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Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Mr Perfect V The Perfect Christmas

Originally posted on Rachel's Random Reads on 27th October 2016

When I told a friend of mine that I had written a novel called, Single by Christmas, she asked if I didn’t mean, ‘Married’ by Christmas. After all, she told me over the phone, isn’t that what happens with heroines in the type of book you write?
Well I had to point out to her that sometimes genres can be turned on their heads and for all she knew my heroine might just be married by Christmas because I’d managed to weave it into the story by way of a massive plot twist – the title might be red herring I told her.
After hanging up, I thought a lot about what she said. Chick Lit novels and the type of romantic comedy that I love to write usually call for a Happy Ever After, don’t they? But that made me wonder, should a woman go all out to find the perfect man in time for a big holiday like Christmas, in the tradition of true love, or does she forget about men and try for the kind of Christmas that everyone loved once upon a time – the Christmas that’s all about family and friends.
If you’re happily in a relationship then this won’t really apply to you, but I have a few single girlfriends who are not relishing another holiday season without the arms of a hunky guy wrapped around them. It’s not as if I don’t get that, but why put yourself under so much pressure when it is only one day after all? Somehow the true meaning of Christmas gets lost if all the single women are going Bridget Jones crazy and singing, “All by Myself” just because there isn’t a man around.
Instead, I say, down with love (or at least searching for it for a while) and get out your old turkey baking tray, Christmas cake recipes and invite family and friends over on Christmas day, instead. It’s the perfect time of year to catch up on old friends and people you haven’t seen in a while. So why not throw a party?
I remember moving to a new flat some time ago and when it came to Christmas I decided I’d invite lots of people around. I threw an open house party; cooked a big pot of chilli, a big one of mulled wine (which got topped up frequently) and opened my doors from the afternoon onwards. The idea was that people would come and leave after a while making room for the next bunch of people who came in. Trouble was, it was such a success, no one left and my poor little flat was bursting at the seams. But it was a great Christmas party and one I’d love to capture the spirit of again.
Mr Perfect or no Mr Perfect, you can still have a good time.
This year, I will be doing what I love to do best at Christmas time; every evening I get cosy on the sofa, lights on the tree twinkling and I indulge in a slushy film on the television. Then to top it all, on the day, I go crazy in the kitchen, whipping up a load of food for the family. Later I’ll be lying on the sofa in a daze while keeping a watchful eye on the Ferrero Rocher, hoping the rest of the family don’t eat them all before I have space.
Sounds pretty indulgent but that’s a Merry Christmas for me and I’m pretty sure that instead of trying to find Mr Perfect in time for Christmas, you’d have a great time with the people currently in your life and who already love you loads!

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Book Review - A Year And A Day

A Year and a DayA Year and a Day by Isabelle Broom
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I wanted to read this book based on the description, I wasn't familiar with the author and read this copy for NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sadly the style of writing was not for me. The pace was slow and I found myself skimming through chunks of texts which only seemed to repeat the characters' emotions or state of mind but in a different location in Prague.

The premise was good but I was disappointed by the story telling. While the author uses POV with intelligence and consistency, I really couldn't care less about any of the characters, even though they all went on a journey of self realisation. I had lost interest in them by a third of the way through. I think the main reason I read until the end was because I'd guessed one of the plot lines and wanted to see if I was correct. I was. In fact I'd guessed the ending to the story of all the characters.

Broom writes with heart on the subjects covered and I'm pretty sure that will help sell this book to a large number of readers of this type of women's fiction.

View all my reviews

Friday, 25 November 2016

Better Than a #Black Friday Sale - It's Free!

Grab a Free Chick Lit Read on me!

I was feeling extra generous, especially as we come up to the season of goodwill, and I'm offering ebook copies of Natalie's Getting Married for FREE from now until 28th November.

And that's it! Now all you have to do if you want to take advantage is hop over to Amazon and claim yours! Simple.

Here's the Universal Code as I'm not sure how many countries Amazon cover as part of this deal.

Or for Amazon UK: Click here and Amazon US: Click here!

Read, enjoy, review! Thank You!

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

My Favourite Christmas Rom Coms

Originally posted on Reading...Dreaming on 21st October 2016

When it comes to Christmas and romantic comedies, I can’t get enough of the genre in book or film formats. There’s nothing better than getting snuggly with a good Christmas rom-com on the television, a glass of your favourite drink in hand and a box of tissues at the ready, even when you know there’s going to be a Happy Ever After. The same could be said for a good book at Christmas. Bring on the love and bring on the comedy, that’s what I say.
So what are my favourite rom-coms to get snuggly to at Christmas? Well the list was so long, I whittled it down to a top 5 – but even that was a hard decision.
So here goes:
No. 5 – The Holiday
This one stars one of my favourite actors, Jack Black. I absolutely adore this guy’s talent. It didn’t hurt the film to have the handsome Jude Law in a lead role either. But the best thing about this film is that there are two happy endings – you can’t get better than that!
Favourite Quote: “Iris, in the movies we have leading ladies and we have the best friend. You, I can tell, are a leading lady, but for some reason, you're behaving like the best friend.”
No. 4 – Matchmaker Santa
Now this one was not on at the cinema. It’s one of a billion “made for television” films that for me was above average and could have given some of the blockbusters a run for their money. It has a touch of magic in it and sees an engaged couple being kept apart and finding that they each fall in love with someone else! Sounds weird but you have to trust me on this one.
Favourite Quote: “ [Man on Plane]‘Did you ask Santa for something special?’ [Melanie] ‘I asked for true love.’
One of my favourite actors for rom-com is in this one – Sandra Bullock. Love her. And I love this dreamy film – excuse the pun. But I love films with a twist of fortune; falling in love with one guy who doesn’t know you exist only to find the one for you is right under your nose. It’s a common theme in this genre but I don’t care. No matter how contrived, this well acted film has to be seen to be believed.
Favourite Quote: “And who are you, Jack, the happiness guru?
Excuse the double up but by cheating I get to have 6 films on my top 5! These films both star a great pairing of actors who work so well together. Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks are great in straight films as well as comedy. I am just in a state of heavenly bliss as I watch either of these films and they are the ones I have the tissues out for, just waiting for that Happy Ever After to arrive. Great stuff.
Favourite Quotes: “That’s your problem! You don’t want to be in love. You want to be in a love movie!” “People are always telling you that change is a good thing. But all they're really saying is that something you didn't want to happen at all... has happened.”
No 1. – Serendipity
One of the best themes a writer can work with is the one of Fate and that’s what this film is all about. It begins in New York as two people, already in separate relationships, meet while Christmas shopping and both want to buy the same pair of gloves. Years later, will they meet again? There are some films you can just watch over and over again, even if you know what’s coming next, and this is one of them for me. Such a beautiful story – I can’t get enough of it and that’s why I made it No. 1!
Favourite Quote: “I first came in because of the name: Serendipity. It's one of my favourite words.

Now you tell me, what’s your favourite romantic comedy Christmas film?

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Book Review - Piece by Piece

Piece by PiecePiece by Piece by Cathie Whitmore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is an exceptionally written piece of women's fiction that I would recommend to lovers of the genre. I loved the movement through time as we discover more about the lives of this well off family in Australia, but in particular the generations of women as seen through their eyes.

The characters were well drawn and I particularly liked the relationship between Celeste and her mother, Eleanor. There are lots of characters to take in during this saga but Cathie Whitmore has the knack of making the reader want to know more which makes this book a bit of a page turner!

If you are drawn to the poignant themes of lies and betrayal then Piece by Piece is for you. Not only does the writer explore sexuality, infertility and wealth but she also develops a background set in recent history and a saga that has the potential to continue into another book!

Highly recommend read!

View all my reviews

Monday, 14 November 2016

Christmas Comes Early In Chick Lit

Originally posted on Connect With Chick Lit Club 26th October 2016

I’m a new writer to chick lit and romantic comedies but I didn’t fail to notice that there were a lot of Christmas books in this genre out on sale as early as September; some were even out on Amazon in August!
Now I’m one of these people who gets agitated when she sees Christmas decorations going up in shop windows in the autumn. It just doesn’t seem right to me somehow. I’m not ready for the festive season, especially on a year like this in London when the sun is still out (as I write) and I haven’t started wearing my woollies yet. But the trend to bring out a Christmas book earlier rather than later still seems to be the norm.
So, as a new writer I did what everyone else was doing, I planned to publish my Christmas book in October – who am I to doubt the experience of others?
Earlier this year, Single by Christmas was just a seed of an idea and I wasn’t even sure I could have it written, edited and proof read in time for December, let alone any earlier than that. I struggled with the concept of writing anything remotely Christmassy so early in the year.
I wondered if I should put decorations around my writing desk and stick paper snowflakes on the window to get me in the mood. I also wondered how the other writers managed to get so Christmassy if, like me, they were writing their Xmas romances in the springtime!
Finally I came to my senses when I realised, you don’t have to have snow, tinsel and mince pies around to write about Christmas, in the same way a historical fiction writer doesn’t have to go back in time to write historical fiction novels! The answer was staring me in the face; do what fiction writers do best – USE YOUR IMAGINATION. Then, suddenly, the novel that was just a few scrawled notes on an old notebook, came to life and I found I was in full flow and the ideas just kept on coming.
When it got the to the end of August and I was in the throws of editing, I did notice that one of the television channels, renowned for its romantic drama films, started showing Christmas movies! I was tempted to start watching some but, to be honest, I just love the idea of a Christmas film being watched when I’m all cosy on the sofa with a hot cup of tea, thick socks on and the Christmas tree lights twinkling in the background. And I wasn’t about to get the tree out in August! Added to that we were having a heatwave in London and it just didn’t seem right.
If I decide to write a Christmas novel for next year, Christmas will have to come early again, but I think I know how to handle it now.
So now Single by Christmas is out there, the official release date being 18th October. It still wasn’t published as early as some but I’m happy that it’s the heart-warming, feel good story I was hoping to write and I hope it has readers getting cosy on the sofa with a hot drink and getting well and truly in the holiday mood.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Anti-heroines in Women’s Fiction – Where Do You Stand?

Originally posted on Linda's Book Bag on 17th October 2016

Most of my writing day is taken up by writing fiction. If I’m not writing a blog or magazine article for a client, I’m creating fictional characters either in my own stories or as a ghost writer. Most of the fiction I ghost write comes under the women’s fiction umbrella, mainly romance. In every outline I’m given the heroine is always likeable, kind, well adjusted, good looking (if not absolutely beautiful) and everything she does makes her worthy of the handsome hero.
I know we pick up a book because we like to escape the real world but I always prefer to ‘keep it real(ish)’ when I write – particularly in my own stories.
So when it came to writing Single by Christmas, I knew straight away that I wasn’t writing my female protagonist in the typically expected style for women’s fiction. Alex Marshall wasn’t going to be the heroine, she was going to be the anti-heroine.
When writers create anti-heroes – the bad guy who womanises, drinks too much, puts his needs first – it seems to be acceptable because he is a man. But how do you react to a woman who does all those things?
Typical Anti-Hero/Anti-Heroine Traits (in brief)
  • Self-absorbed, selfish
  • Shows little remorse for bad behaviour
  • Imperfections easily identified
  • Has the reader’s sympathy but has questionable morals
I knew that when I embarked on my Christmas story that Alex Marshall wasn’t the type of woman who owned a cake shop and sold mince pies to the man of her dreams, neither was she going to get stranded with him in a snow storm in a remote and picturesque town. But I had to be careful. I didn’t want to lose the spirit of Christmas. I didn’t want Alex to be an out and out villain who ambushes Santa and holds the pressies for ransom. I had to tread carefully and let the reader see her ‘naughty’ side in the events of the story and hopefully understand her motives as the scenes played out in typical anti-heroine fashion.
I also had to bear in mind that this story was a romantic comedy – emphasis on the romantic and the comedy. So how could I make Alex edgy and still leave room for the odd laugh or two (or more, hopefully). My answer: I made Alex a little too fond of booze and gave her a very selfish streak.
One early reader of Single by Christmas said she wanted to slap Alex. Maybe you will, too, but the fact remains, her motives are questionable and so is her behaviour.
I knew I was taking a risk, especially since I’ve created a female character in a previous story who, potentially, put the whole sex in a bad light. One reviewer didn’t appreciate that and deducted a star from her review because she hated when women are not portrayed in a positive light.
But I say, ‘Hey, we’re only human, and we all mess up sometimes’ – even women.
I guess when it comes to romantic comedy there may be a strong argument that dictates that the leading lady ought to have nothing but flawless qualities. But I argue that there’s nothing wrong with upsetting stereotypes and Alex Marshall is no stereotypical heroine.
So what’s your view? Do you want all the women you read about to be ‘perfect’ or can you handle the odd flawed character once in a while?

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Hello November!

So, here we go folks, we're into another month and I'm into another round up of things to do.

I don't know about you but my Things To Do List for November is looking very, very long. My first task is to take a deep breath, exhale slowly and tell myself 'I can do this!' I can get through another busy month - I don't really have any other choice.

Before I get into November I have to say a special thank you to all the book bloggers and book reviewers who were on the 12 Days of Single by Christmas Blog Tour and all the others who reviewed my book or featured me on their sites or Tweeted about the book. THANK YOU. And I'm enjoying reading all the fabulous reviews. They've all been 5 and 4 Stars, so I got this one right.

Also, as last month was all about the Single by Christmas book launch and giveaway (and if you haven't got your copy yet, then ... you know what to do). I'd like to congratulate the five winners and hope that they enjoy the book, too!

Now onto November. Amongst the multitude things I hope to and have to get done, there is one biggie. My mission (and yes I have accepted it) is to finish writing the first book in my three part Magenta Bright Series

I will talk more about Magenta later but I'm so loving writing this new character and I'm almost finished the first draft of the book which is entitled, Magenta Bright: A Year In The Life. You'll be able to get a sneak preview after Christmas and Publication will be in Spring 2017!

So not only will Magenta keep me busy in November but she will be occupying lots and lots of my time next year.

But wait, I'm getting ahead of myself - I have to get through November To Do List first.

What's on your To Do List?