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Good bye, so long but never Au Revoir 

Well that’s another year end. There’s lots I could say about 2016 but one word will suffice – Good bye.

I’ve been messing about with my blog, hope you like the new 2017 calm feel where next year there’ll be lots and lots of random book posts. I never thought I’d be a writer, but with 5 books published and a sixth on the way I must be. My New Year’s resolution is to have a book traditionally published in 2017, difficult but totally reliant on my ability to write something a publisher wants to publish. I don’t think it will happen until book number seven, just wait till you see what I’ve planned for you… But for now I need to finish book number six. It’s set in New York, but not the Tiffany, Central Park words you’re used to. No, I’ll be introducing you to a totally different side but that’s for February.

For now I’m going to start a jar and put a pound in for each book I read in 2017. At the year’s end I’m hoping to have a pile to donate to whatever charity. It will also be a great way to tally up how many books I get through – why not join me?

That’s it folks, but as a little teaser here are just some of the books I’ve read in the last month, or that I hope to read.

Jen x

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Featuring writer Ruth White 

RUTH WHITE
Ruth is a prolific writer with an impressive line up of books two of which I’ve had the pleasure of reading in recent weeks.

Above are just some of her works, which you can find here.

Today she’s joined me to answer some questions about her writing, enjoy. 

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone wanting to write?

 Get started. Now you are over the most difficult hurdle. Unfortunately, you have to get started every day. Force yourself to write one sentence, no matter how sloppy. Then you will find yourself editing that sentence, and adding something to it, and you’re on your way.

How do you approach your stories; do you plan everything out before starting, or are you more a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of a person? 

I have most of the story line in my head before I begin to write. I don’t use an outline, but I write myself notes as new ideas pop into my head. Sometimes my characters take on a life of their own and turn the story in another direction. That’s when writing is the most fun.

Of all your characters, do you have a favorite? 

 I do have a favorite. Tiny Lambert in Weeping Willow. She ran away with the story and with my heart.

How long did it take you to write your most recent book(s)? 

The time actually spent writing was about six months. Planning it in my head and researching took a few years.

What motivated you to write your novel? 

I have always loved to write. My motivation to start each new book is a competition with myself. I can do better. This next one will be better.

Name three favorite authors and why they impress you. 

Harper Lee, because she wrote exactly the right book at the right time, and helped to change the world. Lee Smith, because she writes as I wish to write. She is my role model. James Baldacci, because he is versatile. He is successful in more than one genre.

Would you rather set your story in a place and time you are familiar with, or would you rather research a totally different setting? 

I am more comfortable setting my story in a time and place I am familiar with, but I am experimenting with other settings.

Do you have any little writing rituals or quirks? E.g. an object you have to have on your desk, a particular drink or snack

A little wine doesn’t hurt. It takes away my writing inhibitions. Stephen King tells the story that he got plastered one night and blacked out. The next morning he found he had written an entire novel.

How do you own experiences influence what you write? 

 My books are filled with my own experiences in disguise. It is strangely cathartic.

How do you deal with writer’s block? 

I follow the advice of Anne Lamott, who urges writers not to be afraid to write a sh–ty first draft. With that in mind I force myself to write one sentence, no matter how sh–ty it is. Then I edit the sentence. That usually leads to writing another sentence, and another, until I am back in my groove. If not, I quit for the day.

What is your favorite part of the writing process? (i.e. first draft, editing, etc…) 

It is a very satisfying feeling to finish up a story. That last page is special.

If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one book, what would it be? (Ominbuses, complete works, and how to books are forbidden!) 

 A book with all blank pages – that is assuming I have something to write with.

Bio

 I was a coal miner’s daughter in the Appalachian mountains. We lived up in a holler, which was so deep the sun didn’t hit the bottom ’til eleven a.m. Don’t know what a holler is? Same thing as a canyon. Anyway, most of my books for middle grades and young adults were set in that time and place, and were published by big name publishers. Though the pay was good, I began to feel that I was writing the same book over and over again, so I started branching out, so to speak, and experimented with writing about different times and places with an older reading audience in mind. And here I am self-publishing and loving the control I have over everything. By the way I live in Hershey, PA now, but I still can’t seem to get up before eleven.

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Some more books for you: all genres

Christmas is a time for family, eating, drinking and in my case reading. I’ve been reading cross genre at the moment so here’s a flavour of some of my recent reads. I’ll let you into a little secret though – by hook or by crook these new Indie writers aren’t just climbing up the charts they’re inihilating them.

Love, lies and clones, Joynell Schultz


June never asked to be cloned from her mother’s DNA. She didn’t ask for the faulty heart that beats in her chest either. She made a life for herself as a college professor, but what she really wants is the same as everyone else: a human connection. But how can she connect to someone when her heart’s next beat could be the last? 

When her estranged father shows up on her doorstep, warning her that he’s being forced back into the illegal human cloning world and she’s in danger, she dismisses him as paranoid. That’s until he disappears. The police are not prepared to confront a conspiracy this large, especially with a serial killer on the loose. 
When approached by an AWOL soldier, insisting her father’s disappearance is linked to his brother’s odd behavior, she doesn’t trust him. She’s been taught her whole life not to trust anyone.
With time running out, she must avoid abduction attempts, untangle the web of lies, and above all else, hide her taboo origins. 
Can June trust someone with her secret… and her heart?

To read, click here

Beneath the Skin

LIMITED TIME $4.99 reduced to $.99 sale!

For fans of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls, Kathleen Glasgow’s Girl in Pieces, Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places, and Ellen Hopkin’s Identical. 
For 18-year-old Sidney Shaw, life pretty much sucks. Her mom’s a drunk. Her dad’s worse. At school, she’s bullied by her ex-best friend. Cutting used to bring her relief, but not anymore. Something’s got to give.
When Sidney punches a kid to protect her little brother, she’s forced into group counseling with perfect, popular Arianna, who looks like the type to grieve over a broken nail. But Arianna has secrets of her own. She might just be an ally—if Sidney can let her guard down. Then there’s the new guy, sweet and funny Lucas, who sees straight through Sidney’s tough façade. 
But Sidney’s wounds go deeper than anyone knows. As her father’s abuse escalates, her secrets threaten to unravel her. How far is she willing to go to protect her family? And who can she turn to when the unthinkable happens?

Beneath the Skin is a gut-wrenching exploration of trauma and resilience, the redemptive power of friendship, and how we piece our broken selves back together, one shard at a time. 

To buy click here 
  

Beyond the Forest

Things too incredible to believe can be real! Lana can draw arcane powers from gemstones, but that doesn’t mean she’s ready to confront a gem master. She’s no match for Sheamathan, brutal ruler of the gnome world. The oppressed gnomes of Shadow long for a better life, and Lana is willing to study their gems and look for a solution. But when she goes through the portal, she discovers her gnome guide has a different agenda. He takes her straight to Sheamathan’s stronghold through a land full of mutant insects, intelligent flying serpents, and other horrors. There, he forces Lana to make a choice—turn her back on the gnomes and go home, or deliver a warning to Sheamathan that will plunge her irretrievably into the gnomes’ conflict . . . and possibly cost her life. Readers will enjoy this unique blend of urban and epic fantasy. Lana’s story begins in our present-day world as she prepares to take over the family jewelry store, but most of her adventures occur in the gnome world. This is a clean story, suitable for ages 10-100, with no graphic violence or strong language. The author supports the “noblebright” trend—the opposite of “grimdark.” Characters aren’t perfect but they value honesty and integrity and are willing to make personal sacrifices to help others. While they face dark times and dangerous situations, the overall tone is upbeat. This is a standalone novel without loose ends or a cliffhanger ending, but the resolution opens the door for further adventures. Additional novels set in the gnome world are in progress. To buy click here 

A fine line


Justice or revenge? It’s a fine line to walk. 

Steve Cully has always believed his low-life hits are of no loss to the world. This time it’s different. Even so, ten million dollars to kill a controversial US Senator enjoying a Christmas vacation in a quiet English village is an offer he can’t refuse. But things get complicated. Without at first being aware of it, Cully is now in someone else’s sights. Mark Easton, a former Delta Force soldier and the senator’s godson wants justice. Or is it revenge? 

Either way, he could not have picked a more dangerous man to pursue. 

To find out more click Here

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Murder on Display: Luke Christodoulou


Murder on Display is the latest book by best selling writer Luke Christodoulou, and I choose it next in my Kindle Scout writer fest because it was released only a couple of days ago on Christmas Day to be exact. I’ve invited Luke along with the same questions – it will be interesting where and how he differs to Greg’s answers. 

Questions

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone wanting to write? 

 Just go for it. Doubt is a killer. Dive in and keep going until you have a finished novel staring back at you!

How do you approach your stories; do you plan everything out before starting, or are you more a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of a person? 

I normally get an idea creep out of the corners of my mind and it sticks around until it drives me crazy. As a mystery author I always plan the ending (twist, killer) as to be able to plant clues along the way.

Of all your characters, do you have a favorite? 

My strong female lead, named after my daughter. The Cretan, food-loving, foul-mouth Ioli Cara.

How long did it take you to write your most recent book(s)? 

 I give myself a year for each book. I finish earlier than that though, giving plenty of time for the book to go to my editor and for my proofreaders to provide feedback.

Would you rather set your story in a place and time you are familiar with, or would you rather research a totally different setting? 

My books are always set upon the Greek Isles (thus the title of the series, GREEK ISLAND MYSTERIES). I prefer to write about islands that I have visited, though I have researched and googled locations I haven’t been to before.

Do you have any little writing rituals or quirks? E.g. an object you have to have on your desk, a particular drink or snack. 

 Always at my desk, always deadly quiet and always with a coffee. Hot during the few winter months and Greek frappe during the nine month summer.

If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one book, what would it be? (Ominbuses, complete works, and how to books are forbidden!)  

And then there were none. The mother of my genre, an absolute delight!

Bio

Luke Christodoulou is an author, a poet and an English teacher (MA Applied Linguistics – University of Birmingham). He is, also, a coffee-movie-book-Nutella lover. His books have been widely translated and are available in five languages. His first book, THE OLYMPUS KILLER (#1 Bestseller – Thrillers), was released in April, 2014. The book was voted Book Of The Month for May on Goodreads (Psychological Thrillers). The book continued to be a fan favorite on Goodreads and was voted BOTM for June in the group Nothing Better Than Reading. In October, it was BOTM in the group Ebook Miner, proving it was one of the most talked-about thrillers of 2014.The second stand-alone thriller from the series, THE CHURCH MURDERS, was released April, 2015 to widespread critical and fan acclaim. DEATH OF A BRIDE was the third Greek Island Mystery to be released. Released in April, 2016 it followed in the footsteps of its successful predecessors. From its first week in release it hit the number one spot for books set in Greece.MURDER ON DISPLAY came out in 2017 and enriched the series. He is currently working on the fifth book of his planned Greek Island Mysteries book series. He resides in Limassol, Cyprus with his loving wife, his chatty daughter and his crazy newborn son. Hobbies include travelling the Greek Islands discovering new food and possible murder sites for his stories. He, also, enjoys telling people that he ‘kills people for a living’. Murder on Display is available Here

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Greg Meritt: The Adoption


I’m lucky, very lucky indeed to be one of the first U.K. readers of The Adoption, now on the edge of the top 500 in the Amazon charts and it’s only just been self published – how cool is that! 

The Adoption is a little out of my comfort zone reading. I have to leave the room when David Attenborough comes on the TV so a thriller with the picture of a child on the cover was always going to be a difficult choice but I’d had some conversations with Greg on Social Media via Kindle Scout and I sort of trusted him not to scare me witless.  I wasn’t disappointed. 

I’ve invited Greg into the hot seat today to find out a little more about him and his book. 

Questions:

What’s the one piece of advice you’d give someone wanting to write? 

Get a thick skin. 

How do you approach your stories; do you plan everything out before starting, or are you more a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of a person? 

Fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants. I’ve never been a plotter. 

Of all your characters, do you have a favorite? 

Yes, Sylvia Tran, from “The Adoption”. 

How long did it take you to write your most recent book(s)? 

About 8 months. 

What motivated you to write your novel? 

My adopted children and this thought: “What if the adoption turns out to be preplanned and not anything like we expected?” 

Name three favorite authors and why they impress you.

 Stephen King, Gillian Flynn, Dean Koontz. The stories are always intriguing and I’m always wondering what is going to happen next. I love suspense. 

Would you rather set your story in a place and time you are familiar with, or would you rather research a totally different setting?

 Place and time I’m familiar with. To be honest, I don’t care for research; I’d rather write. 

Do you have any little writing rituals or quirks? 

Door closed, no internet, no phone, no people. I don’t have nor require anything else 

How do your own experiences influence what you write ? 

Quite a lot, actually. In my debut novel, The Adoption, I pull a lot from my own home life experience and then tweak it to be a little different. Logan has a lot of my own values and beliefs. 

If you had to throw something into mount Doom to save the world, what would it be?

 I would throw HATRED into mount Doom. We all just need to get along! 

How do you deal with writer’s block? 

I grab a blank page and just start writing anything…even gibberish. This usually gets things flowing again. If not, I don’t force it but go on about my day, take long walks, exercise, etc. But I always try and write something daily. 

What is your favorite part of the writing process? (i.e. first draft, editing, etc…)

 First draft, I do not care for the editing part! I just love when the story is unfolding in front of me for the first time and even I don’t know what’s going to happen or what the characters are going to do. 

If you were stranded on a deserted island with only one book, what would it be? 

The Stand (Uncut), by Stephen King.

Thanks Greg for agreeing to be in the hot seat and continued good luck with your writing in 2016. To buy The Adoption click Here. It’s only 99p until the New Year 

Bio:
Greg Meritt is the youngest of three children. He was born in Everett, Washington, and grew up in the Pacific Northwest. He has been a restaurant manager, a landscaper, a purchasing agent, and salesman. As a young person in middle school, Greg became hooked on stories after reading Stephen King’s “The Stand”, and has been reading voraciously ever since.

In 2012, he began writing his own stories and in early 2013, his short story “The Attic” was chosen out of 5,300 entries for inclusion in “The Writer’s Digest Short, Short Story Competition.”

Greg has written over thirty short stories and a novella. The Adoption is his debut novel. Greg lives in Kent, WA with his lovely wife, three adopted children and a crazy dog.

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Old Year’s End: Discover New Writers

img_1841-1
Over the next few days I’ll be busily posting some info on new writers that I’ve discovered over the last few weeks via Kindle Scout. These writers, mainly new, or undiscovered treasures are what a favourite blogger of mine termed as ‘quiet writers’ or as yet under the radar. But if you enjoy their books as much as I have they’ll soon be on that bestselling list.

Hope you all had the Christmas you were hoping for? We’re just heading out for the annual Boxing Day swim. More tomorrow x

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My Christmas Eve

The River Liffey,
It’s that time of year again folks. What with the fridge heaving and the fat man in the red suit belting his trousers a little tighter to squeeze through modern flues and heating ducts I’m finally getting into the Christmas spirit. For me Christmas will always be special. Not so much because of the day itself but because of the lifetime of memories jam packed across those few days spelling out the end of the year and heralding the lead up to Spring and, my favourite – the humble daffodil. 

As a child Christmas was a traditional Irish one where Christmas Eve always started with a trip across the Liffey to Henry Street. These days we have German markets  but through my child’s eye they’re aren’t a patch on the annual Irish Christmas Street market. It fills Henry Street spilling across into Moore’s Street and the traditional fruit and vegetable market stalls that has been part and parcel of Dublin life for over a hundred years. Okay so the majority of goods had that best selling ‘made in China’ label on the bottom but as a child I didn’t care. As an adult I still don’t care. It’s about the sights, smells and tastes that will live in my subconscious forever. 


Of course I grew up and, as a nurse Christmas took on a different flavour. Have you ever worked night duty? Have you ever worked night duty on Christmas Eve and then Christmas Day night with all your family now living in a different country? I was twenty, working and alone -every Christmas since gets compared to that miserable one. But it wasn’t that miserable. I was young. I was healthy and, if you’ve ever worked on an acute medical admissions ward in a capital city over Christmas I was very busy. I remember Christmas Day morning cycling home and passing a scene from a Victorian Christmas card. There they were through the window, the parents and children circling the tree stacked with presents. Funnily enough it’s a scene I remember every Christmas especially now with children of my own. It’s not about the gifts, it’s about the memories both past and the laying down of new ones – memories to store up for when I’m a very old lady. 

Wishing you all a Happy Christmas.

Jen 

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5 ⭐️ A Very Merry Manhattan Christmas: Darcie Boleyn

No apologies, it’s Christmas and I’ve yet to write one Christmas card so this is a short but perfect review 😆

A
Book Blurb

Lucie Quigley hates Christmas. It’s the time of year when everything goes wrong in her life. So this year, when she’s asked to be a bridesmaid at her friend Petra’s Manhattan wedding, she jumps at the invitation to escape the festivities.

Dale Treharne has been best friends with Lucie for as long as he can remember. He’s used to looking out for his oldest friend and when she asks him to be her plus one, he can’t seem to find a reason to refuse. Instead, he sees it as a way to help Lucie get through what is, for her, the most miserable time of the year.

In New York, as the snow starts to fall, Lucie and Dale start to realise that their feelings run deeper than just friendship. But can they overcome their pasts, and make it a very merry Manhattan Christmas?

My book review

There’s lots of people that hate Christmas, my mother for one so I could equate very easily with Lucie. Dale loves her from afar. More brother-like than anything he’s always been there for her and now, in her deepest hour he risks upsetting his parents by spending Christmas in New York. 

I have to say as a 100 % certified romancaholic I loved this. You can keep your wine and your chocolate. Just pop me in the corner like some Victorian wallflower with a cuppa and characters like these. 

Darcie, sorry it was short but I’ll be back for more. 

Available to buy here 

About the Author


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.

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5 ⭐️ One Christmas in Paris: Mandy Baggot


It’s Christmas, I’m busy but I have some delightful reads to share so here’s the first xx

Book Blurb

Ava and her best friend Debs arrive in Paris just as the snow starts to fall. The Eiffel Tower glitters gold and the scent of spiced wine is all around, but all Ava can think about is Leo, her no-good, cheating ex.

Debs is on a mission to make Ava smile again, and as they tour the Christmas markets, watch lamplight glittering on the river Seine, and eat their body weight in pain-au-chocolat, Ava remembers there’s more to life than men … Until they cross paths with handsome, mysterious photographer Julien with his French accent and hazelnut eyes that seem to see right inside her.

My review 

Julian, damaged and grieving following the death of his sister and a parent who has moved on with his life. Julian, who has put his own life on hold when he meets Ava.

Ava is the girl running away, running away from Waitrose, well not really. Ava is running from her mother and the life she doesn’t want as a stand in model for her mother’s agency.

Two lost souls finding love and redemption in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. What’s not to love?

Available here

About the author

Mandy Baggot is an award-winning romance writer represented by The Kate Nash Literary Agency.

The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016.

Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, white wine, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor.Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.

 

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Beneath the Skin 

To save her life, she must risk her heart . . .For 18-year-old Sidney Shaw, life pretty much sucks. Her mom’s a drunk. Her dad’s worse. At school, she’s bullied by her ex-best friend. Cutting used to bring her relief, but not anymore. Something’s got to give.

When Sidney punches a kid to protect her little brother, she’s forced into group counseling with perfect, popular Arianna, who looks like the type to grieve over a broken nail. But Arianna has secrets of her own. She might just be an ally, if Sidney can let her guard down. Then there’s the new guy, sweet and funny Lucas, who sees straight through Sidney’s tough, snarky façade.

But Sidney’s wounds go deeper than anyone knows. As her father’s abuse escalates, her secrets threaten to unravel her. How far is she willing to go to protect her family? And who can she turn to when the unthinkable happens?

Beneath the Skin is a gut-wrenching exploration of trauma and resilience, the redemptive power of friendship, and how we piece our broken selves back together, one shard at a time. For fans of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Wintergirls, Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, Jennifer Niven’s All the Bright Places, and Ellen Hopkin’s Identical.

*Trigger Warning: Includes mature content, including self-harm and non-graphic depictions of sexual abuse. Recommended for ages 16+*

My review

I’m speechless, well not quite but this book is just one of those books you know. It should be in every teachers to read list in addition to every parents because this rubbish goes on all too frequently. My review is short because basically it’s just one of those reads that’s beyond explanation.

The writing is strong, amazingly so. The characters ones you come to care about very quickly. The storyline harsh beyond belief.

My last post I listed my top nine writers of the year, leaving the tenth blank. Kyla Stone, you’ve just filled that slot.

You can per-order Here