Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear / #BlogTour #GuestPost

Hi guys! Are you all having a great Saturday?

So all you lovely folks out there. Today I have a new blog tour for you – Caz Frear’s debut novel, “Sweet LittleLies”, was published on 29th June by Zaffre. This book has won the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller Competition – I have read some books that have won this competition already and they were all brilliant, so it’s already a great recommendation, no? Sadly, I haven’t managed to read this novel in time for my blog tour stop but I am already half into it and believe me, guys – it’s Special. It’s Something. And today I am thrilled to have a guest post from Caz on fascination with prologues – enjoy!

516zotzxaml-_sx323_bo1204203200_Prologues – what’s the fascination?  Should you or shouldn’t you?

Wikipedia states, a prologue is an opening to a story that establishes the context and gives background details, along with other miscellaneous information.’

Mmmm, I beg to differ, Wikipedia.  In fact, I’d argue that sums everything a prologue shouldn’t be.  More of that later.

But first, here’s a thing:  I’m not even sure if my novel, Sweet Little Lies has a prologue.  I certainly haven’t called it ‘The Prologue’ and it’s just become known as ‘That Bit at The Start’.  If truth be told, I was scared of writing the ‘P’ word as it’s such a divisive term in the literary world.  Some people can’t stand them.  They say they’re lazy, or indulgent – literary shorthand for “not important.”   However, surely the point of a good prologue is that there’s ‘something’ contained within it that’s so damn bloody important that it can’t just be covered casually, in passing, within the main narrative?

But then, as with everything in life, there are good prologues and bad prologues.

Rumour has it that some people skip prologues altogether – all I can say here is that I’m yet to meet one.  Then there’s also the slightly skewed myth that publishers and agents HATE prologues.  That they’re a fast-track to an auto-reject.  While, admittedly, I do know of a few book-folk who definitely aren’t wild about them, who think they’re overused etc, the very presence of the word PROLOGUE usually isn’t enough to make an agent or publisher banish you to literary purgatory forever, not if your writing shines and your characters sing.

They’ll just make you get rid of it in the edit, that’s all.

It’s sometimes remarked that prologues, especially within the crime genre, really took off with the rise of the e-book – the idea being that, with fiction at our fingertips, available at knock-down prices, the reader demands instant gratification in the first few pages or they simply cut their losses and move on.  While I don’t doubt there’s some truth in this, I think it does the poor prologue a slight disservice.  It plays up to it’s ‘cheap gimmick’ reputation and forgets that if done well, the prologue is an incredibly strong plot device.  After all, they’ve been knocking around since the days of Chaucer and Shakespeare certainly didn’t shy away from including one.  Also, by way of anecdote, I know of one very successful author who experienced a whole round of rejections when her non-prologued debut first went out on submission, but after a teeny bit of plot surgery and the addition of a killer prologue (literally), the book went to auction in the second round.  Pure coincidence – possibly.  But she firmly believes the prologue had a lot to do with it.

So, more knowledgeable folk than me have given their views on what makes a good or bad prologue, but hey, it’s 2017 and everyone’s got an opinion, so for what it’s worth, here’s mine…

A prologue should

  • Grab the reader by the throat. It shouldn’t be thoughtful, meandering or abstract.  Of course, that doesn’t mean there has to be a car chase or an explosion (although feel free) but it should contain some sort of action and pose an immediate question.  Who is she running from?  Why is the door locked?
  • Be relatively short. There’s no hard and fast rules on word-count, but more than a few pages and it either needs sharpening or scrapping (and calling ‘Chapter 1’)
  • Be set outside the main story. A different narrator, a different timeframe, a different continent, whatever.  Again, if it’s part of the main story, it’s probably not a prologue, it’s Chapter 1.

A prologue can…

  • Be the very last thing you write – in fact, there’s a case for saying it should be.
  • Exist without the word ‘Prologue’ written at the top. Prologues can come in the form of a diary entry/a newspaper cutting/a court transcript…
  • Be taken from a scene that comes much later in the book – the reader (usually) won’t mind the repetition as it now holds new meaning.
  • Allow you to use a very different tone, tense, narrator (not all prologues are narrated by the main protagonist.

A prologue shouldn’t

  • Be an info-dump. This is the last thing it should be and it’s my only ‘shouldn’t’.  Ultimately, a prologue is all about intrigue – the info and the history can come later (although seeded in gradually – an info-dump isn’t a great at any point!)

 

 

*DISCLAIMER  J

There are glorious, best-selling exceptions to all these rules – stream-of-consciousness prologues, fifteen page prologues, prologues that read like text-books until you reach the end and it all makes sense.   But remember they’re the exception, not the norm, and while brass-necked originality is what we think everyone craves, there’s something to be said for sticking to the norm – .to giving the reader what they expect.

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Practice Makes Perfect by Penny Parkes / #BlogTour + #GuestPost

Hi guys, a new day, a new blog tour – and I have plenty of them coming your way in the next days. Plenty! But today I am absolutely thrilled as Penny Parkes’s blog tour stops by on the blog. I am sure you have heard about Penny and her lovely books – Practice Makes Perfect is actually my first read by this author but she’s just won a new devoted fan in yours truly. Next to my review, I also have a guest post from Penny – enjoy!


Practice Makes Perfect by Penny Parkes



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Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Publishing Date: 29th June 2017

Series: The Larkford Series #2

Source:  Received from the publisher in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 576

Genre:  Literature/Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

Synopsis:

This surgery is full of scandal and secrets!

The Practice at Larkford has suddenly been thrust under the spotlight – and its nomination as a ‘NHS Model Surgery’ is causing the team major headaches.

Dr Holly Graham should be basking in the glow of her new romance with fellow doctor, Taffy – but she is worried that the team is prioritising plaudits over patients, and her favourite resident, the irreverent and entertaining Elsie, is facing a difficult diagnosis. Add to that the chaos of family life and the strain is starting to show.

Dr Dishy Dan Carter’s obsession with work is masking unhappiness elsewhere – he can’t persuade girlfriend Julia to settle down. It’s only as Julia’s mother comes to stay that he realizes what she has been hiding for so long.

Alice Walker joins the team like a breath of fresh air and her assistance dog Coco quickly wins everyone round – which is just as well, because Coco and Alice will soon need some help of their own.

Can they pull together and become the Dream Team that the NHS obviously thinks they are?

Rating: four-stars


Practice Makes Perfect is Penny Parkes’s second book, and also second in the Larkford series about a medical practice in a small town. I haven’t read the previous book, I admit, so of course I was this little bit afraid if I can read it as a stand – alone or if I thought I missed too much. However, after finishing this book I can assure that you can read it as a stand alone. There were, in fact, so many cameos and throwbacks and recollections that right now I have a feeling as if I had read “Out of Practice”! I, of course, have heard many, many lovely things about Penny’s books so there is no need to say that I started reading this one with great expectations, right? It was actually one of my most anticipated reads this summer and I couldn’t wait to start reading it.

Even without reading the first book I didn’t have any problems to get into the story and had a feeling that I already know the characters – four doctors, their lives and their work at the busy practice in Larkford. Holly seems to be coming to terms with her divorce and she’s settled in her new life with her two twin boys and Taffy, who’s also working as a doctor at the practice. Dan and Julia are the other couple and other two doctors and their lives are little bit more complicated and relationship is not so straightforward and easy, and honestly, I was asking myself more than once if they are really destined to be together. The practice has just been nominated to become a model for NHS, which means more money and more patients but also more responsibility and more scrutiny. There is also the TV team recording their program in the practice with Julia being its star – a lot of things happening at once, don’t you think?

Now guys, I think there is “something” in books about doctors, well, about doctors generally, let’s think about George Clooney in “ER”, I think that we all picture the male bookish characters as Doctor Ross, no? I personally like such books and the Penny Parkes has proved that she really knows what she’s writing about, with all the talks, the medical terms, the treatments – and this is actually my only “but”, guys. The book is rather on the long side, with more than 500 pages, and for me it could be much shorter, as I personally could miss on at least half of the medical stuff. I think it would make the story quicker and gave it a feeling of it being quick – paced, because there were moments that it dragged too much for me, and it made me feel desperate because I wanted the story to go on, for something to happen.
But other than that, it was great. The characters were just brilliant! They were believable, they all had their own stories and background, they had life – experience. Holly and Taffy’s new relationship, balancing work, demanding and very active twins, dog, etc and I adored to see the couple both at work and at home, as you could really see that they are made to measure and it was so visible that Taffy loves Holly and her family above all.
Also the background characters were incredibly well described, and I think it’s not going to be a surprise when I say that Coco, the new doctor Alice’s companion and assistance dog, has absolutely stolen my heart. The characters’ stories mixed effortlessly and run seamlessly alongside one another.

Practice Makes Perfect was light – hearted and warm and I’ve finished reading it with a big smile on my face. I adored the writing style and characters. It was full to the brims with drama, troubles and twists and turns on the way and it was so easy to forget about everything when reading it. It was gentle and it dealt with some important issues and some taboos in great, comfortable ways. It was romantic, it was down – to – earth and realistic, with some laugh out loud moments, as well as some poignant ones and I really enjoyed this book – it really had it all that I’m looking for in a good, engaging story. Highly recommended!

GUEST POST

 Tools of The Trade


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The Accidental Honeymoon by Portia MacIntosh / Blog Tour + Guest Post

Hello, hello, and happy Thursday – we have holidays today so really, it couldn’t be better. Well, it could, as our barbecue has just gone kaput and the time I thought I am going to spend with my feet put up high, I’ve just spent in the kitchen. Oh well. Typical.

Today I am a part of a new blog tour and I have a review of The Accidental Honeymoon by Portia MacIntosh – guys, believe me, if you need a bit of cheering up than go and grab yourself a copy. This story is so light – hearted, funny and easy to follow, it was just what the doctor ordered for me at the moment, as June is full of not so nice news and events here. There is also a guest post from Portia – a perfect way to spend your afternoon, no?

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The Accidental Honeymoon by Portia MacIntosh

34472959Publisher: HQ Digital

Publishing Date: 16th June 2017

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 384

Genre:  Romance, Women’s Fiction

Buy the Book:Kindle

 

Synopsis:

What happens in Vegas…
When Georgie discovers that her fiancé has been cheating on her, only a few days before her cousin’s wedding, her whole world explodes. Facing a romantic trip to Vegas alone, she decides to go out and have some fun…

…but Georgie never expected to wake up wed! And even worse, she can’t remember who to. So when gorgeous Jack reveals himself as her husband, she can’t believe her luck – he’ll act as the perfect wedding date!

Even if it is their very accidental honeymoon, surely the newlyweds can keep their emotions in check for just a few days more?

Don’t miss the laugh-out-loud romantic comedy from Portia MacIntosh, author of It’s Not You, It’s Them. Perfect for fans of Rosie Blake, Sophie Kinsella and Lindsey Kelk.

Rating: five-stars

I’ve read The Accidental Honeymoon just at the right moment – when I needed something light – hearted and uplifting, and I know that if you’re in need of those ingredients, Portia MacIntosh is your person in charge. I know that whatever she writes it’s my kind of read and really, I don’t need a lot of coaxing to request her books.

I bought this story as it was written. Probably some of the reviewers will stress that the accidental drunk wedding and then meeting on a plane are this tad unrealistic, but sometimes you just need this little bit of magic showing that impossible is nothing, and so I enjoyed the whole story, from the start to the finish. It was so easy to get over the slightly unrealistic beginning as it was written in such convincing way – Portia MacIntosh really knows how to pull it off.

As usually with Portia MacIntosh, her characters were brilliantly outlined. Georgie was great, however she also came across a little as a doormat, especially when it comes to being with John and the way she allowed her cousin and aunt to boss her around and decide. When Fliss told her to leave her wedding I wanted to shake – but Georgie, not Fliss. Also, her makeover confused me a little – which was Georgie’s true face? The totally Stepford Wife that she had when being with John or the totally opposite, almost slutty appearance – because judging on the descriptions of hair extensions and one number smaller tight dresses it looked like this, and so it was like Georgie has hidden her real face from us. However, she was so warm and lovely and she had her heart on her sleeve, and she had one of the best one – liners and I really, truly fell for her and warmed to her actually from the very beginning. She was very accident – prone and she’ll stay in my memory as the one who often meant well, with the things turning out wrong in the end.
And Jack, mmmm, I think I won’t be disappointed if I accidentally married Jack myself, guys. The tricks he knew, and nonono, I mean the cards and casino tricks, not the other ones, honestly I beg you, what were you thinking about…? Absolutely loved how laid – back he was and how he treated Georgie and that he was always honest with his plans – doesn’t happen often with guys that they are so honest, right? Also, and oh my god, I laughed so much, it was so nice to see how devoted he was to his newly found aunt (I really thought I will NEVER use this word in my review but here it is – it was just LOL).

The Accidental Honeymoon was an easy, quick and entertaining read, just what I expected from this author. It was lovely, it was charming, it had a great dose of humour and swear words and it just felt so natural and genuine. Nothing was pushed there, or too forced, one thing resulted from the other and I also quickly found myself rooting for the characters. Altogether, it was a read that made me smile and even laugh out loud. I totally enjoyed how Portia MacIntosh took the well established idea of the drunken wedding in Vegas and turned it into something else. There were enough turns in this light – hearted story, there were characters to die for or to slap. It was great to see how Georgie was with her family, the great relationship with her older brother and the way they treated the younger one. So really, give me Portia MacIntosh book any time, you can be sure that will lighten your mood and make you look little differently at the word. I love her stories and I can’t have enough of them, and I highly recommend The Accidental Honeymoon to you!

GUEST POST:

I’m not sure whether or not I knew I wanted to be a writer when I was younger. When I think about it, I was always making things up. I’d tell…let’s not call them lies, let’s call them tall tales. So if an ornament were to get smashed while I was playing with my friends, I’d come up with a story that got everyone in the least trouble possible. If a neighbour overheard me swear and told my parents, well, they were obviously mistaken, because I was obviously saying ‘stick’ or ‘duck’ or ‘plastered’ – all the hot topics 10-year-olds talk about. As a teen, I’d tell little white lies so that my parents didn’t worry about me – well, nothing appeases the worries of an overprotective dad like telling him that your boyfriend is your gay best friend. I’d find ways to get out of PE, excuses for not doing my homework, kind ways to decline the advances of boys in my year that I didn’t like… And funnily enough, I don’t think any of my teachers would have guessed that I’d be a writer when I ‘grew up’. I don’t imagine they had high hopes for me, because what might have seemed like a kid who just didn’t want to do PE was obviously a storyteller in the making. Being one of those kids who left school and never looked back, I don’t imagine any of my teachers know what became of me career wise. It’s probably for the best though…because I feel like this blog post is a pretty clear admission of a whole lot of guilt.

Invisible Women by Sarah Long – Blog Tour + Guest Post

Hi guys, hope you are all doing great. Today I have a great guest post for you from the author of “Invisible Women”, Sarah Long. The book sounds totally like my cup of tea and I am looking forward for it being published in paperback in autumn – right now you can treat yourself to an ebook. She’s writing about Facebook addiction – rings a bell, no? Put your feet high and enjoy!

 

Blog by Sarah Long

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 Facebook Addiction

It makes you unhappy. You are forced to compare your ordinary existence with far more glamorous lives. You‘ve been to the supermarket and put some chops in the oven, while everyone else is on a tropical island or a ski slope, pouting at the camera to convey just how fab a time they are having.

And yet most of us are addicted. We pick up our phones the moment we wake up to check what our Friends have been up to. Marvelling at the person who posted his opinions on Brexit at four in the morning. Four in the morning!! The bragging of the proud grandmother, the international business jetsetter, the manic gardener. All of them shameless show-offs, even though we were taught as children not to blow our own trumpet.

There’s another purpose to Facebook, aside from keeping up with family and friends. Sorry, that’s Friends with a capital F. It’s a buffet against loneliness. You can dip into other people’s lives the way you might have leant over the garden gate in a former age to have a good old nose around.

In my novel INVISIBLE WOMEN, my heroine Tessa is feeling the emptiness now her youngest child has gone away to university. Or ‘uni’ as she has trained herself to call it, not wanting to appear old-fashioned. Every day, she stalks her daughter on Facebook, examining her photos, scrutinising all the boys and wondering which one she may be ‘seeing’ and which one she may have ‘friend zoned.’ She worries that Lola’s looking a little the worse for wear, you do hear terrible stories about Freshers’ Week, and teenagers overdoing the drink and falling into the river.

But it’s not her daughter she should be worried about. Social media is a notoriously convenient tool for stoking up old fires. You never really ‘move on’ from your past any more. Not when your teenage boyfriend can track you down so easily, even though you are now both in your fifties and one of you is married.  When Tessa receives a message from John, her world is turned upside down. Her Facebook addiction brings unexpected consequences in the form of a hot, illicit romance. Or maybe that is what she was looking for all along. If you’re bored with your husband and living life at one remove, as an online  spectator, why wouldn’t you embrace the chance for something as real and insistent as your former admirer who’s come all the way from America to claim you for his own?

 INVISIBLE WOMEN by Sarah Long is published by Bonnier Zaffre

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The Reading Group: April by Della Parker + Guest Post

Hi guys. Today I am finally reviewing the fifth part of  “The Reading Group” series by Della Parker and as a special treat I have a guest post from the author on one of the inspirations behind the series. It’s brilliant, so make sure to read it!

The Reading Group by Della Parker

 

32919832Publisher: Quercus

Publishing Date: 30th March  2017

Series: The Reading Group #5 (read my review of #1,2 and 3 here)

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review!

Number of pages: 93

Genre: General Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle

 

Synopsis:

‘Brims with laughs, love, family and friendship. You will love this heartwarming read!’ Trisha Ashley. Perfect for fans of Cathy Bramley and Holly Martin.

Serena, the ambitious young Headmistress of Poppins Private School, has just begun reading Jane Eyre alongside her friends in the Reading Group. She would never admit it out loud, but she’s half hoping that reality might once again echo fiction. Will she perhaps meet her own Mr Rochester?

That doesn’t stop her from being slightly alarmed when her secretary arranges an appointment with one Mr Winchester, the handsome father of a troubled pupil in the midst of a messy divorce. But when the line between work and pleasure begins to blur, and troubles in her own family come to a head, Serena is left wondering if being a romantic heroine is all it’s cracked up to be…

Meet the Reading Group: five women in the seaside village of Little Sanderton come together every month to share their love of reading. No topic is off-limits: books, family, love and loss . . . and don’t forget the glass of red!

Rating: 4/5

“The Reading Group: April” is probably my favourite part of the series right now. I enjoyed it immensely and I think that with every part the characters feel much more developed, complex and the story is this little better than the previous one. In April it is Serena’s story and she’s chosen “Jane Eyre” for the Reading Group, so you can immediately ask – is she going to find her Mr Rochester?

Serena was close to my heart as we both are teachers and I could see that she’s maybe not over – passionate about her job but that she really likes it and that she has heart for her students and her job. I immediately liked her, she was strong – minded but also vulnerable and the way she coped with her life after her husband’s death was just so uplifting, giving hope that it really can be better sometime.

This lovely short story squeezes between the pages many, many issues. It is about family dynamics and feeling unappreciated and under – valued by your own family, it’s about mental health and children being made victims of parents’ misunderstandings. It’s about finding what you want to do with your life and finding peace with grief. Again, I truly liked how the author took elements of “Jane Eyre” and adapted for “Reading Group”. There were moments that the story dragged on a bit and there were moments that some of the events felt too rushed but altogether this novella had the right pace and the right amount of events happening. Altogether, it was a lovely, light quick read that don’t forget about the importance of friendship. Recommended!

GUEST POST:

One of the Inspirations behind the Reading Group

 By Della Parker

I really enjoy writing about friendship.  It’s a theme that runs through many of my books.  In the Reading Group series the focus is on female friendship. I have some amazing female friends. Some of them have been in my life for over forty years and some are newer, but they are all very important to me.  Although I don’t ever transport real people lock, stock and barrel into fiction I do use elements of them and I do write about the issues that affect them.

            Serena, the Main Character of April is a lady who struggles because she doesn’t fit into her family – she has always felt that she is not quite good enough.  I have one or two friends who feel like this – in fact it’s surprisingly common.

            And of course if your family aren’t supportive it makes friendship massively important.

            The Reading Group is about a group of friends who meet to discuss a classic novel each month and discover that – spookily – one of their lives mirrors the plot.

            In April they are reading Jane Eyre and Serena, who’s headmistress of Poppins Private School, is half hoping that reality will echo fiction, as it has before, and she will meet her own Mr Rochester.

This doesn’t stop her from being slightly alarmed when her secretary arranges an appointment with Mr Winchester, the father of a troubled pupil.

It would appear that Mr Winchester has an ex wife who is also rather troubled (or possibly completely deranged!). To add to the drama there is turbulence (as there usually is) in Serena’s own family too. Serena begins to wonder if being a romantic heroine is all it’s cracked up to be…

If Ever I Fall by S.D. Robertson

Hi guys, it’s Friday! FINALLY. It was such a long week, and having an awful cold didn’t help at all. Today I am very thrilled to be a part of S.D. Robertson’s blog tour for his new release “If Ever I Fall” and to share a guest post from the author on writing from different point of views. Enjoy, and have a great weekend, you lovely folks!

Writing from different points of view

by S.D. Robertson

I write from different points of view in my latest novel, If Ever I Fall. There are three distinct sections running through the book and each has its own voice.

First there’s Jack, who wakes up on a deserted clifftop with no memory of who he is or how if-i-ever-fallhe got there.

Next we have Maria, who is drowning in grief. She spends her time writing letters that will never be answered, while fighting to escape the pain of terrible memories.

And then there’s Dan, whose life has fallen apart at the seams. He’s lost his house, his job is on the line and now he fears losing his family too.

Taking on different voices was a new experience for me, since my first novel, Time to Say Goodbye, was written from just one perspective. Initially, it felt a bit daunting: particularly writing as a woman, which wasn’t something I’d ever attempted before.

So how did I approach it? Well, the first thing I did was to frame each of the voices differently. So the Maria sections are all written through the medium of personal letters, giving them a very confessional feel. Meanwhile, the Dan sections are written in third person past tense, while the Jack sections are first person present tense.

Doing this really helped me to keep on top of which character I was channelling at each stage of writing the book. I think it also helps readers in the same way.

Other than that, I suppose it was a bit like being an actor and trying to get under the skin of each of them, imagining what they, rather than me, would say and do in each particular situation. It’s not actually as tricky as it sounds, because as an author there’s a part of you – sometimes big, sometimes small – in every character you create. So it’s really just a case of tuning into that and building it up from there.

Before I wrote a word of the manuscript, I created character profiles for everyone in the story; those of Jack, Maria and Dan were particularly detailed. I referred back to them constantly at the start, adding bits and pieces along the way, but as the book progressed and each of them took firm shape in my mind, this became less necessary.

It’s like when you have family or friends that you’ve known for a long time. You know their mannerisms and habits. You have a good idea of what they love and what they hate. You get so you can predict fairly accurately how they will react in different scenarios. You know the sort of thing they are likely to say.

There were, of course, moments when I wasn’t sure about certain things, particularly when it came to writing from a woman’s perspective as Maria. It was at these times that I turned to my female family members and friends for advice.

That’s how it works when you write fiction. Your own experience is enough for certain things, and for others you do research, preferably by speaking to those with first-hand knowledge of whatever it is you need to know.

I must say that I really enjoyed writing from more than one perspective in If Ever I Fall. I think it’s a great tool to use as an author, which allows you to take your readers deeper into the world you’ve created. It’s certainly a technique I intend to employ again in future novels.

*Former journalist S.D. Robertson quit his job as a local newspaper editor to pursue a xsdrobertson_jpg_pagespeed_ic_vytby7lz48lifelong ambition of becoming an author and to spend more time with his wife and daughter. If Ever I Fall (Avon HarperCollins, £7.99) is his second novel. A heart-rending story of family tragedy, it is published on 9 February 2017.

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The English Agent by Clare Harvey /Blog Tour + Guest Post

I am thrilled to be a part of Clare Harvey’s blog tour today! The author’s new release, “The English Agent” is out in paperback now and to celebrate this fact I have a lovely guest post from Clare herself! Enjoy!

The glamorous life? Five secrets about Clare’s life as an author that she probably 97814711505792b252812529shouldn’t tell you…

 

When I got published I think people expected me to sling on my stilettoes, hop in a convertible and head off for the glamorous life. Some of the school run mums might even have raised a quizzical eyebrow at the sight of me still trudging round Tesco in my mud-spattered dog walking boots and then driving off in my unwashed Vauxhall Corsa. But whilst earning a living as a writer definitely counts as ‘living the dream’, glamorous it ain’t. Here are five secrets about my life as an author that debunk the glamour myth (and that I probably shouldn’t be sharing!)

Talking to myself: Yes, I talk to myself. Whilst I was writing my debut novel The Gunner clares-furry-paGirl, I even found myself having conversations (‘D’you fancy a cuppa, Clare?’ ‘Oooh, yes, thank you, Clare, a cup of coffee would be lovely!’ etc.) Writing is a largely hermit-like existence, so I suppose talking to myself became inevitable. Eventually we got a dog, and I now talk to him instead (which is not mad at all, ask any dog lover). Oh, and I talk to my characters, too, especially when I want to discover their back stories – I interview them and get them to tell me all about themselves (I’m not sure if other writers do this, too – it would be interesting to find out). So that’s number one: talking to myself and/or my dog – not glamorous at all, as I’m sure you’d agree.

Family meals consisting of chips and chocolate biscuits: When I’m pushing myself to hit a deadline I do not have time to be a domestic drudge, let alone a domestic goddess. I resent the time it takes to go to the supermarket (or even do an online shop) or plan and cook a nutritious family meal, when I have those final few scenes to do before the weekend. I tell the kids to make sure they take full advantage of their school dinner that day because ‘…it will only be a snack supper tonight’ – which roughly translates as ‘….you can forget Nigella Lawson; the only woman in my kitchen today is Mother Hubbard, so deal with it, guys.’ Number two, then: chips and choccy bics for supper – glamorous? I think not.

Wearing a coat, hat and scarf at work: It seems an outrageous extravagance to put the central heating on if it’s just me at home. Sometimes I have vague thoughts about lighting the log burner, but it’s a bit of a pfaff, and I really just want to get on with writing, usually (the log burner is a good idea if I’m feeling the need to procrastinate, though). Being a southerner, I’m a bit of a wuss in the cold weather, too. So I often work in my coat, hat and scarf (in fact, as I write this I’m wearing a scarf and a woolly hat – no coat today as the weather is ‘unseasonably mild’, according to the weatherman). Number three on the list of unglamorous author things: freezing at your desk in your entire outdoor wardrobe.

Working’ in bed: Sometimes I work in bed because I’m cold (I take my coat off first – but I often leave the hat and scarf on). And if it’s a freezing winter day and I have some research books to read, why not read in bed? But I also find writing comes easier in bed, perhaps because I have left my ‘internal editor’ behind with the laptop at the desk downstairs (I always write longhand in the first instance). But sometimes I like to prepare a scene and then take a little power nap before writing it, because I find that writing flows so much better if you’ve just woken up. It’s just getting a tad embarrassing that the window cleaners always seem to come when I’m working in bed, and I’m so worried they think I’m a slacker that at the first rattle of ladders I leap up and run down to the desk again. Which isn’t exactly glamorous, either.

Sleeping in my clothes: I have only done this once. Oh, all right, twice. Here’s why: I was desperate to get the final draft of my work-in-progress finished by the school holidays, so I’d been up really late getting through it. By the time I’d cleaned my teeth, etc. it was already past one in the morning, and really cold. I remember thinking that I would have to take all my clothes off, get into my pyjamas and probably a jumper, too (my husband works away during the week, so I do tend to pile on the nightclothes without him next to me to keep me warm) and bed socks, and all the while the clock was ticking on, and I knew that I’d have to be up in a few hours to walk the kids to the tram stop in the freezing cold and…Yes, I went to bed fully clothed, and wore the same clothes the following morning. But it was only the once (well, twice, if I’m strictly honest). So there’s my final secret – I have slept in my clothes. Now, do you think I lead a glamorous life? No, me neither. But don’t breathe a word!

 

My new book The English Agent is out now in hardback, paperback and e-book. You can catch up with me and find out more here:

Twitter: @ClareHarveyauth

Facebook: ClareHarvey13

Web: http://clareharvey.net

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