Monday, 11 December 2017

DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN AUTHOR | Isabella May

Hey guys, and happy Monday! I hope you all had great weekends and are looking forward to fast approaching Christmas...

Today I am delighted to share with you another DITL post, this time with author Isabella May, who writes fab novels such as Oh! What a Pavlova and The Cocktail Bar. Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing.

As a co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls - www.theglasshousegirls.com - she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One).

She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative 'drops'!

The Cocktail Bar is her second novel, following on from the hit sensation, Oh! What a Pavlova, published in 2017. Her third novel is currently being polished up and involves copious amounts of churros con chocolate: watch this space...

Check out Isabella May's day here...

What is a typical day for me as a debut author? I’ve long forgotten because it varies so much… so I will take the weekday mean, the average!
First off, I try – and frequently fail because my six year old has an innate ability to rise just as I do – to meditate. Just for fifteen minutes, that’s all. But inevitably, those golden moments of seeking that much sought after third eye chakra morph into me unloading the dishwasher. 

But if there is one thing I never fail to accomplish, it’s drinking my morning Pink Himalayan sole (water and a little mineral salt), followed half an hour later by a bowl of coconut porridge. Don’t worry, I definitely make up for this orthorexic ritual-like behaviour later…

If it’s a school day, then after drop off at 9am, I am usually straight back to my desk, fat cafe sombra in hand, to hit my target of 1000 words  – that’s if I am working on a new novel. I could also quite easily be editing, keeping up-to-date with my social media, eating cake or brainstorming new ideas. 

In case you hadn’t guessed, I do have a tendency to go off at tangents, and I am a Cake Monster!

And if it’s the summer holidays then things are very different. The Spanish school summer holidays are 11 weeks long. Yes, you did read that correctly: Eleven. Entire. Weeks.
But normally, on a good day, I will hit that 1000 target before I have to pack up and go pick up the children for 2pm. One of the few downsides to living in Spain is the ridiculously short school days (and those super elongated holidays). 

We’ll drive back from school, I’ll fix the kids lunch, sort through the bags for hidden homework  (Spanish schools set a ridiculous amount from a young age, frequently making me want to flee to Denmark). Occasionally I will also come across a pilfered toy from a fellow classmate.

If I’m ‘lucky’ *read: if the children can entertain themselves and resist the temptation to argue*, I might get a nice thirty or forty minute stretch at the laptop to edit, add to a chapter, or answer my emails. Often though, I become Dance Mum – also known as Taxi Mum – a bi-weekly task that involves dropping off and picking up my daughter at the local studio… and all too frequently involves more coffee and cake! My younger son and I will take his reading books or colouring, and I will try my best not to look at my phone. Not to forget my quick change of costume to become Basketball Mum… another twice weekly escapade.

Dinner is served late here compared to the UK and once my husband is through the door just before 7pm, to take over, I will either have a session on my trampoline, jogging to high vibe music with a fabulous view of the Mediterranean sea, or I’ll carry out some Pranic Healing on my ‘guinea pigs’. I have just taken the Level 2 and 3 courses in neighbouring Gibraltar this year. Exciting!

We eat our own ‘grown up’ dinner slightly later than the children, mainly because we all have such diverse food tastes in our household and we’re all far too proud to compromise – plus us adults love our spice (in the food that is…). And then it’s a book and bed. One of the great things about Spain is we hardly ever watch English TV - and we really don’t miss it. We talk so much more in the evenings (well, book-worming aside), and I don’t think we could ever go back to the nightly lure of the box, even if we did move home.

Obviously, at the weekend we let our hair down, go out for tapas and cocktails, or treat ourselves to a fat gin and tonic on the balcony overlooking the sea! 

Thank you so much, Isabella, for appearing on my blog and for sharing your day with us :)

Check out Isabella May here: https://isabellamayauthor.com

Buy The Cocktail Bar here:  http://myBook.to/thecocktailbar








Friday, 24 November 2017

SWEET WILLIAM BLOG TOUR | 'Sweet William' by Iain Maitland (****)

Hey guys, and happy Friday! Today I am so excited to be on the final stop of the Sweet William blog tour, to celebrate the publication of this horrifying, electrifying, terrifying read! Sweet William is a rollercoaster read of a crime novel, where a young father escapes from a psychiatric hospital to be reunited with his young son. It is a story of danger, delirium and devastation. It is a novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat the entire way through. 

And if you don't believe me, check out the blurb here...

Life and death played out over 48 hours. A father intent on being with his young son escapes from a secure psychiatric hospital, knowing he has just one chance for the two of them to start a new life together. Sweet William is a breathtakingly dark thriller that spans forty-eight hours in the life of a desperate father and a three-year-old child in peril. Brilliant and terrifying, this is a debut novel that will stay with its readers long after they finish turning the pages.

Sweet William is an absolutely electrifying read that gripped me from start to finish. Right from the beginning I was tantalised by Maitland's writing and the too-close-for-comfort narrative perspective that made me feel like I was complicit in Rick's crimes. The narrative perspective was definitely one of my favourite parts of the book. It kept me on tenterhooks throughout the entire novel and I was always hesitant to turn the page in case something dreadful happened...

The characters were all carefully crafted to fit the novel and I loved how the narrative switched from first person to third person, so we could get a bit of an insight not only into Rick's mind, but the other family members, to make the situation seem a lot more urgent to the reader.

Overall I loved everything about this book. The plot was so well thought out and the suspense that Maitland created is remarkable. I didn't know what to expect from this book (I haven't read anything like it before) but I really enjoyed it and I definitely need something light and fluffy to read now!

Make sure you guys check out the rest of the spots on the blog tour <3


Until next time :)



Monday, 20 November 2017

DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN AUTHOR | Chantelle Atkins

Hey guys, and happy Monday! Today I am very excited to be bringing you another Day In The Life of an Author post - and I'm so glad that you are all enjoying these posts - I'm hoping to continue on with these as long as there are wonderful authors willing to write the posts! 

Today the author I am featuring is the lovely Chantelle Atkins, who was born and raised in Dorset, England and still resides there now with her husband, four children and multiple pets. She is addicted to both reading and music, and is on a mission to become as self-sufficient as possible. She writes for both the young adult and adult genres. Her fiction is described as gritty, edgy and compelling. Her debut Young Adult novel The Mess Of Me deals with eating disorders, self-harm, fractured families and first love. Her second novel, The Boy With The Thorn In His Side follows the musical journey of a young boy attempting to escape his brutal home life. She is also the author of This Is Nowhere, This Is The Day and the collection of short stories related to her novels, Bird People and Other Stories. Her latest release is the YA dystopian novel The Tree Of Rebels.

Check out Chantelle's day here...

The day starts at 6am when the alarm goes off. It’s my eldest daughters 15th birthday today, so I wake her up at 6.30 so she can open some presents before getting ready for school. We leave at 7.45 to get there on time. While everyone is whizzing around getting ready for the new day, I dash outside to see to the animals. We have dogs, and out in the garden we also have a giant rabbit, guinea pigs, ducks and chickens. Once they are seen to, I pile all four kids into the car and do the school run! 

My youngest child, age 3, started pre-school last week and is the last one to be dropped off. I’m still getting used to the fact he doesn’t bat an eye-lid at me leaving him! It feels very weird to go home without him, but there is lots to keep me busy. I zip back home to walk my dogs. I will then grab the chance for a coffee before I go down the lane to walk two more. As well as a writer, I am also a dog walker/pet-sitter. I only went back to this fairly recently as it was too tricky to combine with my son when he was really little. Now that he is at pre-school fifteen hours a week, I hope to pick up some more work. I have decided I need to get fit again, so today I jogged down the lane, walked the two dog dogs and then jogged back! My husband picked my son up from pre-school at 11.50 which left me a bit of time to get on with baking my daughter’s birthday cake.

I always find the weekdays just fly by. After school is just as busy and noisy as the morning, with dinner to be made and homework to be done. I find myself thinking about my writing all day though. I will tap things into my phone and scribble things onto paper throughout the day, and by the time the evening comes, I am just bursting with it and cannot wait to get going. Since my son came along 3 years ago, I only have time to write in the evening, and I write without fail six evenings a week. I take Saturday off to recharge my creative batteries and watch TV with the kids. I’ll be thinking about my writing the whole time though!

I also run a writing business called Chasing Driftwood Writing Group. I run adult writing groups once a fortnight in the evenings in a local hall, and children’s writing workshops in the school holidays. Writing group is normally on a Monday, but not tonight, which means I can actually sit down and get on with my own work. I am currently in the process of turning Chasing Driftwood into a Community Interest Company, so that I can better access and secure funding for local writing based community projects. I am really excited about this, but it is hard to find the time to put it all into action. Now that the youngest is at pre-school, I am going to dedicate a few hours each Wednesday to getting this done.
As for my own writing, I released my latest novel in August, a YA dystopian called The Tree Of Rebels. I am now working on a novel aimed at adults called Elliot Pie’s Guide To Human Nature. I was writing these two novels together over a two-year period, going back and forth between them, working on one when the other was with beta readers and so on. I am hoping I am on the second to last draft now of this current novel, and then I will try submitting it to publishers. I have published my other novels through Pronoun, but would love a traditional deal with a small press that suits the kind of thing I do. If that doesn’t happen, I will happily place this next book with Pronoun and prepare another launch! I do love everything that comes with being an indie author. It’s such a learning curve, full of challenges, with so many opportunities to be creative. I just need more time in my life for it all! 


After Elliot Pie, I have another YA novel almost ready, and after that, I hope to finish the sequel to The Tree of Rebels, and then start work on a four book YA series. Lots to keep me busy! 

Thank you so much, Chantelle, for appearing on my blog and sharing your day with us!

This is the last Day In The Life of an Author post I have scheduled for now, so if you would like to be part of this series please do pop me an email! 

Check out Chantelle Atkins here: https://chantelleatkins.com

Until next time :) 

Saturday, 18 November 2017

5* BOOK REVIEW | 'Things a Bright Girl Can Do' by Sally Nicholls

Hey guys, and happy Saturday! Today I am very excited to share with you a review of one of the best and most important books I have read this year. I haven't read a historical novel in a really long time, however this one gripped my imagination and taught me so much. 

Of course, I am talking about Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls! 

I read this book absolutely months ago but I have only had the chance to publish this review... I know, I'm tutting at myself too... 

I was kindly sent Things a Bright Girl Can Do by the lovely people at Andersen Press in exchange for an honest review :)

Things a Bright Girl Can Do is a book about politics, class, feminism and the fierce determination of those who refused to be sidelined from society. The story follows three girls from three completely different backgrounds, and different dreams for their futures, yet with one main goal: to stop their voices from being silenced any longer. However, when Britain enters into War with Germany, their entire world is turned on its head, and the future of the Suffragette movement appears uncertain.

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...


Through rallies and marches, in polite drawing rooms and freezing prison cells and the poverty-stricken slums of the East End, three courageous young women join the fight for the vote.

Evelyn is seventeen, and though she is rich and clever, she may never be allowed to follow her older brother to university. Enraged that she is expected to marry her childhood sweetheart rather than be educated, she joins the Suffragettes, and vows to pay the ultimate price for women's freedom.

May is fifteen, and already sworn to the cause, though she and her fellow Suffragists refuse violence. When she meets Nell, a girl who's grown up in hardship, she sees a kindred spirit. Together and in love, the two girls start to dream of a world where all kinds of women have their place.


But the fight for freedom will challenge Evelyn, May and Nell more than they ever could believe. As war looms, just how much are they willing to sacrifice?

I LOVED THIS BOOK. LOVE LOVE LOVE. Everything you could possibly want as a feminist is in this book: a wonderful in-depth, heartfelt exploration of what life was like for women of all classes in the early 20th century, how the First World War impacted on this fight for equal rights, and also how men's lives were impacted by the tremendous pressure to drop their lives and their families and go and fight. 

This book made social history totally palatable and so interesting to read about. I knew bits and bobs about the Suffragettes and the First World War, but Nicholls takes us right into the heart of the action and immerses us completely in the lives of these three extraordinary women.

I loved the characters in this book. Evelyn, Nell and May were so relatable, loveable and admirable. When we're taught about the Suffragettes in school they are usually presented to us as a faceless group of women who spent their time shouting at policemen and getting arrested. However, Nicholls shows us the everyday plight of the Suffragette. Being told to go home and look after their children, getting pummelled with rotten food, having to pay taxes without even getting a say in society, and having to suddenly adjust to life when the male breadwinner gets called up to fight. I love how a huge variety of women were presented, and one of the things I loved the most about this book was...

GAY SUFFRAGETTES! 

Yep, you heard me correctly.

Nicholls' book seems to campaign for equality for everyone, and shows that the Suffragette movement was more diverse than we can ever imagine. Things a Bright Girl Can Do is such a hopeful book, and shows us how far we have come as a society, yet reminds the reader that there is still an enormou

sly long way to go. Education for girls in lots of countries is still non-existent. Gay marriage is still disallowed (and punished) all around the world. Women are paid less for the same jobs that men have. And men are still taught to put on a brave face, 'be a man' and not talk about the things that bother them. 

Things a Bright Girl Can Do shows us that change is possible and achievable. 

Buy Things a Bright Girl Can Do here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1783445254

Check out Sally Nicholls here: http://sallynicholls.com

Until next time :)




Thursday, 9 November 2017

DELIGHTFUL KIDS BOOKS | LITTLE MOUSE'S CHRISTMAS BLOG TOUR | 5* Book Review

Hey guys, and happy Thursday! Today I am so excited to be back with my children's book feature, to celebrate the publication of a wonderful new book Little Mouses's Christmas by Riikka Jäntti. 

The Little Mouse series by Finnish author and illustrator Riikka Jäntti has been delighting children and parents alike with its lovingly drawn illustrations and gentle storytelling, and the third instalment, Little Mouse’s Christmas, is bound to get kids excited about the festive season. Here, Little Mouse can’t wait for Christmas to come as he helps Mummy Mouse get everything ready for a traditional Finnish Yule.

Little Mouses's Christmas is a beautiful book that brilliantly presents the wonder and excitement of Christmas for children, with gorgeous illustrations and wonderful details that will get children excited for Christmas. 

Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...


Little Mouse has a long time to wait for Christmas! Luckily he has lots of things to do to get ready!

It’s almost Christmas and Little Mouse is looking forward to celebrating with Mummy Mouse and Grandpa and Grandma Mouse. But Christmas Eve feels very far away and Little Mouse is very impatient!

Fortunately there are all kinds of things for Little Mouse to do, like cooking gingerbread and choosing just the right Christmas tree.

The curious and lively toddler Little Mouse is back in this beautifully Scandinavian Christmas story by Finnish author/illustrator Riikka Jäntti.

This is undoubtedly my favourite Little Mouse book so far. Jäntti captures perfectly what makes children excited for Christmas, and I loved all the details like the darkness in the mornings and afternoons, advent calendars, gingerbread, and falling asleep to cartoons on the sofa.

The illustrations are of course perfect in every way, and add so much to the story. Everything looks so warm and cosy <3

The impatience of Little Mouse for Christmas day to come is pretty much every young child, and the jobs that Mummy Mouse gives Little Mouse is perfect inspiration for parents coping with overexcited children during the holidays!

Little Mouse's Christmas is the perfect bedtime story for kids of all ages during the run-up to Christmas, and it's sure to get even the adults excited too!





Make sure you guys check out the other spots on the tour :) 

Until next time <3 




Monday, 6 November 2017

DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN AUTHOR | Rebecca Stonehill

Hey guys, and another happy Monday to you! Today I am delighted to be posting another Day In The Life of an Author post - I know this is all I am posting at the moment, but what with essay deadlines, work and planning for my dissertation, blogging has somewhat taken a back seat. However, I'm still really happy to be publishing these posts, since I love them! 

Today I am featuring the wonderful writer Rebecca Stonehill, author of The Poet's Wife and The Girl and the Sunbird. Rebecca is also teacher of creative writing to children.

Check out her day here:

I live in Nairobi and here, school starts quite early for my three children, at 8am. So when I get up, I do a quick bit of yoga to help ease me into the day (I wish I were one of these people who jumps energetically out of bed, but I’m not!) and then there’s the normal whirlwind of breakfast, snack and bag sorting and getting my three kids to two different schools.

I like to be at my desk with a cup of coffee, writing by 9am (I say desk but, actually, it’s a camping table covered by a colourful throw) and I work through till lunchtime. On some days I’ll take a short break to go for a run or a brisk walk around the neighbourhood which I find really helps to clear my head and I often have ideas that I know wouldn’t come to me if I’d just been sitting at the laptop. It’s amazing how many revelations I’ve had whilst on the move!

I’m not an author who’s good at pounding out thousands of words of a manuscript per day. For me, I’ve learnt that a minimum of 1000 words for the day works well; much beyond that and I find the words start becoming a little wooden and forced. So the time that I don’t spend working on the story, I do other writing-related activities, such as blogging, professional editing work or preparing for my creative writing after school club or storytime for kids. I am passionate about children’s literacy and love spending as much time as I can involving myself with activities that encourage young people to read and write.

Once the children are collected from school (and hoping that I don’t get stuck in the crazy Nairobi traffic!), there are a few after school activities, then we go home where I cook the evening meal. I go through real phases with cooking – sometimes I don’t feel like I have the energy to put my heart and soul into it, and at other times I want to spend hours on end in the kitchen, dreaming up a huge array of feasts! My children complain that my cooking is way too healthy, but I think it must be a hangover from the kind of food my own mother used to prepare for me, and now I feel like nutritious, whole foods are the only way to go!

After dinner, I always read a chapter or two to my children of the latest book we are reading together. I love this time as it always throws up so many questions and we have read and discovered so many wonderful stories together. At the moment we are reading Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell, a fantastic blend of magical storytelling and seamless prose.


I always leave a period of screen-free time before bed, because too much time at the laptop late at night leaves my head a jumble of conversations and opinions, not conducive to a good night’s sleep. This is a time for de-compressing, sorting photos (yes, I still print off photo’s and have dozens of photo albums), playing some music and reading. I am a voracious reader – it makes no difference whether or not I am working on my own stories, there is never a time when I don’t have a novel on the go. I love all kind of fiction; anything at all really with a compelling story and believable characters.

Thank you so much, Rebecca, for appearing on my blog!

Check Rebecca out here: www.rebeccastonehill.com
Twitter: @bexstonehill

Facebook: Rebecca Stonehill Books

If you would like to sign up to Rebecca's mailing list, you can do so here: http://rebeccastonehill.com/signup

Until next time :)





Monday, 30 October 2017

DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN AUTHOR | Katharine and Elizabeth Corr

Hey guys, and happy Monday! Welcome back to my Day In The Life of an Author feature - I'm so pleased with how popular it is so far, and can't thank the wonderful authors so far for writing fantastic pieces and detailing their daily lives for us :)

On the blog today we have the brilliant author/sister duo Katharine and Elizabeth Corr, author of fantastic YA books including The Witch's Kiss, The Witch's Tears, and The Witch's Blood, which is due to come out in March next year.

And here is Katharine talking about her day-to-day life as an author!

My day usually starts at 7; my daughters don’t need me to take them to school anymore, but they wouldn’t make the bus on time without a certain amount of “encouragement” (e.g., being reminded about the time at five minute intervals), so in theory I can start writing as soon as they’ve left, at 8am. 

In theory. 

In practice, the first thing I do is have a strong coffee and check my Twitter and Instagram feeds. I also usually put a load of washing in the machine (I swear it’s coming through a black hole from somewhere, there’s so much of it!) and tidy up the kitchen. I know – the glamour, right?

Anyway, once I’m finally ready to start work, the exact shape of the day depends on where we are in the writing / editing process. I write with my sister; early on, we don’t need to be writing at the same time or in the same place. We always start with a detailed outline; although this outline changes as we go along, it does mean that we can get on with stuff independently. When we’re on the first draft stage – or working on structural edits – a typical day might involve writing part of a new chapter and reading over something Liz has written or reviewing some changes she’s suggested.

It’s different when we’re further along. Last week, for example, we were finishing line edits on our third novel, The Witch’s Blood. With line edits, a lot of changes depend on exactly how a paragraph, or a line, or even an individual word, sounds, when read as part of the whole. So, last Monday – after the coffee, washing, housework, etc., on my part, and after the school run on her part –  Liz came to my house in the morning. We sat at my desk with our latest draft open on the screen and read aloud as much of the manuscript as we could get through. (Of course, working in the same room as your sibling always comes with risks. Occasionally we argue about plot or killing off a character. More frequently we start messing around, reading bits of dialogue in strange accents, mashing up our narrative with scenes from Star Wars or LOTR until it all gets too much and we collapse into hysterical laughter. Just as well our editor can’t see us…) 

After Liz left I got on with other tasks. Some were writing related: I sent some emails about school visits, talked to a librarian about a potential YA festival, and spent a bit more time on one of our proto-novels. Some, sadly, were not: I went to the supermarket, booked a plumber and spent a fair amount of time standing with the kitchen door open waiting for the cat to decide whether she wanted to go out. 


Very unreasonably, my family always seem to want some attention (and feeding!) when they get back home from school / work, so it’s difficult to get much done after 5pm or so (unless I can plead a solid, I’m-going-to-be-working-all-night editing crisis).  Still, with my laptop and my various (badly organised) notebooks, I do sometimes manage to fit in a little bit more writing just before bed. Left to my own devices I’d stay up late working every night, and get up later in the morning. But as it is, I have that 7a.m. start looming…


Thank you so much, Kate and Liz, for appearing on my blog! Make sure you guys check back next Monday for another Day In The Life of an Author feature <3

Check out The Witch's Kiss here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Witchs-Kiss-Trilogy-Book/dp/0008182981/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1508882204&sr=8-1&keywords=the+witch%27s+kiss

Check out Kate and Liz Corr here: http://www.corrsisters.com

Until next time :)