Guest Post: Virginia Macgregor

Guest post: What was Virginia’s writing process in writing Wishbones?

 

I have a similar process for all the novels I write.

 

First, I’m inspired by a strong contemporary issue, one which affects everyday people, especially families. I thought it would be interesting to explore the problem of obesity through the eyes of a teenager caring for her mother – which, of course, raises another contemporary issue: the role reversal of the child carer which, sadly, is much more common than we realise.

 

Then I think of a character who I feel could carry the story and charm my readers: someone real and flawed but also someone who we can admire and whose company we’d like to share for three hundred pages. The character’s voice is very important to me so I work on that and I spend some time getting to know my character, like I would a real person: I ask her lots of questions like what her shoe size is and what she eats for breakfast and, if she had one wish, what it would be…

 

When I feel that I have a strong character, the next step is to plan a powerful opening scene which will plunge the reader right into the heart of my story: I never start writing a novel until I have a strong opening scene as I see this as a catalyst for the whole novel. And, of course, I want my readers to be gripped from page one. This is how the idea of Feather’s mother collapsing on New Year’s Eve came about.

 

I then think hard about where the novel is going to end. This isn’t as set in stone as the opening because I think it’s important to leave my imagination – and my characters – a bit of room for improvisation and flexibility, but, as I write, I do keep coming back to the question of where the story ends so that my story keeps a strong sense of focus and direction.

 

I don’t plan my whole novel in advance but I do plan each scene before I write it. Which is why I’m both a notebook and a laptop girl. In my much-loved Leuchtturm notebooks, I draw colourful mind maps of each scene (I like to think of my chapters a scenes, like in a film) and then I write the scenes up on my computer. I find that planning the scene ahead – rather than writing cold – makes my writing stronger and ensures that I stay focused on what really matters to the story and the characters.

 

I write the first draft quite fast and then do lots and lots of editing. I need to feel the momentum of the story while I’m writing it to ensure that my readers feel that pace too. I can’t imagine spending years and years writing a novel – I think I’d get lost and that the story would lose its energy.

 

Oh, and then I edit some more.

 

And some more.

A huge thank you to Virginia and to Sahina at HQ.

Click here to get hold of your copy of Wishbones.

Feather Tucker has two wishes:

1)To get her mum healthy again

2) To win the Junior UK swimming championships

When Feather comes home on New Year’s Eve to find her mother – one of Britain’s most obese women- in a diabetic coma, she realises something has to be done to save her mum’s life. But when her Mum refuses to co-operate Feather realises that the problems run deeper than just her mum’s unhealthy appetite.

Over time, Feather’s mission to help her Mum becomes an investigation. With the help of friends old and new, and the hindrance of runaway pet goat Houdini, Feather’s starting to uncover when her mum’s life began to spiral out of control and why. But can Feather fix it in time for her mum to watch her swim to victory? And can she save her family for good

 

 

Fiona Harper’s 90’s Playlist…

Fiona Harper’s 90s Playlist!

 

So there are some songs that just stand out when you think of the 90s. Here are a few of the hum-along tunes we all know and a couple of my absolute faves that I had to give a mention!

 

  1. Loaded – Primal Scream
  2. Love Shack – The B52s
  3. Don’t Speak – No Doubt
  4. Torn – Natalie Imbruglia
  5. Kiss Me – Sixpence None The Richer
  6. Rhythm is a Dancer – Snap! (mentioned in The Other Us!)
  7. Crazy – Seal
  8. Missing – Everything But The Girl
  9. Nothing Compares to You – Sinead O’Connor
  10. Bittersweet Symphony – The Verve
  11. Friday I’m In Love – The Cure
  12. Praise You – Fatboy Slim
  13. My Favourite Game – The Cardigans
  14. Ride On Time – Black Box
  15. There She Goes – The La’s

 

If you could turn back time, would you choose a different life?

Forty-something Maggie is facing some hard truths. Her only child has flown the nest for university and, without her daughter in the house, she’s realising her life, and her marriage to Dan, is more than a little stale.

When she spots an announcement on Facebook about a uni reunion, she can’t help wondering what happened to Jude Hanson. The same night Dan proposed, Jude asked Maggie to run away with him, and she starts to wonder how different her life might have been if she’d broken Dan’s heart and taken Jude up on his offer.

Wondering turns into fantasising, and then one morning fantasising turns into reality. Maggie wakes up and discovers she’s back in 1992 and twenty-one again. Is she brave enough to choose the future she really wants, and if she is, will the grass be any greener on the other side of the fence?

Two men. Two very different possible futures. But is there only once chance at happiness?

 

Click here to buy your copy of The Other Us.

Book Review: The Other Us by Fiona Harper

The Other Us by Fiona Harper
Release Date: 4th May 2017
Publisher: HQ
Pages: 384
Buy: Paperback  Kindle
Rating:Image result for pink heartsImage result for pink heartsImage result for pink heartsImage result for pink hearts

 

What’s the Story?

If you could turn back time, would you choose a different life?

Forty-something Maggie is facing some hard truths. Her only child has flown the nest for university and, without her daughter in the house, she’s realising her life, and her marriage to Dan, is more than a little stale.

When she spots an announcement on Facebook about a uni reunion, she can’t help wondering what happened to Jude Hanson. The same night Dan proposed, Jude asked Maggie to run away with him, and she starts to wonder how different her life might have been if she’d broken Dan’s heart and taken Jude up on his offer.

Wondering turns into fantasising, and then one morning fantasising turns into reality. Maggie wakes up and discovers she’s back in 1992 and twenty-one again. Is she brave enough to choose the future she really wants, and if she is, will the grass be any greener on the other side of the fence?

Two men. Two very different possible futures. But is there only once chance at happiness?

 

My Thoughts

Maggie’s feeling fed-up with life of late. Her only daughter is off to Uni and her marriage to her husband Dan seems to have lost its spark. So when Maggie receives an invite to a Uni reunion along with her best friend, Becca, she is extremely curious. She also can’t help but wonder if Jude will be there…Jude Hanson presented Maggie with some very difficult choices all those years ago…and the Uni reunion forces her to question as to whether the decisions she’s made over the past 20-odd years have been the right ones.

However, when Maggie wakes up to find herself twenty-one again and sharing student accommodation with Becca she finds herself able to take her life on an entirely different path to the one she opted for first time round. But the big question is – does she want to choose a different path, or will the decisions she made when she was twenty one turn out to be the right ones?

I have read and loved many of Fiona Harper’s previous books, so naturally I was really looking forward to getting stuck into The Other Us. However I will also admit that I LOVE books that transport their characters back in time and cause them to question as to whether they made the right decisions in life. It’s a format that I just love, it never gets old for me. I think I’m partly so obsessed with storylines such as this because there isn’t one of us who hasn’t wished they could go back in time at some point of another and make a different decision. Things this like absolutely fascinate me, so it’s no surprise that I gobbled this book up in one greedy sitting.

The concept of the novel that interested me most was how Maggie’s relationships and reactions to people and events were different the second time around. This is because she knew she was in the past, and she also had this insider knowledge of what happens and the way in which people behave in the future, which is both crazy and completely fascinating.
My only worry with novels that follow this concept is that I’ll get confused along the way (a regular occurrence…) however I didn’t once lose track of where the characters were and what time frame we were in. The story was brilliantly constructed and really easy to follow (phew!)

Fiona is a fantastic writer. Her books are so easy to lose yourself in and The Other Us was no different. Her books are funny, uplifting and always have that little something extra to keep your attention firmly within the pages.

The Other Us is an extremely enjoyable, thought-provoking read, based on a fascinating concept and centred around a hugely likeable lead character in Maggie. You might be screaming at the pages during certain points but you will be desperate to discover which path Maggie is going to take the second time round…

A huge thank you to publishers, HQ, for the opportunity to read and review The Other Us.

 

Guest Post: Fiona Gibson

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY? HERE’S HOW I SWITCH OFF By FIONA GIBSON

I love what I do for a living. As long as I can remember I have wanted to write stories. All the same, it’s good not to do it sometimes, to get away from the laptop and take some proper time off, otherwise I have have a tendency to start acting oddly, muttering to myself and acting a bit MOL (Mental Old Lady) in oddly put-together outfits with my hair all askew.

Here’s what I do to restore some semblance of normality…

1. Go for a run. I loathed sport at school. Netball, hockey and all that terrible gym equipment brought only pain and the mortification of flashing of one’s knickers in front of sniggering boys. However, when I reached my late-thirties – by which time I was mum to twin boys and a daughter – it had become clear that my body needed a certain amount of maintenance, if it was to carry on functioning properly. I never want to go for a run – but always feel less deranged afterwards. I also participate in…

2. Yoga. Which also counts as exercise, although it doesn’t involve the same degree of sweating or facial redness. I started a year ago, and found all those poses baffling. If you’ve had a go and find it equally muddling, I’d suggest sticking with it for a while, as it takes ages to grasp where your various bodily parts should go (if you’re anything like me, and don’t pick up these things quickly). Now I’m at the stage where – although I still have masses to learn – I love all the deep stretches and am actually starting to feel quite bendy.

3. Have my hair done… superficial, I know – but come on. Coffee, glossy magazines, a head massage during the shampooing part, and a chat with my lovely hairdresser, James – plus, I come out looking less ‘crazed author who’s been trapped in a small room for weeks.’ It’s one of the great joys of life.

4. Draw. As an only child, I spent a vast proportion of my young years huddled over a pile of paper with my beloved felt tips. Then along came my teenage years, and life got in the way. I barely picked up a pencil for years. Now, with my three children almost all grownup, it feels like I have the time to do things purely for fun. And so I started to draw and paint again. Unlike during my 70s childhood, we now have social media so – tentatively at first – I posted the odd picture on Facebook and Instagram. Friends were incredibly kind about them, and I’ve since taken art courses and draw almost every day. It brings me great joy and is a wonderful visual antidote to my day job, which is all about words.

5. Loll about in cafes. Sometimes I read, draw or make notes and other times I just sit. There are tons of great cafes in Glasgow’s Southside, where we live. Current faves: Tapa and The Glad Cafe, both on Pollokshaws Road. Sitting there watching life going on all around me is one of life’s greatest pleasures.

6. Soak in the bath. I think this goes back to those early days of parenting when I could lock the door and be alone for a while, marinating in bubbles, while my sons poked their plastic swords through the gap under the door.

7. Read magazines. Mags have fallen from favour in the past decade or so, but when I’m feeling a bit frazzled there’s nothing quite like curling up one. I still read glossy fashion magazines occasionally, but it does niggle me that they are mostly filled with crazily expensive clothes (‘Nice dress. Oh, it’s £3,200!’). I’m now more drawn to artsy crafty magazines – Flow and Uppercase are favourites – which cost a packet, but are the kind you keep forever and leaf through over and over again. They are beautiful, full of inspiration and my treat to myself – and everyone is allowed one of those once in a while.

Fiona’s new novel, The Woman Who Met Her Match, is out now (Avon). Click to buy.

What if your first love came back on the scene . . . 30 years later?

After yet another disaster, Lorrie is calling time on online dating. She might be single in her forties, but she’s got a good job, wonderful children and she’s happy. This, Lorrie decides, is going to have to be enough.

That is, until she receives a very unexpected request from France. Antoine Rousseau, who had once turned a lonely French exchange trip into a summer of romance, wants to see her – after thirty years.

But Lorrie is a responsible woman. She can’t exactly run off to Nice with the man who broke her teenage heart . . . can she?

Free eBooks

It’s nearing the end of the month…and if you’re anything like me you will have blown your monthly book budget and some by now. But never fear! There are a LOAD of fabulous FREE eBooks up for grabs over on Amazon at the moment…You’re welcome.

These Days of Ours by [Ashton, Juliet]These Days of Ours by Juliet Ashton

Kate and Becca are cousins and best friends. They have grown up together and shared all the most important milestones in their lives: childhood birthday parties, eighteenth birthdays, and now a wedding day as they each marry their childhood sweethearts, Charlie and Julian.

Kate has always loved Charlie – they were meant to be. Then she discovers that life never turns out quite how you expect it to. And love doesn’t always follow the journey it should. But best friends are forever, and true love will find a way, won’t it…?
Click to buy.

 

The Apple Orchard: A heart-warming short story to curl up with by [Henry, Veronica]The Apple Orchard by Veronica Henry

In the charming town of Peasebrook, there’s a place for everyone. War vet Joe has made new friends and a new home for himself here, overlooking a beautiful apple orchard. But when tragedy strikes and Joe is left out in the cold, it will bring them all together in entirely unexpected ways . . .

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Good Girl Gone (a Charlie Easton Thriller): A gripping psychological thriller with a twist by [Finch, KT]KT Finch – Good Girl Gone

One morning, everything changes…

A gripping novella with an awesome twist.

Tom Cheever is an IT specialist, a recovering alcoholic, and a single dad. Molly, his ten-year-old daughter is his whole life. But one ordinary morning, Tom discovers that Molly’s not in her room.

Gone. Vanished.

Police are called, a search party goes out, and Tom, already struggling with staying sober, finds himself coming undone. As hours become days without any sign of Molly, everyone she knows is called into question, including Tom himself.

As he tries to desperately piece together what could’ve happened, Tom realizes that nothing is quite as it seems. Will Molly be found in time? Or will Tom have to face the rest of his life not knowing what happened to little girl?

Swept Away by [Parkes, Penny]Swept Away by Penny Parkes

Swept Away is a short story based around a large country medical practice in Larkford that also features in Penny Parkes’ novels Out of Practice and the forthcoming Practice Makes Perfect (June 2017). The Surgery at Larkford proves to be a hotbed of rivalry, resentment and romance – and that’s just the doctors. Think James Herriot meets House.

Married mum of two and successful GP Holly Graham moved to Larkford hoping to find the peaceful life she craved. Instead she found chaos and intrigue, but also a tight-knit community full of wonderful characters who helped her through difficult times.

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An Affair to Dismember (Matchmaker Mysteries Book 1) by [Sax, Elise]An Affair to Dismember by Elise Sax

Three months has been Gladie Burger’s limit when it comes to staying in one place. That’s why Gladie is more than a little skeptical when her Grandma Zelda—who is more than a little psychic– recruits her into the family’s matchmaking business in the quaint small town of Cannes, California. What’s more, Gladie is also highly unqualified, having a terrible track record with romance. Still, Zelda is convinced that her granddaughter has her clairvoyant “gift.” But when the going gets tough, Gladie wonders if this gift has a return policy.
*
When Zelda’s neighbor drops dead in his kitchen, Gladie is swept into his bizarre family’s drama. Despite warnings from the (distractingly gorgeous) chief of police to steer clear of his investigation, Gladie is out to prove that her neighbor’s death was murder. It’s not too long before she’s in way over her head—with the hunky police chief, a dysfunctional family full of possible killers, and yet another mysterious and handsome man, whose attentions she’s unable to ignore. Gladie is clearly being pursued—either by true love or by a murderer.

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The Hate U Give: The Book Everyone's Talking About by [Thomas, Angie]The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (Six chapter sample)

Read an exclusive six-chapter sample of the No. 1 New York Times bestseller The Hate U Give – the book everyone’s talking about.

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

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