Canva for authors – graphics for the bewildered

I started a YouTube channel! No, really. At the moment, it focuses mainly on Canva tutorials for writers – these are step by step walk throughs. There are also several quickfire reviews of the creative writing teaching books that I own. I have a whole shelf full of them, so I figured I may as well tell you which ones are useful for what.

The first tutorial is a very basic introduction to Canva for beginners. What is Canva good for? Well, it’s a graphic design package that’s designed specifically to be easy for beginners to use. It’s much more intuitive than things like Photoshop. Some people would argue that Canva is not graphic design (and they’re right). It doesn’t do everything Photoshop or Abode Illustrator does, but it’s close enough for non-graphic designers. I use it to make book covers, social media graphics for my books and all sorts of other useful things.

You know those funky images that people share of their books on interesting backgrounds? Or the book cover next to a lovely quote that a reviewer gave? That’s the sort of thing I’m talking about.

So, here’s episode 1 of my Canva Tutorials for Beginners – A very basic introduction to Canva. If you find it useful, please subscribe to my channel (I’m trying to get to 1000 subscribers so that I can do more fun things).

A Season For Love by Ally Sinclair

I enjoyed this book a lot.
Emma Love is trying to revitalise her mother’s dating agency by adding an old fashioned twist – A season, where people meet potential partners face to face, eschewing the digital dating app and going to actual conversations and fun instead. Will it work? Will everyone get paired off?
There are four couples in this story – Annie, Lydia and Jane – all of whom are Emma’s clients and Emma herself. They all get their own stories, complete with happy endings.
There’s a definite Bridgerton vibe to the Season – even before the Regency ball at the finale. There’s even a gossip mag about the people involved in the Season. So if you wanted Bridgerton vibes with Gossip Girl scenarios, this is the perfect book for you.
I look forward to the next Season!

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Exciting News

I have signed a new contract with HQ Stories to write two more book for them. These will both be romcoms (written as Jeevani Charika), set in the same ‘world’ as Playing For Love and Picture Perfect. If you’ve read those two books, you’ll recognise some of the background characters.

Here’s a link to the tweet announcing the deal (with apologies for my giant face).

I guess I should get back to writing now!

Book review: The Library at Wagtail Ridge by Janet Gover

Lou was happy living in Sydney with the adopted parents. She rarely gave a thought to the birth mother who gave her up. Until her mother, Luca, dies and leaves Lou an unusual inheritance. A small cottage in the rural village of Wagtail Ridge and a mobile library.
Luca also left her friends, particularly handsome and kind Jake, instructions. A set of letters which force Lou to take the library out to the rural towns and villages. As Lou learns more about the library and the people it serves, she also learns about who she is.
Jake is lovely. Kind to a fault and torn between keeping his promise to his dying friend and doing the right thing by Lou, who is his new friend.
There’s also a dog in it and no one dies. Both of which are Good Things as far as I’m concerned.
As always, the background characters are tremendous fun. Because the story centres around a library there’s a lot of discussion about books – most of which are Australian classics, so were unfamiliar to me, but I don’t mind that. Discovering new books is always good.
I might have cried a little at the end.
I hope there are more Wagtail Ridge books.

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Would you like your name to be in a book?

Rather short notice, but if you hurry, you can bid in a book auction that I’m helping to run. We’re raising money for the East Yorkshire Food Bank. There are a whole bunch of things you can bid on to win – signed books (lots of different genres – romance, crime, fantasy, saga, women’s fiction, even colouring books), feedback on your writing from published authors, even … the chance to have your name given to a character in a romcom. Whoever bids the highest, gets the item. The books are mostly open to UK bidders only, but the manuscript critiques, the Zoom chat with a bestselling author and the character name are open to anyone.

Go check it out here:

Book review: Hex Appeal by Kate Johnson

I absolutely loved this book! I raced through it in a day (which isn’t something that happens often). It’s the sort of book where I read it while I was cooking, read it while I was waiting in line, just to keep reading.

Essie is a witch and lives in Beldam house with a coven of other witches – There’s Blessing who is a fertility witch and qualified midwife, Avery who helps manifest people’s desires (and makes medicines), Prudence who is a ghost and Maude who knits the future (maybe affects it, or maybe just predicts it) and Lilith who … well, they don’t talk about her.
Josh inherits a decaying farm house and finds he owns some Beldam house and they owe him rent. Except he can’t find the house. If he finds it, he promptly forgets it. He meets Essie outside of the house and he’s not about to forget her. Except of course, that she wants him to forget about the back rent…
And then to make matters worse, there’s a evil stirring.

This is a romcom with witches. These are very practical witches – like Terry Pratchett’s ones (more Tiffancy Aching and Granny than Nanny). Some of the things about the house are completely bananapants, but it totally works and it’s very funny in places.

I enjoyed this book a LOT.

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Book review: The Breakup Agency by Sheila McClure

This book was so adorable! I LOVE Gus! American Dan is an absolute gem, too, but Gus the dog really stole the show for me. In my head, American Dan looked like Chris Evans, so that’s saying something.

Ellie runs Softer Landings – a service for gently breaking up relationships so that the dumpee is not destroyed. This all started when she had to let down lovely American Dan, who was dating her friend Thea. Then Dan left, leaving Gus the dog with Ellie. And now he’s back … which means Ellie could lost both her dog and her heart…

I liked how Ellie was kind and capable, but vulnerable as well. come to think of it, I would say the same about American Dan. What a ray of sunshine he is!

I really loved this book. It was such a feel-good read, it left me with a big smile on my face.

I received an ARC from Netgalley. This is my honest review.

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Book review: Killers of a certain Age by Deanna Raybourn

This book was a hoot! I kept reading well past my bedtime to find out what happened.

Four elite assassins – all part of the all-female team Project Sphinx – are on a cruise to celebrate their retirement, when they realise they are now the target of the same company they used to work for. They can run and hide, for a while, but there’s only one way to really get the target off their backs. Kill or be killed.

I love how the four women are so different to each other. They are all super competent at what they do, despite their bodies being slower than they were when they were young. The men consistently underestimate them – which they often use to their advantage.

I really enjoyed this book. I got a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley (thank you!)

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Book review: Marple (collection of short stories)

I used to really enjoy Miss Marple stories, so when I saw this on Netgalley, I snapped it up. This book does exactly what it says on the cover – twelve new Miss Marple mysteries, written by established crime writers. They were all different, but captured the essential spirit of Miss Marple, whilst providing a short mystery, neatly wrapped up by the end of the story. Since the stories were short, you could read them one a day (which is what I did – it was a lovely way to wind down at the end of the day).
One of the things that intrigued me was that all the writers have widely differing voices when they write their own books, but when it comes to writing Marple, the differences even out a bit, probably because Agatha Christie’s voice is so very well known. (You can tell that each story is by a different person, but the style is in keeping with the originals, so you soon forget). While Miss Marple was largely the same in all the stories, Raymond West and his wife Joan were slightly different in each one. It’s like seeing the same characters played by different actors.

If you’re a fan of Agatha Christie’s books, you’ll enjoy this new update.
I got a free ARC from the publisher (thank you!) via Netgalley.

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