About Lucy Mitchell

Still waiting for the Sleepless in Seattle film sequel. Romcom Author. Book Blogger. Mum of teens. Owned by a golden Labrador.

5 Things Every Romance Series Needs – Guest Post by @sandybarker #Romance #WritingRomance

Oh my goodness, author, Sandy Barker, has written me a fabulous guest blog post below.

Sandy writes gorgeous and funny romances set in far away places. Her heroines go on wonderful journeys of self discovery and experience heartwarming romances. She’s published by Harper Collins and her debut novel plus her latest book in the same series are below.

I have added links to the book covers below so just click on them to find out more. Please read her post first!

One Summer In Santorini - Sandy Barker - Updated (1)

That Night in Paris Cover

So, let me hand over to Sandy Barker.

Hello all, 

Here are the 5 things I think every romance series needs

Lovable and relatable main characters

This may seem a little obvious―shouldn’t all main characters in a romance be lovable and relatable? Yes, absolutely, but even more so in a series, because the reader will be spending lots more time with them than in a stand-alone.

TIP: Think about your closest friends (yes, even the ones who sometimes drive you around the bend) and ask yourself why you love them. Those are the traits you can build a lovable and relatable character around.

If I think of mine, I love them because they make me laugh ’til I can’t breathe, they love every version of me (even grumpy, morose, or self-pitying Sandy), and they show up―no, not uninvited on my doorstep at inopportune times. I mean, they’re there―when I need them, no matter what. And, those are the women I write.

Interesting and well-developed supporting characters

The most wonderful thing about supporting characters in a romance series is that once they have played their supporting role, you can give them their own story, their own romance! And all the work you did to create and develop them in the earlier book(s) will pay off (big time) when they get the starring role. You will already have established the cadence of their speech, their looks, their mannerisms, and how they feel about life, the universe, and everything. They’re already part of the world you’ve created, so a lot of the heavy lifting of creating a person from scratch is already done.

TIP: Create detailed character profiles for your supporting characters as well as your main characters, including their vernacular, style choices, and the minutiae that makes them them.

A thread or a theme

I write travel romcoms, a sub-genre of romance novels that will one day properly take off and be a thing―known across the world to readers everywhere (I digress and yes, I may have an agenda). But what this means is that travel is a prominent thread that weaves its way through all the stories in my ‘Holiday Romance’ series. And, more specifically, it is the transformational effect of travel that acts as a catalyst for my characters’ arcs. Simply, if my main characters stayed put instead of opting to travel, they would not transform.

TIP: Consider what will link the books in your series together―besides the characters knowing each other. Many series are set in one location (e.g. Phillipa Ashley’s ‘Cornish Café’ series). Many series will have a theme, such as ‘the importance of family’ (e.g. Lucy Knott’s How to Bake a New Beginning and its sequel), and many series centre around an overarching story where all the characters have buy-in (e.g. Katie Ginger’s ‘Seafront’ series).

No matter the thread or the theme, ensure it speaks to you. You’ll be spending a lot of time with it.

A thoroughly developed character arc

Yes, here’s another one that is essential to every story, but if you’re writing a series, you have time to really marinade in the main character’s development. In romance, this may mean that the main character gets a ‘happy for now’ ending for one or two books before getting their ‘happily ever after’. And maybe their ‘happy for now’ isn’t about the romance at all. It could be a major decision they’ve made, or a self-discovery. The main thing to remember is that by the end of the series, they will have significantly transformed―even if for some of series they have been a supporting character.

TIP: Even if you’re a pantser, at least have an idea where your main and supporting characters will end up by the time the series concludes.

A good name

What’s in a name, right? Well, my publisher and I agonised over my series title for months (yes, really). And then we realised we were over thinking it. It’s a series about holiday romances, so that’s what we called it.

TIP: Choose something that no one else is using so your series stands out! The brilliant Julie Caplin snagged ‘The Romantic Escapes Series’ before I even discovered her. Otherwise, I would have wanted it for myself.

If you want to check out Sandy’s books here are the links:

Amazon.co.uk – click here.

Wasn’t that fabulous? Huge thank you to the wonderful Sandy Barker!

Author Photo Sandy Barker

The Essential abilities of the Romantic Hero – Guest Post by @EllaHayesAuthor

Oh my goodness I have such a blog post for you!

Mills and Boon Author Ella Hayes is here to talk about the essential abilities of the romantic hero. I always fall madly in love with Ella Hayes’s male characters and to me she’s the queen of creating sexy male heroes. Her latest character Zach Merrill, from Italian Summer with the Single Dad, made me throw out my new year’s resolution about not getting carried away with fancying fictional hunks and don’t get me started on her character, Cormac from Her Brooding Scottish Heir.

I am a hot mess before this post has even started so let’s quickly hand over to Ella Hayes. 

Hello, here are my essential hero attributes:

Likeability

When it comes to writing romantic heroes, first on my list of essential hero attributes is likeability. I don’t mean that the hero has to be the life and soul of the party or that he can’t be flawed (more on that later), but there has to be an immediate sense that whatever he’s projecting outwardly, he’s nevertheless a “good ‘un”. In the 50,000-word novellas I write for Mills and Boon, early reader engagement is essential. One way of achieving that is through writing both the heroine and the hero’s point of view alternately. It keeps the reader up to speed with what both characters are thinking, and so even if the hero’s demeanour is cool and reserved (as Cormac Buchanan’s is in Her Brooding Scottish Heir) the reader soon understands the reasons for that. I always love writing the hero’s POV, by the way. All that digging around in the male psyche—such fun!

Credibility

Second on my list of hero essentials is credibility. Alexander Pope said: “to err is human [… to forgive is divine”] and so, to be properly relatable a hero needs to have some flaws. But, in a heart-warming romance, the hero’s flaws should never undermine his likeability. He can’t do anything that will alienate the reader and so often, the hero’s perceived “flaws” are actually a reflection of his internal struggle or conflict. In the movie, Love Actually, Andrew Lincoln keeps his best friend’s new bride, Keira Knightly at arms’ length, not because he doesn’t like her, but because he’s in love with her. “It’s a self-preservation thing,” he tells her when she finally cottons on … and then there’s the totally heart-melting scene where he stands silently on the doorstep with his cue cards, “without hope or agenda” declaring his undying love for her as his ghetto blaster plays Silent Night. He only gets a kiss, but his status as a romantic hero is affirmed in those few moments.

Nobility

Nobility is another important hero-attribute, but I’m not talking about high-birth. For me, a true hero has to have a noble nature. He’s spontaneously selfless, sacrificing his own dreams and desires for those he loves, or perhaps he’s been robbed of the chance to “do the right thing” and is consequently burdened with guilt. He may not find his noble decisions and choices easy to live with—he’s only human after all—but in spite of any misgivings, he remains steadfast, loyal and true … the proverbial knight in shining armour. (Fact check: are there actually any proverbs about knights in shining armour?) In my forthcoming release, Unlocking the Tycoon’s Heart, my hero Theo is supremely steadfast … and believe me, it makes him a heavyweight in the hero stakes.

Vulnerability

For me, the other “must have” for any self-respecting romantic hero is vulnerability. Why? Because it’s the chink in his armour (sticking with the shining knight theme) through which the heroine will slip. The hero’s vulnerability is the base camp of his emotional journey, the route to his salvation and his happy ever after. In Italian Summer with the Single Dad, when the hero takes the heroine to the Ravello bar where he plays classical guitar one evening a week, he’s trusting her with a private side of himself, giving her a glimpse of his shelved ambitions. Unsurprisingly, this moment is pivotal to the way things unfold …

F***ability

You will notice that so far, I haven’t mentioned appearance and that’s because the hero’s gorgeousness or f***-ability (sorry, Mum!) is a given, and will almost certainly be the first thing the heroine notices about him. But for the story to truly resonate, the hero must engage all of his heroic “abilities” to procure his own and his heroine’s happy ever after, and to leave the reader sighing blissfully when the curtain falls.

Huge thanks to Ella for this wonderful post.

I need to go lie down in a darkened room and listen to soothing whale music…

#BookLaunch #BookReview Marriage Unarranged @RituBhathal #Romance #ChickpeaCurryLit

I am ridiculously PROUD to be part of the team for the LAUNCH OF THIS WONDERFUL AUTHOR’s DEBUT ROMANCE NOVEL – Marriage Unarranged.

Oh my goodness what an honour!

I was one of the beta readers for this FAB book and this is such a gorgeous debut.

So proud of you, Ritu!

Congrats from all of us at BlondeWriteMore 😍

Here’s the blurb:

Chickpea Curry’ Lit — Chick Lit with an Indian twist!

It all started ended with that box…

Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something…

Here’s my review:

If you are looking for an uplifting romance plot, a great cast of characters, a good sprinkling of humour and a glimpse of true India – this book is for you!

My heart went out to the main character Aashi. Her broken engagement is heartbreaking to read and I wanted to reach inside the book and hug her.

The trip to India with her best mate and her brothers is inspired as its during this trip Aashi starts to find herself. This book is crammed with vivid descriptions of true India and I thought it was a refreshing setting for a romance book.

Ritu has done a fantastic job on bringing the smells and sounds of the markets, the rickshaw journeys and the kaleidoscope of colours to life.

I will say this – the romance in this book will make your heart flutter!

A fabulous read and congrats to Ritu xx

This book is now live and just a click away!

http://getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

Ritu Bhathal

Here’s how to connect with Ritu:

Author.to/RituBhathal
myBook.to/PoeticRITUals
http://getbook.at/MarriageUnarranged

Author Bio

  • Ritu Bhathal was born in Birmingham in the mid-1970s to migrant parents, hailing from Kenya but with Indian origin. This colourful background has been a constant source of inspiration to her.
  • From childhood, she always enjoyed reading. This love of books is credited to her mother. The joy of reading spurred her on to become creative in her writing, from fiction to poetry. Winning little writing competitions at school and locally encouraged her to continue writing.
  • As a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and teacher, she has drawn on inspiration from many avenues to create the poems that she writes.
  • A qualified teacher, having studied at Kingston University, she now deals with classes of children as a sideline to her writing!
  • Ritu also writes a blog, http://www.butismileanyway.com, a mixture of life and creativity, thoughts and opinions, which was awarded first place in the Best Overall Blog Category at the 2017 Annual Bloggers Bash Awards, and Best Book Blog in 2019.
  • Ritu is happily married and living in Kent, with her Hubby Dearest, and two children, not forgetting the fur baby Sonu Singh.

 

Blog Tour Banner

 

5 Things Your Female Character Needs To Have – Guest Post by Author @zoe_writes

If you write romcoms or are mulling over a romcom story idea this post is for you.

I am thrilled to have Zoe May on my blog. She’s a romcom queen to me and I can’t believe she’s written me a wonderful guest post.

Photo taken from https://www.zoemayauthor.co.uk

Zoe May is the author of four romantic comedy novels, published by HQ Digital, HarperCollins.

Her debut, Perfect Match, about online dating, was an iBooks bestseller.

Zoe is currently working on her fifth novel, Flying Solo, which she is self-publishing this summer.

So I am going to hand over to Zoe May *squeal*

Hi, here are five things I believe your female character needs to have.

Flaws

I’ve read a few rom coms recently where the main character is practically Mother Theresa and it really annoys me! I strongly believe that characters don’t need to be perfect in order to appeal to readers. Some of my favourite rom com heroines, like Becky Bloomwood from Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series, are flawed. Becky is completely materialistic, a little shallow, a bit self-involved and pretty misguided, but that’s what makes her interesting and relatable.

None of us are perfect and when I read about an overly nice character in a rom com, it feels like a likeability box ticking exercise by the author. The heroine ends up seeming fake and the execution feels forced. I like writing characters with flaws because I’m flawed and so is everyone. Flawed characters feel more real and as a result, they’re more engaging to write about. Giving your character flaws also gives them an opportunity for growth throughout the book. My debut, Perfect Match, is about a woman who has a very superficial attitude to dating, looking for a rich, handsome, successful man, and the story is about how she changes and grows and realises what’s really important in a partner. Her growth drives the story forward.

Friends
Your heroine has to be relatable and fairly likeable (in spite of her flaws), and relatable and likeable people tend to have friends. Including scenes featuring your main character’s friends will show us more about her as a person and will move the story forward as her friends may encourage her to make certain decisions. For example, in my current novel, Flying Solo, my heroine’s best friend supports her decision to embark on a trip to India to win her boyfriend back after he dumps her to jet off on a self-discovery mission.

Your character’s interactions with her friends can provide good opportunities for humour too. I love writing funny dialogue between best mates.

Not too much baggage
While I think main characters should have flaws, I think there are limits to how much baggage heroines should have. Rom coms offer readers escapism. The world is a messed-up place and when we pick up a book with a bright happy cover and a chirpy blurb, we don’t want to be reading about dark themes like death, abuse, rape, violence, war, terrorism or whatever else. We want to be cheered up, not depressed! I steer clear of anything too dark. My heroines tend to have had pretty decent lives. It may not be totally realistic as terrible things do happen to lovely people in real life, but I think it’s best to keep that kind of thing off the page when it comes to rom com.

A good heart
I’ve mentioned that I think main characters need to have flaws in order to feel human and relatable, but that being said, in the genre of rom com, your main character definitely needs to have a good heart. She may be misguided at times, she may make mistakes and screw things up, but ultimately, she must be a decent person. Rom coms are meant to be uplifting and stories about bitchy girls tend not to be. If you want to write about an antagonist, write a thriller!

Humour
Your main character has to be funny. Her thought processes, the situations she gets herself into, her dialogue with people – she needs to be entertaining. She is the epicentre of the story so if she is not amusing, the whole book will suffer. We read rom coms partly for the “com” element after all, so she has to be humorous!

Check out Zoe’s latest book, Flying Solo, here.

 

Author Interview – Ritu Bhathal @RituBhathal #Books #RomanceReaders #Bookish

Ritu Bhathal’s debut romance novel, Marriage Unarranged, is being launched on 9 February. I am struggling to contain my book excitement as my blog is taking part in the go-live celebrations on Sunday and I was one of the lucky few to beta read this book.

As I think this clever lady is going to be very successful with her books, she’s already created her own genre – Chickpea Curry Lit – Chick Lit With An Indian Twist, I thought it would be nice to interview her over a chai latte.

Also when she’s famous I can say she came on my blog and get some kudos for interviewing a future star *sigh*

So, we’ve both got our chai lattes in fancy cups and Ritu’s made us some home cooked nibbles (she makes amazing cakes!) which I am struggling to stop devouring. We are ready for a natter. Let’s begin.

Ritu, welcome to BlondeWriteMore! Tell us about yourself

Well, as you know, my name is Ritu, and at this moment in time, I am days away from being a published author!

But that’s not the whole of me. I’m a British Indian woman, born in the mid-seventies to Kenyan born Indian parents who moved to Birmingham, in the early seventies. I grew up with a true smorgasbord of cultures around me, having a massive extended family already living here, and enjoying the colourful Indian traditions and culture, interspersed with trips to Kenya, and absorbing the culture there. Of course, being born here, I was also immersed in British life too. A true East/West mix, that’s me!

As a child I was sent to an all girl’s private school from the age of three all the way to the completion of my A-levels, at 17. Having such inspirational people around me, teaching me, made me want to be a teacher, which I did in fact end up becoming.

My mother is an avid reader, so I was always, and still am, found with my nose buried in a book. I do love a good book.

I studied, met my now-Hubby Dearest in my last year of university, and we planned our wedding, but not before I had a taste of a few other jobs, pre-teaching. I worked as an assistant manager in a designer clothing boutique in Kingston-Upon-Thames – an experience that, had it been available in those times, would have made for a fantastic reality show! Seriously, the customers! The stories!

Then I ended up in the bank for around 4 years. Marriage meant I relocated to Kent, and I had nine years in a marketing company, before finding my way back to the job I had actually trained to do, teaching.

In between all this, I dabbled in writing, and started a blog which pushed me to write more.

So, right now, you find me as a wife, mother to a teen and a tween, a feline fur baby, Sonu Singh and two feathered ones, Heer and Ranjha, a teacher, blogger, and writer!

Plenty of fodder for the imagination there!

 

Where did the idea for the book come from?

When I started writing this story, it was the year 2001. The working title was Wedded Stress. I was in the midst of planning my wedding and the urge to write was strong. I was entering into a perfect marriage, but what would happen if someone was all set up for the same, and things go belly up? That was the catalyst, but there was no planning at that stage. I started writing, and just wanted to see what happened. I wasn’t even sure if it would be a book length story, or just something short. (At over 86,000 words, I’m sure you will agree that it is most definitely not short!)

But life happened, and marriage, followed by trying for a family, having kids and raising them, meant that my idea languished on a floppy disk for a long while. I remember finding it, one day a couple of years after starting. I loaded it up, and thought, ‘I can do something with this.’ Hubby Dearest was most supportive, and he even bought me my first laptop so I could carry on making my dream come true. Then, it got shelved, again and when I started my blog, that was when the true writing started. When feedback from the first couple of chapters came in, I was encouraged to start writing properly, but time was a huge issue. I ended up using the month of August in 2017, to really write properly, and even used a plan. By this time, I had realised that pantsing a whole story might not be wise. It wasn’t complete, yet, but it was a real story with a beginning, a middle and I knew what the end would be.

And it got rechristened to Marriage Unarranged.

After a few months, I managed to finish it, and here we are now, in the year 2020, and I have a completed, and published book!

 

How long have you been writing?

I have always loved to write, from a young age. I was always telling stories, and when people stopped listening, I started writing them down, instead. At that time, I had no aspirations of becoming an author, but I loved the reading and writing process. I won a couple of school writing competitions and that boosted my confidence.

My real writing, I would say started around five years ago, when I became serious about something that started as a flippant comment about having a book with my name on it. I managed that, with my poetry anthology, Poetic RITUals, but it was this story that really wanted to be told that pushed me to learn more about the writing and publishing process, and finally got me to where I am today.

 

Can we expect more books from you?

I hope so, yes!

During the writing of Marriage Unarranged, many characters popped into the story, and began to want to tell their story. I had to control myself a little, but the feedback I received from beta readers hinted at the fact that they would love to read more about certain people they had met in the book.

And so, another two fiction books in the same genre, (coined Chickpea Curry Lit – Chick Lit With An Indian Twist) have been planned, focussing on other people from Marriage Unarranged. Now I just need to make the time to write them!

I have also got ideas and words for three possible children’s picture books. All I need to do is finish the rhymes for the last one, and then I need to look for an illustrator. That’s something I need to research.

Sigh. The life of an author is not just creation, but perpetual education…

Thank you, again, Lucy! I do hope your readers choose to enjoy learning about Aashi and her journey.

Marriage Unarranged.

Here’s the blurb:

Aashi’s life was all set.

Or so she thought.

Like in the Bollywood films, Ravi would woo her, charm her family and they’d get married and live happily ever after.

But then Aashi found the empty condom box…

Putting her ex-fiancé and her innocence behind her, Aashi embarks upon an enlightening journey, to another country, where vibrant memories are created, and unforgettable friendships forged.

Old images erased, new beginnings to explore.

And how can she forget the handsome stranger she meets? A stranger who’s hiding something.

If you want to check this book out here’s the info you need:

Blog Tour Banner

 

In other news, on BlondeWriteMore on Thursday I have such a treat for all writers of romance. One of my FAVOURITE authors – ZOE MAY has written me a gorgeous guest post titled – 5 Things Your Female Character Needs To Have. 

I am honoured to have all these wonderful people like Ritu and Zoe wanting to come on my blog x

#BookReview Make It Up To You @Lucy_K_Author #TuesdayBookBlog #Romance

I think author Lucy Keeling rocks for a number of reasons:

  1. She’s called Lucy.
  2. She writes witty romance.
  3. Her insta stories where she talks to her followers everyday from her car are fab! Check out Lucy’s instagram because this lady always makes me smile on a morning before I shuffle into work.
  4. Her debut novel which I am reviewing below is one of my best Romcom reads from 2019.
  5. She’s part of the UK RomChat team and loves a good tweet.

This book, Make It Up To You, will transport you into the world of make-up artist, Sophie Timney and online make-up tutorials.

I have two teenage daughters who are GLUED to watching makeup tutorials on YouTube and they make me watch them (in an attempt to teach me how to apply makeup. At forty something my makeup skills are sadly lacking and anything other than a quick finger dab in something sparkly is a challenge), so I could relate to this book.

Here’s the blurb:

What do mascara wands and gardening shears have in common?

Absolutely nothing! At least that’s what wannabe beauty influencer Sophie Timney thinks when her friend Polly suggests involving her brother Marcus in Sophie’s make-up tutorials. She needs more views, Marcus needs promotion for his gardening business – in Polly’s mind joining forces will help them both. Sophie isn’t so sure.

Because Marcus Bowman has a habit of getting under her skin in a way that no exfoliating face scrub ever could. But, as the views and comments on her videos begin creeping up, it becomes increasingly obvious that Sophie’s subscribers like Marcus, and what’s even worse is that Sophie might be starting to feel the same way…

Here’s my review:

When the story opens Sophie is having a bad day as she thinks she’s uploaded the wrong makeup advice video and she’s fretting because her followers are not increasing.

I really warmed to Sophie. She’s passionate about her makeup advice tutorials and will do whatever it takes to make it a success.

Her relationship with Marcus is funny. They bicker and argue whilst this gorgeous romance grows between them. Sophie thinks he’s cheeky, wonders what fake tan he’s using and gets frustrated when he makes a tea for himself. He enjoys winding her up, thinks she can be a bit of a diva and can’t stop thinking about a kiss they once shared.

This book gave me lovely warm tingles especially around Marcus ❤️ He is gorgeous and it really was a delightful read.

Lucy Keeling has written a fab novel about what happens when career paths and romantic urges are bound together. She’s thrown in some fab female relationships for good measure and drizzled over a good helping of love.

If you want to find out more check out this book here.

It is perfect with a cup of coffee and a pastry!

#Lucy Mitchell

Important news:

Tomorrow I will be back with a fantastic book cover reveal. 

Watch this space!

How To Survive Writing Your Second Novel – Fab Guest Post by @bookish_yogi

Many creative moons ago I asked bestselling romance author Rachel Burton to write me a guest post. If you don’t know Rachel, let me tell you about her. She’s the author of The Many Colours of Us, The Things We Need To Say and The Pieces of You & Me.

Here is the guest post from Rachel. I love this post because Rachel gives good practical advice. 

It is a truth universally acknowledged that second books are difficult beasts. There is a lot of expectation, particularly if your first has done well, there is usually a deadline and often a lot of people’s opinions to take into account.

All in all it’s very different to writing your first – which in general you are often writing completely for yourself.

I spent the best part of three years on my first book. I wrote my second in eleven months. In that time I re-wrote the whole thing twice and went through two big structural edits; one with my agent and one with my editor. It was eye-opening to say the least and here are a few things I learned:-

1. Trust your gut

As I said, there will probably be a lot more people involved in this book. With your first will mostly have been all alone, or at most being buoyed along by friends or a writing group. I wrote my debut The Many Colours of Us by myself in my free time, while working full-time and running a business. I didn’t take it very seriously until it was almost finished. In truth I never really believed it would be finished until it got there.

Book 2 was very different. I had a lot of people around me offering support and advice – my publisher, my editor, my agent. On the plus side this was great because when I got stuck I had people to bounce ideas off, people to suggest different themes that I could explore, people to help me develop characters. On the negative side…I had a lot of people around me offering support and advice!! Ever heard the phrase ‘too many cooks spoil the broth,’?

If you don’t trust your gut with your second novel there’s a chance this might happen. I got to a point where my agent, myself and my editor all had a different set of ideas about where the book should go. In the end I had to back away, spend some time alone with my characters – and this is what led to the first major rewrite.

Your editor and agent want your book to do well, they want to help you produce the best work you possibly can. But at the end of the day you know your characters, you know how they would behave – take all the advice you’ve been given but ultimately trust your characters and yourself.

2. Plan, plan, plan

Confession. I didn’t plan my first book at all. I just sat down and wrote and waited to see what would happen. This is part of the reason it took three years.

Now I know planning doesn’t work for everyone, but I realised that if I had to write a book in a year I needed to know exactly where I was going. I split the book into three acts and I worked out exactly what would happen in each act – beginning, middle and end. This helped me write a specific number of words per week that I would need to reach my goal. I can’t plan chapter by chapter like some people do, but I really found this method helped me have a clearer path to my end goal.

3. Get a betareader

Betareaders are kind people who will read and comment honestly on your work. There will come a point in your drafting and editing when you, your agent and your editor will all be a little bit too close to the book to get perspective. This is where a betareader is invaluable. I was lucky enough to have three wonderful readers who all read different drafts and all helped immeasurably (you guys know who you are!).

I know it’s a scary prospect letting other people read your book but remember, by this point you’ve got a book out in the world and lots of people are reading it. Take a deep breath and give it a go – I have never regretted asking a betareader to help out.

4. Read, read, read

This one is self-explanatory. Keep reading – read in your genre, around your genre, outside of your genre. Read fiction and non-fiction, read the news, read everything. You never know where inspiration might come from. I tend to read in my own genre while I’m sitting on an idea and during the first draft and then when it comes to second drafts and subsequent edits I read outside of my genre (mostly in case I accidentally plagiarise, but also for a break).

5. Keep being you!

You are completely unique, your narrative voice, your characters, the way you choose to tell a story.

Write the story you want to tell. Your agent and editor will help you tell that story in the best possible way so that it can (hopefully!) be commercially successful – but ultimately this is all you.

While working with my editor on the last edit of my second book we came across an idea we didn’t agree on. Eventually (after a sleepless night) I broached the subject of not being happy with this edit. When I explained why to my editor she was on my side and helped me work the book in a different way.

So before you start work on an edit you are not 100% comfortable with remember: it’s your name on the cover.

Thank you Rachel. 

If you are about to start writing your second, I wish you well, my friend.

Have a great day.

#BookReview One Summer in Santorini #TuesdayBookBlog #BookTour @sandybarker

Warning: Sandy Barker’s One Summer in Santorini will whisk you away to a beautiful place with some fabulous characters, it will tug at your heart strings and leave you gasping for more!

After finishing this book you will find yourself doing one or more of the following things:

1. Ignoring your bank balance, Love Island, the ongoing Brexit saga and locking yourself away to browse Greek sailing holidays on the Internet.

2. Frantically pinning gorgeous pics of Greek islands and handsome men lounging on boats on Pinterest.

3. Upgrading your work daydreams so that they now feature sailing boats, windswept hair, deck shoes, kissing in a cabin and looking at the sky through a cabin ceiling hatch while lying in the arms of a handsome man. After reading Sandy’s book, gazing out of the office window or staring blankly at your Greek islands themed computer screen until you start to dribble will become a major part of your day.

4. Waking from a lovely night’s sleep to find your loved one, looking agitated and wanting to know why the hell you were murmuring, ‘you handsome American boy,’ in your sleep.

5. Getting yourself in a fluster over pinning pics of sexy silver foxes on Pinterest.

This book is pure escapism. After you will feel like you have been away on holiday and enjoyed a little bit of holiday romance.

❤️

I do love books where you get to go abroad in your head and live out someone else’s life. I am just going to take a moment to appreciate the genre of holiday romance fiction.

If I was back out there (single) and on a gorgeous foreign sailing holiday, surrounded by hot men and getting the flutters for someone I would have the following worries:

Sunburn, sunstroke, my sweaty neck, my salmon pink face, staying hydrated, cocktail hangovers, sea sickness, crab stick breath, eating too much of the local cuisine, insect bites, over sharing after too many cocktails, anxiety over whether my handsome holiday suitor will want to kiss me, his kissing technique being better then mine, white bikini strap marks, how I look in swimwear, sweating into my dinner, wondering whether I will fancy him in his budgie smugglers, hoping I will impress him with my swimming style, praying he enjoys swimming alongside someone who generates a lot of sea froth, worrying whether I bought enough holiday contraception in Tescos, how much storage space I will have in the cabin and over thinking about my holiday romance lasting when we get back.

The beauty of holiday romance fiction is that all of the above has been sorted! You don’t even need your factor 50, a sunhat or your bikini. All you have to do is sit back in your armchair, relax and tell your loved one to either put the kettle on or run the hoover over the lounge carpet.

Enough of all this holiday talk!

Here’s the blurb:

Sarah has had enough of men. It’s time to rekindle her first true love – travel – so she books a sailing trip around the Greek islands with a group of strangers.

The very last thing Sarah wants is to meet someone new, but then a gorgeous American man boards her yacht… And when she also encounters a handsome silver fox who promises her the world, she realises that trouble really does come in twos.

Will Sarah dive into a holiday fling or stick to her plan to steer clear of men, continue her love affair with feta and find her own way after all?

Here’s my review:

Sarah is an inspirational character. She’s one of those characters who you read about and think, ‘I wish I’d had the bottle to go off travelling on my own and join a sailing boat full of strangers after one of my relationships ended. It would have been better than sitting on my own, eating a kebab while listening to my ‘break up’ playlist and crying into my cat’s fur.’

I like Sarah’s independent streak, her fun side, her sweet relationship with her sister Cat and the way she makes friends instantly with everyone on the boat.

The camaraderie on the boat between all the holiday makers was fun. Sandy Barker has pulled together a unique cast of interesting characters.

The delicious flirtations with both Josh and James draw you deeper into this book. There’s a lot of soul searching going on with Sarah but there’s also a lot of chemistry, arm tingles, twinges, a flip flopping stomach and an aching heart. 💓

Just so you all know I am #teamJosh

James is very attractive but there is something about this handsome American and his incredible kisses that does it for me.

This book is a lovely read. It is set in a beautiful location, has an amazing set of characters and the romance will make you demand more from Sandy Barker!

Don’t worry about not being able to get away this summer, Sandy Barker will bring Santorini to your sofa!

Here are those all important links:

Amazon Australia – click here

Amazon U.K. – click here

Amazon US – click here

Kobo – click here

Catch up with Sandy on her website – click here

Three Things I Like About This Author:

1. She’s a regular at the #UKRomChat Twitter events on a Monday night. If you enjoy reading or writing romance you should check it out. Sandy is an expert at coming up with a thought provoking GIF!

2. Her passion for travel comes through in her writing. This girl has had lots of foreign adventures and weaves her own experiences into her books.

3. She calls herself a coffee snob!

I feel honoured to have been part of this amazing book tour. Thank you, Sandy xx

#BookReview Without a Hitch on Honeymoon @BeautySwot #TuesdayBookBlog

Last year I reviewed Bettina Hunt’s, Without a Hitch, a novel about the wedding journeys of three brides. Bettina’s novel made me reconnect with my inner bridezilla which is something I thoroughly enjoyed doing. After nineteen long years of marriage there’s nothing better than being whisked away to think about wedding dress choices, flower arrangements and handsome grooms.

What I liked about the first Without a Hitch is that the three brides; Sienna, Agnes and Bryony all experienced different challenges, emotional issues and comedy moments with their weddings and it was a fun premise.

So, you can imagine my book reading delight when Bettina contacted me to say she was carrying on with the series and this book was all about the same three brides going on honeymoon.

Seeing as my own honeymoon had many hitches, one being where I got off a coach after a trip and fell head first into a cactus bush (too many Spanish lemonades) and my loved one spent a romantic evening pulling needles out of my body, I was keen to see whether Sienna, Agnes and Bryony had an easier ride.

Here’s the blurb:

Sienna, Agnes & Bryony are back! Making memories one beach at a time …

In the sequel to the hilarious wedding romcom Without a Hitch, find out what happens to the three brides after the wedding …

Because after the wedding …comes the honeymoon… doesn’t it? 

Here’s my review:

It was great to be back with the ladies from Without a Hitch again. I love sequels because it is like catching up with old friends.

This book was different to the first as the author takes things to a deeper level and you start to see the characters in a new light.

In this book I got emotionally attached to the character of Bryony. So much so, I wrote the author, Bettina Hunt several lengthy text messages. This is the sign of a good book – when you find yourself fishing out your phone in the middle of the frozen puddings aisle in Tescos and telling the author how your emotions are in shreds over what’s happening to their character. I’m not going to give anything away, but all I will say is I could have cried for Bryony.

By the end though I had this inkling something wonderful was happening inside of Bryony and I am now hungry for more.

Sienna as always provides the comedy relief and she never fails to bring a smile on.

Agnes – well…she never stops surprising me. Not content with leaving my jaw hanging open in shock at the end of the last book, she carries on doing things her way. I do like this character and she could feature in her own book.

Three different brides and three different honeymoons.

A cool part of this book is that all three brides are in contact via this wedding site and they are all emailing each other about their experiences. I thought the snippets from their emails was a great part of the book.

There is a cliffhanger at the end and I know the author is planning another in the series.

A good read and I can’t wait for the next one!

Weddings and honeymoons don’t always run smoothly and they make the perfect settings for romcom.

This book could work well as a standalone novella as the emails from the brides fill you in on what’s happened so far.

While I wait for book 3, I will be sending Bryony telepathic vibes of hope and transformation x

Here’s the link to the book.

Three things I like about the author:

  • She loves afternoon tea.
  • She loves bright lipstick shades.
  • She’s got a wicked sense of humour.

#BookReview The Start of Something Wonderful @JaneLambert22 #TuesdayBookBlog #booklover

For a forty-something blonde woman, who is trying to change the direction of her life, and who in the last few weeks has found herself a new day job (the old one of eight years made her feel sad), has found the courage to self-publish her romcom novel (after many positive rejections), Jane Lambert’s fabulous book has been a godsend.

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