Blog Tour: The Ones That Didn’t Quite Make it by GJ Minett

Today I am delighted to welcome author GJ Minett to The Love of a Good Book.

I’ve mentioned quite a few times recently that I’m now well into book 3 and hope to finish it in mid-April. It would actually be more accurate to describe it as the third novel destined for publication because it is in fact the ninth I’ll have completed. In fact, if we throw in for good measure the dozen or so that I’ve started and then abandoned after a few pages and the fifty or so others that have come to me as abstract ideas at different times over the years but never found their way onto the page, we’re looking at quite a substantial body of work, albeit one of highly questionable quality.

​When The Hidden Legacy was published as my debut novel, it was the culmination of a lengthy and largely frustrating apprenticeship that started years and years ago with a novel called Lobello, which owed a great deal to Tom Sharpe and became my first near miss. The next attempt was called (and I kid you not) Breaking Wint – all I can say in my own defence is that scatological humour was very much in vogue at the time and it did at least interest an agent who has gone onto much greater things, but I can’t even bring myself to dip into it now. I don’t need to be reminded how bad it was.

​Having got Tom Sharpe out of my system, I tried my hand at my first psychological suspense novel, Losing It, which also had supernatural overtones. I still quite like this and wonder occasionally if I might be able to do something with it now that I am more experienced but its central failing was that it left things too vague and open for the reader at the end.

​So on from there to crime and A Dish Served Cold which was as generic and derivative as its title suggests, not to mention more than a little pervy. I didn’t even make much of an effort to interest publishers with it because by then I had a pretty good idea of what they did NOT want and was sure it was very much in that category.

​The Tree House however was better. It was a first person narrative by an embittered old school teacher who was having difficulties in coming to terms with the way the world was leaving him behind . . . and before you even go there, it was not based on yours truly. The opening chapters of this got me onto the MA in Creative Writing at Chichester which was really the springboard for everything that followed, so I suppose it can be said to have served its purpose.

​You may be surprised however to know that my most recent ‘no go’ actually came after The Hidden Legacy. While my agent was seeking a two-book deal, he urged me to make sure I actually had a second book to offer, so I started writing Benefit of the Doubt and finished it in six months. I sent it to my agent, quite happy that he would love it as he had its predecessor and received an email soon after suggesting I put it in a drawer and chalk it up to experience. At the time I was as surprised as I was disappointed but agents always know best and Lie In Wait, over which I took a great deal of care and which was very much fuelled by my anxieties that I might turn out to be a one-book author, was a much better product as a result.

​I may go back to Benefit of the Doubt someday and see if it can be salvaged. The others however can stay where they are, hidden away in ring binders that are gathering dust. They may never have made it but they were stepping stones to better things and I’ll always remember them with a certain amount of fondness.

​Well . . . maybe not Breaking Wint.

G.J. Minett studied at Cambridge and then spent many years as a teacher of foreign languages. He studied for an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester, and won the 2010 Chapter One Prize for unpublished novels with the opening chapter of The Hidden Legacy. You can follow him on Twitter @gjminett and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/grahamminettauthor.

 A man is dead. A woman is missing. And the police have already found their prime suspect… 

 Owen Hall drives into a petrol station to let his passenger use the facilities. She never comes back – and what’s more, it seems she never even made it inside.

When Owen raises a fuss, the police are called – and soon identify Owen himself as a possible culprit – not least because they already have him in the frame for another more sinister crime.

 Owen’s always been a little different, and before long others in the community are baying for his blood. But this is a case where nothing is as it seems – least of all Owen Hall…

 A dark, addictive thriller, ingeniously plotted with a twist that will make you gasp, LIE IN WAIT is perfect for readers of Angela Marsons or Rachel Abbott.

Guest Post: A wander around London: The Girl in the Painting by Kirsty Ferry

Today I am delighted to welcome Kirsty Ferry back to The Love of a Good Book.

Thank you for letting me chat on your blog about my new paperback release, The Girl in the Painting. As I write this, I’m in a hotel room in Bloomsbury having a ‘moment’. We came down for a few days to see some of the sights and I knew there was no way I’d get my teenage son into the Tate Gallery to see Ophelia by Millais, which is a huge part of my novel – but I did manage to get him to walk around the area a bit, and, to my fan-girling delight, I saw number 7, Gower Street. It’s a lovely, neat, end terraced house and it is the place where, in 1848, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was founded.
There’s a little street running along the side of the house called Gower Mews, and on our way to Gower Street, we crossed a park called Russell Square. These three places are locations in The Girl in the Painting, and until today I hadn’t visited any of them. It was a strange feeling to think I was walking in the footsteps of my characters, who seem so real to me that I can visualise Daisy promenading around Russell Square and heading towards Gower Street, with the sole intention of bumping into Dante Gabriel Rossetti or Lizzie Siddal or John Everett Millais. I can imagine contemporary Cori pitching up outside of number 7, completely baffled as to why she’d ended up there, and having quite an unpleasant ‘moment’ of her own in the side street as the ghost of Daisy tries to explain it all to her!
The Brotherhood was founded in Gower Street, in John Millais’ parents’ house, and the first meeting comprised of painters John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and William Holman Hunt. As an aspiring poet, Rossetti wished to develop the links between Romantic poetry and art, and I’ve sort of done the same by linking my first book in the Rossetti Mysteries series, Some Veil Did Fall, into the second book, The Girl in the Painting. The first novel is based on a Rossetti poem called Sudden Light, which is all about reincarnation and soulmates, and the second one is based on art and painting; more specifically, the painting of Ophelia by Millais, as I mentioned earlier. I’ve linked the third book, The Girl in the Photograph, into Pre-Raphaelite photography – as you can probably guess from the title! The original characters from Some Veil Did Fall also crop up in the new books, so hopefully readers will be interested to find out what happens to them, as well as enjoying meeting new characters like Cori and Daisy.
But it was lovely to see the locations I mentioned in the books for myself. I do hope that someone in the future will, having read my novels, take that walk as well, and feel a little thrill of excitement as Cori ducks into the alleyway, just out of sight, and Daisy drifts past in a cloud of hopes and dreams on her way to stardom, just like her heroine, Lizzie Siddal. Google Street View is awesome from a research point of view, but sometimes it’s no substitute for the real thing!

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Blurbs:
The Girl in the Painting
What if you thought you knew a secret that could change history?
Whilst standing engrossed in her favourite Pre-Raphaelite painting – Millais’s Ophelia – Cori catches the eye of Tate gallery worker, Simon, who is immediately struck by her resemblance to the red-haired beauty in the famous artwork.
The attraction is mutual, but Cori has other things on her mind. She has recently acquired the diary of Daisy, a Victorian woman with a shocking secret. As Cori reads, it soon becomes apparent that Daisy will stop at nothing to be heard, even outside of the pages of her diary …
Will Simon stick around when life becomes increasingly spooky for Cori, as she moves ever closer to uncovering the truth about Daisy’s connection to the girl in her favourite painting?

Buy The Girl in the Painting: www.choc-lit.com/dd-product/the-girl-in-the-painting/
The Girl in the Photograph

What if the past was trying to teach you a lesson?
Staying alone in the shadow of an abandoned manor house in Yorkshire would be madness to some, but art enthusiast Lissy de Luca can’t wait. Lissy has her reasons for seeking isolation, and she wants to study the Staithes Group – an artists’ commune active at the turn of the twentieth century.
Lissy is fascinated by the imposing Sea Scarr Hall – but the deeper she delves, the stranger things get. A lonely figure patrols the cove at night, whilst a hidden painting leads to a chilling realisation. And then there’s the photograph of the girl; so beautiful she could be a mermaid … and so familiar.
As Lissy further immerses herself, she comes to an eerie conclusion: The occupants of Sea Scarr Hall are long gone, but they have a message for her – and they’re going to make sure she gets it.

Buy The Girl in the Photograph: www.choc-lit.com/dd-product/the-girl-in-the-photograph/

About the Kirsty Ferry
Kirsty is from the North East of England and won the English Heritage/Belsay Hall National Creative Writing competition in 2009 with the ghostly tale Enchantment. She has also written North East based novels, short stories and articles for magazines such as Weekly News, Peoples Friend, Ghost Voices and It’s Fate.

Her timeslip novel, Some Veil Did Fall, a paranormal romance set in Whitby, was published by Choc Lit in Autumn 2014. This was followed by another Choc Lit timeslip, The Girl in the Painting in February 2016 and The Girl in the Photograph in March 2017. The experience of signing Some Veil Did Fall in a quirky bookshop in the midst of Goth Weekend in Whitby, dressed as a recently undead person was one of the highlights of her writing career so far!
Kirsty’s day-job involves sharing a Georgian building with an eclectic collection of ghosts – which can sometimes prove rather interesting.

For more information on Kirsty Ferry, follow her on Twitter @kirsty_ferry

A big thank you to Kirsty for stopping by.

 The places that gave me inspiration for Me, You and Tiramisu by Charlotte Butterfield 

Today I am delighted to welcome debut other Charlotte Butterfield to The Love of a Good Book!

Twenty years ago I was perched on a bar stool of a tiny wine bar down a cobbled side street in Richmond. Just around the corner were the well-known chain bars with their shiny surfaces, laminated menus, fancy beers and a gorgeous clientele. The bar that I was in had a flamboyant, overweight, middle-aged, gay landlord, an eighty year old lothario that persisted in chatting me up, even though at the time I was six decades younger, two glamorous widows who only drank champagne, a retired film director who ‘discovered’ Elizabeth Taylor and Joseph Fiennes always sat on the battered leather Chesterfield. I’m not kidding, Mr Fiennes was part of this motley crew of regulars. I remember drinking this scene in and thinking that this bar, and these wonderfully eclectic cast of characters would make a great novel, and I couldn’t help myself set Me, You and Tiramisu in Richmond and make this bar the location for Jayne and Will’s magical first date.​I like to think of Will’s deli as like the wine bar in my memory, filled with weird and wonderful locals that pop in every day for a chat and a tub of sundried tomatoes. Soon after leaving Richmond I lived in Bristol and now Dubai, and although I love the fast pace of city life, I do yearn for that fabulous community feel and those evenings spent not trying to fall off the ridiculously narrow bar stool at Magnum’s wine bar in Richmond.
​The South Devon part of my story came from summer holidays spent in Torquay. Every year for about ten years we packed up our Volvo and headed down to the enticingly named English Riviera for a couple of weeks in a caravan (nothing fosters a sense of family unity like cramming a family of five into the space of an airing cupboard and forcing them to play snap for fourteen days while it pours down outside). We had pick n mix at the Pavilion, had our portraits painted and even played the 2p slot machines. So when I was creating a back-story for Jayne and Rachel I remembered my summers and loved reminiscing while writing about them. I just wish I had a bag of pick n mix by my side as I did!

About Me, You and Tiramisu

The love story of the year!

Fall in love with the perfect feel-good romance for fans of Katie Fforde, Jill Mansell and Carole Matthews.
It all started with a table for two…

Life for self-confessed bookworm Jayne Brady couldn’t be better – she has a twin sister she adores, a cosy little flat above a deli and now she’s found love with her childhood crush, gorgeous chef Will.

But when Will becomes a Youtube sensation, thanks to his delicious cookery demos (both the food and his smile!), their life of contentment come crashing down around them. Can Jayne have her Tiramisu and eat it?

Buy the book: Amazon





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Former magazine editor Charlotte Butterfield was born in Bristol in 1977. She studied English at Royal Holloway University and an MPhil in Gender and Women’s Studies at Birmingham University before becoming a journalist and copywriter. She moved to Dubai in 2005 and lives with her husband and three children 

Claudia Carroll, The Inspiration for All She Ever Wished For.

Today I am delighted to welcome author Claudia Carroll to The Love of a Good Book to share with us the inspiration behind All She Ever Wished For.
 
​I’m often asked, ‘where do you get all your ideas from?’ And for All She Ever Wished For the answer, of all places, came from my life-long love of all thing court-related. I’ve always been a total sucker for any kind of a legal drama, you see. (I was nearly left bereft when I got to the end of The Good Wife on Netflix.)

Because there’s just something about a good, old-fashioned courtroom drama, isn’t there? It’s almost like there’s an inbuilt sense of tension already there – who’ll win, who’ll lose and more importantly, whose lying through their teeth?

Then I began to think about all of the super-high-profile court cases that you read about from time-to time. How they seem to just completely grip the public. Do you remember the Heather Mills/Paul McCartney case? Or more recently the Nigella/Charles Saatchi drama? It seemed like everywhere you went, people were talking about it and just about everyone seemed to have an opinion on who was guilty and who was innocent.

Coupled with all that, a long-running high-profile murder trial was ongoing here in Dublin in the Central Criminal Courts. It centered around a very well-to-do young architect – happily married with two kids – who was accused of brutally murdering a young, vulnerable woman who he’d met on a highly questionable website involving bondage and sadomasochism and all manner of boldness. Well, this case utterly gripped the nation for a few weeks; headline news everywhere you went and it seemed like you couldn’t get into the back of a taxi without being asked your opinion on it.

While I was researching All She Ever Wished For, I spent a lot of time at the Central Criminal Courts – a fascinating place, let me tell you. Like the best free drama going. Anyway, I used to get there early in the morning, about 7.30a.m., and couldn’t understand why there were always long queues patiently waiting to be admitted inside. Were this lot queuing for jury service, I naively wondered?

No, I was firmly told by the jury selection officer. The people queuing were actually in line for a seat in the public gallery at the architect’s murder trial. Ghoulish, I thought. Like the women you read about who sat around the guillotine in Revolutionary France and cackled as heads rolled. After all, guilty or innocent, these are real people with real lives – it’s not an episode of Judge Judy.

So then the idea came to me. What would it be like to be summoned as a juror to a super high-profile case? One that the whole country seems to be talking about and yet you as a juror, are expected not to have any opinion, other than based on what you hear in court? No going online, no talking about it, nothing.

What then?

And so the spark for All She Ever Wished For took hold and as soon as it did, somehow it wouldn’t let me alone…

Blog tour: Jennifer Joyce presents Lauren’s Online Dating Tips

Today I am very excited to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for The Wedding Date. 

A big thank you to author Jennifer Joyce for stopping by.

   

Will you…date me?

Delilah James, singleton and smoothie-addict, has six months to find a date for her oldest friend’s wedding. Oh, and to prove to her ex, best man Ben, that she has totally moved on since he dumped her out-of-the-blue nine months, eight days and seventeen hours ago…

So, with her two BFFs playing Cupid, Delilah launches herself into the high-tech, fast-paced and frankly terrifying world of dating. Luckily there’s the hot new guy at work, Adam Sinclair, to practice her flirting on – even if, as a colleague, he’s strictly off-limits!

Yet time’s running out and date after disastrous date forces Delilah to tell a little white lie – and invent a fake boyfriend! But will her secret crush on Adam ruin everything? Does she even care about Ben anymore? And is it too late to untangle her web of lies and take a real date to the wedding…?

 

Lauren, Delilah’s BFF in The Wedding Date, has been single for quite a while (read: ages. Aeons) so she’s picked up a few dating dos and don’ts along the way. While encouraging Delilah to give online dating a go, she’s also keen to point out the dangers and pitfalls of dating an unknown and she’d like to share some tips with you today.

Keep Personal Information To A Minimum

This is the most important piece of information I can give you. Never, ever give too much of yourself away during those initial online chats. Under no circumstances do you want your potential date to know you’re a massive fan of The Bee Gees before your first date. He may forgive your fondness for high-pitched, beardy blokes once you’ve wowed him after a few dates but there’s less chance of him turning up to that first date if he thinks you’ve got the same music tastes as his mum.

This bit of advice isn’t restricted to The Bee Gees, of course. The general rule is, if you think it’s a bit uncool, keep it under wraps until he’s at least half-smitten with you.

It’s Ok To Be Picky

Having deal breakers is good and saves a lot of time, effort and heartache later on. If he’s got three cigs stuck in his gob in his profile pic and you think smoking one is a revolting enough habit, it’s probably best to swipe left and move onto the next potential match.

Always Arrange To Meet Up In A Public Place

It’s much easier to blend into the crowd, check the dude out and scarper if he isn’t what you were expecting if you’re out in public. Which brings me to my next point…

The Camera Never Lies

But filters and Photoshop do so be wary when it comes to online profile pics. Don’t be too surprised if you set up a date with David Beckham and David Brent shows up instead.

Dress To Impress

You’ve probably spent hours, days, weeks, months trawling the internet and dating apps to find someone even close to datable so you deserve to treat yourself to a new hair do, fake tan, entire Boots counter of make-up, not to mention an entire new outfit including handbag and dangly earrings. And it doesn’t matter if you usually slob about the house in your pjs and slippers. Potential Date Dude doesn’t need to know that just yet. Just like your Bee Gees hankering, it’s our secret for now.

Jennifer Joyce is a writer of romantic comedies who lives in Manchester with her husband and their two daughters. Her latest novel, The Wedding Date is out now. You can find out more about Jennifer and her books on:

Facebook/Twitter/Blog

 

Guest Post: An unlikely friendship by Kelly Florentia

Today I am delighted to share with you a guest post from Author Kelly Florentia

When I looked up the word friend, the definition included someone you enjoy the company of, someone who supports you, and someone you have a bond with. I think that a good friend can be all these and more. I’ve always valued friendship and believe everyone needs a good friend or five in their lives. Someone to have a laugh with, someone to go and see a girlie film with, someone to pour your heart out to (tissues and wine style), or even someone to spend two hours on the phone with (or is that just me?). A good friend can be your companion, therapist or someone you can have a good old giggle with, and, if you’re lucky, they can be all three.

My friends come in all shapes and sizes. There are no rules in the Kelly F spectrum when it comes to friendship. We don’t have to be the same age. We don’t necessarily have to have things in common (although an interest in scoffing cakes and necking wine helps), nor must we have similar backgrounds. In fact, I love contrast. I believe that you glean different things from different people. But one thing that I think is imperative in a friendship is that ‘spark.’

Unlike Emma King, the protagonist in my debut novel, The Magic Touch, I make friends quite easily. But it isn’t always so fluid for others. Having grown up with a very strict father and then rushing into a marriage that turned into a living hell, Emma, quite understandably, is cynical about trusting people. In fact, she can count her friends on one hand and still have digits left over. But friendship isn’t about quantity, it’s about quality. And one friendship she values dearly is that of her ninety-three-year-old neighbour, Alistair.

Apart from their love of Scrabble and gin and tonic, Emma and Alistair have little else in common. But Emma loves spending time with him. Yes, she does do all the neighbourly things – brings in his wheelie bins, takes parcels in for him when he’s out, she even does a bit of shopping for him when he needs it. But she also finds him incredibly funny, clever and entertaining. Emma sees Alistair as a bit of a father figure. He’s one of the first people she turns to for advice when she’s in trouble, and you see this quite quickly in the story when she confides in him about the text messages she’s spied on her partner Harry’s mobile phone from a female colleague. And likewise, it’s quite clear that Alistair sees Emma as a third daughter, particularly as he doesn’t see as much of his own family as he’d like to these days. He knows how lonely some old folk can get, even ones with big families like his, and he’s grateful to Emma and Harry for including him in their lives with such sincerity.

Emma and Harry bring vitality, companionship and vibrancy into Alistair’s otherwise lonely existence, and he enriches Emma’s life with his humour, wisdom and warmth. And he plays a mean game of Scrabble. With a fifty-four year age gap, it is an unlikely friendship, but it has that spark. It works. 

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Marriage isn’t high on 39-year-old Emma King’s list of priorities; after all, she’s been there and done it once. So there are no big surprises when, yet again, she turns down her long-term partner Harry’s marriage proposal. They’re a solid, secure couple – a piece of paper won’t make any difference. That is until she accidentally stumbles across a flirtatious text message from one of his female colleagues on his phone. Overcome with suspicion and an impending fear of losing Harry, Emma goes on a quest to get to the bottom of his secret affair with the help of her ninety-three-year-old neighbour, Alistair, her best friend Ola, and Harry’s sister-in-law’s psychic app, The Magic Touch.

 

Sophia Valentine Guest Post- Character Inspiration – Darion Milano.

Today I am pleased to welcome Author Sophia Valentine to the Love of a Good Book.

Character Inspiration -Darion Milano

When I write a novel, my characters are either completely from my imagination, whether that be appearance and mannerisms. However, sometimes I use inspiration from a blend of different people. It can be a celebrity, a movie / TV character, although that’s only for appearance ideas. I like my characters personalities to be completely original.

Writing Darion from The Black Door Trilogy, I can honestly say that I haven’t read a character like him yet. He is confident, cheeky, mysterious and a bad-boy. Underneath it all is a broken man who thought he knew what he wanted in life, but actually doesn’t. He has a passion for the club he owns, he loved cars, rock n’ roll music, women and living the high-life.

Appearance wise, he is around 6 ft 2 in height, broad shoulders, beautiful physique, green eyes, brown mid length hair and a devilish smile. If I had to choose a celebrity that would resemble Darion Milano, it would be Charlie Hunnam in the Calvin Klein advert. He carries himself with confidence, movies gracefully and leaves women all around him feeling coy. Beneath it all though is a man that cares and protects those around him.

If I had to state other celebrities which could fit in with Darion’s looks, Jonathan Rhys Meyers in (Dracula) could work, he definitely has a sense of mystery. Justin Brescia / Justin Bobby from The Hills has bad-boy written all over him. Joaquin Phoenix in We Own The Night movie has that dangerous, devilish aura, and he is passionate! Leonardo Dicaprio with longer hair could also work, and if anyone has a naughty smile, it’s Leo!

I have also been sent images from readers for how they picture Darion Milano. Heath Ledger is one of them.

Do I use real people for character inspiration? I haven’t yet. Would I in the future? For appearance-wise, no, for mannerisms, probably not. For one-liners, things I have heard them say, or experienced with them, then yes.

Charlie

So ladies, stop reading this and go and meet Darion Milano! I promise you will love him! He’s mysterious, unpredictable, hard to figure out, and just yummy.

His Confession, book #1 of The Black Door Trilogy is available now in eBook and paperback. Her Confession and Their Confession is COMING SOON!!

eBook -UK eBook – US Paperback – UK / Paperback – US

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When Gabriella Woods finds matches from a gentlemen’s club in her fiancé’s pocket, her suspicions require a search for answers.

At the club, she realizes it’s not her fiancé’s fidelity that can’t be trusted…

It’s her own.

Darion Milano is daring, intriguing, and unpredictable…

Unable to get him out of her head—and against Darion’s explicit warning—Gabi begins a torrid affair. No longer fighting the urge to enter the depth of his dark and mysterious lifestyle, she indulges in his most intimate desires.

They become the most exciting, wild, infatuated couple everybody knows.

Until his confession changes everything…

Her heart is telling her to stay.

Her instinct is telling her to run.

She can never match his outrageous ex-wife and become the fun, fearless woman he craves…

Or can she?

Discover a world of sex, secrets, and seduction.

The Insiders’ Guide to Manhattan – Coming to you from Urban Genie – aka Paige, Frankie and Eva!

Today I am super excited to be hosting Sarah Morgan and her character’s on the blog.

Paige, Frankie and Eva have dropped by to tell us about the best places to see in Manhattan.

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What if the person who broke your heart, is the only one who can help you find your future?
Great friends. Amazing Apartment. An incredible job. Paige has ticked off every box on perfect New York life checklist. Until disaster strikes and instead of shimming further up the career ladder, Paige is packing up her desk.Her brother’s best friend Jake might be the only person who can help her put her life back together. He also happens to be the boy she spent her teen years pining after, and Paige is determined not repeat her past mistakes. But the more time she spends with Jake, the more Paige realises the one thing that was missing from her world all along. The perfect New York love story…

Purchase from: Amazon/Waterstones/Book Depository

Manhattan. It’s one of the most iconic places in the world, where anything is possible and where dreams really can come true. But, in the city that never sleeps, it can be hard to know where to begin! Here at Urban Genie we’ve given you the inside scoop on some of our favourite places, so you too can enjoy the city the three of us are lucky enough to call home.

Central Park – Central Park is an absolute must for all visitors to New York, whether you’re feeding the ducks, picnicking on Sheep Meadow, rowing on the lake or finding your own secret corner from which to watch the world go by. It’s the perfect place to relax and escape the hectic streets of Manhattan. If you’re visiting in the summer, why not take in one of the free concerts? And while you’re there, pop into the restaurant on the lake for a glass of wine. There’s nothing better!

The High Line – This mile and a half long stretch of green is a gem right in the heart of West Manhattan. A historic disused railway track, it has been transformed into a vibrant walkway of flowers, grasses and shrubs. Come here on a sunny afternoon to admire the stunning views, buy an ice cream or a cold drink and watch the world go by. It’s the perfect place to stroll with girlfriends (or a hot date!).

The New York City Ballet – While a trip to Broadway and Times Square is on everyone’s bucket list, we highly recommend a trip to see a performance at The New York City Ballet. Not only is the building itself gorgeous, the dancing is incredible, and you’ll be transported away by the grace and beauty of the dancers – we love it!

Bloomingdales – It’s a mystery how we managed to survive for so long without this fabulous department store. Full of all the latest fashions and enough designer labels to make us quiver, this truly is a shopper’s paradise. Plus, there’s a Magnolia Bakery right inside for a quick re-fuel, and one of the most delicious cupcakes you’ll ever eat!

The Flower District – Nestled between Seventh Avenue and Broadway, Manhattan’s flower market is a hidden oasis of colour in amongst the skyscrapers and concrete blocks of Midtown. Head there first thing in the morning to get the pick of the bunch!

Tiffany & Co. – Diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and to buy the absolute best (or just to gaze at them longingly), head on over to Tiffany & Co. on 5th Avenue. You could even channel your inner Audrey Hepburn, and admire the sumptuously sparkling window displays while sipping your morning latte…

Top Of the Rock – While everyone else from out of town is re-enacting Sleepless in Seattle and heading for the observation deck of the Empire State Building, why not head to the Rockefeller Center? You’ll enjoy 360 degree views that include the Empire State Building. Even better, go at night and see Manhattan at its glitzy best. Take your camera and get ready to be stunned.

The Brooklyn Bridge – The Brooklyn Bridge connects our little corner of the world to the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. And it’s definitely worth a trip in its own right! Whether you’re strolling along it during the day admiring the river below, or heading over early evening for gorgeous views of the skyline full of glittering lights, Brooklyn Bridge is a place where magic can happen…

 

A huge thank you to Sarah for writing such a great guest post and to Cara at Mira for organising.

 

 

Five Random Things about Me by Rhoda Baxter

Today I would like to welcome Choclit author Rhoda Baxter to The Love of a Good Book! 

Five Random Things about Me by Rhoda BaxterHi Kirsty, thank you for having me on your blog. I was dithering about what to write about and thought I’d cheat and tell you five random things about me. I’ve brought biscuits as compensation. They’re still a bit warm from the oven, so you might want to blow on them first.

1> Rhoda Baxter is my pen name. I chose it because I used to work on a bacterium called Rhodobacter sphaeroides and I get all nostalgic about them sometimes. I looked up ‘Rhoda’ to check it was a real name before I started using it, because it sounded quite unusual. Turns out it’s a good old fashioned name – which, I found out yesterday, means ‘Rose’. There are a couple of other Rhoda Baxters who turn up on Google. One of them has an OBE. I am not her, obviously.

2> When I was little I modelled myself after George Kirrin from the Famous Five. I wore boys’ clothes, pretended I was a boy and longed for curly hair. I played with my brother’s Meccano and Lego toys a lot (although I also played with dolls). I still love playing with Lego. So much so that I use it to make my book trailers. I also still have a tendency to think ‘I’m as good a boy any day’. Because I am. https://animoto.com/play/DBE2BHWxYkaRBiFK2Yehww

3> I never intended to write comedy. I assumed my writing would tap into the serious, scholarly side of me (assuming it exists). When I wrote my first feature piece (for the Oxford Student, many, many years ago), this funny voice just came out. Turns out my writing voice is more in tune with my goofball side. So much for appearing to be serious and clever. *shrugs*

4> I can wear children’s shoes. This is a Good Thing. I’m short enough to wear children’s clothes too, but I have boobs and hips so I can’t fit into them. I can’t fit into grown up clothes either because of said boobs and hips, but that’s a whole other story. Thank goodness for shapewear, that’s all I can say.

5> I think of fiction as a way of rehearsing feelings in a safe environment, a bit like dreams. So I like to go deep into my characters’ heads to see how they would react to particular circumstances. In Please Release Me, Grace would react to something in a very different way to Sally. I loved writing Sally because she was bonkers and I was never sure what she was going to do next. It’s brilliant when characters take on a life of their own. A bit like children, only less expensive.

So there you go. Thank you for having me. I hope you enjoy reading Please Release Me as much as I enjoyed writing it. The biscuits have cooled down now, by the way. Would you like one?

What if you could only watch as your bright future slipped away from you?

Sally Cummings has had it tougher than most but, if nothing else, it’s taught her to grab opportunity with both hands. And, when she stands looking into the eyes of her new husband Peter on her perfect wedding day, it seems her life is finally on the up.

That is until the car crash that puts her in a coma and throws her entire future into question.

In the following months, a small part of Sally’s consciousness begins to return, allowing her to listen in on the world around her – although she has no way to communicate.

But Sally was never going to let a little thing like a coma get in the way of her happily ever after …

Amazon UK: http://goo.gl/pxtW7s 

Amazon US: http://goo.gl/rpBhLI

 

 

A Lizzie Allen guest post! 

Today I am pleased to welcome Lizzie Allen to the Love Of A Good Book!

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Writing is a third career for Lizzie as she previously worked as TV Producer and before that in PR. She lives in London with her husband (who looks like James Bond!) and has a daughter at Edinburgh University studying history and history of art, and son who models for Elite International and is currently swanning around the world on a gap year.

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About the Book

Young, bored housewife, Faith Cotton, escapes her stifling Chelsea life when her husband suggests they decamp to a tiny island in the Greek Cyclades for the summer.

He works for the foreign office and has the inside scoop on ‘the Greek situation’. Europe is pouring money into Greece and, far from going down the plughole, Andrew believes that the island of Iraklia will soon see a tourist boom.
Faith is left in charge of finding them a permanent holiday home on the island, but things don’t go to plan – over the course of a summer, Faith’s doomed marriage begins to unravel, and far from finding the house she set out for, she finally discovers the person she really is. . .

The hardest part of writing Chick Lit is coming up with the sex scenes! I have two teenaged children and you can imagine what they think about their mum writing saucy stuff. (Surely they were just dropped down the chimney by a stork!??)

After Fifty Shades of Grey I didn’t want to make this story all about the sex (who could compete on that front?) however I did want to tackle the issue of sexuality in relation to passivity since that’s a big theme in the book.

The main character Fay Cotton, has become a virtual automaton to the extent that she has sacrificed her own ambitions and desires to the altar of her husband’s career. ‘His is the footprint in life we follow,’ she bemoans in the first chapter, ‘he carries me on my back so that I need not get my feet dirty and leave any footprints at all.’

Fay has also become deadened by beautification (if there is such a thing). Her days morph into one long beauty routine as she exfoliates, plucks, peels, moisturizes and shops for things to adorn her body. She says rather melodramatically that boredom and fear of aging are eating into her subconscious, smudging out what was left of her, particle by particle, causing her brain to collapse into itself like a space-time wormhole.

Fay speaks in a rather dry sardonic voice about the position she finds herself in. As a reader I am completely in love with the work of Chuck Palahniuk (Fight Club, Survivor) and am fascinated by the way his characters unpack the existential angst of their generation with such deliciously dry irony. While I in no way compare myself to that great writer, I wanted my main character to be comically scathing about her shortcomings so that we laugh with her in her unhappiness, not at her. I felt her dispassionate self-reflection was a useful tool in developing the idea that, in order to save herself, she needs to become more objective in identifying what’s making her feel so low.

As Fay begins to unfurl and confront her own destiny, so too must she confront the issue of her frigidity. In the early part of the book she justifies lacklustre sex with her husband by telling herself it’s good for her figure:

‘The average orgasm burns sixty to a hundred calories. That’s seven thousand five hundred calories per year assuming you have sex three times a week. The equivalent of jogging seventy-five miles.’

To keep her husband happy, she fakes orgasms while she drily tells readers she’s rather be jogging the seventy-five miles! As a feminist, I find the notion of faked organisms or duplicity in the bedroom abhorrent. If women cannot be honest about who they are during intimacy, how can they be honest about their desires in the context of the wider world?

By the same token, later in the novel when Fay starts to find her feet, I chose not to depict her as a meek receptacle of desire (as per the Fifty Shades-model), but an equal participant with equal power and resourcefulness. Whether or not my children ever speak to me again remains another issue entirely J

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