Garnet:  I see that you have written children’s books too, did you find those easier to write than the ones you write for adults?
Jenny: No, they’re far harder, because you have to practice them so often and they have to stand up to being able to be read aloud over and over again. Children’s books are far harder to get right I feel.

Garnet:  You are a very well known author, do you find that gives you added pressure when writing books, because of how well your other books have done?
Jenny: I don’t feel well-known at all! I think it’s perspective though. It doesn’t really add pressure; you just have to write the book you want to read and hope other people feel the same way.

Garnet: Time for a tough one, if you could choose any book that has already been published to be the author of, which one would you choose and why?
Jenny: Oh lord, loads of course. I suppose Harry Potter, because not only did they sell millions, they’re also brilliantly good.

Garnet:  One final question. What advice would you give to a writer that wants to be published? Any words of wisdom?
Jenny: Yes: do your research! There are so many useful sites out there that tell you what agents do, where to find them, how to market your work, etc. it’s much easier now than when I was starting out. And check for typos. Then check again. You’d be amazed how many slip through the net… and good luck!

Thank you again to Jenny Colgan for stopping by for the chat, much appreciated! To keep up to date with her latest information, follow her on twitter: @jennycolgan

Dream a little dream….

Dream a little dream of meeeee do do be do do de do…
You singing yet? Thought so. Did you have a childhood dream? By dream I mean something plausible and not the obvious one about wanting to be batman, or superman, or wonder woman! I mean seriously, we have all wanted to be one of those….or Iron man! No, I mean a dream that you would have done anything to achieve. You thinking about it? Good. I had an amazing ‘what I want to be when I grow up’. Well, two. I actually achieved one of my dreams when I was in my teens. I wanted to be a checkout girl! Stop laughing, I’m being serious! I wanted to work on the checkout so that I could sit down all day, I made my dream come true at 17. True story. As a child I wanted to be a singer, got plenty of practise singing into the light hanging from the ceiling…..’you know we belong togetherrrrrr, you and I forever and everrrrrrr’. Home and Away eat your heart out! Choreography was also on point, I mean, if Sclub 7 or Steps needed new members me and my brother could have filled in at a moments notice! We were that good. Well, we thought we were. In this day and age we would probably be seen as the joke act on the X Factor! Now there’s a thought!
I did have one other dream though, I wanted to be a published writer. I wanted to publish a children’s book for my own children. Is that still an aspiration of mine? Yes, it is. I never thought I could do it, I still don’t, but I don’t know unless I try. This is why I’m here, writing for you. Now while it is funny that I wanted to sit down all day back then, it’s not as funny now if you think about me and my situation. My situation is me being chronically ill, with not one, not two, but six conditions. Six that won’t go away. I could sit down all day, but unless I want to look like I’ve just been sitting in a freezer all stiff, moments after getting up, I can’t. Take my fibromyalgia for example (all over body pain – issues with the nerves, but can affect every part of your body), for an outsider looking in, it’s obviously far too easy to go ‘just get an early night and you’ll feel better’ or ‘take time to rest, you’ll feel better for it’ or ‘think positively’. Why didn’t I think of that!  Imagine this a second, imagine not being able to make any plans because you don’t know how you’re going to be when you wake up every morning, being exhausted just from taking a shower, parts of your body hurting and you haven’t done anything to make them hurt, feeling like you’re letting your loved ones down for not being ‘you’. How does that make you feel? Scared? Like you have lost a part of you?
You grieve for the life that you have lost, a life that had no limitations, a life you had more control over. Will I accept that I’m never going to get better, and that I’m reliant on tablets to keep me alive? To an extent, yes. Because that is the case. Will I accept that my life now has limitations…my body has limitations? Yes! I have to! It is either push myself and flare up for goodness knows how long after, or prioritise and be able to do things with my daughter and flaring up because of fun and not because I cleaned the kitchen floor. Not saying my kitchen is dirty by the way, totally an example!!
When you get told that you’re chronically ill on multiple occasions, you don’t really get told much, you have to go to your good friend Google. Me and google are BFFS!!! The illnesses are all completely unpredictable in their own very special (ahem) ways. The cognitive problems are sometimes more hurtful than the pain because I feel I can come across stupid if I get my words muddled up. I don’t want sympathy, I just want to be remembered. Not that hard really is it?
So the dream of me wanting to be a writer, a published writer, and feeling that now is the right time..you want to know why? Because me taking the control and working hard to try to make it a reality, is probably one of the few things I can be certain about. It is down to me to make this work. Words won’t write themselves. I have the control. I love to read, I love to write. If you truly want something and you know full well that if you don’t do it right now you may not even be able to do it in a few years time, it’s a kick up the youknowwhat. Grab the bull by the horns! Actually, don’t, I don’t think that is allowed. Is it?! Plus I can hide behind what I write to an extent. That isn’t me being false, it’s a way of escaping what I have to face. I may write something emotional but you won’t be seeing me cry so the embarrassment factor is no longer there.

Despite all of that, since 2013 I have had one main aspiration. One that will always be with me. I want to make my daughter (and my mum) proud of me. Every day is a battle for me, in various ways. Some days have more battles than others and I know I’ll not win every single battle I come up against. Does that bother me? No, not anymore. Whilst inside I think I’m Iron Man and can do everything, I can’t. I shouldn’t be expected to either. You all have your limits, be aware of them. Be true to yourself and the ones that love you, otherwise you will feel guilty. Believe me.

If you have somebody close to you right now that is needing a pick me up, don’t be all ‘awwww i’m sorry’ be all ‘here, have a cookie’ or just remember them. Goes for anyone really, even a stranger. I’m learning every single day that I fight my battles, but one thing I know is clear, the little things are what make it. The little things are important because they make up the bigger picture. You have to start somewhere…..