Saturday, 23 September 2017

Emma's Review: The Waterway Girls by Milly Adams

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

War lands them in the same boat.  Can they pull together?

October 1943, West London
Nineteen-year-old Polly Holmes is leaving poor bombed London behind to join the war effort on Britain’s canals.

Stepping aboard the  Marigold  amid pouring rain, there’s lots for Polly to get to grips with. Not least her fellow crew: strong and impetuous Verity, whose bark is worse than her bite, and seasoned skipper Bet.  

With her sweetheart away fighting in the RAF and her beloved brother killed in action, there’s plenty of heartache to be healed on the waterway. And as Polly rolls up her sleeves and gets stuck into life on board the narrowboat – making the gruelling journey London up to Birmingham – she will soon discover that a world of new beginnings awaits amid the anguish of the war. 

Amazon Links: Kindle or Paperback

Friday, 22 September 2017

Author Interview: Maxine Morrey

Today it's my absolute pleasure to welcome Maxine Morrey back to the blog for a bit of a catch up since her debut spotlight feature in 2015.

Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your writing journey? 
Of course! I’ve been writing in one form or another for as long as I can remember. I was a very early reader and devoured books like they were going out of fashion. Creating my own stories seemed like a natural progression from this and I always dreamed of being a writer, but being quite shy, I didn’t really have the confidence to think I could really do something like that.

I continued writing and although I did have an agent at one point, nothing happened and life went on. Over the years, I sold some articles and continued working on a few different novels. I’d won a ‘New Voices’ competition in America in 2006 – unfortunately the recession swallowed the publisher before the book came out – but it did boost my writing confidence. In 2015, I decided I was going to enter as many competitions as I could. Making the long list in the first one I entered gave me the confidence to keep trying. In the August, I had a phone call from Carina (now HQ/HarperCollins) to tell me I’d won their ‘Write Christmas’ competition with the book that would become ‘Winter’s Fairytale’.

I live on the south coast of England, and when I’m not writing, I love to read (obviously!), listen to podcasts, and sew. As a writer, I spend a lot of time sat down (and possibly snacking…) so I now make a point of walking or doing something up the gym a few times a week when I can too. 

If you had to give an elevator pitch for The Christmas Holiday, what would it be? 
Wedding reporter, Mia, has been offered the assignment of a lifetime accompanying her boss’ daughter and her fiancé on an adventure holiday in the run up to their spectacular Christmas wedding in London. Her dreams of writing travel seem to be finally coming true! But when the photographer for the trip turns out to be none other than hot shot adventure man, Hunter Scott, Mia has to fight to keep the opportunity. Looking as gorgeous as ever, it’s clear from the moment he walks in that he hasn’t forgiven her for handing back his engagement ring five years ago…

I love the idea of Mia travelling around the world to write a romantic travel piece, where did the inspiration come from and how did you research the locations you decided to include? 
Thank you so much for having me on the blog, Sharon, and I’m so glad you love the sound of it! The idea itself came from two little sparks which then came together and grew. A few years ago, I was sat in a café in London and overheard parts of a conversation about someone’s ex going off to pursue an amazing career opportunity. More recently, I read an article about a writer being contracted to produce a journal about someone’s wedding day. I began to think about the possibilities of expanding something like that and, remembering back to the overheard conversation, the character of Hunter Scott wandered into my head.

As for the locations, I’ve been incredibly lucky to travel in the past, and also lived in America for a couple of years, so most of the travel side was based on personal experience with a little creative licence. For example, whilst I’ve been to Malaysia, the secluded luxury resort was a fictional creation - athough I rather wish I could go there! However, the ‘oar incident’ that takes place whilst they’re kayaking with manatees in Florida was definitely inspired by real life events 😉

Describe Mia and Hunter in 3 words.
Mia – Talented, Caring, Cautious
Hunter – Adventurous, Gifted, Protective 

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Books Read: Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys

England, September 1939
Lily Shepherd boards a cruise liner for a new life in Australia and is plunged into a world of cocktails, jazz and glamorous friends. But as the sun beats down, poisonous secrets begin to surface. Suddenly Lily finds herself trapped with nowhere to go ...

Australia, six-weeks later
The world is at war, the cruise liner docks, and a beautiful young woman is escorted onto dry land in handcuffs. 

What has she done?

Amazon Links: Kindle or Paperback 

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

The Write Stuff with... Nikola Scott

Today it's my stop on the My Mother's Shadow blog tour and it's my absolute pleasure to hand the blog over to Nikola Scott to talk about her Library Love.

I now know that pretty much every writer has a library love affair to confess to, but growing up I thought that particular obsession was entirely my own. Along with my special reading chair (an ancient rocking chair that was eventually discovered to be worm-infested and had to be carted off to the skip, an event that had me in mourning, much like I imagine the death of a beloved pet), my second-favourite place in the world was the library in town. This was back in the day when children could just yell a random ‘Back at 5’ in the direction of the living room and no parent would bat an eye. I was a reasonably social child, so some of those afternoons I must have run off actually playing, but in my memory, most of it was spent at the library. 

It was blissfully quiet and the décor was reassuringly seventies-inspired, with green felt flooring and checkered sofas and an oversized woodsy-looking train filled with picture books. Everyone there loved books as much as I did and no one would tell you off for simply sinking to the floor wherever you stood, cracking open a book and starting to read.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Debut Spotlight: Elisabeth Carpenter

Today it's my absolute pleasure to shine the spotlight on author Elisabeth Carpenter on the latest leg of the blog tour for her debut novel 99 Red Balloons which was published last month.

Elisabeth Carpenter lives in Preston with her family. She completed a BA in English Literature and Language with the Open University in 2011.

Elisabeth was awarded a Northern Writers’ New Fiction award, and was longlisted for Yeovil Literary Prize (2015 and 2016) and the MsLexia Women’s Novel award (2015). She loves living in the north of England and sets most of her stories in the area, including the novel she is writing at the moment. She currently works as a book keeper.

99 Red Balloons is the fifth manuscript I’ve written. I started writing short stories in the late 1990s when my eldest son was little, but it wasn’t until my second son was born (fourteen years later!) that I began my first novel. I spent three years writing and re-writing it and sent it to so many agents, I ran out of places to email it! 

After three writing three other novels (now consigned to the ‘bottom drawer’ of my laptop), I had an idea for another: 99 Red Balloons. I received several offers of representation for this book and it was a surreal time – I couldn’t believe it! The next nail-biting time would be finding the right publisher.

The book went on submission in the summer of 2016 while I was on holiday in Cornwall. At first, I tried not to look at emails, but I ended up checking every notification! In the August, we had an offer from Phoebe Morgan at Avon HarperCollins. It all happened so fast, I still can’t believe it’s real!  

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing journey? 
I began writing my first novel in 2011 after my second son was born, which isn’t that long ago really. I wrote short stories before that, but I find them more difficult. 99 Red Balloons is the fifth manuscript I’ve written – and the first psychological thriller.

If you had to give an elevator pitch for 99 Red Balloons, what would it be? 
When Stephanie’s eight-year-old niece disappears, family secrets bubble to the surface. Stephanie helps support Emma through the search for her daughter – after all, they are sisters - or so everyone thinks. 

Maggie’s granddaughter was tragically abducted in the 1980s. Until one day, she watches a police appeal for a missing child – one of the women on the news looks strangely familiar. What starts as a passing thought becomes an obsession that soon spirals and takes over her life.
(Sorry – that’s longer than the standard elevator pitch. I’d have to talk quickly!)

99 Red Balloons was an iconic pop tune for those of us old enough to remember, how did the book title come about?
The song was on the radio all the time when I lived in Germany as a child. Part of the book is set there, so the song weaved itself through the narrative. 

My working title, however, was ‘Remember Me’, but I didn’t think that was memorable enough!