Cover Reveal: Girl In Trouble

I’ve got a new book coming out! For those of you who have read Girl Having A Ball, this is the next book in the series and follows Tom’s best friend Og.

Here’s the cover:

Girl in Trouble cover (no quote)

Isn’t it fabulous? I think the woman encapsulates Olivia’s attitude perfectly.

Blurb:

What do you do when the things that define you disappear?

Grown up tomboy Olivia doesn’t need a man to complete her. Judging by her absent father, men aren’t that reliable anyway. She’s got a successful career, good friends and can evict spiders from the bath herself, so she doesn’t need to settle down, thanks.

Walter’s ex is moving his daughter to America and Walter feels like he’s losing his family. When his friend-with-benefits, Olivia, discovers she’s pregnant by her douchebag ex, Walter sees the perfect chance to be part of a family with a woman he loves. But how can Walter persuade the most independent woman he’s ever met to accept his help, let alone his heart. 

Girl In Trouble is coming out in all ebook formats on the 9th of October. Stay tuned for more updates (or better still, sign up for my newsletter – you get a free short story to keep you busy while you wait).

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Book review: The Arrangement by Sonya Lalli

The ArrangementThe Arrangement by Sonya Lalli

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I picked this book up because, as you know, stories about modern Asian women/ second generation expats is totally my catnip. Also, I really like the cover.

Raina is nearly 30 and unmarried. Her grandmother (Nani) is trying desperately to find her a husband. But Raina doesn’t want to meet a nice Indian boy because she’s still in love with her ex… who is still stringing her along. There’s a lot going on in Raina’s life – apart from things with her ex, she’s not sure she loves her job anymore, her best friend Shay is having an epic Indian wedding and Raina herself is questioning why she made the choices she made.

Raina makes a seemingly small choice to lie to her Nani about something and this escalates, rippling out and affecting more and more people until she can’t come clean without hurting a lot of them.

There’s a lot of lovely description about the wider ‘family’ created by the other members of the diaspora. Turns out adopted Aunties in Canada feel just as much right to interfere are Aunties anywhere else. The wedding brings out the most extreme opinions in people anyway.

I loved Nani’s character. She is sweet and acerbic and complex (I especially like the flashbacks to Raina’s childhood where you get a glimpse of who Raina’s mother is like she is).

This is an interesting novel about how we live up to the expectations of other people and whether or not that’s a bad thing. It’s warm, funny in places, and entertaining. If you like Ayisha Malik’s Sofia Khan Is Not Obliged, then you’ll like this.

I received a copy of this via Netgalley in return for a fair review. Thank you Orion and Netgalley.

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Romantic Novelists Association Conference 2017 – a talk on writing about disability

Slide from @DisRomProject 'Writing Disability in Romance: Potentials and Pitfalls

A couple of weekends ago, I went to RNAConf17 in Telford. This was my 6th conference and, as always, it was fantastic. I was in a flat with the rest of the Naughty Kitchen and sat up until waaaay past my usual bed time, eating chocolate and drinking (tea in my case, because I’m sad like that) and chatting about all manner of things. My favourite moment was when a first time conference attendee suddenly said “It’s so nice to be in the company of so many women who UNDERSTAND what it’s like to have people living in your head.” Yep. We get that.

Oh, and I had a lovely fan girl moment when I ran into Sarah Morgan. I love her books. I babbled. She was very gracious and let me take a photo with her.

I attended talks on how to manipulate images, how to ‘do’ social media, the future of the industry etc. The most eye opening talk by far was by Dr Ria Cheyne who talked to us about her research project into the representation of disability in romantic fiction. Her talk about about things to be aware of when writing disabled characters in romance. This is something I’m interested in. I’ve written depressed characters before, which I’m comfortable doing because I’ve been there. I have an idea in embryo about a mobility impaired character, and, since I don’t have first hand experience of it, I know I need to do research to make her life realistic.

Anyway, here are my notes from the session. If you have time, please visit the DisRom Project and take their survey. Pass it onto friends who read romance.

Slide from @DisRomProject 'Writing Disability in Romance: Potentials and Pitfalls
Main slide

Dis Rom Project discussion with Dr Ria Cheyne 

They’ve only had 500 or so reponses to their survey so far, so not enough to draw conclusions from. But responses to the question ‘Would a disabled character on the cover or in the blurb make you LESS likely to buy the book’ were 1%! Most people said it made no difference. A few people (around 19% said ‘it depends’).
The advice for writing about disability was:
  • Do your research – look at forums, speak to people with similar conditions. Don’t assume anything. Eg. Wheelchair users aren’t ALWAYS in their wheelchairs. A person using a white cane isn’t necessarily a 100% sightless.
  • Don’t use disabled secondary characters as a way of showing how good a main character is.
  • Don’t make disabled characters mysteriously wise (make them real people).
  • Be wary of recovery narratives where the disability is suddenly cured by a bonk on the head or a new miracle treatment. 
  • Be mindful of language. Eg ‘She was a wheelchair user’ is different to ‘she was confined to a wheelchair’.
  • Remember hidden disability – not all disability is obvious or visible.
The questions at the end were also illuminating.
Covers from Scope's Romance Classics (2016)
Click on the image to go to the page on the Scope blog

We discussed why representation was important (everyone deserves a happy ending!) and talked a little bit about how people reclaim derogatory language and how someone in wheelchair calling themselves a ‘crip’ is potentially realistic and non-offensive, an able-bodied person calling them that would be offensive, just as it would be in real life. 

We also discussed how it was a good idea to have people familiar with the condition beta read the book before it goes out. This is a sort of ‘sensitivity beta read’ to check for mistakes or misconceptions rather than to check if anyone is offended by anything (people are offended by all sorts of things, you’d never write a book that doesn’t offend someone, somewhere).
It was a really interesting talk. It made me think about a lot of things.

Here’s the link to the survey again. Please do fill it in (and share). 

https://disrom.com/take-part/

The Disability and Romance Project

Book Review: Together by Julie Cohen

TogetherTogether by Julie Cohen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Robbie and Emily have been together for a long time. They clearly love each other very much. But what is the secret they are keeping? What was so bad that they’ve lost contact with friends and family over it?

I’m not totally sure how to review this. As a writer, I loved it. The book is written backwards – given the story, it was probably the only way you could tell the story. At a technical level, it’s fascinating. You start with the day Robbie dies and go back in steps, each section revealing a part of the story, but raising more questions than were there before. There is a twist at the end that makes everything fall into place. The writing is beautiful (as always).

As a reader, I found it difficult to engage with the characters. Both Robbie and Emily are nice enough, but it took me a long time to get into it. I found I didn’t care as much about the why of their relationship as I’d expected to. In general, the start of the story (end of the book) was more interesting than the end (start of the book). For me, Julie Cohen’s books tend to be the sort where I burn the supper because I can’t bear to put them down and try to read and cook at the same time, so I’m a bit puzzled by this. Perhaps it’s the fact that you know where they end up.

In general, this book is unusual (both in structure and in subject matter) and a very thought provoking read. I’m still thinking about it.

My thanks to the publishers and Netgalley for sending me a review copy. I know Julie, but I was a fan of her books well before I met her.

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The Truth About The Other Guy – release day!

It’s formal release day for The Truth About the Other Guy – a short story set at a New Year’s Eve Party. ttatog

When I was a kid, we used to go to Christmas parties organised by my Dad’s old college. They were always held in a cricket stadium in the outskirts of Colombo. My memories are rather hazy but I remember the saris and jewellery of the aunties and, as the night wore on, the dancing. There were always fireworks at midnight (sometimes we little ones fell asleep and were woken up to watch). I moved one of those parties to a church hall in the outskirts of London and used it as the setting for this story.

Aasha’s mother is matchmaking, which isn’t going to go well because her mother doesn’t know the real Aasha at all… or does she?

Those who have read Doctor January will recognise the hero in this story – Vik. After spending all that time with Vik while writing about his mates Beth and Hibs (Dr January), it seemed a shame not to give him is own happy ending. So, when I got the chance to contribute to the Truly, Madly, Deeply anthology published by Harlequin and the RNA (back in 2012), I wrote about Vik.

The exclusivity clause on the story ran out over a year ago, so I decided to self publish it and see what happened. So here you are. The Truth About the Other Guy is available now on all ebook retailers. This link should take you to your preferred sitebooks2read.com/u/mqzJGv

Alternatively, if you sign up to my newsletter this week, I will send you a link to a review copy!

If you do read it, please leave a review. We authors need reviews for all sorts of things (like getting Amazon to notice our books… and to stop us nervously eating chocolate in a frenzy of insecurity).

 

Goodreads Book Review: Wedding Bells by the Creek by Janet Gover

Wedding Bells By The Creek: A Coorah Creek NovellaWedding Bells By The Creek: A Coorah Creek Novella by Janet Gover

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love the Coorah Creek series (nearly all of them have made me cry – in a ‘good book cry’ kind of way) so, when I heard there was going to be a new novella – with a wedding in it, no less, I asked the author if I could have a review copy.

In this book we meet up with Ed Collins again (grumpy old bugger from Coorah Creek Christmas) who is a significantly happier man now that he’s reunited with his estranged son. We also meet Helen (mum to Tia from Little Girl Lost) who is searching for reconciliation. If anyone can understand just how hard it is to heal old rifts, it’s Ed.

I liked that Helen and Ed are a little older. I also liked the connections with the town. I feel like it’s a real place.
Oh, and did I mention the puppies? There are puppies.

The ending was lovely, but it was bittersweet because it felt like the end of the series.

Usual disclaimer- Janet and I write for the same publisher. I asked for a free copy so that I could read it early. This is an honest review.

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Bestsellerdom and the power of mailing lists

A couple of my books – Please Release Me and Girl Having A Ball were reduced to 99p over Easter on the UK Kobo site. Amazon was (still is) price matching. And then, earlier this evening, this happened:

Screenshot 2017-04-20 at 20.01.06

Which means I’m a bona fide bestseller (in fantasy, if not romance). The book has a ghost as a main character – hence the fantasy listing.

Girl Having A Ball, on the other hand, is languishing much further down the charts.

What made the difference? Kobo included the cover of Please Release Me in a message to their mailing list.

Um… there isn’t really a point to this post as such. Just a little squee on the ranking and a nod to the power of mailing lists.

Speaking of mailing lists, you can get a free short story (which is not available elsewhere) if you sign up to mine… hint, hint.

Inheritance Books: Lynne Shelby

This week on Inheritance Books, I’ve got fellow romance novelist, Lynne Shelby. Welcome Lynne, why don’t you make yourself comfortable while I get a brew on. Help yourself to Easter eggs. While I’m doing that, why don’t you tell us a bit about yourself.

Lynne Shelby with her debut novel French KissingI’ve always lived in or near North London, apart from three years as a student at Leicester University, studying history. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer, but over the years I’ve done a variety of day jobs, including stable girl, child actors’ chaperone and most recently legal administrator. I now write full-time, and I have to say that being an author is the best job ever. I enjoy travelling, especially exploring a foreign city for the first time. In my teens, I was a keen amateur actress – I met my husband at a drama group – and these days I love visiting the theatre and do so whenever I can. I write contemporary women’s fiction, but I read books in any genre from SF to detective novels. My debut novel, ‘French Kissing,’ won the Accent Press and Woman magazine Writing Competition, and I’m currently working on a series of books set in the world of show business.

Which book have you inherited from a generation above? Why is it special? 

AngeliqueIt was hard to choose just one book that I inherited from the generation above, so I hope I’m allowed a series. Neither of my parents were voracious readers, but my mother did enjoy historical novels, and passed onto me her enthusiasm for the ‘Angelique’ books by Sergeanne Golon. This feisty heroine’s adventures in 17th Century France, were not only a great read, but also gave me a passion for reading historical novels, and for history itself. In my final exams at uni, I answered a question on Louis XIV based on historical facts I learnt from ‘Angelique and the King.’

Which book would you like to leave to future generations? Why?

Great GatsbyThe book I’d like to pass on to future generations is ‘The Great Gatsby.’ The first time I read F Scott Fitzgerald’s exquisitely written novel, I was instantly captivated by the story of the fabulously wealthy yet mysterious Jay Gatsby and his obsessive love for a girl he knew in his youth. Since then, I’ve read the book many times, and on each reading I’ve seen something new in it, a nuance of character, a wonderful sentence that I wish I’d written myself. It’s a short book, but with so much in it for the reader to discover – a classic that is accessible to all. Written in 1926, it still has so much to say to contemporary readers, and I’d like to think that future generations will continue to read it and marvel at the way so many themes – cynicism and romance, illusion and reality – are effortlessly woven into the deceptively simple yet wonderfully crafted and intricate plot.

Thank you for sharing your Inheritance Books with us, Lynne. All the best with French Kissing (the book, I mean).

4Lynne’s book French Kissing is available to buy now. You can find out more about Lynne on her website, on Facebook or by tweeting her @LynneB1

 

 

Goodreads Book Review: The Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman

eThe Summer of Impossible ThingsThe Summer of Impossible Things by Rowan Coleman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I’m a sucker for a time travel novel and this one’s a good ‘un.
While visiting her late mother’s home town, Luna starts experiencing these weird episodes where she’s transported back to the 1970s at a crucial point in her mother’s life. She could save her mother from a terrible event in the past (which in turn could save her mother’s life in the present). However, in doing so, she would erase herself from existence.

The writing is brilliantly evocative of the a hot Brooklyn summer and, in places, incredibly poignant. The story was incredibly compelling. The bits about Saturday Night Fever were really fun.
The only niggle was the ending where all that had changed about the narrator was her eye colour (not terribly likely, but then again, the book is about impossibly things, I guess).

All in all a compelling and immersive read.

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