Sunday, 30 November 2014

Q&A with Sophie King + Guest Post

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Q&A with Sophie King  

1. Did you always dream of being a writer? 
Yes. I also used to ask, in my prayers every night, that I would get to university. All I wanted to do was read English and then write novels in a country cottage surrounded by children. The husband figure was rather shadowy in my imagination!
2. Your newest book Do You Take This Man is published December 8th, what’s it about? 
It tells the story of one woman who is faced with a decision on her wedding day. Should she marry her fiancĂ© or not? Rather like ‘Sliding Doors’, there are two different outcomes. In one, my heroine marries her man and makes one kind of life. In another, she kicks off her wedding shoes and runs away. She then makes another kind of life. Each one is told in alternate chapters. To make it less confusing, the runaway bridge changes her name. I’m not going to say which life is ‘best’...
3. What was your inspiration for this book? 
Life. I’m always looking back over mine and wondering if I made the right decision at certain points. I think lots of us do that. It’s natural!
4. You have written six other novels, can you tell us a little more about each one? 
THE SCHOOL RUN is about a group of parents who are all on the same route to school. Each one has a problem which has to be solved by the end of the week.
SECOND TIME LUCKY is about a group of people who live in separate apartments under the same roof (an old converted house).  Some like each other; others hate each other; and some fall in love with each other
LOVE IS A SECRET is about three parents who turn to a website support group for help – but find it’s not as private as they’d hoped
YOUR PLACE OR MINE is about a group of couples who take it in turns to have supper at each others’ houses. This gets quite complicated when one of them brings a new girlfriend and the former wife is left out....
FALLING IN LOVE AGAIN is about a group of singles who find love (and more) when they join a ‘friendship’ club
THE WEDDING PARTY (to be published next year) is about a glamorous woman vicar; a wedding planner; a first wife; and a grown up daughter. They’re all going to the same second-time-round wedding in nine months time. But what will happen before that...And will the wedding ever take place? This was shortlisted for Love Story of The Year
  5. What are you working on right now? 
I’m sorry but I never talk about my books until they’re written. It takes away the urge to tell the story. But I do promise that there’ll be lots of twists and turns; tears and laughter.
6. You also write non-fiction books, what topics do they cover? 
Mainly parenting. My children are older now so I don’t write so many. But I used to write books about how to get children to go to bed/tidy their room etc. I’ve also got a book called HOW TO COPE WHEN YOUR CHILD GOES TO UNI . There are lots of books for students on how to organise themselves. But this one is to help parents from an emotional point of view. I used to write the family matters column for Woman magazine.
7. Where and when do you write your stories? 
I usually write early in the morning in a room at the top of our house, overlooking the sea. I also do a lot on the train between the south west and London. We moved to Devon five years ago but I go up to town about once or twice a month. I seem to spend most of my income on train fares but the carriage is a great place to write in. No one can contact you if you switch off the phone and there are plenty of characters to draw on!
 8. What do you do and enjoy when you’re not writing?  
Tennis; cycling; walking our dog; chatting to friends; being with my children; guessing who-dun-it with my husband in front of a good crime drama....
9. Who is your favourite author and why? 
Possibly Dickens because he has such a wide range of characters who still pluck my heart. Many of his issues are still the same. Death. Loss. Striving towards happiness. Reunions....
10. If you were shipwrecked on a desert island what 3 books would you want with you? 
1. Palgraves Golden Treasury. 
2. A book of sayings which my mother left me when she died at 56. It’s called Daily Strength For Daily Needs selected by Mary W. Tileston  and is a selection of inspirational readings. 
3. I’d also like a blank book so I could write my own stories. When I worked as a writer in residence of a high security male prison, I had one student who painted over pages in a text book so he could use it to write his own novel. (It wasn’t easy to get stationery.)
11. How would you describe your style of writing? 
Quirky. Funny without being light froth.  Pacy with a plot that makes the readers want to turn the page (hopefully!).
12. You also write as Janey Fraser, how do these books differ from your Sophie King books? 
They’re actually very similar. I changed publishers and my new one (Random House) wanted me to change my name so they could launch me as one of their own. The first Janey Fraser (The Playgroup) was aimed at a young mum audience. But as I went on, my mum readership age began to span late teens to the eighties. They’re the same style as my Sophie King books. My latest Janey Fraser is called AFTER THE HONEYMOON and was shortlisted by the Festival of Romance for an award.
13. Can you share some of your writing tips with us?
Write about something you feel passionate about.
Take that idea and ‘people’ it with interesting characters, each of whom have a problem that needs t be sorted by the end of the book
Make each character different; not just through physical features but mannerisms; way in which they speak etc
Include smells, noises and colours
Make sure something big happens at the end of each chapter to move the story along
Write every day
Don’t show it to your loved ones until it’s finished (if then). Who knows if they’re right.
14. If you could change something about your life, what would you change?
I would bring back my mother. She died of ovarian cancer aged 56 and not a day goes by when we don’t think of her.
15. Imagine one of your books would be turned into a movie. What would be your dream cast?
Hugh Grant (I can’t help it – his voice does it for me every time). Jennifer Aniston. Bill Nighy
16. Coffee or tea? 
Neither. I have one hot chocolate in the morning (winter) and fresh mint and boiling water (summer). For the rest of the day, it’s cranberry juice (concentrated from the health shop) and lots of filtered water.
17. Paperback or e-reader? 
I’m getting more used to e-readers. They’re less of a strain if you’re travelling and you can alter the size of the print. But you caress books in a different way: there’s something about snuggling up to one at night...
 18. Mountains or the sea? 
The sea every time. I’m a north Londoner who re-rooted to Devon. I walk by the sea every day. If I have to go to London, the first thing I do is go down to the front and check the waves are still there. I’ve also become an all-the-year-round swimmer unless the waves are rough. And yes, I wear a wet suit if it’s cold! I also do the Boxing Day swim!!!!!
19. Summer or winter? 
Summer. I love the sun and the light evenings
20. Sweet or salty? 
Depends on the time of the day. Savoury or salt at the beginning of the day and evening but a tiny piece of chocolate after lunch. In fact, I’ve just discovered that someone has nicked my last piece of caramel shortbread from the fridge...

Image and video hosting by TinyPic INDECISIVE? ME?

Some people find it hard to make decisions? Me? I take ages over the little ones but take the big ones far too easily. Carrot or tomato soup? Carrot, please. Actually, hang on. Maybe the tomato. No ... the carrot.

The blue ankle boots or the black. Blue! Definitely. They’ll go with my jeans. But then the black will go with my leather trousers. Still, blue is more unusual.

Will you marry me? Yes! The word is out of my mouth before I can chew it over. Help! Now I’ve done it. In fact, I’ve said yes three times – even though I’ve only been married twice.

So why do I spend ages sweating the small stuff when I hardly allow my brain to breathe before making a life-changing decision? A psychologist friend says that people like me are so scared by the really big choices, that they go for the one that will please others. It makes us feel better – at least until the full implications set in.

Then we get ourselves into a real spin until we’re brave enough to admit that we made the wrong choice. When I was 18, I got engaged because it seemed impolite to say ‘no’. He was a very nice boy but we weren’t right for each other. However, it took me a while to summon up the courage to tell him so. And when I did, it turned out that he’d been trying to do the same himself ...
The same goes for flying. I don’t really like it, to be honest. But I always find myself suggesting holidays in far flung places because there are so many things that could go wrong with a flight that there’s no point in worrying about them. Besides, how else would I get to see the world?

My husband (number two) says that one of the things he loves about me is that I get into quite a flap over things like lost socks and mess and late library books. But when the going gets tough, I’m pretty calm. (Car broken down in the fast lane? That’s OK. Whip out the emergency red triangle in the boot. Red triangle not there? That’s OK too. Just pull into the slow lane and flag someone down for help. No one stopping? Right. Walk half a mile to the next emergency phone in perishing gale. And yes, this is a true story.)

Meanwhile, just don’t ask me to choose between carrot soup and tomato. I’m still trying to make up my mind ... As for the blue boots, I got the black. But I’m going out for the blue ones tomorrow. If you can’t make a decision between two things, get both. At least, that’s going to be my new motto from now on.

Just as well that doesn’t apply to husbands ... 


I am the author of the Tales from the Heart, The School Run, Falling in Love Again (Divorce for Beginners), Love is a Secret (Mums@Home), Second Time Lucky, Your Place or Mine? (The Supper Club) and The Wedding Party.

My books are aimed at teenagers, mums and grans, or anyone else who can identify with a chaotic family life. I have three children, a dog, a cat and a sleepy terrapin – all of whom make me laugh or cry, depending on how I feel.

In between novels, I write short stories and have had hundreds published in magazines such as Woman’s Weekly and My Weekly. I also gives regular talks/workshops at bookshops and literary festivals including Winchester and Guildford. Until my recent move to Devon, I tutored at Oxford University and West Herts College. For three years, I was writer in residence at HMP Grendon, a high-security male prison. I have also appeared several times on breakfast television and Woman’s Hour, including a Christmas programme on rivalry in the kitchen!

I have a pen name to distinguish my novels from my journalism. As Jane Bidder, I have written for The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Woman, Woman’s Weekly, My Weekly, Good Housekeeping and many other national publications.

I have interviewed several big celebrities including my childhood hero David Essex, Michael Palin, Penny Vincenzi, Deborah Moggach, Julie Walters, Nigel Havers, Carolyn Quentin, Lord Lichfield, Martina Cole, Linda Robson, Lesley Joseph, Barbara Taylor Bradford and countless others.

In 2005, I won the Elizabeth Goudge Short Story Trophy and was a runner up in the Harry Bowling Prize. I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists Association; Women in Journalism; the Society of Women Writers and Journalists and the National Union of Journalists.

I’m thrilled to support new romantic writing through the annual writing competition The Sophie King Prize.

Friday, 28 November 2014

How writing has changed my life by Hilary Grossman

The lovely Simona asked me to share how being an author and writing has changed my life...  

At first I had no answer... Because in most ways absolutely nothing has changed for me since I published my book, Dangled Carat.  

I still have an hour plus commute each way to work, which I still complain about on a daily basis. 
I still work at the same company, doing the same job.  
Saturday morning is still laundry day. I fold while chatting with my mom. 
My unhealthy addiction to denim and shoes continues.  
And I still love to wash dishes but detest drying them. 

But as I pondered I realized that my life has changed dramatically. It has gotten much richer!   As a result of writing the book I had the opportunity to meet and develop friendships with so many people. 

I continue to be blown away by book bloggers who work tirelessly, offering praise and constructive criticism, helping people pick their next read.  Their efforts mean so much to a new kid on the writing block like me.  

I have spent my life in corporate America where it seems everyone is out for themselves, only worried about their own successes.  People don’t selflessly help each other.  The opposite hold true for authors.  I continue to be amazed at how helpful and supportive authors are.  They constantly are willing to help one another by offering knowledge, support, and sometimes a shoulder to cry on when things get tough, and your insecurities get the better of you.

But best of all I am thankful for the readers who I have had the pleasure to connect with.  I decided to write my story because I wanted to help other people who were experiencing the same thing - dating a commitment-phobe.  It is a very difficult position to be in, everyone in your life has an opinion and offers advice. You constantly feel like you are second guessing yourself and your actions, wondering if you should follow your heart.  By sharing my story I have helped others. I have received countless emails, Facebook and Twitter messages from people who are currently in the same predicament that I was in.  They have shared their stories and I have offered a sympathetic ear and advice.  These communications mean the world to me, and I look forward to helping others...

Hilary on Twitter: @feelingbeachie

One Hundred Christmas Proposals by Holly Martin - The Competition

One Hundred Christmas Proposals is out now, here’s the blurb

The eagerly anticipated follow-up to One Hundred Proposals.

If you thought Harry & Suzie’s life couldn't get anymore sweepingly romantic than Harry asking her to marry him at the end of One Hundred Proposals – think again!

It’s Christmas in a snow-kissed London, and have vowed to carry out one hundred proposals in December. No easy task at the best of times - made even more complicated by Harry & Suzie trying to plan their first Christmas and a visit from the dreaded in-laws. But one hundred deliciously Christmassy proposals later they find themselves asking if everything is still perfect in their own relationship….

Welcome back to the divinely warm world of One Hundred Proposals – with a sprinkling of pure, joyful, festive magic.

Have yourself a very merry Christmas indeed with Holly Martin’s Christmas novella.


I love this story and I’m so excited about you guys reading it too. I never thought I would write a sequel for any of my novels, but catching up with Harry and Suzie, two of my favourite characters, in London at Christmas was a story that was begging to be told.  What I love about this story is instead of Harry proposing to Suzie, we get to see some of the amazing proposals they organise for their clients and we learn a little about their clients lives too.  One of my favourite proposals in this story is the sightseeing flight over London with the proposal written in flowers on a boat on the Thames.

Now you can win a sightseeing flight over London too and experience some incredible views of our capital.

This experience gives you a unique perspective on the sights of London. After a short pre-flight briefing, you'll board a Piper Seneca twin-engine plane for a fantastic half hour sightseeing trip.

After taking off in Essex you'll follow the Thames west into the heart of the city, getting a unique view of the capital. You'll see the O2 arena, Tower Bridge, HMS Belfast, the towers at Canary Wharf, The London Eye, The Shard and the Houses of Parliament. Then turn north to fly over Trafalgar Square and Buckingham Palace, before heading back east to land in Essex. You'll get an amazing perspective on the geography of the city and the beauty of its landmarks, so whether you're a tourist or a Londoner, you'll see the capital in a whole new way. And if flying isn’t your thing, this would make the perfect Christmas present for someone in your family.

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is copy one of the pre-prepared tweets below, tweet it and you’ll automatically be entered into the draw to win this prize bundle.  The more you tweet, the more times you’ll be entered.

The competition will run until midnight (UK time) on Sunday 14th December so plenty of time for tweeting.  Every time you tweet, you’ll be entered into the draw.

Good Luck

One Hundred Christmas Proposals by @hollymartin00 is out now, a gorgeous, sparkly story to curl up with this winter

Join Harry & Suzie as they celebrate Christmas in a snowkissed London,100 Christmas Proposals is 59p

Celebrate Christmas in a sparkly,snowkissed London, a beautiful love story to curl up with this winter

Christmas lights,overcooked turkey,plenty of cake,glistening snow. 100 Christmas Proposals is only 59p

What will Harry give Suzie this Christmas? 100 Christmas Proposals is only 59p, a sparkly,snowy sequel

Harry & Suzie are back celebrating their first Christmas in a snowy London,100 Christmas Proposals.59p

Fairy lights, candles, snow, flowers and beautiful music, how to create the perfect Christmas proposal

100 Christmas Proposals is only 59p,a gorgeously romantic snowkissed story to curl up with this winter

Thursday, 27 November 2014

I’ll Take New York – by Miranda Dickinson

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Original Copy
My own copy

The blurb:

The author of the Sunday Times bestselling Take a Look at Me Now, returns to New York with her most heart-warming, romantic story yet.

Have you ever given up on love?

When her boyfriend lets her down for the last time, Brooklyn bookshop owner Bea James makes a decision – no more. No more men, no more heartbreak, and no more pain.

Psychiatrist Jake Steinmann is making a new start too, leaving his broken marriage behind in San Francisco. From now on there'll just be one love in his life: New York.

At a party where they seem to be the only two singletons, Bea and Jake meet, and decide there’s just one thing for it. They will make a pact: no more relationships.

But the city has other plans . . .

My Opinion:

*Book provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

So, this book is really special to me. I’ve read three of Miranda’s books already; the others are ready in my bookshelf. When I saw a tweet to join #TeamBea I took the chance. All I had to do was tweet my fave character out of her books. Until now it has been Romily from It Started With A Kiss, now I think Bea took over that role. A few days later I was mentioned in a tweet announcing the winner, I was one of them, I couldn’t believe it!!! So thank you!
I’m more than happy to be part of this team and the blog tour. Thanks especially to Miranda, Olivia and Shaba.

Well, so here we go. The cover is absolutely stunning! I fell in love with it instantly and I think it fits the story perfectly.

The story follows Bea James, who owns a cute bookshop in Brooklyn. I liked her immediately, not only because of her love for books, but also her personality. I think we are pretty similar. The book starts with her and her family waiting for her boyfriend Otis to finally show up, he was the one who invited them in the first place… He doesn’t show up, Bea has had enough, it’s over!!!

Then we have Jake, Dr. Jake Steinmann, yes Steinmann you heard right. I’ve you’ve read Miranda’s first novel Fairytales of New York the name might sound familiar. Jake is Ed’s younger brother. Ed and Rosie are engaged now and it was so great to read about them again, I’ll get back to that later. Jake is in the middle of his divorce, moving back to New York from San Francisco, he needs a new start. I also liked him from the start, he seemed like an honest and gorgeous man, all a woman wants ;)

At Rosie’s and Ed’s engagement party they meet. Bea’s brother’s girlfriend Celia is friend with Rosie, just to clear up the connections between the characters. Well, Jake and Bea seem to be the only single people at the party and they start talking, they clicked immediately, so cute. Both having enough from relationships agreed to a pact, no relationships ever again… Was this a good idea?!

A day later both of them realised that they didn’t ask for the other’s phone number. Rosie and Bea become friends, when Bea is hosting Celia’s book launch, when they get to talk at Rosie’s florist shop Kowalski, she tells her about Jake and Jake tells Ed. Rosie and Ed, sweet and cute as they are, set them up. Jake and Bea start to spend lots of time together, exploring New York. Both of them picking places, which mean something to them. This was great, because it made me feel closer to both characters. But, they are only friends right?! Their chemistry was pretty obvious and I was only waiting for something to happen between them. Let’s just say I had to be really patient.

And there were still their ex partners. Otis on Bea’s side, who suddenly decided to want her back, even asking her an important question. And Jessica, on the other side, who shows up in New York out of the blue. A lot of misunderstandings and not being honest to themselves lead to complicated things. At one point at Ed’s and Rosie’s wedding I thought that it would finally happen, since they had a moment just a few days before, but then everything changed. I just wanted them to be honest to themselves and to everybody else and I liked that Ed and Rosie were always involved somehow.

I enjoyed reading about them again, I liked their story and it continued here, which was so sweet and magical to read about.

I liked the way both their families and friends were included in the story, especially Bea’s grandmother Dot. Them exchanging emails and letters and her grandmother opening up and telling Bea about her first love. I knew Dot always had good advice for Bea and would show her the right way in the end.

New York is a wonderful city and I really want to go there now. Central Park, the pond, the Empire State Building etc. It was so much fun getting to know the city with Jake and Bea and Miranda’s way of describing the places made it all so real and vivid.
The scenes in this story were all so authentic and I felt like being part of it. Miranda’s writing is brilliant, so magical and sparkly. I loved every second of this book and I think this is my new favourite out of her books. I fell in love with the story, the characters, New York and also with the writing! Well done Miranda, this book is a masterpiece!

The books shows us what is important in live and that sometimes it takes a bit longer to find what you really want!



My possible cast:

Bea: Sarah Drew

Jake: Robbie Amell

Miranda on Twitter: @wurdsmyth