#GuestPost IF I EVER DOUBT YOU by JAN BRIGDEN #PublicationDay @ChocLituk @JanBrigden

Happy Tuesday to you all! And Happy Publication Day to Jan Brigden for the release of IF I EVER DOUBT YOU!!  Hopefully you’ll all be downloading this later to enjoy!

Jan has been kind enough to write a guest post for me to share with you all today  to give you a bit more of an insight into the book and the characters within the story!! Over to you Jan….

Challenging the celebrity footballer stereotype: If I Ever Doubt You by Jan Brigden

My main characters Rebecca and Alex first encountered one another in my debut As Weekends Go. Family-oriented small-town woman meets big league professional footballer. We saw the huge impact on their lives during and after that eventful summer weekend.

If I Ever Doubt You continues their story, charting each cheer, dip, drama and dilemma their relationship throws up: how Rebecca adapts to and copes with the reality of living with a high-profile footballer, the pressures of online gossip and outside influences, unexpected reactions from nearest and dearest, plus an unpredictable ex-husband.

Alex, well he’s used to the football bubble, the scandals and scrapes, the scrutiny, and is fully aware of how it could affect Rebecca, turn her away from him, especially given the image his profession often conjures up.

I knew it was risky making a footballer my leading man, but being a person who tries not to judge people until I’ve met them, I wanted to challenge the stereotype and hopefully endear Alex to the reader. I’ve met one or two footballers over the years, at both ends of the personality spectrum, and it intrigued me how the man who loved his family, trained hard and simply wanted to play football without all the razzmatazz attached to it, felt about being lumped into the same bracket as the other man, the flash, champagne-swilling womaniser we sometimes hear about in the media.

Portraying the flip side of the stereotype made me look at things from a different perspective. As writers that’s what we try to achieve – multi-dimensional characters; in Alex’s case, his private versus public persona, the pitfalls and pressures versus the benefits and perks of his job. How he views his fellow professionals, the grafters versus the bad boys. How being in the spotlight affects him, his relationships, his lifestyle.

Nobody would expect the stereotype to be entirely banished as myth, but there will always be exceptions to the rule.

I hope readers enjoy Alex and Rebecca’s story as much as I enjoyed creating their characters.

About the Author

Jan lives in South East London with her husband and motley crew of cuddly toys. Jan’s written for pleasure from a young age; short stories for classmates, odes for workmates, fun quizzes for family and friends, progressing to the contemporary uplifting dramas she writes today.

The idea for her debut novel, As Weekends Go, sprang from a script she composed as part of a creative writing course assignment via The Writers Bureau. The novel went on to be published by award-winning UK independent publishers Choc Lit after winning their Search for a Star competition.

Jan’s latest novel, If I Ever Doubt You is the sequel to her debut.

An avid reader, reviewer and all-round book devotee, Jan is also one eighth of online writing blog The Romaniacs.

Jan can be contacted via Twitter: https://twitter.com/JanBrigden

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Jan.Brigden.44

Jan blogs at https://janbrigden.wordpress.com/

About the Book

She might have scored a celebrity footballer, but the game isn’t over yet …

Rebecca Dunning should be blissfully happy – after a whirlwind weekend, she and top footballer Alex Heath are still going strong. But as the murkier side of the celebrity lifestyle reveals itself, so does the creeping doubt.

Rebecca finds herself isolated in the fake, flashy world of toxic WAG cliques and ruthless reporters, and when a mysterious online admirer follows Alex’s every move, she struggles to cope. Can she keep playing the media game for the man she loves, or will she have to admit defeat?

Sequel to As Weekends Go.

Buying Links

 Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2ScspEU

 Kobo: https://bit.ly/3574coU 

Apple Books: https://apple.co/2SdN7US

#GuestPost HER MOTHER’S SECRET by JAN BAYNHAM @RubyFiction @JanBaynham #PublicationDay

Delighted to be sharing this guest post written by JAN BAYNHAM today to celebrate publication day for HER MOTHER’S SECRET!! She has written background to the setting and the novel itself, and how it feels having your debut novel published!!  Happy Publication Day Jan!

A sixties’ saga set on a Greek island: Her Mother’s Secret by Jan Baynham

Her Mother’s Secret with its sub-heading of ‘the Summer of ‘69’ is my debut novel. It mainly takes place on a fictional island in southern Greece. In 1969, Elin Morgan leaves Wales after finishing art college to spend the summer months studying at a painting school in Greece. She records everything in her diary but, while there, something happens that causes her to never paint again. The secrets of that summer remain with her until her untimely death twenty-two years later. Always fascinated by family secrets, I wanted to explore the reasons why someone would keep a part of her life so deeply hidden from those closest to her. But maybe Elin had a conscience after all when she bequeaths her diary to her daughter, Alexandra. Through reading the diary, Alexandra discovers she didn’t fully know her mother as she thought and is shocked as the secrets from her past are revealed. I tried to put myself in Alexandra’s shoes. Having had a very close relationship with her mother, how must she have felt finding out that her mother had kept such secrets from her? Alexandra travels to Greece to find out the truth and what really happened in that summer of 1969. Will she understand why her mother closed down that part of her life?

Why did I set the story in Greece? Having had several holidays there now, I first visited the country in the seventies when we stayed with my aunt and Greek uncle. I fell in love with the climate, the vibrancy of the colours of the sea and flowers and the warmth of its people. It seemed to be an ideal place for a young artist to spend her summer. In 1991, Alexandra thought so, too, when she first arrived in the picturesque harbour of Péfka: ‘No wonder you loved it here, Mam. The colours alone make it an artist’s heaven.’

I enjoyed getting to know my Greek characters, some named after or based on people I’ve met and observed on visits over the years. Dimitra, the host at the taverna where Elin stays, is named after a lovely waitress from the hotel we go to in Crete. On a trip to a Cretan village, I watched a woodturner working at his lathe on pieces of olive wood and he became the inspiration for Yiannis who figures largely in Alexandra’s story. Vassilis is named after an elderly Greek man who led me onto a taverna dance floor and tried to teach me traditional dancing with little success! He appears in both Elin’s and Alexandra’s story. I hope I’ve done justice to the country and its people by giving the reader a glimpse of life on the island.

Having my first novel published is both exciting and slightly nerve wracking. I’ve loved writing Elin’s and Alexandra’s stories and hope that readers will enjoy them too.

About the Author

After retiring from a career in teaching and advisory education, Jan joined a small writing group in a local library where she wrote her first piece of fiction. From then on, she was hooked! She soon went on to take a writing class at the local university and began to submit short stories for publication to a wider audience. Her stories and flash fiction pieces have been longlisted and shortlisted in competitions and several appear in anthologies both online and in print. In October 2019, her first collection of stories was published. Her stories started getting longer and longer so that, following a novel writing course, she began to write her first full-length novel. She loves being able to explore her characters in further depth and delve into their stories.

Originally from mid-Wales, Jan lives in Cardiff with her husband. Having joined the Romantic Novelists Association in 2016, she values the friendship and support from other members and

regularly attends conferences, workshops, talks and get togethers. She is co-organiser of her local RNA Chapter.

You may find out more about Jan here:

Twitter: @JanBaynham (https://twitter.com/JanBaynham)

Facebook: Jan Baynham Writer(https://www.facebook.com/JanBayLit/)

Blog: http://www.janbaynham.blogspot.co.uk

About the Book

It’s 1969 and free-spirited artist Elin Morgan has left Wales for a sun-drenched Greek island. As she makes new friends and enjoys the laidback lifestyle, she writes all about it in her diary. But Elin’s carefree summer of love doesn’t last long, and her island experience ultimately leaves her with a shocking secret …

Twenty-two years later, Elin’s daughter Alexandra has inherited the diary and is reeling from its revelations. The discovery compels Alexandra to make her own journey to the same island, following in her mother’s footsteps. Once there, she sets about uncovering what really happened to Elin in that summer of ’69.

Buying Links 

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2XUmdVN

 Kobo: https://bit.ly/34PhfLu 

Apple Books: https://apple.co/3eBH7it

#PublicationDayPost NEW YEAR NEW GUY by ANGELA BRITNELL #guestpost @ChocLituk @AngelaBritnell

An absolute delight for me today to be able to post this Blog Post on behalf of the lovely Angela Britnell and Choc Lit on PUBLICATION DAY!!   So sit back and enjoy a few words from Angela, a little bit more about the book and, most importantly!, links to be able to get your mitts on a copy of the wonderful NEW YEAR, NEW GUY!

New Year New Guy: A Brief Break from Cornwall!

This story is a break from my usual Cornwall/Nashville romances because the setting ventures over the border into Devon and the city of Plymouth, with a few side trips I don’t want to give away here! It was interesting to change things up and I hope my readers will forgive me and hopefully enjoy visiting some different places along the way. To those who don’t know there has always been a touch of rivalry between Cornwall and Devon, in fact older Cornish people will talk about crossing the Tamar River border as though they are travelling to another country. And don’t even get them all started on the proper way to eat a cream tea. Whether to put jam or cream on the scones first is the source of endless debates. I purposely avoided going anywhere near that particular minefield in the book but anyone who knows that I’m Cornish born and bred will guess where I fall on that particular question…

‘Out with the old life, in with the new,’ sums the book up perfectly. When we first meet Laura she’s standing in the rain at the Plymouth bus station waiting to collect Hunter who her sister Polly has invited as a surprise for her fiancé Johnny at their pre-wedding party. Although Laura is cynical about the idea of lifelong love after escaping from her own brief, bad marriage to an arrogant surgeon she agreed to take care of this unknown American for a few days to please her sister. The minute Hunter sets foot on English soil again for the first time in twenty years he knows he’s made a mistake and would bet his last dollar that his old friend won’t be pleased to have the past dragged up. For a multitude of reasons, many of them tied to the time he and Johnny spent at school together, he’s also determined to stay single and no prickly English nurse will change his mind. Or will she? Could Laura come around to the idea that love doesn’t have to mean losing her sense of self?

It was a challenge to touch on a few darker themes in this story without losing the sense of fun and romance I always strive to bring to my books but I hope I’ve managed it, only reviews and sales will confirm that. Sending Laura and Hunter’s story out into the world today means that it’s time to get busy on my summer release!

About the book:

Out with the old life, in with the new …

When Laura’s bride-to-be sister, Polly, organises a surprise reunion for her fiancé and his long lost American friend, Laura grudgingly agrees to help keep the secret. And when the plain-spoken, larger-than-life Hunter McQueen steps off the bus in her rainy Devon town and only just squeezes into her tiny car, it confirms that Laura has made a big mistake in going along with her sister’s crazy plan.

But could the tall, handsome man with the Nashville drawl be just what reserved Laura Williams needs to shake up her life and start something new?

PUBLISHED BY CHOC LIT

About the Author:

Angela grew up in Cornwall and returns frequently from her new home in Nashville, Tennessee to visit family and friends, drink tea and eat far too many Cornish pasties!

A lifelong love of reading turned into a passion for writing contemporary romance and her novels are usually set in the many places she’s visited or lived on her extensive travels. Thanks to over three decades of marriage to her wonderful American husband she’s a huge fan of transatlantic romance and always makes sure her characters get their own happy-ever-after.

She is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, the Romance Writers of America and the Music City Romance Writers.

If you’d like to find out more of what Angela gets up to (warning this may include references to wine, chocolate and the hunky Aidan Turner) check out www.angelabritnellromance.com or follow her on www.facebook.com/angelabritnell and www.twitter.com/angelabritnell

Buying Links: 

Kindle UK: https://amzn.to/38N23zv 

Kindle US: https://amzn.to/38MJsUz 

Kobo: https://apple.co/2wCu7aT 

Apple Books: https://apple.co/2wCu7aT

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#BlogTour #GuestPost #BookReview In Two Minds by Alis Hawkins @DomePress @Alis_Hawkins

Excited to be here today to share with you my thoughts on this wonderful series, along with a guest post from Alis herself all about Victorian Crime Fiction! My thanks to the Author and Publisher for letting me be part of this tour!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Harry Probert-Lloyd, a young barrister forced home from London by encroaching blindness, has begun work as the acting coroner of Teifi Valley with solicitor’s clerk John Davies as his assistant. When a faceless body is found on an isolated beach, Harry must lead the inquest. But his dogged pursuit of the truth begins to ruffle feathers. Especially when he decides to work alongside a local doctor with a dubious reputation and experimental theories considered radical and dangerous. Refusing to accept easy answers might not only jeopardise Harry’s chance to be elected coroner permanently but could, it seems, implicate his own family in a crime. 

Published by The Dome Press

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Alis Hawkins grew up on a dairy farm in Cardiganshire. After attending the local village primary school and Cardigan County Secondary school, she left West Wales to read English at Oxford. Subsequently, she has has done various things with her life, including becoming a speech and language therapist, bringing up two sons, selling burgers, working with homeless people, and helping families to understand their autistic children. And writing. Always. Nonfiction (autism related), plays (commissioned by heritage projects) and, of course, novels. Alis’s first novel, Testament, was published in 2008 by Macmillan and was translated into several languages. (It has recently been acquired for reissue, along with her medieval trilogy of psychological thrillers by Sapere Books). Her current historical crime series featuring blind investigator Harry Probert-Lloyd and his chippy assistant, John Davies, is set in Cardiganshire in the period immediately after the Rebecca Riots. As a sideeffect of setting her series there, instead of making research trips to sunny climes like more foresighted writers, she just drives up the M4 to see her family. Now living with her partner on the wrong side of the Welsh/English border (though she sneaks back over to work for the National Autistic Society in Monmouthshire) Alis speaks Welsh, collects rucksacks and can’t resist an interesting fact.

Website

Twitter

GUEST POST – VICTORIAN CRIME FICTION

When people hear the phrase ‘Victorian crime fiction’, their minds immediately go to 1890s London. I know this. I’ve seen it. Because Victorian crime fiction has always had one huge, overshadowing presence, hasn’t it? Holmes.

But the Victorian era isn’t limited to the last decade or so of the nineteenth century when Watson and Holmes were doing their thing. Victoria was on the throne for 63 years and the world changed almost as much between the start of her reign in 1837 and the end of it in 1901 as it did between 1937 and 2001. In other words, a lot.

Nor, obviously, is the Victorian era geographically limited to London.

So, the Victorian crime fiction you’ll find between the covers of In Two Minds (and the first in the series, None So Blind) differs substantially from the goings-on inside 221B Baker Street and the gaslit streets of the capital.

For a start, the books are set at the beginning of the 1850s. Victoria is neither old nor fat. Nor is she yet dressed in black or unamused. She’s barely into her thirties and Prince Albert still has a decade to live. Isambard Kingdom Brunel is doing extraordinary things with the new railways, to say nothing of iron ships, and the Great Exhibition has just taken place in the Crystal Palace – a feat of engineering that astonished the world. The world and the empire is young and vigorous and full of promise.

And, instead of the grubby, corrupt, crime-ridden streets and hellish rookeries of London, we’re in the clean air of south west Wales, amongst the wooded tributary valleys of the river Teifi and on the busy Cardiganshire coastline where merchant ships plied up and down the coast from Liverpool to Bristol and London and across the Atlantic to America.

It’s a very different time and a very different place. Sherlock Holmes wouldn’t’ve known what to do there or how to go about understanding what was going on. But Harry Probert-Lloyd does, because it’s his time and his place and he may be blind, but that doesn’t mean he’s ignorant about how things work here.

So, what were things like in the Teifi Valley in the mid-nineteenth century? How did society work?  

What were the people like?

Quite lot like us, is the answer.

Of course, they lived with different expectations, different fears – fears that were a lot more immediate, in many ways, than our own. Without antibiotics or the welfare state or health and safety, life was a lot more precarious – which is always good for a crime writer, especially if her sleuth is a coroner. But people were still people and the past is only the present which happens to have taken place a while ago. It was still now when it happened and we should never forget that.

It’s with that attitude in mind that I write my books. I don’t think of Harry and John as historical figures, living in a quaint, sepia-tinted version of the world. In my mind, they’re living, breathing, vital, hot-blooded, sometimes violent young men, living in a full-colour world which is every bit was real to them as mine is to me. Which, when it was now, was every bit as modern and cutting edge as 2019 is today.

In the last two decades, the internet has changed our world out of all recognition. The railways are doing the same to theirs. Harry and John live in a time of political turmoil when many ordinary folk don’t feel that the toffs in government represent them. We live in a time of political turmoil when many ordinary folk don’t feel that the toffs in government—’ Well, you get my drift.

One of the most pleasing things anybody said about None So Blind, when it came out, appeared in an Amazon review:

Although the setting was historical I didn’t feel that I was being told what that time was like, rather I felt like I was a contemporary of the characters able to visualise the people and places. I learnt about the time almost by experiencing it.

The reviewer couldn’t have pleased me more, because that’s what I’m aiming for. That the reader is there, walking alongside Harry and John seeing what they see, hearing the truths and half-truths and lies they hear, feeling the things they feel. Just like you would if you were reading contemporary fiction.

MY REVIEW

In the second of the Teifi Valley Coroner series – but can easily be read as a standalone so worry not if you haven’t read None So Blind yet! – we are reunited with John and Harry as they combine their crime solving skills to get to the bottom of yet more intriguing deaths, and these deaths are a little more gruesome this time round so pose quite a challenge for them to get to the bottom of.

Harry is going blind, so relies on John to be his eyes and they work so well as a team that Harry wonders how he’d cope without his trusty sidekick!  His father would much prefer he lived a quieter life, but Harry is driven by the need to carry on with his work so does all he can to prove how valuable he is especially when faced with such intriguing cases – no ID on the first victim, and no skin on his face either – doesn’t make it easy to identify him.

What I love about Harry and John is although they work so well together, they are also fascinating characters when working under their own steam.  Their stories are told in alternating points of view and allows them to spread their wings a little and cover more ground in getting to the bottom of various threads.  They aren’t afraid of using unconventional methods in their thorough investigations and I just loved how dogged and persistent they both are in their quest to uncover the truth – despite the interference of others!

As with the first in this series, this book really transports you back to a dark and gritty Wales in the 19th Century and deals with the darker sides of life, especially when they start to uncover the truth behind the victim and how his story goes a lot deeper than any of them could have imagined.

A gritty and stylish piece of historical crime fiction – more please!!!

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#BookReview #GuestPost The Truth about Love and Dogs by Lilly Bartlett @MicheleGormanUK

A huge delight for me to today to share my review for THE TRUTH ABOUT  LOVE AND DOGS by LILLY BARTLETT, and also share a guest post by the lovely Michele about something we all love and that’s book covers!  Which cover do you prefer?! Never an easy decision to make, especially when you’re an Author and wanting people to pick your book up!  

Here’s a little more about the book!

Four little words, uttered by her husband…‘Oh my god,’ he gasped into her shoulder. ‘Shannon!’There’s just one problem: her name isn’t Shannon.
Rewind six months and Scarlett and Rufus aren’t in the honeymoon stage anymore so much as the honey-should-we-bother phase. Desperate to get their sparkle back, Scarlett has plotted, planned and waxed more than any woman should have to, but none of it is working. Which makes it very hard to start the family they want. 
At least her business is going strong, even if her marriage isn’t. She and her best friend spend their days tangled up in dog leads and covered in fur. Scarlett/ is the fairy dogmother, training hopeless pets like compulsive eater Barkley, impulsive Romeo Murphy and bossy Biscuit. Meanwhile, her best friend walks the dogs and pines for the man who doesn’t know she exists. Thank goodness the women have each other. 
If only Scarlett could work out how to get her marriage back on track. But Rufus isn’t sharing his feelings with her. He is, though, sharing with her best friend. Her best friend, Shannon.

Amazon US link: https://www.amazon.com/Love-Four-Legged-Word-Michele-Gorman-ebook/dp/B01LW80PF7

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Love-Four-Legged-Word-Michele-Gorman-ebook/dp/B01LW7UMO9

GUEST POST – all about covers!

How often do you pick up a book because of the cover? I do it all the time. It’s what makes me take the time to look at the description, read the first few paragraphs, and, if I like all that I see, decide to buy it.

So, is it any wonder that covers cause us authors so much angst? They might even make us more nervous than writing the book itself. That’s because writing is an evolutionary process. It takes months to do, plus there are many rounds of editing. But the cover is the instant, one-and-only first impression your book will make. It’s like getting ready for a first date with someone that you really really want to impress! You’ve only got one chance.

Every single author I know holds her breath when that email comes through from the publisher saying “Here’s the cover art and we hope you’ll love it as much as we do.”

So here it is: my one chance. These are the two covers we’ve chosen to make a first impression for The Truth About Love and Dogs. What do you think? They’re very different from one another, aren’t they? That’s because tastes in romcom covers in the UK are so different from preferences in the US.

I always ask my Facebook friends and newsletter followers for their feedback about my proposed covers, and the US readers mostly go for a photographic cover while UK readers love the illustrated ones. Does that hold true for you? Which do you like better?

Whichever cover grabs you most, I hope you’ll love the story inside!

Happy reading!

Lilly xo

https://www.facebook.com/michele.gorman3

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/dr5RGX

http://www.michelegorman.co.uk/

About the Author

Michele writes books packed with heart and humour, best friends and girl power. Call them beach books, summer reads, romantic comedy or chick lit… readers and reviewers call them “feel good”, “thought-provoking” and “laugh out loud”. She is both a Sunday Times and a USA Today bestselling author, raised in the US and living in London with her husband. She is very fond of naps, ice cream and Richard Curtis films. Michele also writes cosy chick lit under the pen-name Lilly Bartlett. Lilly’s books are full of warmth, romance, quirky characters and guaranteed happily-ever-afters.

MY REVIEW

What an absolute joy this was to read!! It mixed the fun of dealing with crazy dogs – and their even crazier owners! – with the more serious topics of a married couple drifting apart and how fertility issues played their part in putting a wedge between a husband and wife and how that put so much pressure on their relationship and friendships!

Scarlett is a dog behaviourist – she is the doggy whisperer!  Although most of her work centres around re-training the owners more than the dogs! The exploits of both had me laughing out loud! And along with her best friend, Shannon, who is a dog walker,  their business is growing nicely and all seems well!

But tougher times are just around the corner and when her husband, Rufus seems to find it easier to talk to Shannon about delicate issues rather than to his wife and it puts them all, especially Shannon, in a very awkward position. And when Gemma, Scarlett’s sister, falls pregnant it really devastates Scarlett and she struggles to cope with her feelings of jealousy which was totally understandable.

I raced through this book as it was just so easy to care about these characters and hoping that their lives could be put back on track and loved how sensitively more serious subjects were dealt with alongside the humour of dealing with problem dogs!.  

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#BlogTour #GuestPost #BookReview Puzzle Girl by Rachael Featherstone @DomePress @WRITERachael

Delighted to be the latest stop on the Blog Tour for PUZZLE GIRL by RACHAEL FEATHERSTONE.  My thanks to the author and publisher for letting me be part of the fun and to share my review, alongside a GUEST POST by the author herself on my Blog today!

ABOUT THE BOOK

Love is a riddle waiting to be solved… Clued-up career girl Cassy Brookes has life under control until one disastrous morning changes everything. When she finds herself stuck in a doctor s surgery, a cryptic message left in a crossword magazine sends her on a search to find the mysterious puzzle-man behind it. Cassy is soon torn between tracking down her elusive dream guy, and outwitting her nightmare workmate, the devious Martin. Facing a puzzling love-life, will she ever be able to fit the pieces together and discover the truth behind this enigmatic man?

Published by The Dome Press

Purchase Links

Publisher Website  £6.29

hive.co.uk  £7.75

Foyles  £8.99

About the Author

Rachael Featherstone was born and raised in Woodford. Her path to writing was a little unorthodox. After reading Mathematics at Oxford University, New College, Rachael went to work in research.

When Rachael’s mother was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2012, Rachael decided to take a chance, quit her job, and fulfill a lifetime ambition to write a novel. She went back to university and completed a Masters in English Literature and had several short stories published.

Rachael now lives in Hampshire with her husband and daughter.

Puzzle Girl was published by the Dome Press in ebook in August 2018 and in paperback in January 2019.

Social Media & Links

Twitter: @WRITERachael

Instagram: @rachael_featherstone

Facebook: @RachaelFeatherstoneAuthor

Website: http://www.writerachael.com

GUEST POST

Writers are often split into two buckets: “plotters” and “pantsers”. I am definitely, undeniably, irrevocably in Camp Plotter. I am a plotter-nutter. Even before writing novels you could find post-it notes and stationary in every room of my home; at school my favourite place to hang out was the photocopying room helping to stack and staple the school letters (*yeah, I was that kid). My plotting doesn’t just come in the form of post-its, paper plans, character profiles and notebooks. It spreads to the computer: I am a HUGE Excel fan.

Puzzle Girl was the first novel I’d ever attempted and I spent a lot of time reading books about how to structure and pace a story. I loosely used the three-act structure and I spent many blissful hours creating an interactive version of the “tension chart” in Excel that had little tags for scenes so that I could check the drama and tension had the right rise and fall.

This set up was incredibly helpful when writing Puzzle Girl because I had so many story lines to weave together. On the one hand Cassy is doing her utmost to get a promotion, while on the other she is obsessed with discovering who Puzzle-man is. Of course, no real writing was getting done… so you could say this was procrastination… but I don’t look at it like that *cough*.

Anyway, once I had nailed down the chapter-by-chapter outline, I got on to the really fun part of writing. I’d done so much planning that I just wrote the first draft of each chapter in which ever order I felt like, enjoying the freedom of letting the characters tell me what to write in contrast to my strict plotting guidelines.

Now I had a first draft but that was just the start. During the rewriting process Puzzle Girl went through many structural changes. Characters changed, some deleted, others created. Entire plot lines were added and killed, some shrunk while others where expanded. But interestingly, I didn’t find this process – which saw over half the word count be cut and replaced – daunting, because my spreadsheet allowed me to make sure all the different threads still worked in harmony and there were no inconsistencies. I was able to experiment with changes without spending endless months rewriting and then reaching a dead-end.

When I got my agent and the book went out to publishers, we did further edits and restructuring and it was such a joyful experience to see Puzzle Girl turning into a publishable book. And of course, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a spreadsheet where all the loose ends have been nicely tied up!

I hope you enjoy Puzzle Girl and all those endless hours in Excel, adding twist after twist, give you hours of page turning laughs and gasps!

MY REVIEW

If you are  a ‘list’ girl like I am, then you are going to love Cassy! Shes’s a girl after my own heart  too as she loves losing herself in crossword puzzles and when she is passing time in a waiting room and fills in a puzzle, I am sure she never saw it leading to her trying to solve her own puzzle when a mysterious person fills in the crossword puzzle and adds their own messages!

Cassy is on her own after her boyfriend of 7 years walks out on her, and she’s left struggling. She’s got problems at work as well so it’s fair to say life is not going her way! When she is hit by a cyclist on her way to work one day and ends up at the walk in clinic she is probably wondering what is going to go wrong for her  next!  You do get a little bit of the Bridget Jones vibe about Cassy!

But with the support of her best friend Dan – who has his own complicated life issues to deal with! – she begins to turn things round and slowly takes back control of her own life and that is what connected with me as a reader.  You really feel for Cassy and  every problem she faces you are just cheering her on to end up with some happy news and a positive outcome!  And the mystery of finding out who her fellow crossworld puzzle fan is, was just the thing to keep her fighting -and leads her to going to extreme measures to keep visiting the walk in clinic!

I thought this book was so much fun, really easy to read and so engaging! Highly recommended!!

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#BlogTour The Thought Book 2 by Jay Mullings #GuestPost #Extract

Delighted to have been asked to share this Guest Post today by Jay Mullings to help spread the word about this new motivating and inspirational book – The Thought Book Vol 2.  Jay will be sharing his thoughts on how his writing helps him to combat depression.

Jay Mullings is a multiple award-winning screenwriter, author and commended blogger, on a mission. Motivating through personal experiences on how to achieve extraordinary goals whilst overcoming difficulties.

His books The Thought Book vol. 1 & newly released vol. 2, aim to encourage others to develop their self-belief, and pursue their own dreams. The books feature thought-provoking content, which combats the negative self-defeating dialogue we sometimes practice.

Despite being packed with Jay’s own original mantras, advice and guidance; these motivating books allow inference that applies to all walks of life. It covers important topics such as:

  • How to identify real friends and genuine people – “Being a true friend to someone usually attracts the same in return.”
  • How to boost your confidence every day – “Take the necessary steps towards your goals with confidence.”
  • Why being original is harder than you think – how to resist the urge to assimilate – “time to emerge from the shadows.”

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

waterstones

BUILT TO LAST

Jay has had his share of challenges in his life. Between the ages of 7 and 16, he lived in Jamaica, where his English accent at first made him an outsider. However, he quickly embraced his differences, taking in everything Jamaica had to offer, while learning important life lessons about friendship, fitting in, and staying true to yourself. He is the grandson of Windrush immigrants, and their guidance has been priceless in giving Jay the foundation to stay resilient through change and hardship. As a Black British writer in the creative industry, he has found it an often-unwelcome environment for his voice to be heard. Too many times being the recipient of coded language dressed as professional feedback at best and outrageous declarations that Jay will never be successful on account of his background at worst. Despite this Jay has gone on to win an astonishing 25+ international awards for his unique and authoritative voice..

He set up his website Written Mirror in 2012 as a place to express his creativity without limits. This has developed into a brave new start-up creative content business i.e. Written Mirror Ltd.

Jay is part of the ‘sleepless elite’, thriving on just three hours (or less) sleep per night. For the past six years, he has been using the extra time, to grow his creative media company, and pursue his passion for writing award winning original and truthful content fearlessly.

The Thought Book Vol. 1 & 2 aims to help others make the most of life’s challenges.

How Writing Helps Me Combat My Depression…

Here I am and here it is… I had to see my GP earlier this year (January). I tell him my appetite has been a myth (which is strange for me as I eat like a true Saiyan), my sleep is worse than ever, my back and shoulders are tighter than Wenger in the transfer window (Just saying! Merci Arsene!) and I am having trouble concentrating like Jean Grey before she mastered her use of cerebro. He asks some questions surrounding my mood and I am both baffled and feeling slightly annoyed at this point as I have just told him the 4-1-1…

He asks to check my blood pressure and I tell him what I always tell Doctors, “Stress doesn’t affect my blood pressure, the worse I feel the better it reads!” Low and behold it registers as normal. I side eye him; as far as I am concerned at this point we need to page House MD to solve this mystery…

He is talking again, without realising it I am now thinking about how long is left on the pay and display parking ticket I purchased? How much writing can I get done today? When was the last time I ate a proper meal? Is it healthy for me to have been up 23 hours straight by this point?

I catch myself with my nose pointed in the air like The Rock smelling what he has cooking. Chest all proud like Usain Bolt when he smashed the 100M records to smithereens. Then, I start hearing the Doc’s words again, “Your symptoms and even your demeanour tell me you’re depressed!” Wait…

I looked behind me so quickly it hurt a little bit! Who?!?! Someone else must be in this room.

He repeats half of his words, “Mr Mullings I think you’re depressed!” I retort, “Doc please you’re embarrassing me; call me Star Lord” He doesn’t laugh; personally I thought my timing and tone were both impeccable.

I shake off the lack of taste in comedy. Let us address his particular joke. Doc, run through my notes, I’ve gone through far worse, your diagnosis is only a few years late. Also, I’m an undiscovered Writer, my entire life is depressing. It doesn’t mean I’m depressed. “Yeah, combat that I thought…”

For some reason (yes I am a screenwriter) my mind goes straight to The Sopranos. All of a sudden I realise maybe I am the sad clown? I’m the one wondering what happened to the strong silent type? I’m asking about Gary Cooper types… Then I recall a line that tickled me, “Here we go, here comes the Prozac…”

I want to start you on a course of (I don’t care to remember the name) we will start on X dosage. Doc, you can stop right there! This is what I wanted to tell him in my Rock voice,

So let Jay get this right, you want Jay to take your pills and become a sleepy little shell of himself. You want to slow down The People’s brain? Well this is what you can do Doc. I bet you like pie, you look like you like pie Doc. I want you to get two of your favourite flavour pies, set them down on the table. Then I want you to take these pills, I want you to shine those pills. Shine them up real good put them in the pies, turn them sumbitch sideways and stick em straight up your candy ass!

Perspective

I was sleep deprived so my ideas about what was appropriate to say and funny were probably off, but hey that was very funny to me at the time. So I smile. Doc, I don’t want your pills! I have a super-secret plan for getting better. Hear me out, I’m going to go to Amsterdam for like a week. I think their medicine might result in a substantial breakthrough. He laughed…

He gives me a number and suggests counselling/therapy. Don’t know how (I do) but I lost it… I had a course of CBT sessions which I had to fight for with my car accident last year, and as much as I would love to sing its praises, the absolute truth is this; I only made progress out of necessity.

When you’re a Black man in a country that has almost no empathy for you and what you’ve been through, you better pattern up (Organise yourself)! You don’t get to be on the injured reserve list. As so many of my Jamaican elders would say, “Yuh haffi carry yuhself laka solja! Caan mek babylon defeat yuh!” Translation: You have to carry yourself like a soldier! You can’t let evil defeat you…

Fight Off The Dementors… 

The evil in this case is melancholy. You can’t tunnel so far into your own head that you don’t recognise happiness or triumph. I’m not suggesting there is an easy off button that you press and reset. However, you had better have your own back and not trust anyone else to fix it for you. It’s a matter of retraining your mind to let you lead and not have your mind lead you. I know what you’re thinking, “Why are you talking as if your mind is controlled by anybody other than you?” Okay, my response to that is simple, where does this self limiting voice you hear inside (sometimes) come from? If you have absolute control over your thoughts, then why would you allow yourself to think of anything that would dissaude you against total belief in yourself? Okay good…

My counter attack against this new enemy? Write twice as much and be twice as honest. I will not stifle my voice or my genuine feelings on things. For instance a few of my friends have asked me what I thought of The Avengers Infinity Wars, the look of absolute horror I got each time when I calmly said 6/10 was priceless. Anyway back to the reasoning…

Useful Habits

The more I sat down and poured out the things that were weighing me down, the better I felt and the more I realised that people everywhere go through some form of this. Even the most mentally healthy. I poured this energy into everything. My T-shirt designs, my blogs, my interviews, my book (details to follow) and of course my screenplays. Each day I stood a little more upright, ate a little more, I slept a little better and I laughed a little harder.

Unrelenting

This is why I will not relent in my pursuit of true success and a positive impact. I won’t let false prophets discourage me and I definitely won’t let people go around me as if I am a fool for wanting a fair shake and mutual respect. The disrespect is definitely nothing compared to what I’ve been through and come back from.

You can’t push me off my path because my calling is hardwired into my entire being. Even if I stepped away I’d be pulled back in…

Found The Formula?

Does all of this mean I am cured? No I wouldn’t say completely! Each time I level up and come back stronger. I definitely don’t get into the ‘why me’ as much as I say ‘it has to be me’. Frustration is natural, as is a longing for the day when success is cemented. However, I intend to learn and enjoy as much as I can on this journey. If you’re still reading at this point, it is safe to say you share this notion on a spiritual level. For that, I salute you and my third eye recognises the realness in you.

Jay Mullings his an award-winning screenwriter. His books The Thought Book & The Thought Book 2 are out now, available from writtenmirror.com. Follow Jay on twitter and Instagram @WrittenMirror

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