Guest Post: My Writing Process by Charlotte Butterfield

Guest Post

My writing process by Charlotte Butterfield

vlwtodyqI was on my maternity leave from my dream job as a magazine editor for a homes and interiors magazine when I start writing what was to become Me, You and Tiramisu. I think, like most journalists I always assumed one day I’d write a novel, but it wasn’t until both my elder two children were at school one day, the youngest was asleep in the magic vibrating chair that I thought, I literally have nothing to do. Of course, I could have slept, which is what everyone always tells new mothers to do when the baby sleeps, or I could have tackled the mountain of dirty clothes that had started to block the natural light from entering my kitchen. But instead, I decided to see if I could turn the plot idea I’d had for a while into a story. I didn’t give myself any deadline, or pressure of word counts, I just sat at my keyboard and started to type.
It was such a strange sensation, after fifteen years of writing to strict briefs and commissions, to suddenly have the freedom to arrange words in whatever order I wanted was incredible. I started off tentatively at first, second guessing every sentence – does that sound right? Should I write in the first or third person? Past or present tense? Somehow I just carried on until I found a voice that felt natural. And it sounds really clichéd, but the more I wrote, the faster my fingers flew over the keyboard, and my characters started coming to life. There were a few plot twists in Me, You and Tiramisu that I didn’t even see coming until the words appeared on the screen!
Thankfully my baby was one lazy boy and slept a lot, so I finished the novel in about four months. I edit as I go along, writing a couple of thousand words, then re-reading what I wrote the day before with a strong cup of coffee the next morning, and changing any bits before starting on the next chapter or scene. When I had the whole manuscript ready I gave it to my husband, also a former journalist, who attacked it viciously with a red pen. “You’ve gone from past, to perfect, to pluperfect to present all in one sentence!” I remember him sighing in frustration at one point. Although at the end of it he did give me the glowing feedback of, “It’s actually quite good, although chick lit’s not really my thing.” You can’t ask for fairer than that, can you?

Charlotte Butterfield: Facebook | Twitter

A huge thank you to Charlotte and to Samantha Gale.

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?

 

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Guest Post: Sheryl Browne

Guest Post: Sheryl Browne

 

Hi Holly! Thank you so much for inviting me to share a little about my new books, After She’s Gone and Sins of the Father, and what inspires me to write psychological thriller.

It’s an interesting question. Truthfully, people inspire me, and the whole gamut of emotion that comes with them. How honest should I be? Something I rarely talk about is the loss of a child, my second. I won’t go into detail, suffice to say, I somehow found myself leaning towards offering counselling to people who had suffered similar loss. Within that role, which extended to counselling in other areas, I realised I could relate to people in a way that touched me to the very core. I lived the emotions. I found I wanted to write about people, all people, people just like you and me, gravitating towards family and family dynamics and just how strong a family unit can be. In ‘reading’ people, I seem to see the bad and the good, and I have to write their stories. Fictional stories, of course. I wake up and there’s a fully-formed character in my head who won’t let me go. He, or she, calls to me. They are what they are and I have to follow them.

Obviously, therefore, my own life experience was a driving force, but … I was once advised by an agent to ‘write what you know’. It took me a while to realise how emotionally stifling that advice was. We have a world of information at our fingertips nowadays. We can travel anywhere. If you ‘feel’ a character, if that character is calling to you, you don’t need to shy away from writing about a job, era, or situation that might challenge your experience of it. Research it and write it. This is advice to myself, by the way. I repeat it often. A writer’s mind thrives on exploration. Every scenario, every face, every place tells a story. A glimpsed situation, an argument between a couple, for instance, a verbal ‘slanging match’ in the street, and you have your stimulus for a story, upon which your overzealous writer’s mind will weave fictional facts. You simply can’t help yourself. So there it is. I have a need to explore the human psyche – and apparently I also have a scary insight into the mind of a psychopath. Thank you, I think.

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After She’s Gone

He’s killed your child and kidnapped your wife. What would YOU do?

There’s evil and then there’s Patrick Sullivan. A drug dealer, pimp and murderer, there are no depths to which Patrick would not sink, and Detective Inspector Matthew Adams has found this out in the most devastating way imaginable.

When Patrick’s brother is shot dead in a drug bust gone wrong, the bitter battle between the two men intensifies, and Matthew finds it increasingly difficult to hold the moral high ground. All he wants is to make the pimping scum suffer the way he did … the way Lily did.

But being at war with such a depraved individual means that it’s not just Matthew who’s in danger. Patrick has taken a lot from Matthew, but he hasn’t taken everything – and now he wants everything.

 

Sins of the Father

What if you’d been accused of one of the worst crimes imaginable?

Detective Inspector Matthew Adams is slowly picking up the pieces from a case that nearly cost him the lives of his entire family and his own sanity too. On the surface, he seems to be moving on, but he drinks to forget – and when he closes his eyes, the nightmares still come.

But the past is the past – or is it? Because the evil Patrick Sullivan might be out of the picture, but there’s somebody who is just as intent on making Matthew’s life hell, and they’re doing it in the cruellest way possible.

When Matthew finds himself accused of a horrific and violent crime, will his family stand by him? And will he even be around to help when his new enemy goes after them as well?

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Sheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy contemporary fiction and psychological thrillers.

A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and awarded a Red Ribbon by The Wishing Shelf Book Awards, Sheryl has several books published and two short stories in Birmingham City University anthologies, where she completed her MA in Creative Writing.

Recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer, Sheryl’s contemporary fiction comes to you from multi-award winning Choc Lit.

 

Author Links

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon | Amazon US | Pinterest

Choc Lit

 

DI Matthew Adams series: https://youtu.be/0MqZ5TpBwGk

 

 

 

 

 

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World Book Day: Book Characters I Wanted To Be

Happy World Book Day! This has to be one of the most bookish days of the year and is also one of my personal favourites. What could be better than an influx of mini Harry Potters and Horrid Henry’s merrily making their way to school? Or maybe you spotted a few Where’s Wallys or Willy Wonka’s by the school gate this morning? Let’s face it – any day where you get to dress up as a character from a book is no bad thing and I love how it has become such a wonderful tradition.

If I were a primary school pupil I’m pretty sure I’d be in my element donning a bit of fancy dress. However there is one thing I’d struggle with…WHICH CHARACTER DO I CHOOSE!? Luckily, being 27, this isn’t something that has to concern me too much; however it did get me thinking about some of my own favourite book characters and I decided that it would be nice to share a few of the ones that I have secretly (or not so secretly) wanted to be throughout my life so far…Please do not judge me.

 

Matilda – Matilda by Roald Dahl.

I’m kicking off things with a favourite from my childhood, who remains a favourite to this day.
Matilda is undoubtedly one of the best books ever and one which I read over and over and over again. I was completely enchanted by Matilda; a girl who loved books, was brave, loyal and thirsty for knowledge…plus she could pour milk on her cereal without lifting a finger – what more could you ask for from a fictional character?

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Hermione Granger – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K Rowling

Like all other eight year olds, I was swept up in Harry Potter fever when the books were first released, but it wasn’t until I was older that I fully appreciated the wonderfulness that is Hermione Granger…Yet another character who reinforces the power of books.
As far as I was concerned when I started high school I was Hermione when she first started Hogwarts (minus the transfiguration classes…I had to make do with maths.) I adored how smart, level-headed, extremely brave and witty she was. Hermione was definitely of a hero of mine. Plus I fell that little bit more in love with her that time she punched Draco Malfoy in the face…

Becky Bloomwood – Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella

From the moment I opened my first Shopaholic book I knew that Becky Bloomwood and I were soulmates. How had Sophie Kinsella somehow wormed her way inside my brain and created a character who loved shopping, fashion and a sale as much as me!? Fun, adventurous and highly creative, Becky is the perfect example of a character who is human and has flaws – yet always manages to do the right thing eventually. Like most human beings she can be creative with the truth and sometimes loses track of what’s important in life, but I think that is what makes her so easy to relate to. The irony of her starting off the series working as a financial journalist yet finding herself buried in debt pretty tells you everything you need to know about Becky. I also fully support her idea of shopping as being ‘an investment’. The truth of the matter is that I love this woman; she has made me smile, nod my head in recognition, howl with laughter and generally feel better about life. Thanks, Becky.

Scout Finch – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

A classic and one of my all time favourites, To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those books that will never, ever lose its appeal. I could sit here and list all of the many things I love about this book, but rather than go into book-babble mode, I will reveal that top of this list is narrator of the story, Scout Finch. If you’ve never read the book you may be surprised to learn that such a powerful and thought provoking story is narrated by a six year old, but once you actually read To Kill a Mockingbird you will quickly become in awe of Scout and everything that she stands for. Smart, intelligent and unafraid to ask the questions no one else will, she is a literary hero and one who, I believe, doesn’t get the recognition that she deserves.

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Mary Poppins – Mary Poppins by P.L Travers

I’m not sure if I always wanted to actually be Mary Poppins or just have a kick-ass nanny like her who could tidy my room with the click of a finger. Either way, Mary Poppins was an obsession of my childhood (book and film) so it’s only right that she has a place on my list of favourite fictional characters. She can sing, she can dance, fly using an umbrella and also can fit ANYTHING into her handbag (this is the skill I probably wish I possessed the most…) After all; she’s practically perfect in every way…

Willy Wonka – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl.

The guy owns a chocolate factory. ‘Nuff said.

 

Hannah and Helen Moore – The Home Farm Twins by Jenny Oldfield

The Home Farm Twins books were my childhood and I adored these stories about two blonde haired twin girls who lived in a cute countryside house and owned lots of animals whose names began with S. They lived the lifestyle that I so desperately wanted when I was ten years old – basically saving injured animals and starting my own menagerie.

Alice – Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

I love Alice. She was one of my childhood heroes and I still love her every bit as much twenty-something years later. She’s inspiring, unafraid of adventure and only too keen to say what she thinks. Full of admirable qualities and a fan of tea parties, Alice is the kind of girl every child should look up to. I’m not only talking about her strength and courage, but despite her ascetically pleasing attire, she’s not afraid to get her hands dirty (going down the rabbit hole in those white tights!?) Open-minded, full of curiosity and wonder, Alice in Wonderland is a firm favourite and Alice a character who will always stay with me.

DCI Erika Foster – The Girl in the Ice by Robert Bryndza

As a die-hard Robert Bryndza fan I was naturally very excited about discovering his series of serial killer thrillers. However, I had no idea how obsessed I would become with his lead, DCI Erika Foster. Feisty and extremely intelligent, Erika’s energy radiates off the page of Robert’s books. Flawed yet hugely relatable, Erika is the kind of character who you won’t easily forget. Willing to put herself on the line to catch creepy killers, Erika’s cunning and skills never fail to amaze me & I’m always just that little bit in awe of her as a character. She’s also incredibly cool and who doesn’t love a bit of cool!? Whilst Erika is a million miles away from all of the other book characters I’d quite like to be, I think that’s why I like her. I’d like to be a feisty, cool-as-a-cucumber detective every once in a while. Her dry sense of humour, one-liners and willingness to get to the bottom of everything she does makes her such a wonderful character to read about and one which I am very much looking forward to becoming acquainted with again.

If you’re not donning your Gruffalo outfit today then hopefully you’ll be celebrating World Book Day in some other way (my school took part in their very own readathon which I personally think is a pretty awesome idea. If only I could have taken part myself…)

Whatever you’re up to, I hope it’s been a fun one! And always remember to…

 

 

 

Book Review: The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days

Image result for The uncommon life of alfred warner in 6 daysThe Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days by Juliet Conlin
Release Date: 23rd February 2017
Publisher: Black & White Publishing
Pages: 442
Buy: PaperbackKindle
Rating:Image result for pink heartsImage result for pink heartsImage result for pink heartsImage result for pink heartsImage result for pink hearts

What’s the Story?

Approaching 80, frail and alone, a remarkable man makes the journey from his sheltered home in England to Berlin to meet his granddaughter. He has six days left to live and must relate his life story before he dies…

His life has been rich and full. He has witnessed firsthand the rise of the Nazis, experienced heartrending family tragedy, fought in the German army, been interred in a POW camp in Scotland and faced violent persecution in peacetime Britain. But he has also touched many lives, fallen deeply in love, raised a family and survived triumphantly at the limits of human endurance. He carries within him an astonishing family secret that he must share before he dies… a story that will mean someone else’s salvation.

Welcome to the moving, heart-warming and uncommon life of Alfred Warner.

My Thoughts

We first meet Alfred on a train journey to meet his granddaughter, Brynja, in Berlin. Alfred has never met Brynja before, he doesn’t even properly know what she looks like – but for reasons which will soon become clear he is under the impression that he has six days left to live and he has a very important story that he feels he must share with Brynja before he dies. Not necessarily for his benefit; but for her own.

Whilst making the journey to Berlin, Alfred meets Julia. An unsuspecting stranger, Julia is concerned for Alfred’s welfare and ends up befriending him on a train station platform. Alfred shares his story with Julia in the hope that she will be able to pass it on to Brynja, however she ends up playing a rather important role in proceedings herself…

There are some books that reel you in from the very first page. It’s almost as if you get a sense that what you’re reading is going to turn into something amazing and I undoubtedly had this feeling with The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days. The premise absolutely fascinated me; it was intriguing and somewhat mystifying. Therefore it would be safe to say that I had rather high hopes for this novel and it absolutely did not disappoint. I couldn’t wait to discover the story that Alfred so desperately needed to tell and it completely enthralled me as I re-lived his experiences with him throughout the pages of this awe-inspiring novel.
It’s fair to say that Alfred has led far from your average life. His journey starts as an orphan in Germany and the tales which follow are both heartbreaking yet fascinating to read about. Life in a prisoner-of-war camp, enrolling in the German army, living through the Holocaust, love, life, death and everything in between. Alfred’s journey is also quite profound, particularly in the way that it demonstrates the impact that the people we meet can have on us throughout our lives. It’s a message that will not only astound you but also really get you thinking and I always love it when a book can do that to me.

One of the things that I thought worked well with this book was the format in which the story was told. We get to hear from both Alfred, Brynja and Julia throughout the six days of the story. As well as learning about Alfred’s life we also get to discover more about Brynja’s life, as we first meet her when she is preparing to meet Alfred and then her chapters take us backwards though her life. Secrets are revealed and parts of the story start to slot nicely into place.

Juliet Conlin’s writing really brought the character of Alfred alive for me. I absolutely adored him and I felt as though I was re-living his experiences with him throughout the story. He is quirky, fascinating and memorable; certainly a character who will stick with me long after I turned the last page. Juliet is a natural storyteller, setting the scene so delicately that you have no trouble envisaging what is happening on the page as if it were right in front of your eyes.

There is so much I want to say about this novel, but I think the best piece of advise I could give you would be to just go and read it for yourself (you can thank me later…!) because it will provide you with the most enjoyable yet heart-wrenching 2-3 days (or however long it takes you to read it…) I had difficulty putting it down because I felt so submerged in Alfred and Brynja’s worlds that I couldn’t rest until I had found out exactly what was going to happen.
So many fascinating themes can be found within these pages and I really hope that this novel gets the recognition is deserves. Full of hope, heartbreak and celebrating the importance of being different, The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days is inspiring, unusual and an absolute must-read.

My thanks to Lina at Black & White Publishing for the opportunity to review The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days.

 

 

Cover Reveal: The Secrets of Ivy Garden by Catherine Ferguson

Cover Reveal

There’s nothing quite like a cover reveal to brighten up your Sunday evening. Especially when it’s a cover as bright, beautiful and completely gorgeous as The Secrets of Ivy Garden by Catherine Ferguson, which is heading our way in ebook on the 3rd April. I challenge you to feast your eyes upon this book and not feel all sprightly and spring-like…

 

When Holly breaks up with her boyfriend Dean, she’s at a loss as to what to do next. But things go from bad to worse when her beloved grandmother Ivy dies – and Holly is left in charge of sorting out Ivy’s house and garden. As she sorts through her grandmother’s belongings and makes her way through the wilderness outside, Holly soon finds that there is more to Ivy than meets the eye, and uncovers a surprising family secret that changes everything…

This is a heart-warming and hilarious story from Catherine Ferguson about starting over, learning to garden and most of all learning to love.