AUTHORS/BLOGGERS: If you have appeared on this blog, the content has been moved to the new blog.

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Amazon’s Even Newer Reviewing Rules Will Book Reviews Be Affected?

Update (23rd November 2016) – Amazon has seen sense, after much complaining it seems, and changed its rules to exempt book reviews.  Please find out more information in today’s post Who…

Source: Amazon’s Even Newer Reviewing Rules Will Book Reviews Be Affected?

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COVER REVEAL – Hilary Grossman

Plan Bea

Book Information

Title: Plan Bea

Author: Hilary Grossman

Series: (book 1)

Release Date: October 2015

Genres: Women’s Fiction

Publisher: Booktrope


How well do you really know the people in your life?

Annabel O’Conner has the perfect husband, two adorable children, an amazing job,
and the mother from hell! Annabel doesn’t like it but has come to terms with the fact
that her relationship with her mother, Bea, deteriorated to the point of forced and
strained communications. However, an unscheduled call from Bea
turns her world around and makes Annabel question everything she believed
about her life.

Despite the fact secrets, lies, and misplaced blame have destroyed the women’s relationship; Annabel reluctantly agrees to help Bea plan her wedding. Little
does Annabel know the impact of her decision.

In this Women’s Contemporary Fiction novel, Hilary Grossman explores the
complex relationship that exists between mothers and daughters in a light-hearted
and relatable manner.

Goodreads Link

Buy Links

Amazon US:

 Hilary Headshow

Author Biography

Hilary Grossman loves to find humor in everyday life. She has an unhealthy
addition to denim and high heel shoes. She likens life to a game of dodge ball – she
tries to keep as many balls in the air before they smack her in the face. When she
isn’t writing, blogging, or shoe shopping she is the CFO of a beverage alcohol importer.
She lives on the beach in Long Island.

Social Networking Links







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Alessandra Torre – Hollywood Dirt – Release Tour!

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Cole Masten. Abandoned by his superstar wife, Hollywood’s Perfect Husband is now Hollywood’s Sexiest Bachelor: partying hard and screwing even harder. Watch out Los Angeles, there’s a new bad boy in town.

Summer Jenkins. That’s me, a small town girl stuck in Quincy, Georgia. I cook some mean chicken and dumplins, can bluff a grown man out of his savings in poker, and was voted Most Friendly my senior year.

 We were from different worlds. Our lives shouldn’t have collided. But then Cole Masten read a book about my small town. And six months later, his jet landed on our dusty airstrip, and he brought Hollywood with him.

 From the start, I knew he was trouble. For our town. And for me.

Sometimes, opposites just aren’t meant to attract..

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When the door to the production trailer burst open, it brought with it a wave of heat and beauty. Cole looked up from the storyboards and locked eyes with Summer, who blew across the room at him like a tornado on tilt.

“There’s no love story between Ida and Royce.” Summer snapped, throwing down the script, pages fluttering down between them. In the small trailer, conversations stalled and he could feel the attention turn their way. “I’ve read the book. Three times!”

It was good to know that someone had read the damn book. Cole glanced down at her temper tantrum of a mess and back up, raising his eyebrows mildly. “It’s a movie,” he said, turning back to the storyboards. “The writers are adding some excitement. It’s normal. You’d know that if you were in this business.” The dig was unnecessary but he couldn’t help it. This woman turned him into the devil.

“I read the first script. The one you sent over with my contract. Ida and Royce hated each other. Why would Royce…” she snatched up a page from the ground and read out a line. “pushes Ida against the file cabinet and kisses her passionately.” She balled up the page and threw it down to the ground and he could see, in her eyes, the panic. Panic. An unexpected reaction.

“We’ll use that,” Don made the dangerous move of stepping in, putting a soft hand on her shoulder. “You don’t understand. The passion from their hatred will make it hotter.”

“No.” Summer said, her face hard, her eyes on Cole. “It doesn’t make it hotter. It makes it stupid.”

“Aww… come on, Summer.” Cole chided, stepping closer, his hand reaching out to pull at her wrist. She fought him, yanking it back and the moment of their bodies meeting didn’t happen. He leaned down and whispered, right against her ear, the smell of her apple-scented lotion enough to make him want to empty out the production trailer right that moment. “Sure it does.”

She jerked back and twisted away. “If he kisses me on camera I’m going to lose it.” She shot at Don, pointing an accusatory finger in Cole’s direction.

“I know you will,” Cole laughed, crossing his arms to fight from reaching out. “You’ll fall apart under my mouth, baby.”

Summer screamed in response, her hands thrown up in frustration, and spun to leave, her script left behind, the slam of the exit door loud in the full production trailer.

“That went well,” Cole mused. He linked his hands and rested them on his head, rolling his shoulders back. Panic. She’d had panic in her eyes. Fuck.

“What do you expect?” Don said. “You threw this on her without warning. I told you we should have met with her this morning, gone over the changes to prepare her. But no – you just wanted to dump it on her via call sheets and sides.”

“Dump it on her? I was People’s Sexiest Man last year. She’s not mentally adjusting to a war camp for God’s sake. How hard is it to kiss me?”

“It’s actually three kisses,” a dark-haired PA to his left pointed out. “And a grope.”

He gave her a hard look and she withered a little.

“I’ll go talk to her,” Don said. “Eileen, you shoot #4 and I’ll talk to Summer. I want to try to get #14 shot at eleven so let’s get our asses in gear and get this done.”

“I’ll talk to her.” Cole stepped in. “You shoot #4 and I’ll talk to her.”

“No,” Don snapped. “With my luck you two would make up and any authenticity to the scene would disappear. Just stay away from her and be ready at eleven.”

Cole chewed on his cheek, then nodded. “Fine.” Don was right. He should stay away from her. Far. Far away.

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AT headshot - red dress

Alessandra Torre is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of ten novels. Her books focus on romance and suspense, all with a strong undercurrent of sexuality. Torre has been featured in such publications as Elle and Elle UK, co-hosted Dirty Sexy Funny with Jenny McCarthy, as well as guest blogged for the Huffington Post and RT Book Reviews. She is also the Bedroom Blogger for

You can learn more about Alessandra on her website at,
or you can find her on Twitter (@ReadAlessandra) or Facebook.

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Show Up, Dress Up!

Dresses. You can’t really go wrong with them, can you? No matter what age, shape, or style, there are dresses to suit and flatter everyone. And don’t worry if you’re not a girly-girl, there are sporty dresses too.

Floaty dresses – In this heat, and humidity, they’re perfect. These dresses can be short, or even long maxi dresses. They come in various styles, such as off-the-shoulder, V-neck, plunge neckline, and more.


Tennis dresses – So it looks like tennis dresses are in fashion on the street. These are usually plain, with a buttoned collar, resembling an oversized polo shirt. They can also come in a tunic style, which clings to the body more. There are also stretch jersey styles, and sleeveless vest-type dresses. The majority of colours are white, navy, light blue, and red. These look quite sporty, and would go well with trainers, or flip-flops.

Wrap-over dresses – These are perfect for the Ibiza weather. They can be loose, or slightly tighter fitting, depending on how you fasten them.

T-shirt dresses – These are comfortable to wear, especially if they’re oversized. They can be worn in the day, with casual footwear, and a cap for an edgy casual look, or of a night teamed with a chunky necklace and heels.


Shirt dresses – The sleeveless shirt dresses can flatter most body shapes. These come
in many different colours, and styles.


Strapless dresses – These are my absolute favourite. They’re so comfortable. I hate straps, and belts, and fiddly things in this heat. Slipping on a strapless dress, baring your shoulders to still feel the slight breeze is perfect. These can be short or long dresses.

Tunics – The looser, the better. These can be plain, detailed, and come in many styles. They can be worn to cover up, and protect you from the sun, or with a plunging neckline, for a dressier look.


Playsuit dresses – These are brilliant for almost every occasion, and again come in various styles: patterned, plain, tight-fitting, loose-fitting etc.

When going out, slipping on a dress can be suitable for the day time, as well as the night. Teamed with some accessories, sparkly flip-flops / sandals, or heels, and you can go from casual to glam in an instant.

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First Sight – Laura Donohue – Re-launch tour!

About First Sight


Maddy Smith writes for a trendy website in Washington DC, has two fabulous best friends, and her own apartment. When a girl’s night out ends with her locking eyes with the handsome stranger across the room, the last thing she expects is for him to show up at her office on Monday morning.

Travis Emerson, her attractive and single new colleague, just moved to town. Although an immediate friendship between Maddy and Travis forms, she soon finds herself wishing for something more. After a misunderstanding between them occurs, not only is her hope for a relationship ruined, but their friendship is in jeopardy as well. Is any chance that Maddy had with Travis over? Or could he possibly be what she’s been looking for all along?

Follow Maddy and Travis on a series of adventures that will quickly have you cheering them on. First date jitters? Not when you’ve been in love since First Sight!


About Laura Donohue

Laura Donohue is a graduate of George Mason University. She spent ten years working as a technical writer and editor before publishing her first novel. She lives in Washington DC with her husband and daughter.

Contact Laura Donohue
Twitter: @lovechicklit

Publishing/Marketing Contact
Kathy Marks
Book Marketing Manager
Booktrope Publishing

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Cover Reveal – Alessandra Torre!


Cover Reveal of Hollywood Dirt by Alessandra Torre.

This book is a Standalone Contemporary Romance.

A Hollywood Star. A Small Town Girl. Opposites Shouldn’t Always Attract.



* * * * *

Title: Hollywood Dirt

Author: Alessandra Torre

Genre: Contemporary Romance

Cover Designer: Hang Le

Release Date: September 7th

* * * * *




Cole Masten. Abandoned by his superstar wife, Hollywood’s Perfect Husband is now Hollywood’s Sexiest Bachelor: partying hard and screwing even harder. Move over Colin Farrell, there’s a new bad boy ruling Los Angeles.

Summer Jenkins. That’s me, a small town girl stuck in Quincy, Georgia. I cook some mean chicken and dumplins, can bluff a grown man out of his savings in poker, and was voted Most Friendly my senior year. Other than that… I don’t have too much going on.

We were from different worlds. Our lives shouldn’t have collided. But when Cole Masten’s jet landed in our country airport, we all sat up in our rocking chairs and watched. And when an opportunity crossed my path, I jumped at the chance.

But I didn’t expect what ended up happening. I didn’t expect Cole Masten to be an ass, or to pursue me, or for everything to get tangled up around set riggings, camera cords, bra straps and heartstrings.

Sometimes, opposites just aren’t meant to attract.


Pre-order Now at a 40% Savings!

nook | iBooks | kobo | Amazon: pre-order coming September 3rd


Want to read the first pages of Hollywood Dirt?


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* * * * *


AT headshot - red dress

Alessandra Torre is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of ten novels. Her books focus on romance and suspense, all with a strong undercurrent of sexuality. Torre has been featured in such publications as Elle and Elle UK, co-hosted Dirty Sexy Funny with Jenny McCarthy, as well as guest blogged for the Huffington Post and RT Book Reviews. She is also the Bedroom Blogger for

You can learn more about Alessandra on her website at, or you can find her on Twitter (@ReadAlessandra) or Facebook.

* * * * *

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Sign up below!

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Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Rock That Style!

As a Sons Of Anarchy obsessive, and loving the biker / rock chick style myself (sometimes), I will share what’s hot at the moment. The good thing about this type of fashion is that it will never go ‘out’ of fashion. There will always be a time and place for leather, studs, black clothing, bling, boots, etc, no matter what year we’re in. Some people were dressing like this in the late eighties / early nineties, and still are now.


It’s far too hot in the summer for me to put on a pair of ripped jeans, leather jacket, and studded ankle boots, so I will share how to achieve this look in the summer, without necessary layers.

Leather Jacket – This may be too hot during the winter, but there are sleeveless leather jackets for the cool nights, which can be teamed with almost anything. They come in a variety of styles, such as being covered in silver or gold studs, miniature skeleton heads, logo’s, fringed and more.


Boots – These can be ankle boots, or just below the knee. Again, these come in a wide selection of styles, such as studded, plain black, or decorated with pictures or bling. It’s not too hot to wear ankle boots with shorts, or a skirt, and as a lot of people in Ibiza drive scooters, it’s the perfect footwear. And even Dr. Martens.

Dresses – Black, white or grey are the best if you’re looking to achieve this look. Dresses again can be studded, fringed, covered in skeleton logo’s, the ‘evil eye,’ symbols, crosses and whatnot. Some dresses, like the one I have, are cotton, with a leather fitted belt across the waist, or the shoulders, giving it a bit of a rock edge.

SonsOfAnarchy logo

Jeans / leggings ‘ trousers – It’s too hot for them now, but in the winter, there are ripped styles, fringed, patterned, leather and more. Even if you can’t see yourself wearing leather trousers, I have a black pair of leggings with leather stripes down, and near the pockets, which look cool.

Vests / Crop tops – A plain black top goes with absolutely everything, so do crop tops, and oversized vests. Also, these can be loose clothing, perfect for the summer days. Again, there are a variety of styles in these tops.

Hooded jackets – These can only be worn in the winter in Ibiza. Hoodies can be plain, patterned or emblazoned with logo’s and words. They’re perfect to throw on with jeans, leggings or shorts.

Maxi dresses – There are some cool biker / rock chick dresses on the market now, again in many styles.

Handbags – These can be leather, fringed, patterned or covered in writing. A black bag can go with anything.

Accessories – You can find bracelets, necklaces, earrings, rings, nose rings, and the more the better. I have a leather ring with a skeleton head on, which is a cute little touch for any outfit. And I wear several earrings along my ears, of all styles, whether it’s silver studs or hoops. There are skeleton heads, the Hamsa hand, the ‘evil eye,’ crosses, pentagrams, and more. It’s usually best to stick to silver.

Belts – Studded, plain black, leather and more can be found online. Some even have a chain across.

rock1  rock3

If you want celebrity style inspiration, check out Audrina Patridge from the show The Hills, Jennifer Tallulah from show Gossip Girl, singer Gwen Stefani, model Kate Moss, and many more. Oh, and the whole cast of Sons Of Anarchy, of course! You will always see celebrities experimenting with this look. And you can wear a little something to represent this style, no matter what age.

All you need now is the Harley Davidson! Contributions for this are welcome! LOL! 😛

rock2 rock4

P.S As the tune says, Battleme- Hey, Hey, My, My – rock and roll will never die.


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NOVEL: The Red Tide by E.C Ayres

Hey all. I wanted to share this FANTASTIC novel by author E.C Ayres – The Red Tide. This novel is part of the Tony Lowell mystery series.

Gene’s writing style is sharp, insightful and engaging. The main character Anthony Theodore Lowell is one that you’ll find extremely intriguing and will live long with you after the book is closed.

Here is the novel blurb, cover, author bio and links!

If any bloggers would like a review copy, please contact me.

The Red Tide

An abandoned research vessel in the Gulf of Mexico. Five dead marine scientists who were tracking a furtive tanker for offshore dumping. While Government agencies squabble over jurisdiction for the killings no one is taking responsibility for the tanker. That unwanted task falls at last to Tony Lowell: a pot-smoking environmentalist and private investigator who knows the Gulf and knows how to sail. Lowell is laid back as only a former Navy SEAL-turned hippy can be: a nonconformist who refuses to carry a gun. But he is now the last man left with skills and knowledge of the Gulf who is willing to face an unknown terror at sea and prevent a global environmental catastrophe



An award-winning International best-selling novelist, journalist, columnist, critic, film and television writer/producer E. C. Ayres is a graduate of Syracuse University and has lived and worked in New York, Los Angeles, Tampa Bay, Harbin, China and Seattle. He has been involved in environmental issues since the first Earth Day and divides his time between Florida, where the Tony Lowell series is set, and the Pacific Northwest. For more information about E.C. Ayres and his books visit his website at



Twitter: @GeneECAyres


Amazon Link:

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American flag flying in the wind

Confession: I’m obsessed with all things American & Americans – the accent, the culture, the shows etc… I wonder if there’s people who are like this about Brits :-/ Must be some….

Anyway, here’s the difference between Brits & Americans I have found online – & obviously it doesn’t apply to all:

Apparently Americans are more positive, & Brits complain too much. Lol! I don’t know many Brits that are over friendly to strangers, & ask if they’re having a great day, probably get thrown a strange look!

Americans are prouder of their Country, & more into sports.

Pubs vs bars.

They celebrate 4th July, we’ve got good old Paddy’s day & St George’s. (Any excuse for a piss-up) :p

And they go to town for Halloween, making a bigger fuss over it than Brits do.

Thanksgiving, whereas the only big hols we celebrate are Xmas & b’days.

Americans are apparently more loyal to their Universities – & getting into college is a massive deal – Harvard, Princeton, Yale etc. (My friends couldn’t wait to get out of school, & just get a job!)

Americans are less afraid of lawsuits, whereas Brits try to avoid them.

More swimming pools across America than in the UK. (Perhaps if they threw us a bit of sun, we’d have more)

Self-aggrandisation is more acceptable in America, they’re known to glorify things more. Brits are much more modest, often undervaluing more.

Getting drunk is more common in the UK? Whaaaat? A lunch-time drink, or pint on a Friday night is common.

Americans can learn to drive before Brits, but Brits are legal to drink younger than them.

Americans see dating as not much of a big deal, whereas some Brits hate the dating world, finding it awkward.

Sororities & fraternities, summer camps, spring break… ?

Prom is a big deal – I didn’t have Prom.

Difference in humour. Brits use sarcasm more.

Difference in speech:
Bangs – fringe.
Trash – rubbish.
Pants – trousers? Pants for Brits mean underwear.
Chips – crisps.
Soda – fizzy drink.
Elevator – lift.
Sidewalk – pavement.
The mall – Shops.

What do you think? Anything to add? I’d love to hear! Especially slang words…..!

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My 2015 reads.

There are so many books that I’m hoping to get through in 2015. Here are the list of books I have so far on my Kindle (in no particular order), which I have either purchased, received from authors, or publishers.

Don’t forget to check my ‘book review’ page for updates, and my honest reviews.

Compromise Agreement – Isobel Hart

Kat Black – Playing With Fire

The Day We Disappeared – Lucy Robinson

Sin – Violetta Rand

Seduction – Violette Rand

Vanilla – Megan Hart

How Do You Know – Meredith Schorr

What Happens to Men When They Move To Manhattan – Jill Knapp

We’ve Always Got New York – Jill Knapp

Bad Brides – Rebecca Chance

Expecting – Ann Lewis Hamilton

One Mad Night – Julia Ondon

Dating Cary Grant – Emelle Gamble

What If Hes the One – Kathy Jay

War Of The Wives – Tamar Cohen

The Best Thing that Never Happened – Laura Tait and Jimmy Rice

Leftover – Stella Newman

Love Is Pink – Roxann Hill

The One Only – Emily Giffin

Flirting With Disaster – Victoria Dahl

How To Seduce A Billionaire – Portia Da Costa

Wicked Thing – Angeline Kace

The King – Tiffany Reisz

The Girl Behind The Mask – Stella Knightley

Stable Mates – Zara Stoneley

The Memory Book – Rowan Coleman

Chelsea Wives – Anna-Lou Weatherley

The Travelling Tea Shop – Belinda Jones

What books are you currently reading / planning to read this year? Would love to know! 

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Show, Don’t Tell.

You may have heard the rule ‘show, don’t tell,’ when it comes to writing.

What do they mean by ‘show, don’t tell?’ Showing, not telling is a technique that enables the reader to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings rather than through the authors summarisation / description.


Ban these words if you can: thinks, knows, understands, realises, believes, wants, remembers, imagines, desires, as author of Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk did

Use dialogue. This reveals a lot about the character, emotion and mood.

However, a narrative can show some legitimate telling, as a novel would be extremely long otherwise. You don’t want to describe every part of every building, or scene.

Here are some examples:

She clearly fancied him.

Instead use – As he walked into the room, her heart thudded frantically in her chest. She felt the blush spread up her chest, into her cheeks, and silently prayed that he didn’t notice.

The house was a mess and in poor condition.

Instead use – As soon as she stepped into the apartment, a damp smell lingered in the air. Her eyes took in the room – toys strewn over the floor, half eaten fruit, and lipstick stained glasses on the table. She couldn’t help but notice the wallpaper curling off the walls, and the cracked floor tiles.

She was scared of him.

Instead use – She sank further in her seat, her heart racing wildly in her chest, her hands shaking ever so slightly. Her eyes cast down to the floor, concentrating on the patterns on the carpet. Anything, but on him. As his shadow loomed over her, she pressed her lips tightly together to silence any cries.

Please share your own examples. 


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Ending The First Crucial Chapter

My last post detailed writing the crucial first chapter / the introduction to your story to captivate readers. I provided examples of some great opening chapters from books I had read.

This post reveals how to end the first chapter and entice the readers. You need to give them a reason not to put the book down. A hook / cliffhanger may make readers want to turn the page, and continue reading your novel. Note: This doesn’t have to be a dramatic hook, and it isn’t mandatory, some books don’t have this, and they are just as interesting to read. I, myself, happen to like a hook, whereby curiosity gets the better of me, and I want to read more.

Give them something to look forward to! 

How to do this:

  • Raise tension / conflict
  • Introduce new problems
  • Perhaps reveal a new character, secret or event
  • Add a twist
  • Maybe end it with a question.
  • Pull the reader into the characters emotions, make them care for them
  • Use a killer last line if you can
  • Or dialogue – e.g ‘Sit down. There’s something I need to tell you.’

Here are some examples of chapter one endings which made me want to get to chapter two.

The Best Thing That Never Happened – Laura Tait & Jimmy Rice.


This definately makes me want to turn the page. I want to find out where the main character is heading to, and whether she will actually see Alex again.

A Girl Like You – Gemma Burgess.


I’m using this novel again, as I just love the ending to this prologue. It keeps you in suspense. I wanted to know who the man was that had rescued her, what had happened, and what was going to happen next. Brilliant example of a ‘hook.’

Wicked Wives – Anna Lou Weatherley


Love love this prologue ending! I was curious right away as to who had appeared on the scene with a gun, and why. It kept me hooked throughout. Not to mention the authors faultless writing style.

Wives V Girlfriends – Katie Agnew


Katie is the master at opening and closing a chapter! Her books never fail to hook the reader. The prologue is dramatic, and mysterious, it certainly doesn’t give to much away. Throughout the whole book you’re wondering who the girl in this scene is, and who had her captured and why. One of my fave books.

Hollywood Sinners – Victoria Fox


Another brilliant chapter ending  which has that hook-factor. The reader is instantly filled with curiosity wanting to know this characters secret.

Who are your fave authors or books that hooked you instantly? Share your fave closing chapters!

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The First Chapter

I have already posted information on ‘Writing The Crucial First Page’. If the first page doesn’t grab the reader immediately to want to turn the page, then you may have lost their interest, and your book being read.

I found writing the first paragraph, let alone the first chapter difficult, and changed it many times. I picked some books randomly, and saved the first page to share what hooked me to want to continue reading. Tip: When writing, it’s important to read a lot in the genre that your novel is.


I liked this as I instantly wanting to read more about the MC’s partner. Standing her up for a golf game is terrible, so although I don’t know much about the main character yet, I feel sorry for her. I also like the setting whereby two friends are chatting amongst themselves.


I love this authors style of writing straight away. The setting is described beautifully, and the MC’s appearance is so nicely inserted, without sounding forced. I want to know why the character is there, and what she’s so pleased about.

What If He’s The One – Kathy Jay


Brilliant prologue. Extremely engaging. Starting off with a scenario which can be relatable to many: realistic and awkward is brill. Already you’re introduced to three characters, what time of year it is, where they are, and what’s happening. I turned the page to see whether the MC was in a relationship, had a one night stand, drunkenly passed out. Many situations could have occurred, and this page makes you curious to know what’s going on.


This first chapter throws you straight into the deep end. The MC is facing a huge dilemma. It made me want to know why she wanted to call the wedding off, and how she felt about it. Great introduction.


This is another chapter that gets straight into it. Already we know how the character is feeling, and that shes faced with news she wasn’t expecting. Definitely page-turning.

Gemma Burgess – A Girl Like You


I loved this first chapter! Sets the setting perfectly, how the MC is feeling, and why. You immediately feel sorry for her. How could you not want to know what’s happened to her? It also has added humor at the same time. Great style of writing.



Love this easy-to-read style of writing. The settling, who the characters are, a little bit about them just flows together so well. Already, I felt a bit sorry for the MC as she was worrying about the mood he would wake up in. I wanted to turn the page to see why she was waking him, how he would react, and what happened next.



The way this story starts is great. The MC is cooking in the morning for a man. I wanted to know who the man was, and what their relationship was. I really liked the setting, and why two eggs would cause an issue. It’s unique and the style of writing is effortlessly easy to read.


I love the way Anna Lou sets the scene, so glamorous and captivating. It just pulls me in.


Again, Katie Agnew nails the first chapter.  I wanted to know who the girl was, the captivator, where she is and why. Hook-factor at its best.

Feel free to share the first page of your own novel or fave novel in the comments box.

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Christmas Trees and Decorations From Around The World.

I absolutely love this time of year – the atmosphere, the Christmas trees / decorations, Christmas movies and music, everyone getting together, and celebrating.

Here are some Christmas trees and decorations authors / readers and bloggers have kindly shared with me so far. Keep coming back for more! Comment and share your own Christmas trees on here, or on my Facebook, or Twitter page! 

Lucy Wass from England.


Gabriela Baez from Miami, Florida.



Me, from Spain.

Mini tree.


Tree in our apartment block entrance.


Tree in Cadillac restaurant. My fave! ❤


My sisters tree, England.


My moms tree, England.


My mini tree last year, England.



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editsWriting That Crucial First Page

As you all know, I research A LOT when it comes to writing! I have a notepad full of tips / advice / things I have learnt / read etc. One thing I have been browsing lately is how to write the important first page of your novel. Your first page can make a reader toss it aside with boredom, or get comfy, and turn that page.

Here are my findings.

Context. Character. Conflict. 

Some off-putting factors are: too much detail in setting, no interest in the characters, even a main characters name can put readers off (sad, but true), but most of all….lack of tension gets that book closed. You need to hook the readers, especially if you’re a new author.

1. Your first sentence can make or break you. So, read, read, read, get ideas, show off your writing style, and get it right.

2. Start with your protagonist. Let them know straight away about your main character, their initial surface problem.

3. Make your main character relatable / likeable. Give them flaws, give them thoughts, give them a personality, share their world. This can be a little bit about their family history, their past, their fears, their quirky habits. You don’t want your character to seem like a cardboard cutout. No-one wants to read a story about someone they feel they don’t know. Nor do they care about a character they don’t feel for.

4. Let the reader know the setting. What year is it? What are the whereabouts of your character etc.

5. Don’t try too hard. Don’t write for what’s popular, write for what YOU love writing about, and in a style that you’d like to read, and that comes naturally to you when writing. There’s nothing worse than an author trying too hard to be funny, too clever, using big words to be impressive, etc. If you find yourself doing this, delete and BE YOURSELF. Readers will notice.

6. Avoid using too many words in replacement of the word ‘said.’ Chortled, grunted, mumbled, screamed etc. The readers know you own a thesaurus. (See Stephen Kings notes on my previous blog post.) You don’t want readers to admire your writing, you want them so engaged in the story that they don’t notice what words you use to shape it.

7. Include an incident or catalyst. Don’t try too hard with your opening ‘hook’ though. Yes, you want to grab the readers, but you don’t want to mislead them. Opening with a bomb exploding, or a horror scenario etc when it’s a romance novel may confuse them. Dreams, flashbacks, or writing about something that never appears again in the story, is odd, and obvious you wrote it to shock or captivate, rather than make an important point to the story. Conflict isn’t always best, unless it looks like it should be there.

8. A hint of the protagonist’s core need. Mention their visible goal. What are their needs?

9. Rewrite! Don’t be afraid to delete content if it doesn’t sound right. I have written 4 different drafts on my recent story! Tighten it, delete repetitive parts, add content, check grammar, edit it until you’re really pleased with it. Never be in a rush to get it out there, especially your first page which is the ultimate decider for a reader to continue or not.

10. Prologue or not? Decide whether you actually need it in the story, or are just being lazy, and using it to hook the readers to a gripping part, rather than make the first chapter more interesting.

11. Pick up some books. Read the first page / first chapters. See what’s included, or what’s missing.

12. Ask yourself, would you read on? ‘The more the readers reads, the more you can get them to read’ – Christoper Moore, author.

I found this on a website, and it’s extremely helpful. Here is an opening paragraph and what it details.

I have just one picture left of my mother. It’s 4 x 7, black-and-white, and creased in different places. In it, she is seated slightly hunched, elbows touching knees, arms carrying the weight of her back. I know very little about her life when it was taken; my only clue is written in orange marker on the back. It reads: Me in front of Mike’s on 6th St. 1971. Counting backward, I know that she was seventeen when it was taken, a year older than I am now. I know that Sixth Street is in Greenwich Village, though I have no idea who Mike is.

What do you know about the story from just this much text?

Place: New York City
Time: 1986
Tone/Mood: Reflective, remembering, possibly nostalgic
First-person POV narrator: 16-years-old, assumed to be female
Content of text: It’s about a black and white picture of the narrator’s mother.
Mystery: Who is Mike? Why is there only one picture of her mother left?
Audience: Young Adult/Teen to Adults.

What is the first sentence of your WIP / novel, and first paragraph? Please share below.  

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Stephen King On Using The Word Said.

QUESTIONS for the writers: How many of you follow dialogue mostly with the word ‘said?’ instead of say, croaked, yelled, cried, mimicked, mumbled, snarled….etc.

I am so guilty of using other words, but here is a tip from Stephen King: in his book ‘On Writing’, he expresses his belief that said is the best identifier to use. Said is the verb most writers use because reader familiarity with said prevents it from drawing attention to itself.

What are your thoughts on this???? ‪#‎Writing‬ ‪#‎Tips‬ ‪#‎Dilaogue‬ ‪#‎Verbs‬ ‪#‎Said‬‪#‎StephenKing‬

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Thanks you to Sue Johnson, Julia Ibbotson and Clara Grace Walker for kindly agreeing to donate a copy of their books!

Winners, one condition in respect of the terms is that you PLEASE post a review of the book once read on either Amazon, Goodreads, your blog (if you have one). The authors would greatly appreciate it.

THREE WINNERS names will be selected out of a hat next Friday 12th Sep 2014.

Sue Johnson – Fable’s Fortune

Fable Mitchell is born under a roof of stars in a Kentish plum orchard, and her early childhood is spent in a house called Starlight where she lives with her mother Jasmine and Gangan the Wise Woman. However, her life is not destined to remain like a fairytale. When she is ten, she is abducted by her estranged father Derek, now a vicar, and taken to live in his austere vicarage at Isbourne on the banks of the River Avon. Fable is unable to escape. When she is sixteen, she falls in love with Tobias Latimer but he dies in mysterious circumstances and Fable s happiness is once again snatched away from her. She tries to rebuild her life and marries Tony Lucas because she thinks the omens are right. Fable soon realises he is abusive and controlling, but is trapped because she fears losing contact with her daughter. Nearing her 40th birthday, Fable hears Gangan the Wise Woman s voice telling her to be ready magic happens. This is certainly true, but does Fable have the necessary courage to finally seize her chance of lasting happiness?


Julie Ibbotson

Drumbeats: can you ever escape your past?

Drumbeats is the first novel in a trilogy and follows 18 year old English student Jess through her gap year in West Africa. It’s a rite of passage novel set in the mid-1960s when Jess flees her stifling home background for freedom to become a volunteer teacher and nurse in the Ghanaian bush. Apprehensively, she leaves her first real romantic love behind in the UK, but will she be able to sustain the bond while she is away? With the idealism of youth, she hopes to find out who she really is and do some good in the world, but little does she realize what, in reality, she will find that year: joys, horrors, and tragedy. She must find her way on her own and learn what fate has in store for her, as she becomes embroiled in the poverty and turmoil of a small war-torn African nation under a controversial dictatorship. Jess must face the dangers of both civil war and unexpected romance. Can she escape her past? And why do the drumbeats haunt her dreams?

paperback and ebook for kindle editions available at

Drumbeats BerniClara Grace Walker


A Harsh Wake-Up Call…

Trapped in rehab by the corrupt owner of her record label, pop star Mindy LePage finds her career on life support and her life teetering on the edge of a self-destructive abyss. The Coral Reef Center, however, is not what she needs to fix her career or tame her demons. Run by megalomaniac Shirley Cantwise, CRC is hiding psychotic staff members, dead bodies and extreme methods of behavioral control.

…And A Dangerous Game of Cat and Mouse

Mindy’s one hope for escape is the appearance of Earl Grayson, the man she left two years earlier to keep him from learning the dark secrets of her past. Earl rushes to CRC when he learns she is there, offering support and still hoping for something more. He is the one person who can unlock Mindy’s imprisoned heart, if she could only give him the key. Their reconciliation, however, is something Shirley Cantwise is determined to prevent. Obsessed with the handsome movie star, Shirley sees Earl’s arrival at CRC as a sign she’s meant to have him. She will do whatever it takes to have Earl, and she’s not about to let anything stand in her way. Especially not Mindy LePage.


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How To Escape A Bad Date.

So, you’re on a date, and desperately want to get the hell out of there because of one, or all of the following reasons: he’s boring, he’s not your type, you’d rather be somewhere else or you’re thinking about someone else.

So, how do you ditch a date?

You could get them to ditch you. Be the worst date in the world by checking out other men, talking overly about an ex partner, bore them by discussing of work, or maybe even say something offensive, however not personal – don’t be that mean! LOL.

You could nip to the toilet, invite a friend (that has no shame) to pretend to

‘accidentally’ pop into the bar/club/place and get her to flirt with him, so that you can be offended by his behaviour and leave, or so that he no longer likes you, and she can dump him easier than you could have, having none of her contact details.

However, what if you don’t want to hurt their feelings and make it obvious? There are many excuses and tricks to end the date.

You can do the most popular trick of all. Get your friend or a family member to text you an emergency in an excuse to leave.

Or pretend that you have a curfew, such as an early start to work in the morning, an urgent task that needs attending to etc.

Pretend that you’re not feeling too well, and have a sudden headache or stomach

You could get drunk really fast and have no choice but to leave.

Or you could just be honest and tell him that you don’t feel any connection and that you’d rather just remain friends. You can even promise to set him up with a friend of yours that you’d feel he’d be more suited to.

So, there you have it.

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